Recycling a Full Circle Moment

Industry Observer

 Last November I took a business trip to China. I went there because the professional designer "me" was needed, however to my surprise the personal "me" was profoundly impacted.

While I was in China, I visited both Hong Kong and a city called Shenzhen (45 minutes from Hong Kong via water taxi)  on the mainland. During this trip it became quite apparent that Hong Kong was all about consuming, and Shenzhen was all about manufacturing.

Shimmering and sparkling, yet cluttered in EVERY nook and cranny of the streets of Hong Kong, were shops, stores and boutiques selling every conceivable thing we stuff into our lives.

In contrast was Shenzhen, a city where pollution is constantly spewed out of the thousands and thousands of factories located there. The pollution was so bad that I could literally and easily look directly into the sun in the middle of the day. At one point we drove over a river that was so polluted it was thick and black as tar. (I am NOT exaggerating.) The sad part is Shenzhen is just one of the multitude of manufacturing cites throughout the world that makes the material goods we "need" in our consumer society.

Upon returning to the states, I came to a full circle moment... when I started to reflect on all I had expirienced and thinking about how it affects my job as a home stager.

I came to realize that in this age of consumption, its kind of odd that stager's job is to "transition" a home back to simpler view. Basic to staging is de-cluttering the mass amount of consumer "stuff" that has built up in a house. In fact, if staging is done well and timed right, the seller can make more money on the sale of their home... which they might use to go out and buy more "stuff".

But now, due to my trip, and if I have it my way... people that use our staging services will begin to look at their lives and their desire for stuff in a new way. I hope to show people, whose homes we transform, that a beautiful home does not need to be STUFFED full of useless consumer junk.  I hope to share with all our clients the fundamental lesson something EVERY interior designer is taught early on in their design education... "Less is More" 

But now, because of my trip to 2 cities in China, I realize our planet's life depends on less being MORE.

Green It Forward...




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Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Craig... good post and as so many mentioned, you are so right.... I have seen several homes that have been stuffed.


                                                jeff belonger

Mar 16, 2007 04:59 PM #43
Kengo Ueno
Prudential Locations LLC - Honolulu, HI
Thanks for the eye opener!!!  Live green!!! -Aloha
Mar 16, 2007 08:59 PM #44
Maureen Graziano
Third Eye Home Staging - West Islip, NY

Hi Craig-Loved this post.  It is so true, less is definately more.  I grew up with a pack rat mother, so since a very early age I became a thrower outer.  I despise clutter and overconsumption of any kind. 

On another note, I have a Chinese sister in law.  She and my brother just returned from a month long visit to china to see her family.  My brother and never been there before, and he too, was blown away by the culture there.

I think we Americans, can all cut back a little on our "stuff" and make some efforts to advance the "greening" of the planet.  It is definately something to think about!!!!!!!!

Mar 17, 2007 01:37 AM #45
No Longer Active
Real Estate - Fallon, MT
So true that our lives become cluttered with crap. It seems to snowball out of control.
Mar 17, 2007 05:05 AM #46
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

I was telling my husband this morning - I'm feeling overwhelmed by the staging props we have in our own house/garage/closets (I just destaged 2 houses last week and don't have any vacants in the immediate future to store them in so I'm feeling a bit suffocated) - I love the Less is More look we're creating for our clients but unfortunately until I can afford to get a warehouse to store it my house is the "clutter ground".  You bring up many points to ponder and it has left me thinking... We do make every effort recycle what we can and it's going to take each person to commit to keeping our planet healthy for future generations. Thanks for bringing this to light.

Mar 17, 2007 07:44 AM #47
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the post and I couldn't agree with you more.  My first time to Hong Kong was an eye opener.  See those that lived on the water in the harbor and dumping (although it was supposed to be illegal then) right in the harbor itself.  Later on another trip to Mainland China we spent time in the interior of the country and saw the polluted air and rivers you speak of.

This also placed things in a much different perspective for me too!


Mar 17, 2007 04:44 PM #48
Liz Foley
Keller Williams Realty - The Steven Chicoine Team - Sanford, ME
Cheerfully serving your real estate needs!
Hi Craig - nice job on this post.  Very eloquantly written, from the heart.  I always think of a routine George Carlin had many years ago about "stuff" and how people moving on need bigger places for more "STUFF".  To me, a move is an opportunity to get rid of all the accumulation of my life.  Very well done, Craig.  It hurts to think that our focus on consumption is creating the picture you painted of those beautiful, historic cities. Liz
Mar 18, 2007 02:21 AM #49
john harper

I will follow up on TLW's comment. With a few introspective questions - Consumption - What is it that we are trying to fill up by consuming "things?" What drives that insatiable appetite? Can we even slow down and get out of our heads to actually feel the hole that we are trying to fill?

