The Story of Stuff

by Lance Ekum on November 28, 2011

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Video cour­tesy of The Story of Stuff Project


~ Com­ments Closed ~

Maybe there’s another way…

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I was taught to approach con­sump­tion from the per­spec­tive of moderation.

“Every­thing in moderation.”

Hoo boy, how I hated being told this as a child. Mod­er­a­tion is so….MODERATE. Puri­tan. Buttoned-down. Laaaa-aaame.

Yes, you can watch TV, but just a lit­tle.” “Yes, you can have a cookie, but just one.”

It’s a qual­i­fied “yes, but”.

And while we all love a “yes”, nobody likes a “but”.

It became appar­ent that this ver­sion of mod­er­a­tion was all about going with­out, based on cul­tural mores rooted in glut­tony, politesse and virtues. It made for some com­pli­cated rela­tion­ships: I want this, but can only have a lit­tle, which has me want­ing it more.

It is the “more” that was — and remains — the problem.

For me. (And maybe for you?)

More food. More con­ver­sa­tion. More oblig­a­tions. More infor­ma­tion. I had lost the sense of how I wanted to FEEL dur­ing and post-consumption. Back then, it was about fill­ing up, not fuel­ing up.

Big dif­fer­ence.

I wasn’t savour­ing, I was shov­el­ing. A bulging cal­en­dar meant a life well-lived. A heap­ing plate meant abun­dance. A full closet meant affluence.

So why was I feel­ing so depleted?

You know the answer: I was choos­ing quan­tity over quality.

In choos­ing dubi­ous qual­ity, I was pro­duc­ing dubi­ous qual­ity in my rela­tion­ships, work and art.

Crap in, crap out.

There is this truth: there is only so much room, and there is only so much time. And mercy me, this truth becomes more and more acute with every pass­ing year.

I now approach MOST con­sump­tion from the per­spec­tive of a small plate at a large and sump­tu­ous buf­fet of life.

I’m not talk­ing about scarcity here. I’m talk­ing about INTENTION, ’cause, Dar­lin’ I don’t doubt for a nanosec­ond that you have the capac­ity to receive many more gifts, much more wealth and much more joy in your life. And don’t you dare doubt that either.

What I am advo­cat­ing is crystal-clear clar­ity about your inten­tion as you approach that buffet.

What do you want from this meal, con­ver­sa­tion, hour, visit? Do you want to feel ener­gized? Inspired? Alive? Accom­plished? Comforted?

Let this inten­tion inform your every choice.

Will you be sati­ated with filet or filler? Fact-finding or Face­book? Meet­ing your mother or “How I met your mother”?

You get to choose.

And if you find your­self becom­ing over­stuffed, over­whelmed, over­sched­uled or over­weight, notice what — and how much — you’ve invited onto your plate.

Believe as I do that you can han­dle it AND choose dif­fer­ently the next trip to the buffet.


So go ahead and fuel up. Just don’t for­get to leave a lit­tle room for dessert.

by Tanya Geisler

Hope for the planet
Creative Commons License photo credit: kevin doo­ley

Con­sump­tion… would you be able to give up 80% or more of the things you have, eat and do for a mil­lion dol­lars? What if you were told you were going to die if you didn’t? It’s dif­fi­cult for us to change unless there is a huge reward or if some­thing dra­mat­i­cally bad is going to hap­pen if we don’t. Can you imag­ine yourself…

  • Spend­ing a max­i­mum of 10 min­utes a day on facebook?
  • Spend­ing a max­i­mum of 20 min­utes a day in your email inbox?
  • Sell­ing or giv­ing away 80% of your clothes?
  • With­out a car?
  • Never eat­ing wheat again? What about all grains?
  • Say­ing no to gifts this Christ­mas? What if you instead asked for love and time with people?
  • Being out­side in nature by your­self for 10 hours reflect­ing on life?
  • Not spend­ing a sin­gle sec­ond with tech­nol­ogy for a 24 hour time period? 48 hours?
  • Engag­ing in only 2 10–30 minute strength ses­sions a week yet put on all the mus­cle you desire?
  • Liv­ing in a home with your basic needs and per­haps a few extra strong desires with no clutter?
  • Cook­ing sim­ple meals and then tak­ing the time to enjoy your food with fam­ily or friends?
  • Work­ing at your job for half of the time you do now?

