Getting Rid of Stuff

This Discardian tip is about letting go of material objects. There are two main reasons for ending up with a bunch of things you don’t really want or need: entropy and guilt.

You know how the entropy ones happen; they just pile up, usually literally. Magazines & newspapers, clothes with missing buttons, mail to read, half-finished projects, obsolete computer parts…

The problem is not that you don’t know how to get rid of these things – you know how trash, recycling and the Goodwill donation box work – it’s making yourself get around to it. Rather than giving yourself a hard time for it, your first Discardian act should be to let go of feeling bad about what you haven’t gotten done by now. You were doing something else; it was a choice; you’re a big kid; it’s okay.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m not going to tell you to get cracking and clean the house. If you didn’t wanna before you probably don’t wanna now. No, what I’m suggesting is that you take a few small steps to achieve two things: slow down your accumulation of this stuff and make it easier for you to get rid of it in future.

Pick a room in your home (or an area of a room, such as your desk) and look at it with fresh eyes. Don’t pick the area that depresses you most; be nice to yourself and start with something around the middle of your list of annoyances. Now ask yourself some questions about what you see.

Is there a category of stuff that is cluttering up your space and which you want to be rid of?
A common example of this is catalogs. There might be something you want in there – how will you ever know if you don’t read it?! Forget about it. If you need it, you’ll seek it out. If you don’t seek it out, you don’t need it right now. Another good example is old toys that don’t get played with anymore (by you, the kids, the cat, whoever) because they’re broken, old & dirty, or just boring.

Where does this category of stuff come from?
In the case of catalogs, they come in the mail. Some are solicited – the result of you buying from that company or an affiliate of it – and some are just deadtree spam. Old toys come from your own shopping + time; they are digested remnants of past fun.

Where should this category of stuff go?
Catalogs should go into the recycling bin. Old toys that won’t be fun for anyone go in the trash and boring ones can go to A Good Cause (about which more later).

Now you have one or two questions to ask about the category on whose ass you’ve decided to celebrate a little Discardia.

How can you slow the incoming flow of this category of stuff?
In the case of catalogs, the solution involves the telephone. Pick up one of the least interesting looking catalogs, call that 1-800 phone number and tell the operator eagerly awaiting your order that you no longer wish to receive the catalog. Also tell them (and tell anyone you order things from) that you do not want them to sell your name & address to anyone. You don’t have to do all those catalogs at once; just when you have 5 minutes and the energy. For the old toys, the solution might be to buy fewer or buy better ones that will last longer.

How can you make disposal of this category of stuff easier?
For the catalogs, make your recycling process easier. Set up a sack or other receptacle in a convenient spot (ours is in the kitchen) and sort the mail over it; if you never set it down where the piles build up, it can’t contribute to the clutter. For the toys, start a habit of physical motion when your mind moves the item to your “junk” list; when you think “that catnip mouse is a lost cause”, immediately reach down, pick it up and fling it in the trash. The old toys that aren’t really trash – they’re just boring – can be just as easy to deal with. Set up another bag for things to donate to A Good Cause (or sell) and put the rejected items in the bag as soon as you think “I don’t really want that anymore.”

This last point brings us to the other reason for things piling up. Maybe you feel guilty about getting rid of that “perfectly good” toy you don’t like anymore. Stop. It may be perfectly good for someone, but that someone isn’t you. There’s nothing inherently wrong with you getting rid of it. Who are you worried about offending? (As the Ikea ad says “Many of you feel sorry for this lamp. You are crazy. It has no feelings.”)

Guilt is an insidious thing, though, and often not so easily brushed aside. Let’s think about where the guilt comes from. There are four main kinds of guilt which lead you to keep things you no longer want or need. The first of these is that feeling that if you get rid of this object it will mean that you wasted your money. It causes you to behave as if somehow by keeping it around you are improving your chances of compensation for the expense.

How can you avoid the guilt of bad buying decisions?
Think about purchases longer before making them. Also, recognize that you will make some bad decisions.

