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Clutter madness vs. zero waste - where's the balance?

 
pollinator
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I really don't think I'm a hoarder by nature. But I will be honest I get really, really frustrated with how cluttery and messy my living space is, pretty much constantly.

I seem to have a difficult time balancing my desire to not want to trash anything because it's wasteful/might be able to use it/etc with my desire for a clean, well kept home. Having kids doesn't help, either. ANd my house is under construction and I have very little effective storage space, etc. It is very small. I don't always have a place to put the stuff I keep "just in case."

So - has anyone figured this out? I can only have so many projects at once, and unless I start a mini-junkyard behind my house, I'm not entirely sure where to strike the balance or what to do. Even when I'm decluttering and throwing out things that really honestly do NOT have any more use or life in them, I feel so awful for contributing to the landfill.

Part of it is migrating to buying/shopping patterns that involve things with less waste rather than more
part of it is producing things myself so there's no packaging waste/etc

But I find that it's just hard no matter what to live in cleanliness and order if you can't seem to bring yourself to get rid of stuff. You know, not just the stuff you could theoretically sell or give away in good condition, but the bins of ripped jeans (that I will never have time to turn into a quilt or rug), all the half used craft supplies, clothes the kids have outgrown and are still technically usable but not really nice enough to even give away, books, etc.

Is it just a matter of being really aggressive about giving things away?
 
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Location: Northants, United Kingdom
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Oh this really resonated with me! For what it's worth, I had some advice from my lovely frugal-minded Mum which I will share.

It was when I just had my second baby and she told me: using up the leftovers in the fridge is good, but for the next six to nine months don't bother. You have too much to do right now, throw some food away. She knew throwing away perfectly good leftovers would be as hard for me as for her, but it meant I didn't burn out over something small and could get back to being frugal when I had the capacity. And I did.

With small children and construction and reduced storage space I'm going to humbly suggest the same: chuck it out. Drop things at a charity shop or the dump. Not forever, just for this season of construction.
 
pollinator
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At least temporarily, go ahead and throw away all of the clutter, after the house and family is more situated you can maybe start the collection over again. Once a junkyard becomes a habit it is basically impossible to get rid of so contemplate that option under more normal (less stressful) conditions. Overall I would say that the my opinions is that junkyard are not that great from kids and families.  

Is it possible for you to list the things that are being a problem for you.
Next is to always trash/store away before you buy, even if it is only 1/2 broken.

What exactly is the problem:
1) Buying (too much that you are then forced to hoard to prove that you are eco)
2) Buying things that break too quickly (cheap walmart sofa, glass table in kids room, etc)
3) Buying retail vs wholesale so too much packaging
4) Not buying biodegradable products + packaging.
5) Family not helping with organization/cleanup because of a new situation
6) Trying to save for too many future projects, when you are already overwhelmed.
7) Being afraid

Personally for me. Most of my trash comes from the kitchen/pantry+bathroom.
When I make my food from scratch, buy in bulk. I get alot less trash
When I use vinegar, baking soda, orange peel, etc for bathroom/cleaning I make less trash
When I compost I make less trash.
I have accepted the fact that kids need new gear/books/electronics/clothes/shoes every few months
When it comes to hobbies: I have told myself 6months or it is going in the real trash.
I ended up not tuning that half-broken laptop in a Tablet, or old phone into a robot brain.
Same going for that blender motor that was going to turn into a XYZ.
I also had plans to turn a metal part of a bar stool into a trellis, still there 2yrs later, so it is trash now.
I was also going to use a shirt as a pattern to make a new shirt, so I saved it still trying to figure out this sewing machine.
So I am going to trash it. Because it will take 4+ years before I will make clothes to wear to "interviews"

But mostly my house looks junky when I hoard letters/papers vs scanning and shredding.
And when clothes/shoes is being saved when I know that I will never lose 35lbs and even if I did, I will want to buy new.

