Back to the Beginning

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One of the very earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about folding plastic bags. It was back in 2011 and you can revisit the post here.

As part of my sustainability strategy, I reuse everything as many times as I possibly can. Even though we do not intentionally acquire any new plastic bags they do seem to accumulate. This is due to several factors, including other people giving me things in plastic bags, the longevity of the bags and finally, an enormous number of both new and used bags that have resulted from cleaning out my mother’s possessions.

Plastic bags are not the only ones that I seem to have. There are also paper bags. I know that these can be recycled and/or composted but it is still better to reuse them where possible. I give consideration to the resources that have been used to generate these bags and feel that they deserve to be used as many times as possible.

I seemed to have different types of bags stored in various locations in my home so I recently decided that there needed to be a better and more co-ordinated approach. Hopefully, this will assist in ensuring that what we have can be easily accessed and used as required.

Additionally, the bags I use every day are in the kitchen drawer – ziplock bags and reused bread bags as well as lightweight plastic bags hanging in a dispenser in the laundry cupboard.

I made the new dispenser as the old one had really seen better days. All of the materials were recycled bits retrieved from my stash.

Finally, I created a small pack of bags for the glovebox of each car. A few small ziplock bags, paper bags, lightweight plastic bags and a small foldable carry bag all contained in a medium ziplock bag. The plan is that this will cover all possible unforeseen contingencies when we are out and about.

I am happy with my new arrangements and keen to gradually reduce the quantity of bags in the household through natural attrition rather than wholesale disposal or recycling.

A Continuing Tale

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There is no doubt in my mind that decluttering is a long-term and ongoing project. This post from 2017 explains my thoughts in detail.

I have been a bit under the weather for the past few days with a head cold but am definitely much improved today. Since we were in lockdown until 6pm today, I took the opportunity to do a bit of cleaning, tidying and decluttering. I have really just done the bare minimum at home over the last 4 months while my mother was ill and following her death as there were many other more pressing priorities.

As I noted in another old post from 2015:

“Circumstances are constantly evolving as we welcome children into our homes, they grow and then finally leave home.  Later there may be the addition of grandchildren or the death of a spouse.  All of these things require us to adapt what we have and how we use it.  It is easy for the essentials of one phase of our lives to become the clutter of the future so it is wise to review our needs regularly.”

I am not sure of exactly what prompted me to write that 6 years ago but it is certainly relevant to my current situation. Not only have I acquired items that belonged to my mother but I am also reassessing what we really need.

We have been empty-nesters for close to 16 years, however, during that time the lives and needs of our children have become increasingly separate to us. They are now thoroughly independent adults in their mid-late 30s. Even the grandchildren are moving into their teen years.

The impetus for some of my recent decluttering has been multi-faceted.

Acquisition of items from Mum
Items becoming obsolete due to improved organisation
Need to use the available storage as efficiently as possible
Continuing realisation of how much/little I actually need
Desire to give to others who need items
Considering the possibility of relocating sometime in the future

I don’t have many photos for this post but here is one example of what I have achieved recently.

This is a photo of my laundry cupboard back in 2015.

I had one laundry hamper in the cupboard and another mesh foldable one in our bedroom.

About 3 years ago I relocated the vacuum cleaner to the bottom of the linen cupboard and the space on the left-hand side of this photo was home to the portable dehumidifier. This worked reasonably well except I was not overly thrilled with a basket of worn clothes lurking in the corner of our bedroom.

I recently acquired another mesh foldable hamper from my mother’s belongings and this prompted me to reconsider how things were arranged. The dehumidifier was rehomed to a cupboard under the laundry bench and I then put the 2 matching hampers in the tall cupboard. They are now designated as ‘lights’ and ‘darks’ so I can see at a glance when a particular load needs doing.

The cane hamper is now surplus to requirements.

The lid had long since broken and the lining ripped so I had fashioned a removable liner from an old sheet. I really did not think it would be a highly desirable item, however, I listed in on a couple of local Buy, Swap, Sell groups and had several enquiries almost immediately. It is going to be collected tomorrow.

Pantry Organisation

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As I promised in my post from yesterday, here is my pantry.  It is reasonably well-organised but has not been tidied especially for these photos.

