> What bothers me is a) the waste of it all (money, food, not to
> mention packaging) B) the unconscious consumption mindset that
> people live in
I think that you may be misunderstanding the mindset. If she didn't _over_ value her stuff, give it excessive respect, then I doubt that this stuff would have still been around. I don't know your friend, admittedly, but most of the hoarding types that I've known or known of would have had this stuff for reasons like:
1) "It's perfectly good - it's a sin to waste food even if it's a little past the expiration date."
"But it might make us sick. We'd better not eat it."
Round and round and round. Even an organized household once in a while loses track of an item and lets it expire, but in that house that one item is tossed promptly. Hoarders are likely to keep expired items forever, so the pile up.
2) "I really need to clean out the pantry, but I'm not quite sure how to do it right. First I should get those entertaining dishes out so that I have more pantry space. But before I can do that, I need to clean out the laundry room to make room for those dishes. But before I can do that, I need to get all the laundry and mending done. But before..."
The hoarding-prone struggle to take any action unless every action has a perfect place in a perfect plan. Just digging into the pantry, tossing everything on the counter (if there's any space on the counter), identifying the near-expired to eat and expired to toss, and putting it all back, isn't perfect enough for them - they feel stupid that they spent some time and didn't make things perfect. When that happens, I suspect that their brains are calling them stupid, lazy, disorganized, worthless, a loser. Some of them got those voices from their parents. Some were born with them.
To content that brain, they need the perfect plan that will make sure the pantry is perfect forever. And that is impossible. And so the problem goes on.
So, your friend being willing to take an imperfect action? Fabulous. _Wonderful_. Throw a parade for her.
3) And at the grocery: "It's a great bargain! It would be a sin to waste money by not buying it."
The idea that they might get home and realize that, yes, they _did_ have a use for that multipack of chips at half price, is genuinely frightening to them, because it would mean that they made a mistake. I don't know exactly what monster the realization "I made am mistake" causes to form in a perfectionist's mind, but from the evidence of their beahvior, it's utterly terrifying to them.
> Ive thought of trying to start an organizing and cluttering
> business, but feel a bit like I might feel trying to be a doula
> at hospital births, if that makes sense. Trying to offer
> alternatives in a capitalistic, wasteful, hoarding society can be
> emotionally exhausting.
But the _start_ of enabling people to accept alternatives is to make the stuff less important, not more important. By condemning (yes, I understand, totally silently; I'm not saying you did anything bad) this person, you are IMO condemning them for the wrong thing. It's not that they don't respect that food; I'll bet you almost anything that the problem is that they respect it too much. They respect it too much when they see it in the store at a bargain price and feel obligated to buy too much of it. They respect it too much at home and they won't get rid of it. Throwing that food out is, dethroning the stuff, is, IMO, a _very_ good thing.
Yes, the final good thing is to not buy it in the first place. But you can't take all the steps at once.
> She was somewhat embarrassed I think, and I tried really hard to
> applaud what're work she was doing by getting rid of so much
> stuff today and being willing to let it go.
And that was completely appropriate, because letting stuff go is an important part of the process and for her to do so was _great_. It's a step that she absolutely has to go through, before the steps that interest you more - the ones where she stops buying all that junk and makes her own iced tea and bakes her own cookies, for example. But she can't make tea and bake cookies until her kitchen is functional, right? And her kitchen won't be functional until she pushes Stuff off its throne.