We live in a world of disposable stuff. There is no denying that. A world, where everything can be replaced so easily that it’s not even worth considering alternatives. Or so it seems.
It’s not only the disposability we get used to. It’s also the constant availability. We are led to believe that once we have enough money we can buy whatever we always wanted – and maybe we can – a bigger car, a bigger house, the newest phone. It’s easy to get trapped in the vicious circle – working long and hard to earn money to buy things which we are told that are cool to own but then hardly having time to enjoy them because we spend so much time in work…This is how we can so easily become enslaved to stuff.
The guys from The Story of Stuff made a great video about where it all comes from and where it all ends up when it’s thrown out. It is pretty eye-opening and if you ask me, I think this should be a compulsory watch for primary school kids and onward. Especially for people living in developed countries. In the video, for the first time I came across terms like planned and perceived obsolescence – when things are built to break and when last season’s shoes are nothing like this season’s – and it all started to make sense.
(See for yourself if you want!)
After I thought about everything in the video, I looked at myself. At my habits, and also my possessions. And there was more than enough to look at! I realised that I was no different. I owned a lot of things, neatly accumulated over the years. Some of them, I used regularly and some never. They just waited in the closet, the drawer, the press. I thought I knew everything I had. And oh boy, was I wrong. I forgot about so much stuff that I’d bought for this or that, used once (or never!) and then put away! I am talking about everything – clothes, cosmetics, cans of food in my kitchen cabinets. I am sure I have more notebooks than I can use up in my lifetime along with the heap of pens I can write in them with!
I remember when I moved about 2 years ago, I was amazed how much stuff I owned. I might have briefly thought about how can one person have so many things after a few years (since I came to Ireland with just necessities) but that was about it. I very quickly switched from amazement to putting it all neatly away. Once all the contents of the boxes had settled in their new home, all was well again.
It wasn’t until later, after much reading, watching and thinking, that I went on a crusade to downsize my possessions. I promised myself that next time I am moving, it will be only with half of the stuff (or less, if I am lucky :))
There are many great ‘schools of thoughts’ that talk about decluttering and freeing up space in life – minimalism, konmari method, tiny homes – it’s up to you to find the one that suits you. In my opinion, they all have some valid points and good thinking and definitely can help to make you feel less obliged to own stuff.
A good starting point for me was to think about what I want my life to be shaped by – experiences or stuff. Experiences won by a long way. So I decided to go through all my possessions and declutter. Room by room. Simplifying my life. One drawer at a time.
It takes time and it’s rather a journey than a destination. But I am fine with that.
Are you ready to start yours?