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Confessions of a pack rat

I was looking forward to the two long weekends at the end of 2020. Not because I had something big planned, but because my family had designated them for cleaning — not the regular one, but deep cleaning which goes 10 layers deep and cleans the soul of the house. This was very ambitious considering what our household had accumulated over the years.

Each of my shelves and wardrobes seemed to be bottomless, not unlike Hermione’s magically enhanced purse. If not for our knack of putting away things in storage, people would have assumed that our moderate-sized home may be hosting about a dozen refugees.

Being a deal seeker and a pack rat is a dangerous combination. First, my mother and I buy stuff when they are on sale, use them and then store them until they disintegrate into dust. Like in most middle class homes, all of us have mastered the virtuous habits of collecting rubber bands, polythene covers, envelopes, buttons and so on. Every time mother and I see something tearing or falling apart, we automatically think of a potential situation where this would come useful and it goes into storage rather than the bin.

The dustbin itself is an old bucket repurposed as a waste basket. The true “recycle bin” in its essence.

I have shelves for various forms of plastic such as bottle caps, empty shampoo and water bottles, floppy disks, CDs and various other items. If consumerism is a crime, I have buried the evidence inside my shelves.

The rise in the number of DIY channels has made things much more worse. The creativity has covered many uses for this plastic junk that can be made into holders for your stationery, soap, mobile phone, letter and possibly, other junk. There was actually a period during school summer holidays once when I was actively into recycling stuff.

Past sins

Sustainability as a concept was not popular 15 years ago. I could have been Greta Thunberg but both the world and my parents had different priorities back then and recycling was not one of them. Years passed, I moved to college and largely moved out of the mindset.

But my past sins were not going so soon. The junk remained safely in the designated shelves. It had come to a point where we could no longer ignore it. So we donned our masks, covered our head and braced ourselves to dive into the scrap.

After two intense weekends of purging the house, we are finally able to appreciate the concept of “minimalism”. Whoever said “less is more”, said it for good reason. In fact, the Swedes took it a little further and called it dostadning — meaning death cleaning or decluttering possessions before death.

After the detox of the house, the next step is a digital detox. This would involve deep-diving into the 500-odd gigabyte data that I accumulated in a decade.

On the bright side, at least with digital, there is no excuse to recycle!

divyasaroja.nitw@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 3:01:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/confessions-of-a-pack-rat/article33642048.ece

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