We Do not Need so much Stuff

Last weekend I went to visit the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. It’s really a great one. Admirations about creating such nice design museum! There you can really get inspired and let your creativity fly. Of course, they sell there their own stuff, but it is a really nice way to do it.

Here some pictures from the Vitra visitors centre.

Yes it’s nice, but I had not only this feeling of happiness and inspiration when I was there. All of this is nice and creative stuff, but do we need it? In my room I need a mattress to sleep on it and a wardrobe for my clothes and the 20 books I have. I don’t keep stuff at home and I don’t like to have stuff. I’m so happy that I’m independent from useless stuff. In Bulgarian we have two words for collect, gather. The first one – “събирам” has a positive meeting. It is used when you gather something useful for example experience or knowledge. It comes from “бера” which means pick and “съ” which is prefix for a process of creation, a divine process. On the other side we use the word “трупам” which means more or less to collect and store stuff and comes from “труп”, which means corpse, dead body. We use the same word for cut trees, trees that are already death. These two words give the difference between the positive gathering and the negative one. The first process is a divine one, you are growing and creating, you are living. The second one is the opposite process, the process of death. These are exactly the two processes in the world. You are either conform to the one or to the other process, you either live or you are death, you are either developing upwards to the Sky or you’ve already started the process down to death, back to the Earth. There is no such thing like staying on the same level. To stay at the same level it means to start the process of death.

So looking at all those people consuming the stuff Vitra sells, I felt the process of death. We do not need that consumption. This week we have bulky waste removing in the neighbourhood and people are throwing away stuff that is in order. Surely because they already bought newer stuff! And this happens so often. People change the whole furniture almost every second year. The results can be seen in the film The Story of Stuff. We are destroying our planet; we are going down in the process of death.

But there are alternatives, good alternatives. There are already a lot of sharing communities. Here just a small list of them:

1. Street Bank – Share Everything You Have with Your Neighbours, even Skills!

2. Listia– Give and Get Free Stuff!

3. Free Cycle – Changing the World one Gift at a Time!

4. Frents – Explore and Share!

Things get changed! And if you like to stay informed about Sharing, Shareable is a good start.

How to Save Ourselves from an (Artificial) Inflation

That’s always the big question for consumers. In the last months there is again a big inflation in Europe. And there is often a so called artificial inflation in order to maximize the benefits. This occurs mostly by some macro economical or political changes. And if you think, that it is possible to stop the inflation only with macro-economical tools, you are not right. The consumers can stop it with a very simple strategy, which already worked out in Slovenia after the introduction of the euro currency. Old people, that have enough free time check the price of different products at the different shops and write down in internet where the best prices can be found. Thus the merchants are afraid to artificially increase the prices and they stay stable. This strategy can be implemented easily on a local level.

Don’t Throw Food Away!

When I was a child my parents always said to me that I’m not supposed to throw food away. It’s like a big sin for me to do this. Even more when I see who many people have nothing to eat. I’m always eating everything in my plate and throwing nothing away.

But the food stores are doing this! They throw away every day big amounts of food. And there are some food regulations and Germany that say that they can’t just give this food to someone. It is possible, but it is too complicated for them and it comes to be too expensive, so they prefer to throw away. The baps from the morning are at 13:00 already thrown away. We just throw away food (we don’t give it even to animals) while some people suffer. There is something wrong with this system.

I had a couch surfer you used to make a Europe trip with his bicycle. He used to eat only thrown away food from the bins of some stores. And this was really ok. I’ve ate from his stuff and everything was really fresh. They throw away everything before it expires. If some product has two years durability, they just throw it always some 6 months before that in order to show the customer that all of their products are fast sold out.

I would like to start to eat from the bins of these stores and to make more people do this. In this way they will definitely stop to throw food away.

Fifth Trash Cleaning Weeks in Karlsruhe

When we hike with friends in the nature, we started always to have some bags with us to collect some trash. And now I’ve seen that the city of Karlsruhe starts a nice initiative to collect some trash in Karlsruhe and to make our city cleaner. And this for fifth consecutive year! I will definitely do this.

Here there is more imformation in German.

You can subscribe here.

Everyone who wants can take part. You will obtain some hand shoes and tongs in order co can collect the trash easier. The campaign starts on 01.03.2011 and ends 14.05.2001. And you have to say which area you are going to clean. I’m going to collect the trash mostly on the way to my work, so it will be in Oberwald. On the weekend it will be wherever I’m hiking.

So, see you cleaning Karlsruhe. 😉 Of course you can do this in your own city and without campaign as well.

