February 28, 2017

Less of the Wrong Stuff

March of Trash is an exercise to reduce personal clutter during the month of March. The idea is to make yourself more powerful by having more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff around you.

The premise of March of Trash strikes more than a few people as far-fetched. How can having less stuff be any kind of advantage? When you look for them, though, you can find a millions ways that stuff can get in the way.

You do not have to look farther than the day’s news headlines. I happened to run across this story among the most recent headlines at CNNMoney: “Stuffed toys leak millions of voice recordings from kids and parents.” The stuffed toys made by CloudPets had the intriguing gimmick of speaking, but more than that, you could program them to say whatever you wanted them to. If you have the misfortune of owning a CloudPets toy, though, it’s likely that recordings of your voice are in the hands of a criminal organization along with your email address and other personal information. There are similar and in some cases more serious problems with other Internet-connected toys. Most people would agree that you are better off not owning the problem toys or creating the Internet accounts that make them work.

You reduce this risk, and risks and costs of many other kinds, just by getting rid of stuff you don’t use. If you’re like the average American you use only roughly 10 percent of the stuff you own over the course of the year. In theory, you could reduce the costs associated with owning stuff by 90 percent without giving up anything you actually use. In practice, by getting rid of the worst clutter you have, you can reduce these costs quite a lot and put yourself in a more powerful position in life before you even notice that anything is missing.

The challenge in March of Trash is to identify a few of the things you are pretty sure you won’t want to use, and get rid of them. As in past years, I’ll provide a scorecard you can download to help you track your progress along with a series of posts throughout the month of March intended to change the way you look at clutter. Check back here in March, and join in the worldwide clutter-busting effort of March of Trash.

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