Is it a collection or clutter?

Writer Marc Sotkin produces the website Boomer Alley, which is self-described as a “consistently entertaining, professional grade, irreverent look at the world of the Baby Boomers.” Back in April, he made the poignant video “Collection or Clutter” that explores the question of whether the stuff you’re storing in your home is really worth keeping. I had a good laugh at the point in the video where he talks about Pogs:

If you can’t see the video in the post, you can find it on YouTube or Boomer Alley.

(Thanks to reader Deborah for directing us to this fun video.)

32 Comments for “Is it a collection or clutter?”

  1. posted by Lesley on

    I love Marc Sotkin solely because he wrote for one of my all-time favorite shows, The Golden Girls!

    However, I think that even a “junk” collection can be OK if it’s pared down and doesn’t take up too much space–though obviously this line of thought is a slippery slope for people who are prone to clutter. I’m just not sure that a collection must possess monetary value in order to be a collection, which is part of what I took from the video. But I do agree with the idea of getting rid of a collection if it’s not truly being used or enjoyed.

  2. posted by barbara on

    This made me want to go up into the attic and find my button collection…I have political buttons, buttons with rude/funny sayings, feminist buttons…I don’t have any place to put them…I’m not even sure where they are.

    Great video.

  3. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    hmmm, i need to show this to my wife, so i can clear our house of her cassette tape “collection” that’s been sitting in my office for the last 7 years and never touched, hell we don’t even own a tape deck any more!

  4. posted by STL Mom on

    I need to rid myself of my doll collection. I was interested in having a doll collection for a year or two as a kid, but unfortunately my family kept adding to the collection for years. My mom thinks I should save the dolls for my daughter, but at age 9 she’s already a hoarder. I’ll be doing her a favor if I cut it down to a couple of special dolls now.

  5. posted by Jenn on

    Remember when people thought they would be able to put their kids through college when they sold their Beanie Baby collection? I had a few that I thought were cute and still do have them. They sit on top of our entertainment center.

  6. posted by SandyO on

    Funny video. I did drag around a 60s/70s album collection for many years even though I haven’t had a turntable in a long time. I thought they might be worth something but I finally realized that they were in college dorm/camp condition and not worth anything. I only have two albums left now and those are in the bag to go out. This morning I had most of the stuff in my gargage hauled away and will soon be able to get my car back in there once I reorganize the rest.

  7. posted by Laura on

    Peter Walsh always told people that if an object is important, the way it is stored/displayed reflects that. In other words, if your collection commemorative thimbles (!) is proudly displayed and frequently dusted, it’s not “junk”, even if I don’t really see the point of it. However, a box in the attic full of commemorative thimbles counts as clutter, and should be given away to charity or someone who will appreciate it. Makes a lot of sense to me.

  8. posted by Glenn on

    But I LOVE my Pez Dispensers!
    I display the best ones and use the worst ones.
    “I’m gonna kick tomorrow”

  9. posted by Michele on

    @Laura — That’s exactly the way I feel about the 2 antique 8mm film projectors I keep displayed in my livingroom. The last time I tried to run a length of film through one of them, it started to smoke and give off fumes … but I really like looking at them, and they’re easily dusted conversation pieces that reflect my enthusiasm for movies and the history of cinema.

    I also used to make movies, but I had to quit that hobby when I went back to school. After a while I got tired of having the equipment taking up space in my closets, so I donated several boxes of stuff to a local artists’ group. Felt wonderful!

  10. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    I like this post, as I was reading the comments, I thought about some of the mini-collections I have. I already wrote about my wife’s cassette tapes, and never realized I have a collection of old LPs, mostly from the 70s and 80s (not a lot, but enough) and we don’t have a record player. I also noticed that I have 2 cameras (one a neat old film camera and one digital) that I never use. I also have around 100 programming books that I will probably never crack open because a lot of them are a few versions old. Looks like I have a lot more stuff for my garage sale at the end of the month 🙂

  11. posted by JJ on

    I’ve gotten rid of most of the horrible dolls my grandma made me as I was growing up. I keep telling her they were ruined in storage. I’m quite happy with a photo tucked deep inside an album. Grandma is now in a nursing home with very limited space. She has a collage of photos of her doll collection on her wall. It has been mentioned on this site to take a photo of things you never look at or don’t have space for. You may find that you don’t even want the photos after a time.

    As memorabilia goes, I prefer to keep things that I will use, rather than things to look at. For example: I fish with my grandpa’s poles/flies each summer, I use one grandmother’s large bell to call in my children from play, we use my great grandmother’s china on special occasions, I actually have sewn clothing from some old patterns, a great-grandparent’s cookie jar holds snacks on our counter-top, and a great-grandparent’s wooden game board is located on our game shelf.

  12. posted by tabatha on

    iI REMEMBER POGS! i never really thought they were worth much, but i had a whole bunch i bought at a store. not sure what kind of store it was but the guy had all kinds or weird stuff there sometimes, i think he bought stuff real cheap other places couldn’t sell, kind of like big lots on a much smaller scale. anyway me and my friend used to have “pog wars” where we set up her living room and threw the pogs at each other till we had to stop and pick them all up and do it all over again. it was awesome. i gave her all the ones i had left some time ago b/c she wanted them.

    pogs were actually a game though, kind of like pokemon cards and YuGiOh there were slammer, which i am not even sure i still have some of.

    i have a barbie “collection” sitting in my brothers basement right now b/c i didn’t have room for it when i moved. i need to figure out what to do with it. its all in 9 huge totes, with a few other things thrown in. my mom and brother are big time hoarders and my mom will freak when i get rid of it.

