I have the weirdest job in the world. I am a professional organizer. Folks invite me over to help them manage their things. Working with households, businesses, and teachers, I spend most of my days up to my eye balls in other people’s stuff; and I’ve seen everything. In many ways I help people to see their stuff for the first time. More importantly, I help them to connect the dots between all those things and the impact that stuff has on a global scale.
I think we’re in the midst of a clutter crisis. That may sound melodramatic, but I’m not talking about knick knacks and the junk in your garage. Peter Walsh says, “Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor. It’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.” From the food we eat and the things we bring home from the mall, to the stuff we buy online ― we live in a world of gross excess and irresponsible waste.
Most of our stuff is just fluff, empty calories, a promise of happiness – a ploy to separate us from our money. And all that stuff is not good for us. Chronic clutter has been linked to things like debt, stress, obesity, and depression. We know there’s a direct connection between clutter and executive function, the part of our brain that helps to manage productivity, motivation, concentration, and decision-making. In addition to feeling disorganized, living in messy spaces can lead to outcomes that negatively affect our lifestyle. Things like: emotional eating, substance abuse, domestic violence, isolationism, binge shopping, and the kind of overwhelm that leads to hopelessness. But unfortunately our clutter crisis is even bigger than that.
What’s happening in our homes is just a fraction of the impact our clutter has on a global scale. Collectively, we’re drowning in stuff. Over-consumption, our ever-growing carbon footprint, and the subsequent pollution of our things is threatening our very survival on this planet. It’s been widely reported that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. By in large, we buy cheaply made stuff, often manufactured by corrupt corporations that exploit their labor force, using harmful chemicals we know to be toxic. We’ve all bought into a lie that exploits our urgency for immediate gratification and collective complacency. Now, here’s the really weird part – we know.
But there’s a simple solution. I believe the intentional absence of excess creates the tangible space for abundance. Something magical happens when we have less: we seem to value things (and each other) more. My definition of abundance is a sense of gratitude for having what we need, when we need it – and not a single thing more. Some say if a thing brings you joy, that’s enough to validate its existence in your life. But I wonder if your joy is enough. I wonder what the world would be like if we took it one step further. In addition to understanding the environmental impact of our things – as members of the human race, I think we have a responsibility to make sure laborers aren’t enduring brutal working conditions so we can get bigger discounts at cheap outlet stores. Child labor and slave-wage working conditions can no longer be an acceptable standard of doing business.
Jane Goodall was right. “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” I don’t believe there’s anyone who’s going to save us from this. There’s no help on the way. It’s just us. But if it’s true – if what we do matters, than it’s an opportunity for the consumers of the world to do whatever we can, for whomever we can, with anything we’ve got, for as long as it takes – in order to ensure that our children inherit a planet that can sustainably support human life. Solving this problem will require a consumer-led revolution, and we’ll discover that our clutter is, in fact, part of the solution.
The ClutterFree Revolution starts with seeing our clutter as an opportunity to prioritize, simplify, get organized, and help others. We must need less, become nimble in how we live, think resourcefully, and innovatively in how we reuse readily available materials. We must collectively denounce planned obsolescence (products designed to fail) and promote industries committed to human rights, environmental preservation, and making quality goods that last. Together, we can demand new standards of production that value reuse and quality of life over short-term financial gains. By participating in local second-hand economies, we can share the stuff we no longer need with those just struggling to survive the day. When we simplify and get organized in our own lives, we become more available to help others. And isn’t that why we’re here?
Saving the world starts with bringing a collective consciousness to our consumerism. The whole point is to be a little more intentional, a little more thoughtful about where our stuff comes from and where it goes when we’re finished with it. We can vote with our wallets, our bicycles, and the organic gardens in our own communities. How we shop and what we buy must reflect what we need most: clean water, clean air, nutrient-rich food, and vibrant ecosystems that support happy, healthy people – not just where we live, but around the world. We need to connect these dots and support progressive industries fighting to preserve sustainable life on this planet – and there’s no time to waste. The ClutterFree Revolution takes tidying up to the next level...and ensures a more abundant future for all of us.
Because at the end of life – in the moments before our passing, we’ll look back and remember what mattered most: who we loved, what we did, how, and why we lived. Because everything else was just stuff.
Join us. Together we’re saving the world.