March of Trash asks you to take action on clutter every day for a month.
It is a valid approach for most decisions to ask what the human impact will be, and decisions around clutter are no exception.
While there are endless ways that clutter can have a negative impact on someone, I will list three general categories that come up often.
- Physical and emotional obstacles. If it is hard to walk around a room, or if it takes attention or special effort to go past a specific object, that’s a problem. A room that you set up for yourself or that you invite other people to be in should be as effortless as you can make it so that people can do the things that they are trying to do or the activities that the room is meant to hold. It is a similar thing if something looks like a physical obstacle, so that people have to slow down or take a second look to be sure that they can proceed safely. Anything that you or others want to avoid looking at or thinking about uses up the energy in a room in a similar way.
- Hazards. Almost every material possessions represents at least one kind of hazard. As three familiar examples, perhaps an item can burn, break, or be tripped over. All three will be true of most manufactured products, but some items represent a far greater risk than others, and it may depend on where an item is. As an extreme example, a glass vase placed on a windowsill is likely to yield broken glass and spilled water someday after a strong gust of wind.
- Embarrassment. You may have possessions that don’t represent you well. These are things you hope no one notices. They clash with your character or with the way you want to be seen.
Ask what the total impact of an item is. If an item makes you worry about what might happen, it might be better not to have that item. There are other ways that the downside of a possession may exceed its upside. One way to ask the question is to consider whether you feel lighter or the room feels lighter with the item removed. If so, that may be an item that you are better off without.