Decision Making Dilemas

When we hear the word ‘waste’, many of us imagine things ending up in a landfill site somewhere, contributing to environmental destruction.

‘I don’t want to waste x,y,z’ is a common phrase I hear people say. But what exactly do you mean when you’re worried about waste?

Let’s get back to basics. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:

  • the act of using something in a careless or unnecessary way, causing it to be lost or destroyed.
  • To use or expend carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.

So when we think about our clutter, we could redefine it as waste – we lose things in our clutter (causing it to be lost), things may be broken in our clutter (destroyed) and we don’t actually USE the things in our clutter (to use… to no purpose).

Yes, you may have kept things in the past because you intended to use them, but you didn’t. So, between accumulating them in the past and the here and now, you have technically wasted them.

I know that seems harsh. I often have people tell me ‘but when I clear my clutter I WILL use it so I don’t waste it’. I instantly know that’s a statement driven by fear, because if you actually think about it you’re just perpetuating a clutter keeping cycle.

If we keep things because we have a fear of wasting them, we need to ask ourselves 2 questions:

  1. What is it that we’re scared of wasting?
  2. Is it OUR fear of waste or someone elses?

The Choice

If we have things in our clutter that we haven’t used since they became clutter, then we are technically wasting them. As much as we may have had a good intention to do x,y,z with them, for whatever reason we haven’t done x,y,z.

So now you have a choice.

Do you continue trying to convince yourself that you still want and NEED to do x,y,z with those things and that you have the time to do x,y,z with them….


Do you accept that the time has passed, you don’t need to do x,y,z with them if you’ve survived this long without doing x,y,z with them, and that realistically it makes more sense to let go of them?

You only have 168 hours a week. You can’t find or make more time. You have to spend some of those hours sleeping. Do you really want to use some of those limited hours each week doing x,y,z with something that was part of your past and is not going to help you get closer to your Clutter Free Goal, or let go and get closer to your Clutter Free Goal? Just because you could do x,y,z doesn’t mean you ‘should’ do x,y,z.


1. Financial Waste

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but the truth is you wasted your money if you bought something you didn’t need and didn’t use. That ‘financial waste’ was gone the minute you paid for it. The same applies to the multi-buy offers that will take months or years to actually use up.

You may say you’ll only let go if you sell it for what you paid for it to prevent the waste, but the truth is that it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay.

While things sit in your clutter, unused, it’s financially wasted if it’s not being used, sold or let go of. Unless you need to sell the things in your clutter because you can’t pay your essential bills, then let it go and move on. Your priority is to clear your clutter.

2. Resource / Environment Waste

Many people keep things because they care about the environment and believe that by keeping things and reusing them at some point in the future, they are helping the environment.

WRONG. If you are keeping things in your clutter that ‘might come in useful’ and ‘will save money / resources / the environment’ in the future, you’ve actually been keeping them and wasting them because you’re not using them. Other people are having to go out and buy new things when they could use the one you’ve got in your clutter.

3. Memory Waste

People have a huge fear of wasting memories if they let go of things in their clutter, especially if they don’t have a great memory themselves.

For clutterholics this is strongly associated with a fear of being forgotten or wanting proof that we existed or did the things we’ve done in our life. Yet the memory of those things is wasted if we don’t share the memory with others to pass it on.

4. Time Waste

Have you considered the potential time that you could waste in the future if you try to do everything you planned to do from the past?

We all only have 168 hours in a week. If every item in your clutter took 10 minutes in the present and the future to do what you planned to do with it in the past, how long would it realistically take you to do everything you had planned to do in the past?

Will the world stop turning if you don’t do them?

5. Emotional Waste

How much emotion have you already wasted on your clutter? How much time and energy has been spent feeling angry, sad, hurt, guilty, frustrated, resentful etc because of your clutter?

You waste more energy feeling a negative emotion than a positive emotion. Do you really want to keep something that not only do you not need or use, but that also triggers such negative emotions and opens old wounds every time you look at it? No wonder you don’t use it and avoid dealing with it. Let it go – the feeling and the thing.

6. Space Waste

You’re wasting space by keeping the clutter. Think about it. Waste = not being used. That dining room isn’t being used as a dining room. It’s being used as a storage unit. It’s wasted space.

7. Inherited Waste

See all other previous types of waste. Inherited clutter is ALL the types of waste combined with the added helping of ‘guilt’. Let it go and live your life instead of being the caretaker of someone else’s life, unless of course the emotions and memories the clutter triggers  are abundant, positive and you have the space to keep it all. Thought not!

If you’re scared of wasting the things in your clutter, find out how Clare can help you in her free help centre:

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