They say a cluttered house is a cluttered mind.
New research by on-demand storage service SpaceWays has found that more than half of all Australians (53%) don’t have enough space at home to store their belongings.
Even worse, 1 in 5 people have even fought with their partners over storage and space, and over half of us are actually suffering from “space stress”. The height of this is between the ages of 26-35, which is when Australians have the most “stuff”.
The main clutter culprits are clothes and shoes (21%), followed by old files, memorabilia (13%) and books (10%). In terms of where these items are being stored, people cite the spare room (30%) and the living room (17%) as the most cluttered rooms. The dining room (3%) and bathroom (4%) are the least cluttered and therefore most likely to be the sanctuary of space in the house.
Surprisingly, Australians aren’t keeping things because they’re sentimental, but because they’re practical.
56% are holding onto items because they worry they may need something again but only 19% because the items bring back nice memories. 6% keep belongings because they want to hand down to the next generation.
So what are some of the ways we can declutter? Here are Rob Rebholz, Co-Founder and MD of SpaceWays top six suggestions for decluttering:
1) Charity shops and clothing bins
Taking your pre-loved items to Vinnies and similar is a popular way to clean out your garage and get rid of old baby things that are a bit too battered to re-gift or sell.
There are also charities that specialise in things like donated children’s toys (these will need to be in good condition).
2) Council clean up
You can book a council clean up to get rid of stuff that you can’t sell or give away.
The council will take furniture, old carpets and small appliances but not building waste, green waste or “oversized items” such as commercial fridges or bathtubs.
For these items you can hire a skip, but fill it quickly otherwise other people in the neighbourhood may sneak their rubbish in.
3) Sell it online
Auction sites like eBay or Facebook buy-and-sell groups mean that you at least get some cash back for your gear.
But the returns are not usually very high and it can take a lot of effort to put up good photos and mail off different items. People even sell baby clothes by the kilo on there – that beautiful designer baby jacket you bought is probably worth next to nothing, even if it’s in great condition.
You can also give stuff away for free on sites like Freecycle, though there’s no guarantee anyone will want it.
4) Reuse, recycle
The greenest and most environmentally friendly option.
After all, do you need everything new? Will your new baby boy really mind that his bathtub or swaddles are pink rather than blue, because an older sister arrived first?
In some places – like chic Paris – vintage baby clothes are all the rage.
If you can still find a use for it, we recommend you hang onto it rather than replace it for a newer model.
There are lock-ups for rent all over the place, but you may need a ute to carry bulkier stuff there. You’ll also need to get hold of appropriate storage containers, or buy them separately from the storage provider.
Consider whether you really need to keep this stuff: are you going overseas, and storing furniture that you’ll use again? Or is it gym equipment that you never really used and – be honest with yourself – won’t ever use again? If the latter, don’t pay just to hang onto it.
6) On-demand storage
This is a great way to hang onto sentimental and valuable gear, such as those newborn baby clothes and toys that you hope will be family heirlooms eventually. Or if you’re spacing your family, you can “click and store” infant and maternity items until the new baby is on the way, or the family ski gear that you only need once a year.
Ultimately, as more and more stuff accumulates in our lives, we have to get smarter and tougher about what we keep and what we chuck.
One rule is that if you haven’t needed it, wanted it or thought about it in a year, and Antiques Roadshow don’t seem likely to come knocking, it’s probably time to let go.
How do you ensure you are not surrounded in clutter? What are your tips and tricks?