Are You a Pack Rat? Or Do You Trash It All?

Even though we may share many similarities, my dad and I could not be more different when it comes to our philosophies on clutter.

Myself, I feel that I am much more of a pack rat. I am very hesitant to get rid of just about anything. Digging through my garage and my shed, I can find notes and projects from my high school days. Even today, working as a freelance writer, I have a tendency to hang on to the boxes when I receive items to review. I figure that when it is time for me to ship things back, I’ll have a supply of boxes of different sizes to use. It pays to reuse, reduce, and recycle.

For better or for worse, I collect a lot of clutter. When I go to trade shows and community events, I may come home with tons of pamphlets, handouts, and booklets that I may never read again. They seem like useful resources at the time and, given that I blog about so much here on Beyond the Rhetoric, I figure that they can come in handy as points of reference in case I forget some of the finer details. It’s hard for me to throw things away, because trashing something is forever. It cannot be recovered.

My dad, on the other hand, has a tendency to throw everything away. If he feels that it is no longer useful in a very immediate sense, the item will quickly disappear from the home. Clothing can be donated to charity, magazines can be recycled, and nearly everything else can end up in the trash. He wants to get rid of as much clutter as possible, because if it’s not useful right now, he doesn’t want it.

In some respects, I can understand his point of view, because it is probably derived from our shared short attention spans. Like me, my dad has a need for novelty: to make room for new things, he feels he should get rid of old things. Also like me, he can get very interested in something initially only to lose interest in the long run. So it ends up in the garbage bin.

I’m not entirely convinced which philosophy is superior. On the one hand, pack rats can save a lot of money by reusing existing items. They can also be a little more nostalgic, looking back at items from their past. That said, this can make for a lot of clutter and most of the items being “saved” are never going to be used again.

On the other hand, people who want to trash everything can make for a much tidier environment and this makes it easier to move forward rather than looking back. This approach can end up costing more money though, since many items will need to be replaced again and again.

What do you think? Are you more of a pack rat or do you prefer to toss it and move on to something new?