Have you ever looked up from your phone or laptop, and realized that you’ve spent hours stuck down the rabbit hole of social media?
I quit Facebook a few years ago, and before I knew it, I was addicted to Twitter.
Then I stopped posting on Twitter so much because I was wasting so much time there, and I got addicted to Instagram.
These days, I’m on a variety of social media, and it often feels more of a burden than a pleasure.
I often feel like I have to check my feeds, even when I don’t want to.
Social media in your life
If you take stock and be honest…
– Do you ever feel worried about what you’re missing out on, if you don’t keep up with your feeds? I do.
– Do you ever ignore your kids, partner or other family members because you’re “busy” reading social media? I have.
– Have you ever reached for your phone and read social media when you’re with friends or family, instead of communicating face-to-face with them? I have.
– Do you ever worry about how many “Likes” you’ll get, and find yourself checking a post over and over again to see who has “Liked” it? I have.
– Do you ever worry about what people will comment? I have.
– Do you ever worry about saying politically incorrect things or upsetting delicate or sensitive readers? I do.
– Do you ever feel like social media is the biggest waste of time in your life, and that you could spend that time on far more productive, positive things instead of social media if you weren’t on it? I do.
I notice that the popular people on social media say politically correct, unchallenging things, and they don’t ruffle feathers.
I’m a feather-ruffler by nature, and find the social media stifling to my free thought and free speech. Do you ever feel that way too?
Social media often feels like a race to the bottom, rather than a sharing of great ideas and actions. Does it ever feel that way to you?
Social media isn’t all bad
There’s nothing wrong with social media in itself, but it is very addictive for most of us.
What that means is, we spend so much time on social media, we often don’t prioritise what is truly important in our lives, and we spend hours trawling through social media instead.
So this month – this March – I’m quitting social media. Just for one month. Just for 31 days.
No anything else.
Take a break
If you’d like to join me and experience what real life is like without social media, feel free to copy the image on this page, and post it on your own feed. Then say goodbye to your social media for 31 days.
Remove social media apps from your phone if it helps. That’s what I’ve just done.
Take a breath of fresh air.
Enjoy the view.
Enjoy the free time.
You don’t have to take a snap or share anything or add any filters or look for the best angle this time. This time, just for 31 days, your life will belong to yourself again.
It feels like I’ve been dressing with a 33 item capsule forever. I’m really happy dressing this way, and I wouldn’t go back. Here’s why:
I have everything I need. A smaller wardrobe means I can keep track of my clothing easier. Prior to dressing with a capsule, my wardrobe was stuffed with clothing but I never seemed to have anything to wear. Now, no matter the occasion, I can find something to suit my needs.
My clothing is better quality. Having fewer items means I can spend more per item on better quality. These days, although my total costs are low per year, my wardrobe costs of natural fibres, smaller boutique brands and quality individual pieces. I don’t need to shop at discount stores any more, because I don’t need as many items.
My clothing lasts longer. Because my clothing is better quality, it lasts longer. Many of my clothing items are 5 years old, or older. I typically get several seasons from each item.
Capsule wardrobes are more sustainable. Dressing with less is more sustainable because I’m throwing less away each season, and getting more wear from what I do have. I don’t need to buy “fast fashion” and instead look for natural fabrics and locally-made items.
I dress better. I’ve never been a fashionista. Instead, I always struggled with fashion and clothing, and often looked slobby, because I felt uncomfortable dealing with fashion and style. A capsule wardrobe has enabled me to find my own sense of style that works for me, and better quality clothing helps me dress better overall. Almost everything I have works with everything else and it’s easy to look put together.
I love dressing with my capsule wardrobe and wouldn’t go back to shopping carelessly, like I did before.
You can check out what’s in my Capsule by licking on the links on my blog here. Every 3 months I’ve given a complete list of what I own, spanning the last 4 years.
Do you wear a capsule wardrobe? What benefits, if any, does it give you?
The Zero Waste life is eyeballing me. I can’t look away.
On Sunday night our family sat down, as we always do, to watch David Attenborough. It was Blue Planet 2. If you haven’t tuned in yet, I can’t recommend the series strongly enough.
Sir David, for the first time that I can remember, drew his attention to plastic in our oceans.
