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‘Stop buying things - and beat this stuffocation’

PUBLISHED: 10:14 13 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:14 13 February 2016

Ikea opens in Norwich's Sweet Briar Retail Park. Ikea's head of sustainability says we've

Ikea opens in Norwich's Sweet Briar Retail Park. Ikea's head of sustainability says we've "probably hit peak stuff". Photo: Mustard TV

Archant

When the head of sustainability at Ikea tells us that “we have probably hit peak stuff,” then it’s time to look up from the flat pack you were busy assembling and take a look at how we live.

If your home is anything like mine, then it is bulging at the seams.

The Christmas presents that haven’t found a place to reside clutter the children’s bedrooms, the shoe cupboard looks like a footwear breeding experiment that has gone out of control, and I open a wardrobe at my peril.

That’s enough sharing of my poor household management, but I know I’m not alone.

Too much stuff matters on several levels.

Decluttering expert Marie Kondo tells us in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying how too many possessions might be sapping our energy and holding us back from success.

A constant flow of new things also costs money. Fine if you’ve got plenty, but not so good if you are struggling. Finally, it is the environment that pays the real price.

Most items we purchase come with a carbon footprint and an eventual future in landfill.

Plastics and electronics have the biggest cost to the planet, but most things we consume have, in some way, taken their toll on the environment – with production, transport, recycling or disposal.

This would all be understandable if it actually made us happy.

However, there are certain myths surrounding the acquisition of things.

We are sold a lot of lies: that expensive moisturiser will make you look young and glamorous; that car will make you sexy even though you are 61 and overweight; that watch will tell the world you are someone important; those yoga leggings will give you the figure of a 19 year old and the motivation to attend classes religiously.

The list goes on, all lies, damn lies and marketing.

Much better for us are experiences.

We can use our spare money to challenge ourselves, be active and care about the world. This is likely to involve being with actual people in the real world rather than interacting through expensive devices, while hiding away in our cluttered cave of things.

Undeniably, some purchases bring us an experience or lifestyle – a bike with a child seat on the back will provide many adventures for you and your child or grandchild, or a well-designed kitchen appliance can give decades of pleasure if you love baking. But think of your last five non-food purchases. Was it really worth it or was it just more stuff?

At the heart of the Ikea statement was a shift away from the current buy, use, dispose consumerist approach to one where repair, repurposing and recycling are normal. We can pass on unwanted items, only buy when we truly need and find new uses for old items. We can beat this stuffocation.

•The views above are those of Kate Blincoe. Read more from our columnists each day in the EDP


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