The Decluttering Falacy

Here’s what sparked this post: I have new clothes and the same non-existent space to store them, so I’ve been looking through items in my closet that can be donated. I’ve found two skirts that don’t fit properly anymore and a pair of lavender bell bottom pants. Except my mother told me she could dye them burgundy so the pants are staying.

I took advantage of the momentum and went through my eyeliners (hence the picture). I’m only getting rid of one because it’s the only one that’s dried out.

I’m happy with the outcome of this venture.

The ways decluttering can be detrimental

Decluttering is not just something I don’t really do, it’s also a thing I don’t necessarily agree with. Some people might think I’m in desperate need of some decluttering sessions -I mean, let’s be honest: your girl can hoard. Cosmetics, makeup, shoes, bags, clothes, it’s part of the XX chromosomes: we had to have two X’s, we couldn’t be happy with just one (this was a joke, I believe in gender equality, don’t come for me).

But although genetics makes me hoard (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), I’m not going to throw stuff away just because they’re old and don’t “spark joy” anymore. Getting rid of, for example, a green eyeliner that’s no longer new and exciting but still works perfectly fine has two major downsides in my view:

  • you get it out of your sight, so you’re no longer confronted with the fact that you spent money on it, and that uncomfortable reminder that money was wasted disappears;
  • you open room in your collection for a green eyeliner that’s fresh and shiny – and you buy another one. Which is even worse from a financial and ecological point of view. You might rationalize with yourself that the first eyeliner was donated so it didn’t go to waste, but at the end of the day buying a new one just adds to the overall excess of material things.

Giving credit where credit is due, some people actually make a change towards minimalism through decluttering and stay that way by not buying more stuff. Genuine kudos to them for meeting their goals.

But that’s not what happens in most cases. Watch a few decluttering videos on Youtube and I’ll guarantee you’ll hear, more often than not, the frase “now I have more space for new stuff“. I actually cringed when I saw someone going through their kitchen and getting rid of salad tongs justifying it with “if I ever need it I’ll just buy it again“.

wha…

mmh..

it just…

…nah, dude. The we have too much stuff, we don’t need as much to survive/live/be happy argument doesn’t mean we should have the exact same amount of things, only temporarily. It doesn’t mean keep spending money on the same exact item and discard it like a disposable plastic cup so it doesn’t take up drawer space. We shouldn’t even use the damn disposable cups anymore because there’s too much plastic in the ocean.

This is crazy stuff, really. It’s the out of sight out of mind mentality. In my perspective, the fact that what I buy is taking up some of my living space actually stops me from making new purchases (hard to believe, I know, but it actually does), because not only space (and funds!) are limited, but while contemplating a new product I know if I already spent money on something similar, and if I’m not using that I won’t be needing this.

The Marie Kondo method of only keeping what “sparks joy”

Agh, the “spark joy” bullshit really grinds my gears. So when you’re decluttering you’re supposed to hold things and only keep them if they “spark joy”. Marie Kondo’s house must be a freaking fire hazard of happiness.

Maybe that’s why the other lady got rid of her salad tongs. Salad tongs are boring. Salad tongs don’t spark. #sadsaladtongs.

This method, besides being highly unrealistic, is consumerism fuel. Do you think a pair of sweat pants I was obligated to buy for Physical Education during high school, over ten years ago, and that I still use today as a pyjama, spark any kind of joy? Of course not. A pretty, satiny pyjama suit from Oysho would spark a lot more joy but would also be an unnecessary expenditure. I mean, we keep reminding ourselves that we have to slow down our purchases and respect our planet’s resources, and then throw that out the window because pyjama pants don’t make us happy. The hell??

Most of my clothing is over 5 years old, and I still wear everything. Nearly half the pants I own have ripped around the belt loops and were all sewn back together.

I wear my clothes until they’re rags. Then I use them for cleaning. The only way they escape this fate is if they stop fitting, which is rare – or rarer still, I stop liking the piece – those I donate. Otherwise, rags they’ll be.

Rags don’t spark joy. But they don’t have to. I’m still a happy person.

Things don’t have to represent happiness. Sometimes they’re just necessities. And you can feel neutral or even inconvenienced by them. Material things shouldn’t play a major part in our overall wellness anyway.

Side rant: I tried watching a Marie Kondo video. It was less than three minutes long but I couldn’t make it to 20 seconds without barfing. “The key point here is to feel the piece of clothing with your hands, and communicate your affections through your” oh, shut the-

I’m sorry (not) but the video had absolutely nothing new. That folding “technique” is not very different from what people have been doing for years, folding in thirds, like what you see in stores – frankly, I think it’s worse because she adds more folds and that creates more creases on the clothes.

And I’ll ignore the fact that the current most important “entity” in the tidying up world wants to make you snog your clothes -well, now that I’m thinking about it, it makes sense. I mean, she’s a guru of tidying. This isn’t physics, or math, or literature – it’s tidying. The woman’s never gonna win a Nobel, might as well make everyone snog their clothes and laugh all the way to the bank.

Seriously, she made an empire out of nothing new – she’s a genius. She and the Kaizen guys. Take something ordinary that people have been doing for years, like folding clothes and team meetings, add a slight twist and an enormous sense of novelty to the method – even though some people may have always folded clothes/held meetings with that “twist”, they just didn’t give it a name – and make millions teaching us what we, more or less, already know.

The “in case I need it” thing…

Another issue I have is with the bashing of keeping things in case you need them. Why is it such a bad behaviour? You’ll hear “oh, that never happens” but from my experience, it happens. I kept one crystal earring when I lost its pair on a night out because it could come in handy to decorate something. Fast forward a year and I used it as an applique on a dress (well, my mom actually did that, I’m not that talented). I didn’t have to buy another dress or another decorative piece for it.

We just have to be bothered to reuse/recycle the kept items when the time comes. If you’re not that type of person, sure, don’t waste space keeping these things (no judgement here, trust me!), but “keeping just in case”, by principle, is not a bad idea.

Well, rant over.

Back to squeezing the new coat into the closet.

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