Less

Saturday, November 08, 2014


I’ve been thinking a lot about less. Buying less, spending less, owning less, using less--generally being less of a burden to this planet. I’ve been living in New York City for sixteen years now, and in that time I have acquired so much stuff. Sometimes I look around, and I wonder, “Where did all this come from?”

It’s hard to remember what it was like living in my first apartment in a 6' x 8' room with a mattress, only enough clothes to fit in a very small wardrobe, a plank on brackets for desk, a chair, just four plates and four bowls, a single sauté pan—I owned so little, but my life was no less full.

I don’t aspire to return to my teenage lifestyle, but I do want to get back to the basics. And yet it is so hard to get rid of things, isn’t it? For example, why is it so hard to get rid of that shirt you only where two times a year? Is it because we worry that we might need it someday. Getting up the nerve to say to yourself, "No, I really don't need it," can be hard.

It’s not just about decluttering. Simultaneously, I am intrigued by the idea of creating less waste. Reading about people who aspire to a “zero waste” home (in other words, to create no trash) inspires me to do a better job of buying things that come with minimal and easily recycled packaging; it also helps motivate me to seek out less wasteful and more ecological alternatives for every item that comes into my home.

I tell you all this to let you know that I plan to write more about living with less. When I talk like this, my husband jokes about becoming minimalists, who live in a studio apartment with tatami mats as our only furnishings. That’s not the answer, but I do think that we could all think about how we might live smaller, lighter, and ultimately more freely, less weighed down by what we consume.

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