Pocket-sized plastic bags

Do you ever find yourself picking up some shopping that you hadn’t planned for? Then you have to fork out for a 5 pence plastic bag? One, I may add that lasts as far as the car before collapsing. Or if it does last – you find you add to an ever increasing pile of plastic…

This post covers a great tip brought to you by my Mama J to save you from this situation!

Plastic bags full of plastic bags

Plastic bags are bad. You shouldn’t have hundreds of them cluttering up your house. And if you do have loads lurking about to get rid of, you should do it in a responsible way and recycle them.

When I did my first big declutter I ended up with a bin bag full of plastic bags. I did my duty and recycled the majority of them, keeping just a few as they do come in handy.

5 pence a pop

I wondered if the 5 pence plastic bag tax would encourage people to take alternatives. For me, it is an incentive to take a rucksack or a bag for life out shopping with me. Though to be honest, I did that anyway. Though I am finding that now and then I forget and my bag collection is on the increase again.

Mama J’s pocket-sized plastic bag tip!

I usually pick up a bag when I’m planning to go shopping so I don’t have to pay for one in-store. But, this doesn’t cover me for those times when I haven’t planned. What do I do? Do I try and balance the stuff I bought in arms and risk dropping things or do I just buy a 5 pence bag?

There is another way!

Mama J always has a large, plastic bag for life in her handbag. Always. She keeps it there in a plastic money bag. But guess what? That money bag keeps it wrapped up neat and tidy. It doesn’t unravel and take over her handbag. With something that small you can pop it in your pocket too!

A plastic bag wrapped in a money bag.
A plastic bag wrapped in a money bag – keep it small and simple!

Give it a go

Get your bags for life and fold them up teeny tiny! Wrap them in a money bag and make sure you’ve one in each of the handbags you use.

Of course, if you are a super good minimalist of course, you’ll only have to do this for one bag!

Let me know if you use this tip – Mama J will be happy if you do 🙂



Top 5 ways to tackle your decluttering

I wanted to share with you my top 5 tips for decluttering. These are the methods that have stuck with me during my minimalist journey.

I do a lot of these without even thinking about it now.

1. A place for everything and everything in its place

This is my mantra when I’m decluttering or even just tidying up. It runs through my head constantly!

Of course, to make this work, you need to have decided on one place for your items. This means one location for pens in your entire house. No duplicate locations. This way you always know exactly how many of a given thing you have. And you always know where to find what you are looking for. Sounds simple? It is. But it really works!

2. Give yourself 10 minutes to tidy

Pick an area to tidy up. Is there loads of stuff on your dressing table? Is your coffee table cluttered? Haven’t tackled the junk drawer in your kitchen yet?

Give yourself 10 minutes to do it. Set a timer! You’ll be amazed at how much you get done.

Get tidy by moving stuff to its rightful place (see tip 1!), throw out anything broken or unusable. Organise the stuff that’s staying. Stack boxes, use elastic bands to bind things together, or simply tidy up.

3. Not sure whether to throw something out? You must use it/wear it this week

It can be hard to make a decision about whether to throw something away or not. There’s the danger of keeping things ‘just in case’ of course. This leads to clutter straight away.

One way to tackle this, if you are really not sure, is to give yourself a week to decide. The catch is that you must use or (if it’s clothing) wear the item you are being indecisive about. If you struggle to use it, or hate wearing it, you know it was meant to leave your home.

4. Get rid of duplicates

You need to be in the right frame of mind for this. I’ve set myself a task on a given day of sorting out my shoes or clearing my kitchen. These are bigger jobs than clearing the coffee table for example.

In my head I’ve usually hit a point where the cupboards are bursting or I can’t find anything anymore. So my approach is to empty out everything in the category you’ve chosen onto your bed or living room floor.

Then group similar looking things together. I did this and discovered four pairs of black ballet-pump style shoes. I kinda knew I owned them all but had never put them all together.

I then asked myself the question “If you had to choose one pair which would it be?” My mind came up with an answer immediately. You know what to get rid of!

5. Aim for a desert island bookshelf

This is one of the first things I ever did in my decluttering! The idea is that you go through your bookshelves  (because I know they’ll be in the plural) and you are ruthless! Your aim is to end up with one shelf of books that you really, truly love: your desert island bookshelf.

I did this, and I still have five shelves of books. This is better than the nine I had previously. I’m just going to ignore the three shelves of books-to-read that I still have….

