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The game started off easy for Jessica Shutt and Pete Webber. 

For the first few days, the young couple targeted closets and cupboards, gathering up long neglected shoes, pants and shirts, a Tupperware cake dish, pans and more. As the game wore on, they shifted their focus to other parts of the house, setting aside a toaster, a rubber Halloween skeleton and even a bookcase (though Jessica was not quite ready to part with her books).

They made multiple trips to their local Goodwill in Madison to donate the piles of stuff they had collected.  

“The house feels cleaner and lighter,” Jessica said. “Things have a weight to them, you know, and it’s nice to be able to let go of some of them and live as simply a possible. It feels really good.”

Jessica and Pete were playing the 30-Day Minimalism Game. Jessica first heard about it while listening to a podcast. The goal of the game is to declutter your home so you can enjoy the benefits Jessica described.

The rules are simple: For one month, look closely at the items in your home and identify things that no longer serve a purpose. On the first day of the month, get rid of one thing. On the second day, two things, and so on, until the 30th day when you must give away 30 things. Finding a partner to play along makes the game more fun and helps you stay on task. The one who keeps going longest is the winner. If you both make it through the month, you both win.

Jessica and Pete had been looking for opportunities to help their Nashville community around the holidays, so they decided to play the game during November as a “monthlong community giveback.” Although the game allows participants to sell, throw away or donate clutter, they decided to focus on items that still had value and to donate everything to Goodwill.

“We feel passionate about supporting Goodwill because we know our donations directly support their mission (of changing lives through education, training and employment),” Jessica said. “There are other thrift stores we could have donated to, but we’ve both seen the positive impact their career services have on our community.”

Professional organizer Debbie Keller said the 30-Day Minimalism Game is an excellent strategy for decluttering.

“The most difficult thing for people is figuring out where to begin. If you approach it by dealing with one thing one day, two things the next — that’s very manageable,” said Keller, president of Home and Office Transitions in Nashville. “It’s a win-win-win. It gives you a strategy, it makes it fun and Goodwill benefits as well.”

Jessica and Pete decided to play the game in reverse, giving away 30 things each on the first day and counting down. If they made it through the entire month, they would have given away nearly 1,000 things between them.

By Day 18, the game was getting more complicated. Jessica and Pete found themselves having to make some decisions and even do a little soul-searching: “Have I worn this in the last year? Why am I still hanging on to that?”

Pete gave up his baseball cards. Another example was a dress Jessica had worn for her college graduation. The dress no longer fit, but there it was, taking up space in her closet.

“I went ahead and donated it,” Jessica explained. “It’s funny how old items you’ve toted from house to house can be so nostalgic. I had to remind myself that what’s special about them is the memories they are associated with and not necessarily the items themselves.”

By Day 30, the couple’s house had taken on a completely new character. Organized. Simple. Feng shui, even. The last item Jessica donated was her CD collection from middle and high school.

“I haven’t listened to any of the CDs in years, but it was still difficult to part with,” she said. “I am going to make a playlist full of Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child and Shania Twain to remember it by!”

Pete and Jessica both felt like winners in the Minimalism Game. And there was one unexpected benefit.

“It brought us even closer together,” Pete said. “Over the course of a month, we tried to figure out what things we need and whether they add value to what we are doing or if someone else could use them. I’d say it would be good for anyone’s relationship if they embarked on it together.”

If you decide to play the 30-Day Minimalism Game and donate to Goodwill, please post about your progress on social media with hashtags:

#MinsGame and #GiveIt2Goodwill.

Learn more about all the ways you can donate to Goodwill through our many services

Goodwill of Middle Tennessee as over 70 donation locations. Find a donation center near you:

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