Consume, Collect, Throw Away or Share and Give Away

As a child I’ve loved to collect stuff – toys, stamps, pictures from chewing gums and many more. I’ve forget almost everything I used to collect as a child. All the other kids were collecting as well, so it was like a big social game. Everyone tries to collect more different pictures or stamps than the others. We not only collected but exchanged the stuff we had as well in order to obtain what we wanted to have. It was a real trade with a lot of negotiations. My parents used not to like every kind of stuff we’ve collected so I often obtained to money from them in order to buy this stuff. So I had to obtain at least one object as a gift in order to can start the game. When I’d already had one I tried to exchange it for two and so on till I had enough, so I can mix with the biggest collections. It was not only important to exchange, but to know to do it correct. There were always some pictures which were very seldom and it was always good to have one of them and even better to have two of them. Because you can then exchange one of them for even hundreds of others! At one point I’ve even noticed that I can make money from this trade. I’ve started not only to collect, but also to sell pictures. I’ve made more money a day than I’ve obtained from our parents. Sometimes I managed to make more than the salary of my parents in month. Thus I gained quite a lot of money and I usually put them aside together with some other saved money from parents and relatives. I used to collect even some old glass, metal, paper, chestnuts, herbs, flowers, snails and so on. You can sell all this stuff. Thus I’ve managed to make a lot of money. With the money I started to buy paintings of unknown, but to become famous painters. 🙂 These paintings are still at home, but I have no idea if I can sell them and make a big deal. I like them so much, that I’m probably not going to sell them.

As you can see, our society forms some kind of trading, management and even investing skills in kids. And all this was more or less a game. But it was as brutal as the normal economy. Some managed to succeed and other just spent the money of their parents and had at the end even no collections or only small ones. It was somehow good, because it gives you some essential knowledge how to make business and how to survive even when you had to start from a bad position. On the other hand it can build in kids some bad habits like showing them how they can win with unfair methods and how they can manipulate.

This collecting based economy and trading was of course created and used from some big companies who managed to sell their bad chewing gums, waffles and so on only because of the pictures inside. We’ve even sometimes thrown the waffles and chewing gums away. This was actually the best solutions because if I tried to eat them I usually had to go to the dentist after that, which was not much fun … As a kid I couldn’t realize that this is a whole industry for making money. It is a typical industry where you buy something, don’t even use it, throw away and then buy again. Some people make millions from it; some a little and 99% only spend money and obtain nothing. But the real cost is carried by the nature. And no one paid for it.

So collecting means nothing but consuming in this case, it’s the same sin. Collecting used to be fun, but it is always connected with throwing away or / and addiction. I’ve often get addicted to some stuff I’ve used to collect. Mostly I’ve get addicted to the money I’ve collected and I only saved them without using them for anything. Which is of course a bad way to use money. Only putting them aside leaves them without purpose. Thus I’ve made them not useful not only for me, but for others as well. Or I’ve started to collect those paintings. So I was again by collecting. It’s definitely an addiction. On the other hand such addictions teach you how to get rid of bigger and much more dangerous addictions. Because when you collect something, at some point you have to sell it or to throw it away. When you sell it, you still have something in your hand and can start again collecting or can be at least happy that you made some money. But it is really painful when you have to throw away. I’m never going to forget when I had to throw away two full big bags with old toys. I was the age of five and my father decided that we don’t need these toys anymore, because these were for younger kids and I had to start with some more meaningful things like books, games and so on. The really bad thing was that I had to throw them by myself. I’ve cried a lot, but it was a good way to learn that you can not only collect, you have to throw away as well. Nowadays I’m translating this as you can’t only obtain, you have to give as well.

As you can see, the whole process of collecting I was involved in as a child was nothing as, but the way our whole economy functions as well. At some point I’ve discovered that this whole way how our society functions is not really sustainable. But I don’t really have a solution for this problem. I’ve just found a solution for myself not to be addicted. I’ve just started to throw away everything which I do not need. Thus I’ve managed to get rid of all those material addictions and to concentrate on some more important spiritual things.

Only recently I’ve discovered that there can be a better way of doing things. I still have this throwing away type of character, but I’m not throwing away, but always giving away the stuff I don’t need anymore. And much more important, I’m not taking part in the so called consuming society. I’m buying almost no stuff and I’m always trying to share the stuff I have. And never letting my money just stay somewhere. Better to lend them and let someone else using them! Only thus a really sustainable culture of  sharing and giving can be achieved.