I've been thinking about stuff a lot lately. How we buy it, use it, store it, love it, hate it, pass it one, throw it away and begin the cycle all over again. The stuff that makes up our home fascinates me and now that I'm with our stuff everyday, rather than racing off to work, I'm really beginning to appreciate and reevaluate the way our family consumes it.
I had wonderful intentions of having a no buy month in May, but soon realised that we did actually need to purchase a few essentials to prepare for winter and to baby proof the house. So rather than no buy, I'm calling it low buy, because other than bits and pieces that we need for our home and to keep Tallow warm this winter, we've been pretty good. Ok, I must admit, I did buy Tallow a beautiful picture book today called, Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester, but it made me cry and is so beautiful, it's going to be treasured for many many years. I still have my heart set on a total no buy month, but I realise now I need to time things a little more strategically.
So back to this stuff business. Over the past nearly two years, we've moved our home three times, when we moved back to Mildura, we did so on a really tight budget. We left stuff with our families, we gave stuff away, we did whatever we could to make it cheaper to get here. At the time it was heart wrenching, looking at the last ten years of our lives, packed away again or going to Vinnies. But you know what, now at the other end of it all, I don't think I've ever felt more free. Now that all the boxes are unpacked and I know what we have and what we use, I all of a sudden realise what we don't actually need. And it's a lot!
I've always been a bit of a 'oh yeah I'm sure this will come in handy, oh I don't know where I put that, I'll just grab another one, oh look it's on special, I better get it' kind of person. But now the idea of buying from large companies actually makes me angry. This great article that Rohan shared last week sums it up better than I can, but basically I've just had enough of feeling like I have to buy stuff. I'm putting my foot down. And you know what, I should know better, I studied mass media and consumption. I know that all those years I was being sucked in and I did nothing about it. I allowed myself buy more shoes than I will ever wear, poorly made clothes that fell apart and went 'out of fashion' and just a whole lot of stuff that we just didn't need.
So I'm seeing this opportunity as a fresh start, with free cupboard space and a lot less 'baggage', for me now it's all about having less and being happier. I realise all the stuff was weighing me down, I was losing my way in the consuming cycle and I've never felt happier to have set myself free. I also packed up the little collector in me and popped her in an amber bottle, where she can sit on the mantelpiece (a part of my only collection besides some family heirloom crockery) and observe the passing days without sitting on my shoulder and telling me that I really 'need' another tea pot or notebook or handbag.
Now I'm by no means saying we shouldn't buy things, we need to, it's a part of life and very important for the livelihoods of local, small business owners. But now I know there's so many ways I can be more mindful, there's just no going back to the way I used to shop. So here's what I'm doing to be a more conscious consumer.
- I'm using this handy chart to help remind myself to be more mindful
- I make a note of things I might like and go back a week later and see if I still feel the same way.
- I'm aware of how seductive the Internet can be for impulse purchases.
- If I truly need to purchase something, I think about how sustainable and fair the product is, where it's been made and who I'm buying it from. This all takes more time and effort but the rewards far out way the few extra days I go without.
- Most importantly I buy things I love from makers, creatives and shop owners who love what they do. And that makes me truly happy.
I feel like I've come such a long way from two years ago and I know I've still got a little bit of decluttering to go (especially with craft supplies), but that's a story for another day. For now I can honestly say, less stuff really does make more happy.
PS. If you haven't already seen it, The Story of Stuff is a must watch and Rethink: The Way You Live by Amanda Talbot is a must read.