Take a look around the room you are in for a minute. If you added up the cost of everything you see, how much would you have paid for what you have bought to fill that space?
Many of us live in a world where the heady combination of disposable income and the ready supply of ‘things’ means that our lives are increasingly filled with ‘stuff.’
A lot of that ‘stuff’ was probably made in a country that allows its citizens to earn a lot less than someone in your home country. Technological changes in transport means that something made far away for less money can get to your door at a fraction of the cost in the past.
As manufacturing prices have come down, often so has quality, but we don’t seem to mind.
If an object breaks or wears out quickly, we can easily buy a new one.
Many products, even expensive ones, seem to have a kind of ‘use by’ date that somehow feels like an inbuilt self destruct button. It will either be surpassed by a new version of itself or implode in such a way that seems somehow uncannily tied into payday.
Once upon a time, it was not this way.
Once upon a time stuff was built to last, because building it was so darn hard that if it was going to get made, it may as well stay made. These are not the sentiments of an aged angry consumer, even old school mobile phones were difficult to kill.
And it’s not only the toughness of the products that has changed.
Hard as it is to believe, less than 50 years ago most families saved for ‘big ticket’ items such as fridges or washing machines. Saving for travel and cars, or even Christmas, was a ‘thing’ within our lifetime.
It’s no longer such a thing. We are an impatient lot these days. When we want something, we want it now.
So now we find ourselves with LOTS of cheap, temporary clutter.
A movement called the ‘100 things’ campaign challenges humans to take a good hard look at the bits and pieces gathering dust in your life and to start to whittle down the junk to a point where, if you were asked to, you would come up with a list of 100 things you own….and no more than that.
Imagine it. If you start to count you may think that 100 things seems like a lot, but a look inside your bathroom cabinet could fill that list, and that’s on days after a cleanup.
The campaign doesn’t include things like food. And a family of four could claim part ownership in a set of tables and chairs in the dining room. But how many pairs of shoes do you own? How many watches? Do you have a cupboard filled to the brim with plastic boxes in the kitchen? Does everything you own work as intended, or do you own broken things with a plan to a) fix them or b) throw them away at some point?
Some people have heard of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ which is where you own a small number of interchangeable things that provide maximum choices within a small range. Fashionistas swear by them because they prevent those weird disasters where you end up buying something that matches nothing else and then never wearing it. Capsule wardrobes can be as small as 20 items total that you keep to wear. Do you think you could do it?
Tiny homes have now become a thing also, especially amongst the new empty nest set. Seriously downsizing your home as soon as the youngest shuts the door means that you never have to worry about that fateful phone call “Mum, I’ve decided to move back home to save some money, it will only be for 6 months….”.
Every modern parent knows that the best contraception is having kids living under the same roof. Even after that chapter has been well and truly written and the shop is shut, it’s pretty hard to rediscover the joys of kitchen table sex with adult offspring wandering downstairs to make a sandwich.
Tiny homes come in kit form, as well as bespoke versions and make Ikea look like space wasting fat cats. Some Tiny homes are on wheels- yes, they are essentially spunky looking caravans-but some are land bound and of the fixed address variety.
None of them are larger than 400 square feet. Think you could never live that small? Think again. In many parts of the world entire extended families have, and still do, share that kind of space. Do you live in a home with rooms that you never use?
Congratulations. You are the 1%.
In reality, you don’t actually need, nor want, more than half the stuff you currently have. So why are you still holding onto it?
Minimal living micro homes and capsule wardrobes are the way of the future. People who gather less stuff live freer lives.
They literally have less baggage. If you think ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’ you can still enjoy the delight of shopping, only it will be for something you treasure rather than something that is just there to take up space.
If you do take the leap and cut down on your consumption, what are you going to do with all the crap you’ve got laying around? Charity is one idea (although there is some stuff that they also don’t want, like your old knickers) a garage or car boot sale works too. If you live in an area that provides community clean up days you might wait for one of those and then dump away…..be careful, those are not curb side shopping opportunities, remember we are owning LESS, not replacing what we have with someone else’s unloved bits and bobs), or perhaps your local school or amdram society needs things for plays and playtime.
Don’t imagine you will get rich by discovering you’ve been accidently hoarding the world’s most desirable knick-knack, those stories are fun, but few and far between. Instead make a concerted effort to NOT give in to every whim you have, to NOT spend that small bit of cash that eventually adds up to a large amount of coin spent trying to buy your way out of boredom or loneliness.
If living with only 100 things seems way to hard, try getting rid of ten things for ten weeks, without replacing it with anything new.
Be 100 items lighter.
It’s simply amazing how much cleaner and less cluttered both you and your life will feel.