Mother pilot whale grieves her dead calf - The Blue Planet II: Episode 4 preview - BBC One - YouTube
This issue has been on my mind for some time now. I go walking on the beach regularly. Even though I live in southern New Zealand, about as far from the large populations of the world as you can get, I find plastic rubbish to take with me when I leave.
Every time I walk, I “take 3 for the sea”, yet there is always more than I take, much more than I can carry.
I take 3 for the sea every time I walk, but it’s just a drop in the ocean…
The thought of what lies beneath the waves of the world disturbs me. The beach – the ocean – is a place I have always come to in my life for peace and reflection. It’s a place I visit to collect my thoughts, to meditate and relax.
The sound of the water and the smell of the salt soothes me. It’s my heart place, the place I feel safe and calm.
Sometimes tragedies grow in your mind, looming larger, until they become so personal that they engulf you and you have to act.
This is what has happened to me. The tragedy of our oceans has become my tragedy.
So over the next year, our family will reduce our waste. I will reduce our waste. I don’t know if we’ll get down to the mason jar levels I’ve seen by the Zero Waste community of the world, but we’ll do what we can. I’ll talk about it, here at this blog.
This is my call to arms, and I’ve called others in too. It’s good to know I’m not alone. We’re building a community here in Dunedin, with our first meeting next week. All of us feel the same way and want to see change happen locally. We’ll support each other, encourage each other, and hopefully bring a few more on board. Create change for the better.
I’m not a granola-eating hippie. I don’t bake my own bread, make my own clothes or smoke pot (lol). I’m just an ordinary person who loves the beach and wants the beaches to stay beautiful for her great-grandchildren. Doesn’t everyone want these things?
So I’ll dare use the great words: we shall fight on the beaches. I don’t think Churchill would have minded me using his quote, because it’s time to make changes for his great-grandchildren too.
Minimalism is a journey. Like a road or a river, it can sweep you off your feet and carry you away with the changes it makes in your life.
I became a minimalist four years ago. Since then, I’ve been blogging here at Simple Living…With Kids. I’ve learned so much. My life has completely transformed.
In those four years, I’ve sold a farm, ended a marriage, found a new partner, and sold approximately 90% of my belongings.
I dared to ask: What makes me truly happy?
The answers I found surprised me. Nothing that makes me happy comes from stuff, from owning, or from status.
All the answers that consumerism typically gives us didn’t – don’t – work for me.
For me, happiness comes from doing my own life well.
Using my own skills well.
Being a great mother, partner and friend.
Being a truthful, diligent writer.
Being responsible, honest and caring.
Being accountable for my own actions and words.
Being the best person I can be.
These are old-fashioned concepts, and I believe there’s a resurgence happening all around us just beginning.
This gives me hope.
Minimalism is a doorway
We begin with minimalism, with simple living. What then?
Once we lose the clutter, clarity begins.
I’m beginning to understand that I am just a small part of this amazing world. Life is about so much more than buying stuff and blending in to the crowd with the right fashions and a big mortgage.
Minimalism is leading me to a powerful love for the world around me, particularly the oceans. It leads me to a strong desire to protect them.
I’m developing an interest in Zero Waste living, and I’m pushing myself to reduce my footprint live sustainably.
My family are right there with me, guiding me, sharing these concerns.
I pick up plastic rubbish with my partner’s twelve year old daughter.
I watch videos on sustainability with my thirteen year old son.
I assist my partner as he sells plastic-free products at local markets, and I watch my daughter as she learns about sea animals.
Together, as a family, we’re learning to shop at the bulk store and reduce our rubbish that we put out on the kerb each week.
We’re taking small steps, but together our journey continues.
I was contacted by Greenpeace earlier this week. I’d signed a petition to ban plastic bags, and I think they figured I might be willing to donate and support them financially.
I wasn’t willing to do that, as I focus my financial support in another direction (KidsCan NZ), but I did have an interesting discussion with the Greenpeace representative about plastic waste and the problems it presents for our environment.
The Greenpeace ‘ban the bag’ campaign. A great idea – plastic bags are a huge problem. But Greenpeace is offering no ideas of what to replace bags with!
