Saturday, April 12, 2014


One of the challenges as part EcoLent that Cherice is following was to buy less new stuff, and reading that tied in nicely with an article Jimmy shared on Facebook about 'stuffocation' - of having too much stuff in your life that it becomes smothering and restricting. The article suggests that accumulating experiences, 'experientialism', rather than things is the answer to the swing away from materialism without heading to minimalism and simple living. Whilst simple living is quite attractive to me, it doesn't appeal to many nor does it keep the economy ticking over in the same way, which on a mass scale presumably has certain drawbacks. Experientialism, the article claims, can bridge that gap; provide personal fulfillment, keep the exchequer happy and yet minimise the need for accumulating 'stuff'.

It is an interesting article covering the history of materialism and also the historical influence of the Christian churches on peoples' aspirations and consumer habits, I recommend it, although it blithely ignores the materialism of the churches themselves in that same era - but that is another issue. How any church could preach how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter heaven and at the same time accumulate some of the greatest riches in Europe is one of the reasons I became rather cynical about the mainstream Christian churches as a teenager.

Despite their commonalities of not acquiring 'stuff' you don't need, the challenge at the top of the article 'Could you spend a month and have bought nothing physical by the end of it' doesn't really fit very well alongside simple living and urban homesteading though! Just in terms of food I cook all my meals from scratch, and a lot of ingredients I buy in bulk so of course I have things left at the end of the month. And not only do I have a stash of nuts, dried fruit, flours and pulses etc I have plants growing in the vegetable garden that have been bought as seedlings or seeds.

But looking back over the last few months expenditure the only non-consumables (other than a couple of toothbrushes, which are bamboo and repurposed as row markers in the garden when I'm done with them in the bathroom) that I have bought this year are a replacement camera (my old one having died), an extra external hard-drive (as my laptop is dying...) and a sewing pattern for childrens' clothing for making gifts later in the year, and some photos printed off to use in a Quaker workshop which can be reused/repurposed. Even the majority of the gifts I've bought rather than made have been edible! Mind you I haven't exactly been out and about to do much shopping. There are a few things that I would've bought by now had I not been stuck home unwell so much, but apart from a book and a cd (which need buying online when I get my act together rather than me going anywhere!), they are replacement items rather than 'more' stuff.

Even though the last three months have hardly been typical of my life in general they've not really been that atypical of my shopping habits. Partly a result of living on a fairly tight budget, but mainly a result of moving house so often over the years that I've learned to appreciate that less is way more manageable, and subsequently growing to appreciate less clutter in my life.

One of the facebook images being circulated this last week or so via The Story of Stuff is 'the buyerarchy of needs pyramid' - taking Maslow's pyramid into a new direction. When trying to find an image of it I could link to here it made me chuckle to find this print of it available, which does seem a little ironic! But I suppose it is all about context - as someone's latest addition to a private print collection it would be missing the point, but going up in a more public place as an educational and inspirational tool it would probably be worth it. And to be fair to the original artist, they aren't going to make a living out of us sharing it on the internet...

So, generally I'm doing pretty well on the limiting 'stuff' front, now I just need to get well enough to have more 'experiences' beyond trips to various medical appointments which seem to be the most common thing on my calendar these days. I've had a fair few new experiences so far this year which I would've quite happily done without and certainly don't recommend!

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