Six-plus years ago I wrote about “Stuff” and how I have way too much of it. I thought about having a Yard Sale to get rid of some of it, or maybe selling some of it on Ebay. I did the Ebay thing for a while, but the economy got worse and things weren’t selling there. I gave away some things, and began setting aside boxes of stuff for the yard sale I hoped to have. We found a wonderful book store up in Gold Beach (Gold Beach Books) that buys used books in good condition.
Last Saturday we finally had our first Yard Sale. I’d done them elsewhere in the past, and know the value of advertising, but this time we decided not to list it in the local newspaper. Unfortunately, that meant we only got seven lookers/buyers in four hours. We did make a bit of money, and now things are better organized for when we have our next yard sale. Having all that stuff out on the driveway and in our front yard also gave us a chance to clean up the garage. 🙂
I know a lot of other countries see the U.S. as having a very wasteful culture, and I must agree. Once upon a time advertising was based on letting the consumer know the value of a product. But from 1910 to 1930 this changed, and advertisers began emphasizing the creation of desire in consumers and assuming an irrational, emotional and impulsive nature. John B. Watson, an American psychologist, helped with this. Use this product and it will make you _______ (fill in the blank with successful, sexy, popular, happy, whatever). The culture of “buy more” accelerated after World War II; so did the concept of hoarding (collecting large amounts of items the person sees as valuable or necessary). It has been suggested hoarding occurs when the person has experienced deprivation (as during an economic depression, war, or other catastrophe). There is more to it than that, but when this is added to the consumer society promoted by Big Business, it adds up to people with a lot of STUFF.
Annie Leonard and some other people put together a great little video called “The Story of Stuff.” (Click here to see it, and/or some of the ones they made after.) It may make you think twice about buying that $2 knickknack or $4 package of dish towels from WalMart.
I’ll probably revisit the idea of Stuff again here at some point, but for now I ask myself on a regular basis, “Do I really need that?” And the answer almost always is, “No.”