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The Trappings of Modern Life…

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My husband was recently transferred from the States to London, and I was responsible for moving house while he went ahead to start his job and find a new house. Two problems immediately presented themselves in deciding what to pack and what to get rid of. First of all, Europe and the rest of the world run on 220, so every electrical appliance that does not run off of an adapter anyway (like a computer) had to be culled. Secondly, housing is much smaller in Europe than in the States, and closet space is laughably non existent, at least in Britain. So my SIL and I evaluated every last possession for packing. Two sets of mixing bowls? One must go. Christmas ornaments which are neither sentimental nor regularly used? Into the garage sale. Jewelry that not worn or broken? To the scrapdealer if it was gold, on eBay if it wasn’t. Toaster, iron, microwave, television, DVD player, etc? All into the garage sale or sold through private sale. Even our oversized couch set had to be replaced when we realized it wouldn’t fit through a standard European door. In all, I probably got rid of at least a third of our possessions, and we don’t miss any of it. (We did replace the couch set, though)

When it came to replacing the electrical appliances in Britain, money became an issue. Really, if you look around your home and think about what you would pay to own again, if you had to, it wouldn’t be nearly as much as you have. We went without a television for five months because we thought it more important to buy a broadband router and service. It was nice without a TV though, and we spent more time together as a family. I also got a lot of knitting and cross-stitch done. The near daily argument with my daughter about what she could watch on TV vanished. In fact, I’ve been able to cut her TV watching to just weekends since we didn’t have one for so long. I still don’t own a toaster or a microwave, and we don’t have a printer either. Since we’ve moved in, we’ve also had to cut down the number of toys our daughter has by about half. She doesn’t miss them in the least.

I am only sharing this because it is one example of how we are surrounded by things we could probably easily live without. I was furious with myself when I realized how much money I had spent on things that were ultimately not necessary, like the second set of mixing bowls or extra toys. Extra things require extra space and more looking after. They collect dust and clutter our minds, living space, and bank accounts. They take up valuable resources during production and present a problem when you no longer want them. I’ve found that it’s just easier to look the other way when I’m out shopping, and my rule has become “if my grandmothers could do without it, then I probably don’t need it”.


About Kara

I am what happens when you combine a WWII enthusiast, an environmentalist and a frugal celiac/coeliac.

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