Thuy Smith Outreach International- Living on Purpose

Health and Wellness, Mindfulness, Spirituality, Relationships, Lessons Learned, Recovery, Healing, Empowerment


Leave a comment

Simplify Your Life and Eliminate What Isn’t Necessary!

 

Over six years ago my husband and I started simplifying our lives. We downsized a lot and did it in steps. Each year we would go through our things and do a serious evaluation on what we had, what we didn’t want to depart from, and the items we really didn’t need. We would sell or give away the items and became more mindful about anything else we would ever purchase again. We also knew the house we had was way more than what was needed for the two of us. Finally we put our last home (over 1500 square feet) on the market and it sold immediately. From there we went to an apartment (around 850 square feet) for a year and then decided to move from the Midwest out West.

We took two trips and brought only what we could fit in our Toyota corolla and two 5 x 8 trailers. Now we are in less than half the square footage of our last home in a 640 square foot condo. After building three homes, we moved into a condo which has actually become our favorite home. We also sold our second vehicle. We don’t need it anymore because living downtown in the city we can utilize the bus, walk, or ride our bikes. For us, it’s all about living a new healthy lifestyle and making less of a carbon imprint as much as possible. Plus it was one less vehicle to maintain and insure. I’ve simplified my life and I’ve never felt more free. My actions also benefit the planet and the future for others. I have more time to focus on self-care, relationships, and for even more enjoyable experiences.

While beginning our journey of simplifying, I discovered people that wanted to reduce the waste they were creating. In fact, their goal was to have zero waste. Amazingly they eliminated so much of their waste that what was left was only what they couldn’t recycle or compost.

For example: One woman I learned about stated she is not wanting to preach or tell others how to live, but simply wants to live out her own values. If it ends up inspiring another person, that’s an added bonus. Well I’m one of many that she did inspire.

The only waste that she has had in two year’s time is what you see in this glass jar.

 

So, I decided to start with examining my own trash. I found of course a lot of packaging and I needed to improve my paper waste as well. 

 

  • Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.
  • The United States alone, waste paper accounts for approximately 40% of the total waste; this is equivalent to almost 72 million tons of waste paper annually.

Plastic Waste

Nearly 2 million plastic bags are used and disposed of every minute. (Earth Policy Institute)

The time in which it takes a plastic bag to fully decompose, depending on the specific plastic type, is between 100 and 1,000 years. During this long process of decomposition, disposed plastics leak several potentially toxic pollutants into the soil of landfills and are carried naturally to our oceans. (Columbia.edu)

 

Carbon dioxide emissions are a main concern about landfills, another is their production of methane, methane is 84 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. California and Texas, with their high populations, have the greatest landfill-related methane emissions.

All that methane is produced by organic trash like food waste and yard trimmings. While it can be argued that some bushes need to be trimmed, it’s hard to make the case for throwing away food, which makes up more than a fifth of the nation’s waste stream — more than any other material that ends up in an incinerator or landfill.

Another thing I do is use my shredded paper for compost. The paper I don’t shred I place in a separate paper bag for recycling pick-up.

Here are some other things I’ve done and simple actions you can take

I was already using my own reusable shopping bags for brining my groceries home, but I was still using the plastic produce bags. In 2017, I purchased my first set of reusable produce bags and have been using only reusable ones ever since. This step is huge. Imagine everyday, all day long, every person shopping is filling their carts full with plastic produce bags for each single item of produce. If everyone used their own reusable produce bags, that can eliminate a tremendous amount of plastic right there.

If you forget your reusable bags at home one day and end up with plastic, many stores have a convenient recycling bin you can return them to.

Another way to eliminate waste is buy minimizing your packaging. Buy food from bulk bins using your new produce bags or your own containers. Go to the customer service counter to have them weigh your containers and add a tare weight. Most reusable produce bags already have a tare weight on them. There are some places you can bring your own containers to buy shampoo, soap, and cleaning products in bulk.

If I purchase meat, I bring a large freezer bag that I always reuse. Stores may insist they wrap the meat in their own packaging, but the freezer bag can be used for extra protection  to keep the meat separated from your produce.

Here is my fun basket that I use for the farmer’s market.

I buy from the farmer’s market when it’s in season and try to support others in my community by buying local when I can.

I plan out my meals and shop for only what I need so as to minimize my waste. Very rarely do I have any food waste. If there are scraps or peelings, they can be used for compost.

