Should we get rid of stuff that are still in good condition?

By Kate

Last weekend, I helped my mother to clear out some of her stuff.

It was not so much of a deliberate effort to clear out her items, but rather, as I am moving to a new place, she was trying to clear out some of the stuff that she did not want or need anymore (and still in good condition), so that I could take them with me to our new place.

I must disclaim that I mainly took the cookware and utensils. It definitely benefitted me, since I didn’t need to spend money to buy them, and most of those cookware that I saw at the stores could be pretty pricey.  Anyway, for various reasons, my mother had a mountain load of them stored away in the storeroom. And unsurprisingly, she had forgotten all about them until we started clearing.

There were a lot of stuff. Or rather, crap. A lot of items which she and my dad might conveniently classified as the since-it-is-still-functional-but-we-are-not-using-it category ends up in the storeroom. Well, technically it’s not incorrect since that is what a storage area is for right most of the time – to store stuff.

The problem begins when you have too big a pile. Too much stuff to the point that you lost track of them, or they don’t even appear in plain sight anymore because they are stuffed all the way to the back or bottom of the pile.

Let’s be honest, how often do we really dig through the pile to look for things? 

Throughout the decluttering process, my mother was making exclamations like “wow… I didn’t think this was here, I have been looking for it forever” or “this just came in handy, I wanted to get something similar” etc etc. You get the flow.

I told my mother plainly, for items that she doesn’t need or use anymore, she should just throw or give them away. Moreover, the longer you store some of these items, the less useful they become, perhaps either due to deteriorating quality or it might just disintegrate (which was what happened to many of the items we decluttered.)

My mother’s viewpoint is this: If it is still in good condition, it’s simply a waste to throw them or give them away. Let’s just keep it first and we shall see later.

Yes later. But for what?

And in our case, a lot of items were no longer functional. Some of the thermal pots had rusted, the badminton rackets had disintegrated, the wiring had broken apart for another appliance (I can’t remember what it is), and we had a microwave steamer that was collecting dust. This was the ultimate, because we didn’t have a microwave anymore. (It was a collective decision by the family to stop using the microwave due to the perceived health risks.) I told her to throw it away, since it was old and collecting dust and to be honest, I would have been pretty uncomfortable to give something in this condition to anyone. My mother had insisted on keeping it, emphasizing that she could still use it for “something else”.

Like what?

It’s good to be environmental conscious by reducing our waste and finding ways to reuse, reduce and recycle stuff. I would certainly applaud that. But in this case, I was sure that my mother was going to put it back in the storeroom and that would be sitting in there for the next decade or so. Again.

It’s important to recognise that stuff that are not required in your life and let them go. Grabbing on to them doesn’t add value to your life. It only adds up more clutter in your life. 

In the end, my mother agreed to give it to a neighbour of ours, who owns a microwave. That was 3 days ago. Right now, the microwave steamer is still sitting in the house.




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