It starts when we’re born. Accessories. “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities. When did babies become fashion statements? Aren’t they cute enough already? I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.
It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games. I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options. They do however have accessories. They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case. Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.
Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this. I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house. Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things. Accessories. I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice. Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic. I love to create things, but with a purpose. Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it. The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much. I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better. I created this photograph several years ago. This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.
Yesterday, I spent the early part of the day running errands before work. Most of them were driving the Infiniti sleigh, full of donations, to all of the required destinations for drop-off. I started at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, dropping off my old back door, extra slate tiles and a bag of hardware. I went inside to look for a new front door. The style I want, the size and that fact it needs to be used is making it difficult to find one. Yesterday I found 3, and 2 of which I liked, but I decided not to purchase one. I don’t need it and I’ve spent a lot of money on my house lately.
Next stop was the purple thrift store in McKinney, benefiting the Samaritan Inn. I dropped off a few bags of my stuff, a box of stuff from work and two bags from my friends. Of course I had to go inside, but I did it with my new minimalist trajectory. Here’s what I didn’t buy. 2 blue ceramic bowls. I thought about buying them because we don’t use paper plates or plastic utensils, even when entertaining, so I tend to keep more of these in the house. I have all solid colored mis-matched dishes. I chose not to buy them, as I really don’t entertain that much and I didn’t need them. Just saved $2. The other thing I didn’t buy was a metal orange tray for $3. My kids like to occasionally use a tray to eat upstairs, which I allow about 2 times a year. We have a plastic red tray, and I didn’t need the orange tray. No need for 2 of anything like that. I probably don’t even need to keep the red tray. I didn’t need anything in there, so I left without buying anything. Time for my next stop.
I decided to go to Half Price Books since I had a pile of books I didn’t need. I’ve sold books to them in the past and I swore I would never do it again. For the number of books, the value of them as used books and the condition, I always felt financially raped when I left there after selling books. I thought this time I’ll go in, sell my stuff and be prepared for any amount of money I might get. I gave them 8 classic novels, 4 current magazines, 1 current novel, 3 cookbooks and other miscellaneous books. 23 pieces in all.
All of these are used, my best estimate is $40.00 out of pocket. Since it was a weekend, Half Price was busy so I had to wait a little while for them to process my stuff. That was no problem, as I wanted to look around a little bit. I was hoping to find some books on hoarding or materialism, but to no avail. I looked on the ‘housekeeping / organization’ shelf first. Continue reading
Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can. From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!
I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago. Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot. I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.
A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle. One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch. I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade. This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now. The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase. I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.
I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore. Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy. I had some fence boards that I had no place to store. Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence. Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill. Continue reading