Share your tips

That’s it, they are my top five tips to get started with decluttering, I hope you found them helpful.

Why not share your tips in the comments? I’m always interested to know how others keep on their minimalist journey.


Clothing declutter: why is it so hard to part with those jeans?

I’ll hold my hands up, I own jeans in every size from a size 6 to a size 20. And at some point in my life, all of these jean have fit me. At the moment, I’m around the 16 mark (verging on a 14 – hopefully soon!).

If I’m honest, I haven’t been anywhere near the 6-12s in the last 10 years. I hit my target weight with Scottish Slimmers on 31 August 2004 (in my size 6s). I’ve eaten my way steadily back up through all the sizes and well beyond my original ‘fat weight’.

You’d think, at some point in those 10 years, especially when I did some major decluttering in 2014, that the skinny jeans should have been thrown out.

More than just jeans

But, at some level, they represent me when I was last really happy. I was in a relationship. I had these cool Miss Sixty jeans. I had worked hard to lose the weight and I felt fantastic. If I throw them out that’s me saying: “I’ll never have that again”.

Lost my minimalist mojo

If I was being truly minimalist, they’d have been long gone. Looking at it the other way, they are a reminder of failing. I broke up with the guy, I undid all my hard work, they no longer bring me joy, put simply, they just don’t fit!

When I last posted here on 13 June 2016, I had made some inroads into further decluttering. I’d been harsher with my wardrobe. I was throwing out things that had tags on them (I had never done that before as it felt so wasteful).

Can I be honest again? *whispers* those skinny jeans still weren’t in the ‘to go’ pile. They actually aren’t even in my wardrobe. They are hidden in a case with a  bunch of other clothes from that same era. Out of sight, out of mind.

Getting my minimalism back and throwing out fat clothes

Back in June, I’d started a new weight loss journey, with Weight Watchers this time. And this had scuppered my plan to throw out the clothes I’d been so brutal with.

I’m back to reassure you all that my minimalist ways are still in place. Only this time I’m throwing out clothes that are too big. I have about six charity bags waiting to go. I’m trying to keep on top of this. If something starts to feel baggy, I’m not keeping it.

After all, I have plenty of unworn, smaller clothes to start wearing!

PS: the jeans and bag of smaller clothes are still here. I’m 2 stone down and there’s a way to go yet. My plan is that this time next year I will be wearing them!

Follow me on Instagram

If you’re interested in following my weight loss journey, you can find me on Instagram @lindy_loops_ww

Shrinking Linda does not Equal Shrinking Wardrobe

I’ve been on another declutter mission. I finally gave myself a good talking to and decided to get rid of clothes that don’t fit me.

Keeping clothes that don’t fit

These are clothes that have never fit me.

These are clothes that will fit me in another life if I slim down a couple of dress sizes.

These are clothes that still have the tags on them.

These are clothes that tell me I’ve wasted a couple of hundred quid in TK Maxx.

So, it was with a heavy heart that I bagged all the stuff up. I ended up with five bags. I can’t be doing with ebay, it feels like such a faff to get the clothes on there for not much return. Everything was ready for charity (well one of those weigh and pay places). It has been sitting in my spare room for about a month waiting for Papa Ouzo to come and collect it all in his car.

And then I joined Weight Watchers

About a month ago I hit rock bottom and decided I need to get healthy. Months of eating bread and cheese (not because I’m destitute, just because I’m lazy) had left me feeling lethargic, bloated and unhappy. Add to that an unhealthy love of the wine and stout and you were faced with a very miserable Linda.

I noticed a Weight Watchers class five minutes from my house. It was at 6.15pm on a Thursday – so easy to get to after work. There were no excuses, so I signed up.

I am very happy to report that I’ve lost 11lbs in three weeks.  My class leader said that a loss of 10lbs usually maps to a dress size. I’d noticed a few tops feel a bit looser but nothing that dramatic.

This weekend I decided I’d try a few dresses and tops that I hadn’t worn for months as they were getting a bit snug. Guess what? They fit!

Undoing the declutter

And you can guess what happened next. You know those bags that were sitting in the spare room? I had a little root around. I had a little try on of some of the clothes. They fit. Well some of them do. There’s a dress in there that I really want to fit me now. Give me until the end of the summer and we’ll see where I’m at!


Spilling out of the back of this Nine West dress....
Spilling out of the back of this Nine West dress (but the colours are so pretty)….

One bag of clothes made its way back into my wardrobe. Oops.