‘Single use’ bags are really dual-purpose bags
The argument you’ll hear against banning bags in New Zealand is that people re-use them for their rubbish bins, and this is true. Again and again I hear, If we ban the bags, people will just have to buy them instead. ‘Glad’ and other plastic bag makers will be thrilled. Their profits will soar. And ordinary folk will have yet another item they have to buy which once was free.
There are a lot of poor people in this country. The last thing they need is to pay for rubbish bags. I’m a keen environmentalist but I also feel strongly for families struggling to make ends meet.
I asked the Greenpeace Rep on the other end of the phone what suggestions she had for people to use for their rubbish instead of the single use shopping bags. She had none. None at all!
In my view this is pretty pathetic – if you’re going to ask people to change, you MUST offer an option for them to change to. People do love the environment and want to help, but they hate feeling like it’s a choice between feeding their kids and being ‘green’.
It shouldn’t ever be a choice! We should all be able to support our planet and do the right thing – and we should all be able to save money in the process. Being green shouldn’t only be an option for rich people. It should be for everyone.
‘Being green shouldn’t just be an option for rich people. It should be achievable for everyone.’
I pointed out that we can’t just put our rubbish in the bin without bagging it. It’ll fly all over the street and make a mess. She agreed. We also can’t go ‘zero waste’ – we’re a family with four kids in a country town on a budget and the plain fact is, we use products that have packaging.
While it’s a good thing to lobby companies to use less packaging and to choose items with less packaging, change will take time in that direction and in the meanwhile, families will continue to produce plastic waste that needs bagging.
So yes, I support Greenpeace’s ban on single-use bags, but realistically I don’t think it will happen. If Greenpeace is not offering any alternative solutions, the problem of plastic bags won’t be solved by their ban even if it works – it’ll just be transferred. Instead of free plastic bag waste we’ll have bought plastic bag waste instead. We might have fewer, but the problem will remain.
I don’t have answers beyond what we already do. We have chickens to use our food waste – and they do this brilliantly. We compost everything the chooks won’t eat. We recycle everything we can. We buy bulk when we can to cut packaging further. We burn most of our cardboard and paper waste in the fireplace for extra heat in winter. So most of the unsorted waste that goes to landfill is plastic.
We have chickens which take care of almost all of our food waste. We compost the rest of our rubbish, recycle or burn it, so virtually the only rubbish going to landfill these days is plastic.
It’s clear to me that society is improving. We’re getting better. But we have a long way to go. And one thing is clear – you can’t successfully ban plastic bags without having a genuine alternative for all people, wealthy and poor, to switch to.
Early this year, I sold a small organic farm on the outskirts of our city, and moved back into the suburbs.
Our farmhouse in the morning. It was idyllic, beautiful…and not sustainable.
I didn’t really have a choice, to be honest. I was divorcing, and the place needed to be sold for financial reasons anyway.
But prior to that, being on the farm for nearly a decade had made me rethink what sustainability means, and how we can move forward in a world that seems intent on, well, not moving forward much at all.
Petrol…the fly in the ointment
We were extremely car-dependent at the farm. There was no public transport. The nearest supermarket, bank, school – all of it was a drive away. There were no buses or trains. This was a huge hurdle to sustainability.
I was routinely spending $100 a week on petrol, and my partner was spending the same. Getting around drained our energy, our time, and our finances.
It was lovely living on the farm and having heaps of space – and animals! – but there was a lot of work behind the scenes that I didn’t expect and that cost a lot as well.
Did I make a mistake moving to a farm? No. But I don’t think that type of lifestyle is the way forward for humanity, as a whole.
It’s appealing, and it stirs in us a vision of an idyllic past, but it’s not practical for a sustainable future.
The present…around the corner to everything
When my new partner and I bought a home this year for our four kids (two of his, two of mine), we bought a very, very walkable home.
Our new house and garden from the rear. It’s in a lovely sunny spot, central and walkable to everything.
The bank is a two minute walk around the corner. There’s a park just across the road. The supermarket is five minutes’ walk, with shops and cafes and restaurants in-between.
Our Walkscore at our new home is 74. That translates as “Very Walkable. Most errands can be accomplished on foot.”
By comparison, our Walkscore at the farm was 0. “Car-Dependent. Almost all errands require a car.”
