Decluttering

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Last year, January 14, I wrote about one of my New Year resolutions: decluttering. Turns out, decluttering is a longer process than anticipated. Most difficult: to stop bringing new stuff in, though I believe I have gotten better. However, I have decided not to check in detail in case it turns out I have not been as successful as intended. I will just keep on trying.

I have been better in not buying so many books, and apologize to all bookstores, but I have too many as it is. And I will continue not buying so many shoes and clothes. I’m not a follower of fast fashion, but I still believe I have too much. I definitely own too many shoes. We had a little spontaneous shoe count in one of my classes last month, when the actual topic was collectibles and someone in class said she collected shoes. Everyone knows the common stereotype of women and shoes, well, our male participant also turned out quite a number, but so did I, although I always thought of myself as NOT being shoe obsessed. A big part of it, though, is not the buying of new shoes, but failing to toss the old ones.

Be it as it may, decluttering remains an interesting topic, especially as it can be used as a great review of basic vocabulary. Online you can find many quizzes that test your attitude towards clutter. One of my favourite websites, About.com, devotes several pages to the topic of decluttering.

April – or spring time – is the time for decluttering, and that’s what I have been doing the last days. The biggest issue is paper. Not just my own, but the floods that come in everyday mainly as advertising and in form of subscriptions.

Especially in spring I feel this urge to get rid of things and suddenly have this clutter awareness: every little (unnecessary) item enters my visual and psychological range, and adds to a huge pile crushing down. Out,out,out….and – most important: not back in again.

Waste, trash, overproduction, bad working conditions for cheap prices – the list of topics connected with clutter is long and at times depressing, but I have discussed several of them in the past. Plastics was one of them, definitely more on the depressing side. However also good for basic vocabulary review: list things made of plastic. Naming items NOT out of plastic turns out to be the more challenging task. An interesting read concerning the topic is Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn, “The true story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Seas…”

Last year we also spoke about Amazon, as mentioned in one of my posts. We also read about the last ALDI brother and how discounters influence retail in a text describing the British supermarket chain TESCO’s struggle after ALDI (the biggest German food discounter) successfully entered the British market.

Cultural differences are also interesting in this complex of topics. Different countries’ attitude towards environmental questions for instance. Germans e.g. are known to be quite environmentally conscious, separating waste in at least three ways, caring about animals etc., but at the same time their economy is based on the production of the biggest environmental polluter of all times: the automobile.

Different attitudes towards food fall into this complex as well; as one of my students said: The French drive to the delicatessen in old, dented cars, the Germans drive to ALDI in their Mercedes.

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