It’s Time to Consume Less –Eschew the Clutter

Stop! Before you click buy, consider how much you really need the item you are about to purchase from the comfort of your home, from the ease of your computer. Do you really need another pair of shoes, a new coat, the latest iPhone and all its accessories, more knick knacks? The truth is you probably don’t need to buy anything non-essential ever again.

Look around your home. Is it full of things – of possessions that you simply have to have to feel good about your life, to feel as if you live in a lovely home, have taste or just enough money to buy whatever you want, whenever you want it?

If you’re like me, then your house is full of lovely little things that you just had to have, that made you feel better simply by buying it. But, the truth is for most of us we have homes full of stuff that we don’t use and don’t need. In fact some of it we never use. It just takes up space and clutters our life.

We live in a consumer society – it’s called an economy and an economy is all about money, about buying and selling, money and goods changing hands forever, so producers and manufacturers keep in business and people keep their jobs and we keep spending our money and keeping the world turning.

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Spending money feels good. It’s lovely to walk into a shop and leave again with your brown bags replete with some special item you simply had to have. It’s lovely to get your little packages from Amazon, etc in the post. It’s wonderful to wander a market and find amazing bargains.

We’re also bombarded with advertising at every turn. It is worse than it was. Buses, tube stations, trains, newspapers, magazines, not to mention the invasive web advertising that is now wonderfully linked into your latest search so that when you’re reading your stars or the latest news, there, in the corner is the ad from John Lewis, or Jaguar or ASOS, reminding you that you want to buy, you really-really do.

But, do we need half of what we buy these days? Do we thoughtfully replace our old coat with the new one, throw out the shoes that are worn, or do we simply keep things forever, because – you never know when it might come in handy… Here’s the big hint from this blog- IT WON’T.

Several things remind me of the need to de-clutter our lives. One is moving again (a separate blog to come about the joys of moving) and the other was cleaning out my father’s things after he died last year.

My dad loved to shop. He had a house full of things and some very recently bought: some new books and a very nice selection of clothes. Which is fine, you are saying. But when we cleaned out his life – never an easy thing to do – we sent a small truck’s worth of clothes to the charity shops. Nice clothes, but so many and from when he was a much younger man! We did the same with books – sort the historical worthwhile and the pulp quick reads – why wasn’t he a library member? The kitchen was the same –there were still items from when I was a child – a kettle and toaster from the 1960s alongside a cavalcade of kitchenalia bought over the years. Why not sort and clear? Why did he need a house full of things, of clutter? Why do any of us?

 

Jeremy Clarkson wrote recently of the loss of his mother. You know Jeremy, loud mouthed brash, trouble prone, man-boy from Top Gear. He wrote a touching article about the loss of his mother in the Sunday Times – she was the creator of the Paddington Bear toy. His fear, after his sadness was having to go into her home and sort through her life, making those terrible decisions about sorting and keeping; about having to be sensible not sentimental. And you know what? He didn’t have to. His mother, who had known she was dying, had sorted through her own life and de-cluttered it before it was too late.

So, this weekend, have a look around your home. Do you really need and use all that you have? Are you hanging onto things for no sensible reason? Sentiment has a place, comfort and indulgence has a place but perhaps you should be concentrating more on the other things in your life that matter and not the stuff that clogs and clutters your home?

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Remember, charity shops are there for a purpose, so is the tip! (Images courtesy Private Collection)

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