Chronic remorse, as all the moralists agree, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean – Aldous Huxley, A Brave New World

More about amends in a moment. The second kind of guilt to consider is gift guilt. Someone gave it to you and either you didn’t like it from the start or you’ve outgrown it (in some sense or another). Tell me this: when you visit the homes of your friends and family do you check to see if your past gifts are in use? And if they aren’t, are you really more likely to be hurt and upset with them than you are to think “Hmm, whoops, guess that wasn’t really the right thing; I’ll try a gift certificate next time”? If the answer to both those questions is yes, consider yourself slapped and cut it out; it isn’t doing you or anyone else any good.

How can you part with unwanted gifts without considering it an insult to the giver?
Give everyone permission not to be able to read your mind and give yourself permission to change. The intent of gift giving is to make someone feel good (and/or to repay a social obligation). Recognize the act and the intent. Perhaps keep the gift around for a courteous amount of time, but on no account lie excessively about how much you like things you don’t – you don’t want to set yourself up for a matching bad gift the next time. Once the necessary niceties have been observed enough to communicate your gratitude for the intent, you should part with unwanted gifts without guilt. Disposing of them may require more discretion than with other things – the yard sale which the giver is likely to attend is a bad method, but the bottom of your Goodwill bag covered by that shirt that doesn’t fit anymore is just dandy. Quietly get rid of it and if the giver asks about it later, say something about your appreciation of the occasion and their thoughtfulness, but that it just didn’t fit with your other things.

Note: there are some gifts into which a great deal of hard work was put. For these, it is probably best to come clean and let the giver have the opportunity to take back their artistic efforts rather than sneakily disposing of it. Bite the bullet and say “I really appreciate your making me something so special. I am impressed by your thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this painting just doesn’t fit with the rest of my decor/I don’t wear the color of this hand-knit sweater/I’m allergic to taxidermied animals…” Whatever. It might be a rough conversation, but it’s better than the “You gave away my masterpiece to Goodwill?!!!” one.

How do you get better gifts?
Tell people what you want, especially if what you want is nothing. Also, for those whose perception of your tastes is consistently dead wrong (or for everyone if you’re really on a Discardian kick or planning a cross-country move), let them know what you really want is an experience, like dinner or some movie tickets, or, even safer, a donation to one of your favorite charities (Heifer Project is a good one for this; everyone likes a goat for Christmas).

So now we come to gifts from yourself. Souvenirs can be very hard to part with because of the memory they represent. It took me almost 8 years to decide to find a new home for the pair of big rubber squeak rats that were the mascots of my bookstore, Inkspot. Their names are Fido & Hepsibah and they now live with a couple of completely twisted friends who will enjoy the way Hepsibah’s squeak is more delicate and feminine and how Fido can be made to breathe heavily in a sinister fashion rather than emit a squeak.

How do you let go of a souvenir without letting go of the good or at least important time it reminds you of?
This one is actually not as tough as it seems. Memories are actually easier to digitize than you might think. Start a web site (TypePad and Blogger are great for this) and write about why the object matters to you and what it reminds you of (…the 2 teenage girls who shrieked and jumped when I squeaked Fido at them). Take digital photos or scan flat things and put the pictures and the stories up on your web site. My friend Lilly did a great project like this for all her old t-shirts. Or if web publishing isn’t quite your style, just get together some friends and tell your stories as a way of bidding things farewell. Often you’ll find it isn’t the souvenir itself that the story is really about.

The last type of object-related guilt I want you to consider is what I term Dream Duty. This is associated with objects you keep because they represent someone you want (or wanted) to become. If I don’t get rid of this guitar/skateboard/ballroom dress, I will eventually get around to using it proficiently, even though I don’t practice. Folks, ya gotta shit or get off the pot. Start making time to work on that dream or let it go. If you want to fit into those pants again, eat less & exercise or get a pair like them in the size you are now.

