Jareya Harder author of this 2017-2018 MLHS senior student editorial
How Much is Too Much? OR Too Much Stuff!
In my room, I have a bed, an end table, a desk, a bookcase, a dresser that matches the bed, a mirror on the dresser, an older dresser, another end table that matches the bed and dresser, a chair for the desk, a chair to set my fan on so that it points at me, a third end table, an old easy chair, a stool, a large collection of empty shoeboxes, a closet full of clothes, old school projects, birthday presents, stuffed animals, medals, trophies, old toys, lots of books, a music stand, and even more. Recently, I looked around and wondered, “Why do I have so much stuff?” We all have so much stuff, for one reason or another, and having so much affects us negatively by wasting time and money and adding stress to our lives.
Strangely enough, many of us do not realize how much we have. After people live in a house or apartment for several years, possessions tend to accumulate. Old mail piles up on the table, the pantry is loaded with canned and boxed food that could be used someday, and office supplies collect on the desk. When moving to a new home, many people immediately start planning what furniture they need and end up with considerably more than they thought they would, adding to the initial amount of stuff in the home and paving the way to acquiring more.
Even though we do not realize how much we have, our stuff still affects us negatively. We spend that much longer cleaning over and around our stuff, we worry about how to arrange our stuff and what looks nice, and our stuff often provides so much visual, and sometimes audio, clutter that we are distracted from whatever we are supposed to be doing. We also spend time and money on maintaining our stuff. All of these add just a bit more stress to our already (probably) stressful lives and waste time that would be better put to use at a job or spending time with friends and family.
In order to reduce the amount of stuff we have, thus reducing stress, we can take several different actions. The first and most wasteful is to dump everything unneeded into the garbage, which gets rid of the problem, but also then adds to environmental problems. Another, more helpful way is to give away or sell unneeded possessions. Garage sales often work quite well, as does selling on the internet; asking friends and extended family if they want any stuff is usually less effective, but gives the good feeling of helping the people we care about. A third is to find a way to reuse or repurpose any excesses. If any of these seems too difficult a proposition, the final way to reduce stuff is to simply not get any more; some will wear out or break and then get thrown away or recycled. Stop getting more, and eventually what remains will be used up.
In the end, all of the stuff we have, which affects us negatively, we can dispose of or reduce somehow. After all, so few of us seem to find the line between “not enough” and “too much.” For instance, during our big Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, we tend to overeat and then feel bloated or have hurting stomachs. Working too much without time to relax also leaves us exhausted and sometimes sick. Everything is best in moderation, whether food, work, or stuff.