New to ZW with a BIG question

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Kelly Kelly
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New to ZW with a BIG question

I came to this forum by accident really. After a few jumps from one Pinterest topic to another, here I am. I've spent a few hours reading various sections and posts on this site and am inspired by everyone who is making the effort to become Zero Waste. In my house, we use cloth napkins (and used cloth diapers when my daughter was a baby); I have sewn my own "paper towels"; we shop using reusable bags; I buy some items in bulk; we have a small garden and fruit trees; we have a bucket in the shower to collect water for our plants; we dry our clothes in the sunshine; we recycle and shop thrift stores. Basically, we are trying to be conscious about our wasteful lifestyle but still have a LONG way to go before becoming ZW.

My question is this:

I keep reading suggestions to "downsize" and "get rid of" and "eliminate" household items for the sake of becoming less wasteful. Our family of three lives in a 2,000 square foot home, filled to the brim with "things" — books, clothes, toys, containers, paper/arts/craft supplies, CDs/DVDs, kitchen supplies, stuff, stuff, stuff. It don't understand how donating most of our possessions to others reduces waste. If we read books, watch movies, play with toys, make art projects, bake cookies, etc., why would I give our things to someone else? Just because something is no longer in my house doesn't mean it's not being thrown away or recycled or whatever.

When something wears out or breaks, I understand that I should dispose of it properly and not replace it unless it was something we really needed. But can someone please explain the central concept of getting rid of things because it makes you less wasteful? I am really interested in increasing our efforts but don't see the point in "minimalizing" the contents of our home (e.g., three outfits instead of the 15 we have) for no other reason than "now we have less stuff."

Help!
Kelly
Jay Jay
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

I think you have a very legitimate question!
Originally, I think for the Johnsons it was an opportunity to significantly downsize and find a smaller home in an ideal location. It seems to have evolved into a goal of absolute simplicity and minimal consumerism.
I suspect for many the process of simplifying is the process of "de-consumerizing", of recognizing what we just don't need. Many find the end result is an easier, simpler life, with less time spent caring for things and more time doing things with those you love.
So, really there isn't a reason, if happy with your space, things, and lifestyle, to have a goal of giving away most of your belongings! The bigger "point", as you've said, would be to simply not get *more* stuff…. to ultimately

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" -Wm. Morris
SublimeT SublimeT
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

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Hi Kelly

First of all you are doing great things already. My advice is to read her whole book to gain a better understanding as well as another blog MRmoneymustache.comThey are both engineering and efficiency based thinking. He is an engineer like Bea's husband and has further explained the concept when it comes to your choice of home, car, children's activities and possessions. 

MMM explains you don't need an SUV that can tow a trailer house if you and your kid(s) are the only cargo. Similarly, the engineering & design mindsets seeks to design a more streamlined process for every aspect of life. 

I have started by trying on everything in my closet and donating everything that doesn't fit so that someone else may use those items without buying more newly manufactured items putting strain on the environment. Before I donate, I give first picks to friends who I see wearing the clothes that also hand them off to their friends thus confirming their extended use. My friend and I actually switched sizes resulting in us trading thousands of dollars in clothes over the last year preventing us from buying unnecessary clothes. Watch the video The Story of Stuff to further understand why less is more.

I agree that when you take something to a donation center you do wonder what happens next. But the tax benefit and fulfillment of knowing you made an effort are far greater than the convenience of just throwing something in the trash. 

Bea also has extensive lists of where to donate specific items so they are more likely to be reused such as cell phones for women's shelters. See the resources section of her book.

I do also realize that people live different lifestyles than Bea including living around snow or places with seasons that require more extensive wardrobes. Bea is a person with a fashion design thought process and her husband is an engineer so they are of the mindset to create their own rather than to consume. It may help to further understand by also reading the books in her recommended books listing. That really helped me to understand the other aspects of why you don't want certain items in your home or absorbed through your skin. 

After reading one of those books, any item I bring into the house, I look at a lot more skeptically and that may help to see from another angle. I no longer purchase particle board or plastic items which eliminates a lot of purchasing choices for me personally. 

I hope that helps and do want to congratulate you for all your efforts. I know that Bea can come off a little militant which makes people feel like they need to do all or nothing. But every choice you make and teach your family to make counts. And anything you actively use is useful. 

So don't beat yourself up about anything and don't allow others to do so on the boards. 

Love and light

T

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 18, 2015, at 11:39 AM, Kelly [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

I came to this forum by accident really. After a few jumps from one Pinterest topic to another, here I am. I've spent a few hours reading various sections and posts on this site and am inspired by everyone who is making the effort to become Zero Waste. In my house, we use cloth napkins (and used cloth diapers when my daughter was a baby); I have sewn my own "paper towels"; we shop using reusable bags; I buy some items in bulk; we have a small garden and fruit trees; we have a bucket in the shower to collect water for our plants; we dry our clothes in the sunshine; we recycle and shop thrift stores. Basically, we are trying to be conscious about our wasteful lifestyle but still have a LONG way to go before becoming ZW.

My question is this:

I keep reading suggestions to "downsize" and "get rid of" and "eliminate" household items for the sake of becoming less wasteful. Our family of three lives in a 2,000 square foot home, filled to the brim with "things" — books, clothes, toys, containers, paper/arts/craft supplies, CDs/DVDs, kitchen supplies, stuff, stuff, stuff. It don't understand how donating most of our possessions to others reduces waste. If we read books, watch movies, play with toys, make art projects, bake cookies, etc., why would I give our things to someone else? Just because something is no longer in my house doesn't mean it's not being thrown away or recycled or whatever.

