Tornado Bin – Purging Our Self-Storage


We took heed of the Tornado Warning and headed to the basement. What better time to clean out the storage unit?  When the wind picked up, I just wedged myself between a few boxes, tucking my left foot behind the camping gear. Everything we sorted was big and bulky and it took a few heaves and hos to lift the bike rack. But what at first seemed to be the worst process ever got easier as we made our way through the storm.

We took a pledge that we would never store anything again, and this really helped when simplifying. There were moments of doubt when we found our childhood treasures, but the fog soon cleared when we opened the ultimate waste of space: a box of shoeboxes.

We couldn’t believe our eyes, all we found in each shoebox was tissue paper and silica gel packets. Why was I storing these things? This was just what we needed to discover and what followed was a complete donation of all of our stuff.

Here’s What We Got Rid Of:

  1. Old Computer hardware (modems, hard drives, etc.)
  2. Camping Gear (2 tents, lawn chairs, shade canopy, 3 sleeping bags, lantern, cooler)
  3. Barbecue Grill
  4. Storage box of childhood treasures
  5. Empty merchandise boxes (camera, game console, and shoe boxes)
  6. Bike Rack – sold on Craigslist!
  7. Halloween Costume Boots
  8. Christmas, and Easter Decor
  9. Josh and Lora love notes
  10. John Lennon poster
  11. College Newspaper clippings
  12. 2004 Democratic Convention memorabilia
  13. Lora’s rock collection
  14. Inflatable beds
  15.  College film class DV tapes

 Tips for Cleaning Out Your Storage Unit

  1. Create a plan. Designate a day to clean out the storage bin and have trucks available to immediately haul it all away. Ask for help if the chore is too big and have boxes and trash bags on hand to get the job done.
  2. Make a list.  Write down all of things you are storing and give reasons for keeping each item. This can be useful if you’re having a really hard time getting rid of stuff. Be cautious not to get lost in your lists. I tend to make lots of lists and take no action.
  3. Be mindful of what you keep. If you are going to keep something, be mindful of where it will be placed in your house. Don’t just move it to another box, closet or storage chest.
  4. Store bikes in the house. Declutter your home and make room for the things you love most instead of keeping them in an off-site storage unit. There are elegant ways to store your bikes in the house.
  5. Avoid defining ‘storage’. We like to use the words, “Bin”, “Cage” and “Unit” as a way to excuse the fact that we just have too much stuff. In the end it’s all just storage.
  6. Think of the storage unit as a temporary or transitional place. For example, storage units can be useful if you’re moving and need a place to store your stuff for a few months.
  7. Don’t store stuff in boxes. If you can’t immediately see it, why keep it?
  8. Take pictures of emotional/nostalgic stuff. Instead of keeping childhood mementos for “Awww Moments” once every six years, take a picture. I’ve found that looking at a photo can bring about the same memories and good feelings and will take up a lot less space.
  9. Make the process fun. Ask friends for help and treat them to pizza and a movie for their hard work. Reward yourself with music, good food, or a night out, but be careful not to buy more things.
  10.  Change your relationship with things. This is the best advice I have. You can plan and make as many lists as you want, but until your attitude changes you aren’t going to simplify your stuff.

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