Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Risk of Decluttering

I can be a ruthless declutterer. I don't have endless storage space, my interests/tastes change, and I get overwhelmed by mess and clutter.

But ... I have been known to give away things that I later decide I do need. Case in point, my bread maker. I gave it away in 2008 because we were gluten free and I thought we would be forever. I ended up regretting that so much (once we started eating gluten again in 2012) that I finally broke down in July and bought a replacement.

I also gave away all of my cake decorating supplies and all of my various sized cake pans thinking I would never again make a decent cake (I really struggled with gluten free baking at first). Now I can't even pipe a name onto a cake, or make a simple shell border with icing. I don't miss the pans as I realized I could get by with two 8" rounds, a 9x13, and muffin tins, but I really do miss the tips as I had over a hundred of them :(

I gave a friend a hand held rolling pin I wasn't using that I later replaced (and now use regularly). I donated clothes I later wished I had back. I sold a large skillet that I would love to have back for the trailer.

I have a friend who wants a sewing table that she can do free motion quilting at; I donated one to the Goodwill a few months ago. She probably would have paid me the $50 I originally spent on the table.

I don't necessarily think that being a packrat is frugal either; I don't want to buy a bigger house to hold my stuff or to pay for a storage unit. I declutter because I like a clean, uncluttered environment and because my space isn't unlimited. Having less stuff makes it easier to use the stuff I do have.

So I am learning. When I want to declutter something I ask myself if I previously loved and used it and what circumstances are making me think it is no longer needed. I ask myself how likely I am to use it again in the future, and how much it would cost to replace.

Case in point: I have a very expensive ice cream maker that I received as a gift from Papa a couple of years ago. I had wanted one like it for years, found it on sale for 40% off retail, and he wanted to indulge me. I'd love to say I used it all the time, but I didn't because we don't want to eat so much sugar. Then in 2012 we gave up dairy, and I used it even less. I make sorbet in it occasionally, and sometimes a cashew based ice cream.

I could sell it. I don't need to make sorbet or plant-based ice cream. I can actually make a frozen fruit based sorbet in my food processor. But right now I am sitting on the fence. What if I change my mind? What if I want to make a more complicated sorbet for a party or special dessert?

I think the answer for now is to move the ice cream maker to a location where it can be used without me needing to lift all 40 pounds of it out of a cupboard and onto a counter top. I asked Papa to hang some hooks for their Camelbaks, and I moved the water bottle bin, and now I have space in the laundry room.

But that is just one item; I have a house full of things that I am not certain I should keep, but that I worry I will need if I do donate them. I've been burned once too often to let these grey area items go without a second glance. So now I put things out in the garage, and if I haven't gone to retrieve them in six months I have a good hard talking to with myself, and I let them go.

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