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BBC 6 minute English-Have you got too much stuff

BBC 6 minute English-Have you got too much stuff

BBC 6 minute English-Have you got too much stuff


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Alice

Rob: And I’m Rob. Now, Alice, what did you get up to at the weekend

Alice: I did some spring-cleaning, which means cleaning a place very well, especially places you don’t clean often. So, I was tidying up my wardrobe, trying to organise things… and suddenly hundreds of shoes tumbled on my head

Rob: Poor Alice! But why do you have so many shoes? And why do you keep them at the top of your wardrobe? I only have three pairs

Alice: I like to match my shoes to my outfit – and three pairs wouldn’t do the trick. Well, the subject of today’s show is having too much stuff. And you’re making me feel guilty, Rob. You must have too much of something

Rob: Yes, plastic bags. I think they’re useful, but they’re getting out of hand – and that means not under control. They’re taking over my kitchen

Alice: You can recycle plastic bags, you know, Rob

Rob: Well, you can recycle shoes too, you know, Alice

Alice: Yes

Rob: Now, usually I don’t have a lot of clutter in my flat – and that means an untidy collection of objects. Clutter makes it harder to find the things you need. And it makes moving house a nightmare! All those boxes full of things you don’t need

Alice: Good point. I have a friend who suggested the three buckets system. You sort things into three different buckets: one you label as ‘to keep’, one as ‘to get rid of’, one as ‘maybe to get rid of’. Get rid of, by the way, means to remove something you don’t want. It’s the ‘maybe’ bucket that’s tricky, isn’t it? – You never know if you might need something in the future

Rob: Yes, it would need to be a big bucket too

Alice: Yes, it would

Rob: Well, l think we could all live better with less. OK, well, let’s have today’s quiz question before we talk more about decluttering our lives: So which word, Alice, means a belief that physical possessions are the most important thing in life? Is it

a) metaphysics

b) materialism? Or

c) existentialism

Alice: OK… I think it’s b) materialism

Rob: OK. Well, we’ll find out if you got the answer right or wrong later on in the show. Now let’s listen to Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home talking about how she and her family have adopted a minimalist – or deliberately simple – lifestyle in their California home

INSERT Bea Johnson, minimalist and author of Zero Waste Home

We’ve really asked ourselves ‘what is it that we really need?’ We’ve asked really true questions, and evaluated every single thing that we have. There is nothing that we overlooked. I even came to one day look at my vegetable peeler for example and asked myself, Do I really need that vegetable peeler

Rob: So one day Bea Johnson decided to evaluate, or to judge the importance of something, to see if she needed it

Alice: She evaluated her vegetable peeler and decided to put it in the ‘get rid of’ bucket

Rob: Yes, and to overlook something means not to see it. Now, I don’t blame Bea at all because I don’t like peeling vegetables either. And you could actually get the benefit of the vitamins and minerals by eating the skins

Alice: Very healthy, Rob

Rob: We can really live with fewer things. But some people can’t help looking for the latest version of something or go for designer goods. Writer and journalist James Wallman warns us about this. He wonders how much stuff is too much

INSERT James Wallman, writer and journalist

This thing about need is such a dangerous term because what do you need? And I’m not anti-stuff – stuff is good. I’m anti too much stuff and I’m anti the wrong stuff. Don’t go out and buy that labelled good that you think is going to make people think something more of you. That’s not going to make you happy

Rob: James Wallman there. Now, Alice, do you buy labelled goods

Alice: I’m afraid I do. And labelled goods or products are the ones with a famous brand name, like Gucci, Dior, Prada etc. But I do think James Wallman is right – buying things just because other people have them, for example, doesn’t make us happy

Rob: Yeah, that’s true, but as he says, not everything is the wrong stuff. For example, I’m very fond of my large schoolboy collection of superhero comics. I might not need them, but they make me happy. So what stuff makes you happy, Alice

Alice: Oh, well, I like my music CDs and my books – even though I’ve got the music on an mp3 player and I don’t often pull a book out from the bookcase

Rob: They have sentimental value, don’t they

Alice: Yes

Rob: And that means the importance of something because of a personal or emotional feeling that we attach to it. Well, I sold all my music CDs online ages ago

Alice: That sounds like the sensible thing to do. OK, I think it’s time for the answer to today’s quiz question, Rob

Rob: Yes, I asked you: Which word means a belief that physical possessions are the most important thing in life? Is it

a) metaphysics

b) materialism or

c) existentialism

Alice: I said b) materialism

Rob: And you were right, Alice! Well done! The answer is indeed b) materialism. This is the word used to refer to a desire for material things and wealth and little or no interest in ethical values. Now, can we hear the words we learned today please, Alice

Alice: Yes, of course. They are

spring-cleaning out of hand clutter get rid of materialism minimalist evaluate overlook labelled sentimental value

Rob: Well, that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Don’t forget to join us again soon

Both: Bye

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