Clutter and the U.S. economy

The past couple weeks have opened up the door to strange e-mails coming into my inbox. Apparently, when the U.S. stock exchange goes on a roller coaster ride, this is the time to send angry messages to the editor of an organizing and simple living website.

I haven’t been replying to the messages because I have learned that people who write these messages don’t actually want a response. They don’t imagine a human receiving their rants, and a response only infuriates them. More importantly, they’re not usually regular readers of the site, and I’d rather spend my time helping our constituency.

However, I realized that I may not be the only recipient of similarly themed comments. If you are someone who chooses to live an uncluttered lifestyle, people may be saying comparable things to you. (Granted, they probably have more tact than what I receive in anonymous e-mails.) So, I have decided to address a few of these questions here, to help you formulate a response if confronted by a person who disagrees with your choice to live simply during times of economic flux.

“You are so stupid!! How can you suggest that people get rid of things when we’re headed toward a Great Depression?”

Owning clutter is never a financially prudent endeavor. It costs money to store objects (mortgage, rent, heating, cooling, humidity control, storage supplies), and the more clutter you own the more money you have to spend to store your things. If you have things piled on your floor, it restricts air movement in your space, and the fan on your heating or cooling system has to run longer and harder–which costs you more money. If you have stuff shoved into closets and cabinets or crammed into your basement, it is difficult to notice little cracks, leaks, and other problems in the structure of your home. You don’t see the small issues appear, and then you have to spend thousands of dollars repairing what would have been an inexpensive quick fix earlier in the game. It’s also difficult to identify if you get bugs or pests in your home because you won’t see them until you have an infestation. Additionally, if you have clutter in your car, you earn worse gas mileage than when your car is lighter. A cluttered car costs you more at the gas pump. The list of ways clutter costs you money is virtually endless.

“You’re promoting the recession by telling people not to buy things!!!”

Regular readers of Unclutterer.com know that we support smart consumerism. We define smart consumerism as buying products and services that are high quality, built to last, have consistent utility for the person using the product or service, and improve and/or inspire your life. Regardless of economic recession or growth, this is the type of consumer behavior we recommend. Frivolous buying for the sole purpose of owning more things is always a bad idea.

“Once again, you recklessly suggest that people spend money to buy something when you should be telling people to save their money.”

See the previous response, and add the following: Buying products and services when they are necessary and/or extremely useful can sometimes save a person time and money over the long term. (Note the example with home repairs discussed in my first response.)

“I’m looking forward to when the depression hits and you and all your readers wish they wouldn’t have taken your advice.”

Wow. Looking forward to a depression is messed up.

Seriously, though, it isn’t typically the organized, productive worker making money for his company who is laid off in leaner times. When companies have to make layoffs, they often start with the employees who don’t have a positive impact on the balance sheet. This isn’t always the case, good employees can be let go when a company goes out of business or for lots of other reasons, but it’s still a decent rule of thumb. The productivity and office organizing advice we provide on our website hopefully helps people to be more efficient workers and stay in their jobs as long as they want to be in them. We can’t promise the moon, but sharing what we know about productivity and office organizing seems more responsible than keeping it to ourselves.

***
Have you run into any simple living nay-sayers? What have you heard and how did you respond?

56 Comments for “Clutter and the U.S. economy”

  1. posted by Beth on

    I can’t BELIEVE people would write things like that to you! (Well, yes I can, people are nuts…) This is one of my favorite sites and you ALWAYS have great ideas. This site has inspired many hours of uncluttering and a much happier home!

  2. posted by eternalvoyageur on

    Ooooh the Great Depression is coming ! That means I should start saving my old toothbrushes, watches that stop working, and orphan socks; just in case they are what will get me through !

  3. posted by Cole on

    Yes, actually – my mother is always convinced I’m going to get rid of “too much”, even though I’ve been uncluttering for 2-3 years. I’m not sure what “not having enough” looks like, but I’d love to get there even by accident. I’m sure my wild consumer ways could fix me up with a trip to Target overnight should the need for more stuff arise!

