Here's a behavior that I'm sure is common among other packrats, and I've caught myself doing recently. Again. It's the act of saving some sort of empty container. You'd be surprised how many hoarder's home includes empty coffee cans, glass food jars, boxes that a DVD player came in, and so on.
Why do we keep them? I think it could be for a number of reasons.
- A lot of it is the ever so persistent rationalization of "This is too good to throw away! I could use this for something!" This seems especially true when it's made out of glass, since most things come in plastic these days. The problem though is that more often than not, we DON'T end up using them. Then we run into the tragic irony of being cluttered by containers that we saved to fill with stuff.
- Some of it is the environmentalism guilt of not wanting to "add to the landfill". Even if we ignore the fact that environmental hysteria over "the landfill" has been greatly exaggerated., there's still no reason why our own home should become a landfill.
- Another aspect is this ritualistic need to show the evidence of things we've consumed. For example, I've worked with people who drank a certain canned or bottled beverage every day for lunch, and kept all of the identical empty cans or bottles of it around, lining them up along the wall of their cubicle. I've admittedly done this myself. It's like making notches on a gun barrel. Or on a bedpost. I sincerely believe that this is something biological and goes all the back to cavemen making paintings for each animal they hunted.
Strangely enough, I think these are among the more easier things to get rid of, since personal sentiment isn't involved.
About a month ago I started drinking a particular brand of coffee, and finished my first jar. But I found myself not throwing it away, putting it a cabinet instead. Something about the novelty of the small glass jar made me keep it. I think I was envisioning a wall of Kava jars in my office. Of couse, that would probably even harder to get rid of. This is the point where I realize this is stupid, and just have to throw the damn thing out.