in garbage, junk

on the definition of junk

With the explosion of self-storage spaces as well as the news of a permanent garbage patch in the Pacific, is there any wonder in our minds that we have too much stuff?

I remember reading a book after my undergrad studies about the “Insatiability of Human Want”. Pretty sure I’m 3/4 of the way finished the book (it was very academic) but I never forgot that phrase because it very aptly tells the story of our human history coinciding with the industrial revolution that unlocked mass production and the abundance we all experienced.

But I find that it’s unmanageable just how much stuff one can have.

It’s most noticeable when you do spring cleaning or being forced to rationale things when you move residences. It’s just too much, it’s overwhelming and it’s never straightforward.

Do I need this?

Can I donate this?

I had this item?

Who gave me this?

Is this something that belongs to someone else?

I don’t want to see this anymore!

Parkinson’s Law as it relates to time tells us that the work we do expands to fill the time we are allotted. I think that applies to the spatial dimensions too. When we buy each individual item, we don’t think of it in terms of the universal of things we already owe; after all, the buying decision is typically independent, emotional and future-oriented. We think that introducing this item into our lives will help fill this gap or need and there’s also the novelty aspects. We rarely consider the consequences of entropy and the full lifecycle of the item. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people, mostly don’t.

But junk is so fascinating to me. It can be in these categories:

  • By products of the main thing we don’t need (i.e. packaging)
  • Things that we not long think is useful or needed in our lives
  • Things that we no longer see our identity belong to
  • Things that had entropy erode it through time
  • Things that no longer “fit” in our lives emotionally or physically
  • Things that have been replaced by something newer or shiner
  • Things we no longer can devote time for or to
  • Things that we think or feel that no longer have value in our hearts and/or in our minds

Do my a favour?

Next time you roam around a suburban neighbourhood, look at the things left out where people put up a sign that says “Free”. Or go to a garage sale, resale store or the like. Browse and take a look at what those things are, just to observe.

In other instance, take a look at the garage and recycling you’re throwing away next time. What are those things? Why did you cut these things out of your life and why?