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Lower Consumption Lower Possession

I recently wrote two posts on simplicity as a part of OneWord2011.  The first was expressing my desire for simplicity, and the second gave two ways I try to focus on a simplified life.  In getting feedback from some of you about the posts, I have been asked to give some examples of how I try to simplify.  Later, I will do a post on simplifying the family schedule, but for now, I’m going to focus this post on keeping consumption to a minimum and not having too much in our possession.

1.  My girls got new backpacks for this school year.  When I cleaned out the coat closet, I found 6!!! other backpacks!  Ridiculously enough, I was tempted to keep a “backup” for each of them.  Now, I’m trying to find children who really need them.  The more we have, the more we have to keep up with.  If you’re not using it, get rid of it.

2.  Chris and I have recently cleaned out our closet.  The rule is, if we haven’t worn it in a year, it goes.  Try to buy clothes that are classic, not trendy.  I’m not trying to give style tips here.  If it’s trendy, we’re just being consumers, focusing on appearance, and it will be a waste when the style changes in a month.  Also, I pass our kids’ clothes on to friends or children in need before I use Goodwill as a last resort.  It’s a preference, but I get to hear neat stories when I know who has them.

3.  My shock over this tip will show you what a consumer I am.  One of the most offensive things I read in a spiritual disciplines book on simplicity was to drink water.  What?  No diet coke?  No Izze? Water is the simplest, healthiest form of consumption.  Just think about it. (Don’t worry.  I still drink plenty of coffee).

4.  Most of the landscaping in our yard is second-hand.  When family members and friends are digging up bushes, we are happy to take it off their hands.  I’ve also been known to pick up azaleas that strangers have dug up and put on the side of the road.  I don’t know, maybe that makes us bums, but it saves money.

5.  Share with friends.  We should all share baby furniture/items, but we can go beyond to other household items, cars, homes, etc. to prevent one another from having to overspend. If this overwhelms you, start small, don’t throw out the extra food you cooked, share with a friend or neighbor, then move up to bigger items.  Also, teach your children to start giving things to others at an early age.

You’ve heard from me, but I have missed a lot.  I need more ways to cut consumption and move things out of my possession.  Others need to hear from you, too.  So, please comment below, and enlighten us.  No cutback is too small.

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Karen Rehkopf #

    1. I started the summer with the intention of baby proofing our home, but it quickly turned into decluttering room by room. I highly recommend it! Initially, I tried talking myself into keeping some things… but I remembered my motives & they needed a new home. The root of my sin is believing that the decor in my home will create a certain mood that will relax me & others (like a color scheme favoring the ocean, ahhh) but I have found the most inviting homes are thanks to the homeowners loving hearts, not their decor.
    Most of the items are home accessories, so I sought out the young women I know starting new homes as college graduates. What they didn’t take, I have donated to two families in need.
    Another angle for a few of the sentimental pieces (or damaged ones) was to evaluate how I could repurpose the item. Not only does this challenge my creativity, but helps make an old piece new again. Examples of repurposing for me: painting a frame to update it (& to save from buying a new frame); taking my clothing with holes/stains and sewing a skirt or top for my daughter

    2. As a new mother, I started to be realistic by ending my battle with outdoor flowers. This may sound silly, but I felt so guilty letting them die… & they always do because of my failure to water! So, I have come to terms that in this phase of my life, I need to save the money and just focus my responsibilities elsewhere inside my home. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look out at flowers & maybe I’ll adopt the discipline in the future… but for now, we just look at our neighbors flowers instead. 🙂

    Suzanne, I liked your recent blog about gratefulness being something we demonstrate & teach our children, that we cannot make their hearts be thankful just by saying thank you. I hope to lead by example for my daughter, to show gratitude for what we have & generosity to what we can share with others.
    Thanks for explaining how it looks in your life!

    July 29, 2011
    • Karen, That is a great idea – to give household items to girls starting new homes. I’m sure they are glad to have your things, not only for good use, but to think of you when they see them. And, you’re right, hospitality comes from the heart, not the amount of money you have spent on decor. Thanks for your ideas.

      July 29, 2011
  2. Karen Rehkopf #

    Oh & you can ignore that silly yellow smiley face, ha!

    July 29, 2011
  3. Tara #

    Suzanne, this subject has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve come to realize that the more “stuff” I have, the more stress I have. I spend a lot of time and energy cleaning, picking up, and getting frustrated that it’s a never ending job. I can very easily lose my focus on things eternal, and for me it’s due to the stress that comes as a result of dealing with all of the “stuff.” Believe me, I have a long way to go, but I’m slowly trying to simplify my life. Recently the kids and I cleaned out their play room. I really have no idea how we accumulated so many toys, but they don’t play even half of them. I got the girls involved in helping to sort through what we would keep and what we would give away. It was hard for them at first. They found some sentimental reason for keeping almost everything! When I suggested names of kids they could give their toys to, they were definitely more willing to part with them. A lot of things still ended up going to goodwill, but we were able to give some things to other kids that could use them. They still have more toys than they need in my opinion, but it was a start. The closets are next.

    July 29, 2011
    • Tara, This is very helpful. The stuff causes me stress, too. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this battle.

      July 29, 2011
    • Karen Rehkopf #

      Tara, well said about the stress in the cleaning that never ends! I’ve noticed since reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ in my house, there are fewer spots for dust to hide & clutter to overwhelm me… in turn, less time & frustration given to cleaning… resulting in available time to use wisely. How wonderful that your girls see their things going to meet needs of other boys & girls!

      July 31, 2011
  4. great conversation! i posted my thoughts as well at http://therudzenafamily.blogspot.com

    August 2, 2011
    • Thanks, Kyndi. I knew you would have some great input having to condense with your move to NY.

      August 8, 2011

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