Clearer cupboards = Simpler life

Assalamo ‘alaykum.

Simplicity is not easy to achieve. In fact, it is a journey more than a destination. Alhamdulillah, it might have been the onset of Spring, or the fact I came across a couple of interesting articles about decluttering and minimalism that encouraged me to tackle my cupboards. To tackle the STUFF. AH! the STUFF!… you know what I mean when I say STUFF. I mean those piles, bunches and bundles of objects that once had a function and a place in our life but no longer do – or never had one to start with! And we just hang on to them because we think we *might* need them or we are just too busy (or lazy) to sort through them. And – alhamdulillah – the years pass, the family increases and so does the STUFF.

In Islam we know that every possible human action falls in one of 5 categories; it is either waajib (obligatory: you are rewarded if you do it and punished if you don’t), mustahabb (recommended and pleasing to Allah: you are rewarded if you do it and not punished if you don’t), mubaah (neutral – no punishment or reward), makrooh (displeasing to Allah: there is no specific punished associated to it, but it is sure blameworthy) or haraam (forbidden: you are punished if you do it and rewarded if you don’t). It is often the case that we can, with a little thought, raise the level of something we are about to do by adjusting our intentions.

How does this apply to the STUFF? Well, are we hoarding so much that we don’t actually know what we have and what we don’t? in that case it is easy to end up wasting money ( buying the same thing more than once, food going bad – hidden at the back of the cupboard, buying more and more furniture to store everything…). This is not just about waste, it is also about creating a clearer, cleaner space for the whole family to enjoy and to get better use out of, and – even more importantly – about correcting our mentality and rectifying our concept of need.

Do I really need 19 mugs when I am the only one in the house that drinks hot beverages??? But what if someday I need them? What if someday – in the middle of a cold, stormy night – a coach breaks down in front of my house? the coach taking the “Coffee Lovers Society” on a trip? and I would surely want to help them, you know, that’s good da’wah!….right?

Personally, I fear that having too much STUFF – particularly the STUFF that doesn’t get used regularly – is hurting me and my family, increasing even further our level of attachment to – you guessed it – STUFF. And here is how something seemingly inoffensive can become harmful.

We can choose to sit surrounded by ever expanding mountains of STUFF to store somewhere, dodge, dust, move from here to there, trip into, put some sore STUFF on…. OR we can:

  • Sell it – someone will use it and you will earn a little something to put to good use, insha’Allah.
  • Re-purpose it – the internet is absolutely full of creative ideas to avoid waste.
  • Gift it – some of your friends and family might have a use for – or really like – something that is sitting in your house gathering dust.
  • Donate it to your local charity shop or freecycle.
  • Recycle it.
  • Throw it away – if nothing else can be done – and live with less clutter.

It is a work in progress for me, but I very much enjoy the little victories against clutter -alhamdulillah! like freeing one of my deep kitchen drawers to put the things we used for homeschooling (that used to be dumped on the counter) and not having an avalanche of mismatched plastic food containers falling on my face every time I open a certain cupboard (as witnessed by many people who have been to my house).

And now some pictures I took at the beginning to keep myself motivated (I wish I had remembered to take the “before” picture before actually starting…)




^^These were the easy cupboards –  alhamdulillah

It helps to have a couple of (clearly labeled) empty boxes/bags handy, to sort the stuff into categories such as “give to …”, “put upstairs”, “shred”, “create a drawer for it” etc. Part of the challenge, and of the purpose of this exercise, is to organize whatever you are keeping handy with what you already have. Fight the urge to go out to buy boxes or pretty flowery drawer dividers!!!

You don’t want to go crazy with throwing away everything either (and then buy it again 2 months down the line because it turns out you actually needed it!). Be realistic. Have a box to put things you do use on some occasions, just not everyday, and have it somewhere less accessible. That’s where I put 15 of those 19 mugs, in case I have a lot of sisters over, or the “Coffee Lovers Society” drops by.