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Voluntary Simplicity Step 5: Consume Less

August 02, 2011

Perhaps this chapter would be more aptly titled "Consume Less, Spend Mindfully and Pursue Quality" since reducing what we consume is really only a part of the equation.  Thinking purchases through (i.e. Is this something I need?  Can I make do with something I already own?  Can I buy a used one?), so you're mindfully spending helps not only reduce consumption, but reduce wasteful consumption.

To pursue quality, we narrow spending down even further by determining if we are in fact going to make a purchase, it's going to be something of quality that will hopefully last.  Purchasing quality items may have a higher initial cost, but the total cost of ownership may actually be less than that of a lesser quality item.

I have been working at our reduction of consumption of things like paper products, packaging, etc.  For items we need and use, (furniture, garden tools, etc.) I am certainly looking at the questions above, i.e. do we need it?  If the answer is yes, we are purchasing quality items.   Although I'd like to tell you we only purchase things for function, I will tell you that I love aesthetically pleasing items as much as the next person and I think it's important to surround yourself with things you love.  That being said, if I look around at my home, I'm surrounded by things that I love, things I've purchased for their function, but also things I bought on a whim or have been given as gifts that I keep simply because I feel as though getting rid of them would be wasteful or disrespectful.  In my attempts at being honest with myself, purchasing them was wasteful and keeping them is just plain silly.

Speaking for my own household, we simply have too much stuff.  Each room of our small house is packed full and if that's not enough, we have a storage unit the size of a one-car garage that's three quarters full of stuff.  Yes, we pay rent on that unit every month to house our stuff.  Not only is it appalling to think of the amount of money spent on the items sitting in storage, but the amount we spend each month to keep it all.  I've requested my husbands assistance in sorting through it all, since some of it is his and I would never get rid of things that mean something to him without his approval.  I had set a goal of Spring 2011 that he quickly moved to Fall 2011.

Purging is an important first step.  Once you see you can live without all the stuff, there isn't such a drive to buy it.  No one ever said this process is easy, but I think he'll feel good once we've gone through it.  I know I will!

To read the entire Voluntary Simplicity series, click {here}.

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