Maybe a few of more basic questions would be: What brings us closer to our self? What truly satisfies us beyond instaneous gratification? What keeps us from living an integrated life?

Mar 18, 2007 02:44 AM #50
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


Those are excellent questions. I hope that everyone that reads those will answer them with honesty and feel the truth that lies within them. When I was young and dumb I thought the answer to everything was the stuff and consumption of it. Now that I'm older and much wiser I realize that the more someone consumes the more they want. This creates a never ending cycle of consumption. If we don't sit back and answer the type of questions you have put forth we get caught up in a life that has no real meaning beyond the stuff and the consumption. You know that old saying about 'he who dies with the most toys wins'? I read a good rebuttal to that saying...'he who dies with the most toys is still dead'.


Mar 18, 2007 08:03 AM #51
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI

Mother Misty (TLW)... I don't "hate" much in this world. Because I believe with all my heart that LOVE conquerers all.

But I have to admit I have always DETESTED the saying "He who dies with the most toys is the winner."

I think there is a blog there... you write it. I slide in the pew and read it.



Mar 18, 2007 08:27 AM #52
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


You got it. I'll put it up next Sunday.


TLW aka Mother Misty...ROAR!

Mar 18, 2007 08:36 AM #53
Sandra Williams
Rancon Real Estate - Temecula, CA
Everyone listing a home needs to read this post---anyone remember the story about the wanderer that picked up a blanket, and it made his life better. Then he collected more and more until all of the possesions crushed him and destroyed his life. We have a lot to learn from the Asian countries---both in eating habits and in how they live.
Mar 18, 2007 02:39 PM #54
Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton
Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC - Hilton Head Island, SC
Thanks for sharing the details of your trip.  The correlation to our homes is very pertinent.  Sorry to hear the Chinese are spewing such pollution everywhere.
Mar 22, 2007 02:22 PM #55
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hi Criag.

 Several years ago I visited Korea..These people are all university trained..yet Coal is the cheapest form of fuel for industry there. I asked then if they were concerned about air pollution, the answer everywhere was the pre veiling winds sent the air to Japan, not our Problem... I often wonder if they think differently now.

 Cheers, have an awesome day!

Fred Carver

Mar 23, 2007 02:22 PM #56
Marilynn Currie

Hi Craig,

Just arrived home after a Carribean cruise ---- the waste of food was incredible!!! You could feed a small village on that waste!!! The mind bending call to spend, spend spend is incredible.

9 cruise ships at once in St. Thomas the selling and spending was frenzied.   But get away from the madding crowd and it is hertbreakingly beautiful.

Less is truly more.


Marilynn CSP abbotsford/chilliwack bc

Mar 23, 2007 02:37 PM #57
Marilynn Currie

Uh oh The heat must have got to my head  , wet noodle swipe -------- Caribbean Caribbean Caribbean   maybe after twenty times I will spell it correctly.

Marilynn Currie Abbotsford/Chilliwack B.C.

Mar 24, 2007 05:34 AM #58
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI

Hey Marilynn, I'm pretty causal here.

You are welcome to take of your shoes in put them up on my coffee table... anytime.

I'm pretty easy going, especially when it comes to typos.


Mar 24, 2007 06:44 AM #59
Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota
Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm - Inver Grove Heights, MN


Very inspiring post and some very thought provoking ideas. It is sad that so many people feel they have succeed when they are able to stuff their homes full of prize possessions. I recently went on a trip that inspired me in a similar way but for the opposite reason. I was fortunate enough to participate on a 12 day trip to India seeing various cities - Dehli, Bangalore, Agra and Mumbia (or the old Bombay). It was incredibly difficult to see the conditions so many poverty stricken families were living in. For me, the hardest was to see the children. They say the caste system is gone, but it truly isn't. This particular trip also reminded me that we truly are so fortunate to live in this country we do, but we should not get carried away and indulge ourselves too much. I found myself wanting to help so much that I suggested to my husband that we adopt a child from India. We'll see if that happens, but regardless will be contributing in whatever way I can to help those that we saw struggling to get bath water, find shelter or even rest on something other than the dirt floor.  

I will be going to China in a couple of months and will certainly see some of the same cities you did. I always look forward to experiencing things that remind me of what life is really about...people, not THINGS.

All the best,


Mar 27, 2007 03:41 PM #60
Debi Braulik - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale
Craig- Nice post. I am sure I would feel very clausterphobic in China. I like my space. I like greenery. I like fresh air.  I think all of us benefit from the less is more philosophy.
Mar 27, 2007 03:50 PM #61
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC


The Less is More philosophy is a great one. Unfortunately it is diametrically opposed to the capitalist system we live in. So many folks use buying stuff as a way to feel good. Of course, alot more can be said about that... Thanks for bringing up the entire concept!

Mar 29, 2007 08:17 AM #62
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