Too much stuff

By Melissa Martin

The planet is full of stuff. Our houses are full of stuff. Our closets are full of stuff. Our garages and outdoor storage buildings are full of stuff. We rent storage space to hold more of our stuff. And sometimes we build pole barns to hold more stuff. We decorate our porches, patios, decks, and backyards with stuff.

Annually we buy new holiday stuff: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas. Birthdays arrive every year and we buy stuff. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we buy stuff.

Most kids in America have too much stuff. And they expect new stuff. Parents and grandparents shop until they drop.

Collectors collect stuff. Shelves, boxes, and bins are full of collectable stuff. Sports fans collect sports stuff. Memorabilia is big business.

The internet has made it easier to buy more stuff. Type in a credit card number and click—and wait for the package to arrive at your doorstep.

We sell our stuff during summer yard sales—and replace stuff with new stuff. We buy used stuff at flea markets and auctions. We donate old stuff to thrift stores and replace stuff with new stuff.

Some people recycle stuff. Some people re-purpose stuff. Some people give stuff away which makes more stuff for others.

Landfills are full of old stuff. Landfills are full of used food containers and packing materials. Landfills are full of cheap furniture. Garbage, trash, junk.

So much stuff: plastic, glass, ceramic, wood, metal, paper. We take the earth’s resources and make stuff—lots of stuff.

People consume too much stuff. Our stuff is harming our planet. Stuff is everywhere.

“Projections indicate that the global rate of trash production will keep rising past 2100—a concern because waste can be a proxy for environmental stresses.”

“According to a report released earlier this month by the United Nations (UN), our oceans are filling up with trash. The garbage gets into the oceans when people litter. Some boaters and beachgoers throw their trash directly into the water.”

“If you think there’s a lot of trash on Earth, you should see what we’ve left in space: nearly 20,000 pieces of small debris from a half-century of space missions, left to float aimlessly in orbit.”

How do humans solve the “stuff” problem?

Earth Day is April 22, 2019. “Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.”

Earth Day service week is April 13th-20th, in Columbus. Thousands of Central Ohio residents use Earth Day Volunteer Week to coordinate local service sites to plant trees, clean up local green spaces, or host educational opportunities.

Ohio University traditionally celebrates throughout the month prior to Earth Day. They partner with campus and community organizations to develop county-wide activities.

It’s time to simplify our lives by downsizing our stuff. Less gifts to each other on holidays. Spending more time in nature instead of shopping malls. Read books from libraries instead of buying on Amazon. Recycle and repurpose. Save money for fun activities and family vacations instead of buying more stuff—including souvenirs.

Why are humans so attached to their stuff?

We transfer our emotions onto stuff. Our stuff holds memories from the past. Stuff from loved ones that died reminds us of happy times. Stuff from special occasions reminds us of achievements: trophies, certificates, awards.

“Stuff everywhere. Bags, books, clothes, cars, toys, jewellery, furniture, iPads. If we’re relatively affluent, we’ll consider a lot of it ours. More than mere tools, luxuries or junk, our possessions become extensions of the self. We use them to signal to ourselves, and others, who we want to be and where we want to belong. And long after we’re gone, they become our legacy. Some might even say our essence lives on in what once we made or owned.”

It’s okay to own some stuff because we need some stuff. Do you own stuff or does stuff own you? Can humans become more responsible about accumulating too much stuff?

We are born without stuff and we die without stuff.

By Melissa Martin

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]