Should You Be Living a Simpler Life? Here’s Why You Need to Down-Size Today
I always loved that 70s show The Good Life where a couple aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible, growing their own vegetables and trading things they had for things they needed. Don’t get me wrong, I am a product of a commercial, materialistic society and therefore I waste a lot, and consume a lot as well. Things are disposable these days; appliances break after six months and clothes wear out after a few washes. Here are some things I am doing to cut back on being so wasteful, and move towards a more simple life.
Sell you old stuff
This is my new trick. A typical Libran lady, I have too many clothes. I don’t even buy very many, but for some reason, they multiply in my cupboard and before I know it, I wonder if I have started a fashion label in my closet without remembering. I aim to be a minimalist but because I have an eccentric personality and eclectic tastes I need both high-top sneakers and canary yellow stilettos; I need both ridiculous puffer jackets and sleek work blazers. In short – my wardrobe is always full.
Now when I buy an expensive item of clothing I keep the swing tags and sell the items on after only a few wears. There is a trend on eBay at the moment (and on other auction sites) to advertise an item as 90% new, or 50% new, so you can indicate how much wear it has had. Selling things on quickly retains their value and allows me to keep my wardrobe under control. Even if I get back 25% of the purchase price for an expensive item, it’s well worth it – and better for the environment.
Give your old stuff away
Can’t sell it? Then give it away! Luckily I have a bunch of gorgeous friends and a sister who are all within a few dress sizes of each other, meaning that I can pass on things I am tired with, happily receiving their cast-offs as treasure in return. Another thing I like to do is let someone keep something that suits them or their lifestyle more than it does mine, even if I need or like the item. By passing things on I welcome new things into my life. By holding onto material things, I clutter my energy with worry and possessiveness. If someone you know wants or needs something you can freely give them – give it to them.
Give things a new home
I find stuff. All the time. It’s amazing what people throw away. I have friends who can transform a piece of old furniture with a few cans of spray paint and a new cushion. Last week I rescued the most beautiful houseplant that someone had discarded near the rubbish removal area of our building. I brought her upstairs and now we’re great friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recycling your old furniture and getting use from what someone else has thrown away. I don’t care if people think less of me for this behaviour, it makes me feel great to give something a new lease of life.
If you’re going to the next suburb – don’t buy a bus ticket
I walk everywhere. This has the added bonus of being great for your figure. I love high heels but you won’t often find me wearing them because I don’t have a car and I like to be able to dash off quickly. I’m hard to catch. Not owning a car is growing in popularity, but it’s dependent on your city or town having reliable public transport, which my home town of Sydney has only in patches. People of London, I envy you, but I am committed (for now) to my ‘no car’ status. They are easy enough to hire if I need one for the weekend and I love the fact that I save thousands of dollars a year, which I can spend on other things (like a bigger house!).
Only buy what you need each day from the supermarket
Four tubes of toothpaste for $12? Eight kilos of cornflakes for $10? Isn’t that a bargain? Not on your nelly. While buying in bulk can be a savvy move if you are aware of exactly how much of a product you use (and in what time frame) and provided you have a place to store it – in general I am not a fan of buying in bulk. Having said that, if you have a large household, this makes total sense. I dislike this trend of the big supermarkets dictating to me how much I should be buying of something. I don’t care if it’s three-for-the-price-of-two…I only needed one today, thanks very much.
One of my high school buddies invented this fun game, which would work with children’s and kids’ clothes too. Everyone comes over to your house and brings a garbage bag of old clothes from their wardrobe that they want to get rid of. Everyone’s clothes are then put in a big pile in the middle of the room. With wine and chocolate as accompaniments, each chick then takes the time to choose an item from the pile (the good stuff always goes first!). Then, at the end, everyone has the chance to ‘swap’ items in their claimed pile and negotiate with the other guests (I’ll swap you these two sass and bide T shirts for that pair of faded Ksubi jeans?). At the end of the night everything that is unclaimed or unwanted goes straight to the charity bin so the host is not left holding onto a bunch of stuff.
Don’t keep things you don’t need
I used to keep all my old books because I thought that when people came into my house and saw 2000 dusty volumes they’d think I was very smart. Then I realised that I was holding onto hundreds of kilos of crap to satisfy my ego, and I got rid of 90% of my books – keeping only the ones I truly treasure. Did I do the right thing? I don’t know. Sometimes I miss my old books and there are definitely ones I shouldn’t have given away.
On the whole, I feel liberated. Anyone who has moved house knows that books are incredibly heavy and cumbersome, it’s basically like moving boxes of bricks. The real clincher came when I went to a friends’ parents’ house. They had recently moved to a pristine pad, decorated immaculately in creams and whites. They had bought new couches, new carpets, new curtains and everything looked fantastic, but in the corner of a room, stacked in dusty, faded clumps, were all their old books. I don’t mean valuable, first edition hard-copies, just rotten old paperbacks they probably hadn’t even opened since the 70s. I thought, “I do not want to be burdened by all my old crap forever.” I went home and started the purge.
What are you tips for living on the ‘lean’ any that I have missed?
Photo by NGUYENTUNG.Style© thank you