How a house move taught me the value of consumerism

Still baring the scars from the last house move 12 months ago (and the one before that 4.5 years ago), I’ve moved house again a few months ago.  

My, now-ex, housemate moved in with her boyfriend and I took the decision that it was time to downsize from half a house to renting a room.  After all, I work full time and my curiosity in exploring and learning more means I’m often out a lot, so saving money and having less space to clutter seemed a wise plan.

However this meant the very painful need to get rid of a lot of things I just wouldn’t have space for.  Despite a trunk full of books going to charity last year, another car-boot full went to a local school’s summer fair fundraiser and several others to another school’s library.  Saucepans, cuddly toys, DVDs and a variety of other miscellaneous items to various charity shops.  Most things went to charity, some went to organisations which give you money for your old things, but mainly it was just about ridding myself of stuff I didn’t need.

A fellow Brummie blogger, Travelling Coral, linked to a blogpost about consumption and the Disease of More.  Thankfully I’ve been pretty fortunate enough to work in jobs I’ve (mostly) enjoyed and haven’t felt the need to buy things to distract me from a terrible 9-5.  But the move has made me recognise that I still buy more things that I need – my groaning bookcases as prime example.

The last paragraph in the blogpost, an almost call to action, really resonated with me and made me think:

“If the goal really is to work until you die, then keep earning, keep spending, keep consuming, and ultimately your goal will be reached.  If the goal is to enjoy at least a portion of your life, to spend time with family and friends, to enjoy what little time we have on this earth, then wake up, get conscious, and make a change.  Slow down.  Breathe.  Take a step back and evaluate your consumption, and ask, at what cost? ”

– from the blog With Husband in Tow.

With the house move scars still so fresh and a spate of celebrations upcoming, it made me realise that maybe the answer wasn’t to clutter up my friend’s houses with more junk, but buy something that would mean spending more time together doing something we enjoy; dinners out and concert tickets, primarily.  After all we can consume more, but we can also consume art and knowledge and good food in the company of friends and loved ones.  And what better way to consume than that?


  • Reply Coral

    Laura, thank you so much for mentioning me here. I am still on the decluttering journey, as it takes a long while when you have moved as much as I have and always to bigger houses. My recent posts have inspired my best friend to declutter too. Yes experiences and good meals shared with friends and family are better than stuff!

    October 6, 2014 at 8:19 pm
  • Reply Liz Dexter

    An interesting post. I have been divesting myself of a good pile of books recently, registering them on BookCrossing and moving them out of the house gradually, and have been decluttering clothes and saucepans and a cupboard full of branded mugs and other oddnesses. In our case, it’s been prompted in part by helping with other people’s house moves and realising what a lot we keep “just in case”. It’s better indeed to have, yes, stuff around you to remind you and to enjoy, but also time with friends and family and experiences.

    October 7, 2014 at 11:52 am
  • Reply John Kirriemuir

    Thought-provoking post. I’ve got a storage unit – five years now – of stuff, mostly books, in Digbeth. Hard to let go. Especially the good books.

    What I’m taking away from your post is that if I spend, it should be on more sociable and sharable things. Yes. So long as that doesn’t involve others eating my cheese…

    January 15, 2015 at 10:09 pm
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