How often do you feel overwhelmed by the stuff in your home? Have you gone overboard in buying and collecting things you don’t actually need or want? How much clarity and relaxation could you experience, if you simply took a day and purged your home of all of the material items you don’t need, want, use or enjoy? I challenge you now, to do just that.
But, this isn’t what this article is about. It’s not about reducing your life to one fork and one spoon, and a mattress on the floor. It’s about living intentionally with material possessions because we simply aren’t running naked in the woods to live. The fact of the matter is, we actually do need stuff to live. We need towels to dry ourselves, clothes to cover ourselves and express who we are and what message we want to convey. We need dishes and kitchen utensils, we need journals and pens to keep our minds flowing. We need modes of transportation. We need books to read and feed our minds with. We need blankets to keep warm, shoes to protect our feet and carry us along. We need computers and phones to communicate and create and share. We need jackets to keep us warm and safe outside in the cold. We need wallets and purses to carry our identification, notes, and currency. We need toys and hobby supplies, tools and appliances.
I suppose we could get through life without these items, but they are what enable us to live a better quality of life, for billions of people around the world. Over-consumption runs rampant, the evidence is in landfills, stores, storage units, our homes, cars, streams, rivers, lakes and is now making a deep impact on ocean life. While I don’t consider myself to be a minimalist or over-consumer, I do consider myself to be a developing intentional consumer. With each purchase, my goals are to reduce wasteful spending and consumption, vote with my dollars, and ensure I’m making the best choice possible for myself and others, and our beautiful planet. It’s no secret we are polluting Earth at a rapid pace that’s quickly gotten out of control. What can we do, starting today, to make a positive impact on our consumption?
What can we do, starting today, to continue use of what we already have? For me, in 2019, I have the intention of buying no new clothes, shoes or accessories, with the exception of what we will need for our wedding ceremony. I also have the intention and goal of making and cooking more food at home, such as making our own pasta, pancakes, peanut butter cups and drinks from natural and fresh items.
A very big part of intentional consumerism is repairing and getting the most use of what we already have. Borrowing, trading and renting also plays a significant role in this approach. Do you need to purchase an item you only need to use once, or can you borrow or rent it? Do you really need a new pair of shoes, or can you have yours resoled by a local cobbler? (Yes, they do exist, and they are amazing people.) Do you truly need another hat, or can you remain happy with the 30 already in your collection?
When we exercise the mindset of intentional consumerism, the purchases we make should last for years to come and serve our best and highest good. Consider spending a few dollars more now to get a higher quality shirt that will last 10 years, instead of one that will be torn to bits after its first wash. Consider natural and hearty materials such as hemp, cotton, cast iron, stainless steel, glass, ceramic, silicone and wood, in place of plastics and synthetic materials designed to be replaced after a short lifespan of usefulness. As an added benefit, consider the materials that have a neutral or positive impact on your health, instead of a negative impact.
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