Henry Thoreau evidently didn’t like clutter. Here is a quote from him written around the year 1845, which in itself is interesting for me. The quest for simplicity in the Western World was clearly an issue as far back as 170 years ago!
Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.
My own reasons for changing to a more natural way is described in my About page. And further along to June 2017 since reading Bea Johnson‘s book, Zero Waste Home, I have been inspired to read more on environmental issues and to explore different ways to simplify and to try harder…for my health, my home, the environment.
The book points to some critical issues:
Much of the world’s natural resources are under threat, yet as consumers we continue to buy and use petroleum based products, such as plastics, cleaning fluids and pesticides instead of looking for less harmful and preferably natural alternatives where possible. Research tells us that “the manufacture of plastic, as well as its destruction by incineration, pollutes air, land and water and exposes workers to toxic chemicals, including carcinogens.” (Quoted from). And looking around, we see that household incomes and world economies are in crisis, yet we continue to make poor choices regarding how we spend our money. All over the world people are struggling with health issues ranging from poor nutrition (in many countries there simply isn’t enough to eat, an issue which requires attention outside of this particular post), to cancers, auto-immune problems and other chronic and life threatening conditions, yet we continue to buy unwholesome, processed foods and also to bring toxic cleaning and personal products into our homes.
It seems clear to me that if our consumer habits directly affect our environment, our economy and our health, and that if we wish to see change for the better, then we need to ‘Be the Change’. One way to do this is to be aware that shopping is voting, and that we have the power to change our shopping habits and make better choices about what we bring in to our homes. Also, we can try to improve our efforts at home homes, such as looking beyond recycling if possible. Consider whether you might be wasting food being unnecessarily, or throwing out out items of clothing that could be repaired and reused, or go to a charity, instead of to landfill. Do we throw out used cooking or washing water that could rather go to our garden or indoor plants? Do we favour reusing glass pickle jars for food storage rather than buying more plastic? (See my post here on how to freeze in glass). And can we make better choices regarding our cleaning and personal products: either by purchasing eco-friendly products, or even making our own with simple, basic, affordable ingredients?
I have listed below some “key areas”, issues that are close to my head and my heart as I work at living with the intention of keeping things natural, simple, affordable and as “uncluttered” as possible:
Avoiding waste… Observe the 5R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
Simplicity… Don’t waste food: Save leftovers in the fridge or freezer and base your meal planning on what you already have, including leftovers.
Natural ingredients…avoid chemicals and synthetics in favour of safe natural ingredients, whether for eating, cleaning or in the shower!
Avoid plastic,… especially single use, such as drinking straws. There is plenty of available reading on the effect of plastics on human health, the environment and our sea animals, which you can research.
Animal rights…I choose to support Beauty Without Cruelty when making my purchasing choices. I don’t eat red meat at all and eat only locally farmed free range chicken.
Keep it local…Avoiding imports in favour of locally farmed or produced items is one way of reducing our carbon footprint.
Avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers: My garden at home is chemical free. We buy organic alternatives, such as all-natural liquid and granular fertilizers, use home made insecticides, and use epsom salts (magnesium sulphates) to give plants a boost of minerals. Most of our kitchen waste goes into making compost.
If you are new to “eco-wising”, it’s important not to set yourself up for failure by trying to be perfect! Also, you may feel that the extent of your responsibilities regarding home, children, work etc, is already enough to deal with, never mind setting up new routines and shopping habits in pursuit of Greenness. But remember that small changes count, and that it’s never too late to start. Start with something simple such as giving up your usual plastic wrapped, branded bread loaf, and instead buy a loaf from the bakery section of the supermarket. And ask for a brown paper bag to place it in, not a plastic bag . This will also save you money: a plain unbranded brown loaf is the cheaper option by far; where I live anyway :).
Its never too late to try, whatever our reasons and motivation for doing so….