An update on my year of buying (almost) nothing

Catherine and Martha have both written recently about their no-buy years, which sparked me to think about how I am doing.

It’s turning into a year of shedding things. I did buy two new pairs of shoes and splurged on a dress for my son’s wedding (on Saturday!). There have been a few new books and winter bike gear (no regrets at all about that because it got heavily used).

I don’t buy much but I’m also not good at getting rid of things. I was raised by a woman who grew up in rural Alberta during the Depression and war years. Her motto was to hold onto everything for seven years, then another seven just in case.

Compound that with dad’s career which meant we moved every 1-2 years until I was in high school (and a couple of times after that). We were constantly losing things we valued so we held on to the rest extra hard.

I’m back at the office now, but looking to retire within a year. I’ll never use some work outfits again because there won’t be time before my retirement. I will never wear other things again because work styles got a lot more casual thanks to Work From Home. I am coming to terms with the fact that I will never fit into some things again, no matter how much I love them, so it is time to let someone else love them.

Every few days I open a closet and randomly pull out an item or two. Sometimes I am able to put them directly into the bin I keep handy for charitable donations. Sometimes they sit at the end of the bed for days because I’m not quite ready to try them on or let them go. Very occasionally, they get a second chance and are worn at least once. If I still like them at the end of the day, they get put back in the closet after washing. Otherwise they go into the bin when the laundry is done.

This newfound decluttering hasn’t entirely reached the rest of the house yet but I am making progress. That dress and jacket for the wedding was made from fabric I had on hand. I am indulging in my love of canning and making jams by deliberately cooking up goodies to give away so I will never have to see those canning jars again. I spent a couple of days reorganizing and eliminating camping gear and was able to downsize the storage area considerably.

My personal style leans much more towards Victorian clutter than modern minimalism, and I have way too many hobbies (and books to support them) so I know this is going to be a long-term process. Maybe my goal for the next year should be to continue downsizing so I can accommodate the renovations I want to do. After all, it will be much easier to build a new bedroom closet or refinish hardwood floors if I don’t have much to move.

A large, sunny craft room with a red dressmaker’s dummy, neatly stacked bins and fabrics organized by colour in a glass-doomed cupboard. Oddly for a sewing room, there is no sewing machine and no place to cut out fabrics. Photo is from

Diane Harper is a public servant living in Ottawa.

Let us know what you think....