I’ve had an enjoyable little stint in the USA this summer, which ends Wednesday when I fly back to Japan. One of my goals this summer was to try to clean up some of my old belongings in my parents’ house. They moved while I was in college and some of my things are still in boxes! (They’re mostly things like My Little Ponies, but still).

Are you one of those people who has an easy time disposing of things you no longer use, or do you keep nearly everything? I would say I grew up with one parent who saved everything (“That cheese hasn’t gone bad! Just cut off the mold”) and one parent who threw everything away (“I’ve read this card so now I’m recycling it.”) Despite equal influence somehow I seem to have become a saver. I guess it seemed nicer. Less ruthless. But in the end it isn’t particularly nice as you end up with so.much.stuff.

A few years ago I read It’s All Too Much and Unclutter Your Life in One Week. Somewhere in my reading I was reminded of the idea that you can’t take it with you. I’m young but who knows what could happen to them? People are in car accidents, plane crashes, etc. (cross fingers) all the time. I would hate for people who I presume would be quite sad to then have to go through my belongings and have to decide what’s important and what’s trash — a task I’m already finding hard enough.

One reason I find it so difficult is I hate waste. You can tell by the way I love the efficiency of composting (trash becoming fertilizer to create new life!). So many of these things I own will simply become trash once I’m done with them. Now, this doesn’t mean I should hold on to them and allow them to become dust collectors and spider nests. But, for example, what to do with those trophies? A few I’d like to keep for memories, but I don’t need all of them. I remember running those races and I’ll fondly remember track and cross country without the participation ribbon to prove it. Is there anyone who recycles trophies? If not these seem like the biggest waste of time, money, and resources. They could have just recognized us with a handshake and photograph. Traveling trophies for championships sound like the way to go.

The more I travel the more I realize how much easier it would be if I had fewer belongings. Little by little I think I’m getting there, but it’s hard to overcome a lifetime of being a saver and “I’ll keep that just in case”-er. I’m lucky enough to have parents who will let me store things in their basement while I travel, but one day a decision must be made! One day when I have a house will I move all these things to it and decide then? I was able to jettison a few things this summer but I made a lot less progress than I had hoped.


Are you a saver or an unclutterer? Any advice for me in this decluttering process?