How Much Stuff are you Hiding?

Moving is always enlightening for me – as you start to pack up and sort through the accumulation of belongings, you suddenly realize how much stuff you have.  Yesterday I discovered that my husband had been putting my knitting supplies, extra yarn and such into the cedar chest in our entryway to get the house picked up!  Since it was empty when he started, I never thought to look in there, and a lot of the yarns were “stash” yarns – meaning I bought them with no specific project in mind, or they were for projects I haven’t had a chance to start.  So I didn’t miss them.

Beyond the annoyance of discovering B’s been hiding my yarns, it occurred to me that I have about 25% more yarn than I thought I did.  I’ve probably bought more yarn thinking I had the space for it!

At the same time, I’ve been grabbing consumables – toiletries, paper plates and cups given to us when we moved in two years ago, and crayons – and putting them all in one spot as I find them.  I’m amazed at how many shampoos and bar soaps we have.  We have two almost-full packs of disposable cups and about five packs of disposable cutlery!

Going to the food shelf!

Going to the food shelf!

What a waste on our part!  At least, a waste of money!  But I’ll still use the yarn. 🙂  The consumables – well, we won’t be buying anything for a while, and some of the toiletries – disposable pantyliners I got for free and body washes I was gifted that I’ll never use – will be donated to a local food pantry.

We’re getting ready to have a garage sale this weekend with a couple other families, so it will be an opportune time to pass some of our excess household items and clothing on to other people who might actually use them.

But why do we have so much?  Why is it that we can’t be organized enough to keep things in one place and to know what we have?  I blame it partly on a society in which there is so much to have and to do that we move on to the next thing before we finish  the first.

If you are a crafter, you know exactly what I am talking about when I mention “stash.”  I’ve bought tens of cross stitch kits in the past 20 years, and I’ve probably resold or donated 90% of them because I didn’t like them anymore or because I was realistic that I’d never use them!  In the same way, I’ve bought skeins and skeins of yarn (mostly on clearance) only to turn around a couple years later and donate them to a charitable organization.  Donating them is the only thing that makes me feel better about wasting them!

I think another problem is that we have been conditioned to put everything away in drawers and closets – we no longer can just look at a shelf or a wall or a basket and see what we have.  If we could see that our drawers are stuffed with usuable clothing we might hesitate to buy more.  In the same way, once my yarn was put on shelves, I could see I had plenty of yarn to choose from for my next project – when it was in totes, it was easy for me to forget what I had!

Finally, I think we buy because we can. We can afford to, and our society has taught us that it is better to show our “wealth” in material possessions – a big house, a car or motorcycle, artwork and furniture – than to show it with a large bank account (which no one else can see anyway.)  When we consider this, it’s reasonable for us to save our money, but we have been so conditioned to want the next big thing – both because we see a purpose in them and because of the status it brings – that we continue to buy.  It just doesn’t make sense.

I won’t even get into shopping as recreation!

I’m off – I still have some totes in the basement to go through, as well as some boxes of paperwork to be filed upstairs in the office!


3 responses to this post.

  1. this is a good post, I try not to hoard but its amazing what’s hidden away when I really look. I’m on a serious declutter drive at the moment though and eventually will get rid of quite a lot of stuff….


  2. I can totally relate to the craft related clutter
    i have about 20 totes full of fabric for my reusable menstrual pads and liners, but alas i started doing craft fairs and im slowly using it all up!
    A lot of shelters would love some nice handknit scarves for their patrons in the winter, especially where i am in upstate ny
    i try to knit about 10 a year just for them, which helps weed out my yarn collection
    and as far as the canned food and whatnot goes, we dont really eat processed foods anymore (except for the occassional tofurky sausage)
    i love trying to cut down on garbage, when we moved to this block it was amazing to see each house throwing out 4+ bags a week (we have to pay $2 a bag in my city)
    and it takes us almost 2 months to get a bag of garbage
    after giving ends of veggies to the dogs and composting the food that goes bad, not buying ultra packaged foods, and recycling
    its awesome, yet scary to see all the crap on the street headed for the landfill!

    well ive began rambling, so hello!


    • Hi Heather! Thanks for commenting!

      20 totes! Wow! I thought I was bad with my…oh. I just counted. 14 stackable bins…when did that happen? There’s more in the washer, too…

      Oh my!

      I think your ideas for weeding out your stash is great! Just a little here and there probably makes such a big difference!

      The garbage has been a huge issue for my husband and I, because I would love to see very little thrown in the trash. We compost, and we recycle (him grudgingly, though.) but we still produce about a bag and a half a week. He hates recycling because we don’t have pickup, and we have to load it up in the van and take it down to the bins. I’m working on that, though!

      For the record, since I didn’t point it out in my post – that’s a stock photo and not my actual cupboard contents! We buy few prepared foods or snacks, too. LOL


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