Cindy’s weekly Wisdom ~ A Study of Clutter


CiI read this great little

I read this great little post the other day – 46 ways to increase your happiness. Of course, I wasn’t surprised at all to find that reducing clutter was on the list (number 31). I followed the link to the summary of a University of California Los Angeles study about “crushing”number of possessions in the households of 32 Los Angeles families. I highly recommend you read the whole article and examine the photos. I’m going to highlight some of the portions that struck me as particularly important.

First of all, only we know what goes on it our home; only we can tell (or hide) the truth about our clutter and excessive purchases. “Marketers and credit card companies record and analyze every nuance of consumer purchasing patterns, but once people shuttle shopping bags into their homes, the information flow grinds to a halt.”

“Managing the volume of possessions was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers.” Later in the article, it says that men do not  see or respond to mess like women do.

“Only 25 percent of garages could be used to store cars because they were so packed with household overflow. Family members said they were parking their stuff while deciding what to do with it. Plans to recoup the cost of unused items by selling them on eBay or Craigslist or at a garage sale rarely materialized. . .  [W]e’re really bad at ridding our homes of old possessions before buying new stuff.”
“The rise of big-box stores has fueled a tendency to stockpile, which compounds clutter. The trend is so pervasive that close to half of the families kept a second refrigerator or freezer to accommodate all the extra food. Some even had a third refrigerator. With bulk-buying, even cleaning products can contribute to the crush of clutter. . .”
“Only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States, but U.S. families buy more than 40 percent of the toys consumed globally. “
“Nearly three-fourths of the Los Angeles parents and about half of the children spent no leisure time in their backyards over the course of the study. . .despite the presence of such pricey features as built-in pools, spas, dining sets and lounges.”
I almost don’t know what to say. The truth of what I’m reading here is so shocking and yet familiar. Quite honestly, it makes me want to go declutter right now. Your reactions?

Today’s Mini Mission

Eco Tip For The Day

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Good post, Cindy. The pictures with the article were interesting. Our home used to be like this when my father was alive and in the 20 years since then I have been working on Mom to get things in much better shape. I can say that we are almost there. One thing I can say was that our rooms were pretty decluttered on the surfaces. It was the drawers, closets, garage and other storage areas. I’m so glad we are rid of most of that.

    • I struggle with the problem of clutter tucked away but not seen. When I get those areas cleared out, they are the first to be recluttered. Of course the way around that is to get rid of furniture…not to keep the closets sparse! I’ve come to liken it to my battle with weight loss…it is not something where I “arrive” and can sit back and relax. I have to work to maintain and be aware of every single thing that comes in and why.

  2. Deb, I actually thought the houses were pretty tidy considering what you & I have both seen elsewhere. Also the unused shower as a laundry basket struck me as sensible. Why take up floor space unnecessarily? Of course , maybe they put their clothing in the shower due to desperation, not really by choice.

    • Cindy,I have seen people put their laundry in an unused shower before. It does make a great place to collect it all.

    • Cindy & Deb J – I was a bit surprised by the using the shower for laundry. Im one of those strange people who likes doing laundry, weird I know.

      • Moni, I know others who like to do laundry. I don’t like anything to do with housework of any kind. I don’t think I would want to use an unused shower as a laundry container though.

  3. I’m in the throes of decluttering and doing a fairly good job of it thanks to websites like yours.

    The one point I disagree with in that article was about buying in bulk. I believe in being prepared and buying in bulk at places like Costco makes good economic sense. I’d much rather have toilet paper over Beanie Babies…

    As to the laundry in the shower? I guess if you don’t use the shower it would make sense, even though the visuals are not too pretty. We don’t use the tub in our small “public” bathroom and I store my cleaning tote, laundry hamper, and mop in there. We don’t have a basement or any real storage in the laundry room, so it necessary to do this. It is covered with a shower curtain.

