what we have to gain when living with less

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I feel you – there are lots of reasons to believe you can’t succeed with a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Or that it’s not going to benefit you enough to balance out everything you’ll lose. People are always quick to embrace financial wellness, or physical health and fitness changes, where the personal benefits are obvious and immediate. Eco-friendly changes don’t come with as obvious personal gains.

I know you’ve wondered whether it’s worth it. I think we’ve been led astray a little bit by a culture and society that taught us from birth that we should be able to have whatever it is that we want, we should be able to have it conveniently, and we should be able to change our minds whenever we like – abandoning the old in favor of the new. We are actually so attached to these beliefs we forget they are beliefs. We accept them as truths instead and we forget to critically think about the negative impacts that our lifestyles may have.

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The result is that we’re probably all a little messed up about how we live in and on the earth. Now we are reasoning adults who aren’t so sure the earth can sustain all those rotten habits we grew up with. So we end up confused, and unsure, sometimes with more disbelief in ourselves than belief in our ability to change.

Some of the eco-resistant thoughts that I struggle with are:

  • I am going to get in so much trouble for being late for work if I can’t get there in under 5 minutes in my car [ I seem to have an extreme dawdling problem on workday mornings ]
  • Am I responsible for my live-in man-friend’s habits too?
  • Am I going to be miserable if I just keep cutting things out [ ie: meat, packaged anything, getting new things just because I want new things ]
  • How do I stay clean when even eco-friendly bathroom products still come wrapped in plastic?
  • Holy sh*t I forgot my bags – how many of my groceries can I fit in my purse / arms?

 

One of my favorite inspiring quotes – because of it’s simplicity, it’s positive focus, and it’s ‘let’s own this shit’-ness – is :

what we have to gain from living with less - if you don't like it change it if you can't change it change the way you think about it.png

And I’ve been batting that idea around in my head each time one of my defeatist ‘i can’t do this eco-thing’ thoughts comes up.

So what do you have to gain?

  1. Likely some muscle and fitness. If you put any effort into reducing your reliance on motor vehicle transportation you’ll find yourself walking more, skateboarding / biking / skating to your destination.

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2. Peace and quiet. When you train yourself to look away from all the shiny deals you don’t need you stop walking around believing that you don’t have enough, looking for something you can buy to make you more whole. Instead you know you are whole enough, and you only shop when needed.

3. Dolla bills yo – your bank account will likely benefit when you start thinking more critically about whether or not you ‘need’ that new __ ( fill in the blank ) ___ and more often than not you decide not to buy.

4.Quality. Now that you’ve decided not to buy unless you have to, you may also choose not to buy unless the item is intended to last. Hello high quality clothing, good bye fast fashion. Yes to well made furniture. See ya to plastic. You get the idea.

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5 thoughts on “what we have to gain when living with less

  1. AdorkableAnne says:

    Re: #2 peace and quiet. I love the intention behind the word “train.” I like to think of my minimalist/Eco-friendly lifestyle as a practice. A journey of self-improvement and not a destination. I may always struggle with the urge to shop impulsively or compulsively, but the gentle forgiveness of an “in training” perspective helps keep me (or get me back) on track.

    I think another gain is time. Less time spent shopping, managing clutter, and being distracted by fads and excess, means more time for meaningful hobbies, relationships, and creating a life worth living.

    Great post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kirstie says:

    Not just quality, but really loving the things you have. When your default is to not buy anything then you only let things into your life that really add something. Since I started trying not to buy much, the things I have bought have been things that always make me smile. 🙂 Another one is space – less clutter!

  3. Cathy MacKinnon says:

    I like your article Sarah. Very much! I was thinking about the movement to up cycle old furniture which is growing in leaps and bounds. I like to think that it’s because people are finally realizing that the older pieces were well made with real wood or wood veneers not some kind of manufactured crap that won’t even hold finish nails properly. Keep up the good work!

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