I find myself exclaiming this rather a lot lately. It feels like we are drowning in a sea of stuff. Junk, crap, stuff we bought or were given and have either never or rarely used, never liked or which has now been superseded by yet more STUFF. On those (rare) occasions when I’m in housework mode, I sometimes end up with piles of stuff in my arms trying to find a place to put it. (What I really should do is sort it all out but y’know, time and always something more interesting to do!)
In all seriousness though, it does seem to me like we as a community, a society, certainly some of the planet, are in real danger of having so much unneeded stuff (there must a better word!) that it will bury us one day. Why do we keep buying this crap? I’m not a fan of shopping as a pastime and my husband and I really do try to minimise the amount of new items we buy, not always successfully. I LOATHE Black Friday and the consumerist binge that seems to get worse every year from, oh about this time onwards, as people get all worked up over what to buy other people for Christmas. A lot of which ends up being unwanted clutter and junk and either ends up in a charity shop, or worse, in landfill.
On that note, I was recently browsing in a second-hand shop (part of my #dontbuynew aspiration). The amount of duplicated items was unreal – ten or fifteen copies of the same book, countless plastic toys, and ornaments. Oh the ornaments. Mementoes from long-forgotten holidays, commemorative plates from various royal (yes, even here in Ireland) and national events, and quite a few ornaments/plates/plaques to mark various wedding anniversaries. I’m not talking about personalised ones with names, dates etc, just the generic ones like this –
Why?? Why do we buy this stuff? All that will happen is it will sit on a dresser or shelf somewhere and some poor sod will have to take it down and dust it. Life’s too short!
Anyway, later that same day I found myself in a branch of TK Maxx, not a shop I’d ever spent much time in as I thought they only sold clothes but I had 20 minutes to kill and discovered they sell housewares, kitchen stuff, nice stationery and best of all a small selection of books. (If I have to spend time browsing in a shop those things suit me far better.) Then I came across this –
Yes, a box marked Stuff in which to put stuff. Seriously, if we are now using up valuable natural resources and energy to make empty boxes just to hold more stuff, then we really have lost the run of ourselves completely. I’m not opposed to storage boxes completely, more to the mindset whereby we’d sooner buy boxes to put ‘stuff’ in, rather than reducing the amount of stuff we have. I’m not going all KonMari here, the day anyone catches me thanking my possessions for helping me through another day, they can have me committed. For me, its a sign that its time to declutter more thoroughly. I thought I was fairly good at decluttering until I found six operating manuals yesterday, three of which were for items we don’t even own anymore….
Its the volume of unnecessary, unneeded and frequently unwanted STUFF we seem determined to inflict on each other that baffles me the most. Its like people feel obliged just to buy you something – anything – because its Christmas. And Christmas does seem to bring out the worst elements of this. Who really wants the gadgets that you’ll use maybe twice, the gift sets of toiletries with all that useless (and often non recyclable) packaging, and innumerable other items of tacky, poorly made TAT and CRAP (now called novelty gifts) that will be appearing in a shop near you in the next few
months weeks. And that’s without mentioning the Christmas themed cushions, bed linen, aprons, teatowels etc that people rush out to buy, never mind the fact they have perfectly good equivalents already at home and the Christmas ones will be stored away for 11 months of the year (adding to the clutter!)
How about we all stopped mindlessly buying stuff and spent a little more time thinking about what we need and what we might really like to give as a gift? If there is someone you feel you should buy a gift for, then what about a bottle of wine? Or some delicious nibbles and treats? A plant for the garden (if they are gardeners), or a gift voucher for a pampering session? Ask yourself before you pay for that useless ornament, novelty gift or gift sets of toiletries – would I want to be given this?
Before you ask, no I’m not the Grinch, I happen to love Christmas. But I like a simple Christmas, a simple life in fact where we are not surrounded by so much stuff we feel like we can hardly breathe. Just stop and think before you buy more stuff. The planet and your sanity might well thank you for it. Not to mention your wallet.