I’m addicted to simplicity. I love having less.
But, I wasn’t always like this. I bought, collected, stored, organized, and shoved things into all areas of my life.
Then came a realization, all my over-consuming wasn’t providing me with any more happiness. A common realization when we slow down to think, but it also shined a light on a missing link between my actions and the world.
I discovered my personal consumer actions were not aligning to my core beliefs.
An important way to think about how our purchasing power affects social and environmental change is how those consumer purchases reflect our social, environmental and community values.
So I asked myself, “How are my purchases bringing more value and meaning into my life and how do my things align to my core values and beliefs?”
I began to view my personal belongings as a bunch of different relationships. By doing this, I began to better understand how my stuff was bringing value into my life or not.
For four years, I began to let go, reevaluate, and make tiny shifts in what I owned. It wasn’t always perfect (nothing is), but it allowed me to narrow down my needs and wants by following these two words:
What is valuable to you? You really have to mentally sift through this one. Think about what truly brings you joy. Not just physical joy, but mental, emotional, and spiritual joy.
Do we value our communities? If so, what can we do to support our community? Is the stuff we are holding on to playing an important role in our lives? Or is it sitting in a basement collecting dust?
This rings true for the items we are eyeing at the store. Many things I want are impulses, and not true needs or something that really brings value to my life.
I want to accumulate experiences, not stuff. There is way more value to me in having a tea date with a great friend than heading to the store to buy something because I thought it was cute. Similarly, there is way more value in saving for an amazing vacation then spending on lots of little purchases throughout the year. Which is why zero-waste living comes in super handy - it saves money and time!
Experiences don’t always have to cost anything either! But if they do, take a harder look at the items you have stored away at home and ask how they are bringing meaning and value into your life. If not, sell them off and use that money for an amazing experience!
Whether I’m contemplating a new purchase or sorting through belongings to let go of at home - I remind myself that my belongings should be meaningful, beautiful, sustainable & ethical (as much as possible), and should never outweigh experience!
About the author of this post:
Andrea lives in Boulder, Colorado where she helps individuals, families, and businesses reduce their environmental impact. Learn more about Andrea and her zero waste mission at www.bezero.co. She shares daily zero-waste inspiration on Instagram @BeZeroWasteGirl