Too Much Clutter!!

Submitted by Derek Alton on July 16, 2012 - 8:20am
Sharing is caring

Today I was going through my house and feeling like it was terribly cluttered.  I had piles of unused garden pots on the balcony, piles of blank paper on my desk, piles of empty binders in my room.  The challenge is, these are all things that I might need at some point but for the majority of time I don’t need it.  I try to buy only what I need, but then I find once I am done with say the binder, the binder is still good, I don’t want to throw it out, so I put it in storage.  Stuff just ends up piling up.


I know there are lots of cases of people stock piling items they needed once and might need again.  Other good examples are tools and medicine.  The issue I see though is that everyone is stockpiling the same items.  Every house will have a hammer and a bottle of Advil.  This seems rather silly to me because these items spend most of the year not being used.  There is no need for everyone to have a vacuum cleaner.

I think a fairly obvious solution, particularly for those of us living in apartment buildings or condo’s is to have a shared supplies room.  This room is where we can hold supplies that we all need occasionally.  I think it will help us reduce the clutter in our house, and also be more efficient with our resources.

There is however a catch, for this to be effective you need to get to know your neighbours.  This is a community project and therefore you need to build community to do it.  For this to work there needs to be an underpinning of trust, and also people need to become less attached to their stuff.

I think though in the end, it leads to a better way of living, where we share and care.   How do we get to this point?

Start small

I think one of the easiest ways to start sharing is to start small by sharing with a friend or family member. This is how we started. When our lawnmower died a few summers ago just weeks before the lawn-cutting season wrapped for another year, instead of running out and buying a new machine, we just borrowed a friend's. What initially started as an act in frugality, turned into a conversation about why each home on a any given street has a lawnmower, or any big-ticket item. We started having conversations about our neighbourhoods and how different they would look if we engaged with each other more through sharing such bigger items. Three summers later, we still haven't purchased a lawnmower, not because it is something we can't afford, but we have realized that we don't need to purchase another lawnmower when our friend has one that gets used once a week (less in these drier conditions!). And the act of borrowing takes us off our property, out into our community, and gives us more time to catch up with our friend on a more regular basis. Oh, and she hasn't had to gas that machine up in quite some time! It's a win-win for all of us, including our environment! 


The most accessible way of neighborhood sharing is with the website Streetbank keeps track of all neighbours within one mile of your front door and all the items they have to lend.It's great for sharing things that are important but rarely used, like a ladder or a table-saw. The best part is, there is a heavy focus on building community.

Check it out!

Thanks for sharing

Thank you for sharing, I have joined my local streetbank community.  Unfortunately there is not a lot of people here yet (just 4) but I am sharing it with my freinds and who knows what will happen.  How big is your streetbank community?

My neighborhood

Streetbank membership in my neighborhood (Uptown West in Waterloo) is in its early stage too; we have nine members. But it is catching on! We will be canvassing the neighborhood and handing out our neighborhood association newsletter next week. In the newsletter is an invitation to join Streetbank and get sharing. I'll let you know if that helps build a streetbank community.