Stems and All

My journey to buy less, consume smart, use what's there.

Fight the reverse ‘purge-urge’: don’t replace!


The old me:
“I’m so good! I’ve just donated 3 sweaters, and 3 pairs of pants to GoodWill. Now, it’s time to go out and shop for 3 new sweaters and 3 new pairs of pants!”

The reality is, that most of us living in the United States, and in many countries beyond, actually already own way too many items than we can actually use in any one lifetime. Take the 21 belts that were uncovered when my boyfriend and I moved in together…

21 belts to choose from

Which of these 21 belts does he actually use?

Just a wee bit excessive. We were able to get the number down to 5 without running out and replacing any of them, which was a great start. 5 belts is still far too many, but we’re tackling this in baby steps.

The new-er me:
I’ve developed a few rules for myself that I try to live by as I continuously purge more and more from our homes and our lives.

1.) Don’t replace: While it was challenging at first, I fight the urge to go out and purchase ‘replacements’ for anything that has left the house and our lives. Ironically, this has become progressively easier the more I give away, and I expect that this trend will continue.

2.) “What’s in that corner of the closet anyway?”: If you can’t see it, you probably won’t use it. At one point, I owned about 40 sweaters. They were double stacked high up in a closet – I didn’t even know what was back there. The reality was that I really didn’t wear or use many of them. So, if I have ‘hidden corners of stuff’ somewhere, I definitely work hard to avoid ‘re-placeing’ items that get purged from these areas.

3.) Take care of what I have: As I continue to trim useless or excess items from our lives, I am realizing that I place higher value on and take better care of the items I keep. I am finding myself mending small holes or tears in clothing, bags, etc., vs. just tossing or getting rid of it. I carefully pick ‘nurdles’ off of sweaters if they develop, and I fold and store all of our things more neatly.

This is a work in progress, as I do still find myself in the ‘trap’ of wanting to replace something, but I am confident that it will be a battle that I win.

Author: Jane Newcomb

“Stems and All” is my personal journey to become a more environmentally responsible human, live a more sustainable life, and practice sustainable consuming habits.

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