Oh boy. I had to declutter the electronics. This was a joint category, so Mike had to be there for it and thus it took a lot of scheduling; and the sight of a pile of cables just makes my heart wither.
Good me, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner even though of course I plan to keep it. But after taking this photo, I uncovered a bunch of other stuff in a drawer, so this isn’t even all of it. This is another category that I think is likely to be dispersed in the house. I tried to include everything, but I excluded Mike’s own electronics (like his laptop, games system, etc.), since it’s not up to me to deal with those. I included my own things, and everything that was roughly communal.
Much like papers, perhaps presuming total discard is not a bad approach for electronics. Some things may spark joy – like a good laptop or camera – but I don’t find that their paraphernalia ever do: adaptors, chargers, cables, software disks, cheap headphones. I started by plucking out the things I knew I wanted, like the vacuum, my laptop, and chargers for things we still had.
This left behind a huge pile of stuff. A lot of it I couldn’t recognise or wasn’t sure of the purpose for. I think it’s partly because, in our various moving decluttering, we’ve discarded cameras and phones but not their chargers or accessories.
Oh, and remember when I was going through the luggage and found this? Quite a few computer parts for a laptop I no longer own. So some of that left-behind stuff was definitely my own negligence.
Since learning about zero waste, I’ve begun noticing packaging much more. For example, I found these three microfibre cloths, each individually wrapped in plastic, and all inside another plastic wrapper – all for an item that wouldn’t be harmed even if it did get wet in transport. Arrrrggghhh! Regardless of whether this bothers you, I find that removing such things from their packaging usually makes them easier to store and nicer to look at, so I unpackaged these cloths and folded them KonMari style.
Now, here is the final collection of items to keep. It may not look as drastically reduced as it is, because remember, after taking the ‘before’ photo above, I found other things to add, so we were starting with more than the picture showed. Here, however, is everything that was left.
As for storage, I decided not to honour the principle of ‘keeping it all in one place’. Or, well, I decided to honour the principle, but not to the letter. I think the principle is to keep things together as much as possible or useful, and to be purposeful about where we put things; not to just let them go wherever. We choose where they belong.
So we have a drawer of camera and game equipment, located under the TV, which makes sense for the games and is in a convenient place for the camera, which we like to be able to grab in the common living area and put away again quickly.
I also have a few items in my desk drawer, which I use at my computer.
Then, in our hallway closet (which is large), there is a 3-drawer unit of ‘small household electricals’: batteries, seldom-used chargers, UK and other travel adaptors, and a few cords. And those microfibre cloths, which you can see through the drawer! Beside it stand our two laptop cases, not electronic themselves, but obviously accessories for our electronics.
Now, I will share with you our discard pile. It’s an ugly sight.
Something about this pile of discarded items bothered me more than other categories. I think it’s for a few reasons. First, some of these things were barely used, but were a result of being given things you don’t want with other purchases – like cables of the same kind that come with multiple different electronics, so that you end up with more than you need. Or CDs, which you end up buying twenty at a time when all you want is one or two. Second, electronics are hard to recycle, though of course I do plan to drop them off at the appropriate local centers for refurbishing/reselling/recycling. Thirdly, I feel like electronics have become nearly disposable these days, because they become obsolete so quickly and their accessories are either flimsy (looking at you, earbud headphones) or so cheap that they are practically given away like so much swag. It’s rather twisted to me that we use some of our most durable materials (plastics, metals and silicone) to make items that have such a short life and so little potential for reuse.
What have I learned from this? First of all, I’m not bashing electronics – what do you think I’m using to write this blog post? But I’ve realised that, since I’m not ‘into’ electronics per se, and since increasingly a few tools will serve multiple functions, in the future I would rather have a few good things, and the appropriate cables for them only, without hoarding past models ‘just in case’; all that happens is they become useless because they are obsolete. I had a hard drive from a crashed computer in 2008, software for a camera I no longer own, and accessories for laptops I sold already. Those things, if they have any value for reclamation, would have been put to better use years ago, right when I stopped using them, instead of years later when they are only that much more outdated.
So I will cart all those bits away to the Goodwill computer center, or the city’s recycling facilities, and hopefully do better in the future. However, painful a task as this was, I’m so glad it’s done. Our electronics are condensed, we know what we have, and I know where everything is.
Next: gardening supplies. Maybe I’ll use the opportunity to show you some gratuitous photos of my growing plants, because I’ve actually managed to keep several alive!