Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Great Purge: Peeling Back the Layers of Over Consumption


It amazed me how much stuff one can own. According to a March 2014 article in the Los Angeles Times, the average U.S. household contains 300,000 items. 47% of all toys and books are owned by children in the U.S., who only make up 3.7% of the children on the planet. It feels like 80% of those toys are in my son's room right now. Ugh. Well, to be fair, it's mostly Legos, but still...

The path to minimalism is a peeling of the onion. Layer one, all the stuff. Step one, the initial purge. This step can be a bit overwhelming. Where do you even begin? My suggestion is to start with the obvious. What stands out as a burden to you? What brings bad memories or sits around collecting dust? Put it in a box and get rid of it. Donate it to a local thrift shop, a homeless shelter, a women's and children's shelter. Hold a garage sale.

My initial purge was brought about by the end of a tumultuous marriage. I got rid of everything that reminded me of his presence. That was a really easy purge, I admit. I had a big garage sale and made enough money to pay the rent.

During the second purge, you will likely dig a little deeper. By this point, there may be some things you have been holding on to that suddenly seem trivial or silly to keep. Why do I have enough wine glasses to throw a party when I am more likely to just have one or two friends over?  What am I keeping this heavy winter coat for when it never gets cold enough to wear it where I live?

Peel that onion back. Peel some more.



The hardest part? Fighting back all the stuff well-meaning people in your life will gift you and (especially) your children during the holidays. If you find the answer to that, get back to me.

I'm in the process of yet another purge. I'm peeling away to get down to the core of what I actually need to own and what I want to keep around because it makes me happy. I've cleaned out a dressing table that mostly served as a place to catch dust, pile unfolded laundry, and just generally gather a messy junk heap that the cat enjoyed pushing into the floor. I have it for sale and I really hope a buyer comes along quickly because it's already becoming covered with stuff once again.

I've purged my kitchen yet again until I'm mostly down to the basics. I am left with one dilemma in the kitchen. I have two sets of dishes. One is a collectible and pretty. The other is basic every day and chipped from misuse. My inclination is to sell the collectible set and keep the set I don't mind getting banged up, but the other set brings me more joy. These are the kinds of dilemmas you will find yourself in as you minimalize your possessions, but don't get stuck on them. For now, I'll keep both and figure it out later.

Minimalizing can take time. Most minimalists don't begin by giving away or selling everything overnight to live out of a bus with their suitcase full of clothes. It's a slow removal of what doesn't work for you. It's a monthly or quarterly or yearly revisiting of the things that surround you, peeling the layers of consumerism that drown our society in too much stuff until you get to the core of who you are and what you need.

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