I've heard it said that the first half of your life you accumulate things, and the last half you let go of things ("de-accession" is the word that museums use – it sounds much nicer than "tossing stuff out.") Well, I'm in the "de-accessioning" phase.
I've been doing a major cleanup/cleanout of my house and studio, looking at all the things I own and making tough decisions. I remind myself that those who come after me will not have the same sentimental feelings about my things. Far better to place them now than have them tossed out later.
I find it very difficult to just chuck things into a landfill. If someone else can use it, great! — sell it or give it away. Give beloved things to people who will cherish them.
Fortunately, my nieces appreciate the reproduction porcelain dolls my mother made, as well as her old cut glass and china. Ditto for my grandmother's beautiful crocheted doilies, tablecloths and bedspreads.
Other things I will put into a friend's upcoming yard sale. Last year, a woman was thrilled to buy my mother's old sewing machine – it was the same model she learned on. There is a "free" pile; and local thrift shops will get what’s left over.
While cleaning out, I discovered that I have 55 pairs of scissors. I like scissors, and like to have them readily available. But 55 pairs? That seems a bit excessive. I posed them for the photo (all but the electric pair), and will soon decide how many are "enough."
How do we decide how much is "enough?" That's a personal decision, but after a certain point, things do not bring you love or joy or personal connection. We "must" buy the latest, newest gadgets, but it's not necessarily good for us – and it's not sustainable for the earth.
For a charming and practical guide on how to unclutter, get Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.