Giving up forty things in forty days

Ever thought about giving up forty things in forty days for lent?  Probably not, I hadn’t until this week.


Lent begins today.  I only know this because Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday and I always know when to celebrate pancake day.  We are not a religious family so events such as Lent are often over looked in this house, but this year I felt I wanted to do *something*.  At the same time though I wanted to be a bit more altruistic and not just focus on Pancake Day.  So this year, rather than just focusing on me acknowledging Lent and giving up just one thing I have come up with a plan of giving up 40 things for the 40 days of lent.   Sounds daunting, really I don’t think it will be because many of them are things you can do on just one day out of the 40.  I am waffling, I will get to the list as then it will be clearer:

For the next 40 days how about you give up, starting with

Five things you should definitely give up for the whole month.

  • Buying what you don’t need.  You could also take it a step further and chuck the money you didn’t spend in a jar and at the end of the month treat yourself or donate the lot to charity.  And if there are still things you do need and you regularly use Amazon, why not sign up for Amazon Smile so you can support a charity every time you shop.  You dont pay extra but Amazon give up some cash to your chosen cause.  Maybe Sarcoma UK for instance, a cause very dear to one of my Instagram followers who has first hand knowledge of just how aggressive this form of cancer can be.
  • Instagram filters.  You don’t need them.  You are gorgeous.
  • Over scheduling / saying yes to everything.  Don’t be afraid to say no, to take some time off.  We all feel guilty about this and really we shouldn’t.
  • Listening to your inner mean voice.  Tell that bitch to shut up.
  • Gossiping and buying gossipy magazines.  I saw a great post on Facebook last week saying that beauty salons and hair dressers are all beginning to agree that they will no longer stock magazines that base most of their editorial content on demeaning women.  They will instead focus on stocking magazines such as BBC Good Food or Country Life.  I have made sure that I no longer buy trashy magazines also and it really feels like there has been a real awakening in the wake of Caroline Flack’s passing.

35 other things you can give up this month

Pick one a day.  Maximum five minutes on it and then you can do mass drop off at charity shops later in the month.   I am going to try and do one of these each day as a way of tidying up and also donating to different charities over the next few weeks.

