Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Downsizing Your Everything

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: stuff, charity, downsizing, Everything Must Go, spirituality, Will Wlizlo,

 downsizing-your-everything 

“There is something especially sad about this chicken.”—Chappell Ellison

Let’s face it: Most of us have more stuff than we need. (That is, unless, you’ve thrown your ballot in with the tiny house movement.) More clothes, more gizmos, more space, more tools, more junk. Accumulating life’s flotsam seems nearly inescapable these days—and that doesn’t even take into account all the stuff we instantly throw away. Chappell Ellison, a New York-based writer and design critic, is documenting her attempt to rid herself of unnecessary stuff on a photoblog called Everything Must Go (which is also her conduit for ditching expendable goods).

“In an attempt to learn how to live with less,” Ellison writes on the website,

I’m giving away my things, one by one. Sometimes the object will be accompanied by a personal narrative that might make you want the object more (or less). In letting go of these objects and their memories, I hope to understand more about the way in which we place meaning into the stuff that surrounds us.

Ellison’s offerings so far include a number of articles of clothing, books and DVDs, and some odd tchotkes like a Reagan-era campaign-pin and a knit-monkey finger-puppet. Some of her possessions make you wonder “why would she ever need that?” Obviously she doesn’t.

(Thanks, Design Observer.)

Images courtesy of Everything Must Go. 

judith
6/1/2011 7:52:28 AM

I grew up in a family of nine children so I did not have much of anything growing up - just outdated handmedown clothes and a few battered toys. My parents did send me to a private school and there were many kids there with a lot of material possessions. I wanted so many of their things.... new jeans and sneakers, hair accessories, new books and toys and BonneBelle lipsmacker (it was the 7o's!) I was so envious. My parents couldn't afford to buy me any of it. They spent all their money on food, mortgage and their kids' education. Even if they had trhe money they wouldn't have spent it on anything so frivolous as lipsmacker. I was miserable in this materialistic culture until one day in middle school I realized it was not the not having that was eating me up inside, it was the wanting. And I haven't wanted another material possession since.


casslakedog
5/31/2011 7:36:26 AM

A few years we decided to get rid of most of our stuff - to pare down our lives to the essentials. We started by getting rid of 1/2 of our stuff. It took almost a year, but we had 3 garage sales, gave lots of stuff away, and each time, we felt a bit better. Everything you own demands a little tiny bit of attention, so clearly when clear the stuff, you start to clear the mind. After we got rid of 1/2 of the stuff, it was obvious that we needed to do it again. So...we got rid of 1/2 of the 1/2. But I will tell you, for some strange reason, it's very difficult to keep from gathering it all back up. Clearly, it's time for another garage sale.