to dumpster or not to dumpster
Reading the post on how-to-live-simply leads me to ask for clues how I can get a basis for uncluttering my house. I live alone and need to tidy and reduce my "collection" of stuff. I've been trying to do this for a couple of years now and have successes then lapses.
What might really help me are  logical ways to decide what to throw out, and  effective ways of storing what I don't throw out.
I read a story in a car magazine- one vintage car collector was visiting another, and looked in his garage. He had many shelves with boxes on them. The owner said he wrote dates on the boxes and any box that hadn't been looked in in over 12 months got thrown out. The visitor thought about it for awhile. He thought it was crazy at first but after awhile it started to make some sense to him. He was about to accept this strategy for himself when he finally asked the owner if he could really throw out a box of vintage car parts without looking in it. The owner said "of course not, don't be crazy". The point was that no vintage collector could run the risk of parting with something that he might need sometime in the future. I guess that means vintage collectors are packrats too, and I can understand that myself.
I was talking with a coworker one day about storing stuff, probably meaning storing tools and lumber and so forth. His strategy was to throw out wood scraps and spare hardware, and not keep it in case he might need it some day in the future. He said if he needed something in the future it was probably easier for him to go to the store and buy it than it would have been for him to keep and store all that stuff, and then to dig through it all to find what he needed when he needed it. I can see the point in this and I've somewhat adopted this strategy.
I occasionally go through old magazines, old clothes, wood scraps, etc. I ask myself if I will need it in the future and decide what I can do without. The amount of stuff I keep must relate to the amount of storage space I have, and how difficult it would be to find a specific thing in the future. I also have to be honest about whether I think I will need something or not. With clothing I take out the clothes that don't fit me anymore, and I pick out the clothes that I haven't been able to wear in the past year or two, and set them aside to donate to charity.
For storage, you have to pay attention to how much storage space you have available. I also think a lot about how to organize storage. If I have trouble making room to store things, and if I think it will be difficult to store something in a way that I could ever find it in the future, then that discourages me from keeping that thing. It pays to think about shelves, containers, labelling, and so forth. We all use cardboard boxes but better containers are available from stores like Lowes and Home Depot, and The Container Store. Even IKEA has stuff that will help with storage.
Also you really have to spend time keeping up with your storage. I have a tendency to lay things on my workbench or my desk and not take the time right away to put them where they belong. Pretty soon my workbench is covered and I can't use it anymore as a workbench. If you put things away frequently then you can keep ahead of the clutter and your desk or workbench can stay clear and usable.
I read an article about this several years ago. Simply put, don't try to tackle it all at once. And every item must fall into 1 of 3 categories.
1. Throw it out
2. Give it away
3. Keep it, if it is broken you must fix it to earn "the keep".
Helpful questions to decide:
Have I used the item in the last month/year?
How many of these items do I need to keep on hand?
Will selling/disposing of said item help me to buy more bikes?
Good luck, I need to do this too.
Wow, you just described my last three days.
My home shop went from fully organized to stripped, then after the bike shop closed, all my tools were dumped back on the floor in boxes. Just the sheer clutter has made it difficult to organize anything, but every day I spent at least a few hours going through old junk.
Stuff that made it into the trash: Old magazines, receipts from jobs already billed, acrylic scraps, bent screws and nails, flattened boxes, etc.
As a carpenter and bike mechanic, it's very easy to accumulate, but I've spent the last several years coming up with storage solutions for what I really have use for. I'm nearly past the coffee-can stage.
Originally Posted by ahsposo
I'm pretty resistant to the 'time-stamp' method, I prefer to evaluate every item as to its potential usefulness.
Example: In 1982, I got a LARGE cone of twine, probably 1000 feet or more, that was going to be pitched by my employer. I used less than 50 feet of it while I had it. In 1995, I threw it away. In 1996, I NEEDED IT. I had decided that enough was enough, and discarded the cone. Still occasionally kick myself for that one.
Try not adding to the landfills. Sell stuff on ebay, craigslist, bikeforums,etc.
You can give away stuff to charities, bikeforums, craigslist, etc.
edit: Bottles, cans, mags, paper, etc. can be recylced.
Last edited by 1nterceptor; 01-03-11 at 09:03 AM.
cheap hard drives have me on the road to EAC-ing all my cd's to lossless format and then donating the discs to charity.