Saturday, 17 October 2009

The 50 Things Project

by Kate
Living The Frugal Life

I don't know where I first heard about the 50 Things project. But I liked the sound of it immediately. The idea is to get rid of stuff, not just your everyday recycling, but things that either have some value to someone else, or are simply taking up space because you haven't found the motivation to get rid of them up till now. It doesn't matter whether you donate it, sell it, give it to a friend, freecycle or craigslist it, repurpose it, or recycle it. Just get rid of fifty things that are serving no purpose in your life. The hardest things (for us anyway) to address are the things we've held onto for sentimental reasons, but which we have, in fact, very few sentiments about.

This seems like a good project to me for several reasons. We have a "junk room" which could really be a useful spare room or guest room if we could only get the stuff in there sorted. That irks me enough that I usually try to pretend that room simply doesn't exist. I'd like it to be otherwise. And I know we have things lying around that we'll probably never use that other people could find value in. If we have less clutter and others have things they can use, it sure seems win-win to me.

I've been mulling this project for a while now, and since the gardening season is just about winding down, the time seems ripe to begin. I thought I'd post here as a jump start for myself and perhaps to motivate some of you to begin 50 Things projects of your own. Some groups of items, such as books, or a group of things I donate to one place, I'm only going to count as one item on the list. See, I really am ambitious!

Here's my first list of just ten things, as a start:

  1. Spare dish drying rack, coffee maker, kitchen items - donated to a battered women's shelter
  2. Old iMac desktop, still functional - looking to donate to a school or charity
  3. Leftover toxic lawn care stuff from our home's previous owner - disposed of via the city's semi-annual hazardous waste collection day
  4. Ceramic butter dish we just don't particularly like or use (but pretty nonetheless) - given to friends
  5. Books - a batch donated to our local library
  6. Books - a collection of old travel guidebooks, recycled
  7. CDs - sold to a used music store
  8. DVDs - sold in a batch (less work that way) on eBay
  9. My childhood stamp collection (not very impressive) - looking for a dealer to evaluate/buy
  10. Miscellaneous junk cleared out of two drawers in my old desk - thrown away
Well, there's the first of what I hope will become five such lists for me. All but two of these have actually left our house already. And it feels good! I sense that it will be more and more difficult to find things to get rid of as this project continues. But I'm up for the challenge, even if it takes me a while.

How about you?


Tree Hugging Mama said...

Wow this is ambitious, since you are grouping things. I wonder if I could find 50 things to get rid of in my home ;)? I suppose I could cheat and count individual items, but I should group things (i.e. kids clothes, books, etc.). So I am in. I will be starting this weekend as I plan to spend much of this weekend (when I am not running around getting last minute birthday gifts) cleaning my house. So lets see if I can keep pace with you

Chiot's Run said...

I love this. This is why I like having a garage sale every couple years. It's a great motivation to get rid of stuff I don't need. When the garage sale is over, everything goes to the goodwill. You can donate the money to charity if you'd like, we usually use it to pay extra on our mortgage or a special home project we've been saving for (like a water filter).

I'm hoping to spend some time doing some more decluttering this winter and have even more stuff gone. It's always so liberating!

The Mom said...

I did some major decluttering this year in all aspects of the house. We made the basement into a playroom, so had to declutter to find the space. Then we got rid of tons of toys so that the ones we had were the ones the kids actually played with. Then I went through all the bedrooms and filled my car several times with stuff to be donated. My mother works for a church organization that gives clothes, food and other home essentials to people in need, so it all went there.

The thing I've been doing lately is putting up all my books and cookbooks on paperback swap. The last thing to do is the attic. Frightening place.

Erin Wilson said...

I think I could do this project every week!
Maybe I should...

claudia said...

Kate, Great idea! I love it! I am going to start a list of my own. Een if I didn't get to fifty, getting rid of just one thing would be an improvement.
I will post my list of what I have gotten rid of Tuesday night. (that is the end of my "weekend".
Thanks again!

DramaMama said...

I'm in too! I think setting a goal and keeping track will help motivate us better than just saying we want to get rid of stuff. Thanks for the idea!

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Oh you have inspired me! I have a ton of things I need to get done. Gonna put this on my blog for sure! My list will be full of great environmentally friendly idea's which I will share with everyone and hope they get inspired. Thanks for the great idea and I love your blog!

Annodear said...

Awesome beginning!! And very impressive, not listing every single thing! lol

I appreciate the inspiration.

