“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.”
“One way is to accumulate more. The other way is to desire less”
G K Chesterton
Many of us are suffering from “stuffocation”; we simply have too much stuff and clutter in our lives. We need to stem the tide of stuff coming into our house as well as letting go of the stuff that is already there.
For most of us there are some purchases we find hard to resist. For some it’s clothes, for others it’s gadgets or sports gear. For for my husband Derek it’s garden plants. My weakness is bargains. I always used to go clothes sale shopping in January and buy the first thing I fell in love with whether I needed it or not. Needless to say I ended up with far too many party dresses and not enough practical clothes. Nowadays I enjoy a walk in the countryside instead!
Buying less is good for our pockets, good for our health, good for the planet and ultimately good for our souls.
These are 10 questions I find helpful to ask before shopping:
- Do you really, really need it?
Press pause. Sleep on it. Ask yourself if you honestly, absolutely need (not simply want) the item.
- Can you mend it?
My parents came to stay after Christmas and it always amazes me how many things they can mend between them from electrical gadgets to broken pedal bins and ripped clothes. One of my goals for 2016 is to learn some more mending skills!
- Phone a friend!
Ask the opinion of a trusted friend before making purchases over a certain limit, especially those that you have not budgeted for. Your partner may have an opinion too!
- Can you borrow it?
When we moved in 6 years ago we borrowed a lawn mower from our neighbours, thinking we’d just borrow it once until we bought one. They were actually happy for us to keep borrowing it as they had felt guilty over spending so much on it just for a small lawn. We bought them new blades when they needed replacing as a thank you.
- Can you rent it?
There are a myriad of technology-based ways nowadays of sharing or renting things without having to buy them. It’s easy to share a car or a van through CarClub or Zipcar, rent a drive through JustPark, rent a designer dress for a party from Rentez-Vous or share power tools and such like with a neighbour with Streetbank.
- Could you buy pre-loved?
I really enjoyed buying pre-loved Christmas presents for everyone this year, from a vintage lego dolls house for my daughter to an as-new boxed tractor for my son and designer shirt for Derek, all at a fraction of the original retail selling price. I also got some fantastic books from our local charity shop. It made me challenge my preconception that presents have to be BNWT (brand new with tags)
- Have you tried Swishing? Swap don’t Shop!
Swishing [swishing.com] is a great opportunity to declutter your wardrobe and find some lovely new clothes for free in exchange. I’m looking forward to going to my first one at St Michaels on the January the 28th.
- Why not discover Vintage or Antiques?
A friend introduced a group of us to vintage clothes & accessories at Frau Braun fraubraun.com She sells the most gorgeous vintage clothes. You realise how beautifully clothes used to be made before the days of mass production and how timelessly stylish they are. Why not check out a vintage shop near you? Likewise antiques. Our first antique purchase was a beautiful 1920’s light fitting for our new house. We loved it so much we bought more for the other rooms. It was actually cheaper than buying new and most definitely made to last!
- Have you tried not buying anything new for a period of time?
Lucy Shea, the founder of Swishing, said “You’ll love getting your life back. It’s only when you stop shopping that the constant low-level anxiety it brings becomes clear. You will have 12 months off from worrying if the item that will change your life sits behind a Whistles shop sales sign. Because you aren’t scanning magazines for things to buy, fashion becomes more important for its beauty…”
- Have you written a list?
If you decide there is no alternative and you have to buy some new items then go shopping with a list and stick to it! Beware of any special offers!
And then when we have stemmed the tide of new stuff coming into our homes perhaps we can turn to letting go of some of the stuff we already have. If you haven’t started yet then you might like to read our blog “6 Steps for starting Decluttering”.