I love kombucha and I found a couple of places where I can purchase my own jug and do refills. I was able to do the same with bulk olive oil.

I’ll bring my own cup for when purchasing coffee and my own containers for ordering take out or my leftovers from eating out.

Eliminate straws and one time plastic use with cups and silverware.

I’m learning to make my own personal care and cleaning products. I know exactly what I’m getting in my products and that they are safe. I not only minimize my packaging, but I’m saving money too.

Buy used, borrow, or utilize a repair café or buy only what we really need.

Recycle, recycle, recycle, but try our best to minimize packaging to begin with.

What a fantastic way of recycling and helping our planet- Creating art & beauty out of trash! To learn more go to- http://beachplastic.com/

I have not eliminated my waste to the point of the example of the jar I shared about earlier, but I do what I can. Any steps you take is a positive step. You might be surprised that you’ll end up doing way more than you ever imagined. It is actually fun and I’m amazed how many others have been inspired to follow my lead. I have had both adults and youth ask me where they can purchase my reusable produce bags. I also overheard some teens comment as I walked away about how cool it was that I was using reusable produce bags.  I have given them as gifts. Last year they were Christmas gifts to my parents and mother-in law.

I know I gave you a lot of information and ideas in this post, but now I ask you to go to my website for another step you can do to make a difference. Click on the Call to Action Image below to learn more about an Initiative I’m working on and how you can be a part of it, or Click on the Pledge Image to sign the pledge that you will work toward reducing your plastic use by working toward eliminating plastic produce bags and replace them with reusable ones. Make your voice count. 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Stuff, stuff, stuff- My new life simplified.

Stuff, stuff, stuff- My new life simplified.

Stuff, stuff, stuff- My new life simplified.

For the last seven years I’ve read about people who gave up on maintaining their homes especially the big homes they didn’t really need anymore. They decided to simplify and live more sustainably. Some sold their homes and built smaller efficient ones. There were those who decided to embrace the downtown living and all that it offers. Others hit the road and began their new journey with a fifth wheel.

My husband and I have built and owned three homes. The last two were especially beautiful with one being across the Namekagon River. We know the joy of having your own home, but also about everything that is involved in keeping and maintaining that home. Throughout the years we have done quite a bit of downsizing. I had to tell friends and family to PLEASE do not buy us anymore stuff!

The items they bought were nice, but it was just more of what we really didn’t need. It came to the point where we didn’t have a place to display everything. The items began to blend into each other as a compilation of stuff rather than as a showcase of unique, beautiful, and interesting pieces.

It took a few years, but I finally got through to everyone to stop buying us anymore items. We asked if they insisted on giving something, to give it to a charity in our name or get us something that is more along the lines of a consumable item.  It could be a certificate to a movie, a restaurant, or specialty food basket. Of course you can never go wrong with chocolate.

Throughout the years (starting seven years ago) we continued to have garage sales, moving sales, donated items, threw out items, and gave some away. We have always prided ourselves in keeping things simple and not having a lot of stuff. However, it wasn’t until our last home that we realized even after all that we had downsized, we had a long way to go. We were not hoarders by any means and it was just the two of us. No children, no pets. When you have a bigger house you simply accumulate more stuff.

NO more! Bye-bye stuff! Never see you again! We put our house on the market and within the first week we had an interested buyer. He immediately put in an offer. While preparing for the move with packing and yet another moving sale, it had been both liberating and stressful with the realization that we still had so much more than what we needed or wanted.

We moved into less than half the square footage of our last home and decided to do the downtown living. We rented a beautiful apartment on the river while deciding our next move.

One day I came across this ad and couldn’t help, but smile. It said, “Live the American Dream. Stop renting, own your own home”.

We loved our new apartment and the fact we no longer had any maintenance to worry about. We decided that if we ever owned a home again, it wouldn’t be any more than 1000 square feet and 10 minutes tops for maintaining a yard.

We have since then bought a condo and we are in way less than the 1000 square feet I mentioned earlier and have never been happier.

This blog category-My New Life Simplified will be about how I downsized and simplified my life. I will share simple prep recipes, products I love that are useful, and what I’ve learned from designing and building three of my own homes. I will share about our downtown living (first with an apartment and now a condo) and its many activities and the people we meet along the way. I will talk about the ways we have incorporated to live more sustainably.  I will share about health and wellness. It will be about the things I love and ideas I learned in my new simplified life and sharing them with you.