Bear with me today because I’ve been on a bit of a journey that’s led me to this place. I think it’s worth hearing me out though! I’ll start from the beginning.
Last Wednesday, I was making breakfast for the kids. The bread was in the toaster and all was (fairly) peaceful in the house. Then there was a bang and the toaster was no more. Aargh! Not what you need in the morning. The kids made do with cereal that day and were a bit grumpy as a result.
So I then started to research new toasters. The basics haven’t changed much since I bought the last one, but it does seem that there have been some technical changes. According to Number 67 toasters, you can buy models with all sorts of functions: you can defreeze more easily, have a timer included and even toast bagels, without them getting stuck. Cool. I’m a sucker for gadgets.
A top of the range new toaster would be great. I then paused. What about the cost to the environment. This thought had stopped me in my tracks before, when I was thinking about holidays last year. Here it was again. Did we really need a new toaster? Maybe we could make do without having toast. Or would it be better to toast the bread under our grill. Is that better for the environment?
But then, a toaster is so convenient. It makes toast in just a couple of minutes and you can get it just right. Well. Most of the time.
Don’t worry: I’m not about to get into another long environmental thought process. It led me on to a question: what items in the home are irreplaceable? How many things couldn’t I do without?
I started to make a list.
- A cooker
- A washing machine. Ok, I could probably wash everything by hand, in theory. Reality though, was likely to suggest that this would be a painful experience in the long-term. Not too bad for a few items, but hardly a strategy to become the new norm
- A bed. I know, I know. There will be plenty of you saying that it’s common in other parts of the world to sleep on a mat on the floor, or in a garden hammock. I can’t give up my bed
How much further does the list need to extend?
- A shower, or something to enable washing
- Somewhere to store my clothes. It doesn’t have to be a wardrobe. Somewhere though.
- Do I need a chair? Could I make do with a beanbag, or a few cushions?
- What about a table for dining? More pleasant if we have guests, but maybe not a necessity
When I started to list them out, I realised that there aren’t actually that many must-haves. Plenty of nice to haves though. Isn’t that at the core of the consumer world in which we now live. All of our decisions are defined by a sliding scale that basically goes:
- Must-have essentials
- Nice to have additions
- Not necessary at all
It’s often about restraint and also where we personally place items on that line. It got me thinking. I hope it did the same for you.