I have a lot less stuff than most people I know, yet I still have far more than I would like. How did this get to happen?
Houses are like giant cupboards, and seem to encourage the accumulation of stuff. All we really need is somewhere warm and dry and safe to sleep, somewhere to wash, and somewhere to cook and eat, (a lot of which I do outdoors anyway on summer camping trips). Every room needs furniture. Every child is supposed to have their own bedroom. And a bedroom seems to have a lot more than just a bed in it. And because we have these giant boxes called rooms, we can pile up all the stuff.
Attics are great for piling up stuff. Someone I know recently spent 6 weeks cleaning out their attic when they moved house. Garages are much the same, generally used for stuff, not for cars these days. (Though a good sign is that people are starting to convert garages into small bedsits, and that might save us building loads more new homes.)
Every thing you have needs storage space, and care, and maintenance and cleaning. Some things are nice to have, but each one adds weight to your life and ties you down. So which ones are worth the effort?
Getting rid of stuff is uplifting. It lightens (enlightens) me, which shows me how burdened I was before I got rid of it. The fun thing is giving it away to people who want it, usually younger people with little money wanting to set up home for the first time. It’s a win win situation, and it also stops more new factory products being sucked into circulation.
I am currently downsizing home, against the flow of the average middle class family expected behaviour blueprint. In order to downsize, I had to detach from some of the things I was rather attached to, like my log burner and my garden and my sofa. If you hang on to everything you have, the only way to get new things is to get more things! More and more stuff, until eventually you die leaving it all for your next of kin to sort out. On the other hand, if you let go of some things, then others come your way instead. I am looking forward to less housework, lower bills, more time and energy to be out in the world, travelling and exploring and meeting people, and a new sort of lifestyle.
I don’t need a lot of the stuff that I have. I have moved in quite a lot of it over a week ago, and we have managed perfectly well without it. When I come back from camping, I look at how little we manage with when camping, and wonder why we need so much more the rest of the year.
There is no point in getting rid of things unless it feels good. But if you do it not only helps you, but helps everyone else via the ripple effect. Other people can have your stuff, and if you downsize where you live, you can free up space for other people to live in. There is enough to go around for everyone, as long as we only have what we need, and not overly much.
Too much stuff fixes you, and weighs you down. Less stuff means more freedom.
Ref: Freecycle on the internet for advertising things to give away. (See also earlier post: The Gift Economy)