Mindful Consumerism

When I first moved into my flat a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to have made a deal with the previous owner to buy the large German schrank that resided in the dining room.

“Fabulous!” I thought. “Now I’ll have some great storage for all my stuff!”

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my 800 sq ft flat accommodates two adults, one dog, and two cats. It’s big enough, but we definitely have to make wise decisions about the space and make use of vertical storage and other space-saving tricks.

So, for the first year, I took advantage of the big ugly schrank. I filled it up. It held wine glasses, serving dishes, kitchen appliances, tablecloths, books, boxes of old photos, papers, office supplies, old flyers, coupons, receipts, some cords, odds and ends, and on and on and on.

By year two, I thought that maybe I could hide the fact that it didn’t suit my style whatsoever by covering it in something that does: books. So, the shelves were adorned with beautiful old hardcover copies of The Swiss Family Robinson and Anne of Green Gables.


Still, the hulking monstrosity didn’t fit. Next I tried removing the front leaded glass door. I painted the centre compartment white. Better, but not great.

“But it’s so much storage! I have to make it work.” I wrestled with my gut. I mean, yeah, it was taking up a a third of the small dining room. And, yeah, it blocked an entire wall-long heater. But the STORAGE. I needed it for all my STUFF.

Finally, it struck me. My lightbulb moment. The schrank wasn’t providing me with storage potential; what it was doing was giving me permission to consume.

As long as I had the hideous unit, I had space to store stuff: important stuff, unimportant stuff, ALL the stuff. I could buy whatever my heart desired, whether I needed it or not, because I would always have a place to put it.

A couple of weeks ago, in one of my bi-annual purges, I finally cut the cord. I listed the schrank on kijiji and found a buyer willing to pack ‘er up and haul ‘er away.

I bought a reasonably-sized hutch that covers a third of the wall space. I donated all the unwanted dishes and books and cords. What was left actually fits nicely into the new hutch.

I cut my dining room stuff by a third and, truthfully, there’s still room for more stuff if I need it.

By limiting myself, I’m forced to be intentional with my consumerism. I’m not going to buy cute seasonal dishes just because they’re on sale. I’m not going to get another teapot for “just in case.” These items aren’t necessary for my comfort. I already have much more than I need.

At the same time, it’s not going to be about denying pleasures. I still love antiquing and thrifting and finding good deals. Who doesn’t? The difference now is about being intentional. I have to ask myself, “Do I need it?” and “Do I love it?”

My other strategy is “one-out/one-in.” If I find the most perfect pink depression glass serving bowl that I’ve ever seen and it’s a bargain that I just can’t resist, well, then I say farewell to one of the three bowls that I already own that fit that description.

I have to say, it’s working so far.

What ways are you mindful with your consumerism and consumption?

Interested in other environmental issues? View this post and many others at www.greenphonebooth.com where I post as Mindful Echo.

3 thoughts on “Mindful Consumerism

    • I hear ya, pal! I think we both have weaknesses for pretty things – but I’m really, really going to force myself to know what I need vs what I want. With the exception of the occasional treat. Obvi.

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