Some Things To do Other than Shop (#MomsLife) | Minimalism

This post is inspired by a great video by a great minimalist channel Jenny Träumerin  where she listed some activities she liked to do instead of going shopping. So check that out for some more ideas, but these are the things I personally like to do which is from the perspective of a mom with a todder.

1. Go for a Walk/Run/Pokemon Go/Ingress/Geocache/Hike
Getting out of the house and going for a walk. Because i live in a rural place without footpaths and i have a 1 year old it does take a little more logistics. Usually i’ll have my son with me so if we are walking locally which will then be in the forest I’ll put him in a toddler carrier on my back. If we are walking around one of the local towns or the small city nearby i’ll push him around in his pram. We particularly enjoy walking around lakes or combining the walk with time in a playground.

2. Hanging out at a Local Community Drop-in/Children’s Centre
There is a wonderful drop-in centre in Ballarat we frequently go to called Parent’s Place. It’s provided by the Ballarat city council so completely free and it’s a wonderful safe place with lots of toys, free coffee and always lots of other mom’s and volunteers to talk to. Since i’m fairly new to the area and are yet to really get to know a lot of people this has been great for giving me a place were i can talk to people and it’s also one of my son’s favourite places to spend a lot of time and play.

3. Playgrounds
I get as much pleasure from helping my 1 year old around a playground as i did when i was kid playing on them myself. So much fun discovering all the different ones locally.

4. Swim
This is the only activity i’ll list that costs money but my son does weekly swimming leasons and given his age i have go get in there with him. It’s an indoor heated pool so this is a year round activity for us. Because of his membership too we can actually go in a swim together for no additional cost anytime. Teaching my son to swim is very important as we have a dam on our property and death by drowning on farms is one of the biggest danger for small children.

5. Play with our Animals
We have chickens and a dog. We also have sheep on our property (not ours), some of which are pets of the owner so super friendly. Our property is 20 acres with a big hill and a fantastic view from the top. So walking up playing with the sheep along the way and letting our dog run free around the fields is great activity. My son is even able to walk up the whole way now and loves chasing after the sheep.

6. Go for a Bike Ride
I need to do this one more, but when i have it’s been great. We got a child’s seat on the back of my bike so I can go for rides on one of the many fantastic bike paths around Ballarat with my son. It’s a great weekend family activity too. We have the one child’s seat but 2 attachments so we can move the seat either to my bike or my husband’s which is great.

7. Go to a Playgroup
We have a local playgroup that meets weekly and i’m involved in running. It’s a great way to get out of the house, meet some people and give my son time to play with other kids who is likely to grow up with and go to school with when he’s older.

8. Invite a Friend Over for Coffee
One of our wedding gifts was a really high quality expresso machine so we don’t need to buy coffee out very often. It is nice having one of my friends over to our house and her kid’s will play with mine. I personally like socialising in smaller groups to get to know people better.

9. Garden
Since we have 20 acres that will all eventually be part of our self-sufficient permaculture system there is endless gardening to do! Finn is now at an age he always wants to help, which is sometimes helpful, sometimes not. But either way he loves being outside in the garden.

10. Create Content
One activity i might do inside my house when i have a few spare minutes is create a video for my channel or a blog post. I find this a great outlet for creativity and communication. If i could just work out a way of lighting my space on cloudy rainy day’s i’d be set as so many of my other activities aren’t the best on rainy days.

11. Learn to DIY Something New
I’m always trying new things in the DIY realm. I find it really enjoyable and sometimes i discover that the homemade version works really well and it becomes a part of my regular routine. I’ve honestly tried more things that i could possibly list over the years but maybe some ideas you could try that i have enjoyed making are:

sourdough bread
deodorant
tofu
pasta
baked beans
various spice mixes including Dukkah
almond milk
yoghurt
kombucha
keffir
various cleaning products
apple cider vinegar

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A Minimalist/Zero Waste Perspective of Pokemon Go and Ingress

So I have only just found out about this Pokemon Go thing. And it was my mother of all people that told me about it. When she described it to me i thought “that just sounds like Ingress?”. I’ve you read one of my previous blog posts you’ll see that quite be accident I discovered and fell in love with the AR game Ingress around a month ago after looking for something to help motivate me exercise. Of course Pokemon Go has a lot in common with Ingress precisely because it is made by the same company and has used many of the Ingress features to build the Pokemon Go platform.

