I read this post about the sunk costs of clutter, and the comments on this one really made my blood boil. In The economics of decluttering: how I learned to ignore sunk costs, Jessica Irvine shares her story of going from a home overflowing with clutter to a clutter-free home. (When clicking that link, ignore the video at the top of the page, it’s a sneaky advertisement that looks like it’s part of the article.)
While decluttering she recognized that she has a really bad habit of packing things up to donate and then letting them sit for a very long time. So, instead of donating her decluttered items she disposed of them in the trash.
People in the comments are quick to criticize her. They say she’s “selfish” and “lazy”. They put her down for trashing those items instead of donating them so that others could benefit from her discarded items.
This type of criticism is short sighted and lacks any kind of empathy. It’s entirely likely that most of the commenters haven’t ever done a major decluttering to this scale. Jessica knew that she had to make a major change in her life and she did it in the only way it worked for her.
Beyond that, I would posit that the real waste occurs on the front end, when you buy all that stuff you don’t need. She phrases this in economic terms by ignoring the sunk cost.
The most important thing when decluttering is to get that clutter out of your home. Ideally you would donate it or sell it, but those can sometimes be impediments to the process. Know yourself, and know what works best for you when disposing of clutter. If you have to trash it in order to get rid of it, then do it, and get on with your clutter free life.