$150 For a Bed and a Sofa?

When I recently moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco, I was reminded that moving creates a frantic struggle to free oneself from the accumulated clutter of life. I don’t usually have a strong desire to purchase things, so I was surprised by how much I had collected. When I asked myself if I needed all these things, undoubtedly the answer was no. When did I acquire the possessions that were not essential? How can I balance my desire for material possessions and a sustainable pattern of consumption?

Our society has created many things that we can use to improve our quality of life and bring a certain degree of ease and enjoyment to our domestic activities, whether it be cooking, sleeping, relaxing or even brushing our teeth. Unfortunately, this evolution has included the introduction of many material objects that are redundant and, in the long term, only create clutter. The difficult part is determining where the line between these two categories is drawn, and who has the authority to draw it. I know that I cannot declare what is useful and what is not, but I know that there is something fundamentally flawed with briefly using poor quality products and then sending them to fill a trash heap.

Navigating the line between comfort and excess is incredibly difficult, and always a greater challenge when we are tempted in the moment of purchase. When I began to pack up for my cross-country move, I was confronted with all of my belongings. The thought of throwing everything I could not take with me into the trash horrified me. I sold some things for far less than they were worth, and donated the remainder to goodwill. Though, in part, I am convinced that these things served a purpose at some point, I want to develop a thoughtful way to determine what will truly enhance my life in a time when so many excessive luxuries are readily available.

Soren Rubin