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Listen: Brits holding onto items they don’t use

10th September 2021
Posted by Aston Avery

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We’ve all been there before. Whether it’s hanging onto an old games console from yesteryear, the growing stockpile of mobile phones at the back of the cupboard, or the guitar you promised to learn to play “someday”. Yet, someday never comes. Decluttering is difficult, and can often be emotionally draining and even anxiety-inducing. And while it’s easy to justify why you might need to keep hold of something, why is letting go of stuff so hard?

According to new research from the British Heart Foundation, we’ve all got drawers and cupboards filled to the brim with stuff we can’t bear to throw away. From clothing we wishfully think might come back into fashion, to tablets and TVs, the overwhelming majority (84%) of Brits admit to hanging on to unused household items they no longer use –
unnecessarily cluttering up our homes.

The ‘fear of letting go’ is something that we have in abundance – there’s a cultural tendency to attach ourselves to items reminding us of bygone times, which might explain our reluctance to sell. On average, those holding onto unused household items wait almost a year and a half (17 months) before getting rid of them. The survey, released to mark the launch of the BHF’s Declutter Challenge, shows that the older we get, the more we hoard. Those aged 74+ tend to hold on to unused items for nearly three years (33 months), while Gen Z (16-23) will get rid of them within a year (10 months).

Aston spoke to Kate Ibottson, professional declutterer, organsier and founder of The Tidy Mind and Carol Mitchell, regional manager at British Heart Foundation.

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