One Earth Lifestyle, Week Four: One Carload of Stuff

As I wrote two weeks ago, I have taken on a project to make one small change to my lifestyle each week to help reduce my ecological footprint. Here’s the original post. I never actually decided which day would start my new week, but Friday seems like as good a day as any, no? (Actually, I’ll post on Friday and really start on Saturday). Last week’s project–writing down anything I want to buy and waiting a month before buying it–is going pretty well (at least, I haven’t bought anything other than food and other necessities since I started), though I already suspect that this method can backfire if it isn’t used wisely. The point of the exercise is that most things you see and want are just whims; if you wait a month, you’ll have moved on to other things and completely forgotten about it. But the downside is that you can go back to that calendar and say “oh yeah, I totally forgot I wanted that thing, now it’s been a month, so I can buy it!” So I’m trying to limit the number of things I put on that list.

I should really have written about this week’s project last weekend, when I started it, but that’s life. The week’s project was not a small one, but it’s the right time to do it. I’ve been blabbing for months about wanting to live a minimalist, relatively clutter free lifestyle, but never made serious progress in that direction. Since I’m the type of person who usually makes big changes cold turkey (typically after a bunch of false starts), and I’m moving across the country with limited car space and a limited budget, now’s the time to just do it. So I set myself a goal for the week: choose a single carload of stuff to keep, and get rid of everything else. (I’m not taking any furniture with me. I’ll have to replace some of that when I get to Ohio, but that’s how it goes).

So far, I’ve recycled seven bags of paper (mostly old school work), taken five boxes of books down to Powells to sell back, and packed up another six or seven boxes of stuff for Goodwill. Not bad for a week’s work! Admittedly, the recycling probably isn’t doing much to reduce my carbon footprint (though at least it means I don’t have to rent a truck to move all those old papers across the country every few years), but on the other hand, so far I’ve produced less than a kitchen trash bag’s worth of actual garbage. I’m still going to have to do another round of drastic culling to get down to a single carload, but I’m down to maybe two, so that’s progress.

I’ve learned one lesson from this project: the only way to successfully get rid of old crap is to have one’s significant other go through your stuff saying “get rid of this,” “you’re really never, ever going to use that,” “why the heck are you keeping this.” I’ve been trying to get rid of excess books for two years; we did it together in 15 minutes.

And now that I’ve gotten the clutter down to something manageable, the challenge will be to keep it that way…

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2 thoughts on “One Earth Lifestyle, Week Four: One Carload of Stuff

  1. Elise says:

    We’re in the same process here (and moving to the same place!) We’re moving a household of three and we don’t want it to be beyond our budget or our conscience. We have our experience from nine years ago to draw on. Then we were a household of 4, including a two year old who needed the continuity of familiar objects; we also didn’t know how long we were staying or even if we would return permanently. But we also had a moving allowance from the school, a luxury we don’t have this time.

    Moving companies, including Pods, don’t recognize people like us. The smallest Pod we could rent / use was 16 feet long. They make smaller ones (down to 5 feet) but won’t transport them across country.

    Last time we used UPS to get our stuff out there, because we weren’t bringing furniture. I think that’s how we’ll be doing it this time as well. We’ll bring our laptops in the car, and clothes for the journey. Pretty much all we’re shipping is going to be clothes and my books and albums for school (which can probably go library rate from MINW to HMI). We expect it to be a much smaller load than last time, which cost us over $1000 plus the expense of moving ourselves in our car. (Four day cross-country drive with a 2 year old? Not my fondest memory).

    So, Alexa…I don’t think I can take any boxes for you, because we’re not renting a pod or U-Haul after all. But I WILL show you where the good Salvation Army is in Mentor, and I have a friend who runs a mattress store…

    We are also leaving things in our basement room here, which we don’t think the tenants will want to rent. So we’re not having the purity of purging that you’re having, but it still represents a good effort on our part. And kudos to you!

    • superplexa says:

      I’m not that saintly! I’m leaving stuff in my parents’ garage. It’s not going to be 100% pure purge, but it’ll be maybe 90%.

      I moved across the country by USPS once. Cheaper than a moving truck (cost about $500), but it was a PAIN IN THE NECK. I am NEVER doing that again.

      I imagine the drive will be more fun this time, now that S. is old enough to enjoy it.

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