I have too much clutter. I’ll put my junk drawer up against anyone’s. Actually, I have more than one. They are all award winners.
I am not a hoarder. I think I’m like most folks who struggle with too much junk. I have a beautiful home. I don’t sit in the middle of a house full of garbage and channel Moses to make a path through a sea of stuff. But I have too many books (gasp, is that even possible?), too much in the closets and basement. Just too much, period.
My friend has been saying for weeks she wanted to get rid of “stuff,” including a filing cabinet that’s cluttering her office. “Maybe I should just get everything out of the cabinet and put it all in a box. At least that will be some progress,” she sighed.
Nope. Been there, done that. Guess what?
There’s a term called “churning.” It doesn’t help unless you get rid of the box. If you’re so conflicted that you busy yourself with moving things from here to there, but not much goes out the door, you’re churning, and you’re busted.
I’ve tried Marie Kondo’s “tidying up” concept. I did learn how to roll my underwear and lay it flat in the drawer in a row, front to back. Neat trick. But the rest? Hold each item in your house. Throw out what doesn’t spark joy. My “throw out” pile included some old computer parts, my vacuum cleaner, all the mirrors in the house and the envelopes in the “to be paid” stack along with my latest bank statement.
After separating your stuff into three piles, Keep, Donate and Throw Out, where does “throwing out” go? Hint: not strewn in the street. Rick recently came home to a giant, burst bag of garbage in the middle of our road, right in front of our house. It had been there awhile, too. People kept driving over it, squishing it into the pavement and spreading the grossness out even further. One kind stranger stopped to help. That disgusting garbage debacle was neither the man’s nor my husband’s crime, but they were the ones dealing with the aftermath. People, please. Littering and throwing your trash out onto the road is truly déclassé, and so last century. That’s not how “throwing out” works. Take your detritus to the dump or pay for garbage removal. Period.
As for the Donate pile, take it to local charities, and some will even pick it up.
What about the Keeps? Do we keep those unruly plastic storage containers in the pantry? Oh sweet Elvis. They’re alive, and they multiply. They are also mischievous and willfully separate themselves from their tops. They love being handled while you try to fit random lids on them like Cinderella’s slipper.
In an attempt to make sense of these particular Keeps, I bought three mesh bins for the pantry shelf and labeled each one by shape: round, square, rectangle. My directive to all those family members present in the house was to stack containers by shape inside the appropriate bin, and put accompanying lids propped up sideways beside them. No container would be allowed without an accompanying top, and vice versa.
This worked, briefly until I began finding round items in the square bin, containers without their lids, lids without containers. You know the rest. The laws of human nature require that no edict go unfollowed.
So I started over. Clean sweep. I bought a few identical sets of “innovative” nesting containers. Like Russian dolls, the biggest box held a smaller box which held an even smaller box and another smaller box inside that, all with proper color coordinated lids. “Revolutionary” the ad said. “Never go hunting through a messy collection again.” This new plan was a dream solution, the way to keep it simple.
It didn’t work, either. Beware of ad men who promise the impossible. The nests eventually all became un-nested even after the best of nesting intentions. Operator error, I admit. And I’m right back where I started. Nothing’s falling out of the pantry yet, but it’s one un-nested box short of a dumpster fire in there.
I give up. Unsalvageable leftovers go down the disposal or into the garbage. Or if viable, into a disposable baggie or pressed-and-sealed sans box for the fridge. Or Foodsaver-sealed and into the deep freeze. No more odd boxes. I’m done. Even soup can go in a baggie and sit flat in the freezer for maximum storage. I am grateful to be box-free.
Uh oh, I just had a thought. The freezer. Oh sweet mother of Elvis, give me strength. And joy.
Longtime Newnan resident Susie Berta has many creative pursuits, including music, art, writing, cooking, gardening, entertaining and decorating. She is now pursuing her passion for writing and recently published her memoir, “The Veterinarian’s Wife.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.