Clear out your home sustainably – sharing lessons I learned moving to another country

When you move between countries, there’s a high chance you’ll move by plane and will have a very limited luggage. A few years ago, I moved from Germany to Scotland.  That was awesome since I could just send whatever didn’t fit into the suitcase. I remember sending 5 boxes, 25 kg each (my entire household) from Scotland to Germany after graduation  and thanks to parcelmonkey, at a super accessible price. Well, last year I moved from Germany to Mexico. And trust me, moving across the ocean is a little bit of a different thing. I got my Christmas chards in March – yup, it takes about three month for something to arrive, and chances are, it won’t even arrive. Not talking about the costs of sending something across the ocean. So there was no way I could send more stuff by shipping.  I could only take what I’d really need, and it couldn’t be much.

Do I really need this? 

This “limit” was actually some kind of freedom – I had to decide what was really important to me, what I would miss if I didn’t take it, and what I didn’t and could give away. Just saying – I hadn’t heard of Mari Kondo at that time, I did so only recently when it popped up on Netflix, and found out that some parts sounded surprisingly similar of what I had done a few months before. Anyways.

Regardless of whether you are moving countries or not, I think these are tipps that are always helpful for focusing on what you really need in (daily) life and getting rid of stuff that is just collecting dust.

So these are the categories I created:

  • Books
  • Wardrobe
  • Bathroom – Personal Care
  • Personal (beloved) objects
  • Important documents

BOOKS

florencia-viadana-744471-unsplashThat was tough. I am a huge bookworm and I’ll be honest, it hurts leaving books behind.  (Anyone else out there who is feeling with me …?!!) When I had everything shipped  from Scotland to Germany, I was most scared of losing the box that had all my books inside (it arrived!). Some books though I knew I wasn’t going to read again, and wouldn’t miss either, so I sold them online to make another reader happy. The ones I really liked though, obviously, I kept. (I ended up taking an extra suitcase just for books…) If you know you are not going to miss certain books, I recommend giving them away. It really is a liberating feeling! Ask your friends, colleagues, family members, or sell them online. That way, you give those books a new life instead of keeping them without reason, and will make you, the book, and someone else very happy.

WARDROBE

priscilla-du-preez-228220-unsplashTo be honest, that was fairly easy. I am not attached to clothes – I always think, if I was in a dangerous situation, the least I would care about is what I wear. Clothes are something I can get anywhere else, even if I, obviously, try not to be careless about it. A little while ago, I stopped buying new clothes and get all my clothes second hand. Sometimes they are borrowed, sometimes I buy them if someone wants to get rid of them, sometimes I discover a new second-hand shop in town and I’ll go check it out. It is not only cheaper but far more environment-friendly, too. Clothes are something to feel comfortable in, I think, not something turning you into a marketing-sign or a mannequin. I do have a few favourite pieces of clothing that always make me feel like I am myself. Those were the ones I took. The rest I gave away, sold, or,  when they were already worn-out, had them recycled It’s not the best option but still more environmentally friendly than throwing them into landfill.

Bathroom – Personal Care 

bathroomI’ve never been much of a make-up enthusiast and had started living zerowaste a while ago, so I didn’t have that many things lying around collecting dust. I still discovered some old brushes, rouge, highlighter, mascara and eyeliners, and nail polish that I had barely used. Some of those were too old to be used, those that weren’t I took with me, with the intention of finally using them. Also, seeing so many things unused, I took the firm resolution of  never buying what I don’t need. I know it can be hard sometimes. A tipp for avoiding spending too much on what you don’t need: make a list of the things you do need for your make up / personal care and invest in those. Try to switch to sustainable products, such as a solid shampoo bar, or a reusable razor. In most cases, it is also much cheaper! To make sure you don’t buy what might have caught your attention once in the shop and then never again, take that list as a note on your phone – whenever you’re tempted, just double-check.

PERSONAL (BELOVED) OBJETCS

vladimir-mokry-1180902-unsplash.jpgThere are some things that are Y O U R S, memories, gifts, souvenirs, those objects that tell a story and that you love dearly. (Or, as the Konmari – method teaches, “that spark joy”…) My recommendation: don’t kick them out. Just don’t, it’ll hurt and you’ll miss them. I filled one half of the suitcase with those. The rest that didn’t fit have found their place on one little shelf in my parents’ house. (I am so lucky to have parents that take good care of these little things!)
And then, there are other things that you might really like, but wouldn’t take with you at all cost. I didn’t really feel like selling them or giving them to someone I didn’t know since I had my heart too much attached to them (yeah, I know, me and those beloved objects haha), so the solution I found was asking friends if they needed or wanted them  – CDs, some books, picture frames,  tea cups, those kind of things. They were happy, I was happy, and nothing went unnecessarily to the trash bin.

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS 

First, define “important”. If a school book from third grade is important to you, keep it. Other than that, I’d categorize important documents as birth certificate, all kinds of other certificates, letters from the bank, the government (you get a lot of those in Germany) that you might need later to fill in some kind of online document (you also need a lot of these in Germany.) Some of them I knew I still needed, others I could take a digital copy of and could get rid of the paper version. Needless to say, passport and birth certificate were taken, whatever else I could possibly need in the near future and couldn’t risk kicking it out, I put into a box and kept it stored in my parents’ basement. End of story.

DONE! CONGRATS!

So now, take a deep breath! How does it feel? Good, huh? Carrying everything I needed in one suitcase (okay, two, the second one was books) felt kind of … cool. It teaches you that there are more important things than owning many objects. What really matters and you’ll really miss, is, after all, moments, friends, laughter, sharing a coffee … those priceless things. Focus on those. Don’t get distracted by objects you don’t really need and which end up collecting dust. Focus on what really matters, and what’ll really make you happy, sustainably, in the long run. 🙂

 

Tell me how you’ve been doing, or share your tipps or experiences of clearing out! =) 

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash
Photo by Vladimir Mokry on Unsplash

5 comentarios en “Clear out your home sustainably – sharing lessons I learned moving to another country

  1. I’ve just moved from England to Australia but spent the first three months travelling here – we packed SO lightly and have so much left back home. Now we are settled in our apartment though none of those things seem like necessary – great post!

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    1. Hey there! Nice to hear your story, wow, I mean, that is a big distance!! How have you settled in Australia? And, I kind of know that feeling, you cleared out so much, and once you arrive at your new home, there is just too big of a temptation to use all that new space you never got whilst traveling, right? ;D Usually, asking myself if I really, truly need this or that, helps a lot to just buy what you need and be happy what you have. ❤ Greetings to Australia!

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      1. The travelling was great, now comes the living haha we have only been in the apartment 8 days so it’s all still in the honeymoon period – I definitely love it now and can’t imagine being anywhere else. Definitely great advice – we got good when we were shopping at being like ‘no, there are only 2 of us, we don’t need all of that’ haha

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      2. Oh wow!! This phase is always so exciting, making a home of a new place!! Wish you all the best. And yes, haha, same here, there’s a German saying “Sometimes the eyes are bigger than the stomach”, meaning sometimes you put much more onto your plate than you’ll be able to finish, I feel this goes for so many things!! I saw your blog on Instagram and will continue to follow your adventure there! 🙂

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