Have you ever seen a landfill? A junkyard? Or for that matter any other place we dispose of goods and waste. Well if you have you will see these mountains of trash, these huge spaces covered by supposed garbage. If you have seen these than maybe you will have thought about how much excess we use, just how much we waste and that there must be some way of changing that. It’s so true, there is a way to change it and it starts with learning to live a more sustainable life.
I don’t want to go into huge details but I want to visit this subject along the same lines as simplicity and minimalism. By simplifying our life and bringing things down to the essentials we can maybe learn to minimize our impact on the environment. The benefits of consuming less is pretty clear, I mean you have less stuff to organize and clean, you have fewer but more valuable possessions and you are saving money. So in theory a more sustainable life is better right? So if it is as good as I say then why haven’t more people hopped on board? Well the reality is that as North Americans we have just grown accustomed to excess, we are used to having too much, whether that be space or possessions, either way we have learned to want and possess more.
Some small facts about excess include: Westernized places account for over 60% of the world’s spending. The US accounts for 5% of the population in 2004 and 33% of the world’s consumption. We are targeted by over 1500 commercial advertisements per day, as opposed to 500 in the 60’s.
I don’t know about you but those kinds of statistics scare me, the fact that the North American population isn’t too big but yet accounts for the majority of the world’s consumption is terrifying. Places that are extremely dense with population still consume less than us, as a whole we are obsessed with consumption in the forms of fast food, products, and housing. Even in housing we have changed drastically. In the 1900’s the typical american house consisted of 700-1200 square feet for 2-3 bedrooms and a whole family. Now the typical american house is around or over 2000 square feet, and this is for a small family and even just a couple. Did you know that when building a home in the states there is a minimum square footage required for building a home? Most of these are above 1200 square feet minimum depending on the area, that means today’s minimum is bigger than the 1900’s maximum. Two people can somehow occupy 1000’s of square feet and it’s completely okay, but if someone tries to build something less than that minimum it isn’t zoned properly and it doesn’t classify as a home. See how we are working against sustainability here?
Ever notice that while living in a large home you still can’t seem to find a place for everything? We somehow still have too much stuff, and it isn’t even like people this is material items. After the statistics above how is it even possible that two people or a small family can have too much stuff to fill a space that is bigger than ever before. So why is it that we still have too much stuff even though we have more storage space than ever before? This is where a great term called life editing comes in. There is a man named Graham Hill that I stumbled upon a while back, he lives in purposely small spaces and manages to live and work just fine, he is still demanding a home office, living room, bedroom, spare room, full kitchen and not giving up amenities but yet he still manages to live in spaces that are under 500 square feet. Now yes Graham is a single guy in these situations but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to downsize. There are couples living in tiny houses built on trailers that are less than a 100 square feet, so what’s your excuse for needing more than a thousand? How is it that you still have too much stuff?
The concepts of sustainable life are simple, you edit your current lifestyle, you remove the junk from your life and you learn to let go and downsize. I will never stop throwing the idea of letting go out there because it is so vital to life. You can’t hold on to the material goods in our life, is that waffle maker increasing your daily happiness? Probably not. I went from a busy family home, and I’ve moved and rented spaces all over, from people’s houses, to people’s basements to my own house. Through each experience I was surrounded by excess, not my own per say but everyone else. It is ridiculous that someone can have a house so filled with things they never use.
For a sustainable life we need to learn to edit, let go and find multipurpose. These aren’t difficult, because once you learn to let go the rest is really simple. Bringing things down to the bare essentials is great because it means that you have everything you need, which means everything has a place and everything has a use. Finding multipurpose is also really important because it means that we can have even less without sacrificing everything we need. Whether this means a sofa that is a bed, a table that changes sizes, and so on, it just means we can have less without sacrificing our needs. I believe to this day I could pack my entire house into the back of a van and move on without a huge hassle, to me that is a beautiful feeling, I can pick up and move on at a moment’s notice without losing everything I need.
I hope you are beginning to see how simplicity and minimalism can be more beneficial than excess, and maybe you too will eventually be inspired to change your habits and maybe downsize a bit. With an ever growing population and a shortage of space we need to learn to downsize otherwise the future is going to be really difficult. When the future comes I would rather be living in a really nice, multifunctional, small space than in a big house. While the world is struggling to find space and everyone needs a spot to live I would rather know that I am doing my part to live small and not being one of the people who are living in excess. I want to be an innovator, I don’t want to be stuck in the same trend as the rest of the nation. For the future to go smoothly we need to learn to downsize and take the space we need as opposed to the space we want. This all starts with downsizing, life editing and multipurpose planning, these simple concepts can be applied throughout our lives and will help us move forward into a more secure, more sustainable future.
I’m going to continue a series on sustainability here and we will address many different aspects of the life that could go through some editing and downsizing. Stay tuned for those articles.
Thanks for reading today’s kind of lengthy article and I hope this opened your eyes a bit to the crazy changes our world has made in a short span of time, maybe this has inspired you to take up some changes, even coming back to read more on sustainability is a step and I thank you for being here to take it.
Have an awesome day!