Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking stuff stock

Well its been nearly one month since I made my pledge to buy no new stuff for one year. One twelfth of the way there! Its probably time to take stock of my progress...
Well, remember how I mentioned that my purse had died and was pooing coins everywhere? I did make an honest effort to track down a replacement made from 100%recycled materials, I promise. I did a bit of research and traipsed into town with The Booba in tow (who, might I add, was decidedly grumpy that day) to the only shop in Perth that I could ascertain sold such a thing. I had optimistic expectations of the purses made from 100% recycled plastic bags and 100% recycled tyre inner tubes that had been advertised. Sadly, said articles did not live up to my expectations. They just would not have been functional (eg. only 2 slots for cards???). So I went for the second best option of purchasing a "new-materials" purse made by some sort of women's cooperative in India, from a shop run by a not-for-profit charitable organisation. Must admit I still feel a tiny bit like I've broken the rules every time I take my wallet out. And I must also confess that a very quick google search has just revealed countless alternative options for purses made from recycled rubber for sale online (see link below to vulcana bags as an example) - I'm sure I would have found a suitable purse pretty easily. Oh well. Lesson learned. I won't be so hasty next time.
I'm happy to say, however, that that has been the only infingement that I can think of. Not bad, huh? Thats not to say I haven't been tempted! Which leads me to....
1. Baby stuff
Every week I catch up with a group of other Mums in my local area for cups of tea and commiseration. This is held in a room at the back of a local baby things shop, so every week I'm exposed to a sea of uber-cute but environmentally pretty naughty baby stuff - for which I am entitled to a sizeable discount. Very tempting!
2. Plant pots
As I think I've mentioned before, we rent a place with a largely paved outdoor area, so we're forced to mainly grow things in pots, and a short while ago I ran out! I persevered with using the bottom of 2L milk bottles and yoghurt containers (with holes poked in the bottom) which work ok, but they're not really that big, and to be frank don't look all that great. Then one day last week I was taking out the rubbish to the bins we share with our neighbours, and found our neighbouring household had chucked out a whopping stack of at least thirty plastic plant pots. Score! Problem solved.
All in all I think I have found this endeavour a little easier than I had expected as I've just tried to avoid putting myself in temptation's way - what is the point in going shopping when you know you are "not allowed to buy anything"? Perhaps the relentless acquisition of and desire for new things was merely a habit that needed to be broken? Or is it human nature to want new things all the time? - I'm hardly immune to it, I still love going to secondhand shops, and it would be difficult to argue that I actually need the things I buy there - its just fun, and I permit myself because I see that it doesn't come at such an enviromental or ethical cost. Some might argue that those in developing countries who are seemingly happy living with very little material goods refute the theory that its human nature to seek to acquire things that may not be absolutely intrinsic to our survival or basic comfort. But I in turn would argue that this probably just reflects a lack of opportunity and exposure to the big wide world of 'shopping'. What is it about us as human beings that makes us want 'things' so much?
Human nature or not, I have felt a bit of a shift in my attitudes over the past month. I heard a really beautiful piece of classical music I had never heard before on the television the other night, and then, by complete coincidence, the exact same piece of music on the radio the next morning. I honestly felt that this was one of the most gorgeous things I had ever heard, and made a mental note to inform the Beloved Husband that I would like it to be played at my funeral (morbid I know, but everyone thinks about their funeral music - don't they?). My usual impulse, in the 'new stuff era', would have been to seek out a recording of this music, to possess it. But having already made a commitment to myself not to do things like this, I actually found that I was content to just have the experience of hearing this piece of music those two times, and to hope that perhaps I would happen to hear it again some other time. I think this made me more fully appreciate the experience of listening to the song while it was playing, rather than anxiously planning how I would acquire it, planning some future time when I would enjoy it. I guess in self-help speak this is called 'being in the moment'.

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