Storage/Organization
I find that keeping the hallway+kitchen+bathroom+living/dining room cleans works wonders.
Next is keeping the kids room clean, just clean it once and make sure they clean it multiple times a day before the have fun.
Then that just leaves the bedroom, closet and pantry. If it bads enough for you, you will stop it.
For the kids room cube/shelves help and high bed (bunk bed with the bottom empty)
Putting all/most clothes on hangers. And mostly it is about having less.
 
pollinator
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Once you start a "temporary" mini-junkyard, it becomes virtually impossible to get rid of.  It's too easy to add stuff when its there.  Yes, sometimes stuff comes in handy, but you also have young ones to keep safe. Whether it is your junkyard or a landfill, most items can become ruined and end up as trash anyway and are more of a hassle and hazard to dispose of.

I agree with Hilary, be kind with yourself on this matter right now.  You have enough challenges and projects to deal with.  if nothing else, depending on what the items are, their final use can be fuel in a wood stove.

You also are setting a great example for your kids as they see you making these kind of improvements for a better future for you and them. Keep up the good work!
 
master steward
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My problem is that we've inherited a lot. We have a 950sqft house, with two kids. My parents kept all of my childhood toys and passed them on to me, and the kids have gotten a lot of toys, and so we have bins and bins of fantastic toys to learn and play with...and little room to store them. Currently most of the bins are in our 500sqft "garage," but the garage is mostly full now, and not well organized.

And, now my grandparents are moving to a retirement apartment and distributing most of their stuff. ANd it's all amazing, memory filled, quality stuff. Glass plates we at Christmas dinner on, jewelry, stainless steel pots and pans, knife sets, photo albums, sewing supplies, an antique portable washer and a sewing machine and so much more. I don't want to sell or donate their amazing things...but where to put it all? ??
 
pollinator
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

Glass plates we at Christmas dinner on,
Only keep enough crockery so you have one "nice" set, it takes over otherwise, my Gran just died and we had enough sets to serve over 100 people
jewelry,
Can probably keep this, not exactly bulky, but I would sell/throw out any piece you do not recognise
stainless steel pots and pans,
How many pans do you need 4? pick the best 4 from theirs and yours, throw away the rest.  stainless steel pans last forever you don't need spares
knife sets,
Pick the best, ditch the rest, one of each knife type
photo albums,
personally I say ditch, but maybe digitalise. Otherwise keep the photos you can identify
sewing supplies,
Go through it.. keep what you WILL use.
an antique portable washer
Did you need it before? do you need it now? no? Ditch it.
and a sewing machine
Have you been looking to buy one? if so keep it, if not.. out it goes.



As for old clothes, cotton is great to compost, or start fires with.  When Husbands gran died we took a dinner service, 16 of everything when my gran died I turned down any more, I did take a coffee service, not sure why as our dinner service has coffee cups and pot etc, family keep giving me silver tableware, very soon I am going to have to stop them, I cannot stand junk, we have plenty of space left in our house (125m2) and we're probably moving somewhere considerably bigger (we're only 2 people) but I still won't keep things for the sake of keeping them.

 
master steward
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One of my primary clutters is seeds. My strategy for dealing them is to bulk seeds. So I will open every packet of tomato seeds (that people send unsolicited), and dump them all into a common lot. Then I'll plant a pinch of that each year. Perhaps something nice will show up. I take random packets of seeds with me to seed swaps, and put them in a "free" box. And if seed is a few years old, and I have already grown new seed, I don't feel much inclined to hold onto the older stuff. It can feed the chickens.
 
Posts: 179
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I will add my thoughts on one point:

S Bengi wrote:
6) Trying to save for too many future projects, when you are already overwhelmed.



I found that for me, the most effective step in reducing clutter was when I made up my mind to stop buying stuff for an imagined future. Stick to present needs only. *IF* a project comes up, get what I need for it then, but not until.
 
Posts: 15
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Jason Hernandez wrote:I will add my thoughts on one point:

S Bengi wrote:
6) Trying to save for too many future projects, when you are already overwhelmed.



I found that for me, the most effective step in reducing clutter was when I made up my mind to stop buying stuff for an imagined future. Stick to present needs only. *IF* a project comes up, get what I need for it then, but not until.



I concur. This is the approach I took with a recent remodeling project. I was never sure when I'd be able to work on it more, so I only got the supplies for one phase at a time. It did result in a few more trips to the store, but the alternative would have been devoting an entire room to supply storage for the ~2 months it took to finish the job. On completion, everything unopened went back to the store. No need to store it IF someone else can buy it AND I can get another in the future for the same price.
 