Since hearing about it i’ve now added Pokemon Go to my phone just to mix things up. Sometimes i’ll play ingress on my walks, sometimes Pokemon Go. And this has been particularly good right now while the entire city of Brisbane where i’m currently visiting has been ‘greened’ out by my own team which is a good thing for our team – but not so good for allowing me to really do things of interest in the game and level up.

It is interesting that something that i’ve been doing myself now for over month now- going out for walks with my phone, playing a virtual game has gone mainstream. Suddenly i’m seeing dozens of people out and about doing exactly the same thing. I’ve also seen online what a positive thing this is. That is why i wanted to write this post to celebrate what a wonderful thing i think this new trend is and how it really is extremely compatible with a zero waste and minimalist lifestyle.

It is obviously zero waste because it is entirely virtual. Most people already own a mobile phone and the game is free. You don’t even seem to need a more expensive, fancy phone as it does just fine on my $120 Huawei Y5 which is about the cheapest smart phone there is in Australia. In terms of minimalism, it doesn’t clutter people’s homes and emphases lots of aspects that are often provide really good value in people’s lives. Namely get out and getting healthy through exercise and social interaction with friends, family and strangers. While i am yet to physically meet another Ingress player i’ve had a few conversations with Pokemon Go players (all adults) i’ve just met on my walks, and this is actually really nice. There also are so many stories online of how the game has motivated them to exercise after never even going out for walks before and even how it has improved their mental health. There really is very little to criticise about these things and the benefits they’ve provided for people’s lives. Other stories i’ve hear are of parents going out with their younger kids to catch pokemon. Some of them might be playing pokemon go themselves or there are a number of family’s where the adults play ingress and the kids pokemon and because the portals/pokestops are in the same location it can work really well together like that.

So i just wanted to take this time to reflect on how nice that something so positive for people can be provided so freely and widely. While it might not be for everyone, it certainly does appeal to many people in their teens, 20s and 30s that might otherwise be focused on far less positive activities like shopping as entertainment, drinking or even just sedentary gaming on a couch.

May you catch them all x

My March Minimalist Favourites

 

Ok I normally just do this on my youtube channel but here are my minimalists favorites for March! As always these things are really ‘things’ as such. They don’t clutter my home, give my life great value and usually don’t cost anything. This month i have 4 different favs:

ONE: A Morning and Night Routine
This is something I intend on doing a whole video, maybe 2 on as it really has been an enormous, positive change for me. I used to watch other’s morning routine videos on youtube and think they were silly. I think i only half believed that people actually did them every morning and of course a lot of them are just advertisements for different beauty products. However i am now a real convert to the idea and truly believe it is making me a much happier, more productive person, has helped me get out of a bad cycle of procrastination with my study and helps me keep my house cleaner and tidier.

It all started when i got to a point of mess in my house that I felt completely frustrated and went into a complete cleaning frenzy. Generally in the past i’m someone that will do a bit of tidy of specific areas like the kitchen so that id have space to cook the next meal and things like that. Often i’d let things get to the point that we are wearing clothing out of the clean washing basket (never being put back in drawers), the bathroom and floors only get cleaned if someone is coming to visit. It doesn’t help either that i have a mostly indoor dog, a toddler and a husband that isn’t all that clean either. After achieving what i consider a really deep clean of the house where i did things like vacuums the couch, mop the floors all of that. Well then i really enjoyed how nice my house felt and didn’t want it to go back to the way it was. I became a bit bossy grabbing dirty dishes and putting them in the dishwasher as soon as my husband finished eating things like that. Now i’ve been like that in the past after doing a proper house clean however what is different this time is i set up a proper routine that created a structure for getting it done. So part of my routine is that I make sure all the dishes are done and kitchen benches are clean and the living room is tidy before i got to bed. I also write a to-do list of what i want to get done the next day.

