Continuing with the waste of Overproduction…
Since writing the previous post on using the ‘lean’ principles in everyday and domestic life to add value by avoiding waste I am very conscious of buying too much and creating future waste – I just have to look around my house to see the result of this. I wonder why I do buy things sometimes, as more often than not they are not on my shopping list – rather I see something and decide impulsively that I would quite like it, or even worse that I believe I cannot live without it!
As well, I buy because I can; my income, though fairly modest, is such that I do not even have to think about the cost of a small purchase. I often wonder what fortune I might have amassed over the years if I had not squandered my money on all these low-cost hasty purchases.
All this buying has generated a lot of waste and the constant necessity to declutter. I am not alone in this as there seems to be some kind of decluttering fever in blogland at the moment – maybe it isn’t just me that is feeling the need to gain back some space and feel free from the responsibility of storing and looking after stuff.
Are we desiring less but actually buying more?
At the beginning of last year I decided to document everything I bought that wasn’t food. (You can see this here on my rerouted blog). I thought this exercise was going to be a doddle after all I was trying to seriously cut down on what I bought anyway so I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time photographing my purchases – how wrong I was!
By the time March came round I realised this was getting to be quite a time-consuming project because I actually bought more items than I thought I would and as soon as Easter arrived with the better weather my attentions had to be prioritised towards the garden. It was a useful exercise though because I can visually see items in the photos that I bought and haven’t used or I found not to be useful after all.
Simplicity of living and avoidance of waste
Whilst thinking about waste and unnecessary buying I keep going back to one of my favourite discoveries – Innermost House – for those following along with my journey you might remember Innermost House if not click here to discover for yourself. The simplicity of living and freedom from buying that this video promotes is something that I aspire to achieve.
You would perhaps think that Simplistic living is quite an easy goal to accomplish but I think it is a constant struggle. The world wants me to spend. I watch the TV and I am subjected to advertising, I go to the shops and I am attracted by the displays and the most recent fashion must haves, I hand over my money at the checkout and they hand me back vouchers so I will return and spend more.
Worse still I don’t even need to have cash anymore I just hand over a piece of plastic and I don’t feel the loss of my hard-earned money. And just when I think I can’t spend anymore because all the shops are closed I log on to the internet and all my movements are being tracked so that I am bombarded with adverts of products I might like to buy from the sites I visit.
Not buying more must surely begin with being content with what I already have and not being tempted into buying things unnecessarily. I can look back at the world my grandparents knew and see that they were far more content with their lot. Their world was definitely simpler, their choice was limited and their income also limited their choice.
Going back to my task of Simplifying my house, one of my main goals in the decluttering battle is to be much more careful when shopping to avoid being wasteful. I really do not want to be throwing out items that I only bought a few months before, whether that is clothes, household contents or food and I do not want to get rid of loads of stuff only to find that a month or two down the line the house has filled up once again.
Limiting my spending
To stop this happening I have thought of a number of things I have decided to do
- I am looking to put some kind of limit onto the amount of items I have in any one category. For instance I could limit myself to one magazine a month, 6 pairs of shoes, 6 sets of underwear, a capsule wardrobe, 1 bookcase of books etc this way items can only be replaced rather than be added to.
- I will repair and maintain the items we already have where possible rather than replace them with new
- I will avoid the need to keep any ‘just in case’ items
- I will decline taking other people’s bags of decluttered items that are passed on
- I will suggest tokens for my birthdays that I can use for a massage, facial or a meal, something that I do not have to keep or suggest a donation to my favourite charity.
- l will borrow books from the library
- I will limit my store cupboard supplies
- I will try harder to plan weekly menus to cut down on food waste
- I will make a concentrated effort to make my own cards from my craft cupboard materials.
- I will only keep what I really use unless it is for sentimental reasons
I am sure there are more ways than this to minimise the ‘stuff’ from creeping back in. I may be wrong, and do tell me if I am, but Kondo never says exactly how she deals with any accumulted stuff after the initial declutter, it is as though she expects it will never be a problem again. Her message is always to apply the test of does it ‘give joy’ but quite often that urge to buy and spend and therefore accumulate is the very ‘Joy’ bit – albeit quite short lived in most cases. In this world of plenty having that bit more does not register with us until the bit more has become a bit of a mountain!