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Beth — As far as truly mean e-mails go, these are nothing! Receiving truly awful comments and e-mails isn’t unique to Unclutterer, it’s pretty much standard whenever anonymity is present or when a person thinks he/she will never meet the person on the receiving end of the comment. However, my point wasn’t to call out people for being mean, but rather provide responses if someone asks you about your life choices during times of economic flux.

  5. posted by Deb on

    The whole response of the nay-sayers is counterintuitive to me–if I live simply in the first place, doesn’t that put me in a better position to weather the bad economy? I don’t have to give up as much because I’m already living close to the bone.

    For years, my partner and I have been cooking meals at home instead of going out to eat every night; driving one small, affordable car instead of two gas-guzzlers (and driving less overall); living in a modest dwelling instead of buying one of those exurban McMansions that are now in foreclosure; and saving money rather than buying everything in sight. Now everyone else is doing the same thing, but acting as if these are new ideas!

  6. posted by Another Deb on

    I am glad you have addressed this subject because I need a little reassurance that my efforts to rid my life of old magazines, spoiled cosmetics and junk mail will not lead me to ruin during a possible coming era of mass shortages.

    My grandmother lived through the Great Depression and if she was any model, I should learn to buy in season produce, do a lot of canning, cook at home, go camping on my vacation, sew what I need, and walk more. These seem to be pretty do-able.

    Erin- I have learned in my years as a customer service person and as a schoolteacher that people will be 10% nastier on the phone than in person and 100% nastier in e-mails.

    I would rather make my lifestyle adjustments on my own terms and timetable than to randomly hoard anything for an eventuality I cannot possibly fortell.

  7. posted by Leonie on

    Erin,

    There was a recent article – two months ago – in the Economist about the American habit of holding on to clutter and how it’s a significant business in the USA. Storage cost money.

    As an economist and an economics teacher, I remind my undergrads that the economy has a cycle. It’s called the business cycle. A recession is followed (at some point) by a recovery, and after a period of prosperity, a downturn will appear.

    The Fed was very reluctant to use the “R” word earlier this year because it can be self fulfilling in that if people do stop investing and consuming, businesses have to cut back, when they do, etc etc.

    However, telling people to stop cluttering up their lives can actually only help the economy! :-). When we don’t waste time looking for things we can’t remember where we put, when we stop waste money storing what we don’t need, when we don’t create more waste, when we have our lives in order mentally, emotionally and physically, we are free to be more productive.

    Keep up the great work!

  8. posted by Karen on

    Erin, seems like the survivalists from the Y2k “crisis” have resurfaced. Have you asked them if they’re still eating the MREs they bought in 1999?

  9. posted by Rob on

    i’d say “have fun living in your self-storage unit.”

  10. posted by Elaine Shannon on

    Is is not just the US economy…we are feeling the pinch in Canada and after visiting South Africa last month it is evident that they are also feeling it. It is a domino effect and the problems with the economy are certainly a global issue.
    But what people don’t realize is that all this fear mentality leads to is more fear and yes….hoarding. Thanks for the help with some responses to questions that I sure that we will be addressing at some point with our Canadian clients.

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Karen and @Rob — Hysterical!!

  12. posted by Nina on

    It amazes me that after 8 years of Bush people still believe that ‘go shopping’ will safe them and their economy.

  13. posted by Beverly D on

    What most people don’t understand is that a depression, even a Great Depression (meaning global), would look very different today than it did a century ago. First of all I don’t think it would happen, we have too many failsafes. If it did, again, we have a completely different government structure today. The pictures people have of bread lines, hobos on trains, living in tents, etc, are things of the past, not the present. Franklin Roosevelt said we have nothing to fear but fear itself, and it is true as today as it was then. (He wasn’t talking about the economy but he could have been.) Much of the economic failure was due to panic and mistrust, and a little patience would have changed things.