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The 'future projects' and 'family heritage' things are my problem.

A fair sized collection of tools inherited from Dad and others, crockery and linen from Great Grandparents, etc. Add to that two piles of very good timber that is hard to get now i.e. Old growth forest timber.

So, the house, yard and garage is full of 'necessities'.

The ones that have more cubic space than us are the chooks ... their pen is big and uncluttered!

Though, at least we don't need to buy that bit or wood, metal, wire or mesh for a small project - it's somewhere 'out there'.
 
pollinator
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I love this thread, but doubt there are any real solutions other than the determination to live uncluttered.

I lived in a 20x8 motor home for a few years, and had organization like crazy. ladders on the roof, power tools and assorted parts under the bed so I was ready to do just about any construction/handyman project that came along. Now with thirty acres  and several sheds I'm still tripping over stuff and even though I have more tools, with doubles of many, I often can't find a tape measure when I know I have at least a dozen of them  "somewhere"

My uncle once told me "If you can't find it, you ain't got it!"

On the one hand I have bought things  and then the next day found the one I had squirreled away much earlier and forgotten about.

Then there is that satisfying  moment when an urgent obscure project comes due, and all the parts just seem to be right there in one form or another, saving hr's of travel time to the nearest stores.

Finding that balance is really like walking a tightrope, and if someone tells me they need something with a little life left in it, they can have it, but I won't just deliberately trash it, although things get forgotten and left in the rain, and melt into the ground solving the problem unconsciously.

But since most of what I buy is already salvaged, I usually don't get too upset about it.

Remember that Jeff Foxworthy routine?  If you find a car up on blocks while you're cutting the grass----"you might be a redneck"

that reminds me I have to donate some cars to NPR
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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How do you define Zero Waster?

For me zero waste is 80% about reduce aka do not bring stuff onsite.
If I must buy make sure it is quality stuff not throw away or worse disposable.
Another 16% is about composting/donating/gifting/scrap metal/city recycling.

Only 4% is actually re-using it. I rather donate my old linen to church/friends/etc vs saving it to make a swim suit. Realistically I just know it is not going to happen. I prefer to even make sure it is made out of natural fiber like cotton/wool so that I can compost it vs try and convince myself that I am going to make a shirt out of it in 15years or save it as 'trash' for my 2yr old toddler to 're-use' when he is 35.

Zero Waste is about me helping other people and helping the environment.
Not a way for me to save money, remember found memories, to daydream about my future list of skills/projects.
It is about me quickly as possible helping others and composting/helping the environment.

Clutter is also harmful to ones child, oneself and the rest of the family.
Increase Pest/Rodent/Sickness
Teaches Procrastination to Kids/Adults.
Shame/Anxiety/Stress.
Make one feels unmotivated to do anything/depression.
Dust Particulates can cause so many sickness. Low Energy>Weight Gain,etc
Teaches you/family to become a hoarder as they get older.
Teaches kids to become more unorganized in school/work.
And to fix these problems later is going to cost alot of waste, energy, work, pharmaceuticals to the environment and fossil fuel.
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
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Good suggestions in this thread! I will just mention a few things I do, as I live in a small house:

Buy less. If you buy something, then something else must go.

Where can you get rid of things with less guilt? I like doing these:

- freecycle - give it away via your local freecycle program, if you have one https://www.freecycle.org/
- recycle everything you can
- donate it to a local women’s shelter or homeless shelter
- sell via a consignment shop
- yard or garage sale (AFTER you are done with the construction)

But don’t stress. I agree that while your stress is high, it is OK to just toss it. You can pick back up when the construction is done.

That all said, I keep a considerable store of food on hand, as I can and dry lots of food. So look at what storage you have and what you can do. Bins under platform beds can store a phenomenal amount of foods out of sight, for example.
 
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Hello!  I also collect things that will be useful in the future....old clothes/bedsheets/etc that I use as fabric for other projects, nice sized glass jars with their lids, toilet paper/paper towel cardboard tubes, oatmeal containers....you get the idea.  I use all these things, but I wind up saving MUCH more than I need over time.  I feel guilty about throwing them away, even recycling them.  

