Week two of the uncluttering course, under the guise of gentle motivationning, actually threw me in at the deep end. Though titled “The case for less” and subtitled “Believe it is possible”, its assignment involved actual disposal of things! The hardest thing for me in this whole process.
The first part, looking around and assessing the clutter, was easy enough, and something I’d really already done. So I used the time allotted for that part of the exercise to write down in one of my many notebooks a list of all the areas of clutter in each room.
The second part, putting things in a bag that I identify as “not wanted in my house”, I chose to opt out of, because it was not really practical – things I want rid of are either already in a designated pile based on the desired treatment (i.e. a bag of things to give away), or very voluminous (the ladder I borrowed last year). Instead, I went through my notes, made a list of things to get rid of and colour-coded them by order of priority. Then, I assigned potential times to do the necessary (run to the tip, charity shops) in the coming week.
Most items though will require time to process – I won’t get into details of all the multifarious and very personal reasons why letting things go is difficult for me, I’ll just name one and its subtopics.
Hate for waste
The disposal methods listed in the assignment are: “recycle, donate, throw away”. There are problems with all of these things and at least one missing, from my point of view at this stage.
Many, many things can’t be recycled right now. Anything that is easy to let go of and can be recycled leaves my house weekly. The exception: a drawer full of things that may take a bit more effort to recycle (printer cartridges, water filters) – but this is not a priority as we’re not meant to tackle the inside of drawers yet!
This, unlike the other two categories, is presumably for things that someone else may need and or want.
As I mentioned I do already have a bag of things that are destined for charity shops. Why are they not there yet? Good question. Partly because of charity shop opening hours – but as I am currently not working part-time I no longer have this excuse. Partly because many items would be best shared with fellow vegans and this requires an extra layer of organising.
I have other perfectly good things I do not need or want that I currently put in a fourth category: (try to) sell. Something I find faffy and difficult, and when I have got round to it I have so far not had any success (unlike at least one of my friends, who is a semi-pro at eBaying and other reselling methods). Possibly bad luck, possibly because I price things too close to their original cost. I am just reluctant to simply give away something I spent good money on and hardly used. Nowadays I am better at avoiding such purchases, but letting go of past ones is not trivial for me. I hate having wasted money.
Serendipitously I happened upon a meme this week that said: “There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
The quote is attributed to Annie Leonard and the image is watermarked ‘The Story of Stuff’.
Before I throw anything away, I need to be satisfied that there is no way it can ever be of any use to anyone ever again. And the rise of the Repair Cafe has made me more reluctant than ever to just consign things to the tip if they could be fixed.
So, I will look upon this assignment as a kick up the butt to take a few actions I already intended (I was already very conscious of the fact my decluttering efforts so far had mostly just moved things around). But it is a bit disappointing to have to address the hardest things so soon, when I had hoped for a more structured experience, and alone as no advice or pointers to external information have been provided.