NJ organization expert has a simple rule to help you de-clutter
Deborah Gussoff has been in plenty of New Jersey homes with "a lot of stuff." For the most part, these homes don't feature hoarding levels seen on reality television programs, but the clutter is still an issue.
Most Garden State residents are not hoarders, but many like to hold on to items they may never touch again, or would discard if they had a reasonable opportunity to do so.
"Often people will tell me I used to be organized, but then something happened," said Gussoff, whose professional organizing firm In Order handles clients in North Jersey.
Hoarding disorder, a mental health issue recognized by professionals, affects up to 6% of the population. So for most messy homes in New Jersey, a mental diagnosis is not to blame.
New Jersey residents are storing over $470 worth of clutter in their homes, on average, according to a state-by-state survey conducted by ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, a cleaning and restoration service company. That amounts to about $1.6 billion worth overall in the state. In the survey, 61% of New Jersey residents admitted their unused items actually pose a fire hazard.
Gussoff said getting overwhelmed by "things" may be easier to come by these days because a simple click online can get anything delivered to one's doorstep. Gussoff said Baby Boomers appear to have become the repository for many generations' worth of collectible items.
"People also tend to hold on to stuff because we tend to get emotionally attached to our possessions," she said. "With older clients, there's also the Depression-era mentality of, I might need it someday, so I'll hold on to it just in case."
Gussoff said she uses the "20/20 rule" when helping clients determine whether their clutter should stay or go.
"If you can replace it in under 20 minutes, for under 20 dollars, it may not be necessary to hold on to," she said. "What would be the worst thing that would happen if you didn't have it?"
In the ServiceMaster survey, 29% of New Jerseyans admitted to illegal dumping. Gussoff said there are charities and township bulk-pickup programs willing to take homeowners' "castoffs," for those unwilling to pay a junk-hauling company.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.