The difference is striking. Our kids walk to school, unless the weather is bad. My partner can walk to work – and does. I can walk into the city, or a bus runs right past our door every few minutes.
Most days I don’t use the car much, if at all.
I’d been wondering how I’d possibly be able to stay at the farm should I ever stop driving. Living here, that’s never an issue, because I simply don’t need to be able to drive.
What does sustainable really mean?
There’s no point in running an organic farm if you’re using three tanks of petrol every week to get anywhere.
You’re trashing the planet, no matter how organic your veggies are!
By comparison, the suburbs can be more sustainable if you live with a large group of people together, share your energy costs, walk for a lot of your journeys, and the journeys you do need a car for are short.
Plus, from a purely financial point of view, I’m not spending massive amounts of money on petrol every month. I don’t particular want to make oil companies richer. Does anyone?
Of course there’s more to being sustainable than petrol and cars. Suburban chickens, worm farms, backyard fruit trees, and an unpackaged, locally-produced diet can all play a part.
Suburban chickens can play a role in sustainability.
So can handing-down clothes, buying locally-manufactured clothing or secondhand, using a capsule wardrobe, and limiting imports.
A capsule wardrobe can be a part of modern sustainability.
Finally, reducing family size through access to contraception, ease of access to abortion, education, and solid welfare support all play a role, as can voting on environmental lines and social welfare concerns.
Moving forwards to a new sustainability
I’m not sure what genuine sustainability will look like in the future. But, looking back, I know what it isn’t.
I know we need to reduce car usage, and we need to make our cities more walkable, and lobby to make public transport better and easier to use.
Perhaps we need to open our minds to new ideas, and discard old dreams that don’t fit with a modern reality.
My farm was lovely, and it was organic but sustainable?
No. I can’t say that.
However, I hope our new home in the suburbs might be…one day.
The Project 333 is a Capsule Wardrobe system. It asks us to dress with 33 items, or fewer. The rules are fairly simple:
33 items or fewer in your wardrobe. This includes jewelry, shoes, outerwear and other accessories. Vision glasses, wedding rings and religious items are exempt.
Sleepwear, workout wear, underwear, in-home only wear is not included. In my case, I’ve created a “10 items or fewer” Workout Wardrobe, that I use for workouts only. I also have items like nighties, ugg boots and a robe that I only wear at home (of course!).
You can box up seasonal wear to keep safe for the next year. This doesn’t count in your 33 items. For me, as it’s winter in New Zealand at the moment, I’ve boxed up my light denim jacket and a couple of dresses, which I won’t wear until summer again.
Stepping off the fast fashion train with a capsule wardrobe
Having a capsule wardrobe enables me to step away from the crazy, unsustainable world of fast fashion.
For a long time I’d had issues with the way fashion was going. Clothing was becoming poorer and poorer quality, while the stories of child labour and sweatshops were hard to ignore. I’m not a full-blown activist, but I wanted what I wore to reflect who I am. And who I am is NOT someone who supports cruelty and abuse.
Fast fashion is designed for profit, not for those who wear it or those who make it. It is cheap to buy, per item, but expensive in the long term. It is not designed to last or look good. Much like a drug hit, it give a quick “buzz” then the thrill is gone, forcing the user to move on to the next hit, then the next.
My capsule wardrobe from a few years ago. Some items have changed, but I still dress with less.
What I wear, what I buy…
These days, about half of my wardrobe is made locally. I buy locally made merino tops that I layer, and I stick closely with a color code of blue and black, with some brights in accessories for interest.
I’m also a fan of secondhand, recycled jewelry. I often pop down to the local Hospice shop, where I pick up cheap jewelry for a couple of dollars apiece. I wear it, then when I’m bored of it I donate it back and buy a replacement from the Hospice shop again. In this way, I’m sharing what I have, and I have an endless supply of great, recycled jewelry I don’t have to store or maintain! It’s a winning strategy!
Inside my drawer. A color code of blue, green and black helps me keep organised.
How a Capsule Wardrobe will change your life
Take a step away from fast fashion. Fast fashion is trashing our planet and hurting people and economies. Taking a step away from the madness is a positive move for everyone.
