Why is there so much stuff in this world?
This is a question I ask myself all the time now. I’ll be the first one to admit that I didn’t see the world as I do today, even just 1 year ago. This time last year, I was still holding onto unnecessary home decor that was accumulating dust.
I loved decorating my home, making it my own, and having it shine through in a way that I was proud of. Even though I’ve never had a fashion problem (buying excessive clothes, shoes and handbags), I loved shopping for home decor and food (the healthy kind).
Since I started this journey (a little late to the party I know, since Michael started much earlier), I’ve seen the world in a completely different way. It’s like someone has finally taken off those blinders and woken me up to a whole new world. I’ve since become allergic, yes allergic to clutter and extra stuff. Clutter makes me feel claustrophobic and uneasy. I’ve managed to simplify life so much that I can probably fit it all in one car (minus the furniture).
That doesn’t mean that I own next to nothing and lead a boring life. I’m just confident knowing that what I do own is being used pretty much every day and I absolutely love it! We’ve been living in a small unit and had no choice but to minimise. Even before that though, I was clearing out like crazy.
I’m down to no more than 40-50 pieces of clothing, pairs of shoes and bags (excluding undies, bras etc) and don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. It actually feels so much nicer to open up my wardrobe and look at items that I wear on a regular basis. That’s it, no more ‘oh I may wear this one day, so I’ll keep it’ scenario. That was happening for way too many years!
Consumerism isn’t just about the materialistic things
Beyond the closet, consumerism however has always been something that I’ve fought against. I don’t fall for billboards on the street or ads on TV. Next time you see an organic product advertised on TV, let me know. It’s usually junk that’s cheap cheap!
Consumerism in this day and age has become a little excessive (to say the least!). Everywhere you turn there’s clutter, whether it’s on TV, in peoples homes, shopping centres, social media, the internet, at work or school, your phone and your car. We are bombarded with information and ads ALL THE TIME.
Shopping centres are bringing in more and more small pop up stores, so even when you’re not in a particular shop, you’re still getting harassed just by walking past. People wanting you to sign up to something, maybe to try the latest hand cream or to donate.
You’re sucked into 2 for 1 deals or even worse 5 for 3 deals when you know damn well you don’t need that many boxes of tissues in your house. These companies are very smart and strategic in the way that they market to you. They make the offer seem so tempting that you can’t resist or think twice about it. Aim to only buy what you need (and really need) and walk away. Just keep walking.
TV is also increasing its advertising in shows (not as subtle as it once used to be). Next time you watch your favourite TV show keep track of how many brands are either mentioned, shown or used in that one episode. You may be surprised how subtle they can be and how many you come across.
Do you really need all that stuff?
Now, walking into peoples homes and seeing the clutter that they have has made me realise how much stuff I used to have for the sake of having it. Book shelves, kitchen pantries, cupboards, toiletries, just stuff. If people took the time to asses all their belongings and what they actually loved and needed, I can guarantee you that at least 50% of those items would be out of the house. Look in your closed cupboards and what you have on display. Does it really need to be there?
Visual clutter also clutters the mind. You’ll be amazed at how much clearer you can think when you don’t have that in your view (don’t go hiding it, you know it’s still there).
Consumerism and the internet
The internet I believe would be one of the worst offenders. Companies like Google and Facebook have created such smart algorithms that track everything you do on the world wide web and tailor ads to the things that you’ll most likely click on. You really have nowhere to hide.
Michael and I have considered many times to go off social media altogether, for this very reason and for the sake of feeling like we are missing out if we don’t check what’s happening every 15 minutes. Don’t let it control you. There’s a whole other world out there that existed before the internet came along. Go out, rediscover it and enjoy it!
Society has become more addicted to consuming than they are with making real connections with other human beings. I find it so sad when I see a couple sitting at a dinner table and not connecting at all because they are too busy checking what is going on on Facebook or getting the best angle for a photo of their dinner. When you think about it, it’s all just for show. Who honestly cares what you ate for dinner that night? (I must admit I am guilty of this every now and then, but it’s generally to remind myself of something that I would like to try making myself at home.)
Don’t forget about the pantry!
One guilty pleasure I’ve always had is making sure that my kitchen is always stocked up with healthy food. After reading this article, my view on this topic completely changed. I felt like the blindfold came off again. It opened up my eyes to the consumerism in the exact way that it did for all the other parts of my life. I don’t know why I felt like my kitchen was an exception.
Stocking up your pantry can lead to food wastage and buying things that you don’t even need. Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice you have is something that I’ve since eliminated. I answer the questions below and use the same principal in my pantry as I would in my closet. At the end of the day, is there really a difference? Consumerism is consumerism no matter what the product is.
3 questions you must ask yourself before you buy anything else
Question 1 – Do I already own something that’s similar? If the answer is yes, then put it down.
How many pairs of jeans do you really need? If you come across something that is better quality and will serve you a better purpose than the item you already have, then buy with the intension of eliminating the other item from your life. I know, as a woman, I can pretty much justify any purchase. But for the sake of your wallet and sanity, try asking yourself this question and think about spending that money on a movie night instead. Spend your money on experiences, not things.
Question 2 – Is this something that I absolutely LOVE and will use on a regular basis? If the answer is no, then put it down.
You are walking in the small appliances section of a shop and you spot an amazingly beautiful kettle. You have one at home but it’s on its last legs. You know that it will die any day now and you’ll have to replace it anyways. You boil water all the time at home as you drink a lot of herbal tea and know that you will get your moneys worth. In this case, I would consider buying the item because you LOVE it and you will use it on a very regular basis. Tick and tick! No guilt there 🙂
However, if you see a beautiful black handbag (hopefully not leather) and fall in love but you already have two black bags at home, then I would keep walking. There is only so many bags that one person needs, even if the one you spotted was stunning! The other two do the job and I’m sure that a week later you won’t even remember you spotted it!
Question 3 – Do I really NEED this? (and be honest with yourself) If the answer is no, then put it down.
You come across an app that you read about in an article and think that it does some pretty awesome things. It has great reviews and in the heat of the moment you just want to download it. What’s the harm right? Well, do you actually NEED the app and will it improve your life significantly? The answer will most likely be no, as the novelty wears off, it will just accumulate more space on your phone and never get used again.
So, where to from here?
Apply these principals to every aspect of your life. Look at all the areas in your house, computer, work area, car and answer the 3 questions. Once you have gone through and either donated or trashed the items that have no meaning, trust me, you will feel so much better!
You’ll slowly start to see the world in a new way and feel lighter. Literally lighter. As things tend to wear us down. Even if it’s not physically, it certainly does mentally. Doing an overall declutter of your life will be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself. Come back and thank me when you’re done 🙂
What about you? Do you ask yourself specific questions when making the decision to buy something?