I have a little secret to share. 😉 Something that I don’t think my family and closest friends even know as I have never shared it until now. In fact, I have kind of hidden it. Honestly, I don’t think these changes would have happened if not for moving here. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and let me tell you a little story.
It began in 2007 actually. An organic store was opened near where I worked. I believe they are now called Whole Foods although this place was on a much smaller scale. I was intrigued, to say the least. I slowly learned about the importance of organic, learned what eco-friendly meant and for the first time realized that chemicals really aren’t a good thing.
At that time, many thought it was just more expensive and did not make a big difference. I introduced organic milk and a few other items to my children. But … it was a new concept for me and controversial topic in the media and with family. I felt it was better to spend a bit more for healthier options. I still wasn’t “on board” with it all.
Fast forward to 2010. A life changing year for me. Now I had to pack up all my belongings into 2 suitcases, a large hockey bag and two small boxes to be shipped overseas. Really?!! How does one do that? My whole life packed into that? This was my first lesson in stuff. What is more important, material things or living? Okay, I took the bait. It was a good start.
The problem came that next year. I was homesick and felt that I needed to replace all those items that I left behind. My shopaholic tendencies came back. Shopping always used to make me feel better. Do you know what? It did not make me feel better, it made me feel worse! Our home is only 65 square meters and does not have closets (which is the norm in Europe). I was suffocated and constantly cleaning and re organizing spaces. I was losing the battle of where to put my stuff.
Now I turned to the internet, books and documentaries to see if I could find any type of education on the topic, in English as I was also learning a new language at this time. I was really feeling connected to the topics of minimalism and a zero waste lifestyle. It seemed like how I have wanted to live for so many years but modern day society was telling me otherwise.
Thankfully I did find many great resources out there. Inspiring men and woman who have gone through the process of minimizing. Decluttering their lives. I read it all. I watched documentaries on how waste affects not only us but our planet. Then…. didn’t do all that much about it. I was a bit overwhelmed. I mean, I already don’t have a car. I walk, bike, use public transport and travel by train. Isn’t that being zero waste and minimal? Haha. It may be a start but…. no, I wanted more than that.
Still,all this knowledge I acquired and living in a country where consumerism is not all around you – something was happening inside of me.
I figured out last year finally, that I was letting stuff consume me. Could I let go? I am happy to report yes. I can and have, although slowly.
Here is an example, I wrote a post a while back about my goals. Creating a capsule wardrobe was one of them. At first I did not want to get eliminate many pieces. All of the “what if’s”. I did pair my closet down quite a bit, still my whole wardrobe was too much to fit into my suitcase, which was my ultimate goal. I was okay with that.
More recently, I realized I still was not wearing half of the items in my already paired down closet. They just didn’t suit my lifestyle as I am always on foot or bike and in all kinds of weather. My wardrobe has now taken on a whole new look, which I had better share in a separate blog post.
The nice thing about letting go of stuff, material items that really don’t serve a purpose is you find room to really breathe. There is more time to do the things you really want and that truly matter.
You can save so much money as well. Seriously, the savings is incredible. When one doesn’t spend money on bringing things into the home, you automatically find you have more money to do things you want or may need. Pay off bills, travel etc.
I no longer need to make lists to remember what groceries to buy. It becomes natural.
To wrap up todays post, I would like to share some of the items I have let go of so far which in turn have created a positive impact on my life.
- Household cleaning products for every task.
- Clothes that I do not wear
- Plastic bags
- Plastic water bottles
- Most of my makeup (but not all, as I enjoy wearing some)
- Dryer Sheets
- Non-recyclable items
- Hair products (this does not mean shampoo, just all the extras)
- Many skin care products (they didn’t do anything different anyways)
I am still working on eliminating and replacing items with sustainable alternatives. Although, I am at a much happier place already with the changes I have made so far.
So there it is, my secret is out. I am a minimalist or I would rather call myself a cozy minimalist, I like furniture, books and a few select items of decor, just not so much of it anymore.
Sometimes moving or seeing another culture can truly be life changing. I am aware now of the positive impact of living a zero waste lifestyle, eating healthier foods. Not only is better for the environment but it can really de-stress ones life as well. This lifestyle change did not happen over-night for me, in fact it is still a process that I am just letting evolve.
What I do know, that now when I see an advertisement for some beautiful designer bag or new and improved bathroom cleaner, I no long find my self thinking, “Oh, I need to get that!”