Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

Isolationism or Self-Reliance

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I have seen the following text and similar being shared in various posts on Facebook over a number of weeks.

Two can play that game China
Threaten our economy
All products from China will be left on the shelf !
Who’s With Me

However, there never seems to be any commentary from the person sharing the post as to how they actually propose to achieve this goal of not buying products that are made in China.

I believe that wherever possible we should be buying food produced in Australia.  Fresh and unprocessed food are generally the best nutritional option.  Additionally, packaged food may be produced in Australia but presented in packaging from China or elsewhere.  It is highly unlikely that you would be able identify where the packaging was sourced.

Food is not the only thing that most of us buy.  There are clothes, shoes, homewares and hardware supplies.  When was the last time that you checked where your purchase was manufactured?  Does it matter?

In my opinion, it is more important to be a conscious consumer generally rather than targeting goods from one particular country.  Buy only what you need (not want), understand what is ‘enough’, care for and repair what you have and source pre-loved items where possible as ways of stepping away from over-consumption.

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Over-consumption means that we are drowning in ‘stuff’ that is cheaply mass-produced in countries such as, but not exclusively, China.  Become a conscious consumer and you will immediately significantly reduce the products you are buying from China.

Your thoughts?

Rethinking in Retirement

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No, I am not rethinking the fact that I have retired.  I am very happy with that decision.

I am talking about rethinking previous habits and two examples spring to mind.

When I was working in the city it suited me to have my cut at a salon close to my workplace.  Once I finished work I did go there a few more times by incorporating my haircut with another reason for a trip to the city.  I always intended to review this practice and change to having my haircut in our local town.  My hand was forced by the impact of the coronavirus as a trip to the city is simply out of the question at the moment.

I am fortunate to have an acquaintance here who is a hairdresser and is happy to visit and do haircuts in the client’s home.  So, yesterday was the day.  It was actually 14 weeks since my last haircut so I was looking rather shaggy.  I am very pleased with the result.  Thanks, Anni.

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Similarly, we had always had our car serviced regularly in the city as it suited GMan to drop it off and collect it when going to work.  That is no longer the case and today we took it to the local service centre in our town.  The ute had been serviced locally for a number of years and there was no good reason not to take the car there, too.

I am sure there are other habits and routines that we will change in retirement.

Feeling Rich

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I can clearly remember when I was about 10 years old thinking about what I would have when I was rich.  Did I really understand the meaning of ‘rich’?  Possibly not.

My family were staying at the beach for our annual holiday and I was struggling to put on a pair of damp bathers in order to go to the beach after lunch.  You see, we might have been on holidays at the beach but certain rules of etiquette still applied.  One was that you did not come to the dining table to eat lunch dressed in your swimwear.  So, after being at the beach in the morning you were changed for lunch.  The swimwear was rinsed and hung on the line.  However, they were not completely dry by the time I wanted to go back to the beach in the afternoon – no lycra swimwear then, so it took ages to dry.  I dreamed of the day when I was rich and could have two pairs of bathers.

When I was in my late teens and working, I did have a couple of pairs of bikinis but this was a fashion statement rather than any sort of practical application of my childhood fantasy.

Swimming is not a major pastime for me so one pair of bathers is generally sufficient and the challenge of buying decent swimwear that I am happy with is usually enough to stop me even considering buying more.  However, I did buy a second pair last year when I was away at a conference and unexpectedly had an opportunity to go swimming.  I was fortunate to find what I regarded as the perfect pair of bathers – style, colour and price.

We have 2 beach holidays coming up in the next 6 months so my 2 pairs of bathers will definitely come in handy.  Perhaps I will feel rich, too.

I recently decided to buy a sarong to co-ordinate with the second pair of bathers.  Whilst I am not a huge fan of online shopping for clothes, it was a godsend in this instance.  Size is not an issue for a sarong and the internet allowed me to search literally hundreds of sarongs to find one in a colour and pattern I wanted.

The parcel arrived yesterday and I am happy with my purchase.

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This is the other sarong and bathers so I am all prepared for the beach.

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How rich am I with 2 sets of co-ordinating beachwear?

What makes you feel rich?

A Particular Passion

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During the holiday break I have had time to read and post in various groups and forums.  I participate to varying degrees in several groups.  I find that many of them have quite a narrow focus, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.

Some of the topics covered include:

Frugal Living
Zero Waste
DeclutteringMinimalism
Veganism
Upcycling
Buying Nothing New
Simple Living
Plastic Free Living

I dabble in all of these to some degree apart from veganism although we have reduced our intake of red meat to quite a modest level.

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At times it seems that I am not sufficiently passionate about any single topic, however, I feel that they are all inter-related and one aspect can support another.

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Hence, this blog contains posts which cover and wide range of topics and I hope you will find something of interest to you.

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Please let me know if there are particular topics which you would prefer to see more of or less.

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Forever Grateful

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Today I was stopped in my tracks when I was reading online about the health challenges of one family.  I do not know them personally but it made me think about all of the people I am aware of who face enormous health challenges every single day.  I am reminded of how blessed we and our extended family are to enjoy good health and be able to participate in pretty well whatever activity we choose.

A lovely quote from one of my favourite authors.

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And finally, something to consider.

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Enough for Me

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In amongst all of the rubbish floating around on the internet there are some absolute gems.

I found this one the other day.

“It was relaxing and reassuring to know what I had was okay. What you are is already good enough.”

Stop and really think about it.