What USUALLY works for me is put an ad on craigslist to see if anyone out there needs what I have.  I ask folks to reply and arrange a time they can pick up the items and just leave them by the mailbox.  If there are no takers, then I usually recycle what I can.

We will also take old pot/pans, car parts, strings of lights, pop cans, aluminum window frames, etc to our local metal recycling business.  We get a couple of bucks back, and the stuff doesn't go into the dump.

However, there have been times that I've just breathed deep and done the ol' chuck-a-roo into the trash when I've run out of options.  
 
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My problem is musical instruments.
I used to play much more, but I have gone on to woodturning and blacksmithing.
I have two guitars, two violins, a mandolin and a banjo, all excellent expensive quality items.
I know I would keep my old german violin, but the rest could go...

I can't seem to let them go because I know how expensive they were. I want, and need, to get good value back out of them.
Nobody wants to pay a decent price, even 50%, but they would all love to have them on the cheap of for free.
Makes me feel very used and somewhat disrespected. They can sit in the closet till I die at this rate.

It's very weird, like mental illness. I do not play them, but refuse to part with them...because of emotion?
Hoarder!?

I just can't let go.....
 
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I've found when working with organizing clients that it is often easier to get rid of items if they feel a sense of connection to the recipient. So, hand-me down linens that are still attractive, if you don't want to swap them out for those you're currently using, could go to a friend or acquaintance in a local sewing circle or quilt guild. Make friends with an antique shop or consignment store owner?

Clothing that's outgrown or too stained or ratty to likely be worn again can be bagged up, tagged "rag clothing", and dropped off at the nearest Salvation Army, which re-sells them in bulk to rag makers.

Kids toys - go through them with the kids and help them pick out things to give away/donate to share with other children. (eta: Or sell them at a garage sale, with the promise to the kids that the funds will be used for a family fun experience - maybe special picnic foods for a day at a nearby state or national park or forest? Seeing an appropriate movie on the big screen at an independent movie house? An outing to the nearest Science Museum? etc.)

Can you pass along usable items to a friend who's having a yard sale, in exchange for maybe half the proceeds from your items? Some people are happy to have more for sale items on display, it attracts more shoppers.

There are localized "Buy Nothing" groups, I'm told you can find the one nearest you on Facebook. (I'm not on FB, so can't attest personally).

Start small, take it one tiny goal at a time. When choosing where to start, consider:
what areas are causing you the most stress? These are usually everyday areas - kitchen, bathroom, play spaces. Start in one of these, so you can enjoy the benefits quickly and regularly.
Or, what areas are you least attached to emotionally? Items that've been stored away in the back of the closet can be easier to get rid of, we often feel less of a need for them.
Or, start in a hobby area, and each time you make progress in other areas, reward yourself with even small increments of time spent on the hobby/in that area.

Thing is, once you start getting rid of things the dopamine kicks in, and it becomes wonderfully freeing. I've seen long-time "holders" (not pathological hoarders) experience elation once that logjam of hanging onto breaks. I've never had a client later tell me "I got rid of X, and now I miss it."  As with other challenging changes, look for and revel in the benefits.

For those who can manage it, it's probably wisest to pass along any materials that can be recycled now, before the global recycling glut backs all the way up to the local/individual level.
Our local college is not having an electronics recycling drop off day this year, for the first time in several years. I'm stuck with paying $15 to get rid of a non-repairable monitor.



 
pollinator
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30 years ago, my dad had about $200 worth of clutter occupying a two bay garage under a rental unit at his farm. I convinced him to turn it into an apartment. The stuff had been there for about five years and there had been very little stuff come in or out. That place has been bringing in more than the value of the stuff that was disposed of, every month for the last 30 years.

My friend Lorne, has had a space three times that large, on an ocean front property in Victoria occupied with junk he can't part with, for at least 30 years. An apartment that large on some of the most expensive real estate in the country, would rent for a about $2500 per month. He has some nice stuff in there, but nothing that a year's rent wouldn't pay to replace.
 
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I am or at least was a pack rat. Retired now but I was a remodeling construction manager in Silicone Valley. Many of the things we removed from homes were perfectly good. I stored them in a garage and a storage container. My wife just shook her head every time I brought things home.