  4. Cindy, I don’t know what to say. I know all about those elevated stress hormones from unfinished renovations and excess “stuff”!
    I am by no means a minimalist, but just having and buying what you need for the very immediate future is such a relief and makes everything so much easier. Less to think about, less to carry in from the car, less to put away, less to use before it deteriorates, less to clean up around or after and so on.
    I am now resisting buying things that I know are finished/nearly used up. For example”Let’s wait and see if there REALLY is a household demand for wasabi.”. So far no-one has noticed my evil plan.
    Obviously there are places and times where a bit of stockpiling may be prudent, but for me it is not here and now.

    • Calico Ginger – I enjoyed your ‘wait and see if we really need wasabi’ comment, Ive been doing something similar and its been interesting to see what myself and the family notice missing from the fridge/pantry.

  5. Wow….those statistics and photos are very revealing as to how some Americans live….I am glad I made the decision to live with less because I, too, have one of those husbands that didn’t see the “clutter” that I saw. As for today’s mini mission, I worked in my bathroom and got rid of a handful of lipsticks, mascara, and such that had not been used in many months. I don’t wear makeup anymore, preferring to be natural so it is strange why I brought everything with me in the move 3 months ago and didn’t throw it out then. In another drawer, I found 2 freebie packets from Jet Blue that they gave us when we flew last…eye mask, body lotion, etc….never opened….all gone! See you tomorrow! 🙂

    • Kim – if you dont mind me asking what made you decide to ditch makeup? Did it take long to get used to going out without makeup on?

      • Moni….First, let me say that I was never one to wear much makeup to begin with, (lipstick, foundation, rouge and mascara) so to live without it was pretty easy for me. My mom hardly wore any and so she never taught me how to apply it. I am lucky in that the two men in my life (my husband and grown son) like their women without any “face paint” as my son says! He thinks we (myself and my soon-to-be DIL) look more natural without anything hiding our skin. It also helps that the 4 of us, years ago, changed our diets to vegan and raw vegan. Any complexion problems that makeup would hide are gone with eating this way. My skin was starting to show a look of rosacea and now, that’s gone. I had only kept lip color and mascara but found that I wasn’t even using that! I don’t even think about it anymore because it’s been this way for so long…..You should see the last two pictures on my driver’s licenses! The one from 6 years ago looks “older” than the more recent one. I have kept them both to show people when I talk about a vegan diet! Best beauty regimen out there!

  6. I believe that the more grateful you are for what you have, the less you need to go looking for more. People who keep wanting and buying more may not be settled or happy with the blessings they have. I am doing a 3 month plan to prepare for the holidays. October is set aside for decluttering. It is so nice to just take 5-10 minutes to go through everything in most of my rooms because it is already pretty much where I want it. I find a thing here or there to get rid of, but it is so easy to do because there isn’t lots of stuff around I don’t want and need. We would have more time for things we enjoy if we just stop buying so much and enjoy what we have, get rid of what we don’t need, want, use or doesn’t fit any more, and think twice before something new comes into our homes. We would have more money in the bank, more time on our hands, and less cleaning to do!

  7. I enjoyed reading the link, I think I have seen the mini documentary on youtube.

    Interesting that the husbands arent affected by clutter.

  8. I enjoyed this post, Cindy. I also think it was interesting the husbands were not affected by the clutter. Perhaps they don’t care or maybe they have voiced their opinions but were met with resistance. I think sometimes, most husbands stop trying to be that voice of reason, and as long as they have an area to call their own, they quit trying. Most women hold greater attachment to “stuff” than men do. Not all women, but as a whole, I would say they find it harder to let go.

  9. I can really relate to elevated stress hormones when clutter is out of control. Before we started decluttering and limiting what we bring in, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look around the room(s) and tell my family I couldn’t take it any longer because there were no clear areas for my eyes to rest upon. It feels so good to look around our house these days!

  10. I love coming here to read these things that push me to get rid of more stuff! I can’t get it out fast enough. Recently we watched a hoarding show, and I looked at DH and grinned, “You know there will be more stuff gone tomorrow. OK?” And he says to do it! 🙂 I completely get the image of the feeling that I am shoveling snow, but that just reminds me to keep going and not relax the decluttering when I feel like it’s peaceful looking again until I can find a way to stop the clutter re-appearing. :> One thing I’m doing is getting all the baby stuff out as my baby outgrows it and moves on to the next stage. Must keep going! 🙂