Hear how Amy and her family have structured their lives to be sustainable, happy and much less cluttered. Amy is a member of our Biome Blog Program and has shared many of her sustainable stories with us. If you have stories to share, go to our Green Living Guide
and contact Tracey to see how you could become a contributor.
At Amy's house
We have a mantra in our house - “Peace and Happiness”. It may seem contrived, but I believe those words have calmed a lot of tensions over the years, especially with my eldest child. Happiness, I think, is something we all strive for, and it is a concept that my family and I have explored a lot over the last few years. Two practices that we have found instrumental in helping us to find our “Peace and Happiness” can also be attributed directly to our quest to live more sustainably.
When we caravanned around Australia a few years ago life became very simple. We had very little “stuff” and we can't remember a time when we were happier. Once we were back to reality, we quickly realized that simplifying our home life might have the same effect. My partner also became very interested in minimalism and we have been working ever since to de-clutter our lives of the “stuff” we had accumulated over the years.
It is really important to us not to contribute to land fill so we sell what we can, give away heaps through free-cycling networks and donate the rest to charity shops.
Going hand in hand with this process is of course not letting new “stuff” creep into your home. We are very conscious about any new purchases we make, trying to make sure that anything we buy is a “forever” item not just a “for now” item. This means that we can spend a little bit more to make sure what we are buying is excellent quality and meets the environmental and social credentials we are after without worrying as much about the cost.
When we do want to buy something “cheap” which we are not intending on keeping for long we buy through second hand markets or at charity shops and then give them away when we are finished with them. In this way we are finding happiness in living with less – the less stuff you have, the less you have to worry about!
Live in the Moment
Okay, this seems like such a cliché but it works, I promise you! When you worry about the past or stress about the future you cannot enjoy the present. You know the self-talk that most of us do – “I'll be happy when
…” it really does limit your ability to be happy "now”
. My family and I have found that being mindful, or being in the moment and focusing solely on the task at hand, was a great way to find joy in the simplest things in life.
Adult colouring books
have become quite popular recently as a way of practicing this (but it can be as simple as watching the sunrise or sunset, or having dinner conversations, playing a musical instrument or the creativity of craft.
So what does this have to do with sustainability? Well much like my point above about simplicity, this is about consumption. There has been many studies on the negative effects of consumption on happiness and you can read more about it in the links below. By practicing living in the moment we have found that we aren't driven to ride the consumption roller coaster, which in turn, has made it easier to sustain our happiness!
Perhaps one, or both, of these ideas has provided you with some inspiration, I hope that you find them as useful as we have in your journey towards a happier life and more sustainable world!
Find out more about minimalism: http://www.theminimalists.com/about/
Understand the pitfalls of consumption: http://theconversation.com/consumed-why-more-stuff-does-not-mean-more-happiness-39220