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Monday, March 5, 2012

What's Not Important to Us: Stuff

While on this search to find what is truly important to us, we have discovered instead something that is not... well, many things to be exact. I'm talking about stuff. By stuff I mean the things that we fill our lives with, spend our paychecks on, and then throw away within the year because it no longer fits, matches our tastes, or is out of date.

We realized, mostly after packing up all our stuff, then unpacking, then packing... well you get the idea, that we spend so much of our time, money, energy on these things that do nothing to make our lives better. We found large discrepancies between what we thought we needed, and what we actually need to survive, be happy, and live comfortably.

I'm sure downsizing into a 31 x 10 ft-ish living space has had a lot to do with this... but I think we were coming to this realization even if we didn't move into a RV.

We've grown tired of the pressure to consume that we feel from society, and although it's hard at times we're on a path to avoid unnecessary purchases. For example, everyone at Carrick's work thinks we're absolutely nuts for moving into a camper, buying used cars, and our general philosophy on life. (I think Carrick has been called a hippie daily). When one of his higher-ups heard we were selling most of our furniture he remarked, "That's good, then you can go out and buy some new stuff that is in style now." Really, I think he missed the point.

No doubt our feelings are somewhat of a reaction to what we see happening around us... Many people experiencing foreclosure and debt because they were caught in this consuming game and needed something without having the money to pay for it at the time.

After doing some research on the internet it's no surprise that we are not alone. There are many people who are working on downsizing and changing there consumer habits. One website I particularly enjoy is www.storyofstuff.org.

Here is a great video that sums it up:






So here is our plan:

1. Only make purchases that we have the money to pay for immediately (with the exception of our cars). We don't have credit cards and we pay for my school up front which is something we've worked and saved to be able to do.
2. When we do make purchases we have an established need or justified want. We talk about it for awhile and shop around to find the best deal.
3. Buy items that are multi-purpose if possible (this is mostly due to limited space). For example we have a shoe rack doubling as a book shelf and our kitchen table is also our computer desk.
4. Purchase items that add to our lives, will get a lot of use, and bring us beauty (that last part is mostly for me, I'm sure Carrick doesn't care if things are pretty :).
5. Buy used if possible. Buying used saves us money, keeps something from going into a landfill, and and I'd like to think is a disruption to the crazy consumerism cycle.

I'd like also to add that we don't think all things are bad. We highly value and cherish the meaningful things in our lives like family heirlooms, special gifts from family and friends, mementos from our travels... We feel like if we limit some of the meaningless stuff we bring into our lives we are able to appreciate better the things that mean to most to us.

1 comment:

Sarah Overstreet said...

What a wonderful realization! Everyone should watch that video. My husband and I are environmental conservation volunteers in the Peace Corps and every day we realize just how much unnecessary stuff we had back in the states. Trash management is a big problem in our community so we have started trying to figure out creative ways to reuse the garbage. You'd be surprised at all the things you can make with everyday trash. So far we've made shower caddies out of plastic bottles, a jewelry organizer out of a Pringles can, and shelves out of old fruit crates. Thanks for the inspiring post!