Minimize it forward

“I might need it someday” is really a curse for getting rid of stuff. Treehugger has a typically fiddly Lifehacker points to a fiddly way of overcoming the urge to hoard stuff “just in case,” but I think their this method would likely result in keeping a mental inventory of what you’ve sold vs. what you’re replacing with the funds. That’s a link to the stuff that should be severed right away – out of sight is not out of mind, and snipping the mental link is probably even more important than physically removing the item from your life.

Here’s an easier way that helps me. When I legitimately think I might need something in the future, but don’t need it now, I pitch it to myself as a “minimize it forward” event. I give it away, usually via freecycle, or sell it, free and clear of any special accounting. Someone else uses it and extracts value from it. If I need it again, there is a decent chance I can find it within a few days on freecycle, craigslist, or a garage sale. If not, I get creative, do without, or buy a replacement. The key thing is to try and keep everything in play – ideally someone should be getting value out of every item at all times. If I’m sitting on something “just in case,” I’m basically preventing it from being used, and probably causing another one to be created for someone who needs it.

Minimizing is good for the world, not just the individual, so keep what you really use, and put the rest in play.

10 Responses to “Minimize it forward”

  1. Lloyd Alter says:

    alas, your link goes to lifehacker.

  2. Minimalist J says:

    Apologies – my face is red. Fixed, and a thousand apologies. I’ll watch my newsreader more closely when reading everything jumbled together…

  3. grandy says:

    What a great concept; keeping the stuff in our lives circulating. While I have little attachment to my possessions, and have stayed fairly dejunked over the years, I am going through a real challenge right now deciding what to keep while I move out of a 1700 sq ft house into a new life on the road in a van. Thanks for the ideas.

  4. Jasi says:

    Glad you’re posting again. Figured you’d better keep posting or give up the addy. ;p (I’ll take it!)

  5. Noel says:

    I’m a fifty year old man, who has been stabbed in the front by a woman who I adored and spent a lot of credit card debt on. I’ve disconnected my phone from the wall and rely on email for anything important. This also prevents a certain old flame from calling me to jabber about everything unsundry, if that is a frickin word. My house is eaten up by termites and the floor in my bedroom is caving in. My truck is a POS. I’m drinking tonight, waiting on a cat to die. So pardon me if if i take issue with your acclaim.

    for some reason, i get the idea your Canadian. I love Canada. I love French Canadians. I love Quebec, those bastards. I wish they would invade the U.S. and take control over the Mississippi border to border, well, to the gulf and the Big Easy.

    Oh Canada, yeah! don’t let those conservative sh*thooks run the government and sell off everything Canada has to a major oil company. Although, i wish you could buy a stuff cheaper.

    Anyway, Are your really a minimalist? I doubt it. I think you just throw away stuff once it has severed you. I wonder how much sh*t you have sitting out collecting dust. Oh well, and what about all that cheap stuff that yo won’t buy anymore. How many people are you going to put out of a job because you won’t buy a bunch of cheap crap any more? It’s a double edged sword here buddy. Think about it.

    I’m going to see if my cat is dead yet. I hope your frickin happpy. Oh yeah, being a minimalist doesn’t mean you only post sh+t once every six months. Use this space or give up the domain. Asshole!

    Have a nice day. 🙂

  6. Minimalist J says:

    Noel – I’m actually an American living in Quebec; I doubt anyone here will be invading the US soon; I have way too much crap gathering dust; I think there are plenty of great useful things to do other than making cheap crap; I always hope to post more but never do; I’m sorry about your cat.

  7. […] concept is like minimalism for manufacturing, but Martha Beck’s recent article has echoes of minimizing it forward and brings it to a more personal level. I have a hoarding instinct, and I’ll stand by the […]

  8. Amy says:

    Thanks for the insight. I’m in the middle of ‘MIF’ right now. I’m trying to Lose the Wait. The free store is where it’s at in this town. I have dreams of gorilla organizing it for the sweet lady named Anabell who volunteers there.

    I’d love to minimize that place, too. Let it’s chi flow better.

    With packrat instincts, I must love minimizing. I hope I’ll pass this on to my children instead.

    Hope we can pass on a home as great as the Cal-Earth homes. Amazing structures. Would you live in this type of home?

    Yes, sorry for your cat, man. May your house remain mouse free.

  9. Tracy says:

    I think that if you have things that you don’t want to get rid of because “you might need it later” is a lame excuse to hold onto useless possesions, because by the time you will actualy need it chances are that you have already lost it or its broken or outdated and needs replaced. If something might be needed in the future you can get it in the future when you need it. Keeping a box of tools around the house with all the regular tools required for household maintnence is about all that one should need in the future.

  10. Simply perfect! If only I could get my husband to understand this!

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