November 03, 2015

How Advertising Creates Overconsumption

Not everyone notices the role of advertising in creating clutter. It takes an marketing expert to point out how vulnerable people are to advertising messages that create links between our emotional needs and shopping desires. Former advertising writer Greg Foyster puts it this way:

This is now advertising’s role in the economy – to convince people that non­material happiness can be gained through material belongings.

Desires for material things have limits – most people really only want or need one dishwasher, or one or two cars – but desire for emotional needs like status, love, acceptance and autonomy are bottomless. Tying material goods to nonmaterial desires ensures people are never satisfied with what they have. It’s how we’ve convinced some of the most materially rich citizens in history that they don’t have enough.

Read the whole story at The Guardian:

June 13, 2015

Why To-Do Lists and Clutter Don’t Mix

The book Fear of Nothing makes the two bold promises of “no clutter” and “no to-do list.” This promise is only half as big as it appears. That’s because you probably don’t have both clutter and a to-do list at the same time, even though it sometimes appears that you do.

It is virtually impossible to be living with clutter and work your way through a to-do list. If you have enough clutter that it gets in the way sometimes, then your to-do list can’t proceed the way it’s intended. With clutter, a to-do list is little more than wishful thinking. Conversely, if you have a to-do list and work through it item by item, that means you didn’t run into much clutter along the way. If a to-do list is effective, it shows that you have been able to remove yourself from clutter, at least for the day.

June 03, 2015

The Junkyard Life

No one would want to live in a junkyard – but homes resemble junkyards and junkyards resemble homes more closely than we would care to admit.

I had a chance to think about this last week when I visited a junkyard. I drove in with an old car that will be sold on as scrap metal. I had a moment to look around while I was there. When you look at the way it really works, a junkyard is not quite what culture and literature tell us it is.

May 30, 2015

The Spare Car

For two months I had a spare car, a second car standing by in case my first car stopped working. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t recommend having a spare for anything so large, but on the other hand, you can often find a better deal if you go shopping when you’re not up against a deadline. That thought is especially significant with a car. It is easier to go car shopping if you have a car already. I wanted to do my car shopping before my car actually died at the side of the road somewhere, and I didn’t want to risk missing a critical appointment with a dead car. My old car had just passed 208,000 miles and the roar of the engine was getting louder by the week, so I wasn’t sure how much time I had before I would have to replace it.

May 08, 2015

‘Stamp Out Hunger’

If you are in the United States, you have an easy way to give away your unwanted durable food items on Saturday, May 9. Letter carriers will pick up food while delivering the mail that day. For details see:

March 31, 2015

Wrapping Up March of Trash

I took a photo of my garbage can, but the picture did not look so impressive. You just see a plastic container and you cannot guess what is in it, or indeed, whether it is full or empty. In a way, this mysterious container is a good symbol to wrap up March of Trash with, with or without the photo. That’s because after you have correctly identified something as clutter, once it is out of sight in the trash, it may be surprising how quickly it is forgotten. A high school yearbook? Ah, yes, I think I had a high school yearbook at one time, even if I don’t remember exactly when, or what was in it.

March 28, 2015

March of Trash, day 28

“What do I do with an old cell phone?”

Clutter-busting goes more easily after you form a very clear question. The question above, for example, is one that you can take to a search engine such as Google, where you will at least find other people’s answers and suggestions.

March 25, 2015

March of Trash, day 25

What can you do about clutter when you are not at home?

It’s a fact of life for many of us that our responsibilities take us away from home for days at a time. This presents a challenge not just in the March of Trash challenge, but whenever you want to change your lifestyle by taking on new habits. How can you build a new habit when you’re out of your usual environment?