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Maniacs Book Club ~ Junk ~ Alison Stewart

Maniacs Book Club ~ Junk ~ Alison Stewart

Report by Jennifer Sheller

You may remember Alison Stewart from MTV News in the 90’s, but recently the award winning journalist decided to take a fascinating look into “Junk: America’s Love Affair with Stuff.”

Her journey begins when her mother passes away. She and her sister take on the task of sorting through her stuff. She quickly realizes a few key concepts that we at Organizing Maniacs have heard and seen many times with our clients:

  1. Underestimating the time it will take to organize. Stewart recounts the 8 months it took to finish the job. A process she was confident she would be able to complete in a fraction of that time.
  2. The cycle of emotions that are uncovered during the organizing process. Anger, frustration, nostalgia, sadness, and hopelessness are all common during the organizing process.
  3. The need for help from trained professionals. Stewart relied on the expertise of a junk removal company and man she refers to as Zephyr (who was somewhere between a professional organizer and a junk expert) to help her tackle an overwhelming job.

The entire process left Stewart with questions that she now had a burning desire to answer. She put on her reporter hat and began an investigation that would take her across America as she took a deeper look into the trillion dollar junk industry and all the different perspectives surrounding it.


#1 Trash vs. Junk – Junk is something that may be useless to one person, but valuable to another.

# 2 Endowment Effect – Term coined by Richard Thaler, an idea that people attribute more value to something that they own.

#3 How to know if it’s junk – Top 10

  • 10. You’ve bought a new version of it
  • 9. You haven’t used it in over a year
  • 8. It’s getting in the way
  • 7. It’s broken and can’t be fixed
  • 6. You’re embarrassed by it
  • 5. You can’t remember what its purpose it
  • 4. The cost of the space it takes up is more than its value to you
  • 3. It has developed a strange smell, leak, or color
  • 2. It is now home to woodland animals
  • 1. The sight of it scares small children

#4 The key to combating junk is mindfulness – Give yourself a moment to reflect on the value of something, can really help you organize and maintain a home that you love and enjoy.

Order the book here.

Happy Organizing!

Cris Sgrott

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