Further Reduction

Everything must go!

Recently, my mother sold her flat – I’ve been staying there for the last 20 years and had to move out within months.

The sales transaction happened so quickly – an agent friend listed the unit at a paid property website on a Friday night. One viewing was arranged immediately on Saturday morning, followed by two other viewings on Sunday. An offer was made after three viewings and the rest is history. I took it as a loud and clear sign that it was time for me to downsize the rest of my life for good. I have successfully done so with my wardrobe (which played a big part of my life) and now it’s time to face everything else in the rest of the house – 20 years of collection – from books, music CDs, movie DVDs, stationeries, art materials, artworks, photo frames, photo albums, to the insane amount of cleaning products, beauty products, and all sorts of random things I was holding on to – toys to keys, candles to broken beads. You name it, I have it. I am such a hoarder!

Since moving back to Singapore in April 2020, I meant to do precisely that, but I got comfortable. I love the way my home is, and I even added more plants – indoor and outdoor. Now that the flat is sold, I have a deadline to move out. It got me on my toes!

The first thing I tackled was the bookshelf in the living room – my biggest ‘monster’. I posted the items on Carousell app and Instagram story, and prayed that the right people would buy or adopt all my favourite things I have held on to for years. Some books and random items were sold. I donated my fashion and design books to a friend who needed to fill up a bookshelf in her new interior design office. Zouk flyers collection was donated to an exhibition project. Towers of CDs with archives of my work, photos, and music are donated to Zero Waste SG for upcycling projects. Two towers of magazines with years of media coverages since Zouk, Frufru & Tigerlily, and Blackmarket days were passed on as well. Letting go of ‘old news’ to make new ones.

It was timely to learn that Sprout Hub, an urban farm nearby, was going to start a community library. Without hesitation, I offered to donate my bookshelf, along with the rest of the books! It was no surprise the shelf could not withstand the move. It collapsed as the movers were trying to fit it into the lift. I broke into laughter – what was I thinking? It’s IKEA, and it’s 20 years old. Well, now that it’s flattened, it can then fit into the lift, and move on. The movers were kind enough to put the shelf back together at Sprout Hub. I am proud that this IKEA bookshelf now serves a community at 102 Henderson Road.

My 20 years old IKEA bookshelf survived the move! Now serving as a community library at Sprout Hub – 102 Henderson Road

Now that the biggest ‘monster’ was conquered, I moved on to clear the big furniture. From a 4 bedroom flat, I am downsizing to one bedroom. Thank God a friend just moved into a rented unit and needed some furniture – queen size mattress, bedside table, dining table set, some kitchenware, and TV console were taken. Other friends came over to buy and adopt some of my things. From vintage glassware set, painting, vinyl, street signages, seashells collection to cushions. Bit by bit, things are cleared out and sent off to new homes. The more I let go, the lighter I feel. But I still have a lot of things. As the deadline (end of September 2021) got closer, I started posting photos on freecycle groups on Facebook to giveaway, frantically.

Donated a bulk of all sorts of papers, new, samples, cut-outs, including my design sketches and drawings, to the door-to-door collection in my neighbourhood. So sad to let them go, but I had to. They are just too heavy for me to ‘carry’ on. I also donated some boxes and packaging to The Sustainability Project to reuse, and a bunch of materials to a Christmas project collection at Marina One. I’m happy that my kitchen shelf, random wine glasses, and oven found a new purpose at The Plastic Project as well. Left a bunch of stationeries by the letterbox area, praying for others to pick up and use them along with some random kitchen items and cooking ingredients. Some things went into the bin unfortunately. I had to call the town council to remove bulky items such as my wardrobes, sofa, table, old fridge, and washing machine. I ran out of time.

Every now and then, I found delivery boxes discarded around my block and took home to pack up my music CDs, movie DVDs, electronics, kitchenware, and so on. Months went on, and the day to move out came. My life boils down to these boxes. Still a lot for a room, I must say!

My life boils down to these boxes, from a 4-bedroom flat to one single room.

Contrary to my zero waste lifestyle, I’m nowhere near minimalism. I am still working on making it happen since downsizing my life seriously in 2014, starting with my wardrobe. I recently did a wardrobe audit and was shocked to find out I still own about 200 items to date. I definitely want to work on a capsule wardrobe of perhaps 50-100 things and no more! To have less gradually and eventually fit everything into a 7kg duffle bag – a long overdue dream. Wish me luck!

Published by jsmntuan

A self-confessed shopaholic, hoarder, collector and a well organized one, Jasmine Tuan, a designer, a creative brand consultant, co-owned and ran a fashion concept store in Singapore featuring the best of Asia designers, went from having a walk-in wardrobe, downsized to a rack full, to zero shopping on new fashion items in 2018. She also began her zero waste journey the same year, by applying the 5Rs principles in this order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot daily. She added 'Rethink' in front of the 5Rs as she believes everything begins from the head.

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