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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.)

Cajunchrist's picture

I love paring down my...

I love paring down my possessions. My ultimate goal is to get rid of everything I don’t use. To do this I have been mentally employing tactic suggested by Eric Hoffer (the longshoreman philosopher of San Francisco) He’s an awesome writer by the way. Do a web search for his name and you will come across endless wonderful quotes by him. That being said, he suggested that you figuratively take all your possessions and put them into one box (in his case he actually could do it). What you use during the course of a year you take out and put into a smaller box. Whatever is left over in the big box at the end of the year gets thrown out. Its really simple and easy. At the end of his life, a life distinguished by books, letters, a reasonable amount of intellectual fame…it took only two hours to file his life’s work and clean out his entire apartment. Also, if you happen to have relatives who give you lots of useless guilt inducing crap, like my mother, it’s worthwhile to have an honest chat with them about what you need and don’t need.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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