My name is Brooke, and I am a hoarder. Well, I would be, if someone didn’t keep me in check. Instead, I’ll consider myself a thrifty, bulk saver.
My fiance decided this Fall was the perfect time to clean house. The city-wide garage sales were in full force, which meant so were “my people” (you know, fellow thrifters) perusing for deals and steals. I committed to cleaning out my closet(s) for the Epilepsy Foundation, and also to setting out the furniture I had good intentions of upcycling (but never got around to) on the curb. Two end table lamps were the first to be purged, and we quietly cheered as someone drove up within five minutes to swoop them into their vehicle. Instead of that satisfying my fiance’s desire for simplicity, it only encouraged him to set out more of my treasures.
As we trolled from room to room, he dismissed my excuses and laughed as I attempted to divert his attention away from a potential discard. I accepted that I might have a problem when he stared me in the face and told me the experience made him think of going through the house of an addict. Rather than burst into tears (I was tempted), I relented. Take it away. Take it all away!
I agree that simpler is better. It clears the mind. It clears the clutter.
Why do we keep clutter?
I lovingly blame my father, who always announced he keeps everything because he “didn’t have any toys growing up.” Well, I had plenty of toys, but saving is in my blood too.
It feels secure to have things. Even junk. You know it’s there when you need it.
Squirrels do it; they save when there is abundance to survive the winter.
Joseph did it (Genesis 41), and saved his land from seven years of famine.
It’s environmentally friendly to reduce, reuse, recycle. Throwing things out is wasteful. Yet, holding on to something you’re not using is just as wasteful (and I’m speaking to myself here). Remember the first R: reduce!
How do we clear the clutter?
- Does it bring you joy?
My fiance’s mom read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, where she talks about the value of simplicity. If you have a hard time deciding if you should keep or give away an item, she suggests holding it in your hand and asking yourself if it brings you joy.
When I donate clothes, I use a similar strategy as I go through my closet and ask myself 1. do I love this, and/or 2. do I feel fantastic wearing this?
- Laws of giving
In the book The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living by the fascinating Wendy Jehanara Tremayne, the author moves from NYC to Truth and Consequences, New Mexico for a decommodified lifestyle with her partner. Tremayne is a thrifty saver like myself (and many of you), and she refers to the process of accumulating and donating “junk” as the wastestream. Rather than hoarding alley and curb-side and hand-me-down treasures, she sends them back into the waste stream if she does not have a specific plan to use them. That rule helped me purge all the furniture pieces I had stored in my basement for those projects I was “going to get around to”. Her mantra is, if you give, there will always be more! It is the primary rule to the wastestream. Give to someone who can use it NOW, and you’ll discover treasures floating down the wastestream when you need them later.
My friend, and fellow Native Gypsy Makie, gifted me Tremayne’s book. When I read about the wastestream, I knew it was meant for me to read.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. –Proverbs 11:24It’s a law of the universe.
- In & Out
My mom suggested to me, much to my dismay, that when I bring something into the house, something else needs to go back out.
What’s in it for me?
Giving is a gift in itself. If you are holding on to a possession but not appreciating it, and especially if you’re not even using it, you’re preventing someone else from enjoying it.
Remember the laws of giving. One who gives freely grows richer.
Clearing the clutter clears the mind. As I cleaned out my home and my papers and my lists, I noticed my focus narrowing, my energy increasing and my mind not overwhelmed with to-do’s.
I’m an innate hoarder. My lists have lists. My emails are always bursting at the seams. Someone says they’re going to throw something out and I instinctually jump in to rescue it (and add it to my own personal landfill of someday upcycle projects). But the first step is recognizing and accepting it.
If you don’t want something to be wasted, donate it to someone who won’t waste it. If you hold on to something without appreciating it or using it, that is the real waste. The world provides enough for everyone. Take only what you need and pass along the rest. You will be rewarded.