Quality, not Quantity

We took our 3-year-old grandson to the park a few days ago.  He had one toy truck with him – a very sturdy plastic dump truck.  That little truck was his constant companion for two hours, and when his mama put him in the car seat to go home, he was still cradling it.

He has many toy cars and trucks of all sizes at home, and a few at our house too.  But when there's only one to play with, that one is cherished.  It almost takes on a personality as he tells stories about what that toy can do.  Go to the beach, play in the sand, play in the bathtub, hold water, dump rocks, roll down the slide to be caught at the bottom....  It's Super Truck!

I have one pair of fit-over sunglasses which were given to me by my son.  They're oversized, designed to be worn over my prescription bifocals, and I love them because I can see near or far while I'm wearing them.  They have wide arms which incorporate a small area of tinted lens, so even my peripheral vision is protected from UV glare.  They're lightweight and scratch resistant, and I take very good care of them even though they aren't that expensive to replace.

one special toy

Handle with care.

Just because they aren't expensive doesn't mean I should treat them like junk.

In fact, if I treat them like a quality item, they'll last for a long time, and I'll enjoy tons of use from just one pair.  Just like my grandson's dump truck.  Or our antique dresser.  Or my leather wallet.  Or my versatile kitchen utility knife.  Or our one reliable, fuel-efficient car.

Our consumer society constantly badgers us to replace or upgrade our possessions.  The average American buys a new car every few years and considers furniture to be a short-term style statement rather than a long-term investment.

As for sunglasses, clothes, accessories, kitchenware, phones, and more – those seem to be considered completely expendable, bought with the idea that you'll lose them quickly, or tire of them and want something different when you're bored or the season changes.

We waste so much because we're not expected to care for our belongings.  From fast food and fast fashion to continually upgraded devices, we consume more and more and toss things away for something new because none of what we buy has any value.  We have no reason to care for something that is only of the moment and never meant to last.

But if we treat things like they're valuable, we'll appreciate them more and extend their usable life.  We'll be more satisfied with what we own.  We'll shop less and throw less away.

Minimalism doesn't mean we become reckless with our possessions.  As we declutter, we don't wastefully and thoughtlessly throw everything away.  That's not minimalism – that's irresponsibility.

Minimalism has the opposite effect.  It requires us to be increasingly thoughtful about the things we own.  And if something is worth owning, it's worth buying a quality item that will serve its purpose for a long time.

When we own quality items and take good care of them, we don't replace them so often.  We make them last.  Choosing quality and taking care reduces waste, clutter, and dissatisfaction.  It's the cure for consumerism, and a big win for our wallets and the environment.

How well are you caring for the things you own?

Updated October 2022


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