Here is the article.  It is a guest post by Sarah Peck on the Becoming Minimalist blog.

It really all comes down to the fact that life is not a competition.  I think that trying to meet prescriptive minimalist goals is as bad for you as ‘keeping up with the Jones’.  Be yourself, know that what you are and what you have is enough and live an authentic life.  This is the best recipe for happiness as far as I am concerned.

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What do you think?

Dragged Down

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As much as possible I try to keep my blog posts positive.  Now I know why.

During the last few days I have stumbled on some really negative and downright depressing discussions on the internet.  I have realised how much I have been dragged down by it all.  This combined with being tired from a busy work schedule has drained my creative juices and made writing a blog post almost impossible.

One of the discussions was related to this article which is well-written and contains some really useful information in the article and also within the links.  However, many of the responses were negative and ranged through bitterness, envy and disbelief.

The other was about global warming, although I prefer the term ‘climate change’ as a more accurate descriptor.  I was astounded and dismayed at the number of people who seemed unable to accept the premise of human-induced climate change which is accelerating at an ever increasing rate.  Even more worrying were the links being shared which referenced articles from such ‘luminaries’ as Ted Cruz, Andrew Bolt and Lord Monckton.

However, my faith was somewhat restored when I read this comment in the discussion.

Quote:

I thought I would add what I have been doing personally as I am very concerned about this issue myself.
I have read Naomi Klein book This changes everything. It was very hard to read for me as I need things set out more clearly in non fiction but she raised some good points. I also read Vandana Shiva Soil not oil which was much easier to read and something I felt I could do more about.
Switched to power shop for my electricity. Compost all food stuffs though council. Reduce car usage etc. Trying to cut down meat consumption. I know a lot of people think we should all just go vegan and angrily support that but I think think that would be like a badly failed diet for everyone. I think think you’re better off encouraging a slow change to encourage permanence.
I have joined one million women, 350. Org , green peace and a heap of others to support their works sign petitions etc.

Need to work on my plastic bag use and buying unnecessary packaging, although I am doing better than most I know.

It is lovely to hear of others who are prepared to do their bit and I applaud every small step that each and every one of us can take.

It is only 2 weeks until July – and that means 2 weeks until ‘Plastic-Free July’ so please take a look here and consider what you can do to make a difference.

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Struggling?

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I read a post on Facebook this evening about a news report of households with an annual income of $200,000 struggling to make ends meet.

Payday

The responses were many and varied as you can imagine.  My contribution was to point out that living pay cheque to pay cheque can be a reality no matter what your income may be.  If you expenses are greater than you income you will struggle.  It is that simple.

There is no easy formula to being comfortable.  It can depend on a range of things such as your location, circumstances, skills, education and ability to manage your finances.

Here is the article.  What do you think?

Another definition of rich.

What to Write

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Last night I sat down with every good intention of writing and publishing a blog post.  I sat and looked at the blank screen for some time before giving up and going to bed.  My mind was devoid of inspiration.

Not a lot has changed in 24 hours but I have several ideas for blog posts now.  Tonight I want to share an editorial which I read this morning.  It is from a small local newsletter in Brisbane.  I do not normally read this publication but it was passed on to me for another reason and I happened to read this column which is a very thought-provoking piece of writing and is something that is worth passing on.

Personally SpeakingHere is the text of the article.

Our daughter is doing a gap year this year, and as part of that, is spending eight weeks in Nepal.  She had chosen Nepal way before the earthquakes hit,in fact, she bought her flights the day before the first earthquake in April.  You can imagine as parents, the prospect of her still going to Nepal after not one, but two significant disasters, was challenging to say the least!

Watching her walk under that ‘departure’ sign by herself was a very hard parenting moment.  But we did it!  Waiting to hear from her after the plane had landed that she was with staff and at the hotel was a very long two hours.  But we did it!

In the lead up to her trip, the various responses about it to us as parents has been interesting.  We’ve had people look at us like we are the most irresponsible parents in the world, others who just shake their heads heads and say they wouldn’t allow their child to do it, those who’ve just said they wouldn’t be able to do it, and those few who thought it was fantastic.

I chatted it over with a wise and wonderful friend of mine and worried that if something happened to her, and we knew we could have stopped her going, we would never forgive ourselves.  She said, “Stopping her from going would have been an abuse of your parental power.”

That gave me so much comfort in the days before her flight.  Although we probably could have talked her out of it (I think!), there is no way we should have.  Whenever we’re given the privilege of an invitation by our adult children to weigh in on their decision making, we need to be mindful that it is just that – a privilege.  We don’t have any right to say what they should do once grown.  We need to give them that unconditional love – regardless of whether that decision is going to make us uncomfortable by stressing us or causing us to worry.

We’ve already had a bit of practice with this, since our 24 year old son will never, ever have a nice safe job in an office and a house in the suburbs five doors down from us.  He has always sought a ‘unsafe’ life and has never shied away from doing ‘the hard thing’ either.  Not that he is reckless or risk-raking for the sake of it, quite the opposite.  His decisions are calculated and thoughtful.  But they are not ‘safe’ from a parental perspective.

Too often we view are children as possessions, something to be proud of and shown off to our friends.  And we are far too often worried about how their decisions affect us, rather than them.

We need to take a step back sometimes and check where we are coming from.  Are we advising them based on our fears or their best life, whatever that may look like?

Our children are not ‘ours’.  They are their own.  And the more we realise that, the more peace we will have, no matter what they decide to do or where they decide to go to do it.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your views and personal experiences.