My grocery shopping can be divided into 2 basic categories.  The first is bulk bin purchases of dry goods such as nuts, flours, seeds, legumes which are shown in the first photo.  I buy most of these from Simply Good.  I am able to take my own containers to fill and thus avoid any packaging.  This is important to me and particularly relevant as we approach the end of Plastic Free July.

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I regard supermarket shopping as the last resort – I buy those items which I cannot grow, swap, buy from the producer directly, greengrocer, butcher or otherwise plastic free.  These include dairy products and a small number of canned or packaged foods.  These are mostly shown in the next photo.

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By having an organised refrigerator and pantry, I am able to easily scan the shelves and create a shopping list when required.

 

Refrigerator Organisation

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We did the grocery shopping early this morning and when I came home I wiped out and tidied the refrigerator before putting everything away.

I don’t whether it is simply habit but I routinely place items in the same area of the refrigerator.  It certainly makes it easier to locate things when I need them.

This is the main part of the refrigerator.

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The door shelves are similarly organised.

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2 things came to my notice when doing this.

The refrigerator is not overstuffed.  We have plenty of food without it being jam-packed.

Almost everything is purchased or stored in glass.  I still have and use some plastic containers but these are becoming less and less.

I am happy to answer any questions about the contents of the refrigerator.

Tomorrow I will show you the pantry contents and storage.

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Rethinking in Retirement

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No, I am not rethinking the fact that I have retired.  I am very happy with that decision.

I am talking about rethinking previous habits and two examples spring to mind.

When I was working in the city it suited me to have my cut at a salon close to my workplace.  Once I finished work I did go there a few more times by incorporating my haircut with another reason for a trip to the city.  I always intended to review this practice and change to having my haircut in our local town.  My hand was forced by the impact of the coronavirus as a trip to the city is simply out of the question at the moment.

I am fortunate to have an acquaintance here who is a hairdresser and is happy to visit and do haircuts in the client’s home.  So, yesterday was the day.  It was actually 14 weeks since my last haircut so I was looking rather shaggy.  I am very pleased with the result.  Thanks, Anni.

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Similarly, we had always had our car serviced regularly in the city as it suited GMan to drop it off and collect it when going to work.  That is no longer the case and today we took it to the local service centre in our town.  The ute had been serviced locally for a number of years and there was no good reason not to take the car there, too.

I am sure there are other habits and routines that we will change in retirement.

Photos – The First Step

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5 days ago in this post I unveiled my latest decluttering project.  I intend to have all of my photos culled, sorted and labelled in a digital format.

I started with the files that were already on my computers – yes, plural.  The very first step was to consolidate them onto one device for the purpose of this project.  That resulted in reducing the number from over 18,000 images to 17,300.

I then removed further duplicates as I placed the photos in 15 primary folders plus and additional one for some assorted videos.

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The categories I chose reflect my interests and priorities.  Yours may be very different.

Within those folders are sub-categories.  For instance, the one named ‘Animals’ contains photos of various pets we have had over the years.  Each pet has their own folder.  ‘Family’ which contains the largest number of photos has a folder for each year.  Within that folder may be folders for specific events such as birthdays and weddings with the remainder of photos for the year simply be ordered sequentially  and labelled with the person and place if applicable.  Some of the folders may be removed completely once all of the photos are dealt with.  The folders ‘Food’ and ‘Clothes’ are primarily for photos used in blog posts.  Once these have been checked against the folders for the blog and the photos referenced then the photos and other folders may be deleted.

Although this screenshot looks very neat, there is an enormous jumble within those folders that will take many hours of work to unravel.  I have plenty of time and intend to a little bit every day – a bit like eating an elephant!

The second part of the photo project is contained in a box.  The box on top of the filing cabinet contains all of the photos which have yet to be scanned, along with assorted other bits and pieces.  I dare not show you the contents yet as I am not ready to dive into that and the photos that need scanning until I have the digital files under control.

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The good news is that the digital files have now been whittled down a bit further to 16,500.

So, why am I doing this?