  14. posted by Tiffany on

    @Nina It amazes me too, but after all, every time the economy slows down a bit, the President and Congress freak out and start wondering how big the check should be that they send us so we’ll go buy something.

  15. posted by Melaniesd on

    It’s blogs like yours that help me stay focused/refocus when I need to. Sometimes I go on a “spending binge” then I recover with the help of reading financial blogs and discussions. I appreciate your tips.

    Like others that have posted here, it makes me feel better about our family driving 1 affordable car, having a small home that isn’t going to cost me a fortune to heat & maintain, and I can enjoy instead of stressing over how I’m going to pay for my next order of furnace oil.

    I’ve also started canning and preserving. I just invested in a Foodsaver vacuum sealer to help me freeze food better and ensure less spoilage. I really like it and I am excited to prepare more meals for the freezer.
    Yesterday I cooked chickens with homemade stuffing. I made extra stuffing and prepared it for the freezer. Now the next time I make chickens, the stuffing is already ready to go. Saving me time helps “unclutter” my life too.

  16. posted by Miguel de Luis on

    I don’t know but guess we are dealing with some “dogmas” here; there are people who put that have based their life and the welfare of society in consumerism.

    – I don’t know what attracted them to unclutterer –

    The recent events have put all that to question, and it is normal that people get nervous and lose their cools. Don’t think too hard on them. It’s life, no matter what you write or don’t, somebody is going to get offended. Just try not to do it on purpose, and you’ll be ok.

  17. posted by adora on

    I’d like to see their presentation to the Nobel Economics board on “simple life style causes depression”. Damn, my school told us it was debt, deficit spending and inequality.

    In my experience, people who say those things are in the business of selling clutter, and are just venting their frustration.

    I was once chased down to the parking lot at a mall by a guy trying to sell me Toronto Star subscription. I told him I don’t want more paper in the house while I can read it online. He pointed at my car and said, “You obviously don’t care about the environment because you drive. Rich people are so cheap! $%^&*[yelling in foreign language]” I was so offended that I have not even read Toronto Star online since.

  18. posted by 14k on

    To Erin, do not take these responds personal. As of today, there are people still believe G.W. is doing a an excellent job managing our country.

    go figure…..

  19. posted by Erin Doland on

    Everyone — I don’t take any of these personally, they’re just a part of working on the internet. If I took them personally, I would have left this job years ago.

  20. posted by Candy on

    One of the things I have chosen to make room for in my busy schedule is my art. On top of a full load of teaching at a university and running around after 2 growing boys, my organization skills (which although aren’t even close to perfect, but I try) help make this happen. I’ve even started selling things at local art fairs to support my habit – yay!

    The reason I’m writing about this here is that I’m amazed at how many people will say jokingly negative comments about all that I’m able to accomplish. This is balanced by people who just say “I don’t know HOW you do it all”, and more positive things. But there are a few who will actually say – “I HATE you, you make the rest of us look bad”.

    To the people who say they don’t know how I do it all, I tell them about my amazing shopping, cooking husband, my helpful kids and how I pay to have the house cleaned twice a month. The one person in particular who continues to tell me how much I disgust her with all that I do – I say nothing at all.

    I look at these interchanges as a reflection on our society, and how hard people find it to give a genuine compliment. And I continue to enjoy making things with my hands, having fun in the classroom, and having a happy, busy, family!

    Candy

  21. posted by kirstie on

    Riiight – so if enough people can be persuaded to stop sorting their laundry and just buy socks instead, and if they can also make sure that their larder contains 12 bottles of out of date fish sauce, then the effect of sub-prime mortgages on the economy can be reversed…

  22. posted by Eric on

    Keep up the good work here. The site is an inspiration to live my life in a simpler and leaner mode. If living within our means and saving money created this problem then I welcome this correction to the economy.

  23. posted by R on

    People are just foul sometimes, given the oxygen of anonymity, but those comments strike me more as being wilfully *stupid*. Your responses make a lot of sense, and the measured tone throughout shows up the petty nature of the criticism for what it is.

