Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Much is Enough?

In March 2010 I sold my house and moved into a downtown apartment.  One of the reasons for moving was to downsize my footprint.  I wrote about this in a 2-part blog post (Downsizing Part I and Downsizing Part II).  At the time of the move, I got rid of at least 50% of my possessions and felt some relief from the burden of having too much stuff.

Fast forward to October 2011.  I've now been in my apartment for 18 months and I've probably only touched/used 50 percent of what I moved from my house to my apartment.  Fully 1/2 of everything I moved sits in cabinets, a storage locker, closets, and drawers untouched from the day I moved.  Yet, I am still challenged to get rid of it.  What is this attraction to our stuff?

As you know, the sustainability mantra is reduce, reuse, and recycle.  These actions are listed in decreasing orders of environmental impact because never buying and using something is far better for the environment than buying it and reusing it, or buying it and recycling it at the end of its life.

As I'm writing this I'm thinking about the events at Occupy Wall Street.  I understand the need for change and yet the question is in what direction?  If we have full employment and a global consumer society we'll destroy the biological systems that make life possible.  The "system" is driving all of us to work, work, work and consume, consume, consume yet that isn't leading to the world we both want and need.

The good news about downsizing 18 months ago and the ongoing realization that I still have way too much stuff is that I'm not buying anything.

I already have enough - And less stuff is actually more fulfilling after you've got the basics covered.

Now we just need to figure out how to have a successful economy that isn't based on unsustainable and unsatisfying criteria.


Brian C. Setzler said...

Here is a guy who lives on $11,000 year.

MRussell said...

The two paths to wealth: make more, or desire less.

Brian C. Setzler said...


That is so true.

A great resource for those interested in looking at this issues is a book called "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robbin.

Vicki has a website you can visit: