London to San Sebastian part 1: Reducing the stuff

I have not been able to post as often as I wanted lately because I got absorbed by a bigger project: moving from the UK to Spain. And this took quite a bit of time and energy!! But it has also been an interesting way to reflect on my new lifestyle goals.

One of the concepts often associated with zero waste is minimalism. There are different ways and motivations to approach it, but the aspects that I am interested in are:

  • stop always wanting to get more stuff
  • having less stuff to worry about
  • knowing better how to take care of the stuff I have to make it last longer
  • having more time and space to focus on what really makes me happy

Since moving things abroad is expensive, it was a good occasion to get started on decluttering. There is still a long way to go, because it is not so easy to give up on stuff (I usually find I need to think about giving something up at least twice before I am ready to let go), but here is where we got to.

To sell

Sell.png
We ended up giving a few of this because of lack of time, but the sales paid for the moving company!

First we decided to get rid of all of our furniture. We had nothing immensely valuable so it was silly to pay a fortune to move them abroad. We also got rid of most of our kitchen appliances. The plug adaptor was not going to be the same and we had way to many of them. No we don’t need a hand blender, a regular blender and a food processor. We also left a few bulky things such as our giant garbage bin, that we should not need anymore anyway.

All the big stuff we tried to sell on Gumtree. At the beginning, I was not sure what to expect from getting in touch with strangers through the Internet, but most people were really nice. It was quite a bit of work though. Taking pictures, deciding a reasonable price, posting the ad, and then arranging meetings. In the end it was worth it though, because we reduced what had to be shipped and the money we got in the process paid for the moving of the rest of our stuff.

To give

give
We also gave a big part of our kitchenware to charity. Exit the plastic cooking tools!

We also gave a LOT of things that we were not using or not planning to use anymore away. I gave a few things to friends and though Gumtree, because it was the best chance for them to be reused. But just before moving out, finding a new home for every single item was too time consuming, so we gave a big amount of stuff to charity.

Charity shops are great. They extend the lifetime of a lot of stuff, give access to cheap second hand options and raise money for charity. Our local charity shop got 3 big bags of clothes (2 in good condition, 1 of rags – they get paid by weight to recycle it), quite a few pairs of shoes (mostly for recycling), half of our kitchenware and bags and one bag of diverse objects that should probably never have made it into our household. I hope they will be able to re-sell a lot of those things, but I know some of them will end up in the landfill. I have to confess that some of the things I put in those bags to avoid the guilt.

***

This ‘forced’ decluttering experience helped us realise the extent to which we own too much stuff. It is a great motivation to keep reducing what we have and to avoid getting more things. This was flagrant when we started getting rid of the furniture and realised we liked our flat much better without it.

I am also more motivated to buy things second hand. It should make it easier to give things away if we don’t really use them instead of hanging on to them for later just in case. I used to think: “even if I don’t use it much right now, I’ll have it for later”, but that doesn’t make much sense anymore.

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