Voluntary Simplicity Step 5: Consume Less

Perhaps this chapter would be more aptly titled "Consume Less, Spend Mindfully and Pursue Quality" since reducing what we consume is really only a part of the equation.  Thinking purchases through (i.e. Is this something I need?  Can I make do with something I already own?  Can I buy a used one?), so you're mindfully spending helps not only reduce consumption, but reduce wasteful consumption.

To pursue quality, we narrow spending down even further by determining if we are in fact going to make a purchase, it's going to be something of quality that will hopefully last.  Purchasing quality items may have a higher initial cost, but the total cost of ownership may actually be less than that of a lesser quality item.

I have been working at our reduction of consumption of things like paper products, packaging, etc.  For items we need and use, (furniture, garden tools, etc.) I am certainly looking at the questions above, i.e. do we need it?  If the answer is yes, we are purchasing quality items.   Although I'd like to tell you we only purchase things for function, I will tell you that I love aesthetically pleasing items as much as the next person and I think it's important to surround yourself with things you love.  That being said, if I look around at my home, I'm surrounded by things that I love, things I've purchased for their function, but also things I bought on a whim or have been given as gifts that I keep simply because I feel as though getting rid of them would be wasteful or disrespectful.  In my attempts at being honest with myself, purchasing them was wasteful and keeping them is just plain silly.

Speaking for my own household, we simply have too much stuff.  Each room of our small house is packed full and if that's not enough, we have a storage unit the size of a one-car garage that's three quarters full of stuff.  Yes, we pay rent on that unit every month to house our stuff.  Not only is it appalling to think of the amount of money spent on the items sitting in storage, but the amount we spend each month to keep it all.  I've requested my husbands assistance in sorting through it all, since some of it is his and I would never get rid of things that mean something to him without his approval.  I had set a goal of Spring 2011 that he quickly moved to Fall 2011.

Purging is an important first step.  Once you see you can live without all the stuff, there isn't such a drive to buy it.  No one ever said this process is easy, but I think he'll feel good once we've gone through it.  I know I will!

To read the entire Voluntary Simplicity series, click {here}.


Meg said...

Yes! I feel so much better when I purge stuff and we reduce what's around us. And as hard as it is to spend the big bucks up front, we're so much happier because those things last. Last but not least... Our trash output in general is small enough to make our neighbors ask "How do you have so little trash every week??" - For a family of 5 coming from their family of 3, that's a pretty nice compliment! :)

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Meg - so very true. And you're right...that's a HUGE compliment! :-)

mountain mama said...

i agree...less is more. now that we are getting settled i'm very picky was gets brought into our new abode. no more junk, clutter or things we don't need.

need to start recycling again.

great post :)

Suzan said...

You are so correct! We have way too much stuff!! Stuff we really don't need. Terrible how we spend the first part of our life collecting stuff, then the latter part trying to down size and get rid of stuff.
When you do buy something - so many times the packaging cost more than what you are buying - whether it's food or stuff you buy.

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

Getting rid of certain things is very difficult for me. I have three kids in college right now, but in a short while they will be getting apartments and on their own.(fingers crossed) I keep thinking one of them will need this or need that. I do feel great when something gets cleaned out and thrown out.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks Mountain Mama. Tree hugger, I really like what you pointed out - that we spend the first part of our lives collecting and the latter getting rid of. So very true! And, From Beyond My Kitchen Window - I hope your kids take their stuff with. :-)