Sartorial Sustainability Sunday: Michelle Valtas, @Mvaltas

last Sartorial Sustainability Sunday…

This week I am excited to introduce Michelle Valtas. I initially connected with Michelle when I discovered her tweets about paring down. I am always impressed with anyone who pursues a more minimal lifestyle. In the effort of wanting to clear out my own clutter, I wanted to chat with someone who has been through the process.

Having a dialogue with Michelle inspired me to take steps to minimize my life. Read on and find inspiration.

University books
Image courtesy of Michelle Valtas

L – What inspired you to declutter?

M – I’ve always decluttered more items than others and on a more regular basis. Then I heard about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and after reading a few sections what stood out to me was the “rebound” she talked about. It resonated with me because that was exactly how I’d describe my constant purging – a cycle of buying and decluttering. I wanted out.

Another reason for me was to hopefully get some money from selling my items. I’ve always heard of people making money from reselling their items and clothes, so I thought I should give it a try and see how it went.

L – Can you share whether you resold via an online platform or a brick and mortar consignment shop? Where there any hurdles? Can you give any advice?

M – Based on a story of my friend’s mom’s success selling her unwanted items online (through an app called Let Go), I posted some of what I thought were the best items I was getting rid of. Over the course of two months I had a lot of favorites (or likes of items) and inquiries, but I only ended up selling one item – a large decorative (but functional) wall clock for twenty dollars. I’ve since deleted the app from my phone since it took more time than it was worth. After that, I used a consignment store called Plato’s Closet to earn money on some clothes and shoes I was getting rid of, donated all my household items to the Salvation Army, and all my books to GoodWill (Salvation Army wasn’t taking any). My advice would be to skip apps like Let Go and go straight to Plato’s Closet. I learned they’re a chain, at least in Canada, (editor’s note: also in the States) so what one store didn’t accept I took to another. After two stores, I donated the rest. There are a lot of people out there who are actually in need of items (as opposed to me who had an excess of items) so donating is a great alternative to reselling – or worse, keeping.

Overall though I was generally appealed to the promise of a constantly clean house, where everything is easily accessible, provides value, and sparks joy while making your life calmer and providing you with more freedom. With that big of a promise, how could I not try it?

L – You are over two months past your #minimalist and #sustainableliving journey. Tell us what you purged? What have you been on the fence on, and what did you say to yourself to make that decision?

M – I purged a lot of clothes. Eleven large bags worth. Plus books, random kitchen gadgets, and items that frustrated me because they didn’t work well or were hard to clean. I decluttered jewelry, papers, and more. I was on the fence for a few items: a portable matcha maker, a tea press, a book or two, a pair of black jeans. (They were my go-tos but were faded). For each one I asked myself if it sparked joy or was functional / brought value. If not, I pitched it.

L – I have to ask – did you keep the portable matcha maker? Also do you have any tips or tricks that made this less painless? (My mind goes to breaking open a bottle of chilled rose and keeping it in my marble wine cooler twice a year when I do my seasonal closet flip. It keeps me from having to leave my room and getting distracted by the inevitable madness in the living room / dining room / kitchen.) 

M – No, I didn’t. I love matcha lattes and make them often at home using a milk frother, so I only really used the portable matcha while traveling by car when I can pack more. While I liked the idea of making a matcha when I’m not at home, I don’t tend to actually do so – opting for easier options like a black tea with milk or a herbal tea. The biggest argument against keeping the matcha maker though was that it was so difficult to clean. Cleaning it actually frustrated and annoyed me. So in keeping with my decision parameters of “does it spark joy?” and “is it valuable/necessary?” the answer was no to both. The more I reflect on it, the more I stand behind my decision on it – so I guess that’s my advice. Weigh the pros and cons, use a parameter for your decision making that’s meaningful to you (in my case: joy and value), and take time to reflect on it several times.

L – Have you found yourself longing for anything you gave away?

M – Nothing at all. And if I ever do think of something it’s a fleeting thought – never a longing or sense of regret.

L – What has been the hardest part of decluttering?

M – Well to be honest, there’s a room in my basement that ends up storing all this random stuff: seasonal items, sports gear (golf clubs, skis, etc), and general items from when we moved in but didn’t unpack it. AKA a room full of junk. It haunts me so I haven’t started decluttering it yet. That’s the hardest part: getting started on the part I don’t want to do.

L – You got this! May I recommend bringing a chilled bottle of rose to help you?

Where can we find you online?

M – @Mvaltas on Twitter and @themillennialexplorer on Instagram

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