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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Saving vs. Hoarding

I have a confession to make. I am fascinated by the TV show Hoarders, a scary look inside the homes of some seriously troubled people who have unhealthy relationships with their stuff. 
The photo above is not from the TV show - rather it was taken in an otherwise ordinary home in a pretty neighborhood. The owners wanted to sell their house, but it was so full of debris, they were unable to allow showings. When a buyer agreed to purchase the property without seeing the interior (this was awhile ago when the market was very hot), the sellers held up the transaction for weeks as they tried to divest themselves of the boxes, litter, trash, and who knows what. Eventually, after enormous effort, apparently great emotional turmoil and even legal action, they hauled most of their possessions out of the house. And, still, before the new owner could move in, she had to remove several Dumpster loads of  junk from the house.

It would be simplistic to say that a hoarder is someone whose proclivity for collecting, saving and storing objects has gotten out of control. Hoarding is actually a difficult-to-treat mental disorder. And most savers aren't at risk for becoming hoarders.

Saving or storing stuff often makes lots of sense. There are many things that aren't needed today, that may come in handy next week, next month or a few years from now. For example, sewers may save bits of fabric that will eventually become a quilt. Parents save their older children's clothing to pass down to the younger ones,or store their books and toys until they have grandchildren. Frugalistas save wrapping paper, boxes, gift bags, tissue and ribbon for future gift giving; creative cooks clip recipes and collect cook books; thrifty people store no longer-needed equipment, furniture, books and other objects for a summer yard sales; overweight optimists save their size 6 clothing with the hope that they'll fit in them again someday.

I save and collect old sweaters that I have been slowly repurposing into scarves, neckwarmers and felted items; leftover yarn from knitting projects; no-longer-needed decorative items and collectibles for a future yard sale; evening bags that I am unable to pass up at yard sales, thrift shops and flea markets, but rarely use (though I lend them to friends pretty regularly);  and good quality second-hand clothing that I keep thinking I will tailor to fit me. And of course, there are the newspaper and magazine clippings; wrap and ribbons; single socks (the mate will turn up eventually, won't it?); worn out towels and sheets - I'll think of a good use for them...).

What do you save, store or collect? Are there things you can't part with because you know they'll be useful some day? Please share.


  1. scrapbooking supplies and books.. music and movies..

  2. all good things to save - and the scrapbooking supplies can include all kinds of small, interesting items that might otherwise wind up in the trash.