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When Does Recycling Turn to Hoarding?

Updated on March 1, 2018
sparkleyfinger profile image

Lynsey is naturally well organised and can be easily described as a clean freak. She enjoys cleaning & organising and sharing tips.

Keeping things "just incase"- are you guilty?

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I love to reuse and repurpose old things. I'll happily customise old clothes to make a new top, and I upcycle shabby furniture to make funky, unique pieces. I generally try to "make do and mend" if I can. But, at what point does this type of recycling turn to hoarding?

I can see the point in keeping something if you think that it will come in handy. But, at the end of let's say, a year, if it hasn't found a use- get rid of it!

I recently helped my friend clear out his room. I found that he had a collection of plastic shopping bags. I also have a small collection of these- they are useful- but he had 6 bags full of bags! When I say full, they were almost bursting! When in your life would you use that many bags- remembering that you always get more whenever you do a shop!? He also had a collection of old bubble wrap and padded envelopes, as well as other packaging "incase" he sold stuff on ebay. Fair enough- but he had enough to fill a whole cupboard! As well as loads of other random computer components, cables, folders, paper files... so much random stuff!

When I asked him why he felt the need to keep all of this, he got defensive and said that he likes to be prepared. He also forbid me from binning anything!

It was at this point that I realised that my friend was a bit of a hoarder.

Hoarding is more of a state of mind than any desire to be prepared. While I won't analyse anyone in particular, I usually find that hoarders tend to keep things that have sentimental value or memories. Perhaps items that were given to them by loved ones who are no longer with them- these can provide an element of comfort. Then again, there can be the over desire to prepare because they perhaps feel that they fail in other aspects of life? There is also the desire to be in complete control of their surroundings- perhaps the only area of life where they do have such control? But where does it end?

I'm not saying that everything should be binned- I always give things a second chance- but sometimes rubbish is just rubbish. You could reuse plastic bottles as a "handy organiser" or you could just BIN them because they are still just plastic bottles with a weird name! You could use toilet-roll tubes as pen holders- or you could just get rid, because they wont hold their shape very well anyway!

I'm all for discovering a handy new use for things, and I love looking at roadkill rescue sites for inspiration. But- I just make sure that things are re-used in such a way that you can't tell they should be in the bin! Redesign, refurbish, decorate- don't just have a pile of junk lying around!

If your home begins to look like a town dump, you may want to re-evaluate your recycling ethos. If something has a use, keep it, BUT if you fall into the trap of being an accidental hoarder, take action!

Think realistically- a spare phone charger may come in useful. 5 spare chargers, not so much. Recycle or sell them, just get rid! Think about what new use something has before keeping it, otherwise you will have boxes and drawers full of bits and pieces before you know it!

If you decide to keep something "just incase," set yourself a time limit. Chances are, if you haven't used something within a year, you probably won't.

Declutter regularly, and reevaluate everything when you find it. My hub on de-cluttering may help, and you can find it here.

If you do have trouble letting go of all the extras that you don't need, then it's time to look at your state of mind. Try to understand the reason behind your inability to let go. Do certain items remind you of someone? Do you enjoy having objects around you? Are you simply terrified of being unprepared?

If you tackle these issues, you will then be able to tackle your clutter, simplify your home, and clear your mind.

© 2012 Lynsey Hart


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    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      7 years ago from Lanarkshire

      Thanks! I am quite organised, so at least my mountains of stuff has specific storage areas. Sometimes I just need to get rid tho :-P

    • Sullen91 profile image


      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Region, US

      I have a motley assortment of things, and I'm not too sure what it consists of either except for books and things that are in plain sight. I suspect it's not so much hoarding for the sake of hoarding but rather of an inability to organize and maintain things where they "belong." You're right on about the access to memory ln. Since organization is not my forte I figure by keeping most things I'll be able to have something that serves as a tangible link to the past. Time blindness is love:hate. Getting caught up in the now means keeping most things. Who knows when you'll realize/recall something is of use or is otherwise needed. Once you throw it away it's gone for good. Good insights!

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      thank you! :) cheers for the vote and the comment :)

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      8 years ago from Southern Spain

      I find it hard to get rid of stuff myself - Hate waste so I try give as much to an op shop as possible rather than throw it in the bin . Voting you up.

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      I agree. I have often put things on the "just incase" pile, but in reality I never use them! And i still feel guilty for getting rid of them because it is wasteful! thanks for your recommendation, and your comment!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      8 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      It's not always easy to maintain that balance, so we avoid accumulating too much clutter without being wasteful. Useful hub, voted up.

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      Thanks! Yes, I'm all for finding a new home for something, but some people take it too far! Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      I it is easy to save things because they might come in useful someday. Eventually though you do have to look at what you have an decide how many will actually be able to come in useful and whether you will have time to repurpose them all. Voted up.

    • sparkleyfinger profile imageAUTHOR

      Lynsey Hart 

      8 years ago from Lanarkshire

      Roadkill rescue sites are actually American sites I have discovered! It's when people dump furniture at the edge of the road, and others rescue it and upcycle it into something new and useful! Thanks for your comment! :)

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 

      8 years ago from North Florida

      I know people who have issues hoarding. Things we'd normally throw away, they keep for pretty much no reason at all.

      I liked your Hub, but I have a question. What in the world is a roadkill rescue site? In the US, roadkill is an animal that has gotten run over by a car!


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