declutter

Bag It

If there’s one commonality I have found among all the people I have had the good fortune to work with, it has to be hands down, the number of bags they have accumulated. Handbags, canvas bags, duffle bags, grocery bags, backpacks, retail bags, beach bags, gift bags, lunch bags...

We’ve gone way beyond paper or plastic.

Plastic bags, mainly used for toting groceries, have long since been deemed environmentally unfriendly. Although some studies have shown, believe it or not, that a single-use plastic bag has a lower carbon footprint than a paper bag and is more ‘green’ than a cotton bag, when considering the impact the creation of such bags has on the environment. Reusable bags have become the go-to giveaway at conferences, trade shows and charity events. They’re used by retailers as packaging and are readily available for purchase as a souvenir from your favorite destination. There’s no shortage, and production of these bags is indeed keeping up with the public’s voracious appetite for this product.

Of course the intention behind keeping so many bags of so many varieties is to use them over and over again. More often than not I hear explanations that go something like:

Oh, I got that bag from…

If I ever go to xxx, that would be a good bag to have.

That’s a good, sturdy bag.

That’s a nice-sized bag.

The pattern here, is that these statements offer descriptions of the bags or their wished-upon uses. Rarely, do I hear that the bags are actually being used. When I inquire further about their use, I’m often met with a sheepish grin and a sigh. Sometimes it leads to a more determined effort to declutter – sometimes it reinforces the desire to keep the collection intact.

Picture your own supply of reusable bags. How many bags full of bags are lurking in your closets?

Are You Ready?

A recent and sudden change in a family member’s living arrangements, translated into a recent and sudden change in mine. Of course, this family member, who for the sake of privacy shall be named Alice, is always welcomed.  I would do whatever necessary to ensure a warm and welcoming environment, especially if the circumstances leading to this sudden change weren’t so good.

The guest bedroom was ready with furnishings so there was no problem in deciding where in the house Alice would stay and call home for a while. My most important concern was to be sure that she was comfortable and felt welcomed without the slightest hint of this new arrangement being an intrusion – no matter how long this living arrangement may last. Of course, Alice need not worry, my home is her home forever more. I’m pretty sure Alice knows this, but I still wanted to be sure there was no hint of her feeling like a burden.

As soon as I received the news, I quickly did a survey of the guest bedroom. The dressers were full and so was the closet. I needed to make space for incoming clothes and personal items that would now call that room home. Was the room ready to be comfortable and welcoming? I had been using the room as my own personal valet service, and sure, I could empty out drawers and create space for Alice’s belongings, but where would I put everything?

Once I began to see just what was being stored in the room, it was easy to come to the conclusion that what I was storing, I was not using. I hadn’t used much of it in a long time, so there was no point in transferring it all to a holding spot elsewhere in the house. It was easy to make the decision to donate much of it and before I knew it, a donation bag was chock full.  I had become my own client, asking myself the same prodding questions I would pose to anyone facing the decision to let go of long-owned and long-ago-used things.

As far as the personal mementos and other decorative items, I knew I was keeping those and needed to find alternative places. I had other closet space and shelves that had room to spare, so those items quickly found new neighborhoods where they could settle down. That was the best part of this quick bedroom re-set. Luckily, thanks to previous purging and ever-evolving organizing routines, empty spaces were readily available, and I didn’t need to do much re-arranging. No robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Of course, there is still some refining to do. Not all the clothes that were transferred from one closet to another, or from one dresser to another will stay there. Let’s face it, I’m sure I have more than what I need. I see another full donation bag in my not so distant future. Alice is settled comfortably in her room, and that really is all that matters.

Your phone is ringing and your living arrangements are about to change. Are you ready?