Monday, January 07, 2013

Sorting and 40 bag challenge

Already a week into 2013 and it seems I'm still trying to catch my breath and trying to catch up with emails, tasks, chores and promises! I'm sure there are some forgotten ... please remind me if you're waiting for something from me!

If you have read around this blog a few times, you will be aware that I've been struggling with Lyme Disease for over 5 years now. Three years went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, then the doctor who was treating me had to stop after he was being reported for "treating a disease which doesn't exist in Canada". I was infected in Ontario, Canada, for heavens' sakes! Treatment has been long and intense and I would really, really like to get rid of some of all these pills. Soon ---- hopefully!

During the 5 years of various visits to doctors, hospitals, specialists, emergency rooms and trying to face the fact that I was going to die without knowing what was going on, the house went to pot. There was just never any energy to do more than what was absolutely needed. Closets and cupboards became dumping grounds or catch-alls; items became misplaced in different areas after being put somewhere for temporary storage and others were heaping up because they were not sorted before packed away.

So, sometime in December I stumbled upon the "40 bags in 40 days" challenge. Links will be below if you want to know more. It seems to have been more of a challenge around Lent, but any time is good to start decluttering! I started in December. Slowly, and not keeping to any specific schedule. I put a goal for myself to be done by end February 2013, with at least major sorting and throwing out.

The idea is simple:
  1. Decide what size of bag you want to use as a measure of your cleaning out; big or small. 
  2. Mentally or physically choose the trouble spots in your office or home. 
  3. Write down your list to keep track of your plans.
  4. Get rid of 40 bags of "stuff" from these spots. {clutter, junk, excess, and anything else that is no longer used or needed.}
  5. Regularly visit the clean spots; I find it gives me such a boost to clean the next part. 
The pantry all tidied up
Items like old TVs and printers (look for electronic recyclers in your area; you can drop off for free) count as a bag or more, for sure!
Your local pet shelter will appreciate old linens or towels, and that can count for another bag or two.
How about old magazines dropped off at a hospital or children's home for cutting out pictures?

Clean out the spaces before repacking. I dislike chemicals and have been using the steam cleaner so much for all sorts of jobs! Baking soda is a wonderful scrubber, and lemon is a degreaser. Just stumbled upon another hint today somewhere, to use the empty shell of half a lemon to fill with rock salt and leave to smell nice in certain spots like kitty litter box area. And to use baking soda mixed with salt to scrub a kitchen sink.

What happens with the stuff you clear out from the various spaces? In order of importance (to me): Recycle - Compost - Freecycle - Sell - Trash
I'm big on recycling for paper, cardboard, containers, glass and the like. Fortunately our area also does curb pickup for organic recycling, which is wonderful when you clean out stale something-or-other or a piece of fruit that might have started growing hair. I line my organics bin with newspaper layers and roll up packages in more newspaper to put inside the bigger green bin. That way, the newspapers that are delivered, get used and money is saved by not buying compostable bags.

Yesterday we found a whole bunch of forgotten half-baggies with a few chocolate chips, or salad dressing mixes that have expired, and other things. They were all opened and disposed off in the organics bin.

My absolute favourite way of getting rid of stuff, however, is Freecycle. This is a world-wide, grassroots movement where you arrange to give something away when you don't need it, to someone who might have a use for it. People generally collect the items you offer for free, anything from books to clothes to kitchenware and furniture. Here is their site; find your town or city, or start one!

Now -- it is easier to do a challenge like this if you have people to chat with, to support, to share progress, to encourage and to keep going.
Who wants to join in? Please post a comment! 
I suppose five or six people would be a nice group. And yes, I've started already, but you'll quickly catch up if you plan to do some every day! One woman said she made herself go through the house every day to get rid of 10 things - anything, from any space. However we get it done, lets just do it.

Some sites offer lists you can download and fill in with your own items. Others share pictures of their handwritten lists. I've got my growing list on Google Docs.

Also check out some of these blog posts for inspiration about the challenge:
Right, this post took such a while to write in between other things! Now to post to Freecycle: A dinnerware set, various empty decorative tins, half a baggie of coloured gravel for a fish tank. Two bags of clothes were already posted and gone. Two suitcases are gone. An office chair will be gone tonight. A TV was removed in December and a garden gazebo sold for a very small price yesterday. There's still a heap to get through, though!


chillin with Quillin said...

good luck, and good tips, like the baking soda and lemon, also with the salt, will have to try them !!!

Biscuit said...

I am in - I need to declutter the boys room!

Katie @ the terpblog said...

Hello! Thanks for leaving a comment, so glad you discovered this challenge. It really is a great way to pare your things down. Good luck!

MeerkatMarlene said...

Thanks for the comments, all! Hope you are doing well. I've thrown out several items, but this weekend the Lyme bugs kicked me in the shins again. So, not much done.

Other stories to read:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...