How do you decide whether or not to keep the dream & its associated objects in your life?
Rather than trying to decide about a particular object, come at it from the other angle; what are your dreams now? Take some time, give yourself permission to imagine anything, and see where your heart is leading you. The book Wishcraft by Barbara Sher is a great guide to this process. Decide what really matters to you, where you really want to be heading, and then look again at the dream duty objects taking up space in your home. If those things aren’t part of your top goals, get them out of your way. Again, as with souvenirs, acknowledge who you were when you dreamed those dreams and allow yourself to be someone different now. Sometimes you’ll find your dreams have changed, that’s the easier situation to deal with. The hard one is when you still have the dream but it just doesn’t seem realistic. You may still want to be a ballerina, but if you’re about to celebrate your 40th birthday, you may have to figure out what part of that dream held the most appeal and how you can get that without having to trade yourself in for a body 20 years younger. Wishcraft is helpful with this dilemma as well.

Whatever the reason for having objects you don’t want or need crowding your life, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is the ability to let things go. Put your energy where it counts: in making your dreams real and in living a less stressful life. There is one more question to ask:
What could you be doing or feeling if all this stuff wasn’t in the way?

Please share your reactions, tips and challenges in the comments below.

Author: Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

81 thoughts on “Getting Rid of Stuff”

  1. Issues in my apartment are one) winter coats and two) formal wear.
    It piles up because I feel guilty about spending money on a new winter coat almost every season, or because I spent a lot of money on that dress for so and so’s wedding or whatever (or, worse, someone else spent a lot of money on that dress for me.)
    I alleviate that guilt by donating the winter coats to NYCares Annual Coat Drive (Thanksgiving to XMas). I donate the formal wear to another NYCares project that collects formal wear to be donated to poor kids to wear to their prom.

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  2. I read an article in an IKEA catalog which was about getting rid of stuff. They had a few test-questions to help you decide if you were to part or not with a given object.
    One of them struck me: “If I lost this object or it was stolen, would I replace it?”
    A “yes” to that question is not necessarily sufficient to warrant disposal of the object, but it makes a point.

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  3. Help! I cannot seem to get myself motivated to declutter, organize, or despose of all the junk I have acumulated in my apartment. (We will be moving to a new home in a couple of weeks and I am desperate to get this all taken care of…I just don’t know where to start!!!) My husband feels that it isn’t his job to deal with the apartment clutter since he has been the one doing all the work on the new home…sigh…
    ): Mary

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  4. I’d do this:
    Identify those things which you will need for your remaining time at the old house and during the first week in the new house. Place these separated from everything else. Suitcases are handy here, but boxes work too. Just make sure this stuff is where you’ll be able to find it and it won’t get lost in the frenzy.
    Label a few boxes as follows:
    – Unpack First
    – Unpack Soon
    – Borderline
    – Charity
    Also get your trash & recycling containers.
    Go into a room and make a quick sweep, sorting as you go. Anything you can’t identify in 3 seconds, skip for now. As trash & recycling fill up, carry them out to the bin. As charity boxes fill up, tape them shut and stage them together apart from the boxes destined for your new home. As borderline boxes fill up, label them “Discard after [the date 6 months from today]” and stage them separately from the other boxes. Unpack first boxes are, obviously, for those things you know you’ll need within the first month at the new place. Unpack second boxes are for everything else you know you definitely still need, but may not need in the next month (out of season clothes, fondue pots, favorite books from childhood, etc.)
    So what goes into the borderline box? Things you aren’t sure you still want but don’t feel comfortable putting in the charity box. Things you think you may not need in the new place.
    Remember: the goal is to do a first pass on the entire house before going back to deal with the hard questions, so if you’re wavering, set it down and move on. You’ll feel much more confident about making these decisions later after you admire how much stuff you’ve sorted out (and how much of it you’ve decided to get rid of). Those nicely labeled, taped closed boxes are satisfying.
    In my experience, unless I’m really scraping by financially, selling stuff is more work than it’s worth. If you have a friend who’s interested, you might take those charity boxes and say “Hey, do you want to try to sell this? You can have 75% of what you make off of it.” Or just take the tax deduction. Or just throw the damn stuff away and figure you’ve earned a beautiful, less-cluttered new home.
    Good luck!

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  5. I am great at sorting and deciding to get rid of stuff…what I have a problem with is that I don’t want to have a garage sale. I just want to get the boxes of stuff I don’t want anymore out of the house…NOW! Since it’s winter, I would have to store the boxes (somewhere–my new house has no basement) until the Yard Sale season here in New England. I’m not poor, but I keep thinking “I really should sell it – I could probably make $200!”. I know of a charity ready to take it all away this weekend. I just need to come to terms with not making any money on it. How does everyone else “justify” giving it all away instead of getting the almightly dollar for their unwanted but “good” stuff? Any response would be great and appreciated!

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  6. My method is to figure out the cost of my time in preparing for the sale. Since this kind of thing is a big chore, I think $15-20 per hour is a not unreasonable pay scale. Don’t forget to add up all the preparation time and transport time on top of the actual conducting-the-sale time and at least 2 hours recovery time. Now, is that less than 10 hours? ‘Cause there’s your $200 bucks.

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  7. Excellent idea – for help getting into routines and decluttering, check out http://www.flylady.net. It’s a little cheesy, but she’s a sweet lady who has built a huge following teaching people how to have routines and get rid of clutter and live life. She also has a book called Sink Reflections. Check it out.

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  8. Hello, you don’t even have to go through the hassle of having a sale for all your stuff. Just take pictures of it and sell it on ebay! Buyer pays shipping and handling. The hardest part is getting off your bum and taking whatever was bought over to the post office.

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  9. Did you get your money’s worth? If you are ditching a $5 paperback book, did you enjoy it $5 worth? If you did, then, like a loaf of bread you ate, you got your money’s worth. This is the reason I like to spend very little on purses, sunglasses, and nail polish. I don’t want to feel like I am “married” to something because I spent $100 on it. I’d rather get it on sale at Target, spend $10 and know I can let it go whenever I like. (okay, my nail polish is usually $1).

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  10. I woke up early on Sat March 20th and tore through my house with nothing but Discardia on my mind. Thanks for the inspiration. Can you clarify the next Discardia Day? Is it in June or July? or is really a whole month? The basement is next on the list…

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  11. Here is what has helped me give “good stuff that I no longer need or want” to charities that run thrift shops. I have been poor enough that I really relied on thrift shops, for clothing especially. I felt so blessed when I was able to find nice things in a thrift shop, rather than worn stuff that I couldn’t even imagine a destitute person using.
    Before that, I’d always felt that I wanted my “good stuff” to go to people I knew – not *strangers*. Now I am happy to know that it might be someone who really needs it and really can’t afford new that is buying my cast-offs at the thrift store.

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  12. I found letting go of good quality clothing that didn’t fit anymore and other useful (but not to me) household goods was a lot easier when I donated them to the thrift shop run by the battered womens shelter. A lot of the women left everything behind to get away. When they leave the shelter for their new start, the get X amount of credit at the thrift store. Rather than feel guilty about ‘throwing away’ an item of value, I felt good about giving an item that was in good shape.

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  13. I have a tiny house, and 3 generations worth of clutter. I need an action plan, especially as it’s getting hot and I’m longing for long breezy vistas. Any game plan on where to start in the house? Has anyone here tried removing Everything from a room and putting things in from scratch? Thanks, and great site.

