Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