Warning! 🙂 Super long article following just below!
When I asked my singing teacher several months ago, how long it would take for me to have a real proffessional voice, he simply answered: „There is no answer to this question. This education will take a whole life long and your voice will still improve when there’s nothing left, I could teach you. There will always be singers who are better or worse than you and you will learn from both of them.“
So why am I talking about my singing teacher now? I am one of his better students we can work on a little higher level without any interruptions from any of my mistakes. It is a very satisfying process. But I’m still not finished.
This situation reminds me of the process we had to jump on, when we turned vegan. And it reminds me of the process to a zerowaste lifestyle we’re in just now. Everyone in this family is on another level and everyone will take it’s own time to reach the goal.
Altogether this zerowaste thing is working. Somehow. But there’s still much work waiting for us.
How much minimalism does zerowaste living need?
I’ve completely cleaned up the worst of our messy places last week together with my husband. We use it as an entrance, storage room, closet and office place. The office stuff I had already moved upstairs. I can much better work here now, because here’s where the children always are: one small desk, my computer, a chair, my graphics tablet and our most important documents (they fill the small drawer of my desk). I placed them in our living room. Likewise moved the piano into the living room. Yes, this all fits into our small living room since we’ve becoming rid of our old and broken couches, all needless DVDs, books and CDs (we sold or donated them). So we were able to reduce our huge shelf from three parts to only one part and two chest of drawers (a big one and a small one). It was a great Feeling of relief!
There has still been left a lot of disordered stuff from the office downstairs. It filled two Little Ikea shelves. But after our clean up from last week it is a lot more better now. In these shelves there have all the time been so many things I absolutely didn’t know what to do with. Some of these things had to be kept by law, different business things, and some were sentimental stuff, I wasn’t able to give or even throw away. Again and again I was going through these shelves without finishing my work. Then I tried to do the best I could, cleaned up the space and forced me to throw away at least one thing (mostly I took some old bills for the children’s campfire).
In the living room I have a beautiful chest of drawers where I kept the rest of my still remaining favourite items. These are different books, handicraft stuff, different drawing utensils, and my favourite cooking books. A lot of these things I’ve put into this chest because I was 100% sure, that I’ll always need them. I would be always drawing, forever crocheting, knitting and sewing. And of Course I would always need my cooking books!
I’m using stuff from these drawers nearly daily. Every time I openend one of them I saw all the other unused items lying there. At least last week I realised that I’m using only one cookbook from all these things. Since I had cleaned up the children’s room just a few days before I was able to move all the childrens handicraft work items to the empty spaces in the childrens room. My chest has five big drawers. After I seriously looked over all of them, three of them were empty. I have yet another chest of drawers in the living a room. It is a smaller one. I decided to have a look over the contents of it, too. After it I had another three empty drawers.
My husband and I decided to take a big blue trashbag everyone and completely clear up every single shelf in the entrance. As a rule we defined, that every member of the family was allowed to keep all shoes, that were intact, one woolen hat, one cap, one scarf, one pair of gloves, one jacket for the garden, one for school/kindergarten/work and one thin jacket for the warm season. All the other stuff we threw in these bags. Where the hell did all the clutter come? Who was bringing all these things in our house?
All the things we found, that were still too good, to throw away, we donated to friends. A lot of periods of safekeeping in our documents have already passed, so we threw them away.
Everything that was still left after this activity fits well now in the above mentioned six drawers in the living room chests. All the other documents we have transmitted on online-services, so we’re really not getting a lot of bills by mail. The things we found in the shelves were still from the time before. I’m so happy that we’ve done this clean up! It was bothering me all the time. Overall it was done very fast – it seems like we’re getting experienced by now. 😉 In February 2015 we have made our first clean up in the zerowaste style. We have ditched so much of our things in the period of three weeks, that, in the end, I wasn’t able to decide anymore what to do with what was left. I had to make a stop.
Meanwhile we started to just give away everything, we do not need, to visitors, to the kindergarten, to other parents… The main issue in these activities is always for us, to get that, what is too much for us, out of sight. Mostly we position these things in the storeroom (yes, we actually have a real storeroom, too 🙂 ) until they find a new home. Now we have two empty Ikea-shelves and two little empty container of drawers. We’re still keeping them because we don’t know where to put our printer, when they’re away.
