Red shoes, No knickers

Tuesday

13

November 2018

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What to do with all our stuff

Last weekend I went to Somerset to help my parents oldest friends clear out ninety three years worth of someone’s precious belongings.

Attached to the side of Terry & Judy’s beautiful cottage, in a hamlet near Yeovil, is an annexe where Terry’s mum Joy lived. She recently passed away and I was heading down to firstly play with the dogs and secondly to help decide what should be done with a lifetimes worth of stuff.

And Boy was there some stuff. Joy had lived and travelled in the far East for a large portion of her life so there were ornaments and artefacts from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand. There was a whole flat full of furniture, so much crockery, cutlery, glassware. Photo albums, books, clothing, accessories, jewellery, paintings….The list went on and the clear out felt endless.

My job was in the bedroom where my wardrobe detoxing eye went straight into work mode. I immediately put aside what I knew would sell on Ebay. The tartan trousers, the houndstooth skirt, the mink coat, the Burberry Mac. The rest I suggested be sold at a car boot. Yes, I know it’s a hassle and things tend to sell for just 50p at the end of the day but something’s better than nothing, right? Waste not want not and all that? One persons trash is anothers treasure?

Terry and Judy had been sorting and distributing and organising for the past few weeks and were starting to feel the fatigue. They wanted the stuff gone. They wanted the flat clear so they could rent it out and they wanted to move on. Sifting through a family members belongings and revisiting old memories is hard and it’s sad and it can be exhausting. They didn’t have the time or the inclination to stand at a car boot and haggle over whether Joy’s Peacock mixed polyester blouse should be sold for £2 or £2.50.

Once family and friends have taken what they want. When they’ve left with what they deem to be useful or memorable what happens to the rest of the stuff? Where do we put it all? Stacey Dooley’s recent BBC programme ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ revealed that in the UK alone we dump 300, 000 tons of clothing in landfill every year. Charity shops see a sharp increase of donations in January when we offload 73 000 tons worth of clothing. And that’s just clothing. That doesn’t include the rest of our stuff.

Oh God, STUFF! What are we doing with all this stuff? Why do we need it? If last weekend showed me anything it showed that we’re holding onto things so that someone else can be exasperated by having to wade through it all once we’re gone. Don’t get me wrong. I have stuff. I have boxes of photo albums, no doubt far too many clothes, old letters that I’ve read, books that I haven’t. I have a suitcase full of my teenage stuff still in my parents attic that, much to my Father’s dismay, I am choosing to ignore for the time being. The amount of stuff I alone have is overwhelming. And I’m just about to obtain more stuff this Christmas. A list has gone out to my siblings of things I want. More things I, of course, don’t need but do think I would benefit from because YES, a spoon rest for when I’m cooking is important in my kitchen at the moment. {See Middle Class Mockery}

I’m not immune to the allure of surrounding ourselves with items that bring us joy, are aesthetically pleasing or that comfort us. I’m also not disillusioned into thinking I’ll never buy anything new ever again. None of us are and it would be silly to suggest otherwise. But there are ways we can do it without contributing to more landfill and collating more stuff for others to deal with when we’re gone.

Tried and tested tactics include ~ One in one out. Bought a new coat/dress/pair of shoes? Lose something from your current wardrobe. Your wardrobe stays manageable and you start to become more aware of what you’re purchasing.

EbayEtsy, second hand shops, auction houses are where plenty of previously owned bargains can be found. Don’t like the idea of ‘vintage or antique’? That’s fine. New items or only lightly used items can still be found on the net. It takes time to find them but I know you can do it.

Freecycle! What a beautiful idea. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighbourhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Resell, recycle, regift ~ Have you exhausted every possibility of all that stuff you no longer want? Would a friend benefit from it? Can you rework it and make it into something else? Can you sell it and make money from it? YES! Just think about that. Cold hard cash in the palm of your bank account to spend on…..well, probably more stuff but you get my point!

Landfill is full. Charity shops can only sell so much. Recycling is happening but not as fast as we’re consuming. Your children/sibling/cousin/a stranger does not really want to wade through your wares so let’s start to rethink shall we? Let’s start to reduce, reuse, recycle, resell, regift….

I’m off to trawl through Ebay.

Posted in Chazzer Shazzer chic, Tricks of the trade, Wardrobe work

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