Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's "40 Bag Challenge" Time!

I guess this must be the official month of challenges. Not only have I started my "local and organic challenge", I have also decided to do a "40 Bag Challenge", inspired by Sarah over at Clover Lane. The gist of it is to rid your house of 40 bags of clutter over the course of 40 days. Sarah does hers as a Lenten ritual, starting on Ash Wednesday, but you could start anytime you want! I think this is a great time of year to do this kind of deep decluttering as a kick-off to spring cleaning. If you want more details and guidance as to how to go about this systematic decluttering process, follow along with Sarah's posts on this topic every Wednesday. Hopefully I will have a couple of useful things to say as well as I go about my own 40 Bag Challenge! I really believe decluttering is an essential part of household management in a busy family home; in fact I even wrote a post last year about five ways decluttering saves you money!

We kicked off our 40 Bag Challenge last week by sorting through my boys' old gaming equipment and games. They have managed to accumulate quite a lot over the past few years and it was high time to do a purge. They had a GameCube they were no longer using, as well as a dozen or so games for it. We posted those on Kijiji and happily sold them yesterday (the profits are going towards a laptop they are saving up for!). We are also trying to sell a bunch of other games they are done with as well. We still need to do a more in-depth clean out of both of their rooms, but this was a good start.

Another area I decided to tackle early on was our container cupboard, which had degenerated to a horrifically disorganized mess over the past few months:

After taking everything out, sorting and purging I was able to get everything back in there in a much more harmonious arrangement. We had an unbelievable amount of lids for yogurt/sour cream containers (which I use to freeze homemade stock). A couple dozen more lids than containers - I have no idea how that sort of thing happens (I suspect they breed in the night). Tossing those, along with a few other lids that no longer had containers, cleared up a lot of extra space. I also removed a bunch of older plastic containers and relegated them to non-food use. Once I was done, it looked like this:

I am thrilled that I'm no longer afraid to open our container cupboard for fear of random items whacking me in the head, and I can easily locate what I need now without wading through a sea of jumbled-up containers.

The next couple of areas I plan on tackling are the armoire in our dining room, which is packed full of all kinds of random art supplies, games, and other assorted detritus which has randomly accumulated there, and my boys' closets, which are kind of frightening at the moment, too.

Care to join me in your own 40 Bag Challenge? I would love to hear how you do with it!


  1. I'm proud to say that I don't have 40 bags of clutter to get rid of. That is one benefit of having moved so many times in the last 6 years! ;-) (The downside is feeling rootless and unsettled and wishing we could afford our "forever" home right this second!) I will say that my son (10) has about 25 bags he could get rid of but he's not ready yet to part with some things from his younger years, even stuff he never touches. Sigh. This is a hard issue for me. Perhaps when he's a bit older, like your boys, he'll be ready to let go. Good luck with your de-cluttering! I actually love doing it. The only thing I ever regret putting on freecycle are my waffle iron and some beautiful hats from the 1950's that my grandmother wore. I just didn't have space for them at the time but now I wish I had them. Oh, and some 1950's cookbooks that belonged to my mom. At least the women who took the above items were thrilled to get them, so I know they went to good homes.

  2. That's awesome that you don't have stuff to purge! I keep hoping I will get there someday :) I honestly don't know where half this stuff comes from, since we are certainly not "shoppers" by any stretch of the imagination! A lot of it does tend to be outgrown kids' items (clothes, books, toys) but there always seems to be a bunch of other things, too. I think our tendency to drag stuff home off the curb so we can use one piece of it is a contributing factor :) My husband just got a really ugly old lamp off freecycle so he could use some of the parts to rewire one of the sockets of our chandelier. We've scavenged all the parts off it that could be potentially useful for future repair jobs, but now we are left with discarding the rest.

  3. You know when I make my stock I pour 1/4 cup amounts into a cupcake pan, freeze it, pop them out & store them in a ziplock bag. I actually put those silicone cupcake liners in first so they are super easy to get out but that isn't necessary, just convenient. Might be a way to stop having to save as many containers!


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