My home is tiny. One thousand square feet with 3 kids, a husband, 2 cats, a bird and way too many hobbies for our own good. As a result I have a firm rule to keep the clutter down to a level that makes having guests over a possibility (although we are nowhere near the minimalist ideal one finds in magazines : )
One in, two out.
Whenever one of us gets something new, two things have to leave the house. It is interesting to see how this changes what you bring in in the first place, as every acquisition requires sacrifice from someone in the family (unless you are lucky enough to have clothes or shoes that do not fit, and then it is easy to get rid of something). Because of this rule, I make a lot of runs to the Salvation Army to drop off old toys, clothes, dishes...
The only way I go to the Salvation Army is by bicycle, so even if there is a large backlog of stuff to get rid of, it has to fit on my bike. Couple that with the fact that my local Goodwill only carries new with tags or high end designer clothing, I decided to start documenting my thrifted existence.
Thus, this last couple of times my panniers have been over stuffed. In the picture above I have 40 pounds of stuff jammed into or bungeed onto the rack. The clothes I am wearing were all thrifted- the skirt is Evan Picone and had a style of price tag on it that Macy's stopped using in the early, early 90's.
This second picture was taken just a few days later. It was the result of having to make more donation choices because I had found the fantastic skirt I am wearing at the thrift shop after donating everything in the panniers in the first picture. The panniers have about 20 pounds of stuff in them and the skirt is the exact one I used to sell to rich debutantes for $250 back in 1989.
"So what?" you say. In the last few years I have spent a bit of time trying to find different ways of doing things. Something about letting go of the artificial dependence that excessive car use causes in us makes embracing so many other things a great deal easier. Once I discovered what was possible in my life without my car, it was easy to start changing other parts of my life. Everything from how I eat to how I shop to how I dress and how I read changed when I discovered that all I needed to get just about anywhere I wanted was my bicycle, a water bottle and a topographical map. Somewhere along the thousands of miles I pedaled I discovered I don't need most of the things I used to think I did.
I don't need to move out of San Francisco to buy a house. Living somewhere where I can not ride my bicycle to do my shopping or go to the movies or get to work is not an option any longer.
While my love of tomatoes is enormous, I don't want them if they came from Mexico or Arizona or Oregon... I found jam the other day that is made locally and delivered by bicycle and that makes me happy in a way that a jar of Smucker's never did.
High end fashion has been a love of mine since I was a child. Over the years I was able to pick up a few things, but they were so expensive I was afraid to wear them. Now, because everything looks better on a bicycle I have embraced my favorite designers in an all new way, mostly in second hand shops that I ride my bicycle to. A double whammy of eco-goodness!
The best part of all of it, though, is this- All of these things that make me feel better about me make my place in the world less damaging to those around me and I discovered (or reinforced) it all because I chose to open my life to riding a bicycle. Who knew?