Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A not so minimal blog about minimalism.

This weekend we drove to Seattle. We left our suitcase lying lonely by the side of the bed. We had all the things we were hauling up their for our friends, but not our stuff.

I always over-pack. For a Friday-Sunday stay I'd packed (not including what I was wearing Friday in the car):
  • 3 shirts
  • 2 sweaters (one short sleeved, one long)
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • undies
  • bra
  • 7 socks (I only own mismatched socks & wasn't sure which to bring)
  • hair dryer
  • hair straightener 
  • hair brush
  • big ol' thing of eyeshadow
  • mascara
  • foundation
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • lotion
  • deodorant
  • and probably a bunch of other things I've forgotten to list
And that's not counting all the stuff The Man packed. 

Instead, we showed up with the clothes on our backs. We walked over to a drugstore to pick up the essentials, two toothbrushes, a small tube of toothpaste, a deodorant to share, and a tube of mascara. The hotel gave us a small comb.  I winced at all the unnecessary plastic that this slip-up generated.  Our friends loaned us t-shirts (extras they had packed), and we wore the same pants all weekend. 

It was great. I felt pretty loved by the number of people willing to lend us clothes. Since we just borrowed a couple of t-shirts, I didn't have to think about what I was going to wear. I didn't have to get up early to put on my make-up. Best of all, there was very little laundry to wash when we came back. 

Between this (small) forced exercise in minimalism, and the No Impact Experiment, I've begun to contemplate what we actually need.

For example, Chucks are on sale right now. I really want a pair. I only have a pair of running shoes, a pair of slip on casual shoes, a pair of crocs, several pairs of high heels, a pair of ladybug rain boots, various assorted flip flops... They're all beat up, of course, because I haven't bought myself a new pair of shoes in over a year... but see, that's why I need these, right?


I want them (a lot) but I don't need them. Will they make me happy? Maybe a little bit for a little while, and then they're just another pair of shoes. 

And something I'm noticing now, as I type this? What an eye-opener it is to list your stuff. It's disgusting. I don't own those adorable boots that everyone is wearing right now, and I don't own my beloved Chucks, and if you were to ask me last week about my shoes, I would have told you that I really don't have any. I could have told you in all honesty and seriousness that I don't own any shoes worth wearing. Because I don't wear them. And I feel frumpy half the time because I haven't bought new shoes in so long. And then I made the above list and it's shorter than what you'd actually find in my closet, because I became so embarrassed halfway through. There are so many people out there with so little, and I'm bummed because I don't have a particular style of shoes. Ugh.

So here's a challenge: 
Think of something you want. A pair of jeans, a new gadget, a watch, a phone, whatever. Now make a list of what you have that falls into the same general category. If you want jeans, list all the pants you own, and I mean all, sweats, khakis, jeans, dress pants, whatever.  

Think about how much satisfaction the purchase is really going to bring you. 
Would my family be better served with me in new shoes, or money being saved for a vacation? Duh.

Think about the homeless. 
Is there someone who needs shoes more than I do? Absolutely. 

Think about the carbon footprint of manufacture and transportation. 
Is the waste created by that purchase worth the good it is going to do? 

Do you still need it? Do you still want it? Or is there some better way to use or save that money?

I'm not saying don't buy anything, but the challenge is to put what you are buying in context, and make sure it's what you really want to spend your money on.

For more green goodness:

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your post. It got me thinking about ways I CAN spend on charities, and just being able to help those in need. I have been reading a lot about giving lately, coincidence? Probably not. :P But I am glad to read this and to remember "hey I can save towards something else! I really need more laundry to do?"

    I know that the weather has been freezing, and those out the streets of seattle--everywhere could really use a nice warm sweater, new socks, warm shoes, and a warm meal. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    I'm a new follower from the hop!