Declutterer By Degrees by guest blogger, Sara Vartanian

I’m a declutter by degrees. It takes me a few passes to reach a level of deep satisfaction as I reduce six bins of baby boy clothes to four and then two. I feel lighter each time I smugly pass an empty Rubbermaid to my husband. Soon, they’ll be no evidence of my boys’ newborn days expect a few sleepers that evoke memories too deep to give away.  This process is repeated for maternity clothes, teaching supplies, and kitchen items sitting idle on shelves I cannot reach. There is nothing safe from my systematic purges.

Since there is no “away” where does all our stuff go when it no longer serves us?

Does my participation in companies that resell my clothing and donating absolve me from the guilt of disposing of the items myself? Or will last year’s statement pieces make their way across the world to weigh down another country with my discards? One of these days, I’m going to host a clothing swap amongst my friends. We’ll all feel a bit better knowing that pieces of our past will no longer be accusing us from the bottoms of our dressers. I’m talking to you gorgeous jeans, bought two pregnancies ago.

If I keep my things to pass onto my kids am I burdening them with both my memories and my junk? I think of the 35-year-old handmade wooden crib commissioned by my Papa. Weeks after moving into my first home, my mom eagerly passed it onto me with the words, “It’s your turn”.  The crib now takes up valuable space in my midtown Toronto garage while I quietly detach myself from it, forgiving myself for wanting to give it a new home. Please don’t think me heartless. An egg carton stroller that my Papa and I made while watching Mr. Dressup, weeks before he died, holds a place of honour in my dining room buffet. Some things, I hold on too.

Sometimes I stare at the pile of plastic superheroes, wondering what we will possibly do with it when we are done? Perhaps, I’ll mellow out with age and cease this endless cycle of minimizing. I’ll pull out boxes of Lego and train tracks for my grandkids, thrilling them with stories of their dads. But if I can’t resist the urge to declutter, I hope we’ll be able to find them a new home with kids who play just as hard as mine. I do know that I’ll sell, donate, or swap before I’ll toss any of our memories into the garbage because there they won’t even stand a chance at a new life.