Last month, my husband and I seriously considered selling our home and down-sizing into something smaller and more cost-efficient. Yes, I did say down-sizing and it was mostly because of my pressuring that he even considered the idea. We spoke with realtors, looked at a handful of houses on the market right now, did a walk-through for pricing our home and pulled reports on homes that have sold in our area recently.
The American Dream
We originally built our house in 2008 and moved in after we were married. Right out of college, I will readily admit that I wanted everything. We were planning our big wedding, we both had good jobs, new cars and I wanted the brand new house to go with it all – the so-called American Dream. I didn’t care that I was buying a brand new cookie-cutter home in a development that destroyed a whole mini eco-system. I didn’t care about the natural, finite resources that went into the home or the impact new construction has on our environment. All I saw was a beautiful, new, problem-free home and it was mine. Over the past 4 years, I have evolved into a different person with new priorities and perspective on life and this new outlook has allowed me to look at this scenario as more of a bad dream.
At the time we built, I always rationalized buying a big home with the thought that one day we’d fill it with a family. When I looked around at my larger-than-necessary home, there are literally rooms that we never use. The doors are always shut and no one enters them for months. When I did walk into one of these unused rooms, they were filled with things. I would open their closest, and more things were packed in there that never got touched. I would visit our unused basement, and guess what? Bins and boxes stacked up of things that WE NEVER USE.
The American Nightmare
Society wants young people to strive for a college education to get a “good” job to make a lot of money to buy things that don’t matter. This American Dream involves huge amounts of debt that some people can never recover from. It is characterized by selfishness, obesity, over-indulgence, over-consumption, laziness and a sense of entitlement. It treats life as a competition and there are no winners. There is no freedom in this dream – only burden, debt and attachment to possessions.
Consumerism in America is a huge global problem for our environment. Landfills are packed to the brim as the results of our “disposable” lifestyles. But there is nothing disposable about it. If every country consumed at America’s rate, we would need 3-5 planets to sustain our habits. People have this idea that things will make them happy, and I was just as guilty of this as anyone. I filled up my house & life with possessions, things that never got used, worn or even opened, things that brought zero value to my life, things that are just plain meaningless. I am going to declutter my existence. What I really want to do is sell or donate the majority of my belongings. I want a clean slate and slowly add in items that are necessary and serve a purpose in my every day life.
In the end, my husband and I made the decision to stay where we are – for now. It took us a while to recognize that our house is already built and the damage was done when we made the purchase 4 years ago. The waste isn’t in selling our home; it occurred when we built it 4 years ago. With the housing market down, we are going to stay put, do our research and possibly take advantage of refinancing with the great rates that are available right now. So for now, I am on a mission to make the best of what I have this next year and make my home as green and eco-conscious as I can.
Live green, love green.
Photo Credit: tpauly