Friday, April 11, 2014

The problem with too much stuff

A week ago, Barnes & Noble offered the book Stuffocation as their Nook Daily Find.  In reading the description, I found the concept -- that we are overworking ourselves and stressing ourselves out with our too-materialistic society -- intriguing.  I don't usually get into self-help books, but this one seemed worth the money, especially since I have been feeling the urge to simplify my life a bit lately: As I'm sure most people do, I often feel like I have too much clutter that I don't know what to do with, and when you pack that into a 2-bedroom, 750-square-foot bungalow and a basement used mostly for storage, it can get pretty oppressive at times.

Much of the book is about people taking more extreme courses of action: getting rid of all their things or limiting their number of possessions to a certain number, such as 100 (which honestly sounds like a psychological disorder to me); moving into tiny homes, moving into motor homes and traveling, or -- like one family -- moving into a cabin in the woods and living off the land as much as possible; and so on.  Those folks were basically rejecting our materialistic society outright, and finding ways to live outside of it.

I get the appeal, but it's not interesting -- or even really possible -- for me.  I have two horses, which requires me to make a certain amount in order to support them, and I don't feel like that is me being materialistic, any more than someone having to make more in order to support their children is being materialistic.  I also, as a freelance writer, have a strong dependence on technology, and as a part-time nanny I require a car to transport the kids I take care of.

I was, however, extremely intrigued by the talk of getting rid of excess stuff and having less clutter in your life.  I also like the idea of requiring less stuff, and therefore reducing your need for an income that will support buying and having lots of stuff.  If you think about it, stuff requires both money to buy it initially, but also money to keep it, since you have to have a larger place if you are going to have lots of belongings.

Somewhere around when the author was talking about his sock drawer, it occurred to me that I could benefit from this, even if I'm not able or willing to give all my belongings away and live in a motor home.  I started thinking about going through my stuff and getting rid of things I don't actually need or use, things that are cluttering up my life unnecessarily, and from there the idea of doing it over the course of a year -- getting rid of something every single day -- began to take shape.

And here we are, with a new block to track my progress!  The goal is to get rid of something every day, at least one thing I should say, and to blog about it -- with explanations and pictures when possible.  The tabs above will explain my mission and the rules I've set for myself in a little more detail, plus explain my goal to reduce trash by selling, giving away, or recycling items rather than simply throwing them away (even though it's easier) and offering resources for anyone who is similarly inspired.

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