When I was a kid, I used to dream up the kind of home I wanted to have when I was older. A big feature in this dream home was a room full of books. Like a total library, with shelves going from floor to ceiling. I thought that would be the most beautiful thing, to be surrounded by so much literature.
A few years ago, I started collecting New Zealand poetry books. It was a nice and slightly niche category that I thought I could eventually turn into my own mini library. But my whole mindset on collecting things has changed. A few months ago, I sold half of my collection of New Zealand poetry books, around 30 books for $1 each.
I think this change was first prompted by necessity. I live in a little one bedroom studio apartment, and I have no intention of leaving it soon. I've been in my apartment for almost three years now. A blessing, because I used to move once a year and while I was packing, I had to clear out all the cruft I had collected over that year. And a curse, because now I have no reason to clear out that cruft. One day, I kept having to move things around just to find a few items, and there was too much clutter. Then I bought a bookshelf and things were okay for a while. And now, again, there is too much clutter. (There is no more space for another bookshelf.)
I thought about selling some of my many books. I'd become so attached to them, even if I had not opened some of them for years. But as things kept filling up, I kept trying out the idea in my mind. That set out a different change in me. I thought about all those books that I'd kept, just sitting pretty in my bookshelf and staying unread. I thought of the authors of all those books, creating their art and hoping that it would get the right exposure to create threads and connections beyond them. While in my care, all those books were just becoming more stagnant. Someone else could be reading them right now and those stories could be having a second life, and maybe a third and fourth. In that moment, it didn't even matter if I wouldn't be able to sell those books. I would give them away for free, if that could mean that they'd be read again. So I kept my favourites. Then sold a bunch and gave some away, leaving much more space on my bookshelf.
In general, I'm much more careful with buying things. I haven't bought any clothes in a year. I didn't aim to do this. I just got tired of putting on cheap mass-produced clothes, and finding threads already loose and ready to spool apart. I can't afford the more high quality and expensive clothes, so I just settle on nothing for the moment.
Being hyperaware of all the waste that is going to landfill also makes me less likely to make an unnecessary purchase. Still, I am no great minimalist. I have a box full of pretty wrapping paper that I've collected from gifts I've received. I'm keeping it for some future craft project. But I now know that stuff is just stuff, and I don't always need it.