Shrinking Linda does not equal shrinking wardrobe.



Just in (Lost) Case Declutter

Those who know me, know my holiday pre-planning/packing list is legendary.

I don’t write a new one for every holiday, that wastes time. I have one ready, typed up in Word, pre-filled with all your holiday ‘must-haves’. That said, one size doesn’t fit all – there’s not much of a need for a snorkel in Tennessee – so there are amends for every trip.

At least I know that all the essentials are there – of course, all this is a bit of a moot point when your case doesn’t show up.

Arriving in Knoxville

The trip to Knoxville took us from Sunderland to Newcastle, Newcastle to London Heathrow, London to Charlotte (North Carolina), Charlotte to Knoxville (Tennessee).

I said “hi” to my case at Charlotte joking with the baggage handler that I hope it’d make it (our layover was barely 40 minutes). He laughed and assured me it would.

So, after almost 24 hours of traveling, we arrived in Knoxville.

Safe and sound and without my case. Ma and Pa’s cases arrived, but not mine.

It turned out that my bag was stopped for a random TSA check at exactly the time that it should have boarded my flight.

What could I cope without?

After my initial crashing realization that I was without my case, I started to wonder what I would do if it didn’t show up. What could I live without? What would I replace as essentials?


The boots I was wearing weren’t ones that brought me joy – to be honest they were quite old and had been chosen for practicality (ease of removal at security) rather than style. My lovely cowboy boots were in the case.

My dress was okay. I mean I’d happily wear it to a bar or restaurant – not fine dining, but it’d do.

My main worry had been that my jacket was in the case and Knoxville wasn’t meant to be that warm when we arrived. Thankfully I’d had the foresight to extract my jacket at Charlotte!


I knew I’d be able to make do with hotel toiletries – and I’d got a little dental pack on the plane so at least I could clean my teeth! Part of going on holiday for me is taking my good quality cleanser and moisturiser – so I was gutted to be missing my Origin’s Ginger products 😦

Getting my case back and meeting Sandy

Luckily the next flight to Knox was only two hours later so I was reunited with my case fairly quickly.

In the process I met the lovely Sandy at the airport – who put in my claim and arranged for my case to be delivered to my hotel.  She was wondering why we’d come all the way to Knoxville. I explained about the Rhythm n Blooms festival happening downtown.  And she’d never heard of it!

Fast forward a few days to Barley’s Taproom and the final night of the festival – who do we see dancing away to Elliot Brood? Only the lovely Sandy! she came over to say Hi and wish us well!

Lose a case, gain a friend y’all!

Declutter dreams

Following my mega day of throwing stuff out I had the weirdest dream.

Broadly, I dreamt I was burgled which is not that odd in itself. However, the burglars had been weirdly selective and had actually replaced stuff. They’d also ransacked my neighbour’s house too.

This is likely to be an unwanted peek into my psyche but here’s the odd stuff I remember from the dream…

They’d found my jewellery and had taken my Tiffany ring but left *everything* else. They had also transported the jewellery box into my CD/DVD case. All of the CDs had been taken.

They had moved my gym kit to my bookshelf. They had taken all my books except the ones I have to read.

They had filled my gym bag with a mini hoover.

All of the furniture was in the wrong rooms. So it was really hard to see what had been taken.

The wall between my backyard and my neighbour had been knocked down. When I went to speak to them at the non-existent wall I looked down and I was standing on Granny Smith apples… barefoot…

Declutter detox will be the next thing, once I fathom out what the hell this means….

I could open my own branch of TK Maxx with what I’m giving away

Well I’m knackered. A day of decluttering really takes it out of you.

I’d been mentally preparing for this weekend. I’d planned to revisit my wardrobe – I had a massive clear out two years ago (over the Easter weekend) – but I was aware that I’d kept things that I shouldn’t have.

I started slowly with a lie in!

Horizontal declutter

Make up spilling out of the box on the right

I decluttered some make up while still in bed. This is clearly the way forward. Stay in bed, throw away old mascara, have another lie down.

Bag of old make up to be thrown out!

Folding Kondo style

I haven’t actually read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, but I have read articles about it.

Once I got myself up and showered, I decided to tackle my drawers. This is where I keep my underwear, nightwear and socks/tights. My approach to storage is broadly to toss the clothes into the drawer designated for them. It sort of works. It’s just a bit messy.

I don’t know why but I decided to see if there was a guide to Marie Kondo’s folding technique. I’d read about this before and decided it would be a total waste of time and not for me.  But today something sparked my interested. Armed with a nice summary provided by Goop, I started.

