40 bags in 40 days is a very simple concept. There is no right or wrong way to do it. How ever it works for you is the way it works, but there are always some questions that are asked.
History and Scope:
How did this get started? You can read the original post from 2008 here.
Is there an “Original” or “Official” group/site/page? — The short answer is no. This is the ‘original’ as in I did this for myself and came up with the idea. Father Kyle Schnipple first suggested it as a Lenten Penance. Dozens if not hundreds of groups and blogs have picked it up since then.
How many people do this? I have no clue. If you Google “40 bags in 40 days” you get something like 40,000 results.
How the Challenge Works:
The original concept is easy. Pick a size of bag, fill it up with stuff and get rid of it.
What size bag should I pick? That depends. If you have a big house and/or a big family and lots of stuff then go big. On the other hand if you are fastidious about clutter, always shop wisely, have a small house and small family then a small bag might be a challenge. If you have never done the challenge before start with the standard tall kitchen bag. If you struggle to fill it then one of two things is happening – you are using too big a bag or you should prayerfully consider letting more things go.
Is it ok to do 6 bags on each Saturday? There is something to be said for the steady discipline of letting a bit go each day. It usually doesn’t take more than about 30 minutes to fill a bag. But do what works for you.
Can I gather bags ahead of Lent and count them? Sure. The goal is to let a little go each day, but if you know you are going to be missing a few days and really want to do all 40 bags… go ahead. There really isn’t a right or wrong way.
Do bags of trash/junk/paper count? Yes. You have this stuff in your house and it is stealing your space, your time and your sanity. Of course it counts to let it go.
How do you manage the bags? I take them straight to the car then drop them off as I do other errands. I don’t leave that bags in the house as they might start to become unbagged.
How do I let go of ____?:
By far the most common questions are questions on how to let go of certain things. For some of these I either have or will be putting up articles this Lent, but here is the brief answers
How do I let go of sentimental things? The love is in your heart not the item. Take a picture or it. Write about it. Give it to someone you know will love it. Having some sentimental things is fine, good even. But not everything item can be imbued with sentimentality.
Should I let go of baby stuff, maternity clothes or things I hope to fit in again? Yes, with wisdom. If you have not used something in 5 years it should go. If you get pregnant, loose weight or have a baby trust God to provide for you needs in the moment. In the meantime be the means by which God can bless others who needs those things now.
How do I let go of stuff people I love got for me? It is hard. But again the love is in our hearts not the thing. Keeping something you don’t like because if feel obligated because it belonged to someone who loved you is something that most of us fall into. The love doesn’t go away just because the object does.
I have had this so long how can I let it go? Because you don’t love it and use it. Most things don’t improve with age.
Craft supplies, homeschooling, books and hobby stuff? These can be hard because we have every intention of doing something wonderful with the stuff. But having stuff without a solid plan can be problematic. (and yes I am looking at those bins of fabric scrapes) Keep a limited amount of stuff that doesn’t have a plan. Even if you have a plan for something don’t keep it more than 5 years.
Kid’s things: Involve your children in letting things go. Don’t undermine their natural generosity. They really will be happier with less.
Sacramentals and religious items. There are special rules for items that have been blessed.