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  14. I am a proud celebrant of Discardia, a holiday, for me, that comes only once a year, but lasts 365 days. For me, getting rid of things is easy. What can’t be sold can be given, what can’t be given can be donated or recycled, and if it fails all that, I find a loving dumpster. I do not try to rid myself of Stuff in huge chunks, but I just grab a few things at a time and focus on divesting of them.
    I have partied so hard in my Discardia celebration that I’m running out of stuff to get rid of, and it is a wonderful feeling. I feel lighter in the world, and since I’m less distracted by the getting of Stuff that I can focus on what truly matters in life–friends, family, the pursuit of personal improvement.
    So now I have come to the big one–the car, and let me tell you, choosing whether or not to get rid of this one ain’t easy.
    My reasons for wanting to get rid of my car:
    I hate what it does to the environment (even though it is very fuel efficient, but that’s not good enough for me.)
    The less oil we burn, the less trouble our nation will have with the Middle East.
    I hate America’s obsession with the auto, and I want to set an example that the car is not a necessity, but a luxury.
    It does turn out to be dang expensive in the long and short run.
    But my reason for keeping it:
    Convenience. I live in the Midwest, where public transport is a myth, a thing that only exists on TV shows that take place in some fictional kingdom called “New York City”. My city’s bus service is limited, but that’s ok–it’s a small enough town. I can deal, my grandfather as a kid had such severe back problems that he would CRAWL over a mile to school, so I would like to think that I could at least walk that far to work.
    The thing that gets me is–what do I do in case of emergency?
    Any words of advice or encouragement on why I should get rid of this thing would be appreciated. I’ve waffled on this decision for some months now.
    Can I get rid of my car? Should I get rid of my car? Is my packrat winning out? Should I just suck it up and take the plunge and say farewell to four-wheel travel?
    Or have I celebrated Discardia enough for one year and would I be making a bad decision in getting rid of it? Am I taking the quest to divest too far?
    Thanks!

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  15. Well, I don’t see any responses here, but in case anyone read my initial post, I’ll go ahead and tell you how this story ends.
    Tomorrow I will submit an ad for my car in my town’s paper. I’m a little nervous about it–I’m sure it will be less than a day before I feel the pangs of regret on parting with my automobile, but you’re always going to have withdrawl when recovering from addiction.

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  16. My wife died recently and both of my kids are going off to college. NOW is certainly the time to declutter. My problem is that while my wife was still here I complained ad nauseum, as though I were Filix Unger and she and the kids were Oscar Madison. Now that she is gone, I feel guilty about being able to discard whatever I want to. I pick up an object and can’t bring myself to get rid of it. This site gave me great comfort and strength. What are my new dreams? I never looked at it that way before. If my wife were still here, We would have NEW dreams at this point in life too. That was a great ephiphany to me. I think I will begin tomorrow morning. Gulp. thanks

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  17. My daughter had a very generous grandmother who bought her tons of toys. Since she was not rough with anything, her things are still in good shape.
    What can I do with used toys? Thorwing things out disturbs mme because of environmental impact. In our house, we firmly believe in recycling.
    We wooould all like to go on with our lives. My daughter is entering her senior year in high school, and I still have childhod stuff in my house. I want to get it out of here, but I’m coming up short for ways to do it. Goodwill and Salvation Army always seem saturated with this kind of merchandise, and never want anything when I call them. I am desperate for suggestions.
    By the time my daughter has chllldren of her own, her things will be too dusty and moldy for them to play with. Any suggetions or comments would be greatly appreciated.
    My address is: junkbuster50@hotmail.com

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  18. Hi Roseann,
    This can be a tricky proposition. You want to involve your daughter in the process so as to avoid later resentment.
    I’d recommend a four box approach:
    1) Trash – too junky to donate.
    2) Charity – give some other kid a chance at it. (You may have to drive somewhere to donate it, but I guarantee there’s a poor kid somewhere who deserves these toys. Check with your local family homeless shelter.)
    3) Holding Tank – Not quite ready to part with it, but not sure to want it later.
    4) Save – too many memories to let it go.
    With your daughter, divide stuff into these categories. 1 & 2 go away right away. #3 you hold onto for a year and then re-divide. #4 goes in storage. Label those latter two boxes so you don’t have to reopen them to know what they contain.
    Note that as soon as she has a place of her own categories 3 & 4 can go live with her. 🙂

