When you live for half a year out of one bag without missing anything, you ask yourself upon returning: Why do I have all this stuff in my home?
Back from Arctic, after six months and nine days. We have returned out of the small universe of a ship, of a little village into our complex world with supermarkets, online orders, cars, people, colours. For months we have seen very few traces of people. We have wandered over grounds without any paths. On the mountains and in the valleys, on the sea around us was nothing but us. No human signs, no cars, no roads, no light towers, no huts, not even planes in the sky. We have seen how the world would look like without us (if you disregard the plastic garbage).
This view does something to us. Every time I come back, I notice more, how much we change the world. Meadows become supermarkets or hardware stores, ugly flat-roofed buildings with parking lots in front of it. In Germany, every day an area of 100 soccer fields is built up. 100 soccer fields, every day. For new hardware stores, streets, houses, industrial areas, beltways. Where now gather the well known supermarkets, hardware-drug- and cheap-clothes-stores in the suburbs, once there have been meadows, trees and animals. Now not anymore.
Do we really need this?
I was now half a year on the way, with a bag of 23 kilo. In the bag were huge rubberboots, a guide belt, some books and diverse electronic stuff for lectures, winter clothing. A thermos and a thermal mug. Did I miss anything? No.
Because of my bag weighing already 23 kilo, I also could not buy anything. It would have made the bag too heavy for flights. And I made a discovery: In the beginning I did not like the „non-consuming“. It was a necessity and not a choice, I was detained from consumption – it felt like this. This feeling changed with time, and after a while it actually became easy, and in the end it was a relief. After deciding not to buying anything, you can stop thinking about potential acquisitions. You simply do not buy anything. You also do not need to go shopping anymore, and instead you gain time, as you can spend the time with a cup of tea in the sun. Six months and nine days I did not buy anything but one toothpaste and a new pair of tour pants, as I destroyed the old one. Now, at the end of this season, I am happy about it. I cannot even remember the things I wanted to buy in the beginning. So I guess I did not really need them.
Back at home I see all the colourful brochures in my newspaper, the commercials in TV. I see luxury magazines and style supplements. They are filled with thousands of things you can buy. You should buy, as they are so nice, so stylish, so important. I look at this stuff and think, this is without exception stuff nobody really needs.
But we are supposed to need it.
Since I live for longer and longer periods not really in this system we built around us, I look more and more from outside onto it. And have more and more questions.
Why do we live the way we are living?
Why do we need for every wine a different glass, why do cream-, sugar-, ice-, espresso and olive spoons even exist? Why do we need a dish set consisting of 524 parts, vinegar and oil carafes, a table barbecue, a yogurt and ice cream maker, an egg boiler, steam cooker, electrical milk frother and lemon squeezers? A muffin and a mini muffin mould, and a thermomix? And all of these are domestic appliances, for sure everybody has some at home and never uses. But somewhen, in a strange nestbuilding reflex, you thought you need them. Why did our world develop in a way, that now there are also handbags for 4000 Euro, and even people who think they need them?
Me also, I would not like to live in a cave anymore. I like a cozy home and I do not run around in sewed banana leaves. I also do not dislike elektrik lemon squeezers. If you squeeze lemon with it. But what about all these unused lemon squeezers, or those who might be used only once a year? What about all those things laying around at home, never used?
All this stuff has been developed, produced, transported. These things have caused work, used time and resources, they have been in the air and on streets, have been produced in one of these industrial areas, in one of these hardware stores, furnishing houses, market halls, shopping centers, which altogether make up to these 100 soccer areas built up every day in Germany. With one useless purchase you do not only buy this one useless thing. One contributes to this whole fatal development. And the bereaved are we ourselves, in the end.
We build up our landscape. We spend our time in factories and offices, to develop, produce and transport things. And we spend there always more time, as we need always more money, to run our system. To pay rates for houses, for more and more stuff. Stuff we think we need out of a special dynamic. For a cozy, happy, chic feeling. In the end lots of stuff is laying in drawers, in garages and on attics, they are used only a few weeks or never, dust in and get thrown away. And to earn the money for all this stuff, we postpone our lives until later.
Is there any hope for us?