Tshirts and CDs hamper my efforts to eliminate clutter and be minimalist

cd shelves

The CD shelves I can't seem to clear.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about eliminating clutter and moving towards a minimalist lifestyle. That’s something I’ve been trying to do (with varying levels of success) for a few years now.

Of course, when you have the experience of living in a van for 4 months, you get used to only having the most basic of necessities.

I’m hoping to reach the point where I own so little stuff that I could pack it into a car and move to L.A. tomorrow if I wanted. I don’t plan to do that anytime soon, but I love the idea of having that freedom.

When I moved to Chicago two years ago, I wasn’t quite there. It took two full van loads to transport everything. Currently, everything I own fits into a small bedroom. But that’s still not good enough. I need to be more mobile!

There are two big things for me that are hard to eliminate: Outdated electronic media and clothes. By outdated electronic media, I mean CDs, VHS tapes, and even cassette tapes. I have a lot of good stuff saved on VHS and cassette that I don’t want to get rid of, so I have to transfer this crap to digital.

I’m making the effort… I finally bought a cord to transfer my cassettes and some doohickey from Amazon that is supposed to convert my VHS tapes to digital. But neither worked, so I’m back to square one. And it would have taken weeks to transfer everything anyway. I seriously need an intern!

My collection of CDs is down to approximately 200. I’ve sold off around 100 on eBay over the past year, but I still have a bunch left that either won’t sell or are too special to toss out.

I gave myself a strict limit of 100 CDs that I’m allowed to keep, and even that is proving to be a hard number hard to get down to. I could transfer all of the music to digital files, but that would also take weeks, and again, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.


A small portion of the tshirts I'm clinging to.

As far as clothing, while living in the van I only had about seven tshirts and was fine with it, but now, I have at least 40 in my room and I can’t bring myself to get rid of any. Some are athletic shirts for when I play volleyball, some are skinny shirts that fit well when I lose a couple pounds, some are awesome thrift store finds (like a vintage ’80s Denver Nuggets tshirt) that I don’t wear all the time – just when I want to be seen.

Pants and shoes are the same way. I have at least 20 pairs of each. I need to discover a better strategy for accepting life with fewer clothes. But I can’t – I won’t – sacrifice fashion!

Aside from these odd niche items, I think I am pretty minimalist… I have a tv but I rarely use it so that is expendable. I don’t have a vehicle, although that decision was not by choice. I’m still on the slow path towards the ultimate goal of “owning less stuff.”

Are you trying to eliminate clutter in your life?


  1. Scott,

    I had a job working for the Renaissance Fairs across the country. I had a sedan that would get me from state to state. I mainly lived in a tent year round on the fairgrounds camping area. I did that for about 4 years. I got really good at consolidating my stuff and utilizing what was around me. I am a dumpster diver. lol

    I have a lot of CD’s as well. I never listen to them because I have a copy of them stored on my Ipod. I bought a couple of CD binders to consolidate my collection. The insert can fit into the sleeves too. Just toss out the plastic case. They do get scratched up but if your not using them then that shouldn’t be a problem. I have also seen cases half the size of a regular cd case that you could use to make the size of your collection a little smaller.

    I think your best bet on the VHS tapes is to go digital. Those tapes are too big and bulky to have around.

    It’s always a good idea to have many copies of your media just in case something happens to the original. I have a portable hard drive that I keep all my music and movies on.

    1. I agree with everything! I have to get a device to transfer my VHS tapes to digital, I’m still working on that. Living in a tent for years sounds interesting… even more of a challenge than living in a van! I have a portable drive too because I don’t want to lose anything!

  2. I never like clutte and am generally clutter free. I regularly give my old clothes to the poor, that will help you reduce clutter and get you some blessings as well.
    Have a wonderful weekend Scott:)

  3. O_O (wide eyes)….you have a lot of CDs…..I only have 50 and I am already thinking that I have too much. I am sure you can throw or sell more away (unless you are saving them to see if their value goes up like antiques). =D

    Personally I know I will never be mobile XD I prefer having a stable “base” that I can come back to after traveling from time to time.

  4. What a pain transferring everything over from VHS/CDs to digital, but once you’re done you’ll really be a minimalist :). I consider myself a minimalist as well, except for when it comes to collecting artwork, which I try and do to each country I visit. I have too much of it and not enough walls, but love it too much to get rid of.

  5. It’s like ripping off a band-aid, you just have to do it.

    A while back we sold our record player. The guy who bought it owned some sort of proto-commune. Because the vibe was right, I just gave him all of my records – hundreds. And, like your CDs, I was (way too) attached to them. I didn’t listen to them much (you probably listen to your CDs at least) but I could not part with them. I felt a huge weight lifted after I gave them away. Plus I Iove the thought of a bunch of crunchy kids discovering 80’s industrial and Barbara Streisand.

    Long story short, find someone you think will appreciate the things you love. It feels really good.

    1. That’s a great idea, Caanan. I’ve thought about taking the CDs to a library or goodwill but I figure they’ll just get lost and maybe never used. It would be better to give them to someone who wants them.

  6. Fashion is my Achilles heel, for sure. I like cute shoes and jeans and scarves and earrings. Not exactly your typically backpacker’s wardrobe! But wevs. I’ve found that the key is identifying the few things I love — for instance, two pairs of pants that I look awesome in — so I wear those all the time (instead of lugging around five pairs that only go with a few things). Versatility, baby! It’s my new best friend. 🙂

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *