Saturday, October 17, 2009

Too Much Stuff!

So we all seem to have too much stuff. I've spent the last couple weeks helping my mother to clean out her garage, attic and storage shed. We went through box after box of baby clothes, old dishes, books, children's clothes and miscellaneous kitchen gadgets etc. Every box we opened evoked memories and/or horror that she had actually saved this or that. Her goal was that we, her children shouldn't have to go through her stuff when she is no longer with us. She did that when her parents died and more recently when my father passed away. Well we got it cleaned out and sent to resale shops or donated to those in need. Sad to say a small amount of stuff did go to the landfill. But since we endeavored to try and have things resused it was undoubtably a much smaller amount than most folk would have sent to the dump.

Now this post isn't specifically about my mother's stuff. We all have too much stuff, so lets take a look at why. Stuff doesn't just magically appear. We are responsible for our stuff, George Carlin had a few words to say on the topic that points out just how ridiculous our addiction to STUFF is. So I'll let him start this conversation.

I liked his analogy that houses are just a place to keep our stuff. The average size of the american home has grown tremedously in the last 40 years. The average American home swelled from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,349 square feet in 2004, a 140% increase in size.

Well you know what we did with all that extra room? We filled it with stuff. Carlin jokes about the storage industry, but the abundance of stuff is more the fault of another industry. Advertising and Marketing companies do their very best to convince us we need more stuff. They sell us paper plates, disposable cutting boards and other items meant to be used once and then sent to the landfill. We buy disposable plastic items to keep food in, never giving a thought to what might be coming out of that plastic and getting into our food.

I've tried over the last year to rid myself of some of the stuff I have accumulated over the last 40+ years. It seemed to be a monumental task, opening my spare bedroom which I am using for storage I would be over whelmed with sight of all the boxes I set in there 4 years ago when I moved last and never opened again. I don't need that stuff, I haven't needed it for 4 years and I am unlikely to need it in the next 4. However I was unable to just pick up a box and remove it, after all there might be stuff in there I wanted. Instead I would just look at the pile, say to myself "not today, maybe tomorrow" and shut the door.

Then I hit upon a way to rid myself of stuff and not make it a huge task. Everyday I try to get rid of at least one item. To remove that item from my life, downsize and simplify. Doesn't sound like you are doing much, just one thing a day gone. But when you consider there are 365 days in a year and you are getting rid of one OR MORE things every day. It quickly adds up. You eventually find yourself having to look for stuff you don't need. My residence is cleaner, less cluttered and guess what? I don't miss any of that stuff.

Jim you should take a look at this movie, The Story of Stuff, very good film and has been used in a number of places across the country in classrooms and has pissed a whole bunch of people off for sure! Its a simple little film but it sends the message. You can watch it or download it for free from their website! -John

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