My simple solution? Craigslist! I turned clutter into cash and what I couldn’t sell I posted on the “free” page. I still have a bunch of stuff that I need to get rid of but it is slowly dwindling down. The downside if any is strangers coming onto your property. Though I must admit every person so far has been polite and we ended up chatting for quite awhile.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
master steward
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A.T. Penobscott wrote:I can't seem to let them go because I know how expensive they were.



This is a classis example of sunk cost thinking.  Something was paid for in the past. The costs cannot be recovered. Therefore we double down on keeping the item even though it doesn't bring us joy or serve a useful purpose...

Here's an example. You paid $500 for tickets to a concert that you are only marginally interested in. The morning of the concert, a coworker's wife gets sick, so he gives you tickets to a concert with a band that you really love that's at the same time as the meh band. Which concert do you attend? The one you love? Or the one you paid for?

A.T. Penobscott wrote:It's very weird, like mental illness.



It's a very common psychological phenomena. Easy to deal with once you understand "Sunk Cost Fallacy".
 
Dale Hodgins
pollinator
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I've had people tell me about sunk cost when it comes to obsolete electronics. I can't get rid of this thing because I paid $500 for it. Some people will hold on to that even when the exact item is up for free on used Victoria, with no takers. People who own a car that keeps gobbling money, are probably the worst.

Correction: Pople who have a bunch of junk stored at an expensive storage facility, are the worst I've seen. After it's sat there for a year and eaten up the value of the stuff, they can't quit storing it because they've got all this money into storage. :-)

The time you really need to deal with sunk cost is if it's human. My brother has invested a huge amount of time and money into a woman who uses drugs and is never going to be anything but an anchor around his neck. He holds on, saying how much is invested already.

Some people will do this with employees. They've already invested a lot in a guy, so they keep putting money into someone who isn't working out. I guess it's inertia.

A couple years ago, a failing thrift store was abandoned by the renters and they left a whole bunch of stuff behind. Instead of donating that stuff to another thrift store, the owner of the building decided that he would run the thrift store and try to recoup his losses, since there was little chance of getting any money out of the former tenant who had disappeared. It was clear after a week, that the best stuff was sold and he was down to the leftovers. But for the next 2 months, he continued down this path, despite the fact that it wasn't giving him a wage and it wasn't even paying the amount that he charges for rent. In the end he had the people from the others thrift store come and pick it all up. He put up a sign and someone rented it right away.
 
Posts: 25
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I too am always struggling between organization and clutter. I also have the tendency in seeing the use (or perhaps potential use) in many items that end up staying in my possession longer than necessary.

One book that I found very helpful in the way that I THINK about my mess is Unf*ck Your Habitat. https://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/get-the-book/

It has not only helped me become a tidier person, but has reframed the way I think about my mess. The author talks about the psychology of cleaning in a very approachable way! Definitely worth a read!
 
steward
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I am writing this from a bedroom with stacks and boxes to go through "some day" so I feel your pain. That said, in our community spaces at wheaton labs, I try try try to run a tight ship to keep up with all the clutter that a project like ours creates. I'm not always succeeding, but folks do appreciate how I can tidy and organize, and how our kitchen works, so I think I have learned a few things.

The philosophy for us has become one of limits. Despite all the shelves we recently built, we only have so much room for all the things. If we've maxed out on our storage, it has to go. We've gotten comfortable with how many more jars we will get from buying more marinara sauce or pickles or whatever, that we no longer feel the need to save every jar.

Another person was pretty accurate that if you create a ton of space for "re-use" items, it can become ridiculous. So I think having limits is smart.

Here's some other key strategies that I find helpful:

touch it once
Basically, (do as I say not as I do ) and don't create any piles to go through later. Deal with it while it's in your hands and be done with it. This is probably one of the more difficult habits to build.
  • mail - each day strip off envelopes, separate junk mail, etc. and put unwanted/unneeded things straight in to recycling or burnables bin, pay any bills that day, and then file or do what you do with them
  • packages - open packages when they arrive, put away, put packaging in proper recycling, burnables, etc. receptacles
  • dishes/cooking - do the dishes after EVERY use; use a knife to spread PB on that piece of toast, wash it and put it away; put away drying rack dishes before handwashing new set of dishes
  • shopping - same with packages, put away upon bringing home; then I hang my empty shopping bags on the coat hook by the front door to take out to the car next time I go out the door
  • tools - put all tools back where they go when done with your project for the time being (even if you think you might be back later)
  • materials - put materials away where they go when done as well

