Emotional Waste Management

Personal Tools for Managing Emotional Attachment and Want

Project timeline: September 2013 to May 2015

Emotional Waste Management is an alternative solution to the global garbage crisis. The program supports consumers in slowing the inflows and outflows of clutter in their lives.


Modern techno-scientific solutions to waste management are aimed at protecting human beings and the environment from the hazards of our trash.

Waste management does nothing to curb the psychological disaster gripping consumers. Focusing on understanding consumer behavior and object attachment and detachment must be prioritized.

The users are American consumers, clutterers, and hoarders

Users lack wisdom and clarity about what to acquire/keep/purge. They need better language, tools, and support to discern those items that are essential from those which are nonessential.

By expanding the definition of 'essential' to include items that have psychological utility as well as physical utility, users can begin to understand and control in their emotional object attachment.

From the design-led research gathered over the course of the project, a Taxonomy of Object Attachment was formed. The taxonomy was used to create a new services for the unloading of clutter, and a set of Object Essentials were designed to support intentional and controlled object attachment.

Alternative services designed to emotionally support the user in unloading belongings, encourage the user to assess the role of objects in their lives. Object Essentials compress clutter and act as a chosen target of object attachment.

Through a better understanding of the essential and nonessential role of objects, users feel more enchanted by the belongings they acquire and keep. Inflows and outflows of consumption are slowed.