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.