We are Hoarders, Pack Rats and Junk Collectors

I have too many shoes. That is, I have some shoes I can no longer wear and they are taking up space in my closet. When I have things that aren’t being useful, I like to dispose of them. I’ll put them on eBay and if they don’t sell like hotcakes, I’ll give them to charity. Someone needs to wear these shoes before they go out of style.

Other people seem to like to collect things that aren’t particularly useful. They say Imelda Marcos had over a thousand pairs of shoes. If a person wore a different pair each day, it would take almost three years to wear each pair once. I doubt she did that.

I know some people who have “collections” of certain things. One guy I know has, according to his own admission, 125 shirts. I know a fellow with (I’m guessing) about 40 hats. My sister collected frogs (figurines of ceramic, plastic, glass, etc.) for several years. She was forced to get rid of most of them when she downsized into a small apartment.

Collections can be fun as long as we have room to properly display them. Shirts can be worn if we rotate them and get good use from them.

What really concerns me is our tendency to keep “junk” because it might be useful again someday. Really? A computer monitor that died eight years ago? A plastic sour cream container? The unused bolt for attaching a bird feeder? Bits of cotton string? A broken tail light lens?

Or shoes that hurt one’s feet but they’re so pretty and we paid so much money for them we can’t bear to part with them?

Our inability to rid ourselves of “stuff” has led to the proliferation of several industries. Most obviously, there are the storage buildings, many of them now climate-controlled. Apparent, but not so obviously, are the houses with attached 2-car garages but with two cars parked in the driveway.

Colorful Totes

Pretty totes to store ugly junk

Then there are the containers for stuff. There is even a store for the containers now, even though every department store and hardware store and home improvement store sells storage totes. They are interlocking and stackable, so a person could conceivably stack them to the ceiling. They come in pretty colors so we can pretend they are decorative.

My mom collected Avon bottles, a hobby that started when she was an Avon dealer. She also collected junk for other people: newspapers and aluminum cans for recycling and egg cartons for country friends to reuse. Her house and back porch were small and kept her habit self-limiting. When she got older, had to move into an apartment, she got rid of all the junk.

As I get older, I am less apt to think I might make use of this stuff “someday” and more apt to think of it as cluttery junk taking up space and making life more cumbersome. (Besides I really hate rearranging things to dust.)

The sun is shining, birds are singing; I think it’s time for some Spring Cleaning!


There’s a pretty good article about the psychology of hoarding on the “Psychology Today” website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201409/the-psychology-behind-hoarding


About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to We are Hoarders, Pack Rats and Junk Collectors

  1. Mo says:

    I’m willing to get rid of shoes and excess clothing, finally!, but I can’t yet part with my fine or collectable china. Sigh. I haven’t even set up the dining table in the time I’ve been in this abode, but the china is on display and ready!

    • janets123 says:

      Mo, I think going to Estate Sales is helping me to dispose of things. Really! I just keep thinking about people rummaging through MY stuff after I’m gone. LOL. I’d rather give it away!

  2. Mo says:

    Seeing the glut of used clothing on the market cured me of even wanting to shop for clothes retail. My will is pretty specific. If there’s anything left, after I give gifts along the way, it’s to be sold and the cash divided as I’ve specified. There are some things I want to continue enjoying And just today I had occasion to dig into a stash of computer parts for some things I need now. So . .

  3. H says:

    Good article. I collect aluminum cans but redeem them for cash. Newspapers go either to a relative for their garden or go to the city for recycling. Plastics and cardboard go to the city for recycling. That makes money for the city and gives persons with disabilities a job

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