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Mark Morford on de-cluttering (and the SF reuse culture)

Why Do You Have So Much Junk? / Oh yes you do. And there are TV shows to prove it. Question is, what are you gonna do about it?

The always-enjoyable Mark Morford has a cure for the clutter in your life that doesn't involve gnashing of teeth or the intervention of a TV show. He calls it getting rid of stuff.

The cure is simple, so graceful that it will make you feel lighter and healthier and good the minute you start, and of course you can start right now and you don't even need any drugs or wine or nudity, though those always, always help.

This is what you do: You throw stuff out. You go through your closets and you fill up garbage bags and you even grab stuff you've clung to for years for no apparent reason, and you haul it all down to Goodwill or Salvation Army or (in the case of San Francisco) leave the usable stuff out in the street overnight and let the urban recycling phenomenon work its magic, as some lucky passerby scores your old futon and the three grungy frying pans you haven't used since 1987.

San Francisco's culture of "urban recycling" is real and it's very cool. Obviously, stuff left on the street gets picked up, but don't delude yourself Sister Suburb: it's not just hobos, methheads, and The Sand People snatching up your goodies. We all pick stuff up off the street.

Madeline and I know people whose whole (fancy overpriced) house was mostly furnished by "junk" from someone's curb. And the beauty part is, when you tire of it, you just stick it on your own curb, and the music goes round. You lose your clutter, gain some space, and make some anonymous Citizen a little happier.

I suspect there's a reason Craig's List started in San Francisco; it's a social city that's just not afraid to deal with other people's junk. (Sure, you can read that several ways; my pleasure.)

Marshall Wallace's picture

My wife and I began...

My wife and I began “throwing stuff out” when the community group she helps organize held a fundraising yard sale (many of the community groups in Somerville, MA hold yard sale fundraisers and are willing to take just about any junk you want to dump on them; you personally don’t make any money, but you get some of the crap out of your basement). That got rid of the excess furniture and the truly bizarre Christmas gifts people who don’t seem to know us very well (mostly family) had given us over the years. Then we got serious: closets were emptied, drawers were dumped, every single piece of paper collected over the course of two bookish lives was scrutinized, the refrigerator was cleaned . . .

One day, waist deep in her correspondence, having just finished culling birthday-valentine-get well cards and getting started on letters of teenage angst, my wife looked up and said, “Hey! I’m quitting grad school.”

Once you start throwing away shit, it’s really hard to stop.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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