Low Waste Living - Part III
Yesterday was the last day of Plastic Free July for this year. If you took the challenge, I hope it left you feeling inspired and full of new sustainable and empowering habits! Today marks this years 'Earth Overshoot Day', the day when humanity's annual demand on nature exceeds what our planet can renew in a year. August 1st is the earliest since our planet first went into "overshoot" in 1970, on the 29th of December. According to the Global Footprint Network, it now takes more than 1.7 earths to sustain our current way of life... 1.7 planets! I don't know about you, but my family and I have way more than what we need to be comfortable, and since we had already committed to a plastic free lifestyle two years ago, this July we decided to minimise our possessions and commit to a minimalistic and truly zero waste lifestyle.
For the past two years our family have been on a journey to reduce our waste drastically. As you may have read in my previous stories, this initiative started in the kitchen by eliminating all packaged food and unsustainable food choices, which later turned into a complete overhaul of our bathroom and laundry area. We received many questions from people on HOW we did it, (which I have gone into more detail about in previous stories), but the most important change for us was turning ourselves off "autopilot". In other words, becoming conscious of every single item that comes into our home (not to mention our minds and bodies!) and making sure our consumption; purchases and acquisitions, align with our values.
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
For us, switching habits and replacing products in the kitchen and bathroom, was no way near as challenging as conquering our "stuff". We spend a lot of time tidying up "stuff". Sometimes entire weekends gets allocated to staying on top of it. Despite it being normal for a family with young children to have a lot of stuff and a bit of chaos, I realised that 'normal' was never an ambition of mine. We had been decluttering room by room for months, but our efforts were getting us nowhere near the results we were after. That was until I attended a live event with Béa Johnson, the Queen of Zero Waste.
That night, I experienced one of those lightbulb moments. I remember sitting there thinking how much time we were wasting on looking after stuff we didn't need, instead of spending our time on the things we love! It was high time our family fully embraced MINIMALISM. It wasn't like I hadn't thought of it before, I watched the documentary 'The Minimalists' over two years ago, but now that Béa had given me some ideas of how to consciously dispose off our stuff, I was up for the challenge.
"Having takes away from being"
We are not big consumers, in fact we consume very little, yet our stuff had consumed us completely. Our wardrobe was our biggest challenge and we had to be ruthless this time around. We started by removed everything we hadn't worn in the past year, and everything that we could not see ourselves ever wearing again. To be honest, this was tough, but once we got into a flow and kept focusing on the end result, it became a little bit easier. We emptied the racks, drawers and shelves until only the absolute essentials were left. I am not yet fully where I want to be, where all my clothes fit in a carry-on bag and I don't have to worry about what to pack anymore (because I have space to bring everything!). This may sound drastic to some, but to me the idea is liberating!!
"Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value
and the removal of anything that distracts us from it"
We got the kids involved by helping them sell their unwanted toys, furniture and outgrown clothes. Through this exercise they got to see that their unwanted things still held a lot of value, and that it could be used again! We sold most things on gumtree and through a garage sale, and put all the money we made into the kids accounts. We donated our books to our local street library, and whatever we don't sell we are going to donate to people who need it better. I have found that selling stuff makes people value it more, and you can be sure it will be used again. Ripped clothes will be donated to H&M's clothes recycling program, and the remaining bits and pieces will be donated to Reverse Garbage, where it can hopefully be given a new life one day. The aim is for nothing to be sent to landfill and whatever replacement items we need in the future, we can get second hand!
There is already so much stuff out there, lets use what we have, restore and repair what can be salvaged and redistribute our stuff to people who need it better. We really do not need more all, in fact... we need less.