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Of all the rooms in Marvin and Sharyn's home that are drowning in clutter, the 1,000-square-foot basement is the worst. Surveying the mountains of belongings, Sharyn says she thought 50 percent of them would remain—but Peter has a much lower number in mind. "If 5 percent stays, it will be a miracle," he says.

Beneath the piles of baby clothes, crafts and papers, Peter and Sharyn discover three couches, a treadmill, an exercise bike, a pool table and three TV sets. In addition to the mildew and mold they encounter, Peter finds even more health hazards, including mice nests. "I found food from 1994," he says. "There is nothing in here that is worth your health. None of this is safe for you."

While Peter and Sharyn tackle the basement, Marvin confronts his own hoarding problem. "I've never thrown away a bank statement," he says. Marvin begins shredding 35 years worth of financial documents by hand, until Peter decides to have them all commercially shredded instead. "You're holding onto credit card statements that go back 35 years," Peter says. "You have a thing with paperwork that is exactly the same as Sharyn stuck with all the [belongings]."
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FROM: Inside the Lives of Hoarders with Peter Walsh, Part 1
Published on November 16, 2007

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