The thing about stuff

So, recently I’ve been on a mission to declutter, clear out, recycle, reuse, produce little waste etc. etc. One day when I was ranting on about this stuff to some new friends one kind soul piped up and said, “my view is that it costs you money to buy it and it costs you nothing to keep it.” This was in the middle of my throwing out everything stage (though, in reality, everything is not everything).

She’s had me thinking though and recently these thoughts have taken some kind of communicable form.

One thing which I have been wondering about has been the ‘why’ of why stuff can tug at our emotions and heart the way it sometimes does.

Some things I now regret tossing. So what’s with that???

There’s that pram I bought in New Zealand, those three mats which I thought weren’t my style any longer (turns out they still are and when we were in a house and needed a bath mat or two I had to go and buy another), that blackboard which was such a find at a monastery fete, which I passed on to a friend and since have a small longing for it which I continually squash, even some of my solid furniture (bookshelves and the like) which I also passed on and could actually use now and have had trouble replacing….even that desk which I loved and never bought and think ‘damn’ if only

What’s with stuff??

And it’s this (I think). We invite stuff into our life and when we do we take responsibility for it. From that point onwards it is our responsibility where that stuff ends up. Landfill, second-hand stalls, even when given to friends there is still that biting responsibility: is that stuff being used to the best of it’s ability? Is it being wasted? Will it go to landfill after several uses simply because the second or third person along the chain can not care for or repair it?

It is strange that even when friends hand stuff over to me there is still that element of: “oh, that is *Jenny’s* chair” even after a number of years. Sometimes I do not emotionally let go of stuff too and I think it’s tied up with this idea of responsibility. It’s a bit like children or puppies.

So I think this kind of approach toward stuff can fill us (or me, at least) with a new kind of trepidation when making something or buying something or taking something into my own life. When I stick my hand up to become an owner I am accepting responsibility for that object’s existence, it’s end, it’s care. Even if I casually pass something on to the second hand store that is not its end (I have heard that much of our second hand clothing ends up in poorer countries where traditional methods of clothing production are suffering because of an inundation of our (tacky, polyester) clothing rejects so…I mean, I don’t want to contribute to that!!). We can use the second-hand dealer as a bit of a cop-out to dealing with our stuff I think.

As the potential owner of stuff I have the responsibility to ensure that my stuff is well made, ethically made, high quality, cared for and when my use for it is over my responsibility is to ensure it’s end is a good one or at least pass it on carefully and conscientiously.

So, this is my thinking currently. Does anyone else have any ideas about this?

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2 Replies to “The thing about stuff”

  1. I think this touches on one of my thoughts which is that it’s not about recycling but rather about not buying stuff in the first place. But then if I don’t buy it maybe someone else will and then just chuck it in the bin! There’s no answer to some of these kind of problems is there?!!

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