Reader question… “A friend told me that I should always purge an item if I buy something similar, even if the item to be purged is still in good condition or if I am still using or wearing it. The example she gave was that if I buy a new shirt I need to get rid of a shirt I am currently wearing. She also said I should start purging one item every single day. I’ve done some searches and I see that this is common advice but the concept seems wasteful to me. If you don’t mind me asking, what is your take on this ‘one in / one out’ idea? Do you personally purge something if you buy something new, and do you personally purge one item every day?” –Dani W.

My answers to your questions… no, and definitely not! :o)

Personally, I prefer to purge for a reason… when clothing becomes worn, faded or no longer fits… when an item breaks or is no longer wanted or needed… or as our circumstances or interests change. This is a gradual purging that happens naturally and for an obvious reason. Purging without a reason, except to fulfill some arbitrary number of purgings in a given period of time, seems artificial to me, and I agree… wasteful.

I do understand how some people… especially someone new to the idea of simple living, someone wondering where or how to begin with the decluttering process… can see rules like these as the perfect answer. I still think it’s a mistake for the emphasis to be on numbers.

My suggestion? Instead of concentrating on numbers or rules… before you bring a new item into your home or consider purging one you already have, give that item some serious thought. Ask yourself two questions. Is this something I need… is this something I value? Purge the item if your answer is no… if your answer is yes, find a place for it in your life.


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Christy King

Some of the advice about simplifying seems wasteful to me as well. That’s why I’m gradually simplifying. I try not to buy much stuff and to mostly get rid of stuff as it wears out. There are, of course, some things I really don’t wear or use and those are better given to someone who will wear/use them instead of taking up space in my home.


Finally – some purging advice I can relate to! I grew up frugally also in New England and I can tell you that none of the neighbors or relatives would have ever purged something to meet a quota. They followed what you described and only got rid of things when they broke, didn’t fit or in similar circumstances where they didn’t want or couldn’t use whatever it was any more. However there always was a reason. This reasoning has rubbed off on me big time. I would feel very wasteful to throw out one article of clothing that was still wearable and good if I bought another one.


You have a beautiful blog. I just discovered here yesterday and I’ve been reading and reading. Love your viewpoint and reasoning. Your photos and the insight you give into your life are truly inspirational and I thank you.


I have a new understanding of purging after reading this and it finally makes sense. I’m another one who couldn’t understand throwing stuff away for no good reason. My partner and I are trying to simplify and it’s been baby steps so far but we are making steady progress thanks to you and this blog.


I had been following the one in and one out principle b/c I had too many things I didn’t need or wear. However now that I’ve gotten my wardrobe down to things I love and wear I am no longer following that principle. Instead I’m doing as you suggest and only discarding things when they’ve become worn. For me it was useful in the beginning but not anymore.


I agree with your reply to the question asked. Simplicity is certainly a process, one I’ve been on since 2007, and the changes I’ve made have been natural and gradual. Simplicity is not a legalistic religion, with rigid rules that you “have to” live by. I used to have a massive collection of books and I could not let them go. Over time, and on my own time, I reached a point of letting them go and now I use the library. If I had gotten rid of the books before “I” was ready to and because someone else told me to or said “this is the rule” I would have regretted it and probably replaced every one of them. But since I went at my own pace and thought about the matter for myself and did it on my terms, it worked. Simplicity is awesome and the process is your very own. No one else can interfere with that. De-clutter relationships too! hahahaha