Those Who Pare

I came across this site last night. The Paper Flea Market is a great inspiration for those of us who have the goal of paring down and simplifying. The cool thing is that Trina is one of us. When you are a craftsperson or a mixed media artist, it is difficult to imagine paring down when so many supplies and trash-seeming bits are viable for our work.  Sure you can tell me to throw the Ziploc baggies of scrap papers away, but have you seen what I can do with a piece of scrap paper? So it’s nice to see someone who has what is commonly referred to as a buttload of paper and ephemera working to pare it all down.

The thing about simplifying is that it seems to have become a big business. Buy this to get rid of that.  What we need to take stock of is how we accumulate stuff and curtail the behavior. Otherwise we clear out all the goods but we haven’t stopped the problem.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to live in my small space for years now. I haven’t been able to make it work because while I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff, I haven’t really sat down and evaluated what I’m going to give up completely. And then I’m bringing new stuff into the house all the time.

I’ve been doing some research and here are some of the sites I’ve found helpful.

The Story of Stuff tells how our consumerism affects our environment.  It really drove the point home with me on how my choices help to change the world. Some may find it a bit heavy-handed, but about 15 minutes in, we find that national happiness has gone down since 1950. We buy more stuff to make our lives easier so we can, in turn, enjoy life more. But we aren’t. This is a way of life that has failed us.

Re-nest has 15 Fabulous Organized Spaces that use more ingenuity and creativity than cash.

Frugal Kiwi has great tips for cutting costs and living frugally.

The article “How to Buy Only What You Need” is helpful in determining your new shopping strategy. Also helpful is How to Pare Down as well as Declutter Your Way to a Happy Home.

The book, Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century is what started this journey for me. I remember when I was a kid the picture tube on our television went out. We went to the store and there was this big display of picture tubes. You took your old tube in, plugged it in to some apparatus and it would register if you needed a new tube. You’d pick out the proper tube, pay less than a buck if I remember correctly, take it home, install and watch Flipper.  Our consumer culture has now rendered this process obsolete. For the most part it is cheaper to buy new than to repair. Personally, I don’t know how many printers I have owned. I’ve gone in the store ink cartridges at $40 and left with a brand new printer for $36. That’s really not right, is it? We’ve lost our ability to tinker and fix. We want new and improved.

At the time when I first read Your Money or Your Life I thought these people were extreme. Buying clothes at thrift stores, getting books from the library – I mean who could live that way 24/7?  But now, many years later I find myself with thrift store fashions and no new books. I’m not yet at the point where I wash my aluminum foil and ziploc baggies, but who knows? Maybe that is just five years down the road.

If you have parents or grandparents who grew up during the war or the Depression, you may have heard the expression “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I think we probably need to look at that adage again and figure how to apply it practically to 21st century life. We have more conveniences and sources of entertainment, but we are on more antidepressants, in more debt and are less happy. Let’s re-focus on what is truly important and by doing so, we commit to find more joy and less stress. Who’s in?

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