What is the best motivation for living simply? Why do you have to do it in order to make a statement about the economy, or environmental issues? Can’t someone just live simply because . . . well, it’s simple!?
I know that I typically try to stick with knitting on this blog, but I was on Ravelry.com today, reading from one of my favorite forums, and I started reading an interesting thread that started out with someone saying that they would not buy clothing for the next two years (with the exceptions of socks, undies, and bras). This sparked a wonderful conversation about consumerism, why we buy what we buy, where we buy it from, etc.
A book that was mentioned early on was Not Buying It: A Year Without Shopping and I was all ready to get it through the library, until I read some of the reviews on Amazon, and read the preview. From what I could tell, she got fed up with Xmas shopping and decided to quit spending money . . . except for her four cars, two houses, and renovations to one of her house . . . . hmmmm. In addition, she refused to use libraries, and her friends would pay for eating out, movies, etc. Her “not buying anything” sounds more extravagant and lavish than what us living lavishly on a crappy grad student budget is!!
This is interesting to me because John and I are starting to adopt the “Living Simply” lifestyle. I quite honestly am a little unsure what this means beyond the fact that “simpler is better”, but I do know that going through our house and getting rid of everything that we don’t use (via a massively successful garage sale) was a great first step. Seriously though, I now love coming home because it is much more relaxing without all the clutter, cleaning is a lot simpler without all the stuff to clean and since we have less stuff we know where everything is.
The huge cleaning overhaul has left us inspired to live more simply- not only because it is cheaper and environmentally friendly- but because it is easier! It is odd to think that something you have to work on and change your habits for would make your life easier, but it is so true. Some steps that we have already taken include:
- starting to use reusable bags for shopping. We bought some to get us started but I will be making some more to continue. The main reason why we are able to stick with this is because it is honestly about 10x easier to carry stuff in larger, sturdier bags that can fit on your shoulder rather than flimsy plastic bags that cut into your hands when heavy. The hardest part for us has been to remember to grab the bags out of the car as we go inside to the store
- Adopt a 1:1 ratio rule= for everything we bring in (not food obviously) we have to give away or donate one item
- Eating the food that we already have. I can not imagine how much food we used to buy and then just let sit there. And that can’t even be good to leave meat in the freezer for that long, or let that one last potato sit on the counter until you finally just throw it away. Instead, we do a big grocery trip once a month where we buy whatever meat is on sale, grains such as potatoes and rice, and frozen veggies. We then do not buy anymore of those until we are completely out. We buy milk and eggs about every other week, and fruit almost every week.
- Cook in bulk, take the leftovers as lunch to work for the next few days. Love this. We started doing it and I love having a home cooked meal every day for lunch while I am looking at everyone else in the room eating their “Lean Cuisine” dinners. I may be biased, but I always think my lunch smells the best too 🙂
- Not eating out all the time. You would think that with my gluten intolerance I would have already done this but instead of actually eating healthy, I just was picking the gluten-free alternatives that were equally unhealthy. Now, don’t get me wrong, hubby and I do eat out occasionally now but it is almost always limited to a small, adorable Mexican restaurant that is only two blocks away so we walk there. Perfect. Although I have just discovered that Olive Garden has gluten free pasta. Not so perfect but I am considering this my birthday present to myself 🙂
- My yarn and knitting habits are also being reconsidered. I am now not buying any new yarn (yarn that is sent to me to knit samples doesn’t count for practicality purposes). Because I am too addicted to yarn to actually quit, I have learned how to recycle yarn from sweaters. I recently recycled a large sweater of very soft tweed- and it costs me .25 cents from a garage sale. Yeah, I will be able to knit a sweater that will have cost me only .25 cents. I am unsure what it will be yet- but fortunately I have only about a million free sweater patterns in my Ravelry queue- as well as way too many Interweave mags.
- We pay all our bills (minus rent because they don’t provide that option) via online or phone. We did this a while ago actually because it takes much less time to log on and click “pay” than it does to find the checkbook, find an envelope, look for stamps, realize you don’t have any stamps . . . . well, you get the idea
- Buying second hand. John and I ❤ garage sales – always have and most likely always will.
- Stopped buying books. This was actually a more recent, a very drastic step that we took- considering that we both love reading. However, Amazon has free applications for their Kindle to be downloaded on your computer, Ipod, or Blackberry(which I have). Even better, they have free books that you can download- from classics to newer books that need a little publicity. Every day at lunch I get to read from my cellphone, and I just adore how much lighter it is, and how I don’t need to carry around yet another object just so I can read. The library is also a wonderful source for books, CDs and other media (all for free).
Some steps that we will be doing to make our lives even simpler:
- sew produce bags. Seriously, I am really sick of throwing away those tissue thin plastic bags that are unable to be reused for anything else and manage to rip before we get home half the time- and now it seems like 50% of our purchases are produce of some sort!!
- perhaps make some recycled glass jar covers for gifts and decorations? We certainty have enough that I have saved for no real reason. In addition, if I could design a lace one I think it could be safe as a candle holder since there would be a layer of fairly thick glass between the yarn and a small votive candle. *brain is storming*
- buy more clothing from Goodwills and garage sales (most likely the former for me since there apparently is no one else my size that does garage sales)
- Make our own cleaners (baking soda, vinegar and water sound like they do the trick) because not only are they cheaper, we already have pretty much everything that we need at home. If we run out of something, we can just make some more- much easier than running to the store, fighting with the mobs of annoying people, waiting at the cash register, etc.
- When we need something for the house, see if we can’t make it- i.e. sewing curtains, knitting cushions, making new pillowslips instead of buying new pillows . . . .
- Canceling some of the junk mail that we get. I just recently found out that you can have yourself removed from lists that send out coupons, mags, etc. How much nicer will it be to not have to throw away about 4 random mags a week (seriously, I have no idea how some of these companies even got my addy!!)
- Something that we honestly can’t do now, but we want our own veggie and fruit plants. I would kill for a pepper plant or two . . . or three or four . . . how did a girl who refused to eat her veggies growing up turn out to be obsessed with peppers?
What do you think? Does anyone else live simply just because it is actually simpler?
I feel like I should be talking more about how it is more environmentally friendly (which I do care about), how it is cheaper (which I care about a lot) and how it will curtail consumerism (which I really don’t care about beyond the environmental impact- sorry). I think that this would make the entire ranting post above seem more relevant, and maybe will convince others to change their ways so that “the world will be saved” or “the evil corporations will fall” but that is simply not the case. The fact of the matter is I enjoy not having the headache of dealing with the piles of plastic bags in our house, the clutter that collects dust and makes me sneeze, and having the stress of dealing with all of the useless, worthless junk when I can just relax, vacuum and dust once a week, and spend the rest of my time with yarny goodness (that is incredibly smooshy and .25 cents), an adorable pup, and a loving hubby. Shouldn’t that be what life is about anyhow? Enjoying it?
What if your main goal is to simply enjoy life, but you become more environmentally friendly in the process?
Doesn’t the impact weigh the same, doesn’t it help just as much?