Thursday, January 28, 2010

Balance In The Form Of A Toothbrush Holder

There are some incredibly thoughtful and insightful comments up about my previous post, so thank you everyone for taking the time to weigh in.

I agree with what many of you mentioned. Living sustainably is all about finding the right balance for you. Like eating right or exercising, you have to find what works for your life. And that is likely going to be different than what works for someone else.

Katy mentioned that she wished more eco-bloggers continued blogging seriously after their "eco-challenges," because in some ways, finding the balance is the more interesting and relevant story. And, I agree with that as well. It's inspiring to see that people can give up fridges or heat or shopping or what have you for a year, but it's in some ways even more inspiring to see how people handle the day to day of their lives year after year after year.

And I think that's one of the reasons why I've kept blogging. Why I don't gloss over my struggles.

I was talking to Honda a couple months ago about how everything I own is falling apart. This is what happens when you go from being a non-consumer to being a student to being unemployed. I haven't really bought much in 2.5 years, and well, it shows. My laptop is dead. My iPod is almost dead. I need all new shoes.

I haven't figured out yet how I'm going to handle all the new purchases I will inevitably have to make. The other day, I stood in the Bath aisle of Bed, Bath and Beyond for fifteen minutes trying to decide whether or not to buy a toothbrush holder. On the one hand, not having one had been bugging me and I was fairly certain a toothbrush holder was going to be hard to come by used. (And while I am generally very pro-used things, I also think the likelihood is high that if I found a used toothbrush holder it would be kinda grody.) On the other hand, a toothbrush holder is hardly a necessity.

If I had lacked a toothbrush holder during my year of non-consumerism, I would have sucked it up and gone without. I would have used a cup, or just left my toothbrush on the sink.

But I'm not a strict non-consumer anymore. I wanted a toothbrush holder and I could get a fairly inoffensive one fairly cheaply.

So I bought it. Because life is, above all, about finding balance. And while I don't plan to become a spendthrift, I also am ready to start buying a couple things here and there that might not be, strictly speaking, necessities.

6 comments:

Robbie said...

I agree - it's completely about balance. You can make yourself nuts wringing your hands over every detail.

What I've found - being in a somewhat similar boat - is that more isn't the answer. Like, you can buy a lot of cheap crap at Old Navy, or you can buy a few nicer pieces that will hold up longer elsewhere. Me, I'd rather have less junk around.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I realize it's just a symbol, but we've had the same toothbrush holder for at least 6 years, and it's going strong.

Just re-watched "The Story of Stuff" yesterday, and I was appalled that 99% of consumer items are trashed in 6 months. I guess I had forgotten that stat! Just think, you're nowhere near that!

hdickman said...

I want to be a non-consumer. Sounds intriguing and a fantastic way to divert resources from Target to kids' college tuition. Tips are welcome...
as far as not buying new stuff, I refuse to buy new clothes. There is nothing like a clearance at a consignment store. It's recycling. And I have bought nothing over $4. Highly recommended.

Katy said...

Ah Tooth brush holder! That's one of the things I grappled with when I got a place of my own two years ago. Should I buy the ultra cute pink glass tooth brush holder for under $10 or just use a cup?

I ultimently went with buying the tooth brush holder because 1) I wanted my bath room to be a step up from a dorm room 2)the idea of a used tooth brush holder grossed me out and 3)Its the kind of thing that once you buy once and keep for life.

I don't buy a lot of new things in the world that wants you to buy, buy, buy so its the small things like having a nice cute tooth brush holder that keep me sane when I find myself sewing a patch on my couch cussions for the 4th time.

Student Doctor Green said...

I agree with Farmer's Daughter about keeping things for a while.

one of the things that I am slowly learning is that sometimes spending more to buy a quality item that will last longer is really helpful.

I was in Target yesterday where they had a display of crappy looking plates and dish towels. Some of the stuff in stores wears out or breaks so fast I think about it more as renting something with a short shelf life than owning it.

Lots of things aren't necessities like toothbrush holders but sometimes things just make life easier or more pleasant. It's all about not getting swept up in buying items just for the sake of accumulation. Otherwise you gotta get what you need.

Rosa said...

hdickman, try googling "the compact" or "simple living".

For plain old frugality I'm a big fan of GetRichSlowly and Wise Bread blogs - neither has an environmental focus but if you ignore the "use coupons to buy 100 tubes of toothpaste!" type stuff, almost any frugality tip is going to be a form of "consume less!"