Updated: Mar 5, 2020
I grew up believing life is better with more. Many of us have. But there came a time in my life where 'more' no longer felt better. ‘More’ felt overwhelming. And anxiety-inducing. Not that I could see that at the time.
In 2015 I was at the Tate Modern in London and picked up a book. The book was called ‘Stuffocation’. It spoke of the western world reaching mass saturation of ‘stuff’. At this time I'd been living in Los Angeles for 5 years and the message resonated heavily. I saw it in my wardrobe. In my kitchen drawers. In the entry cupboard that had become a catch-all. For EVERYTHING.
On my return home I Marie Kondo'd my wardrobe. A couple of times. Which begs the question, did it work? I took stuff out, but stuff kept coming back in.
Fast forward to 2018 and I'm in the middle of a renovation, with an infant and a toddler. Amazon Prime is my lifeline and everyday boxes pile up at my front gate. Nappies, cleaning supplies, door handles and any fleeting need I’ve typed into Amazon’s search and clicked BUY. Convenient? Maybe. Feel good? No. I likened it to a one-woman consignment centre. Unpacking and flattening boxes. Recycling packaging and boxing up returns. Something had to change.
Around that time we decided to move home to Australia, and I set a vision for our return.
"I will not unpack one box, or even one item, that would not be used in our new home."
This made me ruthless. I sold things and gave things away. Too many times I unloaded bags and boxes at my local Goodwill. Letting go of this stuff felt good, but seeing the excess was sickening. Where would it all end up I wondered, and pushed the thought from my mind? And, without knowing it, I bought my last ever box of ziplock bags from IKEA. That was the beginning of a huge change in my relationship with stuff.
Our belongings remained in storage and transit for 6 months. I began to make small changes. I made the effort to shop in person, rather than online. We switched my youngest to modern cloth nappies. I committed to never purchase a plastic water bottle again. Or ziplock bags - I'm still reusing that last box of colour coded IKEA ziplocks. When I saw something I liked at a store (often) I began to ask myself "Do I need it?" and “Do I have something similar?”. I recalled purchases I'd never worn or used and eventually given away. I took it a step further and began considering the end of life for said item.
In short, living with less has given me a home that's never far from being a serene space. Cupboards that house only things we use regularly, where I can easily see and locate the contents. The self-sufficiency to reuse, repurpose and repair things. More time to engage in activities that create a connection with my family, friends, and nature. And most important: an appreciation for our planet and how our consumption is impacting the delicate ecological balance and all our futures.
We will continue to consume. That's what humans do. But I believe we can do this in a conscious way that brings more time and space into our lives, allowing for the moments that create meaning. And in the process, minimise our impact on Earth.
This week when you’re at the store, surrounded by shiny objects at prices you can afford, ask yourself:
Do I need it?
Do I have something similar?
Could I borrow one?
Is there space in my home for it?
Will I still have this in 30days? 6months? A year from now?
Can it be reused? Repurposed? Repaired? Recycled? Or is it destined for landfill?
What we bring into our homes matters. I want to inspire you toward a more sustainable life, with simple changes every household can make.