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  19. I am surprised not to have seen it mentioned already, but you can try Freecycle to donate things to someone who will actually use them and appreciate them. Works well for toys and clothes when the thrift shop already has more than they can handle. Use Google to find a Freecycle group in your area — it is basically a mailing list; you post a description of what you’re offering, and people reply to you; you designate the lucky recipient, and they have to come pick it up at a location of your choice. The only stipulation is that items must be freely offered and accepted (no barter or payment of any kind, even coffee).
    Nice contemplative feel to the blog, by the way. I came here via 43Folders.

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  20. Thanks for all those suggestions. I’m getting better at letting go of presents in general, but have you any ideas for getting rid of gifts when you’re pretty sure that that particular giver would be hurt and upset if she knew a present she gave wasn’t wanted.
    She doesn’t think you should hold on to things just because they were presents, but wouldn’t want her presents to fall into the unwanted category. And yes, she has asked about presents she’s given me in the past.

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  21. Answering my own question:
    After thinking about it some more, I’ve come to the conclusion I should just go ahead and get rid of the things I don’t want. I’m not responsible for her perfectionism (must give perfect gift that will be appreciated forever).
    Thank you. If you hadn’t presented me with the opportunity to write down my issue, I don’t think I would have come to this conclusion. I would have just kept worrying in circles.
    And I’ve only just now realised I’m discarding a worry. Thanks again!

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  22. Nostalgia Cleaning

    I stumbled across Discardia today. Lately Ive been really trying to organize my room and my life. This site gives some good pointers.
    Retro Junk is full of MEMORIES
    Its I hope we never part, now get it right or pay…

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  23. During my divorce, I wanted to get rid of everything. I didn’t want to own anything at all, at least nothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary. So I made a list of what I absolutely had to have in order to live.
    The list is very short! It will all easily fit into the trunk of my car, or perhaps three suitcases. The rest of it I either consider disposable, or I gave to my ex.
    Unfortunately I’m still waiting for her to come and get it.

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  24. More books off to the library booksale, check.
    The biggest bit of stuff at the moment is a huge pile of half-processed paper in my home office, and an old and fixable but not currently running car in the driveway. I would be happy to have both taken care of.

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  25. Thank you, Dinah. Just, thank you. I came across this site completely accidentally, but as life has a way of showing us where to go when we need help, it has already shifted my thinking. I have never thought of clutter in terms of your phrase Dream Duty, but that makes more sense to me than any get organized/get rid of stuff/clear up clutter/organize your closet and your life type of literature that I have ever seen. Even your site is a breath of fresh air – no meaningless pictures, no frilly colors and things that move… just purely helpful, thoughtful, and calming suggestions. Thank you for this – I am on my way to celebrating Discardia daily.

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  26. Jason,
    The car thing. Try limiting your use of it for 6 months. See how many emergencies you come up against that a 911 call wouldn’t take care of and then decide. Loan it to a friend or have them park it somewhere out of your life and try non-auto-ownership for real for a time. You can always get it back if it truly doesn’t work. Some things are really necessities in the places we live. And that’s OK. If it is paid for, then you are getting more worth out of it than if it is a new “upgrade stuff purchase” thing.

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  27. Sorry Jason, I should have read further down the post before responding.
    I truly have one BIG dilemma…family “heirlooms” such as a hand-crocheted bedspread that my great, great grandmother made for her grandson (my grand father) when he was a boy. I’ve carted this albatros around for 40 years and don’t know how to handle disposing/parting/whatever with it. What about old family albums and stuff that is meaningful, but not worthy of carrying forward beyond me? This is the hurdle. I do great for a while discarding regular stuff, but then I get to the trunk and freeze-up.
    Lorna

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  28. what about those boxes, baskets and other aesthetically appealing containers filled with beautiful smi-precious stones, antique glass beads, beautiful and quality items of clutter? Not to mention the objects of art : the cat sculpture my mother carved, the works of art all around the house that my father painted and I remember from my childhood- not to mention that they are worth something as he was a reknowned fine artist and these works are really great artwork… and the furniture that I love but is broken and odd antique… How do I simply DO it and purge EVERYTHING, My extensive bone collection with horse skulls and seal bonesetc.?? Then there is the basement that everyone wont help me with and they want to keep all their broken stuff? and the apathy I feel about the big work it’ll take to get up, quit procrastinating and wade through the trash and dirt that accompanies all the stuff ?????

