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01/10/2013

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Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

[Mary Anne E. sent me the following comment via email due to problems posting a comment here. If you are also having troubles with the comments feature, kindly let me know.]

Beautifully written Joy.

What is worth spending money on? Ok...I do love experience-producing merchandise...like snow shoes for example which I bought myself 2 years ago. I would love a kayak, and cross country skis too! But I know what you mean. Clothes, shoes, purses...all that clutter....! It surrounds us even when we don't consciously choose it to be. Like wind blown litter in a neighborhood after a storm. It just happens (no, it does, but you know what I mean).

My dear best friend spends her money on her sick beloved pets. It always seems that something is happening...as they all are getting old. Her pets ARE her children. All else is secondary.

I have learned to have a clear focus when entering any store. get the items on my list and get out ASAP. No wandering the interior aisles, no succumbing to compulsion at the grocery store. I allow myself very little ebay and Amazon action these days. Very easy to get wrapped up in "small" purchases... which result in the UPS man visiting.

I also want to light a bonfire figuratively speaking.... I live among retail heaven...suburbia...wedged in between craft stores, shopping malls, every kind of diverse globally tasty restaurant, grocery stores, and supplies stores you could ever dream of. It would be EASIER to be in a rural region....less temptations.

I know that living in suburbia is a great source of consumerism...not only is temptation to buy "stuff" around every single corner...but there is a huge factor of keeping up with one's neighbors. If your lawn does have a "lawn service" come out weekly...your neighbors will know (oh the horror---!!). If your car is not the latest model, where you drive and park will be noticed....unfavorably. How you look, dress, etc. will always be noticed by your peers.

It is much better to live rurally in that respect...although, as you say, folks tend to shop online and have the UPS man visiting no matter where they live. Its just too EASY to consume all this stuff advertised day and night before our eyes...online, on TV, on roadside billboards, etc. Very hard to stay focused.

Thank you so much for starting my day with great hope and inspiration to the mantra, "Just for TODAY, I will not consume...I will not purchase unnecessary stuff."


Amanda

I am right there with you but my current motivation is the upcoming move! I really need to start tackling out storage room in the basement and figuring out where to pass on a lot of stuff. We have stuff in boxes that we put in storage 6 years ago when we left MA that we have not used since being in NJ!

And 5 homes is INSANE!

Karen

It's time for me to stop buying stuff too. I loved this post. You really got me thinking. How much stuff do I need? You should see the mountain of cardboard in my garage. I'm ashamed.

Suz

Joy, this is a very well written article. Yes, too much stuff does bog us down but some special stuff that reminds us of memories from years gone by we treasure forever. I have a plastic heart shaped red box that a roommate of mine in a summer arts program had her mother paint the top of with beautiful flowers for my 16th Birthday. I keep jewelry and other small items in it on my dresser. It is now 30 years later and that box has made it through so many moves and paring down sessions. It is the memory of that wonderful summer and a wonderful friend. I have rarely if ever ordered anything through the mail but still have far more "stuff" to trip over as well. Giving away is better than throwing out. Especially there are many needy people who never had been in need before in this slow economy. If something is a thing you use or a treasure to you(like my red heart shaped box is for me) keep it. If something has become just stuff, find it a new home. Our Library sells used books in the basement. United Way has daycare programs for families in need. Many Churches have programs to collect and redistribute blankets, mittens and hats, teddy bears, food, school supplies, etc. Food Pantries, Salvation Army, Good Will. Turn your Stuff --->something used or something treasured. Green living; Pass it on.

Milaka

Very nicely put. I've been wrestling with this topic for a few years myself. We opened a small business moments (it seems) before the recession hit. We've managed to stay afloat, but we've had to cut back our "stuff" drastically. The things that I miss the most aren't actually "things", but experiences. I miss going out to dinner with the family at the spur of the moment. I miss having a season pass to our local amusement park and riding the rides with the kids. I miss being able to travel for vacations. But we have substituted family games nights (board games), DVD nights and taking advantage of the $5 pizza specials! We're making it work. And now we all know we can live without the latest gaming system (all of ours are hand-me-downs) and movies in the theatre (except for The Hobbit - we bit the bullet and too the kids out for that one!). Once our business rebounds, I doubt we'll add back in much. It's actually kind of nice to be free of stuff!

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Karen, I think the fact that you know you have a problem with all of that stuff is half the battle. Too many people just blindly keep ordering stuff without ever figuring out they're in too deep already. Thanks for stopping by here and at the BlogHer feature as well!

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Suz, that's so sweet about the painted box from your 16th birthday! Thanks for sharing that here.

There really are so many good places for "stuff" you don't need--I appreciate your additional ideas for where to donate.

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Milaka, it is interesting how certain circumstances in life can change your whole perspective going forward. (We bit the bullet for "The Hobbit" too, by the way!) I wish you much luck with your business. Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience here.

SZQ

Joy - this is EXACTLY how we are feeling. Wish we would have come to this earlier in life - but better late than never, right? We are early retirees just realizing how much "STUFF!" we have. It's a pain, to be honest - too many clothes (WHAT to wear?) too many knick-knacks (HATE dusting/cleaning!), too many shoes (ditto clothes!) - with less stuff, we are destressing our environment (home), and it's just so much more pleasant to be here. We have just purchased a second home (in AZ for the winters!) and we both agrees - we will have the necessities, but keeping the other "stuff" to a minimum. I guess I've gotten to the point of "how much is ENOUGH?" Here's a typical conversation I have with myself when out in the retail world: "Do you REALLY need this?" And usually it's a NO!, so I put it back and move on. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of clutter. And it's a hell of a lot easier to find stuff when there's not so much stuff to have to dig through! ;-) I totally feel the same - I want to spend my money on experiences with family & friends - making memories with my nieces & nephews! To me, that's what brings me happiness - not "STUFF!"

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

It is indeed better late than never, believe me--I had a great aunt who was still out actively shopping for clothes every week, in her 90's! What was she going to do with all of those clothes?! Stay strong and keep putting the stuff back on the store shelf. I hope you'll stop in here regularly--I often write about this topic.I have two categories--called "Minimalism & Non-Consumerism" and "Unplug & Simplify"--which have become two of my favorite categories to write posts about.

And most importantly, enjoy your retirement in sunny AZ!

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Green Books for Children

  • Igor Siwanowicz: Animals Up Close

    Igor Siwanowicz: Animals Up Close
    See review under Green Books, 11/12/2012

  • Helen Frost: Step Gently Out

    Helen Frost: Step Gently Out
    For commentary, see "Savoring the Last of Summer" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Leo Lionni: Frederick [English Edition]

    Leo Lionni: Frederick [English Edition]
    For commentary, see "Savoring the Last of Summer" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Terry Allan Hicks: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Tell Me Why, Tell Me How)

    Terry Allan Hicks: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Tell Me Why, Tell Me How)
    For commentary, see "Appreciating Autumn" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Betsy Maestro: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)

    Betsy Maestro: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)
    For commentary, see "Appreciating Autumn" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Alison Inches: I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)

    Alison Inches: I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)
    "One little monster learns to reduce, reuse, and recycle." That's all good, of course, but my own children laugh out loud every time they read how Max the Little Monster (before his attitude adjustment) clogs up the toilet with too much toilet paper, yelling "Hungry Toilet!" Kids...they just love the potty humor. Made from 100% recycled paper.

  • Julia Rawlinson: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

    Julia Rawlinson: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
    This book is incredibly sweet. A sensitive, little fox named Fletcher cannot understand what is happening to his beloved tree at the onset of autumn, and he tries everything in his power to keep the leaves on the tree. When he wakes up one winter morning to find his tree covered in dazzlingly beautiful snow crystals, it chokes me up every time. Although it's not about saving the earth, the book is a lovely tribute to nature and its seasons.

  • Diane Muldrow: We Planted a Tree

    Diane Muldrow: We Planted a Tree
    I love how this relatively new book (published in 2010) is charmingly illustrated in the same style as those Little Golden Books from the 1960's. In simple prose, the book explains what happens when you plant a tree and watch it grow, while enjoying the benefits of fruit, shade, budding flowers, and cleaner air.

  • Dr. Seuss: The Lorax (Classic Seuss)

    Dr. Seuss: The Lorax (Classic Seuss)
    This book is a classic for a reason. As I was reading it for the first time to my children, I could see the shock and sadness on their faces when the very first Truffula Tree was chopped down. Unlike the progression of The Curious Garden (see below), things just keep getting worse--all in the name of "progress." It ends with a powerful message: "UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Great for generating conversations with young children about caring for and protecting natural resources. Printed on recycled paper.

  • Peter Brown: The Curious Garden

    Peter Brown: The Curious Garden
    First, I have to admit it: As a mom, I'm *slightly* bothered that a little boy is walking around a creepy city all by himself, and "stumbles upon a dark stairwell" which he decides to head up. However, this book is simply magical, so I'll chalk it up to "willing suspension of disbelief" and let it go. With each page, as Liam grows from a novice gardener into a Green Thumb Extraordinaire, the dreary city in which everybody stays inside becomes a green utopia that everybody enjoys. Liam helps the whole city to bloom, and changes the mindsets of its citizens, simply by taking the first steps and sticking to his mission--without any preaching whatsoever. My favorite parts are the multiple spreads with no words at all, which depict how the gray, dirty city is growing greener and cleaner with the passage of time, thanks to our hero. Printed on recycled paper.

Green Books for Adults