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The Magic of Less

August 12, 2021

I hate clutter. I think this is partially because I come from a long line of hoarders and semi-hoarders and it can be overwhelming. My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and are very much fans of “but we might need this someday.” I will admit that there are times when, to a certain extent, I work better in a mess (see: any project with glitter), but one of the things that has come out of this COVID nightmare is more respect for my house. I now make it a point to clean my kitchen every night and I love when things are organized. 

To that end, when I see books about how to do this well, I am always interested. I found Marie Kondo, but she didn’t spark joy for me. (Also, I feel like her head would explode if she ever saw my grandparent’s house.) Then I found The Home Edit and I fell in love with their rainbow-hued system. 

My recent foray into making my house/life better has to do with having less. Especially in America, we just plain have too much stuff. And while I agree that it’s not hoarding if it’s books (What? I work at the library, cut me some slack), I think we’d all feel better if we weren’t so concerned with all our stuff. 

My grandparents might be hoarders now, but when they were growing up, people bought things - like washers or refrigerators - once and they lasted for a lifetime. Or there were people (think Maytag repairman) who could fix them if they broke. In our society now, we are more likely to toss something out and buy new instead of trying to repair something. Author Tara Button created the site, and she has dedicated her life to finding products that last and reducing the amount of trash we create. She has some great ideas about how we can live with less. And if you are looking to buy products, check out her site for their durability. Maybe the extra purchase cost of more well-built items will save you money in the long run.

Our society is overwhelming. We’ve evolved into people who always need more, more, more. Stockholders lose faith in their companies if profits don’t increase every year. Grocery stores add lots of new, slightly different products (Birthday Cake Oreos? Really?) to try to appeal to a broader audience. But all the adding adding adding adds up and sometimes, subtracting might be a better option. Klotz worked through lots of ideas on how to actually accomplish this. He and his colleagues studied why we always gravitate to addition, while subtraction remains a much underused option for making life better.

I love Jen Hatmaker. For this project she decided that she’d focus on limiting seven problematic areas of her, and her family’s, life (food, clothes, possessions, media and technology, spending, waste, and stress) to their seven most important areas. Wear only seven articles of clothing for a month. Limit her diet to just seven foods for another. This was a very interesting read. I don’t think I could cut things down quite that far - and even Jen has said since that such a deep cut is probably not sustainable for most people in the long run. But I still feel like it would be a great idea to adapt. Do I have things I can get rid of? Yes. Would I still have more than 7 things. Of course. But having less stuff is almost always the better plan. 

The library has been very useful in helping me corral all my stuff. Instead of having to buy and deal with every book I want to read (which is a big number, friends), I can simply borrow it and return it to share with others when I’m done. 

If you feel like you have too much stuff, check out one of these bad boys and then get your house in order. You will feel so good when you do. 

Plus you might find some fun things you forgot you had. 

Happy lessifying…

:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.

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