Sometimes clients cling to items they’re certain they will need or find a use for someday, even though that the particular item either has no practical application in their current life situation, or exists in a quantity that far exceeds probable need. However, I’m confessing here and now that I’ve fallen under the spell of something. In my defense, this something doesn’t occupy space I do not have, nor am I emotionally attached. It’s just…they’re so… I mean… I’m talkin’ GIANT RED RUBBER BANDS, people!

Giant red rubber bands

I’ve added other items to this photo so you can accurately gauge the size. They arrive via the morning paper delivery which means we get, on average, five giant red rubber bands per week. On wet days we get an orange plastic bag. We have no pets, so I readily recycle those or save for a friend’s dog’s poop. (How many blog posts will you read this week that mention dog poop? My money’s on one.)

I put some giant red rubber bands in the kitchen “junk drawer,” a few in my desk drawer, a handful in my Home Solutions work bag, and a couple on the tool bench in the basement.

Just recently, I was able to secure my rolled-up yoga mat with two, one on each end. Yay! I found a use for two of the twenty giant red rubber bands we have on hand.

Because they’re not recyclable, unwanted ones would normally go in the trash, but that feels wrong. Maybe I’ll save them to give back to the paper delivery dude, wrapped in a pretty package with his holiday tip!

Or, according to a recent facebook post, I can fund my retirement selling random, everyday household items on ebay, things like empty egg cartons and nubby crayons. Is it possible there’s a market for giant red rubber bands?

*turns attention from 401K statement to “selling red rubber bands” research*

What’s your thing – the thing you have too many of, the thing you’ve been saving for decades and still haven’t found a use for, the thing that’s just taking up space, both physically AND emotionally, in your life?

Here’s an interesting NY Times article on clutter with a different spin on it.

Where's the car?

Where’s the car?

I think the author has, to a degree, taken a tongue-in-cheek approach, but I get it. Clutter and “stuff” isn’t an issue… until it is; until the stuff accumulates to the degree and in a way that affects the quality of your life and your ability to function on a daily basis. Do you currently co-exist comfortably with your stuff, or does it cause you stress? Do you invite friends into your home, or are you embarrassed by your clutter? There is no one-size-fits-all rule for how much stuff we should have in our lives.

I love books and have lots of them. But they live on three bookshelves in our living room. Those shelves define how many books I get to keep. Books don’t earn a spot on the shelves until I’ve read them AND enjoyed them, (or disliked them so much, I must keep them for reference, should someone try to convince me of their goodness) so unread books live in the two beautiful baskets – my reading runway, so to speak – they’re waiting patiently to be chosen. In order to make room for newly-read books on the shelves, I periodically clear out a few and donate them to the library’s book sale. Some people like to get books from  the library. Yay them. I don’t. I like – no, need – to own the books I read. Quirky? Maybe, but that’s how it is with me and books.

A simplified version of the criteria I suggest for assessing stuff when working with a client goes something like this:

  • Do you love it?
  • Do you use it?
  • Do you have the space to keep it/properly store it?

If you love your stuff, if it brings you joy, if you come home at the end of a long, hard day and revel in the presence of your stuff, rock on. Don’t get rid of things just because a magazine article says you should. By the same token, don’t hang on to stuff that weighs you down, causes anxiety or guilt, or is preventing you from sitting on the comfortable chair you know is under there somewhere.