There is an abundance of material online about how to become a minimalist, how to get rid of things, how to determine the value of your belongings, and even some information on how to keep the clutter away. What I don’t see a lot of, however, is information about how and why clutter builds up. Many people assume that you only acquire “junk” when you are a mindless consumer, but “stuff” tends to leak into our lives without us inviting it, or even realizing it. I started thinking about the origin of some of the stuff I have gotten rid of over the last year or so, and realized that a lot of my junk was made up of items that fell into my lap (i.e. that I wasn’t looking for) or items that I thought I needed (not wanted; needed), but didn’t. A very small amount of it was impulse buys, trendy shit, or just-for-fun stuff that lost it’s appeal. I suspect that this is the case for most people.
This got me to thinking; what if I were to write a list of every item I acquire in a year? What better way to stay accountable for what you bring into your life, than to track it? If it ends up on this list, I have to be aware of where it came from, and at the end of the year I can really break down what sorts of items are coming into my life and why. I think successful minimalism is achieved with relentless effort and consistent awareness. And so, I present to you a list of every item I added to my life in the year 2017. This list does not include groceries, toiletries, or consumable items/things that get used up. It also does not include items that I received and then got rid of soon after (usually the case with gifts).
- 2 pairs athletic leggings
- The North Face Apex Flex GTX rain jacket
- Vans Era shoes
- Hiking sandals
- Pair of Irish wool socks
- Sports bra
- T-shirt (from workplace)
- Beanie (from workplace)
- Pair of fun socks (gift)
- Pura Vida bracelet
- 2 necklaces (handmade by me, using materials I already had)
- Renaissance bodice
- Renaissance linen dress
- Mermaid costume top (handmade by me)
- Mermaid leggings
- Handmade Mickey Mouse ears (gift)
Entertainment & Misc.
- Stone Minions trinket from Instagram user @furrykami_fantasy
- Money belt
- 2 plastic storage tubs
- Lighter (left behind at my house)
- 5 books (4 purchased, 1 gift)
- 3 reusable shopping bags (2 gift, 1 prize)
- 1 Christmas ornament (gift)
- Yoga mat
- Portable power bank/car jump starter (gift)
- Heat lamp
- 2 heat lamp bulbs
Kitchen & Bathroom
- Various food containers saved for re-use such as jars, bottles, etc.
- 2 single-use casserole baking dishes
- 6 reusable pads
- Menstrual cup
- Refillable razor
What I realized, both through observing my own consuming habits this year and through comparing them with the people around me, was that I was absolutely right about how clutter tends to build: bringing freebie items into the home; accepting gifts; purchasing needed items that weren’t needed after all; and online shopping, to name a few. There are tons of items that are not on this list because I acquired and then got rid of them, or refused them outright. In 2018 I plan to do this experiment again, with a couple of changes. Firstly, I will keep all of my acquired items on the list; even ones that were then purged. Second, I will include items that I refused, such as freebies, that I would have accepted a few years ago. I think this will help paint a better picture of just how much can accidentally leak in when we are not careful. I hope this was somehow insightful, or at least interesting. I encourage you to keep a 2018 list for yourself, too – you never know what you may find out about yourself!