The evening routine is what supports my morning routine. Without it i wouldn’t feel good in the morning as i’d either have to do my routine in a messy house or more likely as i did in the past my morning would be spent cleaning up. This is why i’ve mentioned it as it is a crucial element. The morning part of my routine is more elaborate and kind of a ritual i do that is about doing this that set the right state of mind and intention for the rest of my day. Generally i get up when my toddler wakes up (so varies) after possibly catching up a bit on youtube and make my bed (something i NEVER did before). I shower, change my son. Then i make myself up some lemon water in my 1L glass jar with my stainless steel straw that honestly takes me many hours to actually drink. I turn on my essential oil diffuser. At this point i’ll put my todder in his highchair and give him some breakfast to eat while i get on with doing some yoga. I put on some kind of yoga/meditation music on my tv from spotify streamed through chromecast and do some stretches usually starting with sun salutations. It really isn’t all the ‘serious’ or lengthy of a yoga session, sometimes only 5mins or so. I like to do at least one musical track. At some point also my son may finish eating and want to get down and often he’ll try doing yoga with me or climb on me. So I really don’t don’t get to achieve that blissful breath focus or really improve my strength and flexibility from it, however the purpose of it is ritual and signalling to myself that I am starting the day with healthy habits in mind. After that i’ll either keep spotify playing with yoga tracks or choose something else relaxing while i have my breakfast and drink my lemon water. Then i get changed out of my yoga clothes into regular clothes for the day and thus ends the ritual component of my morning routine. Of course there are other things like feeding the chickens and doing laundry but they aren’t part of what sets my good intention for the day so i’d doing really consider it part of the routine.

Now I am by no means advocating anyone mimic this routine. Routines are so specific to individuals and your life circumstances. The point is rather than there can be enormous benefits achieved from creating a ritualised morning routine no mater how that looks for you. It seems to be especially helpful in breaking bad habits and creating new better habits even for things you might do at other times of the day. For example I find i eat healthier when i’ve done my routine.

TWO: Spring Flower Bulbs
It is Autumn here in Australia so spring bulb planting time. I’m so exited to be now living in a temperate climate that can grow things like daffodils and tulips and to have my own property now where i can plant them myself. Last spring i think one of my monthly favourites was also spring flowers, actually seeing them in other’s gardens but we hadn’t been living on our property in Autumn to be able to plant them ourselves. This year we are. For my birthday i’d asked my family for some flower bulbs. Really if you have a garden, plants make a fantastic minimalists’ present as they don’t clutter and can really enhance your property. Actually this isn’t the only plants i have received as gifts and having got a few lemon trees over the years too. And they really are a gift that just keeps giving for years as you get a crop of fruit or in the case of flower bulbs a beautiful show of flowers every spring. So in the end of March i was busy planting the bulbs i received as my birthday gift in our fruit orchard and i’m so excited to see what they look like in spring. I’m sure i’ll enjoy them a lot more in spring than now, although the anticipation is exciting, but wanted to include it in this month’s favourites in case you also live in similar climate (in the southern hemisphere) and might be interested in planting some yourself.

THREE: Doing Nothing
There have been a few days where i intentionally put nothing on my to do list and have really enjoyed the experience. This only works if you are up to date with everything, and there is nothing that really ‘needs’ to be done. There is no point having a lot of errands or work or housework to do in the day as you’ll just end up doing it anyway with possibly more stress as you won’t have a to-do-list to remind you of everything. And i only find this cathartic if my house is clean.

This isn’t something I could do all that often but every now and then it is really nice. I just get to go with the flow of the day, be more present for my son instead of just expecting him to play independently while i do housework etc. I’ve even got to do some fun things that i haven’t had time in months during my toddler’s naps like Zentangle or meditate. Normally these nap times I rush madly around trying to get more housework or cooking done while i can without toddler interruption. On this ‘nothing’ days i’ve also go to really take in my garden. Not do gardening work just hang out there, eating the odd cherry tomato or two or watching the chickens which is lots of fun. I think everyone needs days like this every now and again. But they do need to be planned for by being extra organised the day before and where necessary clearing a schedule. If I had a regular job i’d serious consider occasionally taking one day of leave just to do this.

