Welcome to Week 4 of “28 Day Journey to a Gently Sustainable Home: Do Without”! In the last three weeks, we’ve unpacked the timeless mantra from the Great Depression “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do and Do Without”.
What are your thoughts when you hear the phrase “Do Without”?
I don’t know how you might answer that question, but for me, I think of misery. Sadness. Being destitute.
During the Great Depression, “doing without” meant really doing without….having no shoes or coat, no heat for their homes and no social programs to serve as a safety net.
Life during the beginning of the century was much different than life is today. Social security, public housing and numerous government programs keep our population from suffering at the same levels of the Great Depression.
But as I think about life in 21st century America, I see a paradox of sorts.
Most Americans live lives of excess. Consumption is so much a part of our lives, we’ve become immune to it. I’ve heard it said that even the poorest Americans live better than most of the rest of the world. We should be grateful and happy, right?
Yet, according to recent Gallup polls, while feeling that the economy is improving, Americans are reporting an unprecedented decline in well-being. Wait, could it be that money and security doesn’t make us happy?!
Who knew? (tongue in cheek)
In recent years, new trends such as “minimalism”, “homesteading” and the “Konmari method” have surfaced. What we’re beginning to understand is that all of our “stuff” is making us sick, depressed and overall unhappy. Most of us have passed the “Fulfillment Curve“.
So then, what does “Do Without” look like for us in 2019?
I would venture to say that we could all choose to “do without” some of the stuff that is cluttering our lives.
Go through your home, room by room, closet by closet and get rid of the clutter. Sell it, pitch it, give it away but get it out of your life.
The reason I am encouraging you to do this is NOT to be more organized (although that’s a nice thing).
It’s NOT to make money to pay off some bills (although that’s nice as well).
The reason I’m encouraging you to get rid of physical clutter in the place you call home is so that you can get down to business about what’s really important to you.
If you are looking to make some changes in your life this year, your potential to reach those goals will be diminished by clutter in your life.
My assumption is that you would like to be more self-reliant and sustainable in some way. Perhaps you want to start a garden on your apartment’s balcony this year, but it’s loaded with lawn furniture that you never use and a bike that you never ride. Get rid of those things so that you can use that space to accomplish what’s really important to you at this point in your life!
Make your kitchen more functional by clearing out things you don’t use and make room for a dehydrator or canning equipment! What good are all those casserole dishes doing you?
One of my readers has an aquaponics set-up in his basement! I would venture to say that he had to do a lot of clearing out before he could accomplish that amazing goal, but now he’s living his dream.
Some of you have considerable cash tied up in things that you’re hanging onto for sentimental reasons or guilt factors. Unless it brings you joy at this point in your life, I encourage you to let it go. I know this one is hard, but no one ever won an award for keeping the most “old stuff”, handed down from well-meaning relatives. I love my father dearly, but he has given me enough “old stuff” over the years to fill 5 storage units…maybe more! Those wonderful items have found new homes. I can’t hang on to all of it, it drags me down.
Still others of you over-spent on items that you can’t bear to get rid of. You feel as though you have “too much money tied up” in it. Perhaps you do, but let me ask you a question…is that item appreciating in value? I doubt that it is. The fact is that while you may have X amount of money invested, the value continues to drop…by the minute. Consider cashing out and consider it a learning experience.
“I love money.
I love everything about it.
I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater.
And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff too.”
You’ll never have today again.
Why not start living for today? Let go of what’s behind you and pursue those dreams. Do without.