Stuff

I love getting rid of stuff. It feels great. It’s fascinating to reflect on what we have in our space. People have white goods which are used a few hours a day, shelves of books which are looked at rarely or never, and boxes of toys sitting in attics. I wonder how your house (and mine) would look like if we gave away or shared the things we use infrequently or never. I know I would have more space, I would have space to welcome in new ideas and I would feel refreshed. I wonder how the recipients of your stuff would feel.

It’s easy to ditch things we know we don’t want, but how about trying to dispose of the item which you might want one day or that my son might like to read when he is 16. These are the majority of things which we keep, but should share. The proliferation of charity or op shops shows we are becoming more of a society to give things away.

I have always liked the idea of co-operative ownership. Why do we need a washing machine per household, why don’t we create shared libraries in our neighbourhoods, what about shared kitchens and meals? I remember the shared kitchens of university days as being one of the most enjoyable places to be. Somehow, we now operate in our own boxes, and interaction has got less. When people club together and buy something, that item is usually bigger or better.

I also like the idea of outsourcing to the experts. The best examples I have come across were the dhobi wallahs who wash and then press clothes in India and the car cleaning guys in Turkey. Both did work to a standard that I would only dream of, they got paid, prices were low due to scale, I didn’t clutter my house and resources were used effectively. This outsourcing also works in a co-operative setting, where specialists focus on their area of expertise producing marvellous results for all.

There are many co-operative housing projects around the world, and in some places it’s just how life is. It’s still seen as alternative in countries like the UK, but it makes so much sense. Maybe new communities are being designed with more of a sharing approach than those of the past. I hope so.

I think most people have got over the idea of being proud they have a bigger book collection than their neighbour, that their spin cycle is higher, or that their lawn mower is more advanced. If not, then we do have a problem.

So, give those things away you thought you always wanted and see how you feel.

PS – I should point out that there is a washing machine in the house where I live, but I should also point out that I am big giver away.

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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