It’s so addictive! I can see all of the socks I own! My pants are no longer just a mass of black – they are neatly displayed in rows. I think I’ll keep this up!

A not very clear picture of my neatly stored tights.
A not very clear picture of my neatly stored tights.

Tackling the wardrobe

I got myself a bin bag and a bunch of old charity bags and started. I pulled all of my tops and jumpers and t-shirts off the shelves and onto my bed. There’s so much stuff. No wonder I couldn’t find anything! Most of it comes from TK Maxx – I bloody love that shop, this is why I’m in so much trouble.

A pile of tops, t-shirts, cardigans and ponchos!

I managed to fill two charity bags with tops.

Next I tackled jeans and trousers. I’m really bad at buying new versions of things and keeping the old. So I got rid of the duplicates that had crept in.

Next up, dresses. I wear a lot of dresses. I should have counted them. I think I must have had around 40 in my wardrobe. Some are worn to death, some still have tags, some are out of style/old, some will never fit.

I tried. I really tried. I probably got rid of about 10 or so. But I’ve still got ones that don’t fit because one day they might.

Everything has its own hanger now. There’s no doubling up. And at least now I can see the new clothes I have – so maybe you’ll actually see me in it at some point!


I ended up with one rubbish bag and four charity bags filled with clothes.

There’s still more to go. It’s a good start though and there’s still the rest of the long weekend yet!

Let me know if you are on a downsizing journey – any hints and tips gratefully received!

I’m rewarding myself with a glass of wine now. Cheers!


Ridding the World of Rubbish

I could hardly find anything in my purse so I decided to have a little clear out.

I have thrown out this pile of rubbish.

Note the TK Maxx receipt. I have an obsession with that store that goes beyond healthy. It is the reason for a lot of my clutter.

But that receipt, my friends, is a RETURN. A bag I only bought two weeks ago decided to snap its handle. I’m gutted mind you as I really liked it.

I’m on the look out for a replacement *ignores the 15 or so bags already in the wardrobe at home…*.

Moving Office Clutter

I work in a digital team. You ‘d think we would have nailed the paperless office thing by now.

We’ve moved locations maybe four times – each time I’m proud to say that we get rid of more stuff.

24 crates, 11 people – this doesn’t add up

Our latest move was last week. We moved 11 people and it took 24 crates. There were at least four shared crates and the rest matched up to an individual. I managed with one. It doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that some of my colleagues used more than this!

I threw away loads of paper. I filled at least one recycling bag.

As a team loads of files and stuff from as far back as 2001 was bagged and binned.

Still decluttering

20160321_122628[1] I’m in my new space now – and after a week I’ve thrown out an old make up bag. I shouldn’t have moved it in the first place.

The comb was a freebie for Just Seventeen magazine. I dread to think how long I’ve had that.

The ties that bind

There’s someone in my team who is holding on to some ‘just in case‘ ties.20160314_093437

When questioned,  it’s clear that he has no intention of ever wearing them. They are university-branded for a start. And let us not forget, he’s keeping two.  This is partly because one is in a display box and “it’d be a shame to just throw it out”.

He’s even said he would never ever wear one of them. Why won’t he throw them away???

This reminds me of the Minimalists’ approach to just in case. They invite you to try the 20 dollars/20 minutes rule. The idea is that if you have something that’s could be ‘just in case’,  ask yourself:

“Can I replace this for less than $20 (if I need to) and will it take under 20 minutes to do so?”

The answer for these ties is a resounding YES on both counts.

I’m going to steal them from the desk drawer under cover of darkness – be warned!!

Feeling inspired

It’s almost two years since I started my decluttering journey.

The office move and some recent conversations with friends who also do this (usually because of moving house) have inspired me to do some more.

Like I did back at Easter 2014, I’m going to use Easter 2016 (that’d be this weekend then) to throw out more stuff that I don’t need!

Wish me luck.

I’m not doing another month clear out….

Thought I’d check in as things are starting to light the touch-paper of decluttering again.

The minimalist group for Newcastle has a leader – checkout the Facebook page: Newcastle Minimalists.

I just got a new phone so I backed up and deleted 800 images. Sadly, most were already backed up to OneDrive but I’d just been keeping them on my phone too…. At least they are GONE now. I now have to sort out my OneDrive….

Easter weekend two years ago was the start of my minimalist journey – I might use this Easter to do more!