Quiz: What Kind of Clutter Do You Keep?

It’s time to identify and bust that clutter habit that makes your house messy.

(Photo: Joel Sartore/Getty Images)

Jan 19, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Melissa Rayworth is a regular contributor to TakePart. She has also written for the Associated Press, Salon and Babble.

It’s a classic New Year’s resolution: This year I will declutter my home, and then I will keep it clutter-free. And honestly, we try. But keeping that promise can be tough, and before we know it we’re snowed under once again.

Americans spend billions—$24 billion in 2013 alone—to keep stuff at self-storage facilities. What we don’t keep ends up in landfills—clothing and fabrics alone account for nearly 21 billion pounds of landfill waste every year. Most of us hold on to more than we need, even though selling unused belongings powers the secondary economy and donating unused items can benefit the less fortunate.

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The surprising part? That out-of-control, there’s-too-much-stuff-in-my-home situation often starts with good intentions: We crave a sense of control amid the stress and unpredictability of life, especially these days. So some of us begin tightly controlling what we do and don’t throw away. Maybe we try to manage our money worries by saving all kinds of things. Isn’t that better than getting rid of things and then realizing later that we actually needed them and have to buy them again?

The trouble is, that coping mechanism can eventually become a problem all its own, says Michael Moore, an assistant professor of psychology at Adelphi University. We’re stressed, so we save and stockpile. But eventually, just managing all that stuff becomes an additional source of stress. People who saved things to keep from having to buy more end up with so much clutter that they can’t find things when they need them.

Want this year to be different? We do too. The key is noticing how much we acquire and how we handle it, and then finding ways to bust clutter and set limits so the clutter doesn’t build up again. So...what kind of clutter keeper are you?