Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quality Control

I've been thinking a lot about quality lately. Quality of life. Air quality. Quality wardrobe investments. Top quality pieces of furniture. The quality of my writing (which has taken a nose dive on this blog, sorry about that.)

So many things in 2011 are disposable. As a culture it seems we've decided that disposable = easier. Maybe that's true in the short term. Buy a bottle of water and throw it out when you're done. That's easier than remembering to fill up a water bottle at home, carrying the empty vessel around when you've drank all the water, and washing it when you get home. But think of all the hidden work in that water bottle. You have to stop somewhere to get it. You have to throw almost $2 away on it. You acquire a useless receipt that may or may not hang around in your pocket for too long. You have to wrangle with the recyclables at your house. And then there's the psychic toll of thinking about how all our empty water bottles have turned into the 8th continent of the world. Ugh. (Have you seen The Story of Stuff? It takes 20 mintues. Do check it out.*)

Or take most of things that are bought at Ikea. Sure, my $600 Ikea couch lasted almost a decade. But I also have a garage full of $20 lamps, chairs, and $2 vases that I cannot bear to throw out but don't want in my house anymore. I bought them when I moved from an apartment to a house and felt the imperative to fill the house up. But I couldn't afford nice pieces and didn't take the time to muse about what the chair that I would really love and treasure for the better part of my lifetime would look like. I just saw things at Ikea that I could afford immediately, and voila -- problem solved. (Apparently I'm not the only one, and that's why Ikea is the biggest furniture manufacturer in the world.)

Or all the sweaters I've bought because they were $20 on sale and who doesn't need another cardigan? You know who? I don't. It's taken me a long time to figure out that having a glut of bargain clothing doesn't make me a better dresser because I have more options. In fact I tend to wear the same things over and over again because I can barely squeeze my hand between the clothes in my closet to see what's in there. I forget about a lot of the clothes I have because they are lost in the oversupply. I give away a garbage bag of clothing every seasonal wardrobe rotation. I just keep filling up my closet with irresistible bargains. The quantity obscures the quality. 

Having a baby who comes with lots of stuff has really amped up my anxiety about being overstuffed. There are less drawers in which I can hide away my extra things. The baby has a lot of stuff that is constantly in use and has to stay out in the open. So I find myself, about every 2 weeks, thinking of a new corner of my house that needs to be organized and cleaned. All the things stuffed into my secret hiding places need to be ruthlessly sorted through, thrown out, or put back in an orderly fashion -- in clear bins labeled with a P-Touch! I want to be one of those Bed Bath & Beyond ladies!!!! Okay, no, I don't actually need to go shopping to acquire more things to put my things in. But I have never before had the desire to take on these particular Martha Stewart qualities (in the past it's always been glue guns, yes, overly organized drawers, no). 

A lot of people feel over-stuffed at this time of year with food and with objects. This year my family tried to reduce the amount of presents exchanged, and though we did make a dent, I still found myself really disappointed with the amount of shopping, spending, and wrapping I did. But it was a step in the right direction. 

I have gained a lot of resolve and taken solace in a blog called Treehouse Chatter. It's written by a friend of mine who over the past few years has embraced veganism, minimalism, and environmentalism. I don't want to speak for her (you should really read her blog), but I think her personal evolution has come from a very curious, exploratory place, and as a result I find what she shares on her blog (and in our conversations) to be inspiring and ellucidating, not judgmental, intimidating, preachy, or militant. I am really happy to have a place on the internet that I can visit when I have cruised my regular assortment of pretty blogs that have me thinking that I would be a much happier person if I got yet another incarnation of a long-sleeved striped t-shirt. 

It's nice to know that there are blogs that inspire healthier living, not just online shopping. I'm not sure what Seven Presidents inspires, but I hope maybe I have piqued your curiosity enough for you to click on Treehouse Chatter and see what it has to say. 

*After you've watched that, perhaps you need something a little lighter. I recommend Marcel The Shell With Shoes On One & Two.


MWD said...

I've been feeling that overstuffed-in-every-sense post Christmas regret that comes on every year at this time. I think it's the effect of time to think after being so busy, thinking was on auto-pilot. You've given my familiar feelings voice and perspective. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Have you heard about "The Happiness Project"? Not always great, but I followed the blog for a while. Most interesting related to what you wrote is that one of the first things she did to make herself happier was to purge her closets. I too got that when I attacked my basement one garbage can per pick up at a time!


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for recycling! It is a small dent in the worldly clutter we create. My most recent policy is: when I bring something new into the house, something I don't love or need has to go. Of course I have an advantage because of my "recycling" resale booth in Maine!!

Good writing! Thanks.

sevprez said...

your recycling doesn't have to go through an industrial plant, thank god. i think that's a great rule, and falls under the umbrella of "reusing" -- since someone else with benefit from your carefully loved items. : )

tali@treehousechatter said...

This post is inspiring and really encouraging. Love that! The most noticeable affect of my decluttering has been the lightness I feel in my physical space and in my mind. When i come home to my tiny studio, it feels as though I have entered a sort of meditative space. With less stuff around, its so easy to clean and maintain. I used to feel like I was being swallowed alive everyday by my stuff. Slowly, my attachment to my stuff has gone straight out the door with my donations and life has taken on new meaning. Treehouse Chatter and Seven Presidents need to collaborate more!

sevprez said...

when i went back to work i flirted with the idea of hiring a housekeeping service so that i could spend more of my weekend time doing fun things, but i can't pull the trigger. aside from the expense of it, i feel uncomfortable outsourcing the cleaning of my own environment. is it that unmanageable? as i minimize and optimize my home environment, cleaning it is more of a pleasure and less of a chore.