This week I have been recovering from PRK surgery (today is 2 weeks post-op). I have also been working on a slew of pages on our website where I am updating title tags and META information, just to name a few updates. While I was performing these site updates, I got to thinking how I might be able to help the kids appreciate those who have less by actually living with less. It really is possible to live in one of our portable storage buildings or garages at an economical price, by the way.
Simplification? Less is More
Today, we had a discussion as a family of four regarding simplification. We are considering going very simple for one week and limiting ourselves in order to appreciate what we have and reduce our impact on the environment. Perhaps as a result of simplifying family life, we could make some semi-permanent or permanent changes after our experiment concludes, we shall see.
You said what? How can I go one week without checking my Clash of Clans or text messages? How can I survive without using packaging of any kind? What if I miss important text messages? Answers: online games are just that, online, and we can play cards or a board game as a family for entertainment. We do not have to use paper towels, cardboard packaging or plastic bottles to eat, drink and stay clean. Without text messages as communication, someone will just have to pick up the phone and give their friend a ring!
Materialism in general just seems to be a big issue all over the United States, especially compared to other parts of the world. Most urban areas of the USA are very modern and hardly any “small town” lacks for anything: almost everyone has the Internet, television, etc. It is very easy to see what other people have and personally want more of it because we don’t have it. Pretty soon, a snowball effect starts happening, where we either buy to much or try to compensate for materialistic desires in other ways. It is not what we have that is the problem, it is cultivating a desire for more more more! No matter what, the desire to be rich or have a bunch materially can and will catch us in a snare.
Side Note: In our family, we are not aesthetics, nor are we considering this limitation for any type of religious connections or any spiritual or emotional voodoo. We are not trying to deny ourselves to try to be psychotic; we merely want to see how we could benefit by considering what we already have; “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” kind of thing.
Here is a basic outline of what we are considering to reduce our family footprint for one week:
- No electronics such as TV, tablets, smart phones, etc. (since we work from home, we will heed to use the Internet to make a living but this electronics restriction applies to leisure time).
- Drink only water or herbal tea. This means that we would not have any caffeinated, sugary or sweetened beverages.
- Eat healthy, raw foods, no processed junk. Basically, by this I mean fruits and veggies and rice (as examples) but the food would not be “junk food”; having no chemicals or preservatives in it. We have a small garden already and we can make use of this space for fresh, healthy raw foods.
- Try not to use electricity: Obviously, I know we need to use electricity (again, since we work from home online, there is that). I just want to see how much we can limit our utility use, perhaps reducing the electric bill. Maybe we can save money and use candles after dark!
- No air conditioning: Summer is in full swing here in Georgia, so we would definitely feel the affects of turning off the AC, however I think it can be done. People used to live without air conditioning in this same hot, humid weather and many people still do!
- Limit shower time to 5-7 minutes per person: This saves hot water and what needs to be done to get clean can be accomplished within this time frame. Another hot water heater savings would be to only wash our clothing in cold water (which I already do).
- Each person keeps their own eating materials clean and simple: So we would have one of each of the following: fork, spoon, knife, plate, bowl and glass. Each family member would see to it that their utensils, etc. were washed and dried after each use. To cut down on the need to wash extra items, we would only use one of each per person for the week. If someone gets ready to eat and they are missing a fork for instance, then they have to go find their fork and make sure it’s clean before eating; they can’t just grab another fork and move on.
- Try to limit clothing use: By this I mean grabbing another clean shirt when the one we have on is perfectly fine. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we end up changing more than once per day and this would cut out the extra clothing use. Of course we would be clean but there are clothing items that can be re-worn before washing (not underwear of course!). This idea boils down to one week laundry cycles. We would start out the week with all clean clothing but not wash anything during the one week or wear more than one outfit per day.
- Use only natural items: Try not to use throw-away plastic bottles, paper towels, or items that have packaging.
I think trying out this idea would show our family that we can live on less while still seeing how much of an impact we have on the environment. Plus overall, as mentioned previously, I think we would learn to appreciate what we have more after this experiment was over. This is the kind of thing that can be learned much better by practice rather than explanation and at the very least we can say we tried something new and stuck with it fully for one week!
What are your thoughts about simplicity?
If you want to try living a more simple life and you are serious about downsizing, consider a “tiny house” idea with one of our economical portable buildings or insulated garages. Some people are very serious about the idea of living in extreme simplicity and having a home that it portable makes things even easier. You could still have water/sewer hookup, HVAC, electrical, etc. and enjoy a much smaller and more simplified, yet secure, abode.