February 21, 2018

Decluttering is being wasteful – is that true?


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This article was inspired by a response in my Facebook group when I asked: “what is your burning question or biggest struggle with clutter“. One person answered by saying:
I think my biggest challenge with clutter is to know when to ‘let go’ of something. When I do decide it’s time to let go, then I get a sense of being wasteful and start putting things back in my basket.


A lot of eco-conscious people struggle with letting things go because they don’t want to add to the landfill. They feel that decluttering is being wasteful.

What they forget is, that by not letting go of anything they over time turn their own home into a landfill. Another thing they forget is, eventually, their stuff might end up in the landfill anyway., when they have passed and other people have to clear out their house and deal with their things.


I am not saying be wasteful or being wasteful is ok. We do need to take care of the environment and drastically reduce waste and that starts way before we even get to the task of decluttering.


It starts while we are in the process of buying things by asking ourselves a few questions:
– do I really need this item or could I do without?
– is this item really useful and a necessity or just a fad?
– Could what that things can do be done by something that I already have? (think and be creative)


Above questions are more practical, the more insightful ones are:
– how am I feeling right now, do I need cheering up? Is that why I want to buy this?
– do I feel lonely, is that why I want to buy this?
– am I missing something or somebody in my life, is this why I want to buy this?


Not without reason, somebody coined the expression “Retail Therapy”. Wikipedia says about retail therapy:


Retail therapy is shopping with the primary purpose of improving the buyer’s mood or disposition. Often seen in people during periods of depression or stress, it is normally a short-lived habit. Items purchased during periods of retail therapy are sometimes referred to as “comfort buys” (compare comfort food).


Often times during such retail therapy sessions you buy things that you don’t really need and also, things that you don’t really love. You just need to buy something and that’s what you do.


These items then end up as clutter and the more you engage in this kind of comfort shopping the more things you have in your life that don’t really matter to you. This stuff takes up your physical and mental space, they bog you down and suck the life out of you and leave no space for the things you really really want.


Which in turn makes you feel stressed or depressed and you go out to do some shopping…


Can you see the cycle? Can you see how ‘being wasteful’ starts way before you decide to let go of something? Can you see that not decluttering is being wasteful but buying things you don’t need, love or use is?


So this is one point, I want to make, another one:


Waste is part of the cycle of life. Look at nature, let’s say a leaf on a tree, the tree produces that leaf (spring), the leaf shares its beauty and usefulness with us (summer), then it turns yellow or brown, dies and falls to the ground, where it becomes waste, we also call it hummus (fall). The tree pulls its life forces back and inward to gain strength (winter) just to start growing leaves again shortly after and so the cycle begins again.


Or another natural cycle we eat food, the food nourishes our body and what our body can’t use is being let go. We would get sick if our body couldn’t let go of what he does not need anymore.


So with your things in life, look at them as being part of a natural cycle. They come into your life for a reason, they bring you joy, and/or are useful – hopefully at least one or the other, preferably both – and then there might come the time to let them go.


If they are not broken, they could always be useful to somebody else. Why keeping them selfishly in your home, unloved and unused, while somebody else would love to have them? But if they are not useful anymore you need to let them go to the landfill or else your home turns into a landfill.


What is your burning question or biggest struggle with clutter or decluttering? Let me know in the comments below.


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