From Materialism Overthrow to a Simpler, More World Conscientious Lifestyle
Simple Living for the Good of Everyone
How many people can say they don’t have a pile (or hundreds of piles..) of things that they honestly just don’t need? There are so many of us, me included, that have such an excess of stuff that ends up being used only once a year, or sometimes just once at all. Imagine you are standing in the middle of your room, all of your closets and drawers opened. Now are you able to say that, of all your material possessions, you can’t give any of it up and still be able to live a comfortable life?
My guess is that you could give a lot of it up and still be just fine.
Now imagine all of your possessions, the ones that you’ve struggled to convince yourself that you can survive without; the multiple travel coffee cups, the t-shirts that didn’t fit quite right or skirts that didn’t make it into your favorites pile, the expensive craft supplies that you’ve always been meaning to break out, the random little gadgets that consumed all of your attention at Christmastime but now are buried at the back of a drawer, the outdated cell phones, the books waiting to be read…I’m sure you can tack on your own dispensable items to the list.
So first off, instead of feeling shame or guilt, feel extremely lucky that you were born into the kind of life where excess instead of lacking is your issue. Think of our millions of friends in third world countries who would have to work weeks to pay off that fancy hat that you never could find an occasion to wear. It very well could have been just a casual impulse-buy for you. Did you even look at the price before you handed over that credit card? Okay, maybe in these harder times, this isn’t as often the situation, but what I’m concentrating on here is the inequality from the world view. It just doesn’t seem to add up.
Okay, so by now it seems as if I’m intent on loading on the accusations here, but honestly this is just a reminder that we need to keep our eyes opened to the bigger picture. Now, imagine your pile possessions and think of the input of resources they require to reach you, the buyer. Unfortunately, there is no happy little machine where you put the quarter in and out pops a ready-to-go consumer good. It takes many steps to reach a finished product, the sum of the parts and how they come to be whole is something often forgotten.
Take your cell phone. The raw materials to create the special metals and plastic forms that are all put together to make a tidy finished product. Each piece is constructed by somebody and there are more “somebodies” who are responsible for putting all those pieces together and even more “somebodies” (not to mention more resources) are required to assemble the packaging and package the product. Furthermore, each part of the process of piecing together the assembled good requires transportation to move it along down the production chain- which may mean moving from one side of a factory to another, or from one side of an ocean to another. Each large-scale move needs it's own input of resources: fuel being the prominent example, required to power the train or the ocean-liner that transports your product from one stage to another. You get the idea? Such a great deal of energy, often initiating from far away places, goes into the creation process to get it to your local store’s shelf.
Alright. So now we want to think about scaling down, getting rid of possessions you don’t need. Obviously the greatest solution would be to donate them, either locally or even abroad if you are so ambitious. You could always go the yard sale route and make some money back of your own. The idea is to only possess what you need; to live simply and consciously. At the very least you can work toward a simpler lifestyle- pare down, think before you buy, consider what you are supporting when you buy certain products. We are all entitled to live happy, fruitful lives..but let us never forget about the bigger picture and how we are only a piece of it.