I just watched this fabulous short documentary about STUFF and it was incredibly eye opening and inspiring me.
We’ve been making it a point to reduce our consumption of stuff and to minimize the amount we have, but the truth is that we still buy things and we still go to the store. I mean, almost everyone does, and it really is a reality of our society until some major changes happen.
However, in the last few years (since we’ve been on our natural living journey) we have really made some changes in our buying habits. I will freely admit that I am influenced by culture and that I do still really like the shop. I think it’s the ‘gathering’ of our age. I honestly believe that we, as women, are driven to gather for our families, and in this age that includes shopping. And we quite literally have to shop. For most of us that involves grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for consumables (cleaning products, hygene products, consumables for our homes or cars, school supplies, etc), shopping for gifts, shopping for gadgets, computers, cars, even houses.
The changes we have implemented are:
1. Buy less. This is the biggest one, and the hardest. Self explanatory, but defining what is a critical need and a want/non-critical need is the first hurdle.
2. Buy quality. Instead of, as the documentary mentions, buying things that have ‘planned obsolescence’, when you have a critical need for something, buy a high quality version of that item instead of a cheap one. Buying locally made and manufactured products by small businesses makes a big impact, as well. Vote with your dollar! An example for us – we bought a water filter this year. Instead of buying a cheap, plastic filter with throw away cartridges, we bought a Berkey filter made of stainless steel and with filters that last for years (or longer!). Another example is our mattress (except that wasn’t exactly a ‘critical need’ – we did have a mattress, it just was a plastic one).
3. Buy used. I buy nearly all my clothes at Goodwill. I buy R’s clothes there, too! I buy shoes, canning jars, kitchen utensils, gifts, and supplies for my Etsy shop. So much can be bought at thrift or charity shops – and most help a great cause, too. A lot of our furniture has been scored on Craigslist! And a lot of stuff has been sold, there, too! A great way to get ‘rid’ of stuff without having to send it to the landfill or cart it to Goodwill! And you make money out of the deal.
4. Recycle, upcycle, reuse. Husband gets a hole in his t-shirt? Fabulous! Cut it up for kitchen rags. Cat chewed off a corner of your favorite wool sweater? Excellent! Make baby pants! Got a shipment from Amazon? Score! Make the kids a play house with the box and save the packing paper for coloring or tracing sewing patterns. Everything can have alternate uses if you try to find them!
5. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Age old saying from the great depression. Use up your craft stash before you buy (or source!) more. Wear you clothes until they have holes. Keep your current desk even if it doesn’t go with your ‘decor’. Do you really need to buy a new cell phone every year? Probably not.
I was astonished to hear her say in the documentary that only 1% of STUFF is still being used 6 months after purchase. That’s astonishing to me! We live in such a throw away culture.
I encourage you to watch this 20 minute documentary and see where in your life you can stop the cycle of STUFF.
They have several more documentaries and I plan to watch them, too.