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Decluttering My Space One Jar at a Time!

By Julia Turner Lowe September 15, 2022 Lifestyle

I’m 72. I’ve moved seven times in the last 20 years, and I pare down with each move. I still feel like I have too much stuff! When I talk to my friends, especially ones that are around my age, we eventually get to the subject of downsizing, moving to a smaller space post retirement. Downsizing, decluttering, living simply and not overconsuming are ways I try to live and yet sometimes, I struggle with each.

Living a Simpler Life

I’ve lived in a small (900 square feet), but not tiny, house for most of the last 20+ years since 1999, and I’ve managed to recreate the look and feel of the larger 2200 square feet home. It’s been a sense of comfort for me and my daughters, but it also means I’ve crammed most of the furnishings and sentimental belongings into the smaller home.

I now want even less clutter. Trust me when I say that with each move, I threw out a lot of stuff, mostly “collections” of miniature houses from my travels, teacups and matching saucers, and tea pots (I still have those), old clothes, shoes, etc. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Do I need or want something is the question I ask myself when I’m out for a day of leisurely window shopping or at a crafts’ fair with a friend. This works most of the time. I recently upgraded my kitchen and decided that I wanted a new stove. I was about to make the purchase with the understanding that the appliance store would also unhook and remove the old stove.

I had assumed that my older stove would be donated. When I asked, they said no, and that it will be destroyed. I decided not to purchase the new stove. My old stove looks and works perfectly fine; I just wanted a new, fancier one with a convection oven and air frier built in. I hardly cook now, but it would be nice to look at. The jury is still out!

I share this story because I’m on a journey to a simpler life and less consumption and sometimes emotions, sentimentality and habit dictate my desire to consume or stop me from letting go of some of the clutter in my space.

Downsizing Is a Continuous Journey

When downsizing after my divorce, my daughters commented on the enormous number of mason-jars I’d collected. It’s a complicated story that’s connected to a childhood where we never had real drinking glasses but jars and also with my desire to use less plastic. In other words, saving jars became an obsession. We ended up throwing out several recycle bins of jars.

My point here is that clutter comes in all forms, even with my attempt to live greener. I still resist my desire to save every mayo or tomato sauce jar just in case I may need to store something. I’ve limited myself to one shelf and when they pile up in the dishwasher because I have no place to store them, I know it’s time to get rid of them.

I’ve gone through different phases of trying to declutter my space with the ultimate goal of leading a simpler life. I think many of us have similar struggles. For me, there’s a continuum, and I think for each of us, if it’s our desire, the level of simplicity or ability to declutter will be different. There’s no finish line; however, there is a street-wide yard sale coming soon, so I’ll take another stab at it.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you trying to declutter? Have you done it previously? What items seem to naturally pile up in your home, no matter how simply you are trying to live?

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Catherine Vance

I am already worried about the crushing responsibility of my mother’s stuff. I do not mean
meaningless stuff. I mean fascinating, wrought-with-family-history stuff. Yes, I have a hand-stitched quilt made by a great-great-grandmother; trunks of photos of generations of family members; love letters between my grandparents (they’re beautiful and touching), my grandfather’s sermons and publications. Bibles from everybody. Yes, I swear, I have stuff that came over on the Mayflower and I’m not kidding. Dishes that came across country on wagon trains. I have five siblings, but there are only four grandkids, and guess what? Three are largely disinterested. (Thank you, my son, for caring.) My siblings and I are in our 60s. I’m thinking: donate to museums? Select few kept and handed down? Please help. Mom is 90 and she has a LIBRARY in her house of photo albums from floor to ceiling.

Julie Hocking

Yes I too have just completed the same exercise. Fortunately I am not one that keeps clutter and each 12 months or so, I go through my apartment every cupboard every drawer and what things I haven’t worn, used, needed or even thought about, gets collected into a box. Then I will leave box in my garage for the next few months and if I stillll haven’t touched anything in it, I will then donate to the local charity shop.
This way for me, keeps me surrounded only by things that bring me joy 😊🦋


I’m very confused. In the beginning you say you moved several times in 20 years, and then later you say you’ve been in the same place for 20 years. Also the word is p a r e not p e a r.


Donate your books to the nearest Friends of the Library used book shop. All those cookbooks and gardening books are so popular now with younger homeowners.


I am 69 and have been retired for 3 years. I have no desire to downsize or get rid of my “things” yet! All my friends are talking about it, or doing it, but why? I have a 5 bedroom, 3000 sq. ft home I am not ready to leave. Of course I don’t keep clothes that I no longer wear. I donate a lot and shoes too, and pass on a lot of extra “stuff” like decor I no longer want. But I collect vintage china and have 35 sets at least. I crochet and have a special craft room to keep my hundreds of skeins of yarn organized. I have over 50 pairs of shoes, and over 100 wigs! That’s my privilege to keep them as long as I want. As far as making things easier for my kids after I am gone, well, they can deal with it then, if I die before I “downsize.” I’d be very depressed to move into a small home and not have room for the things I enjoy.


I don’t believe anyone is telling you you somehow ‘must’ downsize and if you aren’t interested in the topic why are you reading this type of article let alone commenting on it? You have every right to keep every piece of everything until you die and no one is saying any different. However many of us want to lighten our load and appreciate articles on the topic.

The Author

Julia Turner Lowe has a passion for fashion design and believes that every woman, regardless of her size or age, should be able to purchase clothing with exceptional craftsmanship and made with beautiful luxurious fabrics. She shares her thoughts about life on her blog, “Love the Body You're In.”

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