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…