Well, that got your attention! Sorry, this post is not about getting jiggy, it’s about looking at the stuff we accumulate, and considering the best way to manage it, rather than chucking in the bin or dumping on a local charity shop.
Many people who have travelled will always say that it is so liberating to be free of all the clutter and excess; then return to the daily routine and re-accumulate it all again. Is this because the new shiny things give meaning to justify the 9-5? Do these things really make us happy?
The trouble with stuff
After moving three times in the last 12 months, I have given stuff a bit of thought as I packed and unpacked it, and found these limitations.
- Stuff requires more stuff – lyrcra & shoes for a bike, shelving for books
- Stuff costs money – to maintain, shelve, move, insure
- Stuff takes up time – from sorting out piles of paper to dusting ornaments
- Stuff creates worry – the more precious the stuff or things the more concern and pre-occupation are attached to them.
- Stuff takes up space – the more stuff the bigger the room, house and cupboards that are required
How to get rid of stuff ethically
Coming from a family of hoarders it is easy to want to save things, as they could be ‘useful one day’, but if items just live under the bed or cant be found when they are required- how useful are they?
I thought the most ethical option was to donate to a local charity shop, until I read reports suggesting that up to 41% of charity clothes are being sold off in Africa and destroying traditional industries. So on my last move, I looked at other ways to manage my unwanted stuff.
- Give directly to local homeless shelters – ensure you check what they actually need first though
- Find a local scrapstore – great for scrap fabrics or old bedding
- Offer to friends and family – save them buying more new things too
- Sell online – As well as ebay and Gumtree, I recently discovered Facebay! On Facebook there are numerous local groups as well as genre specific e.g. baby things, vintage things and my favourite for Bristol, Ghetto Booty!
Fix up Look Sharp
I had a whole collection of broken things including rucksacks, waterproof coats, handbags and shoes. Rather than chucking away I looked locally for repair options, which saved me money.
- A seamstress/ clothes repair place -fixed zips on dresses, ripped lining on a coat
- The shoe repair shop – fixed loose soles and holes in the leather. They also repaired zips on a rucksack, and replaced a strap on a handbag.
Reuse rather than recycle
While I am trying to hoard much less these days, it is worth noting that there are plenty of places and organisations that will gladly take:
- Egg boxes– local farm shops, vegetable or health food shops sometimes take these back
- Stamps– charities can make money from these
- Plastic bags and tote bags – these I donate to independent shops so they can reuse them.
How to reduce
My pet hate is spending time sorting through paper and piles of flyers, so I decided to minimise the amount in my life.
Take pictures of business cards, flyers and posters on a phone
Refuse plastic bags and cotton tote bags- how many cotton tote bags do we really need, especially if as a lifecycle analysis suggests they need to be used 130 times to have a similar footprint to a plastic bag
Embrace Zero Waste living – I have found inspiration from Bea Johnson in her Zero Waste book which demonstrates how you can mimise the clutter and consumerism without feeling deprived.
Focus on experiences rather than stuff – James Walman captures what many of us questioning consumerism are feeling- Stuffication. He suggests focusing on enjoying experiences rather than buying new things.
Less Waste More Living
Modern life is all about being ‘busy’ and ‘stressed’ and it is easy to get caught up on the treadmill, spending money on quick fixes to make us feel temporarily better. At Green Livvy, we are as much guilty of it too, so we decided to start the Less Waste More Living project.
Our challenge is to find simple, easy ways to take time out of consumerism and discover the pleasure and satisfaction of the simple things.