Wastefulness Introspection

As we continue to pack for our Big Move, I’m become aware of some deeply held beliefs around wastefulness.

Wastefulness was drummed into both my and my husband’s head by our depression-generation parents. If something is still usable, you do NOT get rid of it.   You keep things, just in case you might need them.   Hubby goes even further with accepting things from friends, family, and neighbors. (Sure, I’ll take that; it still works. I believe we have 3 8-mm projectors – no 8-mm movie reels, but 3 projectors.)  And he is also prone to garbage picking. (It’s still perfectly fine, I could use this).

On top of this nurturing to not be wasteful, we are both aware of the environmental impact of waste in landfills.  While not fanatic about it, we do recycle on a regular basis and have always been regular donators of “gently-used” things to Goodwill. We also never developed a mentality to get the latest and greatest of anything.  Our technology is dated – from electronics to cars. 

It’s not that we are anti-consumerism!  We are Costco shoppers (buy in bulk!), end-of-season sale shoppers (it’s reduced!), and fond of kitchen tools, clothing, jewelry, and shoes. So we have lots of things, many in multiples. (No, I did not count how many pairs of shoes we own, but Hubby does have more than me.)  But, we also keep things to reuse, like zip-locks bags, plastic containers, shoeboxes, and gift boxes. Hubby even saves cans for his shooting practice.  Do I now pack all those boxes and containers to move or toss them out?

Here are some of the crazy scenarios that happened as we’ve begun packing in relation to our beliefs on wastefulness and stuff.  This is a bit of a rant.

  • I pushed Hubby to give away a DVR to our SIL in case hers dies. Yes, she still watches old tapes.  He came down with 5.  And apparently there are 3 still being packed to go, plus two turntables (and two already moved). Of course, we already moved the albums and VHS tapes, not to mentions hundreds of CDs and DVDs.   Because you never know when you might want to watch a movie or download music from your CD again.  (Yes, this was sarcastic.  Recall, I am working on the Courage to Accept! )
  • There is the added conundrum of Hubby being an Enneagram Type 5 with Asperger’s, which leans towards being a hoarder combined with deeply delving into areas of interest.  That means both researching and then buying things in his areas of interest. One of his latest interests is shooting and I just learned on doing a house inventory with the movers that he has 12 air rifles!  Yes, twelve. Past (and current) fascinations include knives (no actual count there, as they fit into 1-2 boxes to move), bicycles (last count 20, most have made the move down to Florida over time), water bottles, and carrier bags (no count there either, but two new ones appeared recently.)
  • Some “just why?” things just seem to keep getting put in the pack boxes.   Three boxes of costume jewelry I never wear (how can I toss that out!); boxes of tampons and incontinence pads (you never know who might need!), and enough hair conditioner for 5 years (it was on sale!).  I’m packing up boxes of party supplies and wondering if it’s worth paying to move them or just buy new.
  • We are “arguing” as to what will go in/on the car and pick-up.  In true fashion (past experience shows), I over-estimate what will fit and hubby under-estimates.  I’m worried about hard-to-pack glass-based lamps, speakers, and some big glass artwork.  The movers won’t take any liquids – no wine, pantry liquids (even salad dressing!), or cleaning supplies.  Nor any yard chemicals, oils for tools, matches, or batteries (there’s a page long list of what they won’t take). Do we take things or toss things? Hubby has claimed we’ll need a trailer to pull for all the things the movers won’t take!
  • We moved a bunch of stuff down to Florida on our last few trips.  We have made 3 trips there after we had the house.  Now we are realizing some things are there that should be here – the racks to put bicycles on the car roof being an important item.  (Yes, there are still bicycles to move, of the twenty.)
  • We are actually consolidating two homes into one.   Our beach cottage had a well-furnished kitchen, as I wanted decent knives, nice wine glasses, and good cooking items when we were there. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll just move down all the kitchen/ dining stuff and deal with doubles and triples (or more) of things on the other end.  How many glasses will we need?  How many will even fit into the cupboards?

I am actively seeking out options to sell, give-away, and donate items.  The money-miser in me twinges a bit on the giving things away or selling things at bargain-rate prices (which I am doing).  I’m feeling good, though, that I found a consignment shop that donates their half of the proceeds to cancer research.

Some things just don’t lend themselves to donating, as “perfectly good” is not necessarily “gently used”.  Throwing “perfectly good” things away remains a huge mental challenge, more so for Hubby, but for me as well. I‘m trying to stick to my environmental beliefs and found a location where you can pay to drop off half used paints, yard chemicals, and half open cleansing supplies. But, there are still some things nobody wants – a perfectly fine mattress & box spring, a full-size bed frame (even a vintage mahogany wood one), and a real mink fur coat (wrong season to sell it) – these are my toughest items to get rid of right now.

This move is a different experience for us.  For all our other moves, we were moving “in town” and so could move things over time.  Wherever the bed was, we slept there.  We could do multiple trips with the car for hard to move (fragile) items and multiple walk-throughs to make sure we had everything.  And, we sold every other house after we cleared things out.   This time we are selling a house while still living in it, so the house has to look de-cluttered.  That’s Stage 1, de-clutter and use the garage as a storage area.  Attic offices and basement are definitely the challenges here.  Then, Stage 2 is packing everything to move and getting rid of everything else before move day – given away, sold, donated, or tossed.

This move is our second attempt at downsizing and this one seems to be even harder than the first. It is challenging our wastefulness belief systems on a daily basis!   And really, really challenging my hubby’s Enneagram Type 5 personality.

How do you feel about keeping things? Do you have your own belief systems around wastefulness?

Picture: One of our Ohio house. It was suggested I take some pictures of the elements I love and will miss… like our stained glass windows.

21 thoughts on “Wastefulness Introspection

  1. It is hard to deal with the all the stuff in a move. Fortunately, Rob and I are happy to give things away. Two moves ago, when we were moving from one province to another, we gave away a lot of stuff to a young couple who were just starting out and had nothing, including a wood stove, a freezer with food in it, and outdoor equipment such as an ice axe and climbing crampons. We gave a cord of firewood to a friend, and a canoe and trailer to Rob’s son. We hosted a goodbye party for ourselves and gave every guest a houseplant to take away. In our last move, also between provinces, we gave away a lot of stuff again. The hardest thing for me to get rid of was career-related papers and books. I gave away hundreds of books and still have hundreds of them left. We also gave away a lot of sports equipment that we never used or that our kids had outgrown, and lots of household dishes and ornaments. Somehow, we still have lots of stuff. We filled up a moving truck and both our vehicles when we moved.

    Jude

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    1. Jude, It’s been interesting learning more about how I feel about “giving things away”. I’ve journaled about it a few times this past week. It actually helped to hear about you giving away so many things and I’m easing into a more give-away mode, which for me is different than donate (getting a receipt for taxes!). Somebody told me about the Buy Nothing Project, which I will be looking into.

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  2. Oh, Pat, I hope this move is soon behind you. I know it has loomed for a long time. Just get down there and then you can take another hard look at everything again and maybe further reduce. Or encouraging your husband to reconsider a few things…like 10-12 bicycles and a few projectors. Interesting that he has Asperger’s that contributes to his deep interest in some subjects. I’m sure that makes it more difficult at times to select what to keep and what o part with. Safe travels HOME. Glad you are photographing the precious things you will miss about your Ohio home.

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    1. Leslie, We have talked about how we will do another purge of things once we are there and face the reality of 1900 square feet of space, no basement! And, once he read this blog, he agreed to apart with the projectors! He is trying really hard to get rid of things, and I am trying to be supportive of that. We have house pictures this week, and the mover is booked for mid-May…. which feels far but will come really quick.

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  3. Hi Pat! Oh wow! I don’t envy your packing one bit. You definitely have your hands full I can’t imagine you have any time to blog and/or comment on other blogs at all. Except maybe it gives you a chance to sit and catch your breath. As for waste, I don’t like being wasteful and occasionally resist giving away something that is practically new (but seldom use) but then we regularly go by Angel View and do drop offs so they benefit in the end. The nice thing about living in a smaller home is that there is still only so much room so that helps us refrain from buying stuff we don’t really, really need. Good luck with all the choices you are faced with. Just think how great it will feel once you are moved and in your new home! ~Kathy

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    1. Kathy – You hit the nail on the head. It does give me a chance to sit and catch a breath. Especially as it doesn’t’ require the attention span of reading a book or listening to a course lecture. This post was actually therapeutic as well – a bit of a rant which helped me de-stress. I am looking forward to the new home; of course the first 2-3 weeks there will be additional downsizing as things literally don’t fit anywhere and I sort through multiples of things (pots, flatware, glasses, dishes for sure). Hah!

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  4. Love the projector surplus vs. the film deficit example. 🙂 I have the opposite problem with my wife always wanting to toss things way too early. Neither of us are pack rats, which is good, but she tends to want to “move things along” much quicker than I necessarily would. I guess that’s a slightly better problem to have, but still irritating sometimes! – Marty

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    1. Marty, I am quite happy to report that Hubby has agreed to part with all the projectors and associated equipment! [He read my blog.] Of course, now I’m working to try and find a home other than landfill! -one more thing on the to-do list.

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  5. Yikes, that sounds so painful! I find that I go through stages. Sometimes I find it hard to let go of stuff; other times, I am relentless. If I really need to de-clutter, I just wait for relentless me to take over. I don’t think I’ve ever truly downsized but I imagine it’s somewhere in my future. Knowing that, I am trying to reduce or at least maintain – and not increase – the amount of stuff I have. Good luck! (20 bikes???)

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    1. Janis, yes 20. I can claim 3 are mine…. A super cute beach bike, a road bike from years ago (when I was actually riding a lot and probably should get rid of) and a new electric bike that I’m hoping to do some longer rides on in Florida. I used to have 4, but I gave one away last fall when I knew we needed to declutter. Yes, I had 4 and gave one away. Hubby has 17 and recently agreed to part with 1. Not sure how he’s planning that, but I’m trying to be very supportive of anything he’s wiling to part with! I listed 15 things on-line today that he agreed could go away. Not the bike yet, but I’m thinking I might need to help in the “out sourcing” of it!

