I assembled a bookcase recently. Most furniture is easily assembled these days, and I had it together in less than an hour. When I was finished I had a small collection of leftover parts – mostly nails that attached the back to the bookcase. They included a bunch of nails for this and they weren’t really all needed.
Normally (meaning in my prior incarnation as a non-minimalist) I would have added these to my box of leftover parts. On this day however, I tossed them in the trash along with the instruction booklet and the packing material.
I had to break up with a lot of stuff on my path towards minimalism. I have ended relationships with tools, magazines, and even with the beloved automobile. It’s not that I never use these things anymore; it’s that I broke the emotional attachment to these items.
Spare parts was one of my love affairs. Before we sold our house I had a nice little box of spare parts that I kept in the garage. Within the box I had various baggies of screws, nails, fasteners, and other miscellaneous things left over from projects or purchases. I also had spare parts for my Jeep, for my wife’s car, for my lawn equipment, and I’m sure a great many other things.
You never know when you might need those things.
That phrase is the enemy of every minimalist. That phrase is a reason to hold onto things. It’s a reason to horde.
I heard that phrase a lot as a child. My dad had a whole workshop full of boxes. Each box contained something he might need one day. After I left home he built an even larger workshop and has even more stuff that he might need one day.
He did indeed use some of that stuff. He liked to tinker and build and he used some of the stuff he had set aside to use one day. In total though, he will never in his entire life use even 25% of the stuff he saved to use one day. Heck, even 25% may be too high of an estimate.
I was on my way to being like my dad. I had shelves in the garage full of stuff. I did most of my own home and vehicle maintenance, so I justified needing all that stuff. This stuff, that I might need one day, led to a very cluttered garage.
Anyone want to take a guess on how many times I used the items that were stored away in my spare parts box? I’d have to estimate maybe once or twice a year. More often than not I’d have to run up to Home Depot to get the screw, nail, nut, bolt or other spare part that I needed.
Given the fact that I’d probably wouldn’t have the exact item I needed anyway, and the fact that my spare parts were a constant source of clutter I decided to break up. I told those spare parts, “It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed. I don’t have a place for you in my life anymore. I no longer feel the need to hold you and keep you.”
And with that I hauled that box of spare parts to my dad’s house (this was in the pre-toxic grandparent era.) He still loved spare parts, and maybe he could use them. My dad was surprised to see me part with such treasures, but he was happy to take them. Had my dad not wanted them I would have tossed them in the trash. It’s not important how this stuff is disposed of, it’s just important that it is.
Every once in a while I think of my beloved box of spare parts. Sometimes I find myself needing a screw or a bolt or a washer, and I think I might have had one in that box. But then I quickly move on and make do without or in some rare cases go to the store and buy what I need.
What is in your spare parts box? Is it hardware? Crafting supplies? Scrapbook stuff? Yarn? Share with us in the comments section below. Tell us what you have and share your thoughts on what you could do to reduce or eliminate those spare parts.