Monday, December 30, 2013

Material Girl?

A few years ago this guy put all his things, yes every last bit of it, into a storage space. He decided he could take out one item a day. On his first day he chose to take out a winter coat. It was cold. In February 2013 a movie of the project came out. It is called My Stuff (Tavarataivas). One of my friends heard about this project about a year ago and decided to do something similar. Instead of putting away all of her things, she decided that she would get rid of one item every day for a year. In addition she wasn't allowed to buy anything during that whole year, unless it was essential (medicine or food for instance), or replacing something essential that broke down. It has been very interesting following her project. The My Stuff project has undoubtedly inspired many more similar projects.

A scene from My Stuff.

I have taken after my mother. I like to collect a lot of everything, and I have quite the difficult time giving up things. We live in a material world, and I bet a lot of people, especially in the first world, have similar issues. A lot of people work hard so that they can buy more things. A bigger house to put more things in and a bigger car so that they can bring all the bigger things to their even bigger home. Everything has to be new, and even if something still works, people want bigger and better equivalents to replace that something. Not that I'm necessarily any different, but this past year I have thought a lot about consumption of things and buying new stuff. I have come to prefer buying things of better quality, even though the price is higher. Cheap things don't usually last very long... I'm not really into doing radical things though. I wouldn't go on a diet or stop eating sweets for six months. I believe in being reasonable in all things. (Well except for dancing maybe.) Still, it is sometimes hard to be content with what you have, especially when living in a society, where consumption is a virtue.

After thinking a lot about consuming and living in the midst of an overload of bigger and better things I started to feel sick. I want to try to manage with less, which shouldn't be very hard, right? In the last few years I have tried to size down on things. One of my passions is traveling, and I like to travel light, since it is easier not having to carry a lot of things around. So why not applying this to living? Living light? After considering this for quite a while, I decided that it was time to do something about it. But since I believe in being reasonable, I didn't want to do any of these radical things I'd read and heard about.

These past few days I have been going through all the things in my small two-room-flat. The goal was to get rid of one item per day for a year, but instead of doing it for a year I wanted to do it all at once. So 365 items. It took two days to get through (almost) the whole flat. One cupboard is still left, but it is mostly full of papers, so maybe I'll still get through that tonight. My count after two days is 220 items. And it has been really easy so far. But what do I count as an item? I haven't counted each paper or piece of trash. When it comes to papers, I have surely thrown away more than 365 pieces of paper, I didn't really count all of it. As an estimate I would say that all the papers I threw away counted as maybe 20 items. So what else was discarded? Well a big pile of books and magazines, that I was never going to read a second time. A huge amount of decorative things, quite a pile of clothes and jewelry as well as make up and accessories. Then there's all the miscellaneous things, which added up to a lot.

Miscellaneous things and books that I'm discarding. Maybe the Salvation Army is interested?

I have achieved more than half of the goal, and it has been very easy. I still have that one cupboard to go through as well as my storage space in the cellar. I think the things in storage will get me pretty far on the list. As for the count, 365 items is a minimum. I'm not stopping at that count, if I don't get through all my things before that.

I am quite excited to see when it starts to get hard to give up something. To tell you the truth, I did have a bit of a difficult time with one item today. After some contemplation (well quite a lot actually) I decided to throw away my old dance shoes that were totally broken. They were old and the bottom had cracked, but I still held on to them for sentimental reasons. I've had the habit of doing that with many other things as well, like some clothes for instance. "I'm sure that at some point I'll use this old t-shirt that I don't really even like..." or "I need this some day when I'm painting..." Yeah right, like that day is ever coming... Well this time I was quite brutal and actually threw out all clothes that I haven't worn during the past year. I'm quite proud of myself!

I still have almost half of the count to finish up, so we'll see how that goes. Right now I'm feeling very good. Especially when looking at my tidy closets and shelves... Rounding up this post I'd like to announce one of my three New Years resolutions: I promise that before every purchase next year I will think long and hard about whether I need it or not. I dare you to do the same!

1 comment:

  1. I have to start thinking about similar New Year Resolution