This week I barely left the house. I went through each room, decluttering, tearing it apart, vacuuming, dusting, creating clean living spaces. Now we are yard saling the spoils.
I have watched a lot of Hoarders and have thought much about the situation of too much stuff. I think there are two camps in frugality: storing things for someday and not owning much. We have usually fallen into the first category. Usually what happens is we buy something because we think it is cool, then maybe we use it a few times and then it falls by the wayside. When we happen upon it again, we think oh wow, we haven’t been using it, but heck we may! The more frustrating scenario is when we find it again, think we don’t need it so we send it packing, and then the next week do indeed find a need for it. I think this happens less frequently than when we own more than we need. When I stop to think of how much waste we generate as a society, I feel ill. I tend to feel virtuous because the stuff I acquire is usually secondhand, but if I buy then it is not available for the next person, who may have to go and buy it firsthand.
But then again, that other person doesn’t always come along. I read a Slate article a while back about what happens to our stuff.
This paragraph was particularly engrossing:
In the rag-cut room, two men were silently pushing T-shirts, dresses, and every other manner of apparel into a compressor that works like the back of a garbage truck, squeezing out neat cubes of rejected clothing that weigh a half ton each. The cubes were then lifted and moved via forklift to the middle of the room, where a wall of wrapped and bound half-ton bales towered. I saw tags for Old Navy, Sean Jean, and Diesel peeking out of the bales, as well as slivers of denim, knits in bright maroons and bold stripes, and the smooth surfaces of Windbreakers. Smashed together like this, stripped of its symbolic meaning, stacked up like bulk dog food, I was reminded that clothing is ultimately fiber that comes from resources and results in horrifying volumes of waste. Clothing stores completely separate us from this reality, and a “rag-cut” room brings it home in an instant. The Quincy Street Salvation Army builds a completed wall made of 18 tons, or 36 bales, of unwanted clothing every three days. And this is just a small portion of the cast-offs of one single Salvation Army location in one city in the United States.
Too much stuff
We saw a micro-slice of that this week as we piled up bag after bag of unwanted clothing; books; toys; dishes; and other, more random, items for sale and donation.Although we can stem the tide for some of the stuff, staying its ultimate demise, we create our own build up in our homes. The clutter creates a noisy mind and the noisy mind cannot focus on its goals, at least mine can’t. Mother Teresa understood the importance of simplicity.
“The more you have, the more you are occupied.
The less you have, the more free you are.”
But it seems that humans’ love of stuff is much older than any readers of this blog!
Even in ancient Greece, they struggled with a life too complicated:
“In order to seek one’s own direction,
one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.”
Plato (Classical Greek philosopher)
We must clear out our spaces to clear out our minds. So we begin with the tough stuff. Our stuff. These are the boys’ rooms at the beginning of the week:
The shared space
Rin has dust mite allergies and needs a clean, vacuumed room. We are not able to provide that in these conditions.
Way too much stuff! Mouse paraphernalia from the mouse that passed away months ago. These boys need some attention.
Decluttering is often one step forward, two steps back
This was no exception. Luigi’s room was first. 3 bags: throw away, paper recycling, and give away. The boys have been watching Hoarders with me and they have taken the messages to heart as well. There were no tears and lots of big decisions were made. I didn’t push on anything. I left each decision up to them.
The bags are the garbage and giveaway from his room.
So is the bin. Everything but the chair came out of his room and closet. To be fair, I use the closet and so some of this was my clothing pare down.
After many hours, we got here.
Ah… There is very little in his drawers and baskets, so it will be a breeze for him to keep it clean.
The room is now clean.
A bonus: his closet is almost empty. The closet is a funny thing It connects the boys’ rooms and is quite long. It has 3 bars and lots of storage space. We still have lots of room to hang clothes, but one big section of it is empty. I was getting the vacuum to vacuum out in there and Luigi said, “Are you putting the vacuum in there?” What a brilliant comment! We don’t have a utility closet and are constantly trying to figure out where mops and vacuum go. Now they have a home!
Deep breath, good night’s sleep, and off to the big boys’ room.
Same deal, 3 bags. This one was harder. There is more furniture and Luigi wanted to help, so there were 4 people in there. I was torn about letting Luigi in, but I told him he could stay as long as there was no judgement towards his brothers. He did well overall. Since his room was now clean, he was feeling quite pious.
This was the pile we pulled out of the boys’ closet. We sorted through all of it and put 1/2 back.
Even though this room had less clutter, it took 14 hours to fully clean!
Lots of decisions, pulling beds out, vacuuming, washing walls, hanging pictures, rearranging furniture. But the end product is worth it.
The dude is going to build platforms to get their beds high enough off the floor that they can vacuum easily under them. We had many talks about the importance of daily and weekly maintenance on their rooms, so that it can stay organized. Hopefully we can all remain diligent and on task with this.
So far our yard sale has netted $200 and we are much much lighter. We are hanging on to a few items to craigslist or ebay (like the 40 lbs of Knex we have!) but the rest will go to the Goodwill truck today and we hope to have hopped off the binge and purge roller coaster for good.
Spending this week
The Dude had a Jack in the Box combo ($6) and a lunch at work ($5). However, he was also able to bring home banquet leftovers last night, so we all had a delicious steak dinner, with stuffed mushrooms for free.
I forgot! In all the decluttering, we have pulled together a lot of trash. We have recycled or donated everything we could, but there is still junk. Last week we had an extra can’s worth of garbage, so that was an additional $3.50 last week.
Our total non-necessity spending was $14.50.
This week we will be going to the dump with more stuff.