FOUR: Walking
Ok, i’ve done this one before but i’ve moved states since then and walking where i live is now a completely different experience. It started as an attempt to ‘get my steps up’ when i recieved a fitness tracker as a freeby with a new mobile phone i bought (It is terrible by the way i’ve discovered, there is a reason they were giving them away i think, however as a huge fan of the concept (i was a very early adopter of the first ever fitbits and would still have one except it got lost in the interstate move) i’ll probably donate this free one to the thrift store and get a new fitbit). That’s not the point of this though i’m not saying anyone needs a fitbit, i’m actually talking about walking!
Anyway walking is an entirely different matter living in rural Victoria. We live far enough out of town and in such a tiny town of only around 500 people that we don’t actually have footpaths or really anywhere specific to walk to. I used to be able to walk everywhere when i lived in the desert with lots of footpaths, it is actually thing i probably miss most! Toddler wearing (i tend to use my Toddler Tula Carrier the most these days) is absolutely essential now as i don’t want to be pushing my pram down a highway and the verge is often muddy with long grass. So I carry my son and walk around and take in our new neighbourhood. You really notice different things by foot than you do in a car. We get to walk by lots of farms with various animals and this is a nice chance for me to teach my son different animal words (although everything according to him is a dog or horse). I enjoy looking at all the different style houses, dams and plants and listening to the birds. There is also a lot of just bushy and forested areas too if i want to get off the roads. Some areas have made me uncomfortable to walk particularly where there have been large unrestrained guard dogs there is a whole patch of them in one area of my town, but i’ll get to know the best places soon so i can stay away from those. It is definitely more exercise than pushing a pram on a footpath and it’s also quite hilly. Sometimes i just walk around my 20 acre property too, especially up our rather steep hill which is really quite a lot of exercise, especially carrying a 12kg toddler on my back. Overall walking is a great mindfulness activity and exercise and has been great to do especially while i let my body heal from a running injury.

 

 

 

Where Minimalism and Buddhist Philosophies Merge and Diverge

Lets talk about “stuff”. Minimalism seems to be obsessed with stuff – of getting rid of it be it possessions or other non physical things in our lives. The problem is however that with all this focus on “stuff” and the lack of it, we might never move onto the bigger picture – why we adopted minimalism in the first place and not achieve the freedom and happiness we were hoping for.

Firstly let me say that minimalism does and can mean many different things for different people and there is absolutely no right or wrong. It is only wrong if what you are doing and your perspective is not working for you and you are discontented. Then it might be worthwhile exploring a different version or focusing on the deeper aspects of self development that personally i’d argue are actually more important than “stuff” and decluttering.

In my own personal journey i’d long realised that minimalism had it’s roots in Buddhist philosophy and that perhaps exploring Buddhism from a secular perspective further might be the logical next step in self development. In my mind minimalism began and ended with getting rid of excess stuff to give one time and freedom to do whatever they wanted, whether or not that was related to a certain type of stuff or considered of value to anyone outside of oneself. Buddhism on the other hand seemed way more certain about what is or isn’t of value which is basically nothing except shunning the craving for stuff and other worldly pleasures and doing the various activities they define as necessary to achieve that level of detachment which may or may not involve not having many possessions depending on whether you are a monk or lay person. That was my very uneducated impression of it anyway.

Then listening to The Minimalists Podcast i was quite surprised at some of their responses to listener questions which made it clear that they too were attempting to achieve a level of detachment from ‘stuff’ and that this was at the core of their minimalist philosophy. For example a woman rang up asking if it was ok if she kept her collection of vintage dresses as she really loved them and felt they gave her a lot of value in her life. I thought The Minimalists would say ‘why yes, if they give you value!’. Instead they proceeded to tell her she should get rid of them, that she was using them to define herself as a person and that clothing is replaceable, if not utilitarian. In general they talked a lot about possessions being tools for achieving the things of value, and that they didn’t have an intrinsic value in of themselves.

