Mary Beth Writes

I watched an 18-minute video about Americans and their clutter.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AhSNsBs2Y0 

 (I read about it in the letters section of The Non-Conformist Advocate.   http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/ )

The book it is related to is this: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors. http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/press/life-at-home

The video is a preview of the book, researched and collated by anthropologists and archeologists, about what they call “hyper-consumerism.”  Few of us need this to be explained; we live in the storms of stuff that we buy for reasons that do and don’t make sense.

Here are some conversation-worthy points made in this short film.

1. The people in a family who comment on the clutter are the ones who are bothered by it. In the families they interviewed, the women were much more likely to talk about and apologize for clutter. When the researchers did blood tests, those women had elevated cortisol levels (the stress chemical). In general, the husbands in the family didn’t care and their stress was not increased by clutter.

2. The US has 3.1% of the world’s kids and 40% of the toys.

toys

3. Parents have a sentimental involvement with their kids’ toys. MB: This is super relevant; I didn’t know when I was bringing home those soft stuffed animals that 25 years later they would be in a box in my garage because I don’t know how to get rid of them.  We need to factor in OUR response to the toys of our kids.

4. American family kitchens tend to be STUFFED with food. It is common to have a fridge, a free-standing freezer AND another fridge in the garage.  MB: When our electricity went out for 3 days, decades ago, our insurance guy asked us for an estimate of food lost. I estimated $100 because I mostly was storing chicken legs, 5 1-lb packs of hamburger bought on sale, flour (bought on sale in the fall and stored in the freezer to prevent bugs) and bags of veggies and fruit. The claims guy said he had never seen a food loss that low. I was embarrassed.

5. By using convenience foods instead of making meals from scratch, the average family saves 12 minutes per meal.

6. Possibly the main reason people over-shop is that they are so busy driving kids to and from events, after the parents have worked their jobs all day. They can’t face going in the store to pick up a few things while they have the kids with them - so they over shop every week or two, trying to avoid the scenario of everyone tired, cranky, and whining in the grocery store.  This seems like a helpful understanding to consider when arranging family life.

food

7. The refrigerator door is (MB’s metaphor here) the altar of the family. What that family needs to KNOW (schedules and instructions) is on that door as well as what they HONOR and REVERE. Also, the clutter or lack of clutter on that fridge door will predict pretty accurately the order or lack of order in the rest of the whole house. 

There’s more.

Instead of judging clutter-filled houses it is interesting to look at what’s going on as social scientists do. And then, possibly, being able to look at our own homes with a clearer sense of what we are doing.

Comments

Leonard's picture

In the old days, people used things until they broke, then they fixed it and used it some more. Now things become obsolete or out-of-fashion, and they are replaced with something new. But we can't think to throw out something that still works, so our closets are filled with old, perfectly good film cameras, cassette tape decks and Nehru jackets.

Five plus years and my closets are still filled with my late husband’s belongings: “saving for the son’s”! And all my craft supplies...
Mary Beth's picture

Clearing stuff left behind by a passed-away loved one is so different than clearing clutter. It is emotional work on a par with very little else in our human lives. Though when it starts to feel like clutter, if it ever does, that's a weird sign to start working that direction.

The Struggle is real. We are such a throw away society. I imagine I have less clutter than most, but I still have plenty. Groaning.

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Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 

...

The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Holy Mackerel! Mindful Chickens 12/12/2020

Yamiche and Weijia licking out the mackerel bowl this morning.

...

I said I would write “mindful things” we did this week. The agenda of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money plus be mindful of the environment and our other values at the same time. Sometimes, one of those purposes wins over the other, but we can think before we spend, right?

1. I cut my hair. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can do it well enough to not look like the Pittsburgh Paint Dutch boy.

Who Let the Chickens Out?

Mindful Chickens i.e., being frugal and living by our values instead of by blithering consumerism is how this blog started. Yet I seldom post lists anymore about choices Len and I make that hit that marker because I can tell from who follows me that this is not why most of you are here.

But today I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Preparing the Light Posts takes me a long time so I am not going to do one – I do plan to be back at it Monday.

7-6-2020 Mindful QUARANTINED Chickens

(Thanks, KJR, for the funny fluffy chicken photo!) 

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

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