Storage is Not a Solution

Look at any organizational website or catalog, and you’ll find a plethora of boxes, bags, and containers billed as “storage solutions.” No matter what the item, there’s a vessel to hold it—big, small, tall, flat, thin, wide, clear, colored, fabric, plastic, leather, wood.

Put them on shelves, pile them in closets, stack them in your attic, basement, and garage. If you run out of room, gather them up and stick them in a storage unit across town.

And presto—your clutter problems are over!

Uh, not really. Storage is not a solution.

Just because it’s out of sight, doesn’t mean it’s out of mind. Your clutter is still there, hanging over your head, piled beneath your feet, lurking in the dark corners of your home. Just the thought of being surrounded by junk can be psychologically suffocating.

(And forget about dressing it up in designer boxes—making it pretty doesn’t make it go away.)

I re-learned this lesson myself, just recently. When my husband and I returned from England, we had our own little storage unit to deal with. Stuff we’d lived swimmingly without for 2+ years had come back to haunt us. It wasn’t all unwelcome, of course—we’re happy to be reunited with our bikes, and Plumblossom loves to cruise along our newly-reinstated futon/sofa.

But I’m also dealing with a box of books, a box of paperwork, and a box of clothing that I’d all but forgotten about. How tempting it was to toss them without opening them—after all, I hadn’t used (or really missed) their contents in years. Unfortunately, I had to peek inside and rediscover the “nice” office clothes that would be $$$ to replace (will I work outside the home again?), the dress shoes made in Italy, the out-of-print art books that will never be available in a library or on a Kindle.

Sigh. While three boxes is far from a clutter problem, it’s more than this minimalist wants to own. And in all fairness, the paperwork is mostly tax, housing, or medical-related, and necessary to keep. But my goal is to slowly detach myself from the rest (I’ve already started).

So take it from me: storage is not a solution—it’s just a way to hide your stuff until you (or worse yet, someone else!) must deal with it later. Instead: declutter, declutter, and declutter some more!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

72 comments to Storage is Not a Solution

  • Tina

    My husband is talking about getting rid of some of his hobby equipment– big telescopes he can no longer lift and carry around easily. Many years ago, I said this might happen. He gives a lot of his things to local junior colleges or junior high schools. When we are older, we don’t need as many things we can’t lift and carry without help. I never bought dining room chairs because we have 2 folding chairs and if I need more I borrow my son’s. We also have 2 desk chairs in our tiny den and we can move them by the table if we need them.

  • Tina

    I get magazines free at the library. When I’m done, I pass them to my daughter, who reads them and takes them to work. Travel magazines are for my husband, who returns them when he’s done. My mother always had stacks and stacks and boxes and boxes of magazines all over her homes, and I can’t live like that.

  • Tina

    I got a big stack of craft magazines at the library. They give them away. I kept 2 for the craft patterns and returned the rest plus 3 out of my collection I ended up not using. I don’t keep beading or quilting magazines at all any more because I just lost interest.

  • Diz

    Had to laugh at this. I’m on a fresh dejunking mission. The new man in my life is happy to help and started suggesting storage solutions, including using my attic. I’ve never been one to put things in the attic unless it was only used occasionally, like camping gear or seasonal decorations, so I had to tell him you’re missing the point. I have stuff I don’t need and don’t want, far too many clothes that no longer appeal to me, some that no longer fit. I need to be shot of it, not shuffle it. He has been great at helping me go through my clothes, and it’s a bonus that I’ll always be wearing something he thinks I look good in :-)

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