Lately, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of consumerism that we have in our daily lives. What I mean by this is we, as humans feel some sort of need to have the newest gadgets, expect expensive gifts, generate excessive amounts of rubbish and tend to spend more time on our cell phones than we do having conversations with real people.
I was talking to my work collegue the other day and mentioned that if I didn’t have a complex job (where we must have a phone) and if my family didn’t live so far away I could easily do away with my cell phone. I came to the realisation that I don’t need a phone as much as I thought I did when I went without internet for a week. I found other things to do! Like reading biographies and life-hack books, going for walks in the bush and enjoying the company of my partner and friends. Although, you can’t have a blog without the internet – right?!
I decided that I’d like to strip my life back to the basics; buy food without all the excessive packaging, take the TV and laptop out of the bedroom, wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar and maybe, just maybe, ditch makeup (that last one will be tough)! So far, the TV in the bedroom hasn’t been missed, my showers smell like salad dressing and I only output a small amount of rubbish a week. I certainly wear less makeup, but working shift work (aka tired all the time) and being in the public eye often calls for some concealer and mascara!
I hadn’t washed my hair with real shampoo for over a month, and the only thing I noticed was that my hair was a bit stiffer than usual but otherwise it was fine. I had to wash it because I decided I wanted to go back to my natural hair colour (I had blonde hair but wanted to go back to brown) for less upkeep and revert back to my original self! Growing out the blonde was getting a bit ug (ugly). I washed my hair when I dyed it and it went so soft and fluffy aka hard to manage. I got straight back onto the bandwagon and I’m crossing my fingers that a couple of washes with shampoo doesn’t undo all my hard work of ‘no poo.’
I guess my point of this whole mission is understand what I need and what I want. There is a huge difference between the two and it takes time to really grasp the concept of living a simpler, less-is-more lifestyle. Some people gasp when I tell them I haven’t washed my hair for over a month, others are very intrigued and interested in trying it themselves. I’m very lucky that my partner also tries to reduce his consumerism, and he thinks twice before purchasing something just for the sake of having it. He even opted not to buy porridge sachets because the output of rubbish was too high. I suggested he make his own with reusable containers and next minute he is preparing his oats like a busy little beaver in the kitchen. It’s nice. Nice that he cares and nice that he tries.
The easiest way to decide if something is a need or a want is to categorise whether the item/experience is something that you need to survive, or is it something that you want but could go without. This is a very handy technique to use especially if you are trying to save money. Do I need this new sweater? Will I suffer a great deal if I don’t buy it? No, because I have three other perfectly fine sweaters in the wardrobe at home. Or, I want this book because it will look great on my coffee table! But will I read it, probably not. So I don’t ‘need’ it I ‘want’ it and therefore it doesn’t go into the shopping cart. Easy!
If you are feeling a little bit overwhelmed yourself, with all that goes on in our work and personal lives try a few of the following things to make your life a little less cluttered.
- When you can, buy goods in glass jars as these are able to be recycled or reused around the house. I also use jars for gifting bulk goods like candied nuts, marshmellows, cake mixes etc. Give it a go! And jars are very sought after so stash them away, sell them online , or drop the ones you don’t need at the op shop. If you are worried about getting labels off try soaking them in hot water, peel as much of the label off as you can and then dry the jar off. Get a cloth and some vegetable/olive oil and rub the glue until it all comes off.
- Give ‘No Poo’ a go. There is plenty of articles online about how to do it. I use baking soda and rub it gently into the roots. Leave it in for about a minute and wash it out. My hair feels quite slimey after so then I put a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into a plastic lush pot (one of the big ones) and fill it up with water. Then I pour it over my hair and rinse it out really well. That’s it! Don’t worry about the smell, as soon as your hair dries it dissipates.
- Read books. I’m currently reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. It is opening my eyes and making me realise that happiness isn’t an end goal, it is a lifestyle you must try very hard to achieve. We cant be happy all the time, but it is quite easy to chage a few habits to acheive an overall feeling of being contempt.
- Do something positive to help someone out. Simple things like offering a work colleague a ride home on a rainy day or doing some extra work so the others can go home a little earlier really helps you to feel good about yourself. Cooking your spouse brekkie, grabbing them a coffee on your errand run or planning a nice night in will always make them feel cared about (and you’ll get plenty of positive praise).
- Don’t say nasty things about people (bitch about others behind their backs) because it will fuel ‘negative bonding’ which basically means that you commonly bond with someone with negative chat. Instead of engaging in negative conversation, walk away. Hopefully over time ‘negative nancy’ will realise that talking badly about other people gets the silent treatment and will find something else to talk about.
Over time, these things will become the norm and you will most likely feel like a new, better version of yourself; maybe even revert back to the original you (before all the negativity and consumerism took over your life) I know that doing these small things has really helped with my overall wellbeing, and I endeavour to keep it up!