Double your valuable time by halving your useless stuff

It is said that material possessions can be and often are an extension of a person’s ego. It is revealing that a person’s favourite things are not generally the most valuable, the latest or the most innovative but rather those things that have the greatest emotional weight. They might be an heirloom or a gift from someone special. They might be a souvenir or remembrance of an event or trip. They might be something beautiful or well-crafted that you have cherished and cared for for a long time. These sorts of items are important to individuals in the same way that museums, galleries and libraries are important to the whole society. They offer stories about who we were, who we are, and who we might become.

The problem is all the other stuff that isn’t special. Many things we obtain lose their utility and novelty quite quickly. Of course there are many utilitarian items of furniture, bedding and other household goods that are necessary for a life of well-being but is there really a need to have two of everything let alone five or six or everything. When things are surplus they are literally a burden. We give up our precious time working to create products and services. We get paid for this and we use that money to buy products and services which we often don’t need. As Joe Strummer said “You make. You buy. You die.” This is a perverse state of affairs. The only people who really benefit from all this producing and consuming are the business owners.

I realised as I went through my personal effects (see Halving – Part 1) that most of the stuff I was getting rid of I didn’t really need to have in the first place. That being the case I not only wasted the resources that went into those products I also wasted my time making the money to purchase them. Time is one of our most precious resources and living a life of material sufficiency can allow you extra time to devote to the things that truly make you happy such as connecting with others, learning and giving your time to others.

There is no doubt that people can increase their well-being and decrease their ecological footprint by reducing the amount of stuff they have, or even better not acquiring it in the first place.