Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Live simply so that others can simply live



The title of today's post is a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that I love, and which I feel has a lot to do with the zero-waste lifestyle.

We live in an age when things are cheap to buy because corners are being cut: Labour gets outsourced to developing countries with terrible working conditions and pay; The earth gets stripped of resources to produce and ship items around the world; Disposal of products releases toxins into landfills and ruins land that could otherwise be used for food production or housing.


Pretty much, the more we avoid buying cheap clothes and products, the better, because we might not be suffering for our lifestyle, but others are and our grandchildren will.


I've always been an over-buyer, but I'm embracing the idea of living with less, and buying quality goods, preferably second-hand when need be.


This week I read The Joy of Less by Francine Jay and it really helped me see the trap that consumerism is.

We've just bought a house (yay!) so our family is moving soon. Reading a book about minimalism couldn't have come at a better time as I don't want to shift anything that we don't actually love or use. Now I can free up those items for people who might need them, by donating them to the local op shop. No sense in me shifting and storing items unused, forcing others to buy the same things new from a store.

I've been making my way around our house evaluating absolutely everything.

Without following a strict system, I've just listened to the little voice nagging me that this cupboard is too full, that those books haven't been read in forever, and that those kitchen utensils get pushed from side to side while I look for the ones I really use.

I've reduced my wardrobe right down to my favourite items, and done the same with Paul's and the kids (with their help).

In the kitchen I realised I had three cheese graters when I only grate three things - cheese, carrots and zucchinis - all which can be done on the same grater. I kept my favourite and gave the other two away.

We had a stack of top sheets in our linen cupboard for the girls' beds. Neither of my girls use top sheets because they just end up crumpled at their feet. We only had them because they came in sets with the bottom sheets we did use. I gave the top sheets away, along with extra towels and other surplus linen. Opening my linen cupboard gives me the most joyous feeling now. I can easily see and find everything I need. It's beautifully organised and there's room for my linen to breath.

Guys it is so freeing to let go of this stuff. No more pushing unused items around trying to find the useful ones. It's making my life easier as there is less stuff to tidy and maintain.

Everything I've donated is now out there available for someone else setting up home or going flatting for the first time, so they can buy it second-hand and stop this endless consumption of "new goods" our nation is trapped in.

I know this decluttering thing seems off topic from the zero waste one, but I swear they are linked. The less stuff you have, the less can get broken and chucked. The more you value what you do have, so you take care of it and repair it as necessary. You make conscious choices about what is going to live in your house and what isn't. Everything is intentional.

Zero waste living is very intentional.

13 comments:

  1. It is very freeing to get rid of clutter, I agree. I moved over to Australia 10 years ago and downsized to two boxes and a suitcase! Have fun moving into your new house.

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  2. Woohoo good for you! I LOVE that book! I've read it twice now. I have no doubt that I'll read it again. I so agree decluttering, minimalism, zero waste and slow living are all so closely tired in together. Super exciting journey isn't it? M x

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    1. Isn't it funny how you start out doing one thing, and discover all these other things naturally follow?

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  3. Congratulations on your new house! I hope we hear/see lots about it as you settle in to an uncluttered home :) You are inspiring us and giving us lots to think about with your Zero Waste efforts!

    S.

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    1. Thanks S. I'll make sure to post about the house, and more importantly, garden, as things start happening.

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  4. Fabulous post Emma! Well done! The thing that I find challenging is when people say "but it only cost $xxx" which is some really small amount but then you find that item only lasts two months and you need to replace it. Kids jandals have been the thing this year, given to my daughter by well meaning people but she has been through two pairs - so that's an extra pair for the land fill and neither will be in a state to hand down to someone else. And who was it that suffered in making those crappy pairs? As a society we loose two ways - environmentally and ethically and all so we can buy something because it is cheap.

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    1. You couldn't have said it better!

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  5. Emma - I love reading your blog, this entry in particular resonates with me. We're trying to live waste free, and I've just started using cloth nappies, it's really exciting! Just tuning into Rhema now to listen to your interview... Lisa x

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    1. That's so cool Lisa. I'm trying to find where to get pull-up reusable nappies for my two. Have you seen them anywhere?

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    2. I haven't but will ask around, I have a few friends who probably know. Will PM you :)

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  6. I had the idea that I could put some snaps onto thick elastic strips and thus turn my current nappies into pull-ups. I haven't tried it out but please let me know if you do.

    - Jessica

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    1. I'm not much of a seamstress, so it will have to be you who tells me if it works. Great idea.

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