The Next Stage

Last January, we made a fairly thorough pass through the house, getting rid of surplus stuff. This year, we’re going through again. If I haven’t used it since last year, it’s going. Plus, I’m making the commitment to scan what seems like eight million personal papers and get rid of the originals. (With a CD backup stored with my computer less  in-laws, who have never misplaced anything, ever.) 

As I finish certain rooms, especially rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom, I’m realizing that we’re moving on to the next stage. 

I’m saying one of two things. Either: “I’m not getting rid of that until we actually downsize” or “I need to use this up and then don’t replace it.” The former is mostly about furniture and bulky kitchen items. Since we may not move to a smaller space for a few years, I don’t see any point in just rattling around in a half empty house. The latter is obviously about consumable goods–pajamas that aren’t quite rags, cleaning products (why do I own Pledge wipes?), an entire bag full of sample-sized beauty products, notebooks, etc. 

I suppose that “don’t replace it” is the maintenance stage of minimalism. (Not that I think we’re really minimalists.) It’s about refusing to bring new things in. I suspect that it’s much harder than pushing the old things out. I’m sentimental about very few of my belongings and find decluttering quite easy. It’s the perfect cycle of modern consumption, though–throw away the old thing, then, sooner or later, replace it with a new “better” thing. Bea Johnson of The Zero Waste Home calls “refusing” the most important of the Rs, and, given the reflexive habits of American consumers, I do suspect it’s also the hardest. We obviously don’t shop a great deal, but I mean things like turning down free samples, reconsidering how many clothes are really necessary, and not buying “quick fix” cleaning products. 

It’s definitely going to be interesting. 


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