lolla-spore-looza 2012: otherwise known as involuntary decluttering

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I started to move a few things around in my bedroom closet yesterday afternoon.  I plucked a few of my husband’s suit jackets from the hanging rack at the back of our closet and that’s when I noticed… his arms of his wool suit jackets were covered in mold.  MOULD!  Lots of SPORE-covered MOULD laced the arms of his jackets where they touched the back wall of the closet.

Damn Vancouver rainy season that lasts ten months.  Damn Vancouver condos that are sealed up so tight nothing can breathe.  Damn mouldy-mould that likes to grow in damp, cool, airless conditions.  Damn damn damn.

I’ve not been paying too close attention to our level of stuff lately, probably because we haven’t been accumulating much and things are as minimal as they’ve ever been (unless you open the hall closet, then: look out).  We’ve been continuing to collect our plastic waste in our bathtub, which sure serves as a great reminder to limit unnecessary consumption, but we’ve not been living an austere life.  We’ve been enjoying the summer weather, and have spent time travelling within our beautiful province, hitting the beach, visiting our local parks and even frequenting touristy venues for which we have memberships.  All in all, it’s been a great summer.

So perhaps the time was right for the mould to take hold.  My husband had not been wearing any of his jackets during the spring and summer months.  I’d been ignoring the last few bins of stuff hiding on the closet floor.

But let me tell you, discovering that mould was like lighting a fire under my ass.

I spent a few hours last night throwing mold-ridden clothing away and salvaging two suit jackets of my husbands that just had a tiny amount of moldy dust on them from the other jackets that were harder hit.  Then I felt the urge to purge.  I purged an additional two large garbage bags of clothing in good condition (most  of it was from the kids’ closet, which is in a separate room) and took it all to donation this morning.  I feel better, but still icky.

The thought of mold in our house was enough for me to consider for a fleeting moment a desire to get rid of everything.  My husband’s reaction to having to throw away hundreds of dollars in mould-covered clothing was telling – he asked if anything could be saved and we threw the rest away without a moment’s thought.  As soon as we knew that mould was involved, it took us half a second to make the decision to part with the stuff.

Why don’t those impulses fire as quickly when there’s not an immediate threat?  Why do we wait until there’s a crisis to deal with something?  The decision is much easier then, I suppose.

I’m grateful that this incident was limited to a few wool jackets.  I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse, and I’m so thankful we caught this problem while it was still small.  We’ll be painting the back wall of our closet with mould resistant paint and see what happens.  What we won’t be doing is replacing any of my husband’s lost clothing – he’ll be wearing the two remaining jackets in his closet, because two jackets are enough.  Minimalism for the win!

Have you ever struggled with mould in your home?  I know it’s not a savoury topic, but comments are welcome!  

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6 responses »

  1. Oh boy could I relate to this!
    “But let me tell you, discovering that mould was like lighting a fire under my ass.”
    I have a perverse fear of mould especially considering I live in Vancouver. When we dealt with our mould every professional had a different opinion on how to remedy it. The engineer told us to insulate from the cold. The insulation people warned us not to seal everything up too tight and trap the moisture. And the builder told us to install extra baseboard heaters.
    In the end, the ONLY thing that REALLY helped us was adding vents (extra air circulation) and running a dehumidifier. Since your problem is in a closet, I would run a small dehumidifier. I know, it’s one extra thing to buy, store, and maintain, but I think you’ll get a lot of use of it considering where you live!
    Glad to hear your summer is going well otherwise. : )

    • Thanks Christine. We probably won’t be getting a dehumidifier (although don’t think it’s something I haven’t considered more than a couple of times since moving to Vancouver!), but will be keeping the back wall of our closet empty so that nothing impedes the air flow to that area of our house. I hope that will resolve the problem, mostly because I’ve moved our clothing around and now it’s my minimalist wardrobe that lives along the back wall! Ha! No really, I’m sure it will be fine.

  2. This is a late comment, but nonetheless – I so sympathize with your mould woes! We came home from a week-long vacation last fall to discover huge patches of mould all over the front wall of the two front rooms. We didn’t actually have to throw anything away, though. We moved into our living room for a long time (two months?) until our landlord got organized and actually replaced the two front walls where the mould was. I’m thankful they were thorough. We run a HEPA filter 24/7 now – not too green of us but if we turn it off, you can feel the difference.

    I’m in Switzerland and it’s really damp here and the apartments are air tight. It’s so stupid, they should build them to leak a bit. Instead, it’s in our lease that we have to open our windows three times a day. Crazy! Some landlords try to blame tenants for mould problems, saying they didn’t open their windows enough. They also use a type of caulking on the windows that actually serves as a growth substrate for mould! In our apartment, those front walls had wallpaper on them, over concrete walls. So the temperature dropped, water condensed inside and soaked the wallpaper, and ta-da, mould.

    I could rant forever about mould, it’s a terrible problem to have! I wish you the best in getting rid of it!

    • Sorry to hear from another mould sufferer! Opening our windows has been long suggested by condo-builders here in Vancouver as a way of preventing moisture build-up – I just can’t get excited about opening the windows in the dead of winter!

      Luckily enough, our mould issue appears to have been remedied as it was as simple as clearing the space in front of the wall where the mould was growing – this appears to have been enough to have improved the air circulation there.

  3. I love the line: “As soon as we knew that _____________ was involved, it took us half a second to make the decision to part with the stuff.” It could apply to so many things… Why aren’t we a little more cutthroat on a regular basis? Complacency?

    Not a big mold problem is Arizona, but I can tell – This line will play in my head for weeks as I mull over the possibilities.

    May the force be with you.

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