J and I had (have?) a dream of starting a magazine. It’s called Live Simply and it’s a gorgeous idea. What I have realized – in this year of dreaming and fantasizing about it – is the reality of it isn’t as ‘live simply’ as we wanted.
My thought is – and J, you can chime in – combine Flannelberry with Live Simply. Flannelberry Farm has always been an experiment in simple, sustainable living. So, for now, this is my solution. It could be we’ll get it up and running in the future but for now, it doesn’t seem simple!
To start off, here are my top 10 “Live Simply” thoughts. These are the ways we are (or are trying) to live a simple, sustainable life.
1) Have what you use, use what you have. – It’s pretty simple. For me, I’ve noticed I buy groceries on sale but it’s not necessarily what we use. I’m not doing that (as much) anymore.
2) Cut the chaff. Do you need that extra trip to town? Can the milk wait until tomorrow when you’re going in anyway? We’ve cut those as much as possible. The other chaff we’re cutting it water and power consumption – hanging out the laundry, reusing our grey water, making our own soap that’s and plant friendly. Cut the power consumption, the packaging and the fossil fuels – as much as possible. If it uses those things, your paying for that.
3) Make things. Make food, make clothes. The more you make – and especially out of things you already have or can get cheap, the less it’s going to cost you.
4) Grow things. If my sister can do it, so can you. She has a teeny, tiny balcony. For years she’s grown things in pots and containers on that teeny, tiny balcony and done amazingly well. Not only is she contributing to the greening of the world, she’s also helping out pollinators.
She just recently got a plot of land that she’s gardening. No, she doesn’t have kids but she has a few jobs and is incredibly busy. If she can do it, we can all do it.
5) Join a CSA. Really- does more need to be said? If you don’t know what one is, here’s the snap shot. It’s a partnership with a farmer or group of farmers in which all of the partners have a stock in the farm. We pay up front, they grow the food and we get it. They try to guarantee amounts and we guarantee we’ll get it if there’s something that devastates the crops. In short – we all risk and (in my opinion) we all benefit. If you’ve never done it, try it. You will find it connects you to farming, food and agriculture in ways you could never imagine. One of my my favourite things is that now we can read the farm blogs (this is a great one). They don’t update all of the time but the photos are great and you get a sense of the farm.
6) Work where you love, not neccessarily where you make the most money. I’m finally learning this. I work in a place that doesn’t pay the best and doesn’t have primo benefits but, right now I’m attending a staff meeting by teleconference and writing this. That is the coolest thing. And I work with excellent people who are truly incredible and inspiring.
7) Learn a craft – and make what you do to give people gifts. Fibre Arts (I know a great yarn shop that ships internationally), sewing, quilting, canning, baking, planting, building. We all have skills – find yours, hone them, use them.
8) Walk places. You don’t need to drive. If you have a baby, you likely have a great stroller. Push baby in the stroller. I know lots of you live out of town. A stroller and a backpack work really well to do errands. Park in a central location and do as much as you can on foot. And bike when you can. I have a crazy ride home – crazy – steep grade, painful, Up until health problems struck, cycling was a given. I’m getting back to it now. I know it’s difficult- maybe even impossible – to do it regularly, frequently, often – but do it once. Once a pay period do something different. Work from home, bike, walk or ride share in to work. It will save you money and save our environment.
This ties in for me to the idea of going to a gym. I am amazed at the number of people I know who don’t go for a walk or a run or a ride but who spend time and money at a gym. Take that time and the money and do something else with it. Yes, I know – it’s not just cardio. Do something like this – there’s situps (crunches, really), push ups, squats etc. You can’t tell me that doing something like that, with something else cardio/weight bearing and maybe yoga or tai chi wouldn’t give you what a gym would – for free.
9) Wear your old clothes. I know hoarding is a bad word but when it’s done well, it’s not. My Gran threw nothing out. Like many of her age (raised during WWI and the Depression) she had a strong sense of the value of things. She was burying her eggshells in the garden long before composting was trendy – or harvesting/foraging blackberries etc. from the lane ways around her house. And she always had an awesome garden that we ate out of all of time and looked fantastic.
Sorry – tangent. Back to old clothes. My Gran kept her summer and winter clothes separate. She didn’t get rid of clothes because she was bored of them – or even because they didn’t fit (she’d have them tailored or step up the exercise and scale down the treats -for her weight wasn’t as much about vanity as practicality). You can do that. Things actually last when you take even a little bit of care of them.
Part of that is kids – they’re expensive to clothe. If you can partner with people around you, you can get a bit of a kids clothing co-op going. Among our group of friends we manage to share a bit of clothes around. Even if it’s a couple of things a year, it’s a couple less things to buy. Of course accompanying this is – thrift shops and sales. I buy nice clothes for my little guy. But I buy on sale. I mean really on sale, not a little on sale. And when he’s done with them, I share them around. Most of our friends do the same. It makes a big difference.
We do that with sports equipment (buying out of season with huge discounts). It’s really not the end of the world to wait a season or two to get what you want. And I guess that’s part of it – remembering most of these things are want, not need.
10) Realize everything costs and decide how you want to pay. Whether you’re at home gardening to raise food to feed yourself and/or your family or at the office which means you’re going to be stopping by the grocery store/take away place because you’re rushing off again, you’re paying. Find the most non-soul sucking way to pay and do that.
Now – my teleconference and I are heading out to the garden.