This trip has really gotten all of us thinking about our possessions. Mostly about how we have so many of them. The separation of us from our possessions was a necessary part of our trip, but we’ve met the task with varying levels of enthusiasm. Miranda and I downsized from a three bedroom place to a one bedroom place. Along the way the reality is that there are plenty of family treasures and prized items, everything from trophies to stuffed animals to high school yearbooks, that have been sold, donated or discarded. Almost everything we decided to keep is now in storage and we’re living out of our car. (As an aside, pets take up a lot of space in a car.)
For me, the whole experience has been cathartic. It was hard identifying the cruft from items we really did need. We got more than a few cock-eyed looks as we sold and eventually junked tools that were perfectly good. When it comes down to it we don’t need 6 wrenches or pliers or screwdrivers that are all the same size. I found myself saying, on more than one occasion, “I know they’re good and I’m selling them anyway. Go ahead and take them if you really need them! Please!” I hate junking things but if no one needs them we’re wasting resources by carting them around.
I’m really enjoying having only a few possessions and, at least for the time being, not having a house. The only part I don’t like is that I don’t get to see much of the fruits of our labors because we’ve moved in with Miranda’s parents for a bit until we leave for Uruguay, so I can’t see the fruits (or lack of fruits) of our labor.
The next step in the process is probably the hardest and really the key to making the reduction worthwhile. That is not refilling our coffers with junk. Focussing on the closet for starters, there was a timely ad on patagonia.com‘s front page (related blog post). The cliff notes are: strive to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle in that order. First step, don’t buy stuff you don’t really need. Second, don’t buy stuff when you can repair the old item. Third, if you really want to get rid of it let someone else use it (eBay, donate, garage sale). Fourth and finally, recycle the old stuff and keep it out of the landfill. The take away for me is, now that I’ve downsized my wardrobe I want to make sure that I don’t grow it again for no reason. I get a lot of teasing for my attempts to perfect my wardrobe but at least any time I buy something I get rid of something else. In this way, I don’t tend to accumulate a whole lot of junk in a dresser or in a box stashed away for the one day I might want to use it (that day doesn’t tend to come anyway). I suppose, that puts me somewhere in the middle of reuse and recycle. I could do a little better there, but it’s a start.
Until next time, keep it simple.
TL;DR – Find and get rid of cruft. Don’t replace it. Rinse and Repeat with every facet of your life.