  24. posted by Tarsila Kruse on

    I feel so sorry that you get emails or responses such as these as they only make me feel sad. Not only because people are rude just because they want to be, but because they are terrified of losing things and don’t realize that simple living is not “getting rid of everything in your life”, but about making it SIMPLE. SIMPLE does not mean NOTHING or EMPTINESS. And about the comment of “you’re not telling people to save their money” – well, if you don’t spend it on clutter, guess what happens…

  25. posted by Heidi on

    I’ve also heard that the idea that buying less is bad for the economy is a fallacy. If you’re spending less, you’re saving more, which provides more capital in the market. I’m no economist, but that was the basic idea, and I think it makes sense.

  26. posted by Suzie on

    I’m very very slowly decluttering my room, yet my friends are astonished that I throw things away. “But you might need it,” they say, “Look! That’s useful!” “No,” I say, “That’s a gunked up tube of mascara in a weird colour.” “But you might need it one day!” *facepalm*

    @ Heidi: That sounds a very sensible idea indeed.

  27. posted by Dave on

    Now I know who is responsible for the financial crisis. I’m glad these people were smart enough to see your plan.
    Dave

  28. posted by shawnna on

    I think you missed a few key arguments in your first point.

    Lets say we do hit a huge recession, and you’re forced to move from your house to somewhere else (car, street, tents, shelter, etc), how much of your precious stuff could you realistically bring with you? You could try to sell it, but is your stuff things others will truly need? Will they have the money to buy it? If you do decide to move all of your stuff, you’ll end up paying more in moving expenses no matter how the move is orchestrated. You might be forced to just leave a lot of things behind, which basically means your hoarding efforts were just a huge waste of time and money.

    Also, lets say we make the same income. While you were out buying all kinds of crap you don’t really need, I was living a simple life and not buying crap I don’t need. Who’s better prepared to weather the economic storm?

    I take comfort in knowing that if I were forced to pack up my car and move/leave in 30 minutes, I know exactly where all the truly important things in my house are, I wouldn’t even have my tiny Scion xA packed full, and I’d have everything I need to live a fulfilling life. Can these people who send you nasty letters say the same?

  29. posted by Alex on

    I’m dedicated to the uncluttering lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped consuming. I’m still buying and spending, which contributes to the economy, I’m just smarter about it. I don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale. I buy quality (which often costs more) because it is made better and I’m less likely to have to replace it. Now I’m more likely to spend money on experiences rather than material objects. I find life to be much more satisfying that way. Those people who sent those nasty e-mails just want to complain and don’t want to do the hard work of bettering themselves.

  30. posted by Malena on

    Take it from me, a confirmed clutterbug (I’m so overwhelmed – I don’t know where or how to start…).

    If you have clutter, at some point you probably have to buy a second (or third) something that you know you already own, but can’t find. Or because it was at the bottom of a super-cool storage bin filled with junk, and got smushed.

    And you waste a lot of time looking for things.

    Clutter costs.

  31. posted by Stephanie on

    My father occassionally throws a hissyfit when he sees me loading up a box to take to Goodwill. “Why is it we have no money, yet you constantly are giving things away?”

    My response is always “If having junk around the house made you rich, we’d be living like Kings.”

  32. posted by Someone on

    I’ve often been hit by “What if there’s a recession/depression/apocalypse and I *need* this stuff?” during my years of decluttering.

    I then ask myself: “If I were intentionally stocking up for a recession/depression/apocalypse, is this something I’d choose to buy to add to the stash?” the answer was almost always “well, no.”.

    It’s a reflexive fear, but usually an illogical one.

    It makes sense when it convinces you to find a way to *use* that box of corn starch or whatever and then just not buy another one rather than throw usable stuff away– but not when it convinces you to allow stuff to fester in the back of the closet/cupboard/whatever completely unused.

