We get bombarded with messages to purchase things we don’t need and won’t use. Yet at the same time, new tools can prove helpful in transitioning to a lifestyle of reduced consumption.
The idealist in me takes a minimalist view that we should avoid buying things: every manufactured object causes environmental harm in its production, distribution, and disposal. However, as we move away from consumer culture, thoughtful purchases can support a larger personal transition to simplification.
We follow a few simple guidelines for purchasing manufactured goods, or even accepting gifted objects. For every new item introduced to the Little House on Pine, we:
- imagine creative alternatives using existing possessions.
Does something already serve the function of the intended purchase?
- consider the environmental costs of the object.
Where did it come from, what ecosystems were compromised to make it? How much energy will it use? What labor and lives were exchanged for it? How long will it last before ending up in a landfill?
- determine that the object has more than one function over time.
Can it serve multiple purposes; if only needed for a single instance, can it be borrowed from a friend?
- allocate a place where the object belongs in the house.
Where will it be stored and easily accessed? What needs to be relocated to accommodate the space it will occupy?
- donate one or more possessions that might be of value to someone else.
In bringing something new home, what belongings no longer have significance that someone else might appreciate?
In this way, we have accrued tools that help us work more effectively while reducing clutter. For examples of things we have found useful, check out our list of helpful kitchen gadgets.