It’s just stuff…right? A small consideration.

(ENG only) This recent trip to Bali made me think a lot about my relationship with stuff. Even though I consider myself someone who lives as minimally and sustainably as possible, I have a lot. A lot that guarantees me to thrive. A lot that makes me feel safe and comfortable. A lot that allows me to pursue my values and live accordingly.

I wasn’t expecting Bali to be such an amazing, inspiring, enriching, interesting place on so many levels. Everything we have been doing, seeing, trying, tasting, experiencing, has been a real hit for me and babe. And surprisingly, during this trip, I found myself doing an activity I rarely or basically never do when I travel: I shopped. I discovered things that I genuinely liked and/or needed, or things I had on my list for a really long time and still didn’t purchase for various reasons (e.g. nut milk bag or the maxi t-shirt dress I shred in my fall/winter wish list post). So I have flown back to Berlin with more than I originally brought with me.

Does this make me an hypocrite? I don’t know, maybe. A few years back, a good portion of my holiday required some shopping, as if I had to prove to someone that I had gone on a trip and I had enjoyed it by purchasing something new from the place I visited. This certainly changed over the past few years, to the point where I kept slimming down my travel bag a lot. Well, this time was different than my previous trips. I didn’t plan to buy anything in Bali and bring it back to Berlin, but still found myself purchasing various items.

A part of me feels good about having selected items that I will cherish and care for and that were all handmade in Bali. I will be able to use them over time while thinking about an experience that I will reminisce forever. I love the idea that minimalism frees ourselves from the “slavery of consumerism”: we have fewer things in order to have more time money and energy for what really matters. But those fewer things we are left with, are important because they all serve a purpose. But on the other hand, a part of me feels “weighed” down knowing that I will come back with things I wasn’t expecting to purchase. I have picked various different items, but overall I have exclusively picked up pieces that were locally produced. Bali has plenty to offer when it comes to handmade/locally made products. I will for sure treasure everything I have bought. But these unexpected expenses will: a) redefine my financial plans for the upcoming months and b) make me carefully check if there’s anything I can get rid of. I have been planning to organize a swap party amongst my circle of friends, so this will be a great way to reconsider my current possessions and donate something that is not serving a purpose anymore.

Every time I find myself buying something or adding something to my life, I ask myself if there is something I can remove. Like a sort of “1 in, 1 out” rule, I like the idea of keeping the amount of my possessions under control, in order to avoid accumulation and fall back into the circle of having way too much. I know I don’t want to go back to the stage of having cupboards and wardrobes filled to the brim with products, utensils, clothes, knick knacks etcetera that I didn’t even know that were there in the first place. But is it wrong to have bought multiple items that I didn’t see coming? Does this makes me less of a minimalist, less of a zero waster, less of a frugal person? Well, screw the labels for a second, does this makes me less of a better, conscious person? Do I have more than I need? Is it wrong to desire stuff when it wasn’t exactly in my plans to buy it? Is there something more I can do in order to be a better version of myself? Do the donations to the non profit organization that helps animals and the beach clean ups I made while in Bali make up for the things I bought (considering that they inevitably translate into resources that were used)?

Every action we make as a consumer is a statement. Every single cent we spend says something. Every item we bring into our life tells a story. I acknowledge what I have bought and make sure to be more frugal in the upcoming months.

These two weeks I spent in Bali opened my eyes on so many levels. I started asking myself so many questions. I know that I want to make even more sure that every single item I introduce into my circle of possessions will be cherished, appreciated, taken care of. To make sure that it wasn’t purchased unnecessarily.

Do you also have these struggles as a consumer from time to time? I’d love to know!

xoxo

Jen

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2 Comments

  1. theminiamlistninja
    November 8, 2018 / 09:41

    I think at the end of the day it comes down to this: We are all human. 🌱 As rational as we think we are, most of the time, we are everything but. I’ve recently read a book about this very topic that I really enjoyed, it’s called “Dollars and Sense”.

    It’s about out spending habits, our inability to properly assess what things are worth and what emotional forces are the emotional forces that are hard at work in the background. I found it to be a super interesting read! 😊

    I am so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed Bali! I loved all your photos and stories from Bali! I always thought of it as a place that’s very touristy, mostly catering to Westerners, and my perception of it has certainty changed! 😊💫

    • November 12, 2018 / 10:34

      It was definitely weird to find myself immersed in a place that, in addition to all the wonderful culture people food landscapes and natures, also had so much “stuff” that I liked and needed all at once. This didn’t happen in a really long time. I’ll definitely make a good use out of everything I got and I acknowledge that I need to pay more attention to my spending habits from now on, especially considering the recent life changes about my job etc. But it’s okay. I certainly don’t want to make myself miserable if for once I happened to do some shopping of things I actually liked and needed that weren’t exactly planned though. I can simply and honestly evaluate what happened and act accordingly, getting rid of some stuff I no longer need as I introduce these new bits.
      I’ll definitely check your book recommendation out, it seems like a very interesting read!! 🙂

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