Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From, want to stuff and clutter.

De-cluttering is an ongoing activity in this household. Every time we have dowshifted to smaller accommodation there has been a sort of purging going on to deal with clutter. There are a few challenges with that in that 'getting rid' of stuff is not really just a case to put it in the bin for landfill but the questions asked are :

Can I donate it to someone who needs it or wants it? ( Clothes, books etc) Ask first.
Has it any value to sell it on?
Can I freecycle it or take to one of the local swap parties?
Can I repurpose it?
Can it be composted?
Can any parts of it be repurposed?
Is it mine to declutter?
Why did I buy this?
What am I going to do with it?

The questions can be endless and the right time to be asking them is when we acquire the item unfortunately, not when we no longer see a use for it. Believe me when I say at some stage it was a thing to behold.

Our tastes change, our circumstances change so it makes sense to change our clutter and stuff too. The reason we buy something new, want it is what keeps money flowing out and stuff flowing in.But how does its journey proceed from wanted/needed item to stuff to clutter.

Take for example my efforts with breadmaking. First I used to buy all bread at the supermarket with its wrapping, unhealthy ingredients etc. Then I decided to get a bread-maker and with a family of five found that one was not enough really I needed two.  I then became concerned about the sugar,salt ,wheat content of the bread machine bread and the resources used. Indeed the bread had no wrapper and had not travelled halfway through the country from depot to depot but it did use electricity and for the convenience of that wondeful feel good smell it mainly took up a lot of space. Not ot mention the bags of flour varieties.

I then progressed to making bread the slow way, taking all day over it just using a bowl, hands and a kneading board. But even making bread at home that way created a certain amount of clutter :
kneading board
dough scraper
bread tins
knives to cut the bread with
books on bread making making double quantity and freezing one loaf
and so on.

If decluttering was a once off activity then we would all have simpler homes but as we grow our knowledge and interests, things become stuff and then clutter.

Two things have helped enourmously as a habit:

to stay away from shops
committing items to a wishlist
wait 24 hrs before buying anything
to question what to do with the item when it is no longer needed
to look at its origin and resources used
to find an alternative source ( can I borrow it, is is available on ebay, library, does my neighbour have one?)
to build in a habit of revisiting each room on a regular basis and declutter items

The mystery about clutter is that once clutter was a longed for, searched for, loved item and sentimental reasons can stop us from separating from the belonging. One answer is to commit it to the digital invisible cloud. Take a picture of it and have a special folder on your computer. Particularly useful for that achievement certificate in grade 5 or family photographs. But mainly ask the question" Why do I feel the need to hang on to this item? Those answers might surprise you and then you might be able at a click of a mouse to make it disappear like magic.

Really advanced decluttering needs a discipline of bringing one item in and one item out but that could sound too scary right now.

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