In 2005, my partner and I moved to London. It's something I'd been resisting for several years but the time had finally come to 'up sticks' from our beautiful Victorian converted apartment in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and move to 'the big smoke'. We were intending to do quite a bit of work to the apartment we were moving to, so some of the boxes that came with us on moving day, ended up going straight into the loft to give us the maximum amount of space to get the work done. And that's where it started...
It's quite a rarity to have the use of such a large loft space in London so it wasn't long before we had boarded part of it to make the most of the additional storage space we had. In addition to the usual contents such as Christmas decorations, old suitcases, skis etc, we soon added to our stash with completely unnecessary items - things that we should just have got rid of instead of going through the ritual of getting the loft ladder out, humping boxes up to the loft and forgetting about them like they never existed. Our 13 years of junk could easily be put into three categories:
1) Empty Boxes
What seemed like a good idea at the time, turned out to be a hoarder's dream - we opted to keep every empty box that had once contained things like electrical appliances and other household items - the intention was, that if we ever moved, it would make sense to pack things back into the boxes they came in. Clever huh? It's amazing just how many empty boxes you can end up with after 13 years. At last count, we had boxes for five kettles, three irons, four printers, umpteen laptops, countless televisions, DVDs and games consoles, bread bins, crockery, glasses, saucepans, electric toothbrushes... you name it, we had a box for it!
2) Unwanted Items
We also seemed to have endless items that we no longer seemed to need anymore but kept hold of 'just in case'. Everything from old towels, books, venetian blind slats, wardrobes, old Christmas trees and decorations, rugs, kitchen utensils, glasses, vases, saucepans, shoe racks... maybe putting them up in the loft was easier than taking a trip to the local refuse site but it certainly didn't seem like a good idea by the time we had finished bringing them all back down the ladder.
Have you ever looked at how much paperwork you can accumulate when you buy or sell a house? For whatever reason, I still had the paperwork for four house moves and that's LOTS of paper! I'm sure that solicitors could play an enormous part in saving the planet, if only they would revert to electronic communication (which I'm sure would also save a huge amount of time that is wasted in the mountains of filing that must take place). So with a pile of paper which was actually taller than the shredder itself, culminating in four days of sporadic shredding, this resulted in six bin liners full of shredded paper.
We spent three days decluttering 13 years of stuff that we didn't need or want:
Sorting through all the full boxes and bags and deciding on whether to keep, chuck or donate to charity
Bringing down all the empty boxes, flattening them and taking to the recycling (filling one industrial sized bin)
A trip to the local refuse site with a full car to dispose of the items that were of no use or value
A Journey with a full car to donate to charity all the items that we no longer wanted but would be of value to someone
Several hours over four days to shred anything with identifiable information and taking six large bags to the recycling
The moral of the story: don't keep stuff that you don't need just because you think it's quicker and easier to 'hide' it out of view - you'll end up having to deal with it at some point!