Buy fewer clothes. Less money wasted, less time spent shopping. More cash left for the things that really count.
A co-ordinated, planned wardrobe. Fewer items are easier to co-ordinate. I also have a color code – blue and black form the basis of everything I wear, with pops of warm colors in accessories (yellow, coral, red).
We moved into our new home just over a month ago, and boy, have we been busy!
The house we’ve bought is an absolutely lovely old villa, right in the middle of Mornington, which is one of Dunedin’s oldest and most central suburbs. It’s a great place to live.
The home is on a double block – rare so close to town – with a lovely flat garden.
It’s a lovely flat garden, and will be easy to maintain. I just need to clear out the overgrown stuff first!
We have five bedrooms, one for each of our four kids. Also rare, in a town that is about 90% three bedroom homes.
It’s exactly what we wanted, and we’re very happy, but when I say it’s an “old villa” I mean OLD!!!
The home had been owned by the same family for about 80 years, and although basic maintenance had been done, little else had, for a long long time.
There was no heating at all, apart from old fireplaces that don’t work very well, and we live in a COLD climate. From what we can tell, the people who lived here either froze each winter or just used lots of little electric heaters they plugged into the wall and put up with a huge heating bill.
As for the bathroom, well! It’s original, in every sense, and the plumbing is antiquated.
The bathroom is antiquated. We’ll be gutting it completely, replacing the shower-tub combo with a glass-fronted walk-in shower. The vanity will be replaced with a much smaller model to take up less floor space. We’ve already purchased the 3 in 1 heater/extractor fan/light as well as a heated towel rail and will be fitting both over the next couple of weeks.
The kitchen is not much better.
When I said the kitchen was OLD, I meant it!
We knew all this, and it was reflected in the sale price, but what it all means is we’ll be doing a lot of renovations over the coming few years, and I’ll be blogging all about it here, as I think (hope!) it will interest you.
We intend to bring this beautiful old home kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Our first step was putting in two kick-ass heat pumps – one in the living room, and the other in the hallway. We also changed all the locks, as a standard measure moving into a new home.
The living room heat pump. We didn’t mess around, but bought a really powerful machine that would heat the room well.
The heat pumps we bought are a wonder, and over the first few weeks we could literally feel the home drying out and becoming warm and inviting. It was an amazing thing to feel. The old musty smells have disappeared, and the home feels comfortable, warm and dry.
The hallway heat pump is a slimline floor model and it works really well to keep the bedrooms warm and dry.
The second step was to check our insulation. I called upon the Warm Up NZ initiative, a government scheme to get homes across the country properly insulated, and they did a check on our home.
We’re fully insulated, top and bottom, and on all accessible side walls.
While here, the Warm Up NZ guy recommended our next step should be thermal curtains on all windows, starting with the top storey.
This week, I ordered new thermal curtains for all windows on the top storey. These were easy, as I could just buy ready-made curtains, then I’ll re-hem them over next week. Two sets had to be ordered online, and should come in the post in the next few days or so.
This will make our house look better and stay warmer.
My partner’s daughter chose ivory curtains, his son chose plain black, and my son chose black with a pattern. For the landing, I chose grey with a vine pattern.
I’ll take “before and after” photos when these are all fitted.
Replacing light bulbs
We’re going through the house and replacing all standard light globes with ultra-efficient LED bulbs. This is not cheap, as the bulbs retail between $7 and $13 apiece, and we have about 20 bulbs to replace!
We started with the living areas and hallway, and are gradually working our way around the house. This will cut our power bills significantly.
New smoke detectors, and a fire blanket in the kitchen
The house had old-style smoke detectors, and not enough of them! We’ve replaced these with modern fire detectors that only need replacing every 10 years.
We also bought a fire blanket to keep near the very old stove, in case of emergency.
Within a week we had a fibre connection to the internet installed. The kids were very happy about this!
Where to next?
Our next steps will be replacing the hot water system with gas, and getting started on the bathroom renovation, as it’s more necessary than the kitchen. We’ll be completely gutting both, so this is not small tasks.
In the meantime We’ll also be working on the garden, clearing away overgrown plants, and putting some new fruit trees in.
Widening the driveway will happen in a year or two, but first I’ll be clearing all these overgrown plants away!