Living Simply is one of my life goals.
I was thinking about this while taking out the trash tonight. Why? Because each week Joe and I only tend put out one small (half-filled) white garbage bag of garbage between the two of us. It probably weights less than a pound this week. This got me thinking about our garbage in general. We fill up one and a half recycle bins each week*, mostly filled with junk mail that gets dropped off in our mailbox. The heaviest of our garbage is made up of our compost bin. It is pretty heavy.
This got me thinking about the idea of living simply, and how in some ways living simply has become our normal.
I'm going to give you some examples of what I consider living simply:
1. Being happy with your "needs", not your "wants"
An example: I don't know the last time I bought any new clothes. While I am getting pretty sick of the same work clothes every week (and all clothes), I can't justify buying more and more just to have more variety. I have all that I need. Regardless of this, the LARGE majority of Joe and my clothing comes from thrift stores.
Of course, I am very aware that we just bought a 3-bedroom home. This was simply thinking ahead to our future needs :) I'm also not saying we only have the things we need. Our biggest fault is probably thrift stores. I mean, how can you turn down a beautiful pottery mug that is only $1.00, even though you already have a cupboard full at home? We are only human :)
2. Eat Local
Joe and I buy most of our groceries each week at the local Kitchener market. It is such a great resource for our community. We buy local eggs, fruits and veggies, cheeses and flowers. It feels good to know where your food comes from. It is also comforting knowing your food is fresh. It is also better for the environment, and gets us thinking about eating the fruits and veggies that are in season and available. This weeks seasonal meals were Butternut Squash and Orzo with Sage and Parmesan (Yum!) and local turkey sausage with fried market cabbage. (Luckily for me, I have Joe, who loves to cook. This makes it a lot easier to eat local, non-processed foods as it takes a lot more prep.) We always make large batches to last us through the week.
At the grocery store, we usually only buy a few staples like milk, juice, yogourt, canned beans and meats.
3. Having a good work-home balance
I think it is really easy nowadays to let work and obligations take over the majority of your time. I definitely have weeks where there is less time for family, friends, and myself. But I think it is really important to find a balance. This is one I definitely need to improve on.
4. Being frugal, or as I like to call it, thrifty!
This is pretty similar to #1. But it's still important on its own. I have always been very frugal; I very rarely feel the urge to own extravagant things. Nor do I need things to be new. I choose more for function. I already mentioned our love of thrift stores, right? Joe and I also tend to not buy each other gifts. We express our love in other ways.
*I'm still working on finding a balance here, as I can sometimes be frugal to a fault...or seen as cheap. I think I've really improved over the past few years as I am much more aware of this. I'm sure my family and closest friends can agree!
5. Reducing your environmental footprint
Of course, this one is ongoing for me.
I have made many efforts the past few years to be environmentally aware and to actively live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I've made a LOT of small (and not-so-small) changes, including:
- Using canning jars to transport my lunch instead of plastic or throwaway packages. (Joe gets the credit for this idea!)
- Changing my job location so that I am able to walk to work now (this cut out about 1hr of driving per day! Wow! Plus I get 40 minutes of exercise instead. Bonus.)
- Going down to 1 car (and soon, maybe 0? Something I've been contemplating)
- Eating less meat (I was a vegetarian for just over a year... but now I'm choosing to simply limit my meat. There are many weeks Joe and I do eat vegetarian still.)
- Buying local foods whenever possible
- Biking and walking whenever it is an option
- Programming our thermostat to go down at night and during workdays, keeping it low at all times.
- Not buying pre-packaged foods; avoiding plastic packaging whenever possible
- Teaching my students environmental awareness whenever possible
- Living near all of the amenities that I need. Yay downtown!
- I could go on.
I am aware that sometimes living simply will be a challenge. Especially with buying a new house. We are going to need a lot more furniture to fill this house. And I have many paint project ideas for it. I am aware that these things are complete opposites of some of the ideas I've just presented. I think it's most important to find balance in everything and remember that home and family are the most important for me. I want this home to be great for that reason.
I'm sure I'm missing some of the point that I wanted to make, but in a nutshell, living in a more simple way makes my heart happy!
*Please note: I don't consider recycling to be the be-all and the end-all of environmental living. In fact, it could probably be more environmental itself. But it is a step in the right direction I suppose. I try to teach my students the idea of reducing first. To me this is the most important of the 3R's.