Several years ago, I make a conscious attempt to break my mindless consumer acquiring cycle after reading an inspiring book The Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture by a friend of a friend, Dell Dechant, which explores the religious and ritual aspects of consumerism (yes, I realize I gave you a link to Amazon.com to make it easy for you to make a consumer purchase, but it's through Chris's store.. so we get a cut :) ). I tried to give active thought to things I purchase and bring into my home. Asking myself questions like .. do I really need it? Will I make use of it? Will it bring me joy beyond the cash register? Will I be able to dispose of this item in an environmentally sensitive way? Etc.
As is typical in life, I would have my good moments and my weak moments. And when you're living in a large house with lots of space, it takes a while to realize the impact of those weak moments. And a good round of purging every year or so goes a long ways to keeping the amount of 'stuff' manageable.
This past spring, as many are well aware of, I did likely the most major purge of stuff I will ever (or at least I hope) in my life. I trimmed the contents of my 1600 sq ft home (that I shared with a partner) down to fit into a 50 sq ft mobile home (that I also share with another partner) plus a couple of boxes stuck in storage. I sold a good bit on eBay and Amazon marketplace, and I donated several carloads to Goodwill. And I can honestly say, I don't miss any of my 'stuff'.
The relief I felt from shedding so much stuff, made me realize just how much baggage stuff is. We choose our living environment in part based on how our stuff will fit into it, and we upgrade to have more space to hold our stuff. We pay for our stuff constantly by renting moving vans and efforts we take each time we move locations. We box it up, put it away in closets for 'some day'. And when our closets are full.. we pay to store our extra 'stuff' in places where we don't interact with our stuff at all. We keep spending more money to keep our stuff, leaving less money to go do things that acquire memories that don't take up space.
Now of course, some stuff is worth keeping. I'm not saying.. stuff is bad. But I am saying, it's easy to get wrapped up in acquiring stuff and not benefiting from the reasons of why we got it in the first place.
When I moved into a 16' trailer to be shared by two, I had to consciously consider every single thing I moved into it. Every piece of clothing - will it be versatile enough to merit the space? Every bra, every pair of socks, every toiletry, every kitchen utensil and every piece of jewelery. I kept only a selection of my poi supplies (my art, I guess you could call it), and I trimmed down my office into a backpack and a small portable file case.
Amazingly, after Chris and I both moved into such a small space - we actually have little pockets of open space :D As we go along our journey, there is temptation to acquire new things. Whether it be attending conventions and getting new cool bags and pens and such. Or friends gifting us with cool things. Or doing shopping of our own. Even consumables, like food, we have to be conscious of the space it takes up. Even with as little stuff as we have as compared to the typical American household.. we find ourselves being bogged down by 'stuff'.
So this last weekend while at SolFest, Chris and I partook of the wine tasting, which required BUYING one of their wine glasses. Granted, it's a nice, durable, wine glass with the SolFest logo. And for $10, you got the glass plus 5 tastings. We argued with the volunteer that we didn't want glasses - we didn't have the space for them, and we didn't have the need for them (glass.. trailer.. bumpy roads.. bad). It wasn't about the cost of buying a glass, it was about being conscious of acquiring things.
So instead of buying two glasses, we just shared one. Which turned out to be a great lead-in when tasting, as when the vendors asked 'Just one glass?', we would explain why. It drove home the point of just how integrated in acquiring stuff is in our culture . We also got several of the vendors intrigued by our journey. We actually ended up 'tasting' far more wine than two tasting packages would have afforded us by vendors pouring liberally for us as we told our tales - all catalyzed by being conscious of how much stuff we acquired and holding only one glass.
Less stuff can equal more quality.
Try it sometime :)