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  29. Keep the beautiful.
    Don’t feel like you have to change the parts you want to change all at once.
    Set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes. No distractions, no stopping, just spend 30 minutes on clearing out the non-useful, non-beautiful. Maybe just dusting or carrying out some trash.
    Next time there’s a little less in the way.
    Start doing these little bursts regularly. It will make a difference.

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  30. Lorna, I just read your comment about your dilemma with the family heirlooms. I had something similar – two handmade afghans, one from each grandmother – that I had carted around for years and despised. They didn’t go with my color schemes and smelled of mothballs, and I never used them, but I was afraid if I got rid of them, my mother would find out and jump down my throat. One day I got up the nerve to mention to her that I was ‘clean sweeping” my apartment (this was before I knew of Discardia), and wondered what to do with the afghans. Much to my surprise, she told me that they were just things – that I had enjoyed them for a while, but I didn’t need to keep them to know I was loved by my grandmothers. I felt as though a huge weight had rolled off my shoulders, and donated the afghans to a battered women’s shelter, where they would help someone else.
    I have other family things sitting around, and have weeded it out in different waves. Something that seems absolutely necessary to keep one pass through is just a thing the next time, with more perspective. I’m keeping a small number of momentos if they are things I can use and enjoy, or think I want to offer my nieces and nephews a chance to have. But they really are just things and if they were to go tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t even know what was missing.
    Anne

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  31. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH PRECIOUS MOMENTS GIFTS, AND REALLY MY HOME IS FULL OF KNICK KNACKS GIVEN TO ME BY FRIENDS AND FAMILY. HOW CAN I DECKUTTER?

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  32. Try a Free Yard Sale. You just have to advertise it (with posters or a free ad in the classified section of the newspaper or on the webs to groups like Freecycle or Craigs List) & then set everything out & let people take home whatever they can use. You don’t have to do much prep work–no pricing, no additional sorting, etc.–just a little advertising & setting out the things you’ve already decided to bless someone else with. Call ahead of time & make arrangements for a charity to pick up the leftovers at a pre-set time & you won’t have to take any of it back into your house. I’ve also heard of people setting out things by their mailbox & putting a FREE sign on top/in front of the item….you could do this every few days or any time you come up with things you no longer love or use.