When something wears out or breaks, I understand that I should dispose of it properly and not replace it unless it was something we really needed. But can someone please explain the central concept of getting rid of things because it makes you less wasteful? I am really interested in increasing our efforts but don't see the point in "minimalizing" the contents of our home (e.g., three outfits instead of the 15 we have) for no other reason than "now we have less stuff."

Help!
Kelly


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SublimeT SublimeT
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

In reply to this post by Jay
Great point. To add to your point, I read an organization experts article once that asked you to hold each item and ask yourself if it brings you joy. I think that helps me with items that have been given me by others so I feel bad getting rid of them. 

Love and light

T

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 18, 2015, at 1:06 PM, Jay [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

I think you have a very legitimate question!
Originally, I think for the Johnsons it was an opportunity to significantly downsize and find a smaller home in an ideal location. It seems to have evolved into a goal of absolute simplicity and minimal consumerism.
I suspect for many the process of simplifying is the process of "de-consumerizing", of recognizing what we just don't need. Many find the end result is an easier, simpler life, with less time spent caring for things and more time doing things with those you love.
So, really there isn't a reason, if happy with your space, things, and lifestyle, to have a goal of giving away most of your belongings! The bigger "point", as you've said, would be to simply not get *more* stuff…. to ultimately

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" -Wm. Morris


If you reply to this email, your message will be added to the discussion below:
http://forum.994912.n3.nabble.com/New-to-ZW-with-a-BIG-question-tp4026252p4026253.html
To start a new topic under General Community Sharing (Thoughts, Art, Links, Challenges, Cities/Regions, etc.), email [hidden email]
To unsubscribe from Forum, click here.
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Stephanie Stephanie
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

In reply to this post by Kelly
One thing I got from the book is that more stuff = more to clean = more specialist cleaning materials = not human/earth friendly. Also by making more stuff available preowned means more people will be encouraged to buy preowned instead of new, for example one charity shop by us have a very small selection of items so it's not frequented much. Others you walk into and go 'wow' at the variety and quality of the objects. We live in a 530sqft flat and have a lot of things. Some of it is sentimental, a lot just collected and we both love books. There's a lot I don't want to get rid of but like you I don't want to get rid of it for the sake of it. We've boxed up a lot of stuff to take to the car boot sale and I have to say I've felt my mental health improving just by things we don't need being boxed up in the hall, even though they haven't actually left the house yet. I think we can make ways to zero waste but will never be minimalists!
trish trish
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

In reply to this post by Kelly
Hi Kelly!  

I feel the same way as you sometimes.  I feel like replacing disposables with reusables, buying used whenever possible, and refusing/reducing packaging, junk mail, and unnecessary items are the most important aspects of zero waste.  The minimalism part is complimentary in many ways, buy, yeah, getting rid of stuff you already own isn't necessarily going to save the earth.  The post Bea did about her hair elastics is the one that gets me.  She "donated" all of her used hair elastics except for one, then it broke, and she wrote about how she might buy a hair clip next.  What the heck?  First of all, none of the thrift stores in my area resell used hairelastics.  They probably went in the trash.  Second, vetoing rid of perfectly good items then having to buy something else seems pretty wasteful to me.  My personal zero waste leanings are toward keeping all of the elastics, knowing it is a supply that will last many years.

However, I am starting to get into the minimalist thing more and more as we go.  I am so thankful to the Johnsons and head book for providing a prototype of the zero waste lifestyle.  We all get to chose what practices we want to adopt and which one we don't.  At our house, we have drastically cut new consumerism, but are slowly decluttering.  You might like so etching similar-- but fair warning, the more you deck utter the more you'll love the easy and simplicity of the lifestyle!  
trish trish
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

Sorry about all of the bad autocorrects!  Yikes!
Catherine Sultana Catherine Sultana
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Re: New to ZW with a BIG question

Another aspect of the effect of decluttering and minimalizing your possessions is that those things you own but do not actively, regularly and routinely use are being kept out of circulation from someone who would own and use that item. So when Bea opted to downsize her hair binders then subsequently ended up buying a hair clip, (I am hoping it was a 'used' hair clip), she was demonstrating that someone who had excess hair clips 'released' that one back into circulation so that she, a person who needed one, could actually find and buy it without a new one being made for her to fill that need. Now of course there were new ones made (and sold elsewhere) but at that secondhand store she demonstrated that the system works to keep pre-existing ones in use. I think our consumer habit is built on the mentality of got to have 'it' (usually a very specific item with particular features, components) and gotta have it now (a precise time frame). The ZWH approach demands thought, planning, commitment (and follow through) as well as some flexibility to accept a supply system which is always in flux. Totally counter to the current predominant view in western society.  So much of the items we possess are for that future moment of consumption/employment (...to have on hand for when we might need such and such).Rather than stocking particular items for a unknown moment or distant possible moment of need, (so countering that drive to 'be prepared'), try to conceive of a life having confidence on those needs being met should they arrive. Apply this experimentally to some arts and craft supplies and your artwork produced will change, and that is just one example. Now, my question is how she can commit to the system providing while shopping only biannually, that is something I would like to learn...!