Sometimes less is actually more

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I am reminded just how much ‘less is more’ as I attempt the dreaded task of deleting thousands of unneeded and unwanted messages from my email account. Despite repeated efforts to keep the number of emails on my system down to a dull roar, every so often it all gets ahead of me. Way ahead. That’s when the spinny wheel takes over and locks me out of my virtual workspace — not good!

As I go through my computer cleanup process, a glance in the direction of my bookshelves results in an involuntary sigh. Even though I love every book in my library, I definitely need to get a handle on just how many books are practical to own. Besides, I feel a twinge of guilt knowing that the ideas between my book covers are not being shared far and wide.

Thank heaven for used book stores, library book sales, and all those Little Free Library book exchanges popping up. All are great ways to get books back into circulation so they can continue to add value to the world.

I guess this means I am adding a book cull to my list of things to do. Maybe those two cool guys who call themselves “The Minimalists” will have some ideas to help me with this.

My issues with too much stuff may seem small to you, but they are cumulative.

There are serious world issues that arise from more, not less. Our increasing world population puts stress on our economies to create more jobs, as well as puts stress on our environment to provide more food, more housing, and more consumer goods. But, aren’t there only so many forests we can chop down for housing and agriculture before we start affecting air quality in the atmosphere and water quality downstream? And, all those tablets, smart phones, and computers that we rely on for our everyday needs all require metals, minerals, rare earth elements, and energy to make them function.

How many mines, especially those in ecologically sensitive areas, can our planet sustainably deal with at any given time? Dare we ask how many of those miners have good jobs? How many of them are adults and children working in life-threatening conditions in third-world countries? How many greenhouse gases do all these devices and their electrical demands create?

With our changing climate, we need less carbon emissions, not more!

When I think of the heavy environmental and social footprint all our technology has, it makes me want to go offline altogether.

However, now that our banking and taxes are all done online, I can’t see a way to do that. Instead, I’ll just follow a three-fold approach to offset my technological impact: reduce my time spent online; keep my equipment down to a few choice pieces that I make last a long time; and, lastly, resist the temptation to upgrade.

Less of a lot of things would make our world a much better place to live. Less poverty, less homelessness, less hunger, less waste, less crime, less cruelty to animals, less war — the list goes on and on.

While these may seem like big-ticket problems to solve, perhaps we could get a head start on them by looking at our own personal desires and behaviours to see if we are living up to the wisdom of Mother Teresa when she said, “Live simply so others may simply live.” At this giving time of year her message seems particularly meaningful.

Wash, rinse, and repeat after me: Less is more, less is more, less is more! Finding ways to incorporate the principles of “less is more” into our lives—now that’s in our best interest.

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