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  33. I sold my car in December 2005, and my life is so much better. Granted, I lived
    in Portland, Oregon, and now I live in Corvallis. Both are convenient for
    for biking. Regardless, I think it’s doable most places. Just get a
    ton of reflective tape if people aren’t watching for bikers in your
    town. I think that’s the scariest part.
    I read a statistic that the average in town biking speed is 13 mph. When you add up all the time spent working to pay for the car, washing, maintenance, fees, parking meters, tickets, DMV fees, filling up, etc., the cars are going…..11 mph! Biking is faster!
    Why in the world do people drive to the gym? Give me a break! Without a car, you get just the right amount of exercise. Plus, you’re outside. I started viewing things differently after I got out of my car. In a car, you are stuck on a road and have to go with the grain. On my bike, I can ride through the park, side streets, on the sidewalk, though forests, and in alleys on my way to work. I’ve seen parts of the cities I lived in drivers never would. They are the forgotten nooks and crannies that have inherent beauty. If people were outside walking, biking, and bussing, we’d see a strong community development. Our streets would safer and better kept up.
    If you can’t or don’t want to bike, there are other alternatives. Lots of people are willing to pick you up for functions and errands if you help pay for gas. See if people you know are interested in carpooling. You will notice that after your car is gone, you’ll magically find new ways to get the same tasks accomplished. The needs will be met. You’ll notice stores closer to home or learn to do without certain things. You’ll also notice that your lifestyle will bring you into contact with other carless people. That brings more opportunity for collaboration.
    Living without a car is a great way to keep from accumulating clutter. With a car, it requires no thought to haul stuff around? If I find something big, I have to go to the trouble of getting a vehicle or having it dropped off. If it’s worth the extra effort, I’ll know. There is a garden center a few blocks away, and the owner delivers garden amendments for free a couple times a year.
    I read “How to Live Well Without a Car” by Chris Balish. What a great book. Must read.
    You can always rent from Enterprise, and if you do that once a month for big trips, etc., the savings will still be huge. The company says they have a rental
    office within 15 miles of 90% of the US population. On the weekend,
    they have deals where the car is $10-20 per day. That’s amazing! I rent a small car every couple months. I drive to my mom’s house, go camping, and get goodies at Trader Joe’s on the way home. So easy.
    Let’s not forget that public transportation between cities is definitely possible. Greyhound and Amtrak are dilapidated because they go unused. Let’s support the options we have available so they can keep up and improve.
    I’m thinking of making a sign for the rack on the back of my bike that
    says “infinity mpg”, but I’d be using the infinity sign instead of
    the word.
    I am excited about this stuff, because I’m a senior in college and want to work on public transportation. Go to Europe, and you’ll see that cars are unnecessary. How did this end up so long?
    Carfree is carefree! I promise.

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  34. This really is one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life. I come back to it every so often, to remind me that it’s okay to purge old papers, mementos, keepsakes… All the things I keep lying around. I’ve gone through many waves of purging over the years, every time I’ve moved. And I’m in a little one-bedroom now. So I really don’t have that much stuff left. But I find that having almost ANY clutter around is stressful. Even if it’s just a few papers on a shelf. Notes from an old guitar lesson. Registration forms from an old bank account. Whatever. Stuff like that stands out even more in a small apartment than it would in a house. And it takes away the possibility of having a nice, sleek place that people will want to visit. Sure, I guess it’s good to have some stuff. But then again, maybe it’s better to not have anything that there’s any doubt about needing or not. Because then a little piece of your mind is always occupied with it everytime you look over at the shelf. Even if it’s in a decorative box, it’s still taking up precious space in your home. So, yah, thanks for writing this piece about Discardia. It’s good to know I’m not alone in finding it hard to get rid of things.

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  35. Yay! Thanks, Josh!
    I confess, I’m still whittling down that closet stuff, but at least a lot of my space is doubt-inducing-clutter free.

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  36. I need help…I’ve been thinking about decluttering my life for too long…I don’t really think I have THAT much stuff, but it’s enough to bother my existence. But here are the questions that stop my efforts:
    1)To what end do we declutter? i.e. is it better to own nothing at all?
    2)Is it really going to feel better to have an empty house?
    3)What do we need to keep? (besides say a bed, a couch, and a chest of drawers)–What about art? Decorative items? Pictures?
    4)And clothes, how many outfits is the right amount?
    Please help…I want to end this debate with myself.

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  37. Hi there,
    These are fun questions. I’d say:
    1) To be surrounded by the stuff which makes us happy or wise or growing or some combination of these and/or which supports us well in devoting our time to the things that matter to us instead the things that don’t.
    2) It’s going to feel better to have crap you don’t want or need distracting you and getting in your way all the time.
    3) The answer varies from person to person. I have lots of things, but I’m continually evaluating them as time goes by to decide if they’re still the right things for who I am now.
    4) That number which minimizes your stressing out over clothes. Not so many bad choices that you can’t get dressed, not so few good choices that a suitable outfit isn’t clean, and not so many that you can’t find something suitable & pleasing each time you get dressed.

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