Do we live in a “throw away” society? Since my post, 200 Things to Throw Away went viral, I’ve been accused numerous times in comments (and much nastier emails) that I’m promoting a “throw away” mentality. I don’t think that’s true and here’s a little bit of my reasoning.
1.) People are hoarding. It’s true. I am, you probably are. As a society we have a whole lotta stuff. I’m not encouraging people to buy new winter coats every year and throw them out when spring comes. If you read my list and are thinking that I’m being frivolous with money by throwing out something I’ll later have to buy again please know that’s not my intention. That list was meant to encourage people to think about what they have surrounding them that they don’t use, won’t use, and are keeping for decades just in case they will one day use it. It’s okay to donate that coat that’s been in your closet for years and has gone untouched. Let go and let someone else get joy from it!
2.) The bigger problem. Americans (and other countries I’m learning from the wide variety of readers in our Live With Less Facebook group) have a problem. A big problem. We want too much. We buy too much. We live in excess. Should we sell all of our belongings and give the money to the poor then live as meagerly as possible? While noble, I’m not necessarily encouraging that. I do, however, think it’s beneficial for people to step outside of their lives and look in at how much stuff they have. I believe that our buying habits is the bigger problem and until we see that we won’t make the progress we desire. Just as spooning water out of a sinking boat does nothing if the giant leak isn’t repaired. I think we need to evaluate our spending habits and not just give away things.
What do I propose we do about it? I’m glad you asked! 🙂 These are at least the things, a few of the things, that I’m trying to do in my life. I realize all families are different and what works for some won’t work for others. Visit my post here, entitled 5 Ways to Buy Quality Merchandise.
What do you think? Maybe I’m wrong, it sure wouldn’t be the first time. Do you think we live in a “throw away society?”
Rose McDonald says
People can be so ugly when they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet. I never thought you were advocating a throw away mentality, or anything even close.
I loved your list, it has some great ideas, some things most people never think about, and some really funny suggestions. I’m have a lot of fun with it. I kind of incorporated it into my New Year’s non-resolutions. I think I’m down to number eleven or twelve. I do agree though, that as a society, we generally have or want too much stuff. I have too much stuff, but didn’t realize it until I began looking at what I do have.
As far as people getting all bent out of shape about your list, maybe they should just back off and throw away their lousy personalities You keep on writing, I really like your posts.
I definitely do think we live in a disposable society, but that wasn’t the message I took from your 200+ Things list at all. As you said in this post, it was a call to action and a way to get people thinking. I can understand where people would get that impression, but that’s what happens when people read viral posts and take them out of context. And hell, a lot of people don’t even read them — they simply lash out.
The follow-up post to your 200+ List, about ways to buy quality? That’s an excellent response, and a way to get people to embrace a less disposable, more quality-oriented lifestyle. Kudos to you for both this post and the quality merchandise post. You’re getting your message across loud and clear, while responding in a positive manner to criticism and attacks.
Julie Sansoni says
I totally agree, after Christmas i feel almost ashamed, so many things just used for a month. I donate what hasn’t gone up for a year or so. I do have to be in the mood to throw/donate though or I keep too much. Thanks for the list. It is too true, we buy way more than necessary either out of busyness, spaciness, or just cause we can. I am slowly eliminating because when my mother in law died I was the one to go through her apartment. It took a long time and she was not a hoarder at all. I do not want my children to go through this. Thank you for the reminders.
I loved your post on 200 Things. In fact, I printed it off last week and spent all weekend working room to room decluttering. While I’m not a hoarder by any means, it is amazing the things I’ve accumulated over the past 5 years in my home. I even went through bathroom cabinets, closets, entertainment stands, junk drawers etc. along with general rooms. Plus I donated a lot— so THANKS to your post, I know I made a little bit of a difference for someone out there in need. I’m not finished yet (working on the attic, oy) but I feel absolutely amazing and being organized is so satisfying! It also puts into perspective the amount of money that was spent on “things”. I really appreciated your post and am SO glad I found your blog. I think you’re doing a great job!
Ginger Wroot says
I think you’re right on target on this issue. I’m more aware of “stuff” that I have and that others have now, especially after reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Kondo’s formula is drastic but interesting: keep only those things that spark joy. Thanks so much for your enlightening take on how we should all try to live with fewer things.