I’m going to take a step or two back. And explain the “simple” in the My Simple Home experiment. I’d like to be clear.
You’ll notice the series is not called “My Minimalist Home”. Minimalism is a righteous aesthetic, but not always practical. All those ardent minimalists out there can be painful. And their all-in-one gadgets can cost a bomb. I really enjoyed reading this Slate article on how minimalism isn’t sustainable….and how the original minimalist zealots have backed off on their message to something…simpler. You might like this fresh perspective too.
I don’t call it “My Green Home” either. Sustainable timber and chemical-free options are great. But generally green home features and rants suggest more buying…More Stuff, albeit derived from new-growth shrubbery. It’s consumerism dressed up in hemp clothing.
You’ll also notice I don’t speak of “Decluttering”. Decluttering denotes chucking stuff out, and often perfectly good things that are then replaced by a less cluttery version of the original. And complemented by a visit to The Storage Shop to buy a whole heap of containers and filing solutions. Which is More Stuff.
Instead, I’ve gone the simple slant. Simple is minimalist, green, decluttered, low waste, practical, economical and all the rest of that good stuff rolled into one. Well it should be.
Simple has as its mantra one word: less.
Go to the shops less. Buy less. Consume less. Recycle less (recycling should be a last resort). Less furniture. Less gadgets. Use up what you have first. Improvise. Make do. Use the same thing for two purposes. Need less.
Recently Leo Babauta listed what he didn’t own over on mnmlist. I’ve decided to do the same, as prompted by his elegant list.
I don’t own:
A toaster (I use the oven grill)
Paper towels (I lick my fingers)
An electric jug. I use a kettle on the stove top.
Books that I’m not going to pass on to friends (I’ve written about this before.)
Candles, knick-knacks that don’t serve a purpose or have sentimental value, scatter cushions.
Tissues (I use loo paper)
Debt (I save up, then I buy)
A DVD player (I use my laptop)
Gears on my bike
A heater (although I’ll be getting one shortly…but only the one. I prefer thick socks and jumpers)
Air-conditioning and fans (in hot weather I sleep with wet sheets and a wet flannel)
An eReader/tablet (my phone and laptop are enough for now. I’ve written on this before.)
Hair styling products (I use salt water)
A gym membership (I run, do yoga, ride my bike)
Coffee table books
Books about books or decluttering
My own yoga mat (never have had one, not in 21 years of doing yoga twice a week)
Nail polish, polish remover, cotton balls
Magazines or newspapers (I’ve never bought a magazine in my life)
Exfoliator (I, seriously, use sand when I’m at the ocean.)
More than one of the following: beach towel, chopping board, running shorts5
More than two of the following: bikinis, running bras, socks
More than three of the following: bras, serving/salad bowls, kitchen knives, saucepans, necklaces, rings
The above does not make me a better person. But it does make my life easier and more elegant. I save time from not going to the shops. On weekends I get out of town and do fun things instead. I save angst not deliberating whether I should buy something. I either really need it, or I just don’t. I don’t have to tidy much. Or look for things. Over the next few months I will have to buy a few more things. Like a couch (nope, I don’t own one), and some plates (I own four) and some wine glasses (I drink out of some antique vases). But at each step I will endeavour to keep things simple.
A small update: I appreciate all this can sound awfully pious. I will stress that I do this “simple” stuff, in part, – and here’s the caveat – because I do happen to get given/sent/offered a lot of stuff. Which I resist and discourage. I guess it’s a reaction to this excess. And perhaps to off-set it. A commenter below made the point I probably don’t own a hairdryer because I get my hair done professionally. This is a little true. I do TV appearances weekly and can usually stretch out one of their blowies for a few days. I also got given two of my bras…four years ago. And I get sent a lot of books…which I give away. I was given my one chopping board…it’s not what I’d choose myself…but I stick with it rather than buying another…
Anyway, I was thinking you might benefit from my list, and from thinking about what you can use up and not replace. How you can do “less”…feel to share your suggestions on what you use in a dual purpose kinda way below…