The value of possessions

One of the things I have pondered over recently, is the actual value of possessions. I am aware that some people live very minimalistic, almost foresaking ownership of everything. Even though this is way too extreme for me, I did notice two very important things:

  1. Products require material and energy to make – both of which are NOT endlessly supplied on Earth
  2. Products require energy to keep and use them

The Earth is in danger, and we all know it. We are using more and more resources and pollute the environment whilst transporting and using these resources. Even though we, as consumers, are only the final users of such products, we need to be aware of what these products do to the environment. And to ourselves! We currently have more toxins in our bodies than ever before, coming from plastic products we use, car emissions and the food we eat. Yes, I am painting this very black and white, but that just makes clear what this is all about 😉 I could tell you much more about this, but I know people who can do that so much better than I.

Annie Leonard is the spokesperson for the Story of Stuff. This is a community and a movement that sees what is wrong with current consumerism and tries to make people aware. And of course take action, because that is the only way to change things.

In June, one of our local TV stations aired the documentary Bag It. In this documentary, Jef Barrier tries to discover what plastic does to us and eventually (yes, spoiler, but I think it’s predictable) decides to cut down on plastic use in his house. It’s just a bit over an hour long, so no excuse to skipping it!

My second point is also something I am discovering now that I am trying to go paperless (one baby step at the time). I already threw away some paper manuals because I downloaded the pdf version. And with throwing them out… came relief. Then I realized that when you own stuff, you get attached to it, you make room for it. Physically, in your house, taking up space. But also mentally, because you have to keep track of everything you own. I read about Green Evelien, a Dutch blogger living in Belgium who has experienced exactly the same. She tries to live a happy life, as ecologically as possible. After tackling both evergy and water consumption (they already eat vegan and biological), she is now tackling the stuff she has. Throwing away stuff that you barely use is actually a liberation, because it clears up space!

This is very hard for me, though. Yes, I do try to purge my clothes twice a year (though that might be getting less now that I know how to dress myself :)). But I keep amassing books… I love books 😀 Just the feeling of paper in your hands and the worlds to explore. I do own an e-reader that I am using increasingly, but I still have quite some books and keep buying more. But: that stops now. I will use my e-reader for classics and start buying and borrowing e-books more (as soon as it’s back from repair). And no, I will not throw out all my books. My favourites can remain 🙂 That means I will only have books I am certain I will want to read again and again. The other books I currently own will go on my to-read shelf and once I’ve read them, I will decide whether I want to keep it or purge it. So I’ll probably end up donating many of my books and selling some of the prettier ones.

My basic rule about posessions: keep only those items that you regularly use and try to replace these with eco-friendly alternatives when you can. But hey, you might have a completely different take on this! I’m interested to hear 🙂


Purging and cleansing

Every now and then it’s time to get rid of the old and make place for the new. I always feel this very strongly in the beginning of spring, around February, when I want my windows to shine and when I want bright colours around to let the returning sun in and enjoy the awakening earth. But with my brithday in the beginning of May, I always feel I have to shed parts of my life I don’t want anymore, cleanse, and make room for new stuff. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month or so (and am still doing). Here’s how I work:

  1. Dig out all the clothes. What haven’t I worn in over a year? That’s definitely good to go or to be refashioned into something else (as soon as I’ve learned how to sow). Are there any summer clothes that don’t fit anymore or that are just too old? Gone too. I have lots more space now for nice, new clothes 🙂
  2. Look at your collection of books. Of those I have read, which ones do I really want to keep because I will reread them (quite a lot, to be honest). Those I haven’t read, I have now ordered in one bookcase (on colour, it looks awesome!) and want to read them this year. The ones I do not plan on reading again, I can donate, the other ones I will keep. I’m not very fast with reading these assorted books, however, because I keep adding more, and because I keep reading older books.
  3. Check out the plants in the house and on the balcony. I don’t have green fingers whatsoever, so some will have died and others are in dire need of regular watering. I take out the plants that unfortunately have perished and make a schedule for watering the other plants. So far, no plant has died, yay!
  4. I don’t clean my windows very often, because it’s a job that takes quite a while and is very challenging (appartment on the third floor). I should do it more, but every time I clean it, birds seem to find it a very attractive place to poop… and then I can start all over again. I want to keep the windows clean, though, to let the necessary light filter in.
  5. My cleansing ritual is quite simple. Music has power, so I start clapping and going round the rooms, especially the doorways. I have some nice smelling sachets for in the cupboards and smelling candles in the living room and study. The kitchen I try to fill with the scent of the most amazing cookies or cakes (well, not that amazing, but nice-smelling anyway). If I’d have room, I’d dance around the house. This ritual might change, depending on the kind of house and the mood I’m in. Or on whether other people want to join in the cleansing (having a party really is a great way of filling the appartment with positive energies).

These are five simple steps to clear your living space of stagnant energy and stuff you don’t use anymore and to fill it with vibrant, positive energy. It can take quite some time, but it’s totally worth it!