When we think of minimalism, some of us imagine the Japanese practice of having extremely few belongings. We visualize bare walls, empty rooms, sleeping futons rolled up into the closet, and hardly any personal keepsakes. In western society it is unimaginable to walk into a room without furniture, or see only enough supplies in the kitchen to match the number of residents. As extreme as this Japanese practice is, it also has its benefits. It is said that a decluttered home is the reflection of one’s mind; two thoughts can not occupy the same space, therefore an empty home is embraced instead of frowned upon.
The idea of negative space is a form of simplicity influenced by Buddhist practices in Japan, but it is steadily gaining ground in western cultures. Although minimalism to that extreme is hard to attain for most individuals, there are certain takeaways we all can benefit from – a clutter free home.
The following is a handy list of things that you can easily let go of, how to dispose of such property, and what you should definitely hang onto.
– Donations and Recycling –
There are many options to recycle and donate your items mindfully. Smaller non-profits in your area will benefit the most from donated goods. They tend to value all donation and find good homes for many of the items you are letting go of.
Compartmentalized donating will help get the most out of your valued belongings, because some might actually be still worth money. Broken jewelry might be of no use to you, but local mom and pop jewelry stores purchase good quality metals to create their own jewelry. Fashion is always going through phases and what you thought is no longer trendy, might be back in style and desired at your local second hand shop.
Books have lost their appeal in today’s society, but libraries are more than happy to take them off your hands. They even appreciate foreign books!
When time is of essence, places like Salvation Army can be your one stop drop-off solution. Depending on the location, they even take recyclable items like tube TVs.
– Paper Clutter –
Most of the things we purchase come with a handy user manual. We might glimpse at it a few times, but more often we just put it in our ‘manuals pile’ never to be seen again. Keep the warranty and discard of the handbook without worry. Everything nowadays can be found online, so there is no need to hang onto extra paper clutter. The same goes for bank and credit card statements. How often do you catch yourself discarding of those without even opening them? When you go paperless, it will not only help you declutter, but it will also safe some trees.
– The Kitchen –
Chances are that you have an awesome collection of spices that you have kept way past expiration date. Spoiler alert; they do expire and some even as quickly as a year! You probably rotate between 2 to 3 pots that you use over and over again, while others are just there in case you ever change your mind. The rule of thumb is to let go of things that you do not use within a 6 month period.
Did you know that most plastic is non reusable? If it is multi-use plastic, it can only be utilized while it is intact. Any scratches or tears deem it unsafe due to the chemical components that will start leaking into your food once the structure is compromised.
– Bathroom Necessities –
Lotions, soaps, perfumes, and makeup have a shelf-life, too. It can be just as harmful for you to use expired products topically as it is to ingest them. Reactions can range from an irritation to a severe allergic reaction. It is best to stick to a minimal amount of products that can be used up between six months to a year.
– ‘What If’ Scenario –
When you look around your home, can you pinpoint your most precious belongings that you cherish greatly? Can they be accessed easily? Are they gathered in the same place, so they remain unharmed in case of the worst case scenario like a natural disaster or fire? Have a plan for those belongings you treasure most. Oftentimes they can be summed up in old photographs, family mementos, and hard to replace paperwork (birth certificate, passports, etc). Try to keep them in one place; preferably a water and fireproof safe. It is hard to store your everyday electronics inside of one, so place a backed-up hard drive into the safe instead.
Hanging onto clutter can be a hindrance in life. Sometimes big transitions such as downsizing can come very suddenly, and oftentimes we are not prepared to face the consequences of years of accumulated possessions. We need to be more present and mindful with our demand for valuables. Make your next move as stress-free as possible by steadily perfecting a minimalistic approach towards your belongings.
Not only will it be of great ease in the future, but it will also help you live a more practical life with focus on your priorities.
By Anna Kurzer