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  • Writer's pictureJenny Wilson

Let's Talk Trash (and consumption)

I have a complicated relationship with trash. First, I do not like waste, like, at all. Our resources are sacred and we should use them with respect. Buying things we ultimately don't need is a waste of our time, energy, and money. Second, I want my clients to live in homes that only have trash in the trash cans. But to get to the place where we can honor both of those things, we have to process the layers left from periods of stress, depression, and whatever other fresh hell life threw at us in the past. This is almost always going to create trash. Lots and lots of trash.

(FYI, I donate as much as possible, but I won't donate soiled, torn, unuseable items. So we're talking unuseable things - trash - here, ok? Ok.)

In many sessions, we’ll have dozens of bags of trash accumulated through months and years of difficult times. For some sessions, we're able to split out all the recycling and for others, everything goes into regular trash. Just like many of us, I get struck with the Perfectionist Bug and I want to precisely sort the trash and make sure that we recycle everything possible. That’s a great goal. However, some homes I get to go to are covered and I mean covered with all the things the client had planned to recycle. The dream of recycling actually made parts of their home literally unliveable. When someone invites me into their home, they are usually in crisis with their space. We need to bring them back to calm as quickly as possible which sometimes means binning everything, recyclable or not. It is most important to continue the work to create a safe space for them. And maybe part of our hearts are sad about that but mostly, the urgent need to create a new, peaceful home overrides that guilt.

In the long run, clearing out trash reduces purchases. Removing trash creates room to make homes for all the important things so people can actually find and use them. So many of my people repurchase items they can’t find. They’ll have 7 can openers, 10 nail clippers, a dozen hair brushes. Having a home for the items stops them rebuying and rebuying. I've also seen so many people living in what some call depression houses, buying all the things they see in cleaning and organizing posts. They think if they just have all those things, their home will be like the ones on their phone. I understand that urge (advertising works so so well, everybody) and also, most everyone finds out that those things just end up sitting in a corner of the living room, unused, until they do the hard work of asking for help to really take care of their home.

And, clothes, Yall, the clothes. When clients had too many clothes to manage or they’d been in The Dark Place and couldn’t keep up with laundry, they ended up purchasing more and more to meet their needs. Once we sort out their clothes (keep/donate/trash), get their laundry caught up, and set up their system for keeping up with their wardrobe moving forward, they usually find they have more than enough of everything (except maybe underpants and jeans they actually like. Why are underclothes and jeans so hard to make comfortable?).

Maybe there is a clutch in our souls about all the “waste” of spoiled food or ruined clothes going to the landfill. During our sessions we may throw away what feels like an extreme amount of garbage but that was always going to be trash one way or the other.

What I know is this: Once a home is manageable, comfortable, and the people in it know what they have and are able to find it, their consumption usually goes way, way down. The client is now in a position to stop buying out of desperation. They can begin to buy with intention, knowing what they have and having a new relationship with their things and their urge to purchase. And if they want fancy trash/recycle/compost bins, well, we can set up a system for that too.

I'm fully vaccinated and now open for in person organizing sessions, sanity saving cleaning services, as well as packing and unpacking services. Gift certificates available.

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