Clutter isn’t about what weÂ have, it is about why weÂ have it.Â
We acquire stuff for manyÂ reasons, aesthetics, functionality, sentimental, recreation and entertainment and even societal, just to name a few. In fact those few reasons just about account forÂ most of the excess stuff in our lives. So lets just take a closer look at them.
Aesthetics ~ The stuff we enjoy mostlyÂ because itÂ is pleasing to the eye such as art and dÃ©cor items, fashion accessories, jewellery.
Functionality ~ These are items we acquire that are useful to us in some way, generally to make our lives simpler or more comfortable.
Sentimental ~ Things we acquire because they bring back fond memories
Recreation & Entertainment ~ The stuff accumulated under this topic is many and varied, CDs, DVD’s, sporting equipment, toys and the list goes on.
Societal ~ This accounts for those items that we acquire because ofÂ the culture we live in.Â And of course they aren’t always necessities and as members of society we just end up falling in line with the trend and acquire them whether we need them or not.
So let’s now have a look at some very typical items that fall into one, or even several, of these categories…
Clothing ~ This falls into every category. Western society dictates that we don’t get around in public naked. So we wear clothing for its function of covering us up. And while choice of what we acquire is partly dictated by the situation the particular garments are required for (recreation, work, evening functions etc)Â a big part of what we chooseÂ is driven by our aesthetic preferences. Where this gets out of hand is when we desire an abundance of variety in that aesthetic and buy way more clothing than we really need. Also aesthetics gets us into trouble when we disregard what suits our “particular kind of beauty” and buy items because they just look good. These items often end up rarely if ever used. And then there canÂ also be clothing items that we relate to special occasions that we keep for sentimental reasons long after they are useful to us.
Kitchen Gadgets ~ These of course have a function, the question is whether or not we actually have a “need” for that function. Once again Western Society tends to dictate that life is easier if weÂ have a toolÂ that speeds up performing every little task required of us. And it is the job of advertisers to convince usÂ that such items can actually do this for usÂ by only showing us the upside, imagined or not, of owning such items. Hence we end up with a gazillion single-use kitchen gadgets that we only “require” once in a blue moon that don’t really save us enough time to warrant the amount of room they take up, the time wasted trying to find the one you “need” Â among all the others or the money wasted on acquiring them.
Entertainment Items ~Â For a society of people who seem to work endlessly to “make ends meet” we sure do seem to acquire and require an lot of stuff to fill the spare time we are always complaining we don’t have. I often wonder how many of the dollarsÂ we earn from those hours spentÂ working areÂ usedÂ to acquire stuff we don’t really even need and sometimes don’t even use much before the novelty wears off. Although rest, recreationÂ and entertainment areÂ essential to a healthy lifestyle it seems counterproductive to work our butts off in the first place to cater too it excessively. Fortunately music, movies and games can be enjoyed digitally these days so we don’t actually have to clutter our homes with them. And although televisions screens seem to be getting bigger and bigger they are also getting slimmer and slimmer so they don’t really take up that much room. Computers, phones and also music players have also shrunk over the last 3o years however where once we used to have one of each of these things we, in Western Society, now usually have at least one for every person in the house. And then there is also theÂ variety of of sport and exercise equipment available to us, the clothing to go along with that. And thenÂ there are the bags etc required to tote all this stuff around ~ laptop, tablet and phone cases, sports bags, handbags, backpacks… Yikes!
Keepsakes and souvenirs ~ Although these have a function, to remind us of special occasions, good times and loved ones, collections of them can often get out of hand. We even find ourselves accumulating them against our own better judgement because they are another one of those things that society tends to dictate that we should be passionate about. We go on vacation so we “should” get a souvenir from every place we visit. We go to a funeral or wedding and isn’t it respectful to keep the serviceÂ booklet? Wouldn’t it be wrong to throw out even one picture your child brought home from school, their report cards or any of thoseÂ band concert programs with your child’s name in it? The answer is no it is neither disrespectful, heartless to dispose of these things nor necessary to have a physical reminder of every vacation or event you ever attended. Sure keep some reminders, the most treasured ones, but not all. It is possible to be sentimental without being cluttered.
DÃ©cor items ~ A bed is a functional item that assists us in having a good night sleep. A pillow makes us that bit more comfortable and blankets keep us warm in the cold times. However that is where the functionality of the bed ends, throw rugs and cushions are dÃ©cor items. Trinkets, art, artificial plants, etc, etc are also just aesthetic items we can either chose or not to adorn our homes. If they didn’t exist we wouldn’t care but once again society and advertising comes into play very much when it comes to the plethora of choice there is out there. And again, they cost money, they require maintenance and the novelty of them tends to wear off over time at which we spend more money switching them out for something new.
Today’s Mini Mission
I starting out writing this post to point out all those things in our lives that we think we need but really don’t and why we acquire them. And sure mostÂ of them do add to the enjoyment andÂ comfort in our lives. However there is always a point where enough is enough and beyond that we are just working too hard to be able to afford all this excess and spending too much time maintaining stuff. Not to mention the detrimental effort that producing all this excess has on the environment.
So think twice about continuing to acquire at such a pace for your own wellbeing as well as that of the planet you occupy. And also pass on some of that excess while it is still useful to someone else so they don’t go out buying new. And I will leave you with a great quote I unexpectedly stumbled upon this week just to get life into perspective…
“We are not made rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.” Immanuel Kant