I have no doubt I could keep on forever buying and decluttering but I prefer not to – it seems such a waste of effort and time and resources not to mention space so I need to take a stand now.
Perhaps I will even get back to photographing and logging all my purchases again as a way of avoiding future waste.
12 thoughts on “waste not want not…”
I love the idea of setting a limit on each category! And photographing all purchases would really be eye-opening, too. One little thing that has helped me is that, like you, I asked that family members gifts to me (if any) be all consumables like food (jam, chocolates, specialty coffee) or experiences (tickets, vouchers, etc.)
On my major birthday last year I asked for no gifts or a donation towards a charity to adopt a donkey. I found that people are not comfortable with the no gift idea so I ended up with enough charity money for a whole heard of donkeys!
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Some brilliant points. I know I would have trouble listing everything I buy. Like you my income and ease of card use makes buying so easy. I don’t know I could limit categories of stuff I have but I do wonder about people who decluttering loads and loads repeatedly. We have a twice a year council cleanup and the amount of stuff some people put out is amazing. Where has it all come from? Where do they store it l? One of my neighbours just said this is the happiest time of the year as she gets to decluttering her garage and even close the garage door. Until the next 6 months!
Stop it coming in I say. (Easier to say than do.)
I found a blog that really helped. 365 less things. Her earlier posts were a wealth of good ideas and challenged my thinking.
Like you, I wonder what would my financial state be if I invested the money I spent on stuff I now declutter. But then many of my things have, and continue to, bring me joy.
When I go to Ikea I see people with trolleys mounded up of bits and bobs they have collected around the store. Then I go to the local tip (waste collection centre) with our excess garden waste and I see last years stuff from Ikea being thrown away – no doubt to make room for this years more fashionable items! It is as you say a continuous cycle and one that I do not want to be involved with especially not to the extreme it seems to have reached these days.
I find 365 Less Things a great blog too. I like the way she gives you daily suggestions for things you can declutter. It often inspires me to do a bit of a cull in a cupboard or two.
I will definitely have to have a look over there.
I just realized your “lean thinking” tag fits in with your “EA” categories..heehee. In all seriousness, clutter does creep in despite our best intentions. It does make me wonder how Ms. Kondo handles it…
I think Kondo needs to write a sequel now on handling future stuff. Maybe I have missed that bit in the book. Coincidently on her Youtube presentation it is one of the questons from the audience and it is obvious from other questions put to her that generally people do not understand this part of the declutter process as of course we all know it all comes back again over a period of time. She seems to be suggesting that it is a one of declutter session and we will live happily stuff free ever after!
I feel very much the same way at the moment, although I am in the middle of completely overhauling my very tired wardrobe as my tastes appear to have completely changed in the last few years. Hopefully though, once done, I won’t actually feel the need to purchase much more in this area for a good while as everything I’m buying is well thought out.
With regard to everything else, I’m sifting my way through. I just donate what I can, keep want I can’t let go of until a time when I feel better able to donate it. It is a bit of a laborious round after round of decluttering, but gradually the ‘stuff’ in our house is receding, making it a more enjoyable and better organised place to live. I do try to think more carefully before buying things now and do often come away from shops without having seen anything I wanted to purchase, which does help.
It has had a knock on effect on my gift buying habits too, as I now tend to enjoy buying useful or practical gifts for others. I figure if I don’t want useless things bought with little thought in my house, why should I inflict them on others.
When I look at my unwanted pile I often wonder how it came into my house in the first place. Some are freebies, some gifts, some felt good and useful at the time but proved not to be (they are the worst) Hopefully I can really get to grips with not buying / receiving items in the first place!
We are surrounded by consumerism and it is hard to resist. You’ve got a good list going. I have downsized after retirement and that has helped me keep impulse spending down because there simply is no room for extras. Keep working you’ll find your way.