If you have not watched this video, do it. Now. It is called THE STORY OF STUFF and it is by Annie Leonard, she spent ten years researching stuff and how it goes from being a raw material to another item in the landfill. The response to the video has been tremendous, to such an extent that she wrote it all up in a book. It has really got me thinking, seriously, about how much stuff I have and purchase. Do I need it all? She goes into the marketing and mechanics behind getting us "the public" thinking we need more stuff. Anyway, it is long (20 minutes) but really well done. Do watch it. It's been haunting me enough that I got to talking with the husband and we decided to dedicate ourselves to consuming less stuff. But, it was all a bit overwhelming. I mean, what about gifts? What about buying (gasp) pretty fabric? So, rather than get burnt out on feeling like we have to do it all, we are starting small...with cleaning. We are using this book:
I've had this book for a while and it has great recipes on making your own cleaning products. (Did you know you could clean your bathtub with a lemon cut in half and dipped in borax!) So, as we use up old cleaning products we are cleaning and saving the spray bottles to whip up our own when we need them. I've always used 'green' cleaning products but every time I replace something I buy a new spray bottle or other contraption and that is ridiculous. It might be 'green' inside but not outside! Plastic is plastic. This (along with the new make-at-home self-cleaning) are all being calculated so that we can also feel good about our budgeting.
Our next step is to make a rag bucket that is accessible and filled with cut up t-shirts, towels, etc. so rather than reach for a paper product we reach for a reusable rag. I've also decided that the boys don't need any new summer clothes and will be scouring the local (and very small) thrift store for shorts and summer pajamas. As I'm there I decided to put on my list a few other things like a tarp for the sandbox, etc. that I might otherwise just run out and buy. It doesn't feel like much but I feel like since having kids I've given myself and an excuse to be a little lazy about this stuff saying "I don't have the time" but Annie Leonard convinced me that these are just excuses, it's time to get up and get to it!
The crazy part is how easy it is to fall back into consuming things. I have had a thought cross my mind that is mildly embarassing but I will share anyway..."With all the money we will be saving I could go out and buy myself something nice from Anthropologie as a reward." I nearly slapped myself! That I should buy myself something to reward myself for not consuming things. That's logic for you.
8 months ago