declutter

I Can’t Contain Myself

Empty bins

I spent a good amount of time clearing these bins of items that I no longer need. This usually feels good. However, now that they’re somewhat in their original state, similar to when they were brand new and empty in the store, I am asking myself, Why did I need to buy these in the first place?

I am very enticed by containers. I always have been ever since I was young. The act of storing my special trinkets and toys into a box, bag, basket, envelope, cat-shaped purse etc. always brought me some sort of strange satisfaction. My daughter (and her cousins, I hear) are keeping this legacy alive.


K box

Now I know exactly where to find a miniature flipper for my next small snorkeling adventure.


As an adult who is responsible for helping to run a household and also run a classroom full of 8- year-old students, I acknowledge that containers and bins are security items that give me some sense of control. I HEREBY COMMAND THAT ALL 37 SQUISHY TOYS IN THIS HOUSE BE KEPT IN THE LARGE PLASTIC JAR THAT USED TO HAVE ANIMAL CRACKERS IN IT. This simple request makes me feel less guilty about letting the squishy collection get out of control in the first place, and I’m also “protecting the planet” by re-purposing a plastic jar. Yet, in the end I still feel pretty crappy. Or squishy and plastic. I feel some kind of way.

When items from containers are no longer necessary or functional, time is spent making a choice about what to do with them next. Then the “burden” of the items will eventually just be handed off to someone else or some other entity to deal with. I wonder what percentage of our landfills will be made up of squishies and surprise toy wrappers in a year or so. Now I am left with the decision of what to do with these empty containers. I am not feeling too jazzed about filling them back up and starting the cycle over again. If I pass them along to someone else, I’m just setting them up for some time consuming decision making later on down the road. Plastic bins do not deserve anymore of my emotional attention, that’s for sure. I have a husband and a daughter and a son who are waiting in line for their turn.  

Thanks to beloved Instagram, I came across some amazing posts and learned about an initiative by National Geographic that woke me up again regarding the impact of plastics on our planet. I had been turning a blind eye when life got a little more hectic with work and kids. I’m inspired and motivated to do better, and I want to model awareness for my kids and students in any way I can. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m up for it. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: 

PLANET or PLASTIC?


Until then,

  • Acknowledgement: Plastic containers and bins are a “security blanket” in my home and in my workplace. When everything is in its place, I feel like I have control over stressful situations. Sometimes it’s efficient. It’s become more of a distraction lately.
  • Goals for the future: Work toward just having the basics in the home and in the classroom. Eliminate the stuff that will eventually eliminate the bins that eventually end up in the trash on purge day. Lots of work ahead!
  • Now: I’m going to take a deep breath. Maybe even a few.

Extra Credit Question: What do you usually do with empty bins after you’ve cleared out the items from them? Leave a reply if you’re not feeling shy!

declutter

Bag. Bin. Things.

As I was finishing up my  last post, I already had a pretty clear idea of which time capsule junk pile I would dive into.  I’m ready to get this train rolling to success with less. Unfortunately, I didn’t choose to take on that hideous gift bag full of junk mail. Priorities. I decided to start small.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce Little Random Floral Bag-Bin Thingy! It has  remained full and untouched for months. Actually, it hasn’t been untouched completely. I think more has been added to the top layer in recent weeks . It’s one of the many catch-all kind of vessels that you would find strategically or erratically placed around my house.  As I dug deeper to the bottom of the bag-bin in preparation for the embarrassing Insta-post, I realized that this flowery little holder and all of its contents had most likely been sitting on top of the dresser in my closet for OVER A YEAR.

Floral bag bin
The contents of this bag-bin were found as is. No additions, subtractions, or embellishment of any items took place for the purpose of this post.

Packing up your life and relocating could be a very humbling experience, especially if you have collections of time capsules like I do. I’ve packed up classrooms and I’ve packed up my living spaces a handful of times. I tend to just give up toward the end. When there’s a time crunch, I do the classic one-armed surface swipe and throw all remaining random items into a container.  Floral Bag-Bin Thingy survived the move from one house to the next without even being touched or emptied for almost two years. Sneaky!


With my recent interest in trying to live a simpler life and studying some basic principles of Buddhism, I really appreciate the idea of how possessions do not define us.

At least we shouldn’t let them. I agree with this 100 percent. However, as I studied the contents of this bag-bin, I couldn’t help but think about what kinds of conclusions or judgments that strangers would make about me and the life I live. It reminds me of the classic “3 things in a paper bag” project that sometimes happens at the beginning of the year as a getting-to-know you activity. I will share my opinions about that in a later post. Until then, here are the goods: 

Bag bin contents
Um. Ok. 

The things in my bag-bin do not define who I am. I saved these trinkets, scraps and objects for either functional or sentimental purposes. I obviously threw some other things in there because I was lazy or there was some kind of dire emergency that prevented me from getting to a trash can. Some of these things are not functional anymore such as the crumpled up gum wrapper and cracked iPhone 4. Other items will serve a purpose in the future. 51 cents and an unused tampon is a major score! What is the story with the giftcards? It’s going to take some more of my valuable time (or some poor barista’s time) to figure out if there is any money left on them.

I am not going to address every item that is pictured, especially the sentimental ones. I know that they are symbolic of people and memories that are important to me. It is only now that I realize I don’t really need the physical objects anymore in order to connect with my loved ones or enjoy reminiscing. If you are reading this and you are somehow directly associated with any of the items pictured, please know that you either play a regular key role in my life, or at the least, I follow you on social media.


Here’s my plan with this little collection:

  • Keep the items that have monetary value and function (coins, giftcards)
  • Keep only 3 items for sentimental purposes (I have to start somewhere)
  • Recycle, shred, or throw everything else away. Recycle means recycle. Not holding on to it to  “re purpose” it later. I’ll never make any progress if I do that.

Until then,

  • Acknowledgement: Trinkets, souvenirs, functional and non-functional objects have been and always will be a part of my life.
  • Goals for the Future: Collect mental souvenirs and document the good times digitally. Do not allow any more bags or bins or any hybrid species to enter the house. Bonus travel goal: Just enjoy my time at whichever hotel I am staying in and turn in the damn key card to the front desk when we leave. A key card to the Wynn will not get me into my house when I forget the garage door opener. 
  • Now: Floral Bag-Bin Thingy is still in this room. It’s empty now, but still creepily present.