Around this time, as the weather starts getting undeniably hot, there’s a cultural impulse to clean out our living spaces. I clearly remember my mother pulling back her hair and getting out the garbage bags, and angrily scrubbing the kitchen floor. This tradition of spring cleaning was passed to me, and I fell into the familiar steps; pulling back my hair and attacking the kitchen with a fervor.
As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve seen the massive range of categories that “spring cleaning” can apply too. Teenagers clean out their rooms, students purge their closets, and housewives go out to buy spring decor. While we’ve been taught to clear out, clean and replace — there has been an increasing trend in using that same opportunity to justify new purchases. As more room is made by taking away the old, there is a need to then fill that space with more, new things. I am in no way against replacing items that are broken and can no longer be used, but I feel that caution should be exercised when deciding if it is time to let something go. For instance, I see a lot of people getting rid of clothing that they don’t reach for or buying new room furniture because their style changed. These items that are discarded or donated, unfortunately, are very rarely bought in the second hand market, and often end up in landfills in spite of our best intentions.
I feel that contentment and gratitude, topics rarely discussed because they are hard to sell in a store, are most appreciated during this time of renewal. A lot of forces in the rhetoric today tell us that what we have is not enough, that we must be more stylish, and need to refashion our environment to prove our worth. All that this does is create bigger trash piles, promote seasonal spending and leave us increasingly unsatisfied with what we do have. Even if your favorite sweater is perhaps not the trendiest thing, it does keep you warm, and tells a story about where you’ve come from. Finding contentment in and taking care of what we have is the best way to keep a clear conscious as well as a clear space that is ready for spring.