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Downsizing and Driving

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While some people are spending time collecting things, others are actually trying to downsize. High school counselor and listener Chris McNaught of Twin Falls, Idaho, heard the story of a woman who only owned 300 items. This past summer, he realized he has too much stuff - over 1,000 items at the time - and started getting rid of things. So far, he's culled his material possession to a little over 800. McNaught knows downsizing could turn into a lifelong process for him. For now he's happy that when he looks around his home everything he sees or uses has real meaning to him.


The fine line between a need and a want can be blurry. For Roz Bertone from Huntersville, N.C., her want became a need. As a wife and mother she devotes her time to her family, but she never forgot how she used to have fun when she was younger - by driving around in her sports car. She's been driving the family around in a large car, but recently she decided it was time to do something for herself - so she bought a two-seater sports car. Bertone understands some may view her purchase as frivolous, but for her the car is a sanctuary. She explains to Weekend America why riding in this car revitalizes her.

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Needs Versus Wants: Chris McNaught

The criteria that I've settled upon now is: Everything that I keep has to either have current utility or current meaning. Over the past couple months, I've gotten rid of a lot of things. I've eliminated dishes that I just don't use. I'm down to four plates, four bowls, because I don't really need any more than that. I've gotten rid of knickknacks that had just been sitting around the house, that were there just because they were there.

What I'm deciding now is, a need is something that is useful right now, every single day, over and over. If an object doesn't add significant value to my life, then it might be a want, but it's definitely not a need. You know, I mean, there's lots of things that I want. I would love to have a new camera, but the one that I have works perfectly fine.

And if an item or an object, or even some of the duties that I do at school and the people I interact with, if they add significant value to my life - they make me a better person - then they're definitely something that I need in my life.



Needs Versus Wants: Roz Bertone

It's an adorable little car. It's small of course, it's a two-seater. They call it a roadster. It's silver on the outside and grey on the inside, with leather interior. And it's convertible. I've called it my rocketship.

Buying the car was not a frivolous purchase for me. I look at it this way: It's cheaper than a shrink, cheaper than a divorce attorney, and meets a lot of my own personal needs.

Indeed, I didn't need the car. But at this point in my life, there isn't really much I can do for fun, in that I'm pretty gobbled up with family and obligations, like a lot of women my age. So this really is more of an emotional need for me. This is something I can do just for me, and it usually is just with me.

To me a need and a want clearly are different. We all need food, we all need shelter, we all need family. Wants are things that I think supplement those things. And can supplement relationships. In this case, the purchase of this car was a supplement to my happiness. It was a bonus for me. I needed another car, I needed a smaller car. But I wanted the sports car, I wanted the convertible, I wanted the six-speed. It did meet both my want, and it has fulfilled my needs as well.

More stories from our Sustainability series


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