Stuff costs more than money

We generally consider throwing things out as a waste, but have you thought about how bringing things into your life is also a waste?

I've moved around a lot. Several dozen houses and apartments and 5 different countries. I've had to deal with moving my stuff more than perhaps many other people. Much more than I would like. So I've become very sensitive to my relationship with stuff.

Because moving stuff can be expensive, time consuming, and physically and emotionally exhausting, I'm a big proponant of ruthlessly getting rid of stuff I don't use.

Waste Out

I often ask questions like: When was the last time you wore that shirt? What's the point of having a garlic crusher? Why are you keeping that old fax machine around if you've not used it in 2 years? Why don't you get rid of it?

The answer I often get: It feels like such a waste

But what do people mean exactly? What is this waste?

There's of course money-related waste. You've spent money on this thing and now you're losing that investment, or what if you need this thing again? You'll need to spend more money to rebuy it. Best keep it around just in case.

There's also wanting to avoid material or environmental waste. Perhaps somebody else could use it, and throwing it out is a huge environmental burden.

And finally you have what I will call the emotional reason. Perhaps you really really love that shirt, or you got something on holiday or as a present.

In general, people consider all these kinds of waste when confronted with getting rid of something. Rarely do we think about the hidden wastes that come from buying a juicer or accepting another set of plates from your mom. We rarely lament buying something as much as we do getting rid of it.

Waste In

What kinds of resources do you waste when buying something new or accepting a new thing into your life?

The obvious one is of course money but I would argue that there are other resources which are perhaps more important, being spent every time you acquire a thing.

Space

The space the item occupies is no longer yours for as long as you own that item.

Is that new juicer gonna get in the way of your cooking? Am I better off using the space in the office for a treadmill I won't use or an easel for my painting? How will this extra chair affect my ability to move around my own home? What projects won't I be able to pursue because I bought a huge couch that didn't need to be that big?

Have you thought about leaving space for yourself to just--be? It's important to not underestimate the importance of empty spaces for our mental well-being.

Time and attention

How much time and attention are you dedicating to cleaning that coffee machine, maintaining the heating coils working, or just thinking about getting rid of it?

It's just a dishcloth

Now I'm not advocating that you think about your 5-year plan every time you buy a dishcloth. But in general it might pay you well to be more aware of the hidden resources you're using up when you bring something into your life.

Time, attention, space, and energy are all used up through-out the time you own this thing. Just make sure that the ugly salad bowl you got from your mom is not costing you too much.

Have you recently gotten rid of something you're proud? Are there any other hidden resources that are used up when you acquire a new thing? Let me know

Have a good one. Until next time.

--Jacob