Truly Rich
If you realize that you have enough you are truly rich.
from the Tao Te Ching
Lao Tsu, 6th century BCE
Over-consumption is not only a huge factor in obesity, personal clutter and debt but also the main source of our environmental problems. Think about it. Look at the landfills. See what we use to produce electricity. Ask how our food is being made.
If you would like to feel truly rich, satisfied with what you have, or even want to reduce, start by becoming aware which goods are to be used up, truly consumed, like food, drinks, toilet paper, film, pencils. Let’s call them consumables. These things can not be bought used, and their method of being recycled is composting or becoming fertilizer.
The other group of things I’d like to call durables - that’s what they were supposed to be until a few decades ago. These things should have a much longer life span than the consumables. It should be possible to wash them when they get dirty, fix them if they break, or paint them when they loose their initial shine. Cars, computers, toys, cameras, pens, clothes... The durables are often designed to be non-repairable, so the industry can sell more new items.
There is also  gray area or things that are to be used up after a while or hard to repair, not because they are designed that way, but by their nature. A lot of them have durable counterparts like plastic containers  can be replaced by glass or stainless steel, but some groups of items remain on my list... Underwear, running shoes, play dough, magazines, newspapers.
In this article I’ll mainly talk about durables, which make up the bulk of personal clutter, and cause quite a share of the global environmental impact.
One way to reduce the environmental impact is to buy used items. Shop at yard sales, thrift stores, or even take roadside items on trash pickup day. Often you can find older but high quality items, even antiques that way. If you learn how to identify, clean and fix these items they will fill you with much more joy than any Walmart-bought, cheaply made, short-lived item.
However, acquiring used items does not remedy the personal problems that over-consumption causes. If one has personal over-consumption issues, the goal is to reduce consumption altogether to reach a reasonable level. Spontaneous shopping should be avoided.
A good way is to limit media exposure, advertisements and commercials are designed to awaken desires, to make people believe they want something, which they often do not need. Almost everybody I know believes commercials have no effect on them - and most of the same people do go out and buy exactly the items that are advertised during the shows they watch most often, or in the magazines they read.
Another way to re-educate oneself to a more mature, responsible consuming and shopping behavior with regard to durables is to make lists.
Make one list of items you really want and review them weekly. If items stay on the list for a month, by all means go out and buy it, but you will be surprised how many will leave the list again, unbought.
Make another list of things you need. Try to review them daily, and buy after one week. Avoid having urgently needed items by being aware.
The lists may be annoying in the beginning, but after just a short while, a few months you will be used to the new system, the lists won’t be bothersome anymore, and might not even be needed, because you changed your behavior and the underlaying mechanisms.
Other ideas are to have a "Buy-Nothing-Day" every week. Maybe even two or three.
And don't forget to take advantage of the library.
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