What’s simpler – picking up your phone and ordering a pizza, or making dough, then kneading, proving, shaping, topping and cooking it?
In comparision to our convenience society, the make-it-yourself ethos of the simple living movement is the antithesis of simplification. However, the judicious addition of a little bit of DIY to your life is worth the effort as:
it’s a counter-weight to the norm of consume, consume, consume
you can’t beat the satisfaction of making something yourself, and
it gives you a real appreciation of what goes into making things.
There are so many ways you can get a dose of DIY – cooking, crafts, gardening. One I recommend to everyone is making your own household cleaners. It’s something we all use regularly and they’re surprising quick and easy to make, plus they’re better for the environment and a money saver.
I’ve been making most of my own cleaners for over a year now. You can find good recipes on the internet and buy most of the ingedients you need from any decent wholefoods store, but I buy mine from Figgy & Co. Not because they’re cheaper (they’re not), but because they have great recipes. Ones that really work for my household. I’ve written a post over on their blog where I share how I got started making my own cleaners . If you’re curious about making your own cleaners, but a bit unsure, head over and check it out. If you’ve got any questions, ask away. While I’m not enthusiastic about cleaning itself, I’m very enthusiastic about cleaning recipes.
It’s the end of Week 2 of the Minimalist Game and I’m already reaping the benefits of less stuff. I’ve also come to an important realisation – I’ve been hoarding for the environment.
Hoarding for the environment
Most of the items that I got rid of this week were either:
once useful stuff I no longer require or is at the end of its life (eg. old baby bottles, broken safety latches)
potentially useful stuff that is too good to waste and might be useful someday but that I don’t think anyone else would want (eg. piles of plastic cutlery and paper napkins that come with takeout, used plastic bags).
Essentially, now it is rubbish, trash, garbage. Easy to let go of? Umm, well, no.
Week One of the Minimalist Game is in the bag – 28 items successfully out of the house and out of my life. The pace of my de-cluttering this week actually slowed compared to pre-game, but it was still a challenge.
Letting go – the guilt of waste
Twelve out of the 28 items that left the house this week were all parts of a Nintendo Wii game console, its games and accessories. It had been sitting in its box, untouched, since we moved into our current home three years ago.
It should be easy to let go of, right? I haven’t used it and I’m not going to miss it, but it was still difficult. I haven’t been hanging onto it just in case; I’ve been hanging onto it out of guilt. You see, normally I don’t go in for frivolous consumer electronics.
An inner voice chastised me – “What were you thinking spending good money tying up precious natural resources on something totally unnecessary which becomes obsolete almost immediately and is near impossible to dispose of responsibly? You should know better”.
At the time, buying the Wii was a guilty pleasure, but the pleasure is now gone and I was just left with the guilt. I’d been holding on to it in some vain hope that its use would be revived, my guilt assuaged. But it’s been three years, so it’s time to get real. Stepping back, the reality is that I created this waste the day I bought the Wii and hanging on to it wasn’t going to change that. The only difference I could make was what I did about it now.
So I did it – out the door it went. Quickly, before I changed my mind.
I’ve been pretty environmentally conscious since my teens – I was getting books out of the library on climate change for casual reading back when it was still called the greenhouse effect.
In the last few years I became so overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and frustrated by greenwashing and green consumerism that I’ve almost given up trying.
These days I’d describe myself as a “supermarket environmentalist”. This description is a total contradiction in some ways, but sums up my desire to make the best everyday choices I can easily accommodate in a mainstream lifestyle.