As I started selling things on Carousell and also donating used items to an orphanage conducting a drive at my estate, I am amazed by the amount of crap I have bought and owned. Okay amazed is not even the right word, it was more like disgusted. I am disgusted by how much I consumed. I was very attracted to Marie Kondo’s book on tidying up but I didn’t need to even read it to understand her message. All this consumption is driven by some sort of void in our modern lives and the delusion that it will make our lives better. Of course with children, we start saying how these things will also make our children’s lives better. Well, three years now with kids, I can tell you it doesn’t. Except for the overused milk bottles, vomit towels, baby carriers and cloth diapers, everything else was really non-essential.
Yet, my mind continue to think oh, I need a new shirt because I keep having to wash my shirts and a few extra ones will make it easier. And it takes a lot of discipline to scream No! to that voice that is telling you to consume endlessly. I decided therefore to take matters into my own hands.
For starters, I purged my email account of shopping subscriptions so I will stop looking at the latest sales and discounts. It seems every week there is a major discount! At the same time, I plan to clear every cabinet, shelf, cupboard and space in my house. Every item that is not being used will either be donated, sold, given away or disposed. I really prefer to choose dispose as the last option when all the other options to transfer the item to someone who will want it has been exhausted. There will be many items where you feel like you will use them and you should just keep it like my winter clothes for example. I will call them conundrum items. These items are troublesome, they force you to create space for them because you think “What if I need it later?” According to Marie Kondo, if the item does not give you joy, its should be eliminated. So I am going to try to approach the conundrum items in that way. My guess is 90% of them will not give me joy.
And I am going to also do the painstaking job of documenting our documentations. Every piece of important documentation is getting scanned, and if the physical version can be recycled, its getting recycled. And the ones that need to be kept will be maintained in properly bound folders. All of this, I imagine, is going to take months to complete – maybe a year! – even though my house is very small. I’ve already started the process of eliminating physical books, and I am thrilled to report that there isn’t many books left at home.
And then I am putting a ban on consumption. Its not as easy as I will not buy things forever. I am considering not shopping online anymore and in the event that I need to purchase something, I am going to discuss it with my husband. If he says I don’t need it, I will not get it. Same goes for if he wants to buy something. And the children will have no more new clothes and no more new toys. I am already in the midst of studying up on how to sew them new clothes from old clothes and as for toys, they can play with their existing toys and when they grow up, I will try to make a case as best as I can for making toys out of recycled materials rather than going out to buy one. That was how I grew up, I made my own toys out of whatever I could put together from items at home. The craftsy process was more enjoyable than playing with the final product actually.
I think I should also put in place a new habit of removing items every few months.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to organise our new home. There are 6 of us and 6 people can accumulate a lot of things very quick in a short time. I have actually started researching on how to organise an apartment on a minimal kind of lifestyle. Things like going without bed frames, allotting each person a fixed number of cabinets and they can fill those cabinets according to however they want but that will be all they get, stuff like that. I even asked myself if we need dining tables and chairs because I grew up eating from my hands and sitting on the floor. There’s something very simple and disciplined about sleeping, eating and just hanging out on the floor than on chairs and sofas.
On a similar note, I am generally very afraid of not instilling thrift, frugality and simplicity in my girls because consumption is an area that can get out of hand very quickly. I know of many individuals in severe credit card debt because of their need to spend and keep up with trends. I think the baseline is that we need to fill that void in our lives and our hearts with our families and friends, and spending time outdoors moving and playing, and then all the other things in the world will not matter as much.
I’ll see how it goes 🙂