The question that is top of mind for me is, “Why do we accumulate so much?”

Zachary Kadolph | Unsplash.com |Surrounded by boxes

I’m surrounded by boxes and wondering why I am still downsizing after five moves in 7 years. 2015 was a significant downsizing event, with yard sales and donating a truckload to charity. I thought we had reduced or accumulated goods enough, but I was wrong.

Moves two to four were inter-city and can’t count as downsizing opportunities. But my current move is from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom apartment and requires additional downsizing. So far, I have emptied a four-drawer filing cabinet.

But I couldn’t give up my photos because of the many memories they hold.

My remaining two significant areas are clothes and kitchenware. How many clothes do you need if you work from home and seldom participate in formal events?

So let’s see how I got in this situation with five decades of accumulation.

First, I grew up poor, and I have the mindset of a blue jay or packrat partially because of that. Second, I need that shiny new object that the bluejay sees and takes to their nest.

I was born in 1945, and after the scarcity during the war, we were inundated with advertising. Phrases like you have to keep up with the Jones to be successful. Advertising and marketing hyped the new and improved x, so throw away the old and get the latest. The advertisers incessantly told us that we needed a new tv, car, washer, dryer, etc. And then there is the “fashion industry.” I distinctly remember that my teenagers had to have a specific brand of jeans and shoes whether or not they needed them.

And lastly, having the newer and better was deemed a sign that we had arrived at success. But it didn’t work out that way for many.

But we, as a society, accumulate because we have a very blurry line between wants and needs. It is like when our eyeglass prescription needs to be changed, and the words on the page are blurry. So we accumulate not because we need it but because we want it.

Now that I am older, I can see that the accumulation of goods and their replacement before they wore out was not the best way to live. In reality, we have depleted our resources, ignored the poor, and perhaps ruined the climate. But there is hope as more and more young people see the need to buy sustainable products and use them.

So, as I donate and downsize, I remain hopeful that the era of accumulation is coming to an end.

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