My general thoughts on this was “brilliant, now someone finally is digging into this!” But then thinking more I can see some potential conflicts that this minimalist philosophy doesn’t seem to really address or define. For example:

  • If being creative is the thing of value in that woman’s life and she does so with her vintage clothing then how is that any different to using writing to express oneself as The Minimalists do? The clothing could be a tool like anything else…
  • If you are not meant to define yourself from your possessions (which sounds like a good idea in general) then does that mean a personal style is completely out of the question? This might explain why The Minimalists just wear t-shirts and jeans but for many many people practicing minimalism they are extremely interested and focused on having a personal style within their capsule wardrobes. If this is meant to be a core part of minimalism it would be very unappealing to these people.
  • How do you draw the line between something frivolous and something giving value? Obviously these choices are up to the individual to decide but unlike Buddhism which is much clearer about what is and isn’t of value, minimalism is a free-for-all. Clearly the woman in the call was passionate about vintage dresses so why was that not considered a valuable perspective? The minimalists seemed to be trying the minimise her interests as well as her possessions. My other issue with this viewpoint is that it doesn’t leave room for something to be important because it creates value for others. It seems very self-centred and i think the world would be a worse place if nobody ever did anything completely altruistically.
  • Finally if achieving detachment from ones possessions is the goal. Then far far more focus needs to be on how someone can achieve this. In Buddhism this is seen as extremely difficult, taking multiple lifetimes and a great deal of study and practices such as meditation. The Minimalists seem to imply that if you just decide you aren’t going to define yourself by your possessions and only see them as tools then magically you’ll never have these attachments again.

Ultimately obviously this viewpoint put forward by The Minimalists is just one of minimalism and this is just my perspective on what they are saying. It doesn’t seem entirely consistent and I guess this is understandable since it is the result of just a few years of working of this vs Buddhism which is the result of thousands of years of study.

Overall just let me reiterate how much i LOVE their podcast and this should in now way be seen as me criticising them. Rather this is my own exploration of the topic from my own perspective, using their discussions and cherry picking things they say as jumping off points for my own exploration. Please give it a listen, it has added great value to my life 🙂

 

 

Our #toyfreechallenge – Minimalist Parenting

toyfreechallange
Feel free to save a repost this badge to your social media to share the challenge with others!

I love a good challenge. I find in general the power of a challenge it that it can completely change my perspective on things. Even if i feel like I already ‘know’ something often I find that it doesn’t really get embedded in my mind and long term action until i’ve really experienced it. This was certainly the case for the 2nd hand clothing challenge I did many years ago where I only bought 2nd hand items for a period of 6 months. To this day I cannot look at a price tag of a new clothing item the same way and continue to buy used items for about 80% of my wardrobe.

Challenges aren’t meant to be implemented long term. Usually because they are extra extreme. But it is their extremeness that they allow us to see a change as a fun experience, a challenge and from there we can after the challenge decide for ourselves what aspects of it we would like to incorporate in our long term life.

So this brings me to our family’s latest challenge: the #toyfreechallenge

This challenge isn’t so much toy free as commercial indoor toy free. The guidelines we are following are:

  1. We are doing the challenge for 1 month (if you want to follow along though you can do it any amount of time of your choosing).
  2. All our commercial indoor toys have been packed away and will not be accessed during the challenge
  3. Books are acceptable and encouraged.
  4. Outdoor play equipment/toys are also allowed
  5. The rules only apply in our own home. If we are out in public places or at a friend’s then indoor toys at those locations are fine.
  6. We are replacing commercial toys with found objects like cardboard boxes, measuring cups etc. as well as toys we are making ourselves
  7. Craft items are also ok. These can also be used to make new toys.
  8. The journey will be documented on instagram with #toyfreechallenge This is to share our experience and ideas to inspire others.

