Lately have been thinking about how much stuff we have and actually need. A lot of this comes from the gradual changes we’re making to our home and the changes to storage space. How much do we need?
Thinking of the apartment I grew up in, built in the 1920’s, it was train rooms, with doorways to the main hall from two different rooms. The room at the street end even had a working fireplace, as well as a door to the hallway. Next room was part of the first, with a large archway, rather than doorway. and that second room had one closet. next in line was the room that was my bedroom, and also had one closet. Then the room we used as a living room, also with a door to the main hallway. next in line was the bathroom off a small hall. across from the bathroom was a pantry. The kitchen was next with a built in glass fronted china cabinet. Then there was one last room that we referred to as the back porch. Here were the windows from which we accessed the clothes lines for hanging out the wash. This room also had a door that accessed a back stairwell for going down to the back where the garbage cans were kept.
Note that this apartment had a total of 2 closets, one pantry and a built in china cabinet. This had two drawers, one for silverware and the other for the cooking tools. That’s it for storage! Over the years, lived in a few other apartments of the same age, and again, minimal storage space. At least 2 other apartments had the glass fronted china cabinet. and minimal closets, with no pantry!
Then again, the people who lived in these apartments, when they were new, certainly lived with less. One set of china, maybe 2. no appliances and kitchen doo-dads; no blenders, no mixers, no electric coffee pots, certainly no microwaves or toaster ovens!
People had maybe 2 or 3 pairs of shoes and a pair of slippers. A gentleman would have two suits and a pair of slacks and a jacket. a selection of white shirts and ties. If one was blue collar, they’d have one dress suit and some uniforms. One winter coat. The woman would have a couple of basic house dresses, maybe two dress (church) dresses, one winter coat and one for fall and spring, and again, 2, maybe three, pairs of shoes.
Now that we’re working from home and rarely go anywhere, I’m rethinking what stuff we have and how much space we need. Canning jars and the canner certainly take up a lot of room, not to mention the space needed to store the canned goods! Yes, sometimes that can mean a year’s worth of food needs to be stored. But beyond that, how often do we use the microwave. is it necessary? the toaster over vs a regular toaster. How many dishes, pots and pans, china and silverware do I need. How much clothing do I need. I’ve taken to wearing 3 basic house dresses for when I’m home. What do I need for outside? My grandmother would protect her dress with an apron, and then take that off for when she headed out to the store. Her apron got trashed. For me, my housedresses get trashed, and then I change when I head out. But how many clothes do I need for that? do I care if I wear the same dress to the supermarket every week?
Have 2 winter coats,and 2 winter jackets and I live in Arizona!! One is my basic everyday, walk the dog coat, the going to the market coat, and then two really super heavy, dressier coats. They get worn maybe twice a year. Maybe. Maybe not. One day last year I needed the big heavy cape cause it was cold enough and it was the only thing that would go over other layers. One day. The one coat. never wore the other. How many pairs of shoes do I need? Have 3 or 4 pairs of hiking boots alone! Plus sneakers. then shoes. then sandals. and that’s downsized from more than 20 pairs of shoes, plus the hikers and sneakers.
Now, totally understand that consumerism has created jobs and much prosperity for the world in general. But how much does it take to maintain that lifestyle? how many towels do we need. How many sets of sheets. How many pairs of underwear? how many jackets, shirts, shoes, socks? How many purses? or how many spatulas, how many ladles, how many pairs of tongs – we were at a friend’s house for a cook out and she said, the second drawer down has the tongs. She had a drawer FULL of tongs! How many can openers? how many sets of measuring cups and spoons. And how big does the house become to hold all this?
Less, but am I ready to give up all these things . . .especially the books!!