Please don’t call the ‘Hoarders’ show and report me. This post is an unexpected follow-up to my post about less space = less stuff = more life. In that post, I reflected on how good the de-cluttering I had been doing felt. We've lived in this home for about a year and a half, and it just became even more painfully obvious how badly we need to stop acquiring ‘stuff’. This gets ugly. Ryan rented a 10-yard bin that sat as an eyesore in the driveway this past weekend. I thought there was no way we would fill that thing and told Ryan what a waste of money it was to get such a huge bin - oh, I was wrong. We purged things we haven't used in over a year, things we forgot we had, things we can live without and things we no longer need. In our defense, much of the bulk came from scrap construction materials from when we finished the basement.
I was floored – we completely filled the bin! Not only was the bin full, but there were also 4 big garbage bags and 7 boxes to give away. Oh, and, we're not done purging - we still have to sort through the stuff hiding in the crawl space we haven’t laid eyes on for over a year.
Everything was sorted into one of these 5 categories:
- Donate to charity
- Give to specific family and friends
- Keep (and use)
Seeing how much waste we had was just plain embarrassing. This excess was the result of spending; by us, by friends and by family on ‘stuff’. What a waste of money, time, and environmental resources. Most of the things we threw out were likely made overseas, so consider the environmental impact of all that ‘stuff’ being manufactured, shipped, boxed, sold, brought home, wrapped up in colorful paper, used for maybe a short time then stuffed in a closet. Now the ‘stuff’ is in a garbage bin to be hauled off to an overflowing landfill.
Most of the things we threw out were likely made overseas, so consider the environmental impact of all that ‘stuff’ being manufactured, shipped, boxed, sold, brought home, wrapped up in colorful paper, used for maybe a short time then stuffed in a closet. Now the ‘stuff’ is in a garbage bin to be hauled off to an overflowing landfill.
In my post about less stuff and more life, I mentioned how this purging experience made it even more painfully obvious we had too much crap.
The next place we'll live in will be smaller. We also developed some guidelines for the stuff we fill our home with.
New rules to live with less:
- When we're done with something; donate, sell, trash or recycle it right away
- When purchasing a new article of clothing, remove an old one. Uses for the old clothing – cut it up to make cleaning rags, donate it or put it in the compost bin.
- If an item is used only once a year, we don’t need to have it
- No multiples – I had 4 spatulas, half a dozen serving spoons, 2 can openers and various garlic contraptions
- Buy things for many uses. I bought 4 barstools because we hosted Christmas Eve one year - what a waste of cash!
- Everything must have a function – it must do something, hold our bodies or hold other functional things
Everything is progress.
We're progressing in our pursuit to enjoy life with less stuff. It feels clean, liberating, and unfussy.
It's also a journey - a constant and evolving one. Getting rid of things that have lost their usefulness is a constant job - but an important one.
It's to keep acquiring stuff when we're not paying attention. I hope this inspires you to evaluate the things you bring into your home and the things you bring into others’ homes.
PS - less space = less stuff = more life, When I shut my laptop, went into the bathroom and cried, and What I Learned After A Facebook-Free Weekend