  33. posted by Kelli on

    I simply tell people that I’m not attached to “things.” I am very sentimental about people. Therefore I am able to live with very little, but enjoy company thoroughly.

  34. posted by rob on

    The mortgage meltdown was largely brought about by a perceived need for a bigger, better home and the allure of what could be bought with a smaller (if temporary monthly payment. These homes (and mortgages) turned out to be ones that buyers could not afford, and did not need.

    Anyone that sends a negative email, or makes a negative post, needs to stop for a minute and consider what might have occured, had homebuyers in foreclosure endeavored to lived simpler, less cluttered lives.

    The quest for excess (bigger house, smaller payment to buy more worthless things, etc.) is going to cause a lot of pain for all of us, for a very long time to come.

  35. posted by Christy on

    De-cluttering my life has been the best thing i could ever do for my family…in a recession or otherwise.

    I’m pretty sure the over-abundance of vases, outgrown toys, half-completed crafts, old mis-matched dishes, unused cookbooks and my children’s outgrown clothes and all the other crap I’ve happily carted to the thrift store wouldn’t change our situation in a recession one iota.

    I read this site every day and it’s so affirming to read the ideas of like-minded people. Keep up the good work, Erin. This place is a breath of fresh air.

    If a recession hits, we’ll see for ourselves who thrives – -the hoarders or the de-cluttered. I’d be willing to bet on the latter. ;o)

  36. posted by Warren on

    They just can’t accept how good this site really is!

  37. posted by Maggie on

    The comments of posters have me smiling and laughing. Nothing much more to add other than at least we “get it”. But some of Erin’s emailing detractors clearly are frightened by the current events surrounding the economy; finding some level of security in their stuff in which they cocoon themselves against reality (watching too much Discovery!). BTW, no economy has ever been dragged out of recession by consumerism!

  38. posted by EllenElizabeth on

    @ Malena: thank you for being so truthful with your comments. You remind everyone that people read this blog because they strive to rid themselves of clutter and not everyone has acheived it yet.

  39. posted by Julie Bestry on

    My mom would say “they’re just jealous”…and with regard to people who just feel like adding to the world’s nastiness, she’d be right.

    However, people who have “issues” with acquisition such that they feel that they are worth more if they HAVE more often feel that they are worth less (read “worthless”) if they have less. A smaller sub-set of those people cannot be satisfied with feeling they’ve made the right decision for themselves; they can only feel “right” if they think they will make you feel “wrong”.

    As you noted, there’s a distinct difference between prudent purchases and clutter, and clutter needs to be maintained with greater financial expenditures for rent/mortgage for larger or additional storage space and greater expenditures of energy…especially in terms of having to DUST all of it.

    And if we are heading towards another Great Depression, a maternity dress that hasn’t been worn (and hasn’t been in style) since the 1980s isn’t suddenly going to replace hard currency. A sofa with broken springs that takes up half your garage (forcing you to park your vehicle outside) isn’t suddenly going to make you financially secure. Not previously acting upon the inherent difference between clutter and items of value is a main reason people call on professional organizers, and the act of getting organized saves them time and money…and gives them confidence in facing an uncertain future with a sense of control over their lives and surroundings.

    While I’m glad you shared this version of the kind of comments you receive, I hope you will declutter your inbox by purging the negativity that comes your way.

  40. posted by Harris on

    Shawnna, I agree. I would love to be able to have everything I own fit in my car. I’m not there yet but I am doing some serious decluttering. I don’t want to be attached to “things”. I hear over and over “you are going to regret getting rid of that”. Nah, I don’t think so.
    Erin, you deserve only kind e-mails….unclutterer is the greatest!

  41. posted by Pat on

    @ Someone up there – that’s a great question to ask yourself! “If I were intentionally stocking up for a recession/depression/apocalypse, is this something I’d choose to buy to add to the stash?” Thanks – I’ll tell myself that when I have my moments of doubt – which I have had recently.
    As in: “I wonder if I’ll miss this sock with the hole in it? Maybe I’d be able to use it to clean something…?”

