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Fickleness: how to declutter by William Norris (and me!)

I am swamped by possessions. Awash with ‘things’. Overwhelmed by ‘stuff’.

“Stop,” I say to Mark at the Apple Store and the girls at the school teddy tombola. “We don’t need anything else. Please no more. I'm busy enough without the role of ‘household disposal expert’ added to my portfolio.”

Recycle: My small kitchen is full of containers for recycling items: tetrapak for the special bin at the tip; plastic food wrapping and carrier bags for a ‘bigger’ Sainsbury’s store; flat batteries to Boots; empty print cartridges to be sent off in charity envelopes; food waste for compost; card and plastic bottles in the white bin; paper, cans and glass in the red bin; garden waste in the green bin.

Reuse: Jam jars to the loft for autumn chutney making; loo rolls to school for making rockets; craft from school dismantled into googly eyes, feathers and sequins for new projects; used stamps for the Donkey Sanctuary; greetings cards for collage; wrapping paper folded to use again; clothes and books to Oxfam; baby stuff to anyone with even half a bump; teddies (back) to the school teddy tombola; half used paint samples foisted on friends, “Are you decorating? Blue? Yes, I’ve got twenty.”

Reduce: Yes! Please. Please. Please. I have everything I need. More than I need.

Ten years ago, I bought an electric juicing machine from Asda. £6.50. White. Plastic. Used it once. An impulse buy. I passed it on to the mother-in-law, along with the weight of its responsible disposal once she too realised its lack of merit. This morning, I squeezed a lemon on a simple, glass lemon-squeezer like they did in the old days. It worked perfectly. It's pretty. It's small. You can rinse it under the tap once and it's clean. It looks good on my shelf and makes me smile when I see it.

William Morris said: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

I would add, and preferably both.

Nowadays, I consider an item’s obsolescence and my fickleness (yes that is a word) long before I reach for my debit card. I've stopped watching adverts (thank goodness for iPlayer) and looking at catalogues. Believe me, you do not need an electric juicer, bread machine, coffee machine, smoothie maker, ice cream maker and neither do your friends and relatives this Christmas. Three days' excitement about ‘lattes’ and blueberry-and-biscuit ice cream are totally disproportionate to the time that the machine will sit unused on the kitchen worktop and then decaying (or not) in landfill with a broken part that the manufacturer won't repair.

Morris is the way forward. Don’t kid yourself, it's not recycling or reusing that will save the planet for future generations. It's reducing. Let me put it simply: stop buying ‘stuff’!

Read last month's post: cactus lady

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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