  • tag on to town errands
    If it's your habit to drop off things in town when you make a run for groceries or to the hardware store, etc., it's a great way to de-clutter and reduce stuff every time. As others have written about in this thread, the stress of the clutter or "shoulding" on yourself might be "costing" you more than any cash you might ever get out of it!
  • recycling - take items in to town that might not go to curbside, such as packing pellets/bubblewrap that shipping stores will re-use, or plastic bags, or if you don't have curbside
  • thrift store - take in items that you don't wear, can't use, etc. to your favorite thrift store or community or church rummage sale stash
  • electronics, batteries - take in to electronics stores, or municipal collection spots

  • There's loads more that could be recycled in town, too - such as scrap metals, plant nursery pots, etc.

    labels and organization
    Rather basic tips, though I'm surprised at how few people think of these things or somehow utterly fail at maintaining them properly here, which ends up creating more work for everyone else.
  • labels - put labels where you can see and easily read them! (Meaning, if the label is on one end of the box only, don't put it back with the label not showing!)
  • recycling / trash / scraps - have labeled receptacles in key places - kitchen, garage, shop, etc., near the door is often the best
  • project materials and tools - at all project sites, keep everything sorted and organized while the project is going--meaning:  have a spot for tools, have a spot for clean, new materials, and spots for debris/scraps, etc.; whether sewing at the kitchen table or building a cabin in the woods
  • have strategic "to go to" containers - a basket at the bottom of the stairs for things that belong upstairs, a bin by the door for things that go out to the garage or shop, etc.

  • old keepsakes
  • re-gift them - other family members or friends, or young people just starting out without kitchenware, etc. might really appreciate them
  • thrift store - just getting rid of some things can reduce the clutter stress!
  • re-use in a rental - such as a MIL apartment, cabin, or other Airbnb.com type rental

  • Two stories of what I did with old keepsakes.

    Keepsakes part one. When my daughter was little, I had mixed feelings about the tooth fairy. I didn't want it to be about money, even if it was a quarter (though even 25 years ago it was quickly going to more than a quarter - a dollar or two!). Something about putting money on it, no matter the value, just didn't seem right. When I was a girl, I had collected these porcelain animal figurines that were fuzzy - they were coated in this lovely texture like fur, but were a solid porcelain or something underneath the fuzz. They were all about 3-6" or so, nice to hold in a child's hand. And kind of thrilling because you knew they were somewhat precious (breakable) yet the texture was just so touchable to a kid. So I'd had these packed away as "keepsakes" and my daughter had never seen them. It was kind of a lovely thing to bring them out and hide them under her pillow as from the tooth fairy. She was thrilled and it was lovely to see them get back in to a child's hands.

    Keepsakes part two. I set a limit on how much I would store of my kids' keepsakes (baby clothes, schoolwork, mementos, etc.) to just one box per kid. My kids are now adults and could store their own keepsakes. To reduce this down was different for each kid. One couldn't care less about keepsakes and anything I sent that adult child would go to the trash, so reducing to one box was simple - everything else went to the thrift store, recycling, or trash. For the other child, I knew there was more sentimentality involved. So for that one, I had even more saved up and I went through and mailed that adult child a few of their things for them to decide to keep or not. The rest I re-purposed as I could and reduced.


     
    garden master
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    Dale Hodgins wrote:I've had people tell me about sunk cost when it comes to obsolete electronics. I can't get rid of this thing because I paid $500 for it.



    I had this illustrated to me in the most vivid way a couple of years ago when I finally got back to a storage unit in Juneau Alaska that we got stuck paying on for 10 years because we didn't know we were leaving town "for good" when we left town on a temporary eldercare errand.  There were some papers and sentimental items that made it never quite feel possible (I was not the only party making the decision, I own a good part of this but it was never totally up to me) to pull the trigger on just letting the unit go to auction, even though it was mostly just clothes and an apartment full of furniture and electronics.   Talk about sunk cost!  Every month you're balancing the cost of another month's unit rental against what it would cost to travel a couple thousand miles back and clean out the unit, and it's so much easier just to pay the unit rental and not think about it for 30 more days.  Even though you know better, the more years you've paid rent on that junk, the more valuable it feels.

