Purging a Little Bag-gage

Some of you might only know me from this blog, or perhaps my podcast.

But if you know me in real life (and some of you do), one thing you’d notice is that I rarely go anywhere without at least one bag on my shoulder or crossing my body.

How many I carry at once depends on what I’m doing. You might be seeing me right after work. Or going to a clothing swap. Or going to work out. Or lugging groceries … you get the picture.

Which leads me to today’s post.

My name is D, and I have a bag hoarding problem.

I have a number of fabric/reusable bags in various stages of use or disrepair. But my real problem lies with my collection of plastic bags.

But D, you ask, you do know you can recycle plastic bags, right?

Um, why yes, I do. But I hold on to plastic bags, because you never know when they’ll come in handy (and not just for disposing items).

I recently decided to do a bit of cleaning and discovered just how many bags I’ve saved for such occasions:

20180213_163216Um. Yeah.

Believe me when I say that this photo doesn’t fully show the scale of my “little” problem.

There were bags within bags, shoved into other bags, crammed under my desk, balled up in one of my closets.

I’d been putting this task off for months, simply because it’s so time-consuming. But about two weeks ago, I got tired of it.

So I pulled up my sleeves, pulled out all these bags, and got down to sorting.

I started with the obvious: recycling bags that have holes or have disintegrated over time.

(Something I learned: over time, biodegradable plastic bags pretty much become plastic confetti that gets everywhere.)

Then, my floor covered in plastic, I made piles according to size and shape.


Another thing I learned:

I’ve spent a lot of time at Popeye’s Chicken — and I do mean a LOT. It’s a dangerous habit and I need to watch myself.

After arranging the sea of plastic into something a bit more orderly, I went from pile to pile, counting how many of each I had in total, and then cutting down those piles by at least half, but usually much more. So if I had, say 30 bags, I tried to limit the pile to between 10 and 12.

The only exceptions to my arbitrary rule were shopping bags big enough to line my garbage cans, and clear produce bags I could use for organic food scraps.

I also had some big sheets of plastic (former dry-cleaning garment “bags”), which I stored in case I need to paint or re-pot something. (You never know!)

I’m sure there’s a faster way of doing this.  But to make any headway, I chose to do it this way, because seeing what I was doing as I was doing it helped make the task a little less overwhelming.

I spent maybe an hour and a half, two hours at most, but I think I made a decent-sized dent.

The shopping bags meant for garbage cans were stuffed in a small cardboard box that will act as a dispenser. (This was something my mom did in her previous home.)

And after a few trips to the recycling bins in the basement, I felt a small sense of accomplishment.

That is … until I went to store a couple chairs in one of my closets and found this:


See? I told you I had a problem.

Having run out of steam, I shoved it in a corner out of mild frustration, but I did tackle it last week.

We’ll see how long this period of reduced-bag living lasts.

What “problems” or tasks have you put off, and are going to tackle this year?

It could be on your spring cleaning to-do list, or perhaps it’s something that’s been hanging over your head for months, and you’re finally going to do something about it.

Let me know in the comments, if you have time!

Out With The Old …

As I mentioned in last week’s post, one of my goals this year is to try and de-clutter.

It’s an ongoing thing with me, since I go through phases where I’m overcome by the need to toss and shred any unimportant pieces of paper that have been hung around for too long.

(Or, I stumble upon an episode an episode of Hoarders, and I immediately want to throw everything I own into the garbage.)

Generally, I’ve been good with sorting through recently acquired pieces of junk mail, opened envelopes and such.

But now I think I need to step it up a notch.

I have to start going through drawers and ditch things that haven’t seen the light of day.

Old and/or destroyed articles of clothing, or old bags, have got to go. (And if any of you have any environmentally-friendly suggestions for getting rid of not-so-gently-used shoes, articles of clothing or accessories, please speak up! I’m not planning on letting winter slow me down!)

And, once and for all, I have to finally deal with other miscellanous items I’ve acquired over the years, that I haven’t used. Because there’s no use in me keeping them if someone else can use them.

(Besides, when on EARTH is a pair of binoculars ever going to come in handy?)

I know I can’t do it in one go. My current strategy is to take on mini-purge projects.

Every week, I’m going to try and pick a group of drawers or a closet, or a corner of the house in which my stuff resides, and just pick away at it for an hour or two, and see where that gets me. If I get rid of a lot, I try another section. If not, I try again the following week.

