One of the main reasons we’re tempted to keep & hoard is the belief that things will be ‘useful someday’. I’ve had endless examples: the dusty kitchen appliance I’d stopped using, the ugly, unworn socks from the multipack, the spare rolls of red christmas string. One day we might well need new socks, or emergency string, and be glad we kept them!
Minimalism says, get rid of those things. Have enough socks to wear and use right now – seven pairs, say – and keep nothing more. When those socks become worn and need replacing, then buy some more.
For a lot of us, it’s the fear of not having enough that makes us hold onto things. Perhaps it’s because there was a time when we truly didn’t, and that’s hard to forget – it seems outrageous to throw away things that we’ll need to buy in future in a different guise. There’s financial guilt, environmental guilt, the guilt of having too much when others have too little.
Minimalism is not a first world problem – it’s the solution to one. Having too much stuff is entirely a problem of privilege, though nobody’s fantasy of abundance is hoarding away ugly, unwanted and broken things, lest times get hard again. This wasn’t what we dreamed about when times were tough, these cupboards and drawers of unloved possessions. We’re confusing the past and the present.
We need to trust in abundance to live presently with the life we have now – and enjoy it. When we let go of our fear of the good stuff running out, we stop panic buying and keeping more than our share. Our lives become less cluttered, and we can focus on what really matters. We can give away our extra possessions and feel safe and happy – because our possessions are not our security, anyway. Spare socks won’t save you from poverty, but a healthy, positive outlook just might.
Yes, your current things will wear out, and someday need replacing – but that doesn’t mean you have to hold on in anticipation. I’m learning to throw those spares out into the world, live with what I need, spend less time tidying and sorting, and spend a little money when that time comes. & I reckon it will be ok.
5 things to do with unwanted socks
1. Donate them to charity. Your unworn embarrassing slogan socks are someone else’s hilarious gift.