“If I open drawers and there’s stuff that hasn’t been used for ages, I might just get rid of it. ”
Karen’s battle with the clutter that a growing family accumulates will be familiar to many of us.
Sometimes her secret thrower methods don’t go down too well.
“There was an incident when we thought I’d thrown away my husband’s family videos of his childhood,” admits the marketeer and mother of two. “There was a very awkward two weeks.”
“I also took all the teddy bears out of my daughter’s bedroom. The bears went in a bin liner and into the attic.”
Everything needs sorting all the time
“I hadn’t thrown them away. Move it, hide it – if they don’t miss it then it gets thrown. All part of a process of clearing things out.”
But Karen admits: “It’s hard. Everything needs sorting the whole time. Every bottom drawer of every cupboard has items which go back years.”
“I like things to be tidy and uncluttered. And the easiest thing is to bin it quickly without anyone looking.”
Karen is not alone. More than 50% of Brits confess to binning partners’ belongings without their permission, according to research by Recycle Your Electricals.
“My husband is the complete opposite. He is a hoarder and thinks they will be useful one day,” she says.
“We’re a weird mix – me throwing stuff away, and my husband, being environmentally friendly, just keeps things. He can’t stand waste.”
“He’s got all sorts of electrical items stored – old walkie-talkies, 10 old phones including the original iPhone model – just in case!”
For Karen and Jim, the breakthrough came when money changed hands.
“I eventually persuaded my husband to get rid of the phones. He sent them back and got money in return.”
“Now we work together. I want things gone, he wants to recycle, so now we do it together, and do something for the environment. We’ve met in the middle.”
“And we all have a giggle at each other’s habits.”
“He’s had a massive influence on me. It’s very good to have someone challenge you. If someone doesn’t say you can’t put batteries in the bin, you don’t learn.”
Now we recycle
“But just throwing stuff away is a lazy, easy solution, and it’s not the right solution. Recycling just requires more thought and more time. We now make sure things get taken to be recycled.”
Reformed secret thrower she may be, but we all have our moments. Karen’s seems to be old cameras. “Cameras that are 15 years old sit there taking up space. I think we hold onto all this stuff because we love the items – they have memories, especially the cameras. And they were quite pricey once. I would throw them away but I know I shouldn’t.”
Whatever she chooses to part with next, Karen is certain of one thing. “It’s time we moved on from that throw-away feeling,” she says. “Being too busy isn’t a good enough excuse.”