Monday, 19 August 2019 11:49

How far have I come on my journey of living lightly?

I love to travel. I love to travel light. I have one small carry on suitcase for two weeks in Portugal and I have everything I need. It made me think about a blogpost I wrote a while back about living lightly! I thought I would share it again...

Over the years I have researched and read a lot about downsizing, minimising, reducing and living with less. I am constantly inspired by Facebook posts and blog posts by Becomingminimalist and Bemorewithless to name but two.

A recent post by Courtney Carver of BEMOREWITHLESS really caught my attention. “A Toast to the Tiny Steps” mapped her journey to Living with Less.

It made me think!

How far have I come on my journey of living lightly, of needing and wanting less, of wasting less and refusing more?

My turning point was 15 years ago, when I made the decision to change jobs. I was unhappy where I was, worked long hours and spent very little time with my children. I wanted that to change! I wanted flexibility, more time with my children, and a job that I enjoyed and where I could make a small difference in people’s lives. I knew that probably meant less money and definitely less perks. I would have to cut back, would need to be more careful, possibly more frugal. But the benefits were huge – time to spend with my girls, the flexibility of taking more holidays, less workplace stress, and huge satisfaction helping people get sorted.

What I didn’t realise was the impact my work would have on my life in another direction altogether. While working in client’s homes I began to notice things that I hadn’t really thought about.

1. Recycling

Initially I was happy to recycle. I could send paper, certain plastic, glass and tins for recycling. It felt good for a while and then I wanted to do more. Clients were clearing medicine cabinets, bathrooms cupboard and garden sheds. What would happen to all the pills and potions, along with all the toxic pesticides and poisons? Hello Google! I found places to dispose of all these items safely. Electronic waste, batteries and light bulbs also worried me. And so, we found places that would take these as well. Then came EcoBricks! My Mom and Dad are involved in a project making EcoBricks for a playschool. I started collecting all the non-recyclable soft materials for them to use and felt really good about keeping all of that out of our landfills. Now I fill my own!

2. Reducing

Over the years I have seen a lot of waste, due to people buying too much, buying just in case, and buying because they can’t find what they are looking for. Often after a day’s work I come home and see how I could stop waste in our own home. I now avoid sales, think twice before buying a “buy 2 get 1 free” special deal, and tend to decline freebies! My next step is to stop all unnecessary packaging coming into our home. I use reusable shopping bags and buy loose fruit and vegetables. A visit to Nude Foods has motivated me to take a look at my grocery shopping in a new light. Instead of asking myself if the packaging is recyclable, I am now asking if I can buy without the packaging altogether. A little harder, but not impossible. And so, this journey to zero waste continues. (Will keep you posted on how I progress!)

3. Downsizing

Do you find homes are getting bigger and bigger? Most of the homes we work in have more than one bathroom, and almost all of them have a spare room or guest room. There is usually a double garage and a fair-sized garden. Built in cupboards in every room, storage in the garage, and a ladder into the attic. Ornamentals, cushions, throws, all sorts of appliances, tons of books, sporting goods, linen and clothes fill the spaces and the storage. And with all that comes the stress of cleaning, maintaining, organising and protecting it all! Again, I find that over the years I have let go most of the things that are not special, not essential, not used and not really loved. It is an ongoing process as our lives change!

4. Living lightly

A lot of us in South Africa have experienced power outages. Water restrictions are in full force in the Western Cape and elsewhere. We have had to adapt and look at ways to save our resources. And so new habits have formed. We switch off lights, unplug appliances, think about how we can save electricity. We collect spring water, use grey water where we can, install rain water tanks, and flush loos only when needed. Over the years, I have slowly introduced natural cleaning products into our home. Our cleaning arsenal now includes vinegar, bicarb, salt, lemons and a lot of elbow grease!

With a little effort we are living lighter, and better off for it! I find I am more aware of our resources, more aware of our impact on the environment. Along with that changing a few habits, and starting new ones, I find my life is richer for living lighter, for needing and wanting less, for wasting less and refusing more!

 

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