the story of stuff…

First, watch this:

Our society produces, consumes, and disposes of way too much stuff, far too quickly. I am as guilty as any other middle class member of this western society. My house is cluttered with stuff. Books, clothes, electronics, other toys, and just a whole lot of stuff. I have so much stuff, I don’t even remember half of the stuff I own. As I’ve been hemorrhaging cash over the past few days, I’ve become very conscious of just how much money I spend on unnecessary stuff, and how quick I am to spend it. “I need new [insert miscellaneous desired item here]” is a phrase I utter far too often. Last week it was boots; this week it’s an anti-slip yoga towel. But after seeing The Story of Stuff, I can’t help but ask myself, “do I really need [insert miscellaneous desired item here]?” The answer, almost always, is no.

It seems that I am so engrained into this society, that I eat up the planned and perceived obsolescence fed to me by the marketing machine. I don’t need new boots; I want new boots because I’ve had mine for three years and they feel dated. They are perfectly good boots. Sure, an anti-slip yoga towel would be amazing, but I can just as easily rent one of the yoga mats at the studio which have done the trick for the past year. So much of the time, we think we need something because we’re spoon fed advertisements that tell what we have isn’t good enough anymore. Sometimes we actually need something new because our old something simply broke down, just as it was designed to do, far too quickly than it should. The overwhelming majority of what we purchase is disposed of in six months because that’s exactly how our consumerist society is designed. Not only is this absolutely nutty, it’s also incredibly dangerous. Where is all of that junk going to go? What the heck is this planet going to look like in 10, 20, 50 years? And we can’t even say we’re having fun with all of our stuff! As the documentary points out, the increase in stuff has directly corresponded to the decline of national happiness. We’re drowning in our stuff!

All of this is sitting too heavily on my conscience for me to go on spending as I was before. It’s time for a change, and on that note, I’m adding another challenge to this money month: one week without buying any new stuff.

What does this mean logistically:
  • No buying of new stuff that isn’t absolutely essentially (i.e. if I need it to live, I am buying it). No new boots, anti-slip yoga towels, clothes, makeup, etc. I already have too much of that stuff anyways.
  • Rephrase “I need [blank] ” to “I can fix [blank]”, “I can use [blank] instead”, or ideally, “I can actually live without [blank] altogether”.
  • Repurpose stuff I already own that I no longer need. Donate it, reuse it, and hopefully prevent someone else from acquiring more of the new stuff our planet just can’t support.

A few caveats:
  • Purchasing something to replace something broken beyond repair, so long as this broken something is truly essential, is allowed. If I can’t live without the thing that might hypothetically break, and I can’t somehow fix it, I can buy it.
  • Food and items that will be consumed do not fall into this equation. I need to eat.

Here is my chance to prove to myself that I am worth more than the stuff I own.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend!

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