Sunday, 8 August 2010

Clutter be gone! I now need a blimmin' rest.

Well that'll teach me to be more careful with my money and all the stuff that comes into our home from impulse buys and random gifts.

My arms feel like they're ready to drop off.  My feet detached themselves hours ago and my back is distinctively telling me that it is still there.  And it is never pleasant when one's back muscles begin to heckle!

Today was the day that the big event finally arrived.  The Big Huge Summer Declutter organised by BBC Radio Suffolk and EACH's Treehouse Appeal to raise money for a new children's hospice.  My goal was to turn up alongside 600 other participants to lay out my pitch at the biggest car boot sale that I've ever experienced.

I know many people love car boots sales, but personally I have never particularly warmed to them.  It's the early starts and bargaining over 10p here and 5p there that truly test my patience.  So today really had to be worth the effort, which is why I pledged to donate all the proceeds of our pitch to the Treehouse Appeal.

Of course I could have just donated our unwanted stuff to the charity shop.  That would have been much easier than getting up at the crack of dawn and sitting in a traffic jam in Ipswich, before being rained on and sunburnt within a matter of hours.  But that wouldn't have given me the lesson that I very much needed today, which was the kick up the backside in discovering the real value of  the stuff with which I - along with the help of others - have been cluttering up our home over the last decade.

And yes, it's no coincidence that the amount of clutter we've accumulated is in direct relation to having had two young children. Most parents will recognise the routine:  birthdays; rainy days; hobbies; keep them happy days; boring days; cheer-up days; keep-up-with-the-Jones days; guilty days and Christmas.Then there's all the stuff they make at schools and clubs.  But the more one acquires, the harder it is to keep on top of, especially when the kids really love their belongings or you don't want to offend someone by selling or giving away an unwanted present, or if you've paid a huge amount of money for something that is no longer needed or wanted.  Then there's the case of not having time to keep on top of your stuff until it begins to cripple your free space and your sanity!

Although many might regard car boot sales as a celebration of reuse, I can't help see them as a cathedral to discards and obsolescence.  The setting is perfect for the average buyer, as there are plenty of bargains galore with the opportunity to snap up essentials and luxuries for great prices.  However, for the seller, it's a wake-up call to see something that once cost £25 -  and which remains in perfect condition and still in trend - disappear into the distance for just 50p.

Don't get me wrong, I've not got any gripes over such transactions.  It's certainly not the buyer's fault that I was daft enough to pay through the nose for something I've hardly used and I really quite like seeing people enjoy their bargains.  If I was that bothered about recovering the cost I'd opt for eBay. And it has to be said, that convenience-wise, if you're missing the organisation gene like me, the advantage of car-boot sales is that a whole load of stuff can be taken off your hands within a matter of hours without the effort of nipping backwards and forwards to the post office.

No, the lesson from today was to continue to be mindful of the impact of every acquisition that comes into our home, whether it's bought brand-new or as cheap bargains, or even gifted or donated.  Even if something is free, it can still  remain under-used and unappreciated and left to age in a drawer waiting to be dealt with.  In such instances, I'd be better off overcoming my clutter bug nature and declining freebies, letting others put them to good use instead.  Likewise, with clothes and books being my particular weakness, it's perhaps time to reconsider what I really do actually need.

However, with all that said, I'm pretty pleased that all those presents we've bought ourselves or have been given to us by friends and family, were today converted into the princely sum of £75, which will help EACH build its much needed hospice.  If I'd just donated the items to the charity shop, I'd have no idea of their worth and their contribution to the fundraising goal, but at least now I know we have helped to pay for a few more bricks or some furniture. 

So for someone who doesn't normally do boot sales, this was a real worthwhile day indeed.  And even better, they'll get more cash from the remaining stuff that hadn't sold, which we left at their collection point on the way home. 

Now that's what I call a useful car boot sale!

And the satisfaction of leaving with a virtually empty boot.  Now that is totally priceless.

Huge thanks to my very own King of Declutter, Mr A, and our two helpful children today.  It's thanks to their contribution that we were able to make this happen.


djp said...

Ooh, I know how you feel Mrs A.... I'm considering a move back to the UK, but aside from the huge undertaking that is in and of itself, I dread the prospect of sorting through my things to see what to bring across the pond, and what to drag to the Sally Ann... If only I learned to live out of a suitcase!

mrs green @ myzerowaste said...

Oooooooh yeah; I hear you on this one. Our constant accumulation of 'stuff', as you know, has been on my mind for the past couple of years. Although we have achieved a lot this year, I still feel as though I am drowning in things that were once so useful and a 'must buy' purchase.

Well done on the declutter though and I hope you recover soon! It's a good kind of ache though, isn't it?! ;)

rachel flint said...

I really am in desperate need of a declutter myself, mostly of old school textbooks and other sentimental pasttime stuff which plays no use in my everyday life. I recently saw a swap shop in Newcastle, have you ever thought about opening one of those, sounds just up your street.
great blog btw.

angelsandurchinsblog said...

A lesson to us all. Stuff BREEDS in our house, and it terrifies me. It's not just toys, books, food, clothing, et al, but storage 'solutions' to keep them all in.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi djp - great to hear from you. LOL, I wish I could learn to live out of a suitcase too. I'd have much more time on my hands too ;0) Anyway, good luck with the move, looking forward to hearing how you get on.

Hi Mrs G - You're right decluttering is painful but good. Ironically I've gathered more clutter over the last couple of years thanks to my keen interest in waste. ;0)

Hi Rachel - lovely to hear from you and thank you for your kind comments. The sentimental stuff is the hardest. Swap shops are fab and I belong to a very small bartering club which does that very thing, so you've got me summed up perfectly lol ;0)

Hi Angelsandurchings, hahaha, you're so right! And just think, lots of people even move house so they've got enough room for all the storage solutions ;0)

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