  13. posted by tabatha on

    although i just remembered i have a micheal Jackson doll that i picked up at a flea market for 15$ a long time ago, sometime after the child molestation court case. maybe its is actually worth something right now. i should probably check and see.

  14. posted by Collection or Clutter? | The Joyful Housewife on

    […] found this video on Unclutterer.com, and found it amusing. I’m trying to learn to distinguish what is really worth saving and […]

  15. posted by Carol on

    @ STL Mom

    You’d probably be doing your daughter a HUGE favor especially if she’s already a hoarder and you no longer wnat the dolls.

    I come from a family of hoarders and I inherited a doll collection from my grandmother when I was 21. Most have sat in storage for the past 15 years. Two of the dolls I’ve had on display for a couple of years and I’m sick of them. Unfortunately I’ve been trying to sell them on craigslist for the last 8 month and no one wants them. Ugh! I just moved into a place less than half the size of my former home and I’m doing a major purge of all the collections my family forced on me.

  16. posted by Joanna on

    Timely for me as I am planning for a move and trying to pare down my stuff 🙂 I am guessing I already know the answer to what I should do with:

    – All my old CDs
    – The last two years of professional journals from my industry
    – My textbooks from university

    I have trouble getting rid of things which were expensive. The textbooks were $100 each so I have trouble getting rid of them even though I never read them and nobody else really wants them.

  17. posted by Reg on

    I think collecting *anything* is dangerous territory. I’ve got rid of a lot of stuff recently, and found it liberating to ‘break’ collections, just keeping the items that I really want to hang on to.

    Joanna, if you’ve tried to sell or pass on those textbooks, and you no longer want to read them, then they’re no longer worth $100; they literally have no ‘value’ for you. Perhaps you could giving them to a charity shop, from where they might find a good home.

    Reg

  18. posted by Mary on

    I don’t see collections in the attic as a problem. My mom had one of those hope chests in the attic with old stuff of hers and it was fun to go through. I have slam books from junior high, some elementary school craft projects, Hong Kong film fanzines from post-college. I do keep it to about the size of the hope chest and recently purged a bunch of stuff that was sentimental but ugly. My preference is for stuff that made/makes me laugh.

    As for collections – old Barbies can go to homeless shelters, kids will still play with them. I cleaned out my Beanie Babies (except for the first one my husband gave me) and sent them to a friend stationed in Iraq. They are easy for soldiers to stick in a pack or pocket and give to children they meet. Old college textbooks aren’t always wanted in the US, but there are charities that collect them to send to Africa and Asia.

  19. posted by Jeanne B. on

    Fun video. I was with him up until he said to pass it on and let it become someone else’s clutter. Ack! Something about that phrase bothered me.

    Is it morally and ethically sound to “spread the disease”? Then again, maybe I feel this way because I’m still buried beneath the clutter inherited from my parents, who couldn’t be bothered with doling it out while they were alive, preferring to let it be someone else’s problem to deal with… (yeah, MINE!)

  20. posted by Deborah Marchant on

    I am the one that sent this video in, and thanks for posting it Erin. It is soul satisfying for me to read the reader’s comments. After watching this video, not only have I been to GoodWill with bags of Stuff, but I can read that others here have given up more of their Stuff too. It feels good to be part of the ripple effect of confronting things as they are, letting go and lightening up. Erin, I can now definitely understand how good you can feel. Receiving feedback from readers about how information you have posted has improved their lives is soul satisfying. Thank you. It has been a pleasure. Deborah

  21. posted by Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for July 11, 2009 « Creative Liberty on

    […] Is it a collection or clutter? […]

  22. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] · TechBlogger on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  23. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] | AskCharly on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  24. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] | Superstars Of Gaming on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  25. posted by Banish Clutter By Evaluating Your Collections | Lifehacker Australia on

    […] or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  26. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] - 3742th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  27. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] | Diy all the Way on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  28. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] | DodaPedia on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  29. posted by Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] « Coolbeans on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  30. posted by The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Banish Clutter by Evaluating Your Collections [Clutter] on

    […] One technique that can help when it comes time to get rid of collections is to photograph the items before getting rid of them. Storing a few pictures of some sentimental items is much easier than storing the bulky items themselves. A few pictures of great grandma’s old china are a lot easier to store than three crates of it in the attic. If you’ve employed some tried and true techniques for helping cull your collections and reclaim your space, let’s hear about them in the comments below. Collection or Clutter? [via Unclutterer] […]

  31. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    Great video. When I was a kid, I had loads of collections. My cousin used to say that if I had more than 3 of anything, I called it a collection. Seashells, tiny ceramic animals and Wacky Packs (does anyone remember them?) led to quilts, “collectible” Barbies, teapots and tins. Since becoming a professional organizer I’ve cleared out my collections, realizing that I don’t need to be surrounded by so much stuff. I encourage my clients to look seriously at their “collections” and decide what they truly can’t live without and what is just junk.

  32. posted by Debbie on

    Talk about clutter! The quotation about photographing sentimental items appears 8 times in this thread!

    I like to keep a clear desktop on my PC. If in a hurry and wanting to clear space, I’ve been putting icons I’m unsure of into a folder called “clutter.” As is true with physical objects, it’s easier to decide to get rid of things later, after a bit of time has passed. Then, unlike physical objects, digital items vanish with a quick click of the Delete button.

    Love the Boomer Alley lead ~ thanx!

Comments are closed.