Simple Living: Where to Start

Photo from Creative Commons

Photo from Creative Commons

In recent years, millions of people have downsized. Some people started on the path to simplicity based on economic necessity, while others have voluntarily simplified to put their lifestyles more in line with their ideals and goals. With the green movement going mainstream and “simplicity as a lifestyle” becoming more common, I’m frequently asked “where do I start?” My answer? Start at home, right now.

The easiest way to make your current home more efficient and clutter-free? Start by going back to basics: the 3 R’s. Think about them carefully. The first R is the most important: reduce. Reduce your possessions by eliminating the non-essentials and only keeping items you truly use and love. You don’t have to go minimalist overnight — each item you can offload is one less thing you have to clean, store and maintain, so don’t go crazy thinking you have to do it all right now. The important thing is just to get started. The second R, reuse, is the next most important. Before you run to the store for every “I need,” take a look around and see what you already have that you can repurpose or “multipurpose” to get the job done. The third R, recycle, is your reminder to take care as you shed extra possessions and get rid of the excess responsibly — sell or give away usable items so everyone has what they need, and recycle unusable items that might otherwise go into the landfill.

I know it’s not possible to cut out consumption entirely — that isn’t the point. Going forward, we need to learn to consume responsibly. Before you buy, ask yourself, “Do I really need this? Can I get by without it, or do I have something already that will make do? Can I borrow or rent it? Is this item worth the time I had to put in to make the money to buy it?” The same questions can be asked as you declutter your current possessions as well. Asking yourself a few questions with items you handle daily (and especially items in your home or office you don’t use regularly) can help you cut through the marketing and find the place where you see what you really need, what you really want, and what’s just extra. Take time today to consider what is enough.

Comments

  1. Great post, and timely too! I’ve been looking through bins and bins of crap trying to find basic summer stuff for my kids – beach toys, outdoor games, bike helmets, etc, and for every unrelated and ridiculous item I find I’ve had to ask myself WHY it is in the way of the things I really need right now. I definitely need to streamline the excess, but I have to be willing to give myself time to do it so I don’t drive myself crazy.

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