If you want to do the challenge with us these tips might also help:

  1. If you have older children then encourage them to be involved in making new toys.
  2. If you have older children who might otherwise protest this challenge remind them find a way to make it fun for them, especially by making their own toys. If you are having great difficulty then you could compromise by asking them to pick just say 3 commercial toys to have during the challenge. Some kids will rise to a challenge to: you could say to them something along the lines of “I bet you couldn’t manage to only play with toys you make yourself and outdoors for a month”. You could also create an incentive such as fun experiences with you outside the home either during the challenge or at it’s completion. If all else fails then you can just move all the toys to a less used area of the house and the challenge is for you to distract your kids with other activities so they don’t even think to use them. It is hoped after all a benefit of this challenge is to become more present parents.
  3. For toddlers and babies found objects make wonderful toys. Most people own things like measuring cups in the kitchen and toddlers love to stack these and put small objects in and out of them. Cardboard boxes and natural objects like pinecones also make great toys.
  4. It also isn’t all about toys! Experiencing the world and particularly outdoor play is wonderful. You’ll notice kids find creative ways to entertain themselves regardless of whether or not you hand them something to play with.

So Why Do this Challenge?

I think the potential for this challenge to benefit is huge and may do so in different ways depending on your current routine. I think you’ll experience the most benefits if you don’t try to cheat the system by replacing toys with television etc and also have an open mind about the possible benefits it will bring you. Some reasons to do this challenge with the goal to change your overall perspective of play include:

Home Clutter – Anti-minimalism!
Commercial toys clutter the home. Even if you try to live a minimalist life toys have a tendency to accumulate, especially from what other people bring in as gifts! It is wonderful to experience less of this.

Environmental Impact
So many toys are plastic and that even if it gets reused, donated, bought 2nd hand etc will likely end up in landfill. Toys have also got a lot cheaper in the last few decades and with this comes a great environmental cost and social cost. Many toys probably were made by children themselves in developing countries! Because they are so cheap and widely available we tend to get more of them. At the very least this challenge should should test the preconception that children need a lot of toys to be happy, entertained and educated.

Creativity
The vast majority of toys available these days are designed to be played with in a very specific way. This is particularly the case for electronic toys. This type of play does not encourage open ended creativity and if takes up the majority of your children’s playtime will be to their detriment. There are of course exceptions like lego and blocks. This challenge will encourage maximum creativity both for your children and as you as a parent. You will be forced to look at every day objects from new eyes and you can make toys or encourage your children to make their own toys.

Outdoor Play
There are so many benefits to outdoor play. Creativity is at its maximum when children are encouraged to play in natural places, using natural objects as toys and even play equipment in various ways. There are also obvious health benefits to being outdoors and using the body more physically, in addition being outdoors can help prevent short-sightedness and vitamin D deficiency (obviously be sun safe though). Outdoor play also provides children the opportunity to experience controlled risk taking and to experience the wonders of nature. Sadly the instance of daily outdoor play among children has dropped 40% in only a generation.

Benefits I’ve Already Experience

  1. It is easier to get rid of unused toys. By this i mean the DIY toys and other found objects that i’ve given my son to play with during our challenge. If he doesn’t use something it goes away. I have no emotional attachment to them at all. On the other hand commercial toys, especially those given to us as gifts are much more difficult to part with. This emotional baggage has been made really obvious though this challenge. Thus my house is far less cluttered for at least now!
  2. I feel more present for my son. I’m really focused right now on providing him lots of enriching experiences, getting out of the house and reading him more books. Because i’m documenting our journey this also is encouraging me to focus on the process and on him. Thus i think documenting the journey is as important as the challenge itself. In the past it was easy to just hand him a pile of lego or some kind of electronic activity centre thing and expect him to entertain himself. He is of course flourishing under the extra attention.
  3. As I suspected commercial toys really are unnecessary, especially at this toddler age. I think though Finn might be missing cars and wheeled toys in general. I might try and make him something like this but i expect in general this experience will make it clear what types of toys he really enjoys and others we might not need to keep around. It might be easier to discourage less toy gifts in the future now that i will be able to demonstrate without a doubt that Finn was just has happy without.

