5 Ways to reduce, reuse, and re-think your stuff

One of the challenges of living in NYC is limited space.  There never seems to be enough room for your “stuff”.  After 3 years of living in my studio apartment, the space seemed to be closing in on me.  Compared to a lot of other people I know, I live pretty modestly, but the piles were growing and my once spacious studio seemed like an obstacle course.

Years back, I came across this amazing video called The Story of Stuff, a “20-minute web-film that explores the often hidden environmental and social consequences of America’s love affair with its stuff.”  My awareness of the cycle of stuff turned up a few notches when I first watched it.  I told all of my friends about it.  I vowed to never buy another bottle of water again or buy any unnecessary stuff (especially stuff I couldn’t afford).

Time passed and I slipped into some old purchasing habits again which led me to re-visit the website to discover the film has evolved into a project.  There are two new videos:  The Story of Bottled Water and The Story of Cap and Trade.

Creator Annie Leonard has done an amazing job investigating, organizing, and presenting information in these videos in a simple, easy to understand way.  The site is a great resource for information about how to learn more, get involved and take action.

The combination of watching Annie’s great videos and a few episodes of Hoarders (have you seen it? Scary!) motivated me to once again re-think my stuff.  How important is it for me to upgrade to bigger and better electronics when what I already have is functional?  Can someone else re-use my stuff that I don’t want anymore?  How I’m I contributing to the cycle of stuff?

Below are five ways to reduce, re-think and reuse your stuff that I’m putting my attention to:

1.   Repeat after me:  “I will not purchased bottled water, it’s a big waste of money and resources.  I will carry a water bottle and refill when necessary will delicious tap water and go on a vacation with all the $ I save.”

2.  Annie Leonard mentions in her video that 99% of consumer purchases will be disposed of in 6 months.  6 months!  Avoid purchasing items that require a continuous investment or will be disposed of quickly.  A Swiffer is a good example of this, an old fashioned broom and mop will do the trick.  Can you send an MP3 rather than a compact disc?  Any other ideas?

3.  Replace retail therapy with movie therapy or massage therapy.  There are other ways to perk up your mood that don’t clutter up your space and landfills (and empty your wallet).

4.  Invest in the longevity of your stuff.   Yes, the new iPhone has tons of cool features but will it make any significant changes in your life?  If you can’t wait and need to buy a “new and improved item” consider selling or giving it to someone who can re-use it.

5.  Tell other people about how you’re making conscious choices about your stuff.  Awareness is key and contagious.  Post a link or become a fan of the Story of Stuff on Facebook, Tweet about it, embed the code into your blog site, talk to your friends and family about it.


One response

  1. Elizabeth Kohen

    Joe, have you seen this?

    …extreme but thought-provoking. I still have too much stuff, but always strive to minimize so we don’t outgrow our apartment. Basically, if you don’t want to be a hoarder in NY, you have to be a mindful minimalist. I appreciate New York for that, actually!

    May 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

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