I don’t know if it’s helping much to write a detailed walkthrough of the cleanup. I don’t have a routine for it. When I think it has to be done, I’m just doing it. Out of the moment I’m taking a drawer for example and empty it completely. First of all I’m asking myself: Do I still need the chest the drawer Comes from? When the answer is Yes, I take a closer look at the items from the drawer. I only put back what I really need. No, I mean what I really really need – even when I was the only person on a lonely Island. When I take the cutlery drawer for example I should ask myself: Do we really need two carving knives, one tomato knife, three kitchenknives, one peeler, two big egg whisks and a small one and two wooden spoons? I only put back what is really necessary.
Sometimes when I clean out the dishwasher I suddenly have an item in the hand and in this moment I realise, I don’t have a need for it. This item get’s away immediately. I don’t want to have my cupboards overfilled with useless stuff anymore.
For me it is very useful to have always a look on other Blogs and see how they’re doing it. Instagram is a very good source, too. The minsgame is a very popular and powerful game to get rid of your useless stuff.
It is a little bit bothering me, that I have to keep so many empty jars in my cupboards at the moment. I am in one of these strange situations where all our stocks from summer are running out. And of course I have to keep all the empty containers and jars, because next summer I will need them for selfmade jams and pickles again.
However – all these thoughts are keeping me thinking about our consumption behaviour. And that’s bringing me back to the beginning of this article.
A lifestyle change is always a process – whatever it may be: trying out a new Sport, learning to play an instrument, the change to a new kind of eating, or to adapt a minimalistic lifestyle. You will need time for it. And it is important to make the switch in your own speed. For me it is a cirular back and forth.
Even shopping is not easy…
Our shopping routines are very good, indeed. But over Christmas everything went wrong. Our farmers market made a break over christmas for three weeks. We thougt we’d be good prepared and nothing special would happen. Of course we were running out of fruits just on Christmas day. Since After Christmas day groceries in Germany were closed for four days my husband drove to the next Supermarket and bought some fruits there. Everything was packaged! He left the packaging there, what was the best choice he could make for this day, but I really didn’t like that. So on New Year’s Eve we had nothing left: no fruits, no veggies. The fridge was completely empty. We drove to the next small town to get some food on the farmer’s market there. There was a nice farmer’s market but they refused to use our bags for the food. It really drove me crazy! Why the hell, didn’t they want to use our bags? So we decided to drive home with one plastic bag and three paperbags. And we will never go buying our food there again!
On the one side I’m already completely the zerowastegirl but when we’re going shopping or eating out I’m not discussing about napkins and straws. And I’m not trying to geht the food in our container to take home. I’m not brave enough do ask for these things already. I’d rather not go dining out. But I noticed that this is something already growing inside of me. It’s a little bit like this Special kind of vegans, when they’re really starting to find it not anymore acceptable that other people don’t live vegan. This is really a curiosity: When I started to live vegan I always thougt I could accept that people still eat Dairy and meat. I can tell you now, that there is nothing you can do to stop these minds coming to live! It happens to every vegan some day.
You’ll need a lot of minimalistic thinking to be zerowaste. And I realise very often, that I don’t think minimalistic enough. I have accepted a lot of Christmas Gifts, that were not zerowaste or minimalistic. Some of them I simply donated as a Christmas Gift to other People. And some of these special Christmas bags I returned to the donor to use them again next year. My husband and I realised, that we could have made Christmas a lot smaller than we did. Most of our relatives would have accepted no Christmas Gifts at all!
Besides it is important that you’re not resigning to much at the same time. Ever since we started the change it was fun for me. But when it isn’t fun anymore, I’m not going on with it. I know myself very good. I really wouldn’t. So what does make more sens? One time pizza with vegan cheese, that only comes along packaged or risking that I would give up the whole zerowaste thing, because I refused too much?
When I’m developing just along as I did I think I will have a stylish zerowaste flat in the end of 2016 😉 .
New Year’s resolutions are … nice. But to be honest: how long do they really last?
Especially when it comes to such a big change, like a zerowaste Lifestyle or going vegan, it is really important to give it time. And please be kind to the people who are living with you and probably don’t are very excited about your new lifestyle. They, too, need time to accept what is going on with you.
Having a deadline doesn’t help me to get things done. When I want to do something I do it, not caring about date and time. In my opinion the best point in time is always now!
So, when you want to do something, just do it! And don’t get stressed about New Year’s resolutions when you not really want it! 😉
If you might need a little impulse to get along with your zerowaste plans, have a look here:
- At zerowastenerd.com Meagon gives you a thirty-days-advice to get started with the zerowaste Lifestyle.
- Shia has twelve green New Year’s resolutions for you on wastelandrebel.com
- And my favourite article about zerowaste and New Year’s resolutions is this one from Bea Johnson herself.