My sincere hope is that, using baby steps, by the time the snow thaws and spring arrives, a lot of accumulative mess will have been shredded, tossed, ripped up, recycled or donated.

My motivation right now is high. I just hope it doesn’t fade.

Wish me luck.

* Illustration courtesy of IQ Matrix Blog.

Solve THIS Holey Problem

This isn’t really a post … so much as it is an open call for you guys to put on your thinking caps and help me brainstorm a solution for the following:

I have a bunch of over-loved pants (and a few shirts) with holes in them that are too big to bother fixing. Some pants I can no longer fit in to.

I also have a few bags (one knapsnack, one gym bag, and one “work” shoulder bag) that also have holes, or are downright ratty.

They need to go, ’cause they’re taking up space.

I was going to toss them, BUT, I’d rather not. I’d just be making yet another contribution to the world’s landfills. So that’s my absolute-last-resort option.

So, to those of you who are crafty/environmentally-aware:

Do any of you know of any people, places, organizations or companies (in Toronto, of course) that take in old holey clothes (or bags) for the purpose of:

(a) crafts involving fabrics/textiles OR

(b) repurposing the fabric to make new articles of clothing, handbags, etc.?

If you do, please comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Letters and Cards

As I may or may not have mentioned previously, I’m a bit messy when it comes to my personal things. I have a rather large, unwieldy amount of clutter.

But since I wrote this post back in October – and spurred by my brother who moved out this fall (in a fashion similar to a squatter who’s been evicted) – I’ve been fighting a slow, protracted, passive-agreessive War on Clutter.

Amid the days where I alternate between lazily staring at my junk and impulsively chucking stuff before the urge passes, I’ve set up a couple organizational projects for myself.

One has been putting photos I developed years ago (by which, I mean as far back as 1996), into albums. A lot of them now have homes, but it’s still a work in progress. 

The other has been sifting through old letters and post cards. I’ve been procrastinating about dealing with this because:

(1) the number of letters I’ve kept over the years  is HUGE – good grief! I truly had NO IDEA until I started pulling them out from drawers and out from underneath piles of other junk I have to deal with. (No, seriously – today I found a birthday card I got from my dad when I was FOURTEEN.)

(2) I’ve been having an inner struggle over the type of karma I’ll create for myself if I throw out the letters and cards people have taken the time to write me. (And part of that is also emotional attachment.)

I recently informally canvassed some of my friends on Facebook for advice and suggestions. 

Some said, get rid of it all. Others – who’ve kept every single letter and card given to them, and have only recently purged a bit of their own collections – said to find containers to keep them in, if I didn’t really want to get rid of them.

Other friends – who are quite resourceful and crafty – suggested reusing/recycling them in different ways, such as making little gift boxes.

So as a compromise to what I’ve been advised, I’ve started re-reading cards and letters I’ve gotten over the years and casting final judgement after.

I’ve tried to keep my current methodology very simple:

Postcards and letters from abroad: For now, I keep. No question. What I do with them could be a future project.

Cards: Hand-made ones, I definitely keep. Ones that don’t have anything more than a generic “To/from/merry Christmas/happy birthday” greeting, get chucked. 

Letters: if it doesn’t elicit a reaction or evoke a memory, OR if I no longer keep in contact with the letter’s author, I re-read it, and out it goes.

So far, it’s been helping me to deal with old letters and cards with minimal guilt.  

When I started a few nights ago, I came across a bunch of letters my mom wrote me when I first went away to school. I found one and started reading part of it to her. She actually said, “I WROTE that?” The next thing I know, I went through letter after letter, reading them aloud. It was great.

It also took me by surprise when my mom admitted to me that, after getting me settled in my new residence room and leaving the building to make the five-hour return trip home, my mom sat on the front steps of the residence and actually bawled

All these years, I’ve never thought of my mom as a crier. I can  probably count on one hand – maybe three fingers – the number of times I can recall seeing her cry.

But it gave me a new appreciation for what she went through as a mom letting go (sort of) of her first-born, and re-reading the letters again – with the proper context – gave me a fresh perspective.  

I still have a LOT of letters to go through. I’m putting off  dealing with the piles of letters from friends who constantly wrote me letters and notes.

But at least in this way I can – if only briefly – re-live the memories in those letters before deciding to keep them … or finally let them go.