So take the challenge, share it with your family and friends and document your experience on instagram or other social media using the hashtag #toyfreechallenge

Sometimes you Need to Think Bigger Picture than Just Zero Waste

Everyone that i’ve ever read about our watched who is aiming for a zero waste lifestyle is doing so for environmental reasons. Thus the goal should always to be to do what is most environmentally sustainable, creates least negative impact and greatest good wherever possible. Possibly in part due to the fantastic branding and encapsulation of the concept by the term ‘Zero Waste’ and it’s often association with the other term ‘Lifestyle’ there a risk of the concept becoming hijacked into an ideology or dogma. This is an issue if people make a choice to do something just because it is ‘zero waste’ but in doing so create great negative environmental impact than if they had gone the other way and done something that did create waste. The issue really becomes when we stop thinking critically about our choices and rely too much on a prior choice to ‘just be zero waste’. Also if we prioritise a reduction in waste over all other areas of environmental impact.

I don’t think that the original creator of the Zero Waste Lifestyle movement Bea Johnson does this at all – i’ve always been very impressed at how critically she considers her choices and discusses them in detail in her lectures and blog. But now this movement has spread far and wide and amazingly a look at the google trends data on search terms shows that ‘Zero Waste’ has far more searches than ‘Sustainability’.

Let me give you some examples of when it may be be WORSE for the environment to chose the zero waste option.

  1. A study of the overall impact of washing machines has shown that continuing to use an older (over 5 years was given as the age), less energy and water efficient washing machine has far more negative environmental impact than purchasing a newer more efficient washing machine. This is because the majority of impact a washing machine has is from use, not the construction of a new machine. Likewise you would be better off disposing of your old incandescent light bulbs now before they have actually broken and purchasing new LED ones as the energy savings are enormous.
  2. If someone has to travel a long distance to buy food package free then the carbon emissions from their travel, even if using public transport could offset the benefit of producing less waste. Obviously this is a balance thing and could be assisted by taking fewer trips and buying large quantities less frequently but it is something to consider.
  3. I used to live in a remote part of Australia that relied on the limited resources of the Great Artesian Basin (ground water) which underwent energy intensive desalination prior to use. It thus was a very previous resource. This town also used to have its own landfill, and the local geological conditions meant that it was an incredibly stable environment that would not cause water contamination, leakage etc. So stable that a nuclear waste facility was being considered for the area. Using disposable diapers over cloth ones in this situation therefore may be the better option as cloth diapers would require greater water use which was the more limited resource. Note that this all changed when the local landfill facility closed down and waste was then transported by truck for around 6hrs to another waste facility. This entirely changed the situation and then cloth diapers became the far better choice on balance.
  4. Buying package free beef has a far greater environmental impact than purchasing packaged lentils due to the methane emissions, resources involved in creating feed for the cow and amount of water used to produce the beef.
  5. Purchasing a ‘package free’ item online which is shipped to you (which will have to be in some sort of packaging anyway to be posted) where as you could have purchased the same kind of items in packaging locally reducing overall transportation impacts.
  6. Buying bio-plastic or other compostable type disposable items for example compostable diapers, plates and cutlery etc when you do not have the ability to dispose of these items correctly. These items need long, very high composting temperatures to break down – much greater than can be achieved in a home composting system. A lot of municipal composting systems also do not keep their piles at the required temperatures for long enough to break down these materials and very few households have access to these kinds of green waste disposal services anyway. The issue is you can’t put these items in the recycling bin as they cannot be recycled with other plastics. Thus the only appropriate place for them for most people is in landfill. You would be better off purchasing regular plastic or paper items that can be recycled using normal methods – or far better use reusable items.  If you have a green waste disposal system that accepts food waste then check with your local council if it can handle these types of bio-plastic items before using them.
  7. Using large amount of drinking water to grow vegetables in an arid climate so you can be package-free whereas importing them from a location with more rainfall may be better choice (if this is you though look into grey water use and wicking beds as possible ways to change this around).

So that’s just a few examples. Basically in all these circumstances ‘Systems’ thinking or lifecycle analysis is the best way to critically analyse the true impact of the choices we make. This takes into consideration all of the ways in which our choices have an environmental impact, on fauna and flora, water resources, air quality, carbon emissions as well as waste.

