Right now I’m in the middle of finals week, which is always an interesting time in college towns. Students ditch mountains of junk as they prepare for the end of their leases; I pass by these piles of “up for grabs” material that line the sidewalks as I walk to class. Today, as I walked with a roommate up to campus to take a statistics final, I paused by a pair of skis that had been offered up to the general public by its former owner. I wondered if the skis were my size and I was tempted to take them back to my apartment even though they were a dozen years old and appeared to be in bad shape. Then I realized that just that morning I experienced some mild anxiety when I thought about all of the junk I’ve accumulated in my apartment and how I’ll need to pack everything up in a few days before moving to a new apartment. I realized that if I took the skis home with me they would end up taking up space in my closet or under my bed and I would only end up using them once or twice a year. Because I would only be putting the skis to use semi-annually, I figured that it would be more effective to leave the skis and the rent skis whenever I decide to go skiing in the future.
It’s hard to maintain a balance between having enough stuff on hand to be able to take care of random tasks that come up (like being able to superglue the mirror of your motorcycle back on) and not having so much stuff that you start to clutter up the minimal space that you have. I have a problem with throwing away paperwork; for some reason I think that a journal or an essay I wrote in high school will be useful to me at some point. This problem, like many other issues regarding conserving space while still holding on to things of value, has a simple solution. Storing paperwork electronically by scanning papers and then saving them on an external hard drive takes only a minimal amount of time but can save space and can actually improve access to documents that would otherwise be buried under a mountain of papers.
Choosing to rent equipment and furniture can be a great and economical way to make sure you aren’t stuck with items that you may not want after the school year. Desks, beds, and couches in college apartments get used a lot and you may not want them in your next apartment so visiting Rent a Center or another rental store may be a great option. You usually can find good deals renting furniture and then you can have new stuff at each new apartment you move into during your college years.
By taking some time to think about what we really use and what we only think we’ll use, we can reduce the risk of ending up buried in clutter and help not fill landfills.