In the last year or so, I’ve looked at the world a little differently, reflectively, observing all the things in life.

How much does one person actually need to live and be happy? I’m not a socialist by any means, but lately, I’ve noticed that people in general have so many things: homes, cars, electronics (a friend of mine has a desktop computer, two laptops, iPhone, Kindle, and iPad), clothes, bedding, bath products, shoes, belts, and on and on.

My brain then trains to where all of these things come from and are made. Take peanut butter, for example. The worlds largest peanut butter factory cranks out 250,000 jars per day. PER DAY. There are over 7 billion people on the planet. So I guess I can understand that peanut butter can be consumed at a high rate.

Then my brain thinks about all the things that go into making that (fill in the blank) type of product. A jar of peanut butter has the plastic part of the jar, the plastic lid, and the label. That’s 250,000 plastic jars, lids and labels made EVERY DAY.

When I think about all of these things (not just peanut butter, obviously) we consume, it makes me realize how little we really need in the world to live and be happy. (Peanut butter is a horribly bad example, but I must be hungry because it’s the only thing that came to mind even though lately, most of the things I’ve thought of in this context are actual non-food items.)

And what of only children who have no children of their own? (I promise, I’m going somewhere with this.) Who do they leave all these things to? What if an only child marries another only child?

Whether we give things away, we keep acquiring things, throw things away, recycle or reuse or renew things, I just think there are too many things in the world. There are too many things we don’t really need that we buy, possibly use (or forget we’ve bought; I recently found a brand new, tags-on shirt in my closet), and then discard or recycle.

I’m trying to look at future purchases (from a magazine to a pair of socks to any other thing on the planet) like this: if I imagine that I don’t know how I’m going to pay for my next meal, then should I really be buying this? Can I live without this? Can I be happy without this? And if I do buy it, where will it end up once I’m done with it?