Does any of the above seem pos­si­ble right now? All of it deals with con­sump­tion. All of it deals with health. More often than not, we don’t need this or that. With less, we would enjoy life more. We would have more time to spend with those who are impor­tant to us. We would have more time for our­selves. We would be less stressed and thus more healthy. I could prob­a­bly come up with 1,000 or more bul­let points and elab­o­rate on them. I’ll stick with the ones that came to my mind first. I’ll now elab­o­rate on them to show you how all of them have improved or could eas­ily improve my life in some way.

Spend­ing less time on facebook

I have a “good excuse” to spend a lot of my time on face­book dur­ing the week. I don’t have a job but rather rely on income I receive from my blogs. One of the best ways to mar­ket is through face­book. With this being said, I’ve noticed that when I take a day here and there to limit my time on face­book or even go a day with­out it, I have some­thing mean­ing­ful to pub­lish on my face­book wall when that time comes. When I let myself roam on face­book for an unlim­ited time period I may not have some­thing use­ful to say but say it any­way because I’m on face­book. I’d be much bet­ter off lim­it­ing my time on face­book. I bet you would be too.

Spend­ing less time in my email inbox

I used to spend an hour or so with email on a daily basis. Most of it was junk but I thought I had to deal with it. I’ve learned over the past few months that spend­ing 10 min­utes some days, 30 min­utes oth­ers while tak­ing some days off entirely, I am much more pro­duc­tive. I tend to work on things that are more impor­tant. Dur­ing this month my eyes have rarely seen my inbox. Instead, I’ve focused on putting the fin­ish­ing touches on my ebook, Toad­ally Pri­mal Smooth­ies. The offi­cial prod­uct launch date is Decem­ber 1 and spend­ing time in my inbox is only hurt­ing me.

Sell­ing most of my clothes

I used to sell Amer­i­can Eagle cloth­ing on eBay. This resulted in me hav­ing way too many freak­ing clothes. I had about 25 polo shirts hang­ing in my closet! This was absurd to say the least. How­ever, I’m proud to say that I am down to 2 polo shirts! Along with the polo shirts I have sold or given away most of every­thing else. I sim­ply did not need it and I now have less clut­ter in my life as a result.

I don’t own a car

I sold my car about 2 months ago. It was one of the great­est days of my life. I have not bought a car since and I don’t plan on buy­ing one any­time soon. In fact, I’m lit­er­ally look­ing to go car­less till at least the year 2020. Instead, I’m going to seek out cities where a car is not at all nec­es­sary. I’m liv­ing in Chicago as I type this. I was in Oahu, Hawaii for 40 days where the bus will lit­er­ally take you any­where on the island. There are thou­sands of cities around the world where walk­ing, rid­ing a bike or tak­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion is a riot. Life has slowed down for me and I am much more appre­cia­tive of life.

I don’t eat wheat

Last month I asked you if you were ready to ditch wheat. I don’t eat wheat as a nor­mal part of my diet any­more. It used to be the cen­ter­piece but since giv­ing it up my health has improved in many ways. I’ll eat the occa­sional food item that has wheat but this is truly very rare. It’s get­ting eas­ier and eas­ier to say no to any wheat that comes my way. This is actu­ally true with all grains as a mat­ter of fact. Instead, I eat more qual­ity meats (think grass-fed beef) along with more veg­gies and fruits.

Less Christ­mas gifts this year

I used to get a lot of gifts for Christ­mas. It was fun as a kid but it has grown old super fast. I told my mother I did not want any gifts this year. Instead, I sim­ply want to spend qual­ity time with my fam­ily. I’d rather have all of us go ski­ing even though none of us ski. I want love. I don’t want gifts. She insists she gets me some­thing but I’m con­fi­dent it will be less than any Christ­mas before which I’m look­ing for­ward to! I have 3 sib­lings and we mutu­ally agreed to not buy each other gifts this year. Instead, we will spend qual­ity time when the hol­i­days are here. To be hon­est, it’s a huge relief to real­ize this.

Spend­ing more time outdoors

I’ve never spent 10 straight hours in nature by myself but I do plan on doing so many times for the rest of my life. Imag­ine how slow life would go if you did this. Just 2 weeks may seem like a year. It’s almost like you add years onto your life. We all com­plain how short life is. Well, why not slow it down? Why not get off face­book? Why not get out­doors? Why not just sit and reflect? I’ve def­i­nitely taken more time to reflect on my life. I walk a lot more. I’m liv­ing in Wrigleyville, Chicago, IL right now with my brother and have a one mile walk to Lake Michi­gan. It’s where I am headed when I fin­ish writ­ing this post.

