We are naturally wired to help each other. That may be the most exceptional trait of our species. Our collective history is defined by a shared ancestral memory of cooperation, collaboration, empathy and assistance. Things fall apart when we forget that.
Over the last hundred years or so, things have fallen apart. Today, we’re literally drowning in cheap, toxic junk—and it’s killing us. Self-serving corporate interests have claimed everything and everyone as a means to profit, at any cost. That’s the bad news. The good news is that all at once, we are remembering that we are strongest when we work together. And there is a revolution stirring.
I’m a professional organizer, and I’m a part of that revolution. I help people to simplify so they can focus on the things that matter most: who we love, what we do, how and why we live. Because everything else is just stuff.
I think our stuff is the key to saving the world. Because we are so tied to things that come from globalized economies, how we choose to engage in the material world has huge implications on everything else, including the health of our planet and the sustainability of our species. When we mindlessly consume junk, we support industries that do harm. When we buy what I call ‘the toxic, the cheap, and the too much’, we inadvertently support those who don’t mind putting corporate interests above sustainable life on this planet.
My daughter is six years old, and that future is simply unacceptable.
When I’m working with clients, it’s my job to inspire families to connect the dots between their clutter and the impact that stuff has on a global scale. Sometimes it’s difficult to see. Behind closed doors, it’s easy to feel isolated; we forget the impact we have on the world. Part of my work is helping people to move their clutter along to those in the community who need basic household goods just to get by.
When I remind my clients about local families—single mommies, working two and three jobs, struggling to make ends meet, trying so hard to be good parents and contributing members of the community—something changes. Suddenly, there’s a shift that elevates our collective purpose. With that knowledge, we’re driven by a singular motivation: “How can I help?”
Jane Goodall says, “You cannot get through a single day without making a difference in the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” When we bring a new level of consciousness to our consumerism, and we ask ourselves what we really need—it changes the impact we have on the world.
The New Year and, indeed, every new day, offers us an opportunity to need less and love more. When we thoughtfully consider what we really need, where that stuff comes from, what toxic chemicals went into the manufacturing of those things, what slave wage conditions some teenager in Malaysia had to endure for us to get bigger discounts at big box supermarkets—we have a daily opportunity to contribute to the global solution.
When we support local second-hand economies, we contribute a viable inventory to small business owners and help make valuable items inexpensively available to those who can’t afford to pay full retail. Thrift stores, food pantries, faith-based charities, local agencies, and organizations are eager to share your excess stuff with those struggling to survive the day—for both local families in your community and those far away you will likely never know.
We can simplify our stuff, get organized and save the world. What we do makes a difference, and what we do today has the potential to create lasting, positive change, for all of us. It starts with needing less and loving more. That’s the secret to a better life.
Evan Michael Zislis is a professional organizer, social entrepreneur, and author of the Amazon bestseller, ClutterFree Revolution.