As you likely know by this point, this month we’re focusing our content on the idea of helping you to achieve the New Year’s goal of reducing clutter and going clutter-free. In addition to our nine new articles launching this month, we also have an extensive library of articles on how to reduce clutter and let go of “stuff.” But we also always say that Postconsumerism is a journey and that you need to find your own place of comfort on the Postconsumer scale of how much is enough. That means that every answer can’t be about getting rid of all of your clutter and stripping down to just the minimums. Your comfort zone may be somewhere closer to a middle ground. So then what’s an appropriate amount of clutter? That’s something that every individual needs to decide for him or herself – but we can help you get there with some questions that you might want to consider asking yourself.
What Are Your Reasons for Keeping Some of Your Clutter?
Let’s be honest, there are often some very valid reasons wanting to keep some of your clutter! In some cases, your clutter may qualify as “vintage” or have resale value. That means that it’s worth holding on to if you want to potentially sell it for a profit later. In other cases, you may actually use your clutter. We recommended a rather hard-core approach to clearing out the crafting area earlier in this series of articles, but the reality is that if you’re going to use something at some point, there’s no reason to not hold on to it. Now, we’d still recommend a “cleaning sweep” to identify anything that you’re truly not going to use and get rid of it – as well as apply some organization (if you can’t see it, you won’t use it). But those are valid reasons for keeping some clutter.
We also don’t want to entirely discount the emotional attachment to some items. Again, we’re entirely of the belief that most of the “stuff” addiction, clutter and hoarding issues in the modern world come because we assign too much emotional or mental value to things. But that doesn’t mean that some things don’t truly have a sentimental value that makes them worth keeping. Baby items, marriage tokens, items that belonged to loved ones. There’s an argument for keeping (some) of these things. You simply have to have an honest conversation with yourself about whether the emotional or sentimental value assigned to them is real or imagined.
Will You Really, Really, Ever Use This?
The truth of the matter is that items that you will use are not clutter – they are storage. So, let’s say for example that once a year you have a huge holiday party at your house and during that party in order to comfortably host guests you need to use two large drip coffee pots instead of just the one that you normally use for your family. However, during the rest of the year, the second drip coffee pot just sits in storage and has the feel of being clutter. But you’re in the clear here because that’s an item that you use, even if it’s infrequently. The move probably isn’t to get rid of it so much as to make sure that where it’s being stored is out-of-the-way.
What isn’t a great example here is if you buy something on sale because “someday you might need it.” For example, you’re out shopping and you see a drip coffee maker on sale for an amazing price. You say to yourself, “Someday one of my two drip coffee makers will break or die, and I’ll need to replace it, so why not buy this now while it’s at such an amazing price and just store it until I need it.” That’s a slippery slope that’s going to lead to a basement, attic or garage full of stuff that you don’t actually need and may never, ever use. That’s too much clutter!
Do I Feel Overwhelmed by “Stuff?”
The biggest question is do you want to reduce your stuff and clutter? Presumably, the fact that you’re reading this article and also this website says that you do and that you may be just struggling with getting over the mental and emotional hurdles to do so. But it may also be that you need to sit down and ask yourself why you’re looking to de-clutter. Is it truly because you want to? Is it because society is pressuring you to? Those are two very different things – and you need to find the spot that makes you happy. Unless of course the reason for de-cluttering is because the health or fire department is making you. Then you really, really just need to find a way to get over the mental and emotional hurdles!
So, What’s an Appropriate Amount of Clutter?
We wish that we could give you a numbers-based answer here! But the truth of the matter is that the answer is entirely up to you. What we can say is that a good way to try to find the answer for yourself is to start by de-cluttering smaller areas of your home or space. That will get you comfortable with the idea of letting go of “stuff.” It will also give you a feel for how much you like (or don’t like) reducing clutter and stuff in your space. You may find that, for you, more clutter is a little better. You may also find that you love the reduced “stuff” feel more than you thought you would. It’s all about finding the spot that’s mentally right for you. All we ask is that you make your decisions in a way that is knowledgeable about and mindful of the degree to which addictive consumerism plays a role in your need or want to be surrounded by material items!
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