Life made simple

Too much stuff. Let's try for less.


Too much stuff is just becoming too much. “This clever new gadget is a must-have!” you’re told, so you buy it. Most of us are guilty of shopping too much, buying more than we need, and overstocking our cupboards, fridges and wardrobes,

Perhaps, where food is concerned, it’s human nature to ‘stock up’ and store, dating from a time when this was necessary for our winter survival. A bad harvest or a war could mean hardship, so we hoarded supplies and materials.

Today, with our affluent middle class, it’s fashionable to have and to show off any material things, and because things have become fashionable rather than just functional, they inevitably go out of fashion, so we replace them often. The result: a world of excess stuff, tossed aside because it’s no longer cool.

It’s killing our planet, and we need to stop it.

How can you reduce your unnecessary consumption? Here are a few tips.

Swop or trade with friends the things you no longer want, whether it’s a cushion, a chair, a lampshade or a coat.
Instead of always buying new gifts, see if you can re-gift one of your good-as-new impulse purchases that you don’t need or never use.

Have a no-shopping day, once a week, but don’t go out and splurge the next day to compensate.

It’s killing our planet, and we need to stop it.

Have a special gift rule. Tell your friends: “Please don’t buy me anything new that will still be around in 6 months.” Say you’ll accept consumables like chocolates, soap, candles, shampoo, and, if they want to splash out, salon treatment vouchers.

Resolve to use all the supplies in your pantry before you buy more. Don’t wait for half packets of pasta and rice to attract pantry bugs, when you’ll be forced to throw them away. (Be sure to keep some frozen veg in your freezer though. There for when you need them. And they will get eaten.)

If you see something you like in a shop window, and the must-have urge hits you, take a photo of it, and tell yourself you’ll return in a few days to get it. You probably won’t – and you’ll probably live.

Keep your wardrobe classic and simple rather than bursting with one-season-only gimmicky fashions.

Read Affluenza by Oliver James, a fascinating look at how wealth and materialism have made us miserable.

Can you add to this list? Send us your suggestions on how to cut down on unnecessary consumption.

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