Step Five - stuff . . .


My make-a-(green)plan starting place should include an inventory of sorts. I read last year about Dave Bruno, a guy who challenged himself to limit possessions to 100 items. I found that a provocative thought, despite the number 100 being so arbitrary.

Note: I have a particular fascination with arbitrary constructs, formats, rules and structures. I think of this a novel way to keep a flexible mind, a flexible outlook, a flexible stance concerning life’s obstacles, life’s bounties. Everyone has had experiences that defy logic and rational thought. Sometimes the things we see and experience just don’t seem to make sense. That’s all right if we don’t freak out at the idea.

So, 100 items begs the question “How to count things?” Should I count 6 pencils as item: pencils? This is something I don’t have a good sense of how to proceed. I think this may have to be a multifaceted, ongoing task.

First off, I can identify the basic areas of stuff:

  1. Clothes closet (incl. iron, ironing board)
  2. Shoes, Purses, Bags & Jewelry
  3. Pans, Bakeware
  4. Dishes, Glasses, Cups, Flatware, and Utensils
  5. Cleaning Supplies
  6. Office Supplies
  7. Magazines and Books
  8. D├ęcor Items and Plants
  9. Files & Tax Records
  10. Framed Pictures & Photos
  11. DVD’s, Music
  12. Bed Linens: Sheets, Pillowcases, Mattress Pad, Blankets & Curtains
  13. Kitchen Linens: Napkins, Placemats Towels & Cloths
  14. Medicine Chest (Toiletries, Medicine, Cosmetics, Hair Products)
  15. Sewing Machine, Fabric & Sewing Box
  16. Power Tools
  17. Manual Tools, Nails, Screws & Fasteners
  18. Paint, Concrete, Thin-set, Grout, Plaster, Calk, Adhesive
  19. Craft Stuff
  20. Construction Materials: Wood, Stone, Cork, Copper, Hardware, Caster’s, Brakets, Metal pipe, PVC
  21. Food Pantry
  22. Garden Tools & Materials
  23. Appliances
  24. Equipment
  25. Lighting
  26. Furniture

Damn, that is a lot of stuff. I shudder to think of families who would take this on as an exercise. Also, I have a storage area 60 sf and my home is 278 sf and that is it. What about the people who have several thousand square feet? I can’t whine. My process of purging should be pretty easy.

Since I remodeled this place in ’05 and ’06 I have purged several times. These photos show how it was in the middle of these purge periods. This last year I didn’t do any purging, though I think it is good idea to do this ever year or twice a year.

I will let purging – and maybe winnowing possessions down to 100 items – be an ongoing part of this year’s challenge. This list has 26 items so maybe I can pick a list item each week and then start over in the middle of the year. One of the precepts of this living lightly or a sustainable lifestyle is to fix things that are broken instead of buying something new. I know for a fact that I have possessions that need some tender loving care, if not some spare parts.

I can’t talk about stuff without an homage to George Carlin as he Talks about Stuff. Remember, "Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit, and your shit is stuff?" And, if you haven’t yet seen the wonderful video Story of Stuff click on it now. You won’t regret it.