A Reddit user shared her experience of cleaning out her grandparents’ apartment and how it affected her relationship with her own possessions.
The user took to the subreddit r/minimalism to share some thoughts after spending several days cleaning out the home after one of her grandparents went into hospice care.
It’s implied that the grandparents had been living in the same apartment for decades and so there was a lot to sort through, including 24 bags of unusable clothes, Tupperware containers, broken items waiting to be fixed, and more than 50 pairs of shoes.
“It was both sad and frustrating at the same time,” she writes. “For the first day it was difficult moving around because of boxes and bags. So many originally nice things that were beyond salvation because they’d been forgotten about in the back of a crammed full drawer or cupboard.”
As we get older, it’s common to get sentimental and want to hold onto things. In some cases, it may even turn into hoarding, a condition where people obsessively hold on to objects, the prevalence of which rises from 4% to 6.2% in populations over 65.
Seeing how much stuff her grandparents had accumulated inspired the Redditor to change her relationship with consumerism and possessions.
“Envisaging how many plastic bags would be needed to pack up my place and estimating how much of my stuff would realistically go in the trash… well I’ve still got a long way to go,” they write.
After the experience, the Redditor pledged to have a “no-buy year” in 2023, which is a period of time when you do not make any purchases beyond what you need to survive, such as rent and groceries. No-buy challenges are extremely customizable, too — they can last for a week up to a year or longer, and encompass pretty much anything you routinely spend money on.
“When something runs/wears out, I’m determined to really look at what I already own and to use alternatives instead of instantly getting something new,” she writes.
The tendency to overconsume directly impacts our bank accounts and our planet. The more we buy, the more we throw away, leading to objects littering the streets, landfill, and even ending up in the ocean.
What’s more, the amount of resources needed to produce all these objects is not small. In fact, if everyone consumed like an American citizen, we would need seven of our planets just to produce it all.
By relying on what you already own rather than purchasing more, you can save major cash, too. In 2020, TikToker Shawna Ripari embarked on a no-buy year and ended up calculating her savings to be $10,000 with “around $4,000 of that coming from just cutting back on buying makeup and clothes.”
Many commenters reacted with sympathy.
“Many of that generation grew up during the great depression. As a result, many of them (and some older boomers) tend to hold onto things thinking that they may be of use later,” one user writes.
Another adds that they had gone through a similar process with their parents.
“I am now gearing to minimalist lifestyle after filling up 4 huge dumpsters of my parents belongings from a house they lived in for fifty years,” the user comments. “Was sad that they could not let go of anything or pass things down when still living.”
For those looking to simplify but don’t want to just throw away belongings, there are services that offer discounts on new gear or even straight-up cash for your old electronics, clothing, underwear, socks, and sneakers.
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