Buy No Thing" month is going pretty well so far, with a couple exceptions: an anniversary gift for my wife and a bladder for my Appalachian Trail section hike. Still, I didn't really adhere to the rules since, hey, I bought some stuff. To make up for my poor purchasing behavior, and also just to give myself another challenge, I decided today to take action on an idea that I've been pondering for a while. By July 5th, thirty days from now, I will be thirty things lighter than I am today: one thing per day.
While I am coming to realize that purchasing things doesn't buy me happiness, I also get the feeling that the mere presence of too much stuff might also have a negative impact on me. I don't have any research to back this up, but my gut says that clutter sucks. So it's time to get rid of some of it.
I originally had contemplated some drastic measures: like trying to reduce my number of possessions to a specific figure, say, one thousand. Minimalism seems to be on the rise, as more people come to terms with the pitfalls of consumerism, and the inability of products to deliver on their advertiser's promises. There are a lot of cool sites outlining individuals' dramatic reduction of stuff: the 100 Thing Challenge, Project 333 for clothing, Miss Minimalist...there's no shortage of cool information about living well (or better) with less. Here is an almost unbelievable story of a man selling his businesses, waterfront property, luxury cars, everything he owns, for $3.5M.
I don't think I am ready to take on that kind of change just yet, or that quickly. I am going to try to approach this in a sustainable way. When I get rid of thirty things this month and I feel like there's still a need to reduce, I'll do it again the next month.
So here's the loose plan: I'll sell some big items, like that ATV I finally got running this week, on Craigslist. I'll then move on to some smaller things I can sell, again on Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon (for books). And then if the 4th of July is approaching and I haven't hit thirty items yet, I'll donate some under-used-but-still-usable items to a thrift store in town. The more charitable side of me argues that I should reverse the order and give first, but I'm inclined to see if I can sell something for a few bucks before I give it away. (Maybe next month, I'll work on being a more generous person.)
My wife has cautioned me not to get rid of things that I might want to turn around and purchase later. After all, the goal is to reduce, not replace. So when something is gone, it's on the "no purchase" list for a year. For example, I can't give away a perfectly good pair of brown work shoes and then say I need them in the fall. It seems I'll have to think a bit before selling or donating things. So I'll be keeping a list, and, as always, she'll be keeping me honest. Wish me luck!
*Photo is from asteegabo at Flickr Creative Commons.