We hoard things.
After traveling for 10 months, with nothing more than a small suitcase, it became very clear that I do not need birthday cards from people I don't know anymore, boxes of superfluous paper and greeting cards or unused books that take up space.
I have actually always been very good about throwing things away (or of course donating them or recycling if I could) but there is always room for improvement. But of course, what has to change as well is the buying habit. My big frustration about the Green movement these days is that it is not encouraging people to look at their buying habits, just telling them to buy green products instead. Yes, we need things - and when you need something, consider buying an earth friendly version. But look too at what you are already surrounded by and perhaps something can be recycyled or repurposed into something totally new.
So, in an effort to really simplify life here are a few suggestions that I have found helpful for cleaning up and cleaning out:
1) In 2006, while planning my wedding, I made a pact - No more paper purchases (cards, wrap, etc) until everything I already owned was gone. I have passed the 2 year mark, and except for a batch of tissue paper, I haven't purchased a thing. And the crazy thing, it doesn't even look like I have made a dent. Look at what you've got and USE it!
2) If you buy something new, something old has to go. Donate it or give it to a friend!
3) Check expiration dates - Things like ink cartridges, medicines, suntan lotion, toothpaste, and make up have expiration dates these days. Once past, the items may not function as well as they should. This should keep you from hoarding things in storage and really using what you have and buying only when you need it.
4) Is it a duplicate? Often when households merge, you end up with two coffee makers, two irons, two plungers. Unless you have a vacation home, consider having a yard sale or donating the items to your thrift store. By the time you might need these items, you'll want a newer better version anyway.
5) Does it fit? This is not just for clothes in your closet. People change and tastes change. What you liked three years ago, may not be your style anymore. Or what fit in your studio apartment no longer works in your new home. We are really good at holding onto things because we think we should instead of letting go and moving forward.
Start small. For some getting organized and clearing the clutter feels daunting and overwhelming. Choose one shelf or drawer to start with. If you give yourself opportunities for small triumphs, then the bigger challenges will follow with ease.