Organised clutter

scissors, cardboard and cute stationery

My home is full of clutter. My life is full of clutter.

Since reading The Joy of Minimalism, I've been wondering how to clean up. Every thought is haunted; every desire tinged with guilt. I can see this becoming a manic obsession if I'm not careful, so I want to take it slowly and consider my reasons for keeping or throwing things away.

We have a lot of stuff. Not knick-knacks, but things made useless by quantity. We don't need so many pint glasses, for example, we're not a fucking pub. Yet, somehow, I feel the need to stockpile all this old paper and cardboard.

paper, yarn and scraps

It's a 10-year habit, from when I made my first zine, keeping paper to use as backgrounds and textures in photocopied art. The excitement of artistic recycling has stuck, even though I'm not into zines any more. When I look at junk, I don't see clutter - I see supplies.

I don't like the idea of just throwing stuff out. I don't want to be a mindless conduit between factory and rubbish tip; I want to make stuff count before it hits the bin. Among my clutter piles supplies are tools and decorations that can give scrap paper a second life. I've used plastic shopping bags to pad out stuffing in sewing and amigurumi projects. And sometimes I recycle pretty junk mail into colourful envelopes to penpals.

washi tape, glue, awl, paste brush, card stencils, clips, and string

But this is where I struggle. How do you reconcile minimalism with a crafting lifestyle? How can you have less stuff, and still have enough to make things with, without having to buy new materials all the time?

This isn't a build-up to some clever insight. I really don't know the answer. I've no way to tell if slowing down the 'hand to bin' process actually has an impact on the environment because we're a small household, but spending time working with clean household trash does help me appreciate how much comes in, and how little we need.

more piles of paper

According to the book, the core value of minimalism is an attitude favouring purpose and quality. My parents raised me with a sense of saving, and I can see how for all its usefulness, being untemperedly frugal can make life harder than it needs to be.

Like with clothes. I bought 3 tops for work at $7 each and thought I was so clever. But after just a couple months, the elastic began to go. Compare this with a top I bought for $40, which now years later still looks nice enough to garner compliments.

Then there's the cheaper dental fillings that don't last, which diminish my teeth whenever they get replaced. The bargain call-out mechanic whose fix-up came so close to costing thousands in car damage. The annual patch-up sanctioned by the strata, which must by now be nearing the original quote for a proper replacement.

I get that timing matters, and there's no once-and-for-all solution, but at some point, saving is no longer saving - it's wishful thinking. Spending more for quality saves the things for which there are no substitues: your time, your peace of mind.

a toppled Jenga tower

Anyway, that's clutter for the noticeable, physical stuff. My email is a mess too. My twitter, reddit and feedly cast a net so wide, I sometimes avoid logging on because I feel so overwhelmed.

That's probably a good example of being owned by one's belongings. Clearing out the virtual stuff will probably take more effort than the physical stuff. There's always starting over completely, but uuunnnggghhh, my FOMO~

So, baby steps. Yes.