Removing things we neither need nor want is, to all intents and purposes, shutting the door after the first horse has bolted.  The first step is to stop those things getting in the house in the first place.  The first R in Bea Johnson’s mantra is Refuse.

What can I refuse to let into my home?

  • Packaging
  • Junk Mail
  • Bags (plastic/paper etc)
  • Books
  • Clothes
  • Food
  • Disposable items
  • DVDs
  • CDs
  • Plastic bottles
  • Yoghurt pots
  • Knick Knacks
  • Freebies
  • Unwanted gifts
  • Impulse purchases
  • Guilt purchases


That’s not your usual list.  I’ve highlighted a few that you might not have expected to see.  How can we get by without food for example?  But I didn’t say no food, I mean food we don’t need.  Look at just one shelf in your cupboard and take everything out.  Put back ONLY the things that you know you need.  Do you need

  • The bag of cookies 5 for £1 at the co-op checkout.
  • The super hot chilli sauce you bought at a food fair and is still unopened.
  • The various jars of sauces and marinades.
  • The sushi kit you bought after a great meal out

In our case we have all of the above and the answer is no.  I make better cookies, sauces and marinades hence the jars gathering dust and the stale cookies.  I love sushi but I prefer somebody else to make it.

This is about rethinking how we live and what we need and want to live that life.  Today and tomorrow I am tackling the kitchen.  This is the penultimate big room before I move into the outbuildings.  It is the one I am most scared of doing.  I love to cook, preparing food for family and friends is part of how I show my love and how I nurture and care.  I need to rethink how I can do that without all the unnecessary extras.

4 thoughts on “refuse

  1. I love this, it’s a great post and you are right, of course. When I moved last year, I found the most ridiculous amount of past their sell by date concoctions. Never again. My larder is my temple now.

  2. I comfort my conscience by putting all the organic stuff into compost and recycling all the packaging. Old mustard and pickles, dusty beans.
    I have a bonus theory, too, that obscure spices and herbs etc. are adding rare trace minerals to the compost heap!

  3. Oh, Gillian, this is inspiring. PLEASE keep us posted about your de-cluttering journey. I badly need to de-clutter, myself, only it has proved to be a very big job that I’ve been putting off. Reading about yours will encourage.

    1. A problem shared is a problem halved 🙂 Pantry and kitchen next. Why not do that kitchen drawer. You know, the one where you put stuff you don’t know what to do with. Easy start and you’ll feel better for it.

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