What to throw away and the dilemma of what is clutter

We are not hoarders, but we accumulate junk in areas in our home, that is to say, we keep things that we are never going to find a use for. We try to fool ourselves by saying ‘we might’ want those fifteen-half used pens or lipsticks in weird colours, so have a drawer crammed with old envelopes lipstick, pens and buttons.  It is probably a throw- back to the austerity, we grew up, with when after the war people kept bits of string and brown paper, because there really was a shortage of things in the shops, and times were tough.

 Our children loved playing with Gran’s button tin. Against that background, we are so endowed with luxuries now we don’t need to keep those things. Yet still the cupboards overflow.  We are both artists, and we love writing, so books and art objects are part of the life we live, we can cope with the paintings in the hallway and the scribbles scattered around. When the piles get too big, I have a real ‘purge’ and am about to go on ‘super’ purge soon.  Things we don’t need; half dried up paint in tins, boxes presents came in, birthday cards that were cute, 72 wine glasses,(we never throw parties now.) Ornaments we bought in far-flung places that mean nothing to us, jars of beads from a hobby, earrings that have lost their mate, broken or unwearable necklaces, we even have a blowup bed, (unused) and watches with no batteries. We can question why my husband keeps buying caps and hats and rarely wears one.  Hats seem to breed in this house.  I love scarves and sold a lot online once; now I regret that some were vintage and I miss them, so will keep my scarves. I have a very strange long pleated gauzy skirt that I found in an op shop and a glossy raincoat with big shoulders; I have not the courage to throw them out yet, after all, there might be a dress up I need them for, so they get put back each time.

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Clothes I regularly recycle, and it goes to charity shops, I think the glasses will also follow the clothes one day soon. Books we have pared down, and each book has to have a good reason for us to keep it.  But why am I keeping exam papers from my hospital course, and essays I wrote, who will care when I am no longer here? Books on art have a place, but do I need all the magazines on art I am saving? Ok now and then I have a browse, but mostly they sit in a cupboard gathering dust.

  I hate gadgets, so my equipment is fairly minimal, I have a small mixer, with a dough hook and beaters, an electric frypan, a toaster and a hand held blender. Most things are done with a whisk, a wooden spoon, and a sharp knife. My ability to lose all the bits from any complicated equipment is my sensible reason for this.

Plastic boxes with no matching lids are a problem, have a huge pile of them, I must try to sort them one day soon, probably they will go to the bin followed by food from the back of the larder like breadcrumbs and pasta which are out of date, In the past we kept dry good for ages, now we cull the packets without a thought, a bit like the tomato sauce and pickles we used to keep more than two weeks! Now we dare not for fear of death.

Yet as I fill bags with newly acquired ‘rubbish’ and see it carried away why is it that I find the matching earring to make the pair, and remember why I kept that box that is now heading to the tip?

Have you had a similar story to Jacqui? What are your tips for keeping free of clutter?

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