Embrace the Clutter!
I will never be a minimalist. Look at that picture up there. It’s so white.
I can’t do it. I’m a sentimental person. I find joy in the silliest of things. I love knick-knacks and silly decorations and dozens of picture frames featuring my family and friends. Right now I’m looking at a shelf that includes two Pez dispensers, a Chick-fil-a cow plushie, a Steelers mini-football, and three different stuffed animals, two from my childhood. I have an entire box of the ticket stubs from every movie I’ve seen with my husband.
I hold onto things.
And with my life, having moved 12 times in the last eight years, I have come to terms with the fact I can’t keep everything. But I can keep the things that make me feel good. That spark memories. So I keep the bouquet I caught at a wedding a year before I married my husband. I keep the little stuffed bear my Dad brought me back from a business trip to Philadelphia when I was probably twelve. These things remind me of people I love.
And I think that’s ok.
It seems today people make a lot of emphasis on being “minimal”. And I can appreciate the concept, but I’m far too sentimental to live it. I love my little collections. I somehow have five or six angel figurines and I love them all.
But I don’t need things that don’t mean anything. There’s a difference between keeping things that have a meaning and keeping things that could maybe have a purpose someday. And that is how I decluttered my house.
I went through my things and judged them based on the following criteria;
Have I looked at or used this in the last six months to a year? I also considered “have I touched this since I unpacked it when I moved in?” And that is how a lot of things got put in the “donate” pile.
Is this really worth holding onto and moving? I threw away a lot of little scraps and cute little things I’d hung onto for some reason or another (a ribbon from Bed Bath and Beyond? Chucked! A dirty stress ball from college? Thrown!).
Can I donate this so someone can use it? This one is easy for me. Extra utensils from the wedding? Donated. Clothes I don’t wear because I don’t like them anymore? Donated.
Would I miss this if I gave it away? Can I replace it for less than $5? This was a little more difficult. My parents were raised by people who lived their young lives in the Great Depression and the years of sacrifice during WWII. It was passed down to me that we don’t throw things away. Well that’s wrong. I will not hang onto random bits and pieces of things that I might want in a year or two. If I can pick it up at the dollar store at that time, then I will. But I will not haul it all over the country “just in case” I need it someday. I’m pretty sure that carrying it with me whenever I move is way more costly than accepting I can buy it again someday.
Is it broken, damaged, or dirty? If it couldn’t be cleaned or fixed, it was tossed. If it could be cleaned, I cleaned it. If I still didn’t need it, I donated it.
Can it be recycled? Is it an old dresser that can be up-cycled? Is it a pile of old paperwork from college that you’ve never referenced at work? Paper makes up a surprising amount of weight, so shred what you have to, and recycle the rest. But if you don’t get to those “projects” within a good amount of time (a year at the most) you probably aren’t going to get to it, so cut your losses and sell.
Following these rules I threw away two trash bags filled with garbage, a 13 gallon trash bag filled with recycling (mostly paper!), and four grocery bags filled with things that got donated to my local thrift store. I still feel like I have my “treasures” and I’m sure someday I’ll go through and donate a few more of the things that got through this rampage. And one day I’ll get my husband to go through his piles too!