I was interested to see Adnan Hodzic discuss life without evolution in the GNOME environment recently.
I too use GNOME as my desktop environment (I sometimes toy with various tiling window managers before getting annoyed at something or other).
My solution to the GNOME problem is to purge the gnome-desktop-environment package and instead my own local package gnome-desktop-minimal. This package is a meta-package which includes a smaller selection of GNOME packages, notably ignoring several that the gnome-core package would pull in such as eog - why install that when I prefer qiv or feh?
If I believed we could agree on precisely which packages to include I would submit a bug to the gnome team "Please provide gnome-desktop-minimal" or similar. Still I suspect individual biases/preferences will make such a suggestion contentious at best and impossible to satisfy at worst.