Whether you’re downsizing, clearing out your garage, or simply aspiring to live a more Marie Kondo lifestyle, decluttering your home can be easier said than done. One obstacle we can all relate to is the sentimental value that so many old possessions hold: We no longer use them, but we can’t stand the thought of getting rid of them for good.
Now, researchers say they may have a simple solution: Snap a photo of those keepsakes and you may be more willing to part with them for good. In a new study published in the Journal of Marketing, people who were encouraged to do just that were between 15 and 35 percent more likely to donate sentimental items to charity than those who weren’t prompted to take pictures first.
Interestingly, the research was sparked by an old pair of gym shorts belonging to lead author Karen Winterich, associate professor of marketing at Penn State University. “They reminded me of beating a major rival basketball team in junior high,” Winterich says. “I didn’t wear the shorts; I wanted the memory of winning that game, and that’s what I thought of when I saw the shorts.”
Winterich realized that a photo could easily preserve that memory for her, and that she could then donate the shorts so someone else could use them. She wondered if her experience could also translate to a wider audience.