Stuff you really should have tossed


Whatever our perverse weather might tell you, the season of Spring is almost blowing in. With the flowery shift to warmer weather from slightly-cooler weather comes changes in tradition: namely, the tradition of getting rid of garbage.

I don’t know why cleaning up is associated with the spring solstice; perhaps it’s historical. Maybe all of the things humans used to hoard over wintertime were worth keeping around on the off-chance they could save their lives. Maybe after the cold passed and some of those items proved worthless, it was worth throwing away the trash by the truckload to clear up the log cabin for necessities.

The most well-known spring ritual by far is spring cleaning, but does it really have any relevance to those of us living in ant-farm dorm rooms? Spring cleaning is a well-established activity for those with an actual job, family and stable residence, but we tend not to extend that ritual to college students. Why not? Isn’t the stereotypical college student one of the dirtiest, most slobbish types there is? Maybe we should take the opportunity to adopt that tradition here at Trinity, but first let’s examine the habits of the average student to make sure.

First off, who else have more mismatched priorities regarding keeping things than students? Some of us keep things in the same manner that the pioneers did: for the fear that later on we might need them and not have them. But the more slobbish of us, myself included, keep things because of a combination of nostalgia and laziness. Our finances are tied up in education and cheap goods, but one of those two can be tossed in the garbage. Given that college kids generally have limited finances and (associated) hoarding tendencies, let’s dive in and take a look at the different crap we can throw by the curb.

First, there’s the sneaky clutter that masquerades as useful material. Books from last semester that you “might read sometime,” useless knickknacks from university events or piles of old papers. The last one is the worst of all: if I had one grade point for every paper from earlier classes that I find kicked under my desk or dresser, I’d have an A in “paper keeping” (but not on many of those papers).  

Then, there’s the actual garbage. Most people are better about keeping their rooms clear of this filth, but I’ve found that even for the slobs like me there’s a good system to keeping the room a few grades above “Fourth Circle of Hell” levels of cluttered. Here’s the system: every time you enter your room, throw away one piece of garbage that you see. Every time, without exception. Before you sit down, even. Even if this system makes you start preemptively stashing garbage in drawers rather than throwing it away, the strategy will (slowly) free your desk and floor from piles of refuse.

Classically speaking, cleaning up the residue from winter to prepare for spring is a lot like burying the corpses from the winter’s cold and sowing the seeds of the new harvest. If it helps you to think of yourself as a pioneer farmer clearing the dead plants and sowing the land for a productive growing season, go for it. On the other hand, it might just be easier if you stop stealing those little signs from Whataburger. Happy purging!