From Hoarders to Minimalists
"Let's go back to the 8th of August, 2010. We were at the Travelodge hotel for a mini honeymoon celebration. We kicked back with a little "telly" and Hoarders the American television series was on. We were captivated by the episode that was on. The lady seemed normal, she just had a lot of stuff. One quote in particular that stuck us was "How could one person have five garbage bags of yarn in their closet" We looked at each other, there was in fact five garbage bags of yarn at our home. When we got home from our mini holiday, we took to getting rid of stuff we didn't need immediately." - Why Minimalism Improved Our Lives
Hoarding is a mental disorder where people compulsively acquire stuff, and don't want to get rid of it, to the point that it negatively affects their lives. Often hoarders' living spaces become cluttered with their possessions making it hard to navigate around their homes comfortably. For example, a hoarder might save stacks of newspapers and have no room to put them so they end up piling them in the hallway, making it hard to walk through the hall. Hoarding can become such a problem that it becomes life threatening.
We definitely weren't hoarding so bad that we would have ended up on the TV show but we were scared straight nonetheless. It was our first time living on our own and we needed all the stuff that people generally need for their first apartment. Luckily, we had a closet full of all the kitchen stuff we could need including utensils, microwave,etc etc. We also had some furniture but had room for more. Once people heard we were moving into a new place we were offered couches, desks, tables, and other odds and ends. Our apartment was starting to look well furnished with all the stuff we got for free and we were excited about all the free stuff we had found. Our place was full of chairs, couches, tables, lamps, shelves, dressers, you name it, we had it.
This is our living room 18 days after moving in to our first apartment
We were also going out in our free time and shopping. The shopping itself became a form of entertainment for us. Advertising is everywhere, and there are countless new products aimed to make your life better seeking for our attention. Also, things are getting cheaper; computers, mobile phones, televisions, and other gadgets are comparably cheaper than they have ever been. Technology is progressing at a fast pace and our older devices are becoming obsolete pretty quickly. It's hard not to get sucked in to consumer culture.
While shopping, we'd look for bargains and buy all kinds of stuff because it was a good deal. We'd get clothes, stuff for the apartment, DVDs, Video Games, and future gifts for people. We were shopping at the mall, Jysk, Liquidation World, second hand stores and then we discovered the Recycling Depot. We were getting some killer deals before but at the recycling depot you could fill a shopping bag for $1. We found all kinds of stuff there: books, games, sporting goods, a Playstation portable (PSP), China sets, and furniture as well.
You can see how all the clutter just makes this photo look so messy
We had a lot of cool stuff and we hadn't spent that much to get it but we weren't actually using a lot of it. Around the time that we saw the episode of Hoarders we were hoping to move to a bigger city. At this point we had so much stuff that the thought of moving seemed like a gigantic burden. Everything started to come together and we started evaluating what stuff we actually wanted.
For example, Liquidation World had this game called Tony Hawk Ride which is a skateboarding video game where you stand on an electronic skateboard that acts as the controller. It was only $10 so it was hard to pass up. I think we only played it once and then it just sat there cluttering up our apartment with all the other items we bought for the same reason.
It took us awhile to sell or donate the stuff we didn't want until we got to a point where it seemed possible to move somewhere else. We ended up moving a few times and we continued trimming down our possessions. Eventually, we moved to a bigger city. We needed a big moving truck to do the move because the city was 2 hours away and we couldn't do multiple trips with our pickup truck like we had done on previous moves. When you move you get to see everything you own laid out in front of you and it makes you aware of all the useless stuff you own.
New City, New Start. Still a lot of stuff, but not as cluttered. Our stuff had homes.
Seeing the amount of stuff we had and how it filled the moving truck made us want to get rid of more stuff. We were living in the city and we took advantage of our apartment building's "free table" in the laundry room where you put all of your stuff you don't want. We gave away so much stuff that we thought we were going to get in trouble for putting so much stuff down there but as it turns out our neighbours loved us for it. Hopefully people made good use out of the stuff we didn't want.
Slowly we became more influenced by minimalism and our biggest challenge was moving to the UK. We had to get our stuff down to the point where we could fit it into space at our parent's houses.
We haven't quite got to the point, like some minimalists, where we live with only 100 items. That isn't necessarily the point of minimalism as we understand it. We've just been gradually learning what we do and don't need and trying to better ourselves and our lives by simplifying.
Our goal in life is to only own a suitcase full of items. We recently moved flats and learned that we have one small car full of stuff here with us in England. Realising this has also made us start to donate things we have accumulated in England. We have things that we need for the remainder of our time, but we still need to get rid of a lot more, if we only want one suitcase.
When we first started taking holidays, we didn't want to forget anything. Which resulted in packing everything. Most of what we brought wouldn't be used and come back with us untouched. Now we pack less than we think we need, and come to the realisation that if you do forget anything, you can buy it.
Packing for a trip in 2010
Packing for a trip in 2016
For more on travelling light, we urge you to watch our video on what we pack for most holidays.
If you are interested on becoming more minimal check out our "30 Day Minimalist Challenge" and get rid of your unwanted stuff!
Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed our post. Please share your minimalist journey with us and do not hesitate to contact us.
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