  42. posted by Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer on

    In times of crisis, there are always opportunities, but you’ve got to be lean and mean to be able to spot them and act on them.

    If you’re busy “curating” your stuff, you’ll miss out on living your life. Of course, that’s also true when everything is looking rosy!

  43. posted by Alex on

    I live in a community that is just now coming out of a widespread power outage as the result of the tail end of Ike. I was without electricity for seven days, and without a personal support network that would have provided me a place to stay that never lost power. Fortunately, we have a gas water heater, so really what I lost was my refrigerator, lights and television. I pretty much lived in one room, and on the front porch.

    What I found was, I didn’t miss television at all, and my possessions in the darkened rooms pretty much ceased to exist. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I spent 25 years in the same house, accumulating “stuff” that was attractive in the light, but pretty much served no purpose. I really didn’t even miss being able to cook, and am going to be slow to fill my lovely clean and empty refrigerator.

  44. posted by Karen on

    What will save my spouse and I during rough financial times is that because we have resisted buying things we don’t need, we have been able to pay off our modest house. We owe nothing, to anybody.

    If we are headed into another depression, I think a lot of people are going to find out the hard way that large amounts of stuff require a lot of money to maintain. Living lightly is the only way to go.

  45. posted by gypsypacker on

    Uncluttering helps the economy by: Trickling down goods to the less affluent,
    making broken goods available to repairers who earn money from their efforts and create a job (their own), freeing up recyclables to recycling individuals and firms, and encouraging intelligent consumerism instead of endless collections of cheap Chinese junk. Give’em hell!

  46. posted by jocelyn on

    I agree with Karen. Being vigilant about how much stuff we let into the house (even if that stuff was free) saved my husband and I throughout our twenties. Not only because ‘living close to the bone’ (as one person put it) saved us money for emergencies and unwanted expenses (the $1,000 crown for his tooth, the flat tire on the ’88 acura), spared us debt, and made it easier to weather employment/income fluctuations, but living simply meant we were always able to relocate easily to chase jobs and opportunities or to escape rent increases.

  47. posted by timgray on

    I love that kind of stuff. It’ reminds me of the real state of mind of the populace. Buying things = good. and if you spend a lot you are doing even gooder! (yes that was intentional)

    I fight the following daily..

    If you dont drive the biggest SUV you can find, you are unamerican.(in regards to my trading in two cars to get a smartcar)

    If you dont have lots of credit card debt you are unamerican. (seriously, I was told this!)

    if you dont buy lots of stuff then you are unamerican.

    I laugh, and say, “well then you need to double up and make up for me!”

    Just smile and know that that person has their head in a cloud and can only be happy that way.

  48. posted by PrairieGal on

    This sums up what I was thinking.

    “You can’t have it all
    Don’t blame politicians and bankers. The real cause of the credit crisis is a society that wants everything now”

    From the National Post Sep23/08
    http://www.financialpost.com/story.html?id=814048

    “Those of us with a sense of history, or whose personal memories go back to the 1940s and ’50s, remember some of the maxims of the old society — values forged during many generations when good times inevitably gave way to hard ones. Our parents told us stories of the wrenching effects of the Great Depression and how it caused them never to feel right about spending lavishly or going into debt. It was important to save money in advance to pay for the things a person wanted — education, a household, a home.”

    “The left had always been utopian and narcissistic, but the abandonment of thrift and prudence even by conservatives signalled a great social change. Everyone had bought into the culture of having it all.”

  49. posted by tadeusz on

    The truth is that people have different preferences. For some an iPhone is excellent. Then, for some people it’s kind of cool, but too expensive. For other it’s crazy expensive and out of question.

    Each and every one of us has limited resources: limited money, limited time, etc. We try to manage this scarce resources the best we can. We also have to predict the future: is this iPod now worth more or less than my future retirement? Whatever, think it through. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.

    Always remember, that there’s no one size that fits all. Your personal preferences and choices are yours only. Other people might value certain decisions differently.

    People hear all kind of advice: Buy cool iPhones! Live frugally! Limit green house gas emission! Invest in Vanguard index funds! That’s confusing, if you can’t tell an advice from an order. I believe that this confusion is the real source of anger mentioned in this blog article.

    I don’t know if uncluttering helps economy, or not. But I’m pretty sure that general thoughtfulness helps a lot.

  50. posted by allen on

    @ eternalvoyageur:

    I actually do hang on to my orphan socks. I wear though my socks pretty fast (since i don’t wear shoes at home). I just put the good half of the pair into the same small drawer my hankies are in, and when i have another orphan sock, match them up. nothing weird about that.

    @ Erin:
    Thank you so much for putting up with jerks & a-holes. I think the studies are on your side when it comes to the better living/saving money through owning what you need/want, not what you want/need owning you.

  51. posted by Dee on

    I am one of those people who is trying to get to a simpler, less cluttered kind of life. Having too much crap can stress you out, and I think we all know what kind of problems that stress can lead to, some of which can be pretty expensive.

    I’m moving toward surrounding myself with only the things that I need, and valuing the things that I have that make me truly happy. There’s a garbage can and a donation box for the rest of it.

  52. posted by Christine in DC on

    Wow, I’m astounded people are so hostile, too. spending without having the money to back it up is part of the problem we’re in. I can’t see how my giving away unused items in my home (that I should have never bought to begin with, but was probably indulging some fleeting feeling of inferiority that I thought they’d take care of) would prevent my eventual economic demise–what would have stopped it would have been realizing that happiness and contentment isn’t held in any object or in money…and I think that’s what this site is getting at! Making room for the real things!

  53. posted by Pat on

    Yeah, people are pretty afraid right now. Sorry they’re taking it out on you, Erin. I think all the economic fear is amplifying people’s irrational attachment to their stuff.

    (Not saying that attachment to stuff *in general* is irrational. I love my stuff — even more than they do, cuz I have so little of it! I try to make it so that I only own things I love, so on average my attachment to any given object I own is quite high! 😉 I mean attachment to orphaned socks and never-used kitchen appliances, all the “loose bits of string” of life.)

    You’re right on every point up there, I think. I’ve always thought you advocated a very smart consumerism, but I think it’s a subtle one that sometimes people miss because they’re assuming this is an anti-consumerist blog or a consumerist blog or an environmentalist blog, or something else that this isn’t.

  54. posted by Elizabeth on

    People are scared. They want to feel better, and attacking someone else validates their own views. Clutter and disorganisation aren’t always related to excessive consumption. Frugality can also get out of control (hoarding things that aren’t immediately useful, but aren’t totally useless eg bits of string, tiny dessicant packets). Some people may not see that you advocate that too much stuff of any type doesn’t do good, and think you are simply attacking consumer purchasing. I think bubbles are bursting around the world and that most people will need to be very careful about what they acquire, what they keep, and what they demand be produced.

  55. posted by LJ on

    It seems to me that those already used to living simply are going to have less of a learning curve in the event of a depression. We won’t have the mental adjustments of “need to buy” forced upon us.

    Just my $0.02. Or what would have been $0.02 until the market got hold of it. 🙂

  56. posted by Red on

    I’ve not experienced anything quite to that degree (Yikes!), but my parents haven’t been very supportive of my decision to live simply. Once I began downgrading my possessions and getting rid of clutter, my parents saw the changes as a sacrifice I was making instead of seeing it as a positive change in my life. I tried explaining that I wanted to focus on those things most important to me – spending time with family, D, reading and writing – instead of sitting in front of the TV and watching Felicity for the 200th time. They’re slowly getting better when I tell them about new changes I’ve made – instead of arguing with me, now they just sigh exasperatedly and listen to me. Then they quickly change the subject.

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