Living with Less Series - Blog #1

 Our garden this winter

Our garden this winter

It is funny how things become normal. For example, we don’t think it is different that we live in a shipping container or that we don’t own a TV or that we use a compost toilet, we just think this is normal. Maybe that is because of who we surround ourselves with and what we read and learn about or what we are now used to.

Lately we have had a few people contact us asking about different ways we live, so thought maybe we have some different ideas to share. Not saying at all that we are perfect or that our way is the right way to live (is there a right way? NO!) just that someone may be encouraged or become more aware of something they didn’t know before.

I thought I would write down some ways that we live with less in a three blog series. The first will be on simplifying. The second will talk about how we try to reduce our waste and in the third we will discuss our property and our dreams for it.

Simplicity, simplifying, streamlining, decluttering…

These are the founding principles I believe to living with less, and I’m not just talking about posessions!  Taking inspiration, especially from Be Zero Waste Girl, we have been simplifying a lot lately.

Because clutter makes us unorganized, overwhelmed, and distracted!

Simplifying our wants and needs first and foremost can declutter our mind and our thoughts!

From the outside we live a pretty simple life – live in a small home, we garden, value zero waste principles and an organic, permaculture “living off the land” attitude. However; about 8 months ago I felt pretty overwhelmed by everything I thought I HAD to do to live as a “permaculturalist” and have a simple life. And then I realized that actually we weren’t living simply at all, we were stressed, unorganized and spreading ourselves too thin.

Our first step was to simplify and evaluate our wants and needs so that they were aligned with our core values and truths. These core values that drive us include our tagline for Crafty Gatherer ‘back to homesteading basics’ and our motto: Simple. Sustainable. Solutions. We needed to bring these values for our business and our life back to the forefront.  When we don’t align with these (and other truths we have) we know we feel crappy and unmotivated, but when we do – we thrive.  

  A lot of the above are our truths we try to live by.

A lot of the above are our truths we try to live by.

One of our decisions we made to simplify our needs, was that it was crucial we get Marco to drop his days down so that we could get things going on the land and give Crafty Gatherer a good go! So that the night shifts would become rarer and life could slow down a bit in that aspect. Marco will drop down to three days a week in a couple of months and I have started back at work for 2 days a week, a decision we made for the future.

Another example of some simplifying we carried out was working through my conflict of homesteading and living frugal; therefore, my thought that I had to make everything myself.  I now understand that I can make small changes towards this, but that I also value supporting local people (who make/do it better than me anyway). I decided it would be a lot simpler for me to buy some things e.g local organic bread and soaps with no packaging. And you know what one day I will make these myself again, one day….but not this week!

Once we had simplified/decluttered some of our wants and needs to simple goals that were attainable – I have then started going through room by room over the last few months and decluttering our house.  Giving what doesn’t resonate with us or make us happy to opshops, friends or selling on trademe.

Decluttering posessions is a conscious exercise of what we want to surround ourselves with, it means less to tidy up after each day, it means when we do purchase something we are buying with intent and reason. Because consumerism isn't bad, we are all consumers! BUT our goal is to put value back into what we are consuming.

I am lucky I have a handy hubby who can make a lot of stuff, which is one of our values, we also barter and trade quite a bit as well as borrow. When we do buy though, we value the fact that there is already a lot in this world so buy second hand most of the time; otherwise, we value craftsmanship, local, plastic free, organic, ethical (treated fairly and earnt a livable wage!) etc... We know that our purchasing power influences social and environmental change and want our purchases to reflect these values too.

We don’t want to caught up in perfection or hold onto our values so tightly that we don’t relate to others.  But I will say it again here, if we aren’t living our truths that we know in our heart, we feel cranky and unguided, when we do, the picture for the day, week seems clear. I hope that makes sense to someone, and that you evaluate what your truths are for yourself.

Family, friends and community are bloody important too, simplifying friends to those who encourage you, those who teach you, those who make you laugh and those that you respect will help declutter life as well!

Three key things to take from this blog:

  1. Simplify your wants and needs, this means decluttering your mind to focus on your true values in life.
  2. Simplify your possessions to those that resonate with you and make you happy, experiences rather than possessions are far better than buying into the economic model of waste that is damaging our earth!
  3. Simplify your consumerism values means you align your truths and concentrate on all you are grateful for and feel much more content in that instead.

These are the first steps we believe in living with less (we hope we have convinced you why this is a good idea too!) These steps will then in turn help to reduce your waste which will be the next blog coming out soon…..