Happy Herbivore Blog

November 18, 2013

Minimalist Monday: Katharine's simple (but effective) approach that'll help you downsize and declutter

Katharine sent the following email reply to my MM post: What To Do With Sentimental Items

"Awesome article, Lindsay.

About a year ago I was working on decluttering the house in various areas. Not sure why the thought came to me, but it has helped me tremendously. Instead of asking myself "Am I going to wear/use *this* again soon" to which my answer was usually yes; I asked myself, "If *this* were gone because of a fire, would I spend my money to buy another?" Usually my answer was no. If it was something I really didn't wear or use, it almost always went in the charity pile. In the future, if I need it, I can buy exactly what I want. (Haven't purchased anything to replace what I parted with yet).

Love the Minimalist Mondays.

Thanks!

Katharine"

I thought Katharine's approach was brilliant! (BRILLIANT!).

I then asked her if she would be willing to share her experience minimizing here on the blog as part of Minimalist Monday.

I always find it so helpful (and inspiring) to read how YOU are minimizing because I'm still learning too!

If you've been working on your own minimalist project, let me know. I'd love to have more MM guests! We're in this together!

Would I pay to replace *this* if it were gone?

I have read my share of websites and blog posts on organizing, de-cluttering, and minimalism. I am a fairly organized person, but letting go of items can be difficult. Whether it is a shirt in the closet or some kitchen item in the cupboard, I tend to keep things that I feel might be useful when the occasion arises. I reason that I might use it in the future.

I have tried a few tricks over the years to help me let go of the excess, but nothing really helped until a crazy idea popped in my head. I use to ask myself, "Do I wear this? Do I love it? Do I use it?" Many times I would rationalize why I should keep it and I would get only a few items cleared out of my home. Then one day I asked myself a different question as I was going through my clothing. "If *this* was burned in a fire, would I pay to replace it?"

Perhaps a bit morbid, yes. I had a boss whose home burned in a fire and the first thing he had to go buy were new clothes that very day. But in my mind it was no longer the question of "Do I really need/use this?" It was now a new way of thinking; If the item I was holding in my hand were gone or broken, would I go out and buy another one? For many items, the answer was no. This new idea was not a license to get rid of my wardrobe and purchase a new one. I was, and still am, trying to make my home more minimal, not my savings account. But this new way of questioning helped me to put things in a more accurate perspective. Would I pay to replace *this* if it were gone?

Last year we were able to remodel our kitchen. It was time to go through my cupboards and keep only what I really needed. Duplicate items, rarely used items, and excess stuff just wasn't going to remain lingering in what was going to be a beautiful and functional kitchen when we were done with it. So the process began. Tossing duplicate items into the charity box was easy enough, but letting go of items I rarely used was harder. So I asked myself, "What if it was broken? Would I replace it? Would I SPEND MONEY to replace it right now?" My answer? No! Off to the charity box it went. Clearing the kitchen to the items I truly used and needed was a quick process.

Many other knick-knack items around the house have been given away. My home is more organized, more simple, and easier to clean. Am I done with it? No. It is a process. When I do find an item I need, but have given away, I can go purchase exactly what I want. When that happens, I will let you know.

Author Bio: Katharine is wife to Scott and mother of two boys ages 11 and 9. Her husband is the one who got the family started on plant-based eating almost 2 years ago and found The Happy Herbivore Cookbook and Everyday Happy Herbivore to start them off. Thanks to a plant-based diet, Scott no longer has to take cholesterol lowering drugs. And thanks to Happy Herbivore, Katharine is able to cook plant-based meals. Katharine and her children are mostly plant-based and live just outside of the Seattle area.

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