Disposophobia—a six-syllable word that essentially means having a “Messie Mindset,” essentially, being a pack rat. This condition is characterized by an obsessive need to acquire and hoard materials that are seemingly unimportant or useless and which can pose an unsanitary safety or health risk in the future if not discarded properly—basically, a fear of getting rid of stuff. Many people nowadays, ourselves included, might confess to a minor inability to discard things that are no longer used, usually for sentimental reasons.
In these days of “waste not want not” philosophies, this condition is neither uncommon nor particularly efficient. For one thing, being a pack rat means a lot of storage space is used up, much of it for junk you’re probably not going to make use of in the future. That’s where this de-junking guide comes in handy. Whether or not you suffer from symptoms of a Messie Mindset, you will benefit a great deal from an annual general cleaning of your home.
In the West, this is referred to as “spring cleaning”—the days you take off to tidy everything you own, which is often done in spring. We need to get into the habit of regular general cleaning sessions. And when we say general cleaning, this means anything and everything in your home that needs a little (or a lot of) tidying up.
Check out these eight tips on de-junking your home:
TAKE ENOUGH TIME FOR YOUR TIDYING
You’ll need to allot enough time for your general cleaning session. You are guaranteed a walk down memory lane. Of course, the longer it has been since you last de-cluttered, the longer and more emotional the experience will probably be. As you unearth fossilized remains of your not-so-distant past while leafing through pages of your yearbook, pictures, and letters, you’ll feel all warm, fuzzy, and sentimental.
But after the reminiscing has passed and left you with a lot of disturbed dust to sneeze about, you’ll be zapped back to reality and have to decide on the fate of some college memorabilia or other Jurassic paraphernalia. Because you have to deal with a lot of history attached to your belongings, you must allot a reasonable and realistic amount of time to focus on classifying and discarding them. You may be in for a grueling emotionally and physically tiring experience.
MAINTAIN YOUR MANTRA
When you’re stumped and can’t decide on what to do with some odd items, concoct a mantra or a quick line or two you can chant to help you make some fast decisions. Integrate some of your basic guidelines or criteria for keeping, giving away, or throwing away your things. For example, you may want to chant, “Do you use it? Can you excuse it? If you can’t, lose it!”
Once disposal is made, remember—no regrets! Otherwise, you might just find yourself retrieving some items from the rubbish or donation bin! Since this can lead to further junk accumulation, you should exercise self-discipline and not look back once you’ve put something in the “toss” pile. Who knows? You may just learn a valuable life lesson in making decisions and sticking to them.
TWO PAIRS OF HANDS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Invite a close friend or members of your family to help fix things up and cut down your cleaning time while adding a fun factor. Although be warned: a close high school or college friend may share in the reminiscing and present a danger in prolonging the process, so make sure you explain your objective when you ask for help, and you’ll find an extra hand and decision-maker can be an asset. He or she might even take some items off your hands for his/her own collection.
KNOCK OUT THE KNICK KNACKS
It’s best to take out small, kitschy, non-functional items that pile up, take up precious space, and gather unwanted grime.
In the spirit going green, right along the lines of paperless mobile phone bills and observing Earth Hour, here are some steps to recycle and get rid of some items conscientiously. Some of these suggestions will even help you keep money in your pocket.
Hand-Me-Down or Ups
Younger and older siblings may be able to benefit from a pair of shoes you were only able to use once before growing out of them. Perhaps your new job has you dressing in a completely different style, and a sister or cousin wants to raid your closet to claim your old clothes as her own. Feel free to give away seldom-worn clothes, shoes, accessories, and so on to friends and family members who want them.
Donate to Charity or Shelters
Whether it is toys, books, clothes, furniture, or scrap materials, there may be someone less fortunate who can put your unused items to good use. Habitat for Humanity or Gawad Kalinga (GK) villages are, no doubt, in need of furniture, even if they don’t match the color of their walls.
Hold a Garage Sale
Put together some of your saleable and “good condition” items and invite some of your friends to do the same. The more friends of yours who join, the larger the variety and amount of merchandise you can offer, and the larger the crowd your garage sale will draw. This is a good way to get something back from the treasures you’ve kept all this time. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure. After all, that's the concept of a garage sale, isn't it?
Plastic, glass, or aluminum containers of energy drinks, sodas, ready-to-drink tea, and jams as well as newsprint, scrap paper, and unused cartons or boxes can be sold to your friendly neighborhood newspaper and bottle collector.
Demote your fabrics
Tattered bath towels can be used as hand towels, while old curtains, tablecloths, and bedsheets can well serve as rags. If you’re into arts and crafts, you may want to promote your old clothes instead, and do something a bit like our eco-chic fashion series.
BEST CHECK THE “BEST BEFORE” DATE
Inspect expiry dates—take note of the “Best Before” stamp on medicines, lotions, gels, and other toiletries in the bathroom cabinet as well as refrigerated goods such as jams, sauces, dressings, and canned goods. Don’t make the mistake of extending these items’ use beyond what’s been indicated.
THE EXPERIMENTAL CHEF
Before chucking leftover food into the bin or into your pet’s bowl, invent some dishes from small portions of ingredients left from other viand preparations. Carrot and celery pulp from the juicer and the sole piece of roasted chicken from dinner last night can easily be added to some fresh green salad or macaroni salad. But before mixing them into things, check for any spoilage, of course!
How we end up with so much junk can easily be chalked up to a bad case of sentimentality. Whatever the belonging is, if you’ve gone a whole year without using it, it’s unlikely you ever will, so you might as well label it junk and give it to someone who needs it. At the end of the day, you realize, these things are just things—material possessions that perhaps remind you of memories you’d like to hang on to. These memories can remain special and vivid without your having to stock up on yellowing pages of notebooks, ant-eaten jerseys, souvenir T-shirts, or tarnishing medals and trophies.
De-junking can be quite cathartic—it allows you to say goodbye to lots of old garbage and maybe even old hang-ups. It’s symbolic of getting rid of some items that tie you to your past to clear your way for the future. You also get the superbly thrilling and rewarding elation of see your place so tidy!
This is an outward manifestation of cleansing—it’s liberating since it signals a new and fresh start. The more you make a habit of de-junking, the cleaner and safer your environment becomes, the earlier you get rid of unwanted memories or hang-ups, and the easier it is for you to make room for new memories and move forward to new and better things in your life.
(Photo source: sxc.hu—bookshelf, clothes)