Paper is what I struggle with. Stuff I drag home because I may *need* it for reference... magazine articles, crap that comes in the mail, school stuff from the kids... But I usually never look at again or indeed, probably couldn't find it were I to actually remember about it and go looking for it. And I have so much Christmas stuff, I can't put it all out every year. So if it's not being displayed, what's the point of keeping it in a box on top of the too-crowded-anyway closet???

You've given me some food for thought! *Really* loved the line: "...things we've held onto for sentimental reasons, but which we have, in fact, very few sentiments about." Thank you.

Green Gal said...

I've been minimizing my possessions in spurts for the past few years, but it seems I always have things to donate (I always donate to the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop)--perhaps it takes me a while to decide that I truly no longer need something, so I go through a few spurts of cleaning and eventually decide it's time to rid my life of some object.

I will take on the challenge. I'll do like you've done and post my first ten, then the next ten, and so on.

Thanks for the suggestion :)

Elizabeth B said...

This is great. BTW, I have a LiveJournal, and a community called "Unclutter 2009" formed last December. The title is "Ridding ourselves of a thing a day, every day." It's been helpful to have a built-in support group for my decluttering efforts. Why do we have so much stuff?!

Best of luck as your project continues.

eliane said...

You have inspired me to start my own 50 list too. I'm calling it my 50 challenge. It's not as ambitious as yours but it will motivate me to get things done. My idea is to be able to list 50 things done in a weekend as I work full time and achieve little at home Monday to Friday. I already have 15 things and it's 10am on Saturday morning. Some of the things will be recycling/ repurposing but the list will also include things done for others or just that are good for my soul, like tracking down the music I heard a talented 14 year old play at a school concert last night.Thanks for a great idea!

GooseBreeder said...

Good start and a great idea.We clear out regularly and find the un cluttering so good.Have several Op Shops we donate too but also belong to LETS our local barter group so often take things to our regular markets to trade.

Helen said...

If only we had charity shops out here in rural France. In the process of moving house we have so much stuff. I would get rid of loads more if only I could. We had a garage sale patronised by the English as this is not a well developed concept amongst the French.
The local Red Cross will take donations for two hours per week. Another national charitable organisation Emmaus will collect but as its a 60 mile round trip they will only do that if it is worthwhile. There is a limit to what friends will take as they too are often trying to get rid of stuff themselves.
Today however I have managed to persuade himself that some things could actually be thrown away.

Ani said...

I love this. I am always working on de-cluttering, but it is kind of (dare I say) fun to do it with a specific purpose and a bit of a challenge. I am going to hang on to it though. My husband and I work and go to school, so this sounds like a great winter break project. Maybe I'll do it once each week of the break? Yeees.

dc said...

I use my childhood stamp collection (what I didn't pass on to a friends child) for art projects. You could probably sell them on ebay for that purpose.

~Molly~ said...

We are in the big middle of removing all the carpeting from our home(its all out but 3 closets) and deciding if we will paint or stain the concrete slab underneath so I've become very aware of the extra junk we have hanging around. I'm pretty faithful about taking a bag or three to the women's shelter/charity store every month or so but I'm more than willing to take on this challenge!! I'll even blog it tomorrow for inspiration to others.


lexlane said...

What's funny is I started this project earlier this month, without even realizing it.

I am moving to another state at the end of this month, and realized that about 80% of what was in my apartment wasn't really worth hauling across state lines, so I'm getting rid of it however I can (sales, donation, and some plain trash).

Knowing that everything in my apartment now has a purpose, and isn't just taking up space is an incredible feeling.

rachel said...

fantastic idea! i am going to start my list today won't be grouped, but it will hopefully be 50 "things" :) i ahve so much i could/should get rid of!

Tree Hugging Mama said...

So I started this this weekend (and I will be posting on my blog this evening about the start of the process). I counted 20 items (some groups, some individual) to get rid of. Some are being listed on Craigslist and others are simply recycled, donated or tossed. It took 2 days and my dining room still isn't clean, but I feel better about it now, than I did when I started. So here's to hoping that by the end of this week I will have cleaned out the dinning room (maybe I can hit 50 things just in that room alone) and will be moving on to another room.

Joanne said...

I'm in- I'm going to write a list today. My 'stuff' has been bothering me for a while, especially as I want to reclaim some space for homeschool materials and a food stockpile.
I learned a lesson in holding on too long when a pile I was gathering for a garage sale got mould through it! And I have other things that I list in online stores but I keep relisting them rather than moving them out the door when they don't sell. That's going to change starting today.
Thanks for the much-needed kick-start.

Lindy said...

Thanks for the challenge. I'm in and none too soon. The closets and drawers are stuffed. Let the games begin. Blog post tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

100 thing challenge: