What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– underbed storage containers

On the first page of almost anything written about organization, you’ll probably read, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” It makes sense. If clutter is something out of place, it can’t stop being clutter till it has a place and is in it.

For years, Nimue and I knew we had a clutter problem. But we thought our trouble was we didn’t have places enough. So we studied closet organization systems like they were guides to the Holy Grail. I built so many shelves, it appeared I’d opened a small furniture factory. We went on an organizational pilgrimage … to IKEA. And we bought storage containers in great variety and quantity.

Now we think that, though it’s true that everything should have a place, it’s not that we didn’t have enough places. We had too much stuff. Stuff we used often enough we thought we should have extras. Stuff we used seldom. Stuff we never used, but planned to someday. Stuff we never used because it was broken, but imagined we might repair. Stuff we didn’t like, but kept because someone gave it to us. Stuff we once used, but didn’t anymore, but kept because we paid good money for it. Stuff we didn’t want, but thought someone might, so we kept it in hopes that person would knock on the door and ask for it.

All that stuff did need a lot of containers … so many that they became just more stuff to keep ordered, clean, and in its right place.

Now that we’ve been shedding possessions that we don’t like or don’t use, we need fewer storage containers. Like these under-bed jobs that look great because they claimed “wasted space” that otherwise just bred dust-kittens. For me, however, they just became black holes of out-of-sight, out-of-mindness. Nimue put winter clothes in hers … but our mild winter weather didn’t encourage getting them out.


We freed them up by giving away most of those clothes. Now the containers are going, too. Maybe they’ll work better for someone else. We sold two the other day. Two more are available on craigslist.

shedding style: resell
destination: craigslist

Comments welcome … is your desire for containers contained? (We’re still fools for those clear plastic “shoeboxes.”)


– (not very) light fixture

What I shed today is about lightening up … today we took our mission in a slightly different sense. Let me illumine you.…

Our home’s stairwell and small landing at its top have been only faintly lit by a rather puzzling choice of fixture that uses US E12 bulbs—the same as those in nightlights.


No “sink cost fallacy” is going to keep us from shedding this lamp.

Not only were we underwhelmed by its performance, we couldn’t muster any appreciation for its carriage-lamp style. So today we stopped cursing the dark and installed aircraft landing strip lights in its place.

Please forgive the odd stacks of building materials; we're re-modeling. At least now you won't trip over them in the dark!

Hiya! Please forgive the odd stacks of building materials; we’re re-modeling. At least now we won’t trip over them in the dark!

I feel badly giving away something so lame, but perhaps someone renovating a haunted house will think the old light is a great find. To the used-building-materials thrift store it goes.

shedding style: give away
destination: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Comments welcome … might some different lighting, er, fixture you up, too?

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– pair of license plates

Yanking and shoving tools and supplies on my garage shelves into (slightly) better order, a box corner caught on something flexible yet firm. What’s fallen down there? I wondered, reaching bravely into the dim, cob-webby corner. My hand brought out not spiders (most of which are harmless, right?), but two old license plates.


I don’t recall or recognize them as any of mine; they must’ve been lost by some previous owner of our house. They failed the test of the Morris Rule (neither useful nor beautiful), and ordinarily I would’ve tossed them in our nearest recycling bin, but one commemorated the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games (which were hosted by Atlanta with the help of the rest of the state). And, practiced as I’ve tried to become at refusing it, I fell again for one of my favorite rationalizations to fail to shed: “I don’t want this, but someone surely would.”

How to find that interested collector, though? I tried posting an ad to the “free stuff” category on craiglist and had an inquiry within minutes. Success! I thought, smugly dismissing the reservations I’d felt.

… I fell again for one of my favorite rationalizations to fail to shed: “I don’t want this, but someone surely would.”

But Kenny never came to collect the plates, though I left them leaning on the mailbox post for two days. A second caller’s passionate promise of interest also evaporated overnight. Apparently a challenge of giving something away for nothing is that nothing is the value that may be put on it in our consumer culture.

John, however, was a craigslister of his e-mailed and telephoned word, and he now possesses the plates. I doubt it makes the world a better place … but maybe there’s a slight net increase of happiness. I am, at least, a few ounces lighter.

shedding style: give away
destination: John’s collection

Comments welcome … shall we call a moratorium on collecting other people’s collections?

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