The vast majority of the focus this year around the home has been on the idea of decluttering. Thanks in no small part to Marie Kondo, the idea that we all have too much “stuff” has become pervasive.
There’s truth in it, too. Most of us do accumulate things, not crossing into being a hoarder, but hovering somewhere near it. We keep things just in case, filling our homes with things that we don’t need and won’t use. When a trend catches on like freeing your house of clutter, it’s immediately backed up by people agreeing. They feel so much better without the clutter! They have so much space! Are so much more organized! It’s the answer we’ve all been waiting for.
If this was a TV show, this is the point where the brakes would screech, and the narrator would intone: “but is it?”
Roll back a few steps to one of the key purposes of why we accumulate junk: we think we’ll need it. “Be prepared” isn’t such a terrible slogan. Why throw something out if you might one day need it? It doesn’t make sense financially or – for sentimental items – emotionally. We rarely have too many things because we genuinely feel we need them. They fulfill a purpose for us, make us feel safer and more protected. They help us feel ready for any challenge we might face. Need to find a way to stop the cat climbing out of the window? Why, you have some old net curtain that will do the job perfectly…
As with most things, there is a middle ground. If you catch onto the bug of clearing your home of the useless possessions, it’s easy to go too far. There are some things it is worth keeping, that you do need, and that you can sacrifice a little space for.
Wondering what I might be talking about? Thinking you’re so high on the idea of decluttering that I am just jabbering nonsense? The latter may be true, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few valid points in there…
Keep Me #1: Plastic Wire Ties
These are the little pieces that tend to come with any new product. You can twist them to grip something. They’re usually used to hold a product to a cardboard backing and can seem like a nuisance. But they’re great for holding all kinds of things together, from hair clips to the pages of a recipe book. They don’t take up much space, either.
Keep Me #2: Batteries
We find batteries and, most of the time, we can’t remember if they have any charge or what they’re for. So we throw them out. This is a pretty bad idea for two reasons. One: try and recycle batteries wherever possible. Two: the next time you need a battery, you’re going to flash back to throwing them out and hate yourself. Always take the opportunity to keep or purchase new discount batteries when it arises; you’ll thank yourself for it later. An assortment of sizes and types is a good idea too, so you have something for every need.
Keep Me #3: USB Cables
Cables are a nuisance, we know. With various bits of tech, you can end up with more wires in your house than dust mites under the sofa. As they’re so ubiquitous, we get rid of them and then marvel at the tidy space they have left behind. Then, we need one, and remember the bit above about hating yourself? Yeah, it happens again. Do your self-esteem a favor and store them; they’re not large, and you can tuck them away in a box out of sight.
Keep Me #4: Seasonal Items
Let’s paint a picture. It’s fall, and the summer days are fading into the past, already memories even though they were only a few days ago. You have decided to set upon your house and free it from clutter. You pull items out of your vanity: sun block, SPF lotion, after sun care. You go to the attic or basement and stumble over your parasol, your sun lounger and your sun shield. You immediately see a way that you can save space. You’re not going to need this stuff for nearly a year, so why not get rid of it?
Unfortunately, that’s not decluttering – it’s just throwing out something you know you are going to need again. Unless you have the finances to replace everything every season – and even if you do, should you? – then you need to find a way to live with your seasonal items. They can be tucked away out of sight, but it’s better that than being consigned to the garbage.
Keep Me #5: Bags
Bags come with everything, from grocery produce to the items we buy online as substitute bubble wrap. In our eagerness to get to the contents of the bag, we discard it. A shocking amount of plastic bags ends up in landfill sites despite still being intact and having a use. Always try and repurpose plastic bags to extend their life. You can use them as a table overlay if you’re doing something messy or even to store those sun care products you don’t need for a year.
Keep Me #6: Books
Countless people go through a decluttering and wipe out their books with it. In an age of e-readers, there’s some sense in that too – well, if you like paying twice for the same thing. You will have to buy them again should you decide to reread them, which is an immediate sticking point.
Then there is also the fact that you’ve probably kept them for a reason. We tend to be more emotionally attached to things we can touch. The vast majority of your library probably contains a wealth of memories that are not just about the stories contained on the pages. Get rid of a few if you didn’t like them to begin with, but anything you have enjoyed once, be aware you might want to experience again.
So go free your house of clutter, safe in the knowledge that the things you should have are still going to be there.