Sunday, February 10, 2008

Use It Or Lose It!

My personal purging challenge for February is to begin by using and enjoying all that I have. Before I can decide what needs to go, I need to discover what I own and give some thought to whether or not it enriches my life enough to justify the space it takes up in my house. I am hoping that all this play will make it clear what to purge.

I am not universally opposed to "stuff". I am not sure it is always environmentally better to own less of it. A lot of the stuff I own has been handed down to me, therefore its stay at my house is part of its journey in the cycle of reuse. Much of the junk I squirrel away on the basement craft shelves have allowed my kids to create some pretty cool dioramas and school projects without an outing to the store. The excess number of coats in our closet does serve to allow my family to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors in any weather. 

However, I don't think we are unlike many American families in that we seem to keep accumulating more and more stuff. Holidays, birthdays and grandparents keep the flow coming in faster than I can figure out where to put it all. I find that I spend more time organizing and managing this stuff than I do actually using it! I dream of a more simple and harmonious relationship with my possessions. 

Part of my motivation to pare down my stuff is that I would like to better use the space that we have. A recent home remodel has opened up new space in our basement. It seems wasteful to use it only for storage. I am hoping to make room to start my garden seeds indoors, for my husband to have a corner for his homebrewing hobby and a spot for the kids crafts and projects. 

Our "use it or lose it" challenge began on a recent snow day when the kids and I headed for the basement to dig out crafts and games that hadn't been played with for awhile. Out came the Easy Bake Oven, a dream-catcher kit and the remote control flying saucer. It was like Christmas all over again! We realized that the ant farm had been sitting on the shelf for three years waiting for me to order another batch of ants. It is time to either get the ants for set it aside for the garage sale box. I began to mentally sort through everything in my house. Stuff that is used and enjoyed...Good. Stuff that lives in my house only to gobble up space and utilities...Bad. It is time for all this stored stuff to start earning its keep. Is there a reason I still have my Duran Duran albums from high school? If we haven't attempted the 3-D puzzle of Notre Dame after 5 years, is it likely we ever will? Can I find a loving home for these items other than a landfill? The next time I am in a store, will I stop to think about how likely my pending purchase will be in next year's purge pile? 

1 comment:

Courtney said...

I love your final thought of wondering if your current wave of purging will affect how you view things in stores in the future. This month I have been thinking a lot about why purging has to happen so often, shouldn't we learn and not add so much stuff to our lives?! But since life is ever-evolving our stuff will be as well I suppose.

I have about 20 records downstairs that I can't part with (I even own the We Are the World album with Springsteen's version of Trapped on it. Ahhhh. Love). But I have no record player. How pathetic is that?