Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm having an issue with stuff. This time of year I'm reminded of how, generally, we have too much stuff.

I'm not saying it's just's you too. We all have too much stuff. Do you know how I know this? Because of commercials for these...

Come on! You know there is not a single person in the world who needs one of these? What could possibly be the purpose? Yet Fred Meyer has a pallet of these things in every store. And people are buying them!

And why do we only see commercials for these things around Christmas? Because we all have so much stuff and people, who for some reason feel compelled to buy us gifts, can't think of a single thing we NEED so they get something we don't need...The Chia Pet.

The Clapper falls into the same category. OK, I admit The Clapper might actually be a product that someone needs. Maybe about .01% of the population really, really NEEDS The Clapper.

But the clapper now comes with a remote control so that if you don't want to clap to turn on your lights, you can simply push a button. (Wait...there's something familiar about this.)

You can even mount the clapper remote on the wall, so you always know where it is and can easily switch on a light when you come in a room. Just like a light switch, except $24.95.

I spent some time this morning listening to George Carlin's take on "stuff" but will not post the video here because this blog is rated PG.

To paraphrase, George says the meaning of life is to find a place to keep all our stuff and that our houses are really just places for us to keep our stuff. A house is like a pile of stuff with a cover on it. And when we leave the house, we lock it up to keep our stuff safe while we go out to get more stuff. (OK, it does sound a bit funnier when he says it...)

I've been thinking about all the stuff out there for us to buy. Most of us have what we need, but still want to acquire more stuff. Then when the stuff goes out of style, we throw the stuff out and it goes into a land fill. The stuff had to be manufactured and transported, which takes up energy and causes pollution.

But stuff also creates jobs. If we got rid of all the stuff, there would not be enough jobs for people, and then they wouldn't have enough money to buy their stuff.

I think we need less stuff, even if it does create unemployment and other problems with the economy. We can overcome those issues and reduce waste and pollution and debt.

I've been thinking about getting off the consumerism grid. I was inspired by this article I read several years ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I wanted to try it for 2009 but feel the second hand clothing issue would be an obstacle too hard for me to overcome.

So, instead, I'm going to more fully embrace and live by these words:

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do with out.


Betty Grace said...

Way to go! I've been overwhelmed with all my stuff as I prepare to move out of place I've lived (and hidden stuff in every corner) for the past 11 years! It's a bit overwhelming. I'm on board with the less stuff thing.

Betty Grace said...

Oh except I seem to really love stuff. :) I am an American after all.

Heather said...

Thanks for this, Afton. It is right in line with what I've been thinking lately, too. I happened to catch this show called "Eyes on Kenya" last night, which made me feel even stronger about cutting back on "stuff." Way to go!

Erika and Ryan said...

Chia pets are so stinkin' ugly. They give me the willies.

Samurai Mom said...

A neat book to read on this subject is Your Money or Your life by Joe Dominguez

Emily Laing said...

What a great post and I completely agree with you in every way!

Erika and Ryan said...

I meant to say it's the "Chia Heads" that I think are so ugly. At least they would make a good gag gift though.

Afton said...

Yes, the Chia Head is definitely disturbing.

Marah said...

I just did a family home evening with my kids about this issue and used the same motto with them of use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. This has been my number one issue for about a month now, probably related to several conditions in my life (recession (dare I use the R word yet?), lots of children leaving stuff everywhere they go, and Christmas). It's hard for me to deal with gift-giving at Christmas both last year and this one. My solution would be to take a nice family trip somewhere and make memories, but that would If want to try the second-hand clothes, you could possibly try Value Village on Hall and 99. At least for the kids!

Tara said...

Ahhh, yes... too much stuff... I'm right there with Marah... did I mention Dave lost his job back in April and that I started back to work October 1st. Wellll, right after the usual Clapper and Chia Pet commercials came on the other night, guess what's new? The Snuggie!
And both kids started making their case for why they need one in this really cold weather since mom has a paycheck now and since we won't let them turn up the heat (maybe cause Ethan sets it on 78?). When I pointed out that they both have bathrobes, they just said "Oh". LOL

Afton said...

I've seen ads for the Snuggie. I find it hard to believe that people pay money for things like that.