Owners of one-bedroom flats accumulate an average of 1.1-1.3 tonnes of possessions in their home, which rises to 1.8-2.7 tonnes for two-bed homes and up to 5.5 tonnes for four-bed properties. And this increasing amount of clutter is making us ill.
Proskips, the nationwide skip hire company in London mentioned that clutter can play an important role in how the people feel, according to US psychologist and author Dr Sherrie Bourg Carter. Messy homes leave us feeling helpless or anxious and overwhelmed.
To put the amount of stuff we own into context, when Hafthor Julius Bjornsson broke a 1000-year old-record in the 2015 World’s Strongest Viking competition, the Game of Thrones star carried a log weighing 650kg a staggering five steps.
That’s less than half the weight of a top-of-the-range family car such as a four-door Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Titanium X, which tips the scales at 1592kg before owners add child seats, picnic rugs and tins of travel sweets to its bulk.
There is a range of reasons why clutter weighs so heavily on our minds and leads to stress. First, the stuff we surround ourselves with creates feelings of guilt and occasional embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
The results of our ever-so frequent shopping sprees bombards our minds with excessive stimuli and creates a state of mind that reminds us our work is never done. This makes it difficult for us to relax, both physically and mentally.
And from a practical point of view, piles of little-used belongings can prevent us locating the things that are important to us (like the keys to the heavyweight Ford Mondeo that must be parked in the driveway because your garage is stuffed with unwanted belongings).
How to Eliminate Stress
Clutter is one of the easiest causes of stress to eliminate, but before you start going through every room of your home to identify which items you can discard it is advisable to address decluttering’s greatest enemy – sentiment.
Much of the stuff we possess but never use remains in our possession because we have an emotional attachment to it. Children’s toys often remain stored away long after their owner has outgrown them because we can’t bear to throw away the memories those items helped create. The same goes for books and clothing that is well past its sell-by date.
The other barrier to decluttering is the thought that old items might come in useful one day. With the exception of items that are likely to grow in value, such as stamp collections, clutter that you have not touched for 12 months or more is unlikely to be of any use to you ever again.
While eBay or other online auction sites can be useful for offloading the stuff you no longer need, the likelihood is that much of your unwanted hoarding is only fit for throwing away. In today’s era of rabid consumerism, the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ no longer rings true.
The decluttering process can be disrupted by pangs of sentiment. If you really can’t throw a no longer used item away, put it in a box and send it to a self-storage facility. It’s wise to put a date on the box because – with the possible exception of a wedding dress or a child’s first soft toy – if you haven’t opened the box in a year, whatever is inside is probably not something you need.
Getting Rid of your Clutter
Most families who live in a three-bed house will identify a significant amount of clutter that can be thrown away. But disposing of your unwanted belongings can be as difficult as identifying the items you want to get rid of.
A simple solution can be to hire a skip. The smallest skip available for hire has a two cubic yard capacity and will therefore hold up to two tonnes of unwanted stuff. For families that have overcome a hoarding obsession, the answer could be to hire a builder’s skip with a capacity of eight cubic yards. While builder’s skips can take a weight of up to 10 tonnes, this is not possible in the real word because the combined weight of the full skip and the collection lorry would exceed legal weight limits. Therefore, a skip with a capacity of eight cubic yards will carry a maximum weight of eight tonnes – enough to clear space in all but the largest of households.