Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Story of Stuff

"My house," said the comedian on the radio, "is a little pile of stuff with a cover on it . . .".
His audience chuckled appreciatively, everyone knew exactly what he meant.

Stuff . . . it's what we each of us have in abundance.  Not only that, we're encouraged to have it . . . our purchases, so politicians tell us, boost the economy.

But do we need so much . . . do we need even half of it?
Let's look at the things we rarely use.
Ladders, for instance, they occupy space and could easily be put at the disposal of our neighbours.  And what about the lawn-mower and the wheel-barrow . . . couldn't they be shared?

Caught up with this idea, I went online in search of support.
To my considerable surprise I stumbled upon a quiet revolution.
Did you know about it?  I certainly didn't.

To give you an example, the 'Streetbank' website enables neighbours to share within their community.  According to this site, there are currently nearly fifty thousand neighbours sharing over fifty thousand things . . . everything from tools and instruments, to sofa beds and skills.  Their stated aim is to build a sense of community through lending . . . and it's free to join.
If your home as cluttered as mine?  Then go to 'Streetbank'.

And what of the stylish hat you bought for a friend's wedding?  Perfect for the occasion, elegant and much admired at the time.
Is it fated to spend the remainder of its days abandoned in a hat-box in the cupboard?
Not if you click on the 'Vinted' website which claims 'to make secondhand clothing the best and easiest choice'.  'Vinted' takes a fee when items are sold, but users can swap items for free.

It's a sensitive subject, I know, but dare I suggest that cars, too, could be considered stuff?
Just think about it for a moment.  The large majority of cars we see thronging our city streets have only one occupant . . . the driver.  Surely such a large and powerful object isn't really necessary to convey one person from point A to point B?

Not only that, cars en masse cause congestion, not to mention the room they occupy when parked by the kerb.

Share a car and just think of the personal saving in taxation, insurance and petrol.  A saving that would more than pay for hiring your own car should it be needed for holidays or weekends.

Additional benefits for all of us would be a dramatic reduction in the mounting problem of air pollution . . . and the speeding up of the remaining traffic.

Did you know that all of this can be made possible by clicking on 'Bla Bla Car'?  Or, if parking is your problem, that 'Parkatmyhouse' will help you to share an off-road parking space?

Stuff . . .  it's everywhere.  But is it limited to material possessions?
I don't think so.
Have you noticed how our heads are stuffed full of stuff . . . stuff that takes the form of habitual ideas.

One such idea, and a very pernicious one, is that we should each of us own everything we need.

But we live in a world of finite resources, surely it's better to share than to be profligate?

A sharing that will simultaneously care for the earth, lose superfluous stuff and help us to make friends?  It sounds good to me.

'Not mine, not yours .  . but ours'.
The perfect thought to stuff into our minds and clear out all that clutter!