Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Cutting Clutter with Compassion

 by Julie Hanus


Tags: Spirituality, Mindful Living, clutter, simplifying, charitable giving, Natural Home, Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Cedar Rapids, floods,

offices get cluttered too!Clutter detracts from our ability to function, tangling our physical spaces and muddling our minds. Streamlining can be a relief, even a rush, but then there are those pesky boxes of unwanted stuff. In the Sept.-Oct. 2008 issue of Natural Home, Utne Reader’s sister publication, editor Robyn Griggs Lawrence suggests a top-notch idea for how to dispose of clutter—and serve the greater good.

Griggs Lawrence hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and traveled there this summer to visit family during the aftermath of the floods. She was in the midst of working on her magazine’s Sept.-Oct. issue, which contains advice on how to declutter kitchen space. “While I’m sure it’s little solace to the folks who lost everything, seeing all that stuff lining the streets of Cedar Rapids was a heartbreaking reminder of how lucky I am to be contemplating my own clutter,” she writes in her editor’s note (article not available online).

“When I returned home to Boulder, it was much easier to clear out unnecessary items from my kitchen cupboards. I would love to send them directly to the folks in Cedar Rapids, but wooden cake plates and food processors probably aren’t their most pressing needs right now.”

Isn’t that always the rub? From kitchen appliances and electronic gadgets to appliquéd shrugs and china figurines, most “clutter” doesn’t go far in alleviating those pressing needs Griggs Lawrence saw in Iowa. Not deterred, she decided to take her castoffs to a consignment store and allocate the proceeds for the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s Flood 2008 Fund. As September draws near, brining with it the annual migration of college students, I frankly can’t think of a better way to bring “a whole new dimension” to cleaning out closets and bedrooms.

Photo by sindesign, licensed under Creative Commons.

christine simiriglia
7/20/2009 6:22:01 PM

To de-clutter is to remove things that you don’t need. To de-clutter is to make space where there was a lack of space. To de-clutter is to give things new life by gifting them to people and charities who might actually use and appreciate them. To de-clutter is to identify a place for everything worth keeping. To de-clutter is to part with things that no one will really use. To de-clutter is to free your soul. Find out more at http://www.organize-more-stress-less.com


christine simiriglia
7/20/2009 6:21:14 PM

To de-clutter is to remove things that you don’t need. To de-clutter is to make space where there was a lack of space. To de-clutter is to give things new life by gifting them to people and charities who might actually use and appreciate them. To de-clutter is to identify a place for everything worth keeping. To de-clutter is to part with things that no one will really use. To de-clutter is to free your soul. Find out more at http://www.organize-more-stress-less.com


gary ashcraft
8/28/2008 6:23:33 PM

Here in Houston there is an active subculture of people decluttering, regifting, & 2nd blessing through the online communities of Craigslist & Freecycle. I don't think you have to go looking for storm relief victims to find folks in need, every community has them in our own back yards if we only opened our hearts and eyes. Gary Ashcraft


gina_1
8/27/2008 12:55:00 PM

Clutter is a distracting mess. Thanks for the heads up on where to find more information on how to de-clutter our lives. A de-cluttered life is a de-stressed life!


robyn lawrence
8/27/2008 8:30:01 AM

Hey, Julie...thanks for the shout-out...and I agree with you that fall is the perfect time to find homes for the stuff we no longer need among the college kids (most of whom have no problem leaving everything behind in the spring). Once we start collecting for real, though, clutter seems to be one of our common vexations as a culture. We clutter...therefore we are.