Tech­nol­ogy fast

Have you ever gone 24 hours with­out tech­nol­ogy? What about 48 hours? I’m talk­ing about ditch­ing your cell phone, com­puter, and any­thing else that eats up your time. I did this for just over 72 hours a cou­ple months ago. I was on Lake Michi­gan and had no inter­net access and no phone recep­tion. I’ll admit that there was a TV but I hardly watched it. It was one of the best 3 days of my entire life. I was out­side a lot by the lake. What did I do? I spent qual­ity time with my par­ents and older brother. I read books. I did a cold water plunge in the lake. I ran on the sand. I chat­ted with my fam­ily over a fire. I cooked food and ate it. I reflected. I played Sudoku. Soon, I’ll be doing this reg­u­larly. Are you ready for a 24 hour tech­nol­ogy fast?

Less exer­cise, more play

I rarely exer­cise. I want to enjoy life. I also want to be fit. This is why I am a huge fan of body­weight exer­cises. To me, it’s fun but it’s still a great work­out. I usu­ally engage in push-ups, pull-ups, squats and planks. I have no rou­tine. I just do! I quit when I want to. I also engage in sprint inter­vals when I feel like it. Aside from that I may run if I feel up to it. I walk a lot, move around in gen­eral, play, dance, etc. Today, exer­cise is a blast. Do you love your work­outs or dread them?

Liv­ing with less clutter

I want to see the world. I’ve been all over the place since the mid­dle of July of this year. I was in Hawaii for 40 days, then back with my par­ents in Grand Rapids, MI for 2 weeks and am now in Chicago with my brother. I plan on liv­ing some­where in Florida to start 2013. Guess what? All I have is a carry on bag and a back­pack. Talk about liv­ing with­out a lot of clut­ter! Sure, I have some stuff sit­ting at my par­ents, where I lived for 23 years, but I plan on sell­ing at least 80% of it. I don’t want it. It’s clut­ter and needs to go. I’m not sug­gest­ing you live out of a carry on bag, ok?! Why not take baby steps and just de clut­ter as time goes on? Go take 10 min­utes right now. I’ll wait…

Cook­ing sim­ple meals and enjoy­ing food with fam­ily and friends

Not much can beat a sim­ple home cooked meal that is enjoyed with fam­ily or friends. Can you think of much? I’m not talk­ing about bland meals. I’m talk­ing about sim­ple meals. For exam­ple… why not cook up some grass-fed ground beef with a few of your favorite spices? Throw in some apple cider vine­gar too. Chop up sweet pota­toes into bite sized chucks, throw on some but­ter, add salt and pep­per to taste and throw into a 350 degree oven for 40 min­utes. Feel free to mix the 2 when both are done. This is an incred­i­bly sim­ple, sat­is­fy­ing, nutri­tious, healthy, deli­cious meal. Cre­ate it with your fam­ily or friends and then enjoy it with them. If you are by your­self then take the time to sit, enjoy and reflect. Don’t watch TV or read. Eat!

Work­ing less

What if you only had half of the time to work? What would you do? Maybe you would take a few days to orga­nize what you do at work. You would then focus on what is the most impor­tant. You would real­ize that a lot of the stuff you do on a reg­u­lar basis is 100% unnec­es­sary. I believe MOST peo­ple can work less but still get more done. We work way too much. If your boss all of a sud­den told you that you only have to work 5 hours a day, 4 days a week, how would you react? I bet you would be ecsta­tic! You may tear up out of pure joy. As a result, you would become more pro­duc­tive because you would be less stressed and more happy. When I decide to limit my work time I end up doing what’s pro­duc­tive and ignore what’s not nec­es­sary. Life is a lot more fun this way. What do you think about all this? Are you ready to enjoy life instead of stress out about it? Are you ready to get your health back? Maybe there is some­thing that you can add to this list. Please leave a com­ment below. Thanks for reading!

by Todd Dosen­berry

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Ah, the hol­i­days are upon us. Is any­one else wor­ried about con­sum­ing too much and gain­ing weight and debt? Or is it just me??  When you think about it, noth­ing shows what we truly value bet­ter than what we pay for or put in our mouths — i.e. what we con­sume. When it comes down to […]

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The Pineapple Story

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: fil­tran “He who seeks more than he needs hin­ders him­self from enjoy­ing what he has.” ~ Hebrew Proverb Infor­ma­tion.  Food. Atti­tudes.  Drinks.  Vibes.  The media.  Thoughts. We con­sume a lot. Let’s look a lit­tle closer at this.  Con­sump­tion is some­thing we do…EVERY day. Start­ing from the time we get up – whether it’s watching […]

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