  1.  As with any decluttering project, I want to keep only that which is useful and of value.  This means removing duplicates, photos that no longer have any meaning to me and poor quality images where there is a superior one that is similar.
  2.  Having an organised and curated collection means that my family and I are more likely to peruse and enjoy the photos.
  3.   When I am gone it will be easy for people to choose which photos to retain and which were only of value to me.
  4.   My descendants will not be left wondering as to who was in a photo or where and when it was taken.

Like many people, I have left this task far too long but I am now determined to complete it.  I honestly have no idea how long it will take.

The Long Haul

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I have begun a new project and as the title indicates, it is not something that will be completed quickly.

The sorting, cataloging and culling of my photos has begun in earnest.  The first step is the digital files, so there is really very little to show.  I had files duplicated on 2 computers as well as some of them on an external hard drive.  They are now all consolidated onto a single device.  There are currently over 17,000 files.  They include nearly 1,000 prints that I scanned some years ago.  There are still more to scan but they can wait until the next stage as I want to get all of the digital files sorted before I add any more.  Some of the files are duplicates and others will undoubtedly be culled.  At least I only have a handful of images on my phone as I regularly download those to the computer.

There have been several attempts to do this over a number of years but it was simply to big a job to tackle while I was working but a combination of retirement and an extended period of self-isolation has proved to be the perfect formula for tackling this task.

Previous attempts have helped me to come up with a digital filing method and naming convention that will allow me to find and access particular images with relative ease in the future.

There is lots of fun in finding some blasts from the past.

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I intend to try to do at least a little bit of this project every day but I also have plenty else to keep me occupied and interested.  Tomorrow I will be helping GMan with his latest garden project – building new compost bays.

Love a List

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We arrived home a little over 2 days ago after being away for almost 3 weeks.  There was the inevitable washing and ironing as well as grocery shopping but there seemed to be a million and one other things whirling around in my head that required my attention.

So, the first step was to write a list.

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I started writing this on Wednesday evening and have worked through many of the items but there are plenty left to do.  Some may not even get done but that is OK.  I know that some people advocate against “endless ‘TO DO’ lists” but I find that the clarity that a list provides far outweighs any perceived pressure.

I don’t have fancy journals or bulletin boards – just a simple unused notebook is sufficient.  I add things to it as I think of them and there is no specific time-frame so it is more of a memory prompt than anything else.

My list is a mix some regular tasks – washing, ironing, handwashing, digital tasks – send email to ………, update Outlook calendar, clear out inbox, food preparation – cut up pineapple, make Tabasco sauce and completely miscellaneous jobs such as writing up notes for a presentation of our Scotland holiday photos.

List-making minimises the stress of feeling like I am juggling too many balls, provides a reminder of what needs to be done and provides a sense of focus and accomplishment as I tick things off the list.

What about you? Lists?  Yes or no?

 

Gone

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Decluttering and streamlining what we own is a recurring theme here.  I have never had a huge cleanout but have tended to gradually reduce what we have by not replacing things as they are used or removing things that no longer have a purpose in our home.

However, I want to share a couple of things that we have re-homed in the last week.

The first was actually at work.  It is nearly 18 months ago that I wrote this post about a bulk amount of paper clips being discarded.  Unfortunately, I received very little support from the sustainability team so the bag of paper clips was still languishing in the cupboard beside my desk.  Every time I opened the cupboard I was bothered by the thought of what was going to happen to them.  Last week I noticed a small bag of assorted paper clips/bulldog clips in the ‘Mail Out’ tray.  These were being returned to the mail room so I asked the courier from the mail room if they could take the bag of paper clips and she was delighted and said they would be so useful.  The quantity did not daunt her in the least!  YAY!!!  The rescued paper clips now have a new home.

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Today my sister and brother-in-law came and collected a pile of old broken pavers.  This post from 3 months ago was about removing the old pavers from an outdoor staircase.  We gave some of the salvaged pavers to our neighbour to make an outdoor path and kept the remainder for a small landscaping project we have to do.  Of course, in the process of lifting them some broke and others had been cut to fit the space.  We did not want these but my brother-in-law was happy to take them for solid fill at his place.  Today was the day that they went to their new home so that is something else gone.

These are some of the good used pavers but the pile of broken ones have been moved along.

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