Saturday, April 12, 2008
103/366 - Waste not, want not
I've been reading Serve God, Save the Planet by J. Matthew Sleeth and I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach. But that discussion is for another day, another post.
One of the things he suggests is that Americans have entirely too much stuff, and that we are wasteful with it. How many times have you lost something you know you have multiple versions of (scissors, pens, etc.). He suggests that we lose things because we have too much stuff for it to get lost in. And often, if we can't find it, we just go buy another one to replace it. Which adds up quickly.
How much stuff do we have? Do you know how many items you have in your home? Anyone taken a count inventory lately? Me neither. The task is daunting. So what about a smaller space, the garage, maybe, or the attic? Still too big? What about your closet? Ok, ok, the silverware drawer?
Suffice it to say, I have a lot of things in my house, way too many to count. And I'm thinking of the permanent objects (like books, dvds, clothes, shoes, etc.), not stuff like toilet paper or trash bags, jars, cartons, packaging - things that are meant to be thrown away. My daughter in her short life has already accrued enough toys to outfit 3 children well, not to mention the stacks and stacks of clothes she'll never get a chance to wear unless I change her outfit 2-3 times a day.
I recently came across this 20 minute video called the Story of Stuff. You should take the time to watch it. Not only do we have ridiculous amounts of stuff, but we're less happy, and incredibly wasteful with it, not to mention the damage that we are doing to the planet and our fellow human beings.
Books like Not Buying It and Affluenza address this topic as well. We frankly have too much stuff, and its taking us into debt and making us miserable. And Christians are just as susceptible to this illness as everyone else. One of our elders at church has talked about talking a long, hard look at our things and asking God if we should really have them (honestly) and being willing to give it away if we shouldn't.
I could do that with some things, especially things that aren't mine (specifically), like my husband's clothes, Little Bit's toys, etc. But ask me whether I need all the yarn and knitting needles I've acquired over the last 1.5 years and I'll protest loudly - but I might NEED those! What about those philosophy text books collecting dust on my bookshelf? Someone else might need it for class, or want to read it, or... Do I really think I'm saving it for my daughter to read? What am I supposed to do with it for the next 20 years while she grows up? And what if she thinks philosophy is a load of &*^%.
Sleeth says we ought to continually be lending and borrowing instead of buying. If you need a lawn mower, borrow a neighbor's (or her goat). Not Buying It tells the story of how you really can survive without buying things (unnecessary things), it certainly wasn't the end of the world for them. How about waiting a month before you buy something? Set the money aside for it instead of going into debt? If you have to make the sacrifice now (and it's optional instead of forced - by having to pay the credit card bill), is it really worth it? Do you really need it?
What I'm getting at is I am seriously considering putting myself on a stuff fast. I'm not going to force my husband to do it, but he just might join me in it if I do it first. I didn't do a lenten fast this year because it came up too fast and it was already over by the time I'd figured out what I should be giving up. But here are a few areas where I can take action right now:
1. I can go through my books and seriously cull out the ones that I'll never read again and donate/sell the rest (by the end of May).
2. I will wait at least a month before making any knitting purchases. I will only buy yarn that has a specific project in mind that I will be casting on for within the next month (right now). I will also donate/sell yarn that is currently in my stash that I has no project in mind. This will help me be more intentional with my yarn acquisitions as well as productive with the finished objects. By the end of the year, I want to have donated at least 1/10th of my finished objects to charity.
3. It's time to clean out my closet and donate/repurpose my clothes. (June)
I'm asking you, readers/community, to hold me accountable to this. Please join me if you feel so called. This is just a beginning, but I feel the need to start doing something about it now. Stay tuned for more.