Ok… i now know what you are thinking – it is soooo complicated then so how can someone possibly make choices, it’s it just easier to go zero waste. Well yes, and the majority of time that will be the right choice. It though should be obvious to you too if you are travelling very far to make your purchases zero waste or getting a lot of these through the post and therefore may need to reassess. It is also only occasionally we need to make big purchases like white-goods so definitely for these types of big choices then you should do your research into what is best. The reality is though that we tend to do the same things over and over again, so it is only really once you need to make an assessment on if what you are doing is the right choice. Also keep in mind to think bigger picture and care about other things you can do to be more sustainable like dietary choices and energy and water use.

So let this just be a little reminder to not get too hung up on achieving a goal of only fitting your trash in a glass jar etc. but of living the most sustainable, environmentally responsible life you can live given your unique local circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source of Info about the washing machine:

The 2 Outfit Minimalist Challenge

I’ve been really inspired lately with the accounts of several individuals who spent a whole year only 1 one outfit, usually a black dress (all have been women thus far i’ve read about). One of these is at the The Uniform Project.

I love a good challenge as it usually creates lasting change in my outlook. This was certainly the case when i previously challenged myself to go a whole year without buying any new clothing (except underwear, socks and shoes), and only buying 2nd hand when I needed something. This was several years ago now and has had a dramatic change in the way that i continue to buy clothing.

So I love the idea of challenging myself to this kind of thing of only wearing one outfit. But I think 1 year in one dress is too much for me. Firstly I have a young toddler who makes me frequently dirty so I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the laundry. I also cannot justify the cost of buying one item of clothing that would be durable enough for this amount of time at the present time.   It isn’t really my style to wear a dress all the time, i’d feel quite uncomfortable in one around the home which is where i spend most of my day and doing things like gardening etc. And finally the people that did wear 1 dress for a year in part did it to make a statement to the world and probably would have got the personal growth many months before the end of their projects. As the statement and message has already been made my these lovely ladies i’ll be doing this for myself, not others.

Hence I want this to be a realistic, achievable challenge for me that will give me the perspective shift i’m looking for without it feeling overly painful. Therefore I’ve decided to change the challenge quite a bit to suit my lifestyle. I’ll be just doing a month and i’ll have 2 outfits. One will be jeans and a black t-shirt of which both I already own. The 2nd outfit will be probably  black dress of some sort of which i’m yet to find (hopefully i’ll find something 2nd hand).

I will still wear whatever other items i want for pjs and running clothing for working out. And i’ll use whatever accessories I already own to dress things up.

So things I’m curious about exploring during this challenge:

  • Will I be able to find something second hand that i’ll be happy enough wearing as much as i will be during the challenge (ie is this kind of thing achievable for people not wanting to spend $100 on an outfit).
  • Will the washing routine be overly painful?
  • How long will it take for people in my life to notice (i’m not going to tell anyone I see day to day, not even my husband).
  • Will it be free-ing or will I feel that i need to spend more time thinking about accessorising than I currently do.
  • Is this something I might be able to do long term with an even more paired down wardrobe than i currently do (I already have a capsule wardrobe loosely following project 333).
  • How many things did i actually wear during the month? I will take note of all accessories and things like jackets and whatnot that i add to the core outfit.
  • And finally do ‘regular’ clothing hold up to this kind of use or would it really only be possible in the long term with hard wearing more quality, expensive items.
  • By the end of the challenge am I never wanting to wear the clothes again?

Ok so the challenge won’t be starting until i can find a suitable black dress or whatever that will work. This might be more difficult than it sounds given that i’d like to find one second hand and my body shape (top half) can make certain styles not fit me well so this can be at time challenging, probably why i haven’t regularly worn a dress in a few years! If that doesn’t work i’ll settle for a skirt and top.

Have you ever done anything like this before? I realise many people backpacking would and that is something i always enjoyed while travelling. But that is a little different of a type of context as others are probably going to be more understanding of you wearing the same thing every day (if they even notice) while travelling.

Anyway i’m quite excited about this new challenge and will post again once i’ve got together my 2 outfits.