Monday, June 10, 2013

Please . . . No More Stuff!

From the bean of Green Bean.

One month ago, a wildfire lapped at my friend's door.  She was asked to evacuate - on two separate occasions.  Even though she had plenty of time, my friend filled only two paper grocery bags and left.  Only TWO!

She has lived in that house with her husband and two school aged kids for over 10 years.  Out of all the things they had accumulated in that time, only a handful were worth saving.

How many of us would have filled more bags?  When it comes down to it, I'd guess that most of us would have left most of our stuff behind as well.

Yet, modern life seems to be centered around stuff.

Yearning for it.  Saving to buy it.  Splurging on It. Using it.  Cleaning it.  Maintaining it.  Tiring of it.  Getting rid of it.

I can get a grip on my own things but what about the children?  Every trip to the doctor or dentist involves a toy or two for the kids.  Every outing with the grandparents ends with some non-consumable goodie or other.  Outings to major league sports games culminate with free door prizes of bobble heads, crazy hats or "rally rags."  Every minor holiday or fair yields an endless amount of pencils, erasers, plastic rings and parachute men.  Class parties, season end sport's parties, birthday parties all involve more stuff.  And let us not forget birthdays, Christmas and Hanukah, Halloween and Easter.

Until we are drowning in stuff.  Literally.  The photo below is my son's room.

My question - when faced with a situation like my friend's - is this?

Is all this stuff worth the havoc we wreak on the environment to produce it?  (Check out Story of Stuff  for the price our forests and oceans pay for parachute men and bobble heads).

Is this stuff worth the money we earn and save to buy it?

Is this stuff worth the effort to clean it, move it, maintain it, and eventually get rid of it?

For me, the answer is a resounding NO!  For me, there is just too much stuff.

What have you done to reduce the amount of "stuff" in your life?  Declutter?  Put a moratorium on new items?  Move to experiences rather than materials?  How have you encouraged family and community members to get on board?


Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this posting. W Over the past year, we have sold or donated seven pieces of furniture and at least one minivan full of stuff. There is still a lot more that could go.

When I declutter, I like to think that I am "freeing" the items that I no longer need/want to find a person who will enjoy it and use it. This way, I am able to see that it really is "somebody else's stuff". We sell only a limited number of items. The rest gets donated either directly to people who can use it, to the public library fundraiser, or to local charities that benefit the community. I have a hard time letting go and it is easier when I need my excess is going to do a bit of good.

In the case of evacuation with plenty of time, I would have taken a bit more - especially since one dog is on medication and prescription food. However, it would have all fit in the trunk of a Ford Taurus. Some of our extended family lost almost everything in a tornado. Much to my surprise, they ended up building a larger home and buying more stuff. We would have replaced less than what we have and looked for another smallish house.


Chile said...

Oh, you know me, Green Bean, ALWAYS needing to de-clutter. We really went at it about six months ago when we decided we were going to ditch almost everything and do the RV thing. Cleaned out loads of stuff before we realized that while we would love to do that, our dogs really aren't suited for that lifestyle.

So we're staying homebound for now. I do not miss anything we got rid of and want to get rid of more. Right now I'm trying to get rid of stuff stored in furniture (filing cabinets, dressers, shelves, etc.) so I can get rid of the furniture itself and open the house up more.

Good luck with your cleaning out!

Green Bean said...

@Ave - I agree about your extended family. I think if we lost everything, we'd replace mostly essentials.

@Chile - Chile, Chile, Chile! Good to hear from you! :) I do know how you love to declutter. And I'm with you. So often, I agonize over getting rid of something but when I finally do it, I never think of the item again.

ibu,mommy,mom... said...

Hi there. I am on a mission .
Decluttering and goal is living with less is more attitude.
Love your blog.


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