    Finally got a chance to get back to town for ten days, blitzed the unit, sold the big items on Facebook, borrowed a location for a garage sale, sold what would sell, and donated the rest to a church that was having a rummage sale.  Took one pickup truck load to the landfill. Didn't even cover my travel expenses (Juneau!) but finally stopped the bleeding and recovered the few items of importance.

    But the fucking television...

    Oh, the pain of that television.

    We had bought it at Costco.  On clearance, because the HD flatscreens were taking over.  It was the last of its breed: old-fashioned HDTV with a rectangular vacuum tube.  Not excessively huge by today's standards or even by the standards of 2007: maybe 30 inches?  But it weighed more than 100lbs, and probably cost $1500 or so list, though Costco clearanced it to us for just $700 due to the fact that the flatscreens were selling better.  We used it for four months before stuffing it in that damned unit, where it sat for 10 years and declined, not to zero value, but to an active negative "what the hell do I do with this thing now?" value.

    It was considered household hazardous waste in that jurisdiction; not welcome at the landfill.  Municipal hazardous waste collection facility waffled about whether they would take it and about how much they would charge.

    So I tried giving it away.  Freecycle, Juneau Free Stuff groups on Facebook, all the local online options. I managed to load it in my truck (barely) so I offered to deliver anywhere, but only curbside; I had a sore shoulder so I said recipients would have to have a friend to help get it inside.  In the event, only one man was interested, and he turned out to be in a second-floor walkup apartment.  He didn't have a friend. He wanted me to help carry it up with him, but (two catches) his wife was mad about the whole thing and didn't want the TV, and also, he couldn't take delivery until AFTER the day that the hazardous waste collection facility was open.  So if he flaked on me, I was totally hosed -- no way to get rid of it.  And I knew he would flake.

    So I passed on him.  Took it to hazardous waste collection.  In the event, they had a teenager in a moon suit who did not give me any trouble, unloaded it for me, did not charge me.  I got off easy.


     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Dan Boone wrote:But the fucking television...

    Oh, the pain of that television.

    We had bought it at Costco.  On clearance, because the HD flatscreens were taking over.  It was the last of its breed: old-fashioned HDTV with a rectangular vacuum tube.  Not excessively huge by today's standards or even by the standards of 2007: maybe 30 inches?  But it weighed more than 100lbs, and probably cost $1500 or so list,



    I think we have the same type of TV! I think my parents had bought it just before flatscreens came out, and by 2007 (when my husband and I got married), my parents had bought a flat screen. So, they gave the giant one to us. It's huge, but it works, and we didn't spend a dime on it. The thing's probably 15? years old now, but I sure don't have money to buy a new TV, and why get on when this one works?

    I think I end up a lot of the "sunk cost" stuff because most everything we have is hand-me-downs: our computer, our TV, our couch, our table and chairs, my sewing machine, even the Ipad we have. We probably help a lot of people deal with sunk cost, too, because they don't feel like they're throwing away their money, they're gifting it. It'll probably really be hard for me when we need to replace our mattress. It's been 10 years, and it's memory foam. Not only is that a bit toxic, but it's also starting to get too soft in places for my husband. But we paid like $700 for it, and it's supposed to last 20 years. I don't want to spend hundreds more dollars...

    My main problem with hoarding is I can't get rid of things that (1) are sentimental--memories have extreme worth in my mind, or (2) could be useful. The few times I've given something away that wasn't, say, old clothes, I've regretted not having it later when I had a project or wanted to relearn what I'd learned in the book. Once I get something, I have a really hard time getting rid of it unless it's broken. The main way I reduce clutter is by not buying stuff...but there's still the kids toys (they're educational and fun, I can't get rid of them!) and everything else we've been given.
     
    Dan Boone
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:
    I think we have the same type of TV! I think my parents had bought it just before flatscreens came out, and by 2007 (when my husband and I got married), my parents had bought a flat screen. So, they gave it to us. It's huge, but it works, and we didn't spend a dime on it. The thing's probably 15? years old now, but I sure don't have money to buy a new TV, and why get on when this one works?



