28 June 2016

Not buying and loving it

Maybe you, like me, have noticed a new trend of minimalism. As in, "I have four shirts and three pairs of pants and own a total 100 things and this has made me productive and calm". Some of them are even making money out of it.

I will never be that minimalist.

But I think I can move towards it. What I love about the concept is (a) not buying stuff, and (b) things looking tidier and cleaning becoming easier (and we could do with a bit more cleanliness and tidiness around here).

A surface that's been decluttered (kind of)

Not buying

There is also talk of the world having reached peak 'stuff'. However, looking at the tonnes of attractive and enticing crap available from shops (I am especially looking at you, $2 shops, The Warehouse, Farmers and Briscoes, but there are more), I am doubtful. When I drive past the queues of cars trying to get into crowded Briscoes/Rebel Sports carparks on sale days, I become highly skeptical. I'd be delighted if it was true. So would the waterways in China.

But here in our house in our corner of Hamilton, we have definitely reached peak 'stuff'. I am no longer even going into op shops without a shopping list. At the moment the list comprises a roasting dish (in which to put scraps for our chickens), a front door mat, a dartboard and attractive long sleeved cotton or linen collared shirts to keep the sun off my poor pale, freckly skin in summer. Without a list it is just too easy to accumulate more stuff, especially when it's cheap. I have no doubt that the fairy godmothers of the op shops will deliver. After all, the minimalists and the over-consumers are sending their stuff there these days.

This book case is next in line for some minimalising.
The Red Cross bookfair will benefit.


Speaking of cheap, I am feeling exceedingly so at the moment, which is definitely contributing to the not-buying kick I'm on. Not so much cheap, but frugal, spurred on by the marvelous Frugalwoods blog. This youngish couple who live in Vermont, USA, are so frugal that I'd have to take food supplements with me if I went to visit (by which I mean actual food, not vitamins or something). Yes, they are lean, but fit, healthy and super smart, and headed for retirement at the ripe old age of 33.

They've just moved house, and I'm not sure about their heating plans for their coming winter, but for the previous ones in snowy Massachusetts they've heated their house to just 14 degrees C overnight and 16 degrees during the day in order to control heating costs. I must point out that I write this, admiringly, while basking in about 25 degree heat from our wonderful woodburner. I'm a weakling in the cold and I know it. However, it puts me in a better frame of mind about our frigid master bedroom, which the woodburner's heat can't reach, and is probably quite often only 14 degrees C. Thankfully global warming has meant it's so far been entirely bearable this year (I don't mean that: global warming sucks).

Our cat shares my love of winter warmth.

As Mrs Frugalwood points out, we can pretend we're like the Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie. Of course, we are far better off: midwest America in midwinter in an unheated attic bedroom would probably mean my Raynouds-diseased fingers would drop off.

Doing without

However I think we could all do with the dose of the Ingalls. Were they so much less happy than us with our fancy cheese (or any cheese at all), cashew nuts, gourmet potatoes, fish oil and cacao nibs? What we do know is that they were lean and strong, and that Laura Ingalls died in her 90s. (They also had no immunisations and some of them had terrible long term complications from illnesses that we no longer have to bear - thank you, modern medicine.)

I'm sure they, like most humans, would delight in being able to afford all the goodies in our shops. And yet they would have been disgusted at what it's done to our environment. We, however, have been like the frog heated slowly in water: it's hard to notice that it's getting hot. The writing I've been doing recently about New Zealand birds has highlighted to me how very much we've lost, much of it in the last 150 years. So I'm stepping back further than ever before from consumerism. And instead of it being hard, I feel better. An under-the-surface burden seems to have been lifted, and I like it.

So thanks all the same, but don't ask me to go shopping. Unless it's to an op shop with a good stainless steel roasting dish.

Loving our clean, junk-free beaches.

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