  • Tins and jars of food.  We have a cupboard full of them, many bought when they are on special multi buy offers, or because we have stock piled for Brexit.  Twice.  And now we have more than we can eat before the best before dates.  If you have a carrier bag’s worth you can donate,  food banks would always be grateful.
  • Talking of carrier bags: gather them up and give them back when you do your next food shop.  I gave 30 to Ocado last week and got £1.50.
  • Clothes that you haven’t worn for a year: shove them in a clothes bank or take them to a charity shop.  Or even sell them on eBay.
  • Same for shoes.  Tie the laces together and drop them in a shoe bank in the nearest car park, or consider donating to Sal’s Shoes who ensure that pre-loved children’s shoes are distributed around the world to children who really need them.
  • Coats are collected by Wrap Up London who then pass them on to people who could really use one.  Their collection points are closed now but worth bearing in mind for later in the year.  Not only does it keep people warm but it gets them in contact with charities that may be able to help them in other ways.
  • Gadgets that don’t work can be donated quite often to local repair shops, or Men Shed’s.  They can either be used for parts or as practice by the people at the projects.
  • Drugs and Medications.  This might sound like an odd one but it is something we dont do often enough, checking through medications. I have piles of the stuff and last time I looked I had about eight boxes of Strepils that were all out of date.  If you have any prescription drugs that are out of date or no longer needed, bag them up and take them to a pharmacist for safe disposal.   Don’t flush them down the loo!!
  • Foreign change.  We all have some in a side pocket of a suitcase, in an old purse or shoved in a drawer.  Banks will change notes for you and they will have a coin collection put where you can throw in for charity.
  • Looking down.  When I am out and about I generally look into the middle distance, or down to avoid looking at other people.  I am going to spend a day making a conscious effort to smile at people, random people.  I might even say hello to the man I bump into every night when we walk our dogs at the same time.  It has been weeks and all we have done is vaguely nod at each other so far.
  • Those piles of toiletries you have nicked from hotels (we all do it) or got for Christmas and won’t use and take them to a local charity shop.  Most will accept them if they are unused and sealed.  Or if you ask around on your local Facebook groups somebody is bound to have a contact for a local women’s refuge who would gladly accept them.
  • Old phones.  If you have upgraded your phone recently and haven’t got rid of the old one yet, now is a good time to do it.  Do a factory reset and then sell it via a website like Envriofone
  • CDS and DVDS can be sold via Music Magpie really easily, just scan them to get an idea on price and then box them up.
  • Magazines after often wanted by nursery schools because they make for great cutting and sticking material.  If you have been keeping them for recipes or articles spend an evening going through them all, removing the bit you want and donate the rest to a nursery.
  • Towels are always needed by vets or catteries (and having had two animals put to sleep this time last year we were very grateful for the warm towels we were given)
  • Blankets will be welcomed by animal rescue centres or the RSPCA
  • Bedding can be donated to Shelter, their shops will often take in bedding and put it to good use
  • Paperwork, got a pile of it? Go through it and make a pile to shred if it is no longer needed, or to file if you  still need to keep it.
  • Any sports kit that is no longer needed (grown out of the sport, or of the kit) may well be gratefully received by your local team or club.  They can then either use it as spares or donate it to a family that might not be able to afford their own.
  • Toys will always be gratefully accepted by your local children’s ward or hospice.
  • Single use plastic.  I realised as I got frozen veg out of the freezer last night, the bag was plastic and couldn’t be recycled.  It is all very well using a bag for life for our shopping but what about the rest of the plastic?  I am going to make more of an effort to avoid buying stuff with packaging that can’t be recycled.
  • Cameras, lenses, laptops can be donated to somewhere like Poverty Child
  • Furniture that is still in good condition can be donated to local organisations such as the Lions Club.  When we cleared granny’s bungalow they were grateful for all the bits of furniture we were able to donate (remember to check for fire labels on cushions or sofas though).
  • There are lots of ways to donate books.  You can randomly leave them on buses or trains with a note inside.  Your local library might take them.  Or you could list some on a website like WeBuyBooks and make some money.
  • Loose change.  We have little pots of loose change around the place: next to the washing machine, beside the bed, on the table in the hall, on the coffee table where it’s fallen out of pockets on the sofa, in the cup holder of the car….  Collect it all up and buy yourself a bunch of daffodils or a frothy coffee.
  • Board games and jigsaws.  Grab the ones you don’t play any more, have grown out of, done to death and see if anybody locally wants them.  Maybe even swap.   We have one still in cellophane that nobody has ever played so I am going to see if anybody wants it as it would make a great gift or raffle prize.
  • China.  We have some bits of china that were part of a dinner service my parents got rid of a few years ago but we never use them so I am going to dig them out and email Mr Pottery to see if he is interested in buying them (you dont even need to post them, he comes to you)
  • Yours skills.  Could you give up your skill for an afternoon to teach others?  Do you know how to make amazing short crust pastry?  Edit video?  Take great photographs of the moon?  Maybe you could share that skill for a couple of hours, and see if they will reciprocate.   And if you know how to crochet, please see me after class.
  • Stressing about ALL THE THINGS.  To be honest this should probably go in the top five list but I know it is not easy to give up just like that, so I am setting myself the challenge of doing it for just a day to start with.  I am one of life’s worriers, stuff that I did 20 years ago, things I did yesterday, events that may or may not happen in the future.  I am going to do my damndest to stop.
  • In a similar vein I think we should all give up focussing on what our bodies can’t do.  On the what we aren’ts.   “I am not a size 10” is not helpful  “what I am is in a body that can do most of things I need it to do everyday” instead.
  • Clear your inbox.  Unsubscribe from all the mailing lists that you are on because you bought from them once in 2013, or from services you no longer need.
  • The smelly candle.  Give up keeping it for a special occasion.   Stop dusting it.  Light it.  I wrote a blog post about life being too short to dust smelly candles a few years ago and it is a mantra I stand by still.
  • You could do the same for social media accounts.  Mute / unfollow any accounts that dont make you happy anymore.  It is your account, you can curate what you see.
  • A photo or two.  An odd one but have you got a gorgeous photo of a friend or family member that you taken recently?  Why not frame it and give it to them as a random act of kindness?
  • This penultimate one is a biggie.  It is deep.  Ready?  “Give up living your life to other people’s expectations“.  I don’t need to explain that.  I am just going to leave it there because how many of us can really associate with that?  And how much easier would life be if we didn’t do it?
  • Lastly is time.  Can you give up some time to volunteer?  To even just push a trolley across a car park for somebody who appears to be struggling in the wind and rain.    Time is precious and it can’t be bought so donating it is one of the nicest things we can do.

Especially at the moment, when everybody seems to be SO busy.

If you have some ideas of something that can be given up each day to add to the list, do let me know in the comments!

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