    The one I got rid of had a beautiful picture, too.  It caused me physical pain to junk it.  But... what else to do?

    I currently have another one, similar tech, bought in 2004, so square. Maybe 25" diagonal, weighs about 100 pounds.  32" flatscreens are $99 at my local Walmart, and somebody in my house has been buying them on every Black Friday sale for years now; we have TVs in every room.  (Why?  I am not the person to ask.)  Anyway I badly need the space this one takes up.  I believe this place is poor enough that if I put it out by the road with a "Free, works good!" sign on it, that it will eventually go.  Only trouble is, I'm not strong enough to carry it alone and I hate to make somebody else risk a hernia by grabbing the other corner of this old piece of junk.  I'm waiting for good weather; then I'm going to tape cardboard over the face for safety, tip it down the stairs onto a piece of tin, and drag it with a rope. If I list it on the local "free stuff" group with an address, it should go.  Fingers crossed.

    I really am at risk of hoarding. With me, it's practical stuff.  I have a growing junkpile.  I badly need a shed.  Funds are tight enough that I need to scrounge and scavenge for "things to do stuff with" and I need places to put those things until I have enough to do the stuff.  And, realistically speaking, not all of the stuff will happen.  But emergencies arise and sometimes there's no spare money so having tools and supplies (even badly stored and eroding in the weather) saves my buns frequently.  Those little smugness rewards reinforce the hoarding behavior, unfortunately.  

    I will build a shed, but there are perpetual shortages of time, money, labor/energy, and materials.  It hasn't happened yet.  
     
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    A.T. Penobscott wrote:My problem is musical instruments.
    I used to play much more, but I have gone on to woodturning and blacksmithing.
    I have two guitars, two violins, a mandolin and a banjo, all excellent expensive quality items.
    I know I would keep my old german violin, but the rest could go...

    I can't seem to let them go because I know how expensive they were. I want, and need, to get good value back out of them.
    Nobody wants to pay a decent price, even 50%, but they would all love to have them on the cheap of for free.
    Makes me feel very used and somewhat disrespected. They can sit in the closet till I die at this rate.

    It's very weird, like mental illness. I do not play them, but refuse to part with them...because of emotion?
    Hoarder!? I just can't let go.....



    AT ~ I can definately relate to the "Free to a Good Home" urge for quality/value goods. Have had this issue myself when I've rotated out (or aged out) of a passion-hobby where associated items linger in my home because of emotional attachment to that past endeavor but also because they're "too good" to donate or sell on the cheap to someone who won't really appreciate or put to good use (by my standard, for that item, which is a screwed standard via my attachment -- so Catch-22). But as to the wonderful musical instruments you describe... How about composing a really attractive lay-out & getting a gorgeous photo that you can hang to enjoy & commemorate them in your home. Then, perhaps consider finding a music program, local arts program, or music teacher to donate them to... where your instruments might make music accessible to a young person who couldn't otherwise afford an instrument. This might avoid that sense of being taken advantage of in "letting them go" to someone who has just haggled their way into getting your valued items on the cheap without appreciating them as you do. Instead, be a patron & enjoy your act of generousity by knowing your loved instruments could be the key that unlocks access for another budding musician. Plus, to be kept in prime-fiddle, don't all those instruments you mentioned need to be stored in proper conditions (re: humidity balance etc)? And are they at risk of their sound-quality & life-expectancy deteriorating if just left to hang around as clutter rather than being actively tended & used? Perhaps -- "if you love them, set them free" could apply here a bit too?
     
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    I always donate the clothes I can. The books I can. Everything I can. If it's so trashed no one would want it, I trash it without guilt. I don't buy a lot of crap, but tons of crap is given to me. Clutter clutters my soul. It bothers me. I happily throw things out. Which doesn't mean I don't have a massive pile of crap outside that I am sure I will find a use for eventually. I have it all together so it looks less cluttered to me but less face it, I have a big ol' junk pile.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    My sisters went on a cleaning spree at mother's house last weekend. It was easy for them. With no emotional, or sentimental value attached to anything, and no sunk cost awareness, and little  thought about future usefulness, they just gutted the place. It looks great, and will make life much easier for mamma.

    If things are really out of control, perhaps having a maid or stranger do the clearing might provide a path forward...

     
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