I’m excited to serve up a third installment of Ethical Consumerism. I’ve been enjoying the learning process myself. I will get back into outfit posts and more pictures soon, I promise. Jim and I are in the midst of a big move and lots of stuff is in a state of upheaval. I’m stealing time away from packing to write every now and again but looking forward to things settling down again in gorgeous new digs. With newfound outlooks on our possessions, might I add.
In my last post, I wrote about Wanting Things, especially those that are new, shiny, fun, and how that can sometimes lead to excess. I promised that I’d share some examples of folks who have downsized and enjoyed the process. Some are more radical than others but all have wisdom and insight to be gleaned. I’m keeping it to a list of 5 articles that I’ve enjoyed recently because longer lists tend to get overwhelming.
- I can relate personally to this one: Building A Grownup Wardrobe. Fashion blogger AJ writes about her accumulation of stuff, specifically clothes and accessories, that had spiraled out of control and was consuming more space and energy than it should. Reading through the steps she took was inspiring, especially since I’m another one of those women that people gawk at for their shoe collections. I like that she has concluded that owning better quality items is superior to owning throwaway fashion. I totally agree and kudos!
- Why I Gave Away Most Of My Belongings (And Why I’m Happy I Did): This qualifies as one of the more “radical” stories. This writer made a big shift in downsizing her home with her husband and has a great checklist of both reasons why it was so freeing and advice to help anyone else let go. I love her tip on boxing items up, waiting to see if you use them, and if not giving them away.
- This is a great blog called The Minimalists and I like this post: Letting Go of Sentimental Items. These are the hardest things to manage and let go of and sometimes, as referenced in the first item on this list, clothes can be sentimental as well. This powerful essay recounts how the writer was able to let go of his mother’s possessions after she passed away. I don’t know that I’d be able to be quite so radical myself but it is inspiring me to go back through my old school papers and diaries with a more ruthless agenda.
- One major roadblock to decluttering (I have it!) is the notion that “Hey, this is worth something so I should hang onto it even though I don’t use it or need it!” I have been working through this in a big way in this move. This is a great post about it: The Wastefulness of Decluttering; or How to Make Less Count for More. While I maintain the belief that simply filling a dumpster with perfectly good items that someone else can use is terrible to the Earth, often there are things we hang onto because of the work involved in getting rid of them. I have been working to get rid of stuff that has value on eBay and Craigslist, donating what doesn’t sell or can’t ship, and throwing out the rest. The major lesson, as outlined in that post, is to simply Not Acquire So Much Crap in the first place. Indeed.
- Finally, just in case you think this is a fringe idea, here’s an article from TIME Magazine online: How to Live with Just 100 Things. Admittedly, the article is a few years old and written during the recession. Many were looking to cut corners and acquire less at that time. I think that that spirit remains alive and well, however, and that we will continue to see people choosing to downsize and acquire less, especially given the global trend of urbanization and the space restrictions that imposes by default.
As for myself, I have been enjoying the chance to pare down and declutter. Jim and I are actually moving to a bigger place and the challenge is to not simply fill up all the extra space with More Stuff. I am committing to keeping a cleaner house by virtue of lack of clutter since it helps both of us feel more relaxed and at peace. Every load of stuff we take to donate makes me feel lighter, just as promised. The above cart full of stuff was the first of three such loads we have donated thus far. I have also sold countless items on eBay, and given things to family and friends. I am finding that less is more in ways that I was previously too afraid to explore.
Are you decluttering or trying to own less? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned.