But NOT by purchasing them! No antique stores for me! No, this aspiration is purely passive – I want watch the things I own age, and only remove them as they become truly unusable. However, this does not mean I aspire to be a hoarder – I call myself a minimalist, after all. The superfluous is continuously removed to make space for the important (nonmaterial) things in life.
Some things age faster than others – my smartphone is celebrating its third birthday in December and still going somewhat strong, so I intend to keep it at least until it turns four, hopefully five*. (Clearly, I’m a sustainability loving optimist.)
Things that don’t have an on-off switch generally last much longer: the sheets I sleep in were part of my grandmother’s dowry (time has made them wonderfully soft), some of my towels are much older than I am, and I very much intend to keep the bookshelf my boyfriend built me for at least the rest of my life.
This process requires patience and self-control. I’m literally watching my stuff age, which is – unlike shopping used to be – not an afternoon-filling or even slightly entertaining activity. In fact, a coffee cup does not age at all in one afternoon. If it looks different, that is because the light changed or I drank all the coffee. Both, most likely.
I have righteousness and my moral standards on my side, but when faced with genius marketing**, I sometimes wish for a more tangible defense. This post will add accountability, so thank you for reading.
Reminding myself of the numerous benefits helps resist the siren call of Madison Avenue (as does removing ads from my life):
- Time and money saved by not shopping.
- Ingenuity practiced by mending where I can – this still needs to be improved, I’ve historically been too quick to use the one-in-one-out method yielding a high turnover and seemingly minimalist lifestyle, but not much sustainability.
- Over time, I will get even better at not caring what other people think, which means buying fewer things, because I will impress people with who I am, not what I own.
- Buying less = fewer things to clean = more time saved (my favorite equation).
- I’ll be kind to our planet. When I do need something new, I’ll be able to buy ethically produced high quality that will age well and slowly.
In twenty years, someone will say “Oh, cool, did you get a vintage XYZ?” To which I’ll reply: “No. I mean, yes. I mean, maybe? I’ve had this for twenty years, does that make it vintage? Or is it only vintage if someone else owned it first? I’m confused?”
Either they’ll explain, or they’ll walk away disappointedly, as they were looking to get an antique store recommendation…
What is the oldest thing you own?
*side note: does anyone know of a company that produces phones and other electronics that are intended to last longer than that? It would be a great way of marketing to minimalist and sustainability conscious people: “This phone will last you at least 7 years.” Not sure if that is compatible with capitalism, though.
**like the people who managed to make Oktoberfest an international thing. How is beyond me.