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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 444 : Decluttering series: purging the fluttering paper and computer clutter

Updated: 4 days ago

Today, I tackle "fluttering paper" and computer clutter on the decluttering series. More at ⁠⁠⁠⁠.

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Decluttering series

Purging the fluttering paper

Now that I had purged the flimsy plastic monster it was time to tackle its equally annoying and space hogging neighbor, "fluttering paper." I define "fluttering paper" as paper bags, including shiny gift bags to misc brown paper bags from grocery stores and restaurant takeout orders. I call it "fluttering" because no matter how neatly you fold and stack them they inevitably slip and slide like a flock of paper birds stuck in a cage.

As with the mountain of plastic, I had accumulated stacks of misc paper bags over the years with the same "I may need this one day" mindset. I pulled out all of the paper bags from my kitchen cabinet and closet and piled them onto the floor. This technique, which I used last week for the flimsy plastic, I learned from Marie Kondo's book (affiliate paid link) and is useful when purging categories of clutter. I applied a simple two-part test:

  1. Has it been more than two years since I've seen or used this?

  2. Do I really need to continue giving space to this?

The answer to both being a resounding no, I quickly recycled the fluttering paper, reducing my stash to a just a few paper bags; which frankly, I may end up getting rid of also. I also got rid of most of the banged up rolls of gift wrap paper that I had accumulated over the years as I've largely stopped gift giving altogether.

Purging the computer clutter

While I was clearing out the plastic and paper, I had a nagging thought about "computer clutter." Between my home, my dad's home, and his shop, we had enough desktops, laptops and other electronic miscellany to open a mini-Best Buy. Throwing them away never sat right with me since many still worked and some still had important data on them. This had been in the back of my mind for a couple of years and now was the time to find a way to properly dispose of them.

We worked together to collect up all of the old computers, which were scattered between closets, workstations, my storage unit, and his garage; creating a pile of computer chaos. Since some of these still had important information on their hard drives, I researched how to remove and access the information as some of the computers no longer worked properly. I removed the hard drives after discovering that you can buy enclosures for single or even multiple HDs to access old information or use as backup drives.

I also found a non-profit org called PCs for People that collect old computers and refurbishes them and distributes to those in need. They're also certified in wiping data from donated computers but will accept computers that no longer have hard drives. This was just the solution we needed. By the way, they're in many parts of the country and accept one-off donations at their centers. They will even do free pick ups from businesses provided you meet a minimum threshold. I contacted them and while we were just under the minimum, they were willing to stop by my dad's shop to pick up the equipment since they were already scheduled to be in that area in the next week or so.

We agreed to a pick-up Tuesday in mid-July. They came and took all of the old computers along with other electronic equipment we added, including peripherals, defunct printers, mice, telephones, plus an old stereo receiver. The pick up was quick and they sent us a receipt for the donation plus a data wipe certificate a few weeks after that.

We had just taken a huge step forward in our decluttering journey.

Decluttering tip

Fluttering paper, like flimsy plastic, is one of the easiest categories to purge. Take all of the paper bags, gift bags, grocery bags, and take out bags you've saved and dump into a pile. Add any rolls of gift wrap paper you haven't used in a while. Apply the "two year" and "do I need this" test and if they don't pass both, purge. If you want, keep a few pieces but no more than five.

For old computers, it's not a good idea to just throw them away. Computers have lots of parts and chemicals, especially from batteries that make them hazardous waste. Moreover, you may have sensitive data remaining inside the hard drives. Boot them up and transfer the old data and wipe them clean. If you can't, pull out the hard drive (it's easy to do and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube and online), buy an enclosure, and convert it into a backup or external drive.

In terms of getting rid of computer hardware, find a non-profit like PCs for People that accepts old computer equipment. You may also find schools, libraries, or community centers that will accept such donations.

Decluttering resources

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