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  6. When we moved and, supposedly de-cluttered, I gave away many things I loved. Strangely, I’ve only missed 3 pewter candlesticks that went to Goodwill. and, I only miss them at Christmas time. Trust me, most things can go without regret.

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    1. Jeanette, Your comment made me realize I’m not even pushing that hard into things I love. Some things with a sentimental element, but also a realization that I have not touched them or looked at them in 4 years (since our last move). It’s better to pass them on to someone who might love them.

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  7. Oh Pat… I found myself laughing and shuttering all in the same breath.

    We just returned from our Pensacola Beach exploratory trip and before we looked at a single house the proverbial door “slammed shut” on our dreams. We will start looking at other Florida locations this fall (thinking maybe Sarasota, Clearwater, or Fort Myers??)

    However, we started packing and cleaning out a month ago. I now have two rooms completely packed and boxes lined against the wall. The garage has one area for donations – and another awaiting the dumpster we reserved for May.

    What do I do now? Do I unpack and wait until the next time we consider moving? Or do I keep going (it needs to be done anyway) Yesterday I decided to continue the process. We need to weed through (it is our second time as well… and because we going deeper, like the garage and attic, it is harder). And I hope our house can lose a lot of weight by summer. I will feel lighter as well (I think…)

    I admire your sense of humor throughout this stressful process. I know it will serve you well.

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    1. Molly, Hope you’ll provide more perspective on the closed door….and why you’re looking at other cities. Our place in south of Clearwater; about halfway between Clearwater and St Pete Beach. Clearwater is very touristy, we’re close enough to visit but away from the crowds. Sarasota I’ve been told is pretty pricy, but has an amazing cultural scene. I have friends in Napes and it is a step change in the weather – it’s about 3 ours further south than we are. Florida is a very LONG state!

      I started the slimming down last fall knowing this was coming… hubby did not. I’m the planner, he’s the wait till the last minute guy. And today, he “handed me” a whole bunch of things that we really should try and sell (or give away if it comes to that) because they are so specialized, a donation place would just trash them. Five days before house selling pictures, I have 15 boxes in my living room of vintage projectors, slide boxes, etc. No time for eBay.

      My POV – Keep going through things… it’s less stressful if you have time to figure out how to get rid of things!

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  8. It is really hard to downsize! But when you let go of all that extra “stuff’ especially if you can give it to people who might need, want and/or enjoy all those things that you don’t really even know you have, it is exceptionally freeing. When I moved from my “big” house to my condo, I had to let go of a ton of stuff (nothing like your Hubby’s) and at first I was scared and stuck. That ice creamer maker that we used once when the kids were little, just might be fun to pull out and use again! The minute I let it go, will be the minute I want to use it! But that never happened. Bring out the Elsa from Frozen in you and Let It Go!!!!!!!!!!! Make that song your theme song!! Good Luck!!!! If you want me to come over and be your counselor while you purge I’ll be thee for you!!

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    1. Candyse, Tim must have heard you singing Elsa…cause today he’s letting go all the video/film equipment. The 3 8mm Projectors, the slide projector, the 3 vintage copy kits (I had to look up what they even were), slide sorters, slide trays, slide holders… I put 15 things on-line to try and sell. Not the plan I had for the day, but I’m supporting him getting things gone! Now just hope someone wants all this stuff.

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  9. Hi Pat, there is nothing like a big move to force tough decisions. As I have mentioned before, Malcolm is the saver and I tend to de-clutter often. Minimal redistributing and reorganizing will only go so far though, and eventually, we will have to make choices. I think that time is going to happen sooner rather than later, as our house is much too big for the two of us.

    Thanks for the reminder that excess will eventually have to be dealt with. Hopefully, you will be able to avoid pulling a Uhaul filled with salad dressing and hair conditioner! 🙂

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    1. Ok, you really did make me laugh. I haven’t started packing all the liquids yet to see how many boxes. I did count wine bottles (15)….will just need to some serious work on getting those down in number before the movers come.

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  10. Oh boy, does this sound familiar! Your hubby sounds like my partner, but I’m just the opposite. Four years ago we moved from an apartment into a small house. Not only didn’t he want to get rid of anything (books he’s never read, clothes he never wears, boxes of car radios for cars we don’t have, …), but he felt that since we would have more room, there’s no need to get rid of anything. I wanted to make a clean sweep and get rid of useless clutter. It was sometimes a battle, but I managed to get rid of some things while packing. Most of it he didn’t even miss in the new house and things he did notice, I just said it must have gotten lost in the move!

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    1. I had a laugh about the “lost in the move”. Hubby know’s how anal and detail oriented I am and also how I can find most anything – even things of his that he doesn’t recall where he put them. But I can say he does read my blog, and today agreed that all the 8mm projectors really don’t need to go with us to Florida. That and all the random other video equipment he’s collected through the years. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it – vintage video equipment and 5 days before we need to have the house “de-cluttered” for photography shots (sale marketing). Hah!

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