Over the last year or so, I've been trying to reduce the amount of "stuff" I own. It's really incredible how much I've gotten rid of by donating, freecycling, selling, or trashing so far.
When I moved to California, I came with two suitcases and a guitar. That was in 2002. I expanded into a very large 2 bedroom apartment with my husband, and have since downsized into a 400 square foot 1 bedroom.
I think the problem is, I like stuff. I especially like the type of stuff that is classified as "Gear." For a year I worked at a sporting goods store and learned to rock climb, which requires stuff, and found out about other bicycling stuff that was either better than my current stuff or that I needed in addition to the other stuff I already had. I have a bicycle for when I'm puttering around town in a skirt. I have a bicycle for loaded touring. I have a bicycle for racing. I have all manner of locks and lights for these bikes, all of which come with their own accessories. Then...there's the camping stuff.
I don't think all stuff is bad by any stretch. I think if the stuff you have serves a specific function and brings happiness, then that stuff is valuable. The problem I have is with the other stuff. The stuff that weighs me down. This sort of stuff doesn't have a specific purpose, or it has a purpose that can be served with something else I own. The stuff I'm talking about is "extra stuff." Like a dress that I wear sometimes but doesn't make me feel super good in it.
Some people, like my mom, would say I'm already pretty minimalist in the amount of stuff I keep around. Two people living in a 400 square foot apartment is extreme minimalism to a lot of Americans. But I see people with blogs about minimalism posting about owning fewer than 100 things, or bloggers like Rowdy Kittens' home tour with barely any stuff, and I am so so jealous!
I want to have a house that is clean, not because I spend time cleaning it, but because there's just not enough stuff to get dirty. I want to own only what is necessary for my health and happiness.
In an effort to get closer to that goal, I'm working on an inventory of everything I own. Since I'm still working on it, I'm not sure what all the rules are. I'm grouping things like 1 pair of socks instead of counting each sock, but I am not grouping "socks." So far I have a ton of stuff. I hope the exercise will help me to really have to touch everything I own and write it down so I can see at a glance the bulk of it, instead of having it hidden away in drawers. I'll keep you updated on my progress.