What’s Up in the Packrat World?

packrat

noun
a ratlike rodent that accumulates a mound of sticks and debris in the nest hole, native to North and Central America.
  • NORTH AMERICAN derogatory – a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things.
The way I look at it, either type of packrat is not very pretty! 

(no offense to those who like rodents)

I grew up in the home of a packrat. The saving kind.
As a matter of fact, I am a recovering packrat.
When my husband and I got married, we lived in packrat heaven – or maybe hell is more appropriate.
It all depends on how you look at it.
My parents were raised during the Great Depression. They learned to save everything, so, my sisters and I were taught to save pretty much everything. Anything that could be considered useful now, or down the road.
This included string, foil, plastic margarine containers, plastic bread bags, bread bag clips, bread bag twist ties, styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons, paper sacks, paper, rubber bands and magazines just to name a few.
If you asked my parents, mostly my mom, there was a good reason to keep each one of these things.  And they all made sense. To my mom. And many others of her generation.
But please remember, there are two sides to every story.
The good side of the “packrat” story. 
I learned that just about everything is useful and I also learned not to waste. It really isn’t ok to waste things, whether it be money, time or stuff.
And, I still believe that and was a lesson I passed on to my girls.
However, it wasn’t to the extent of my mother’s teachings.
The other side of the “packrat” story.
I learned that just about everything is useful, and because of that, throwing just about anything away is wasteful and bad. And to always remember, at some time in my life, IT might come in handy.
So, it’s important to keep IT – JUST IN CASE!
This is NOT TRUE!
So, the ball of strings that came from the dog food, sugar, and flour bags got bigger and bigger and bigger.
The bag of rubber bands became more and more petrified.
The bags of bread bags got bigger and stinkier (and yes, we washed them).
And the foil got wrinklier and wrinklier and holier and holier.
The reality is, we didn’t need to keep all of those things. And, the reality is, we never used all those things. And most likely, we wouldn’t have used them in a lifetime. (Ask me how much of that stuff I moved when I moved my mother).
And if not kept in an organized manner, you will never find it again and have to buy it anyway.
Just to be clear, I am not against recycling. If you have ever read my blog post or Orgazines, you know that I actually embrace recycling, reducing and reusing.
What I am against is keeping stuff “just in case” or because “I paid good money for “IT” or because so and so would kill me if I got rid of “IT”.
  • You already spent the money. Pass “IT” on to others by donation or sale.
  • Recycle “IT”.
  • If your parents are gone, they are not going to kill you for letting things go. They are probably looking down and wishing you would not burden yourself with their stuff or their words.
  • If “IT” was a gift, “IT” was a gift. So, it’s yours to do with as you wish.
Everyone’s “IT” is different.
“IT” may not be plastic bags, strings or foil.
  • “IT” may be the things our parents left us.
  • “IT” may be that collection that sits in a bin somewhere and is never looked at.
My “IT” used to be kids clothes. 
The best way to not become a packrat?
  • Quit buying and collecting.
The best way to quit being a packrat?
  • Purge what you already have.
  • Quit buying and collecting.
There is value in our stuff. Most of our stuff.
Let the millions of people in the world that have little to nothing benefit from the things you are holding on to.
Share the wealth.
And as always, if you need someone to cheer you or steer you along in your decluttering, purging and organizing adventures, I am here to help.