Help With Purging

I don’t have all that much to my name, so I got the majority of my purging done in the span of about a month. I still have a few garage and storage boxes to go through, but the hard part is done. (It helps that there are a lot of things that I don’t own that other people take for granted. I don’t own a single clothes hanger, for instance, or side tables, dinner or servingware, appliances, TV, coffee table, bookshelf…)

My husband, who lives apart from me at the moment, has been watching me go through this change of lifestyle with incredible curiosity. We’ve had a number of talks, both deeper and more topical, about waste, consumerism, plastics, industrial capitalism, and how much I hate dusting. (I hate dusting.) He hasn’t joined me in the ZW thing, which is fine–I’m not a moral minimalist–but he’s intrigued about applying the principles of minimalism in how he approaches his own buying habits and relationship with objects.

Unfortunately for him, going a bit more minimal is going to be a logistical necessity as we gear up for me to move in with him. As a young couple trying to survive in the post-employment economy, we can only afford so much living space. While we aren’t sure just how much we can afford and where, what we do know is that we will have to share our space with each other, and that means he’s got to make room for me.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t mind that he enjoys collecting toys and related 80’s paraphernalia. I really don’t. It’s not a character flaw to me (it used to be, but I spent a lot of time unlearning that), it doesn’t mean that he’s a slave to the whims of advertisers and shiny plastics. It just means that he likes what he likes and that he has a different relationship to objects than I do. I was able to home in on that difference a couple nights ago, when it struck me that he experiences objects in a physical way, and I in a symbolic and metaphorical way, making it easier for me to “stop caring”, as he put it, about my things.

But because of this, it’s made it really hard for me to try and help him come up with purging strategies and advice to help him along. It is a lot harder for him than it has been for me, and there’s nothing I can do about that. What I could do, though, is look for other people who have struggled and gotten through it and show him what they have to say about the process.

I liked this link because it questions the very assumption that purging is necessary for living a simpler life. While it’s true that getting rid of clutter will drastically cut down on time you spend cleaning your home, as I quickly found out, the “extreme” purging that a lot of minimalist and zero-waste lifestylers advocate isn’t necessarily sound advice for everyone, and there’s no need to feel guilty if you don’t follow that rule. The comments here are just as interesting, if not more, than the original post as well.

And just for contrast, this is the blog of one of those aforementioned extreme purging stories. This site documents the journey of a small family as they go from renting a 2 bedroom house to living out of a renovated Airstream trailer, and every step they needed to take in between. I liked this post because they share videos about their purging process, featuring a few of their incredibly hard decisions and explaining their logic for trying to keep certain things.

This is just a basic post about how big of a deal purging really is and how emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting the process tends to be. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t underestimate the impact purging will eventually have on your life. (This site also has pretty handy guides for going minimal/simple/ZW in other sections too.)

A simple little list of tips learned by the author. Questions to ask yourself to help the purging process along, rules to use when making a tough decision, and what kind of timeframe is realistic to expect of yourself. My husband found this one useful.

What’s helped you when it comes to purging possessions?

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4 thoughts on “Help With Purging

  1. I agree that getting rid of everything isn’t always the solution. I would never want to live in a contemporary-style home, with all bare surfaces and clean lines. I would go insane, because it’s just not me. I have a hard time getting my boyfriend (who I live with) to cut down on his stuff, because he has a lot of hobby-related gear. Apparently he needs four different fishing rods and about seven different backpacks, and while they pose a storage problem, if they are what he needs to be happy, then who I am I to tell him he needs to get rid of them?

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  3. Reblogged this on Zero Waste Millennial and commented:

    Well I missed it yesterday, but here’s a late Thursday Throwback! I guess it’s fitting, seeing as how I’m in the middle of packing everything up and moving to Oregon… and that means more purging. *A*

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  4. Pingback: Moving! | Zero Waste Millennial

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