Because I am in and out of small business offices in people’s homes each week, I see a huge and wide variety of “stuff.”
Cruise through any national retail chain and you’ll see a huge variety of “stuff.”
Heck, take a walk through your local grocery store and you’ll be overwhelmed with choices for “stuff” — and I use the word STUFF rather than FOOD because in reality, more than half of what’s in those stores isn’t really food. Or isn’t REAL FOOD, to be very specific.
Why am I on this soapbox today?
I guess it’s because I received a panicked call from a client recently. She had driven out west to clean out her ailing father’s house. Her 10 pm call was filled with frustration and anxiety mostly because of the amount of STUFF in her father’s house. Stuff that he hadn’t looked at in over a year, because he was living in a senior home near my client.
And her anxiety-filled call wasn’t about starving children, her ailing father, or fears of imminent physical harm. These weren’t the things stressing her out. STUFF was!
And without even stepping foot in that house, I bet you there were probably 20 items in that structure really worth worrying about – that had real monetary or sentimental value. The rest of it? Cheap crap that will end up in our landfills, polluting our soil and water. And I won’t go into the labor that created all that cheap crap, or the fossil fuels burned to ship that cheap crap over to America.
Here’s a great exercise for you to go through when you are overwhelmed with stuff in your office or in your home.
Pretend you have to leave your house and can never come back.
You can leave with your car and perhaps a trailer.
You can take enough clothes to fill one suitcase. Enough toiletries for your overnight bag. And your pets.
And you can only take two other things from each room. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. But ONLY two things.
You will get very clear very quickly about what matters to you.
In this country, we have so many options, so many choices, and consistently exercise that power of choice by buying STUFF. Stuff we don’t need, stuff that serves a very shallow purpose, and stuff that will, again, end up in our land fills, polluting our soils and water, and perpetuating the myth that cheap crap is easy to get and has no consequence for the future (because it seemingly has so little consequence for our wallet).
I challenge you to see how long you can use a pen before buying more. I challenge you to run out of paper towels, envelopes and toilet paper before you “buy more.” I challenge you to always buy recycled – even if it costs a little more. I challenge you to buy REAL food that will nourish your body, rather than just shoveling in empty calories while driving down the interstate.
I challenge you to think before you buy – to ask yourself: whose labor make this? was it under good working conditions and a fair wage? did the production of this thing pollute, spoil, or otherwise degrade our precious natural resources? if I died, would ANYONE want this (and would I want a house full of this stuff and force my children or family to deal with it later?)
I understand that spending money keeps the economy chugging along. All I’m asking is that you spend your dollars wisely – buy the best you can afford, buy only what you need, be sure your purchase is making the best use of our precious natural resources, and don’t succumb to the easy seduction of buying cheap crap.