Week one of living with less

We’re off and running — the Kersh family is attempting to simplify our lives, be a little kinder to our environment, and live with less for the next six months. Our official start date was July 9 (the Sunday after we returned from a week at the beach–a little fatter and with a few last minute purchases).

Why we decided to do this? I work as a professional organizer, and I’m amazed at how overwhelmed my clients are by the stuff that they live with. I’ve had people describe feeling suffocated, depressed, unable to move on, and totally stuck thanks to their belongings. So I thought it might be interesting to see what it feels like to purchase nothing (see enormous list of exceptions below) for six months. Will we feel free? Will we have more money? Will we create less garbage? Will we save on gas by shopping less? Will we feel deprived? Will we cheat? Will our kids guilt us into purchasing them things? I have no idea what to expect. But I’ll put it all out there in this blog and you can read along to see how we do.

Other reasons we’re doing this–

Might be a good lesson for our children (at least our 5 year old is old enough to learn a little something. Day 2 she asked “Mom, how long before we get to start buying things we want again, instead of just stuff you say we need?” Thankfully, our 2 1/2 year old just wants occasional access to food and his collection of fans)

Should be a good reminder for us of the difference between want and need. Will I be more likely to think before I buy in the future?

We certainly don’t live off the grid, but despite our best efforts to recycle and compost, we still manage to fill an enormous trash can every week. Surely we can do better

Perhaps we can save money that we can put towards a family vacation or some other family activity, or just a bunch of frivolous crap that I feel like buying at the end of 6 months of deprivation!

The Goal: Purchase nothing for six months (I realize plenty of people pledge to do this for a year, but at least this is a start!)

The Exceptions: Food, drinks, toiletries, replacements for necessary items that stop working (eg cell phone, major appliances), iTunes, materials required to finish a disastrous landscaping project we’ve been working on for months (because I’ll go crazy if we have to look at it for six more months), school supplies/necessary office supplies and finally–Santa will still come to our house (but my husband and I will have to be creative with gifts for us and additional family members).

No-No’s: Clothes, shoes (asking my mother to purchase them for me is also not allowed), books, DVDs, furniture, decorative items, magazine subscriptions, computer hardware, kitchen gizmos, and toys (for us AND the kids).

This blog will be my honest take on this experience, as we attempt to answer the question “what is enough?”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Week one of living with less

  1. Anton says:

    Fantastic idea, and you’re already inspiring me to cut back on my own consumption. I look forward to reading your insights and suggestions. (And I hope you’ll refer to George Carlin’s classic Stuff routine every now and then!)

  2. Erin says:

    Great project, I look forward to your posts. It’s funny because we were looking for a photo the other night and came across pictures from our time in Vanuatu. In looking at the pictures of our very simple, two-room hut I was amazed at the amount of stuff we have here and how much of it we really don’t need. One photo was of a “dinner party” we had for our village counterpart and his family. Our homemade table, (made from scrap wood we found in the village), covered by a cloth I bought in the capital (which didn’t even fit the entire table) was set with tin dishes and everyone had an old jelly jar in front of them which was filled with tea I made from the lemon grass leaves out our front door. We had candles burning in old bottles and a kerosene lantern as well. Our lives are so far removed from that time, but it was a poignant reminder that we do consume quite an abundance and so much of it we simply don’t need. I also remembered that at that time I thought our little home was quite comfortable, so when I think I need more things to make our American home more comfortable, it is a good reminder that less is better for loads of reasons. Good luck!

  3. Andrea Owens says:

    What a fabulous idea. I get it and in some very small ways, I am also trying to live out this plan. When I downsized into Peter’s house last year, mainly in giving up closet/storage space, I had to re-evaluate my clothes, Nina’s toys, and all around our collective “stuff.” I had to first get Peter to make room for us and my rule was “if it does not have a place in my new home, then it has no place in my new life.” It was very liberating and I have to say, I have continued to live by that motto. I don’t bring anything new into the house unless I have a place for it OR I absolutely love it and will use it. So far, so good. Now, other people buy things for us and if it does not fit or I don’t like it, I will re-gift it OR give it to Goodwill. People give Nina things and I have started telling her that soon there will be no more room for new things until she decides to “let go” of some old things. She is not taking it well but it is the daily truth that we have to live to keep a relatively clutter free life. As far as trash goes, we try hard to recycle everything possible. I do have to make weekly runs to the recycling center to dispose of mixed paper and endless magazines and catalogs but I can sleep at night knowing I did my part. I have been recycling at this level since the early 90s, so it is a habit and it is something I don’t have to struggle with.

  4. Pingback: Be a double do-gooder! « Enough is Enough

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s