Wednesday 27 January 2016

Peak Stuff

You might have picked up on this phrase recently. It's been a busy old Twitter hashtag (#peakstuff) and it originated with a discussion with a senior member of the IKEA team. This article summarises the situation pretty neatly (and saves me writing it again). It was written by the inspirational Jen from Wiltshire, who runs a blog called My Make Do and Mend Life.

As a professional organiser, one of the main services I'm called upon to provide is the assistance with decluttering. (The organising of what is kept is usually a separate issue. Some clients don't have, in fact, enormous amounts to dispose of, believe it or not; it's their arrangement and accessibility of 'needful stuff' that is challenging.)

However, it's also common to find myself supporting clients through the disposal of excess. There are the clothes that either no longer fit or that are simply never worn due to a change in lifestyle. There is paperwork (one of the greatest problems for many of us), most of which is accessible online, and outdated information is usually more dangerous than no information at all. There are overstocks of food (BOGOF deals, anyone?) to the extent that it goes to waste as it goes out of date before it can possibly be eaten. And so on. And, of course, all this excess 'stuff' has to live somewhere, and most people don't have unlimited space or storage.

Jen's key point in her article is this:

"We are still being cajoled by the advertising companies that our lives will be better, and happier, and easier, if we had the latest shiny new thing. But maybe, just maybe, we’re all finally starting to cotton to the fact that this is actually just advertising bullsh*t designed to keep us spending, and that our lives are not any better, happier or easier, even after buying a whole heap of latest shiny new things. Maybe the message is sinking home that current levels of consumption are unsustainable, and our planet does not in fact have finite supplies of everything we need."

Exactly so. Less stuff means:

  • more space
  • more money to spend on experiences rather than things
  • less dust
  • less pressure to conform
  • more clarity
  • less confusion
  • more efficiency

If you're wondering, there are areas in which I'm as much at fault as the next man, or woman. I'm still a bit of a clothes addict - there's nothing like succeeding in losing nearly three stone to seduce one into buying unnecessary items just because it's hard to believe that things look good. However, I have about 35% of the quantity of clothes that I had two years ago (largely because I had a wardrobe spanning three sizes). I hate to think of the amount of money that was wasted on that one. My husband's equivalent is the books: far more volumes than he could ever, conceivably, read in a lifetime.


So what do you do with the #peakstuff when you decide it's time for it to go? To start with, don't panic about landfill. Almost nothing that I, or my clients, dispose of goes there. Recycle, give to charity, Freegle (like ebay but without money), give away, car boot sale, Gumtree, Ebay... so many places. I've created a page of suggestions here that you might find helpful.

And if you need support - physical, motivational, or just ideas and suggestions - contact me, or one of my colleagues from APDO, and we'll be delighted to help.

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