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The Great January Clearance – Day 1  


The Great Clearance begins - I'm emptying the bookshelves

Dear friends, I’m not talking about the Post -Christmas sales, when everything you wanted before Christmas drops to half price. I’ve tried to avoid those this year, as I am looking around at the immense clutter I already have.

The New Rule for our house is that you can’t bring in anything new unless you are prepared to sacrifice something you already have. This is because modern houses here just don’t have the attics, cellars or even room for the garden sheds or garages we used to have. The waste is downright criminal. Each day there are offerings on our neighbourhood site for things which can be taken for free – even fridges and washing machines, because people just don't have the space or they have bought a new model. Garage sales don’t work here at all anymore, nor does free listing on Gumtree. What we need perhaps is a central repository where things surplus to requirements can be stored and taken as needed and returned, just like libraries.

Children’s Books

This time I’ve started with the children’s books because I thought that would be easy. The granddaughters are growing up much too fast. Last year I sent those for very young children to the poor little girls who were being kept in the refugee detention centre on Christmas Island. I’m glad that’s no longer necessary and that they and their parents have been able to return home to Biloela, the small country town whose citizens worked so hard to prevent them being deported back to Sri Lanka. Our little street libraries are overflowing. If no one in the neighbourhood network wants them, it looks like they are going to the Op -shop.(UK Thrift Shop/ Charity Shops).

I feel really bad about the full set of the World Book Encyclopaedias. Some of the yearbooks are still in their plastic wrappers. Nineteen- ninety six must have been the year we got the computer. I have offered them for free on the local network and no one has come to claim them. Such a shame, when I think how long our parents slaved to get my sister and I a set, but there’s no going back unless the entire internet falls down or we are trapped in a nuclear fallout shelter. I’ll keep the books my children and theirs loved best and the ones with beautiful illustrations for me -as inspiration, you understand. This process would be much quicker if I stopped reading them in between.


How can I have so many clothes and still have nothing to wear? I’ve been asking myself that.  Eco Warriors tell us that rotting clothes account for 8-10% of global emissions a year, not counting those produced in manufacture or transport. Fast fashion also uses millions of gallons of water – more than any other sector of the economy besides agriculture. It is also the world's second biggest polluter after the oil and gas industry. There’s an interesting point about dyeing in this video too.

Commercial dyeing and sizing involves some 2000 different chemicals including chlorine, arsenic, formaldehyde and heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which also pollute the environment. Cotton is the second most damaging crop on the planet and uses 25% of the world’s pesticides. Synthetics have their own problems. The manufacture of polyester requires around 70 million barrels of oil a year. Clothes made from them shed microbeads throughout their lifecycle – including your spin cycle, and take even longer to break down. We won’t even start on the working conditions of those employed in this industry. Read more here

What really happens to Clothes we try to Recycle

 Here is a short clip about what happens to 70% of the clothes we send to charity and remember only 15% of what is purchased is in fact recycled in any way at all.


See a longer version from Australia here.

Here’s a better idea from Italy. It certainly isn't the only answer although it uses approximately 50% less energy and water than starting from scratch. However, it shouldn't lull anyone into thinking it's OK to buy more because there's a faint possibility that it might be recycled. We had the same faith in the recycling of plastic. My bin was almost empty. When China refused to take it any longer, we found out that it too was being shipped to distant shores  Now it goes directly to our own landfills.




Looking through my wardrobe is indeed a lesson in what not to do. Apart from those clothes which I hope  to fit into again one day, there are those which I bought online which never fitted, but were too expensive to send back, let alone throw away. Note to myself. Never buy clothing online. Heaven knows I can hardly get anything to fit in the shops where I can try things on, so why would I think it would be better sight unseen and untried. Sometimes the quality is much lower than expected too. 

Then again, there are some clothes I have loved to death because they fitted well or were a great style and I’m just reluctant to part with them. I am still hoping there may be someone somewhere who could remake them. (Please apply here!)  Lastly, there are some that don’t quite fit or the wrong colour, but are made of beautiful fabric like silk or cashmere, which I hoped I might be able to do something with. I’ve always had this fantasy about us swanning around in mediaeval clothes, yet I mostly wear teeshirts and leggings and the nearest I’ve come to sewing in the last 20 years or so, is replacing a button here and there or putting up a hem, so who am I kidding? But.. but, says my brain, as I hastily put the good stuff back into the hatbox where it has lain for so long. I confess that I also still squirrel away lovely ribbon and beautiful paper and  have a tub full of hobby materials which I have never managed to get around to either. I have at least used the prettiest paper to reline the drawers and cover books.

To be continued.......