25 July 2009

Simplify Your Life: End Your Dependence On Stuff

I've been a huge proponent of simplifying my life by de-cluttering, open space and just doing more with less. However, having a family that did not follow my example has been an issue. I think that is about to change.

Now, I'm not perfect, but I am always looking at what I have and am doing that creates complexity and stress in my life and how I can change it. One example is my music. I am a huge music fan (check out my music blog, Hoi Polloi Music) and have a large collection of CDs and eek! cassette tapes. These are sitting in two boxes right now. However, I listen to almost all music on-line or on my MP3 player and when I looked at all those CDs I got nostalgic: 'I haven't heard this in years', 'I forgot I had that' and 'Did I really buy that?'. So I am in the process of ripping all those CDs to MP3s and storing everything on an external 750GB hard drive. I will be able to access them easier, clear up a lot of physical space and have a nice process to catalog them in an on-line Google Spreadsheet - yeah, I'm a geek. Now I can sell all the CD's I really don't need or want to keep and can keep a handful of 'classics' (e.g. Kraftwerk's Autobahn, Mile's Davis' The Birth of Cool, Grateful Dead's American Beauty). Simplicity!

This is just one example. Now back to my story. My wife saw an episode of Oprah where they put out a challenge to families to simplify. Many of the things that these families were doing hit home, since our family is guilty of several of them. The main point was that we are teaching our children to be out of control consumerists who are obsessed with 'stuff'.

Several things hit home: Buying so many groceries that many are thrown out because they expire/spoil. The buy 2 get 1 free is not a good deal if you throw out 1 or even 2. We've been guilty of buying more than we normally use because, it's a 'great deal'. Another example is buying more toys/DVDs/clothes than we use. My kids don't play with the majority of their toys, they watch a DVD once, they grow out of clothes before they ever wear them.

So how do we change? Well that's the simple part. Buy what you need and will use. Buy less processed foods. Give away toys to charity organizations, subscribe to Netfix or spend only $3.99 on a Video-On-Demand movie (low environmental impact), buy only clothes you need now and take care of the ones you have.

The hard part is committing yourself to doing it.

I really would like to know what others are doing. Please comment. Thanks. (BTW: Here are two great sites: www.unclutterer.com and www.idealbite.com)

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