mimulus_borogove: (Default)
[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
I read a really good article about clutter a few weeks ago. Lots of these articles either seem too peppy and unrealistic or else just don't seem to get the problem. This one worked better for me, for some reason, so I've been trying off and on to follow its advice.

The idea of decluttering a small area or spending a short length of time on it every day works pretty well. In some cases, all I'm doing is consolidating clutter--but at least I know that that pile of magazines is just a pile of magazines and not a pile of magazines, catalogs, letters to be answered, and Costco coupons. I have to remind myself to do it. The results are visible around the house (and would be downright impressive if I decluttered daily).

The part that's really getting to me is getting rid of five things for every thing you bring into the house. This is a great idea. All you have to do is look at the piles of things lying around and note the absence of visible flat surfaces, and you can see the logic of this. The trouble I'm having isn't just the stuff I can't bear to part with or the things that I'm not done with yet (someday I'll finish that baby blanket and watch those anime, really I will). The problem is that I can't completely control how much stuff comes in.

I'm not being idiotic about the stuff that enters the house. I am not counting groceries or mail, and I have re-thought some impulse purchases and held off. However, we have to get stuff for the kids. They need swimsuits and swim diapers, sun hats, weather-appropriate clothes that fit, and so on--and even if I could find anyone to take their outgrown winter clothes right now, I wouldn't be able to unload them at a 5:1 ratio. The kids have to have clothes to wear (and now that we've got a drought, I'm even trying to figure out if I can wash clothes less often).

What's more challenging is the stuff that we can't control. Friends and family send us hand-me-down clothes, books, etc.. It is a wonderful, generous, useful, money-saving, green thing to do, and I love them for it (as well as for other things, of course). That said, I thought I was decluttering pretty well until we got a raft of much-needed kid clothes. Suddenly, with the 5:1 ratio, I owed it to the clutter project to get over 200 items out the door. After more back-and-forth with donation trips and occasional necessary items, I'm still 188 items in the hole. It really gets you thinking about how much stuff it takes to run a household--and makes you wonder how much of it is really necessary.
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March 2009

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