All this packing and purging in preparation for our move has made me realise just how much stuff we have. My donation pile keeps growing and growing. It’s mostly clothing that the kids have outgrown, books we no longer want in our library, old movies that we still have tucked away on a shelf (even though we don’t own a television). Jae and I have been talking a lot lately about STUFF and cutting down so that we are only living with the necessities and not all this extra clutter.
And in the midst of all this thinking about stuff, my dear friend Anita (who owns ShopEco) sent out a newsletter that contained a link to The Story of Bottled Water, from the same team who did The Story of Stuff. So, I watched The Story of Bottled Water, felt a little bit angry, and then watched The Story of Stuff and felt a little bit sickened. Then I thought, what’s the use in feeling angry and sickened? That doesn’t help anything – I need to change the way I live!
Jae and I have already spent our entire relationship trying to live mindfully and reduce our consumption, but it’s just not enough. We still buy groceries packaged in plastic when we can’t find a good alternative. We still take home restaurant leftovers in styrofoam when we forget to bring our glass containers. We still buy things that we really don’t need.
I’m formulating an action plan for our family in order to continue reducing our consumption. So far, it’s looking like this:
- Make do, or do without. Use what we have, find ways to re-purpose what we already own to meet our needs.
- DIY. Sew it, knit it, build it, make it ourselves. Don’t buy what we are perfectly capable of creating with our own two hands.
- Shop secondhand. Visit thrift stores and yardsales for clothing, pieces of furniture, etc. Make use of the perfectly good things that others have tossed.
- Swap, trade and barter. Invite friends and family over for clothing swaps. Offer services in exchange for needed items.
- Buy local. Seek out local produce, locally made soaps and jams and yarns, etc.
- Re-use. So much stuff is just thrown away when it’s perfectly good. Find scrap building materials instead of buying new. Use old clothes to make new outfits for the kids.
We have to be more diligent in our efforts to reduce our consumption if we ever hope to live sustainably and self-sufficiently. I feel like our upcoming move is giving us the extra kick in the pants that we need, making us realise just how much stuff we already own and how much of it we can do without entirely. It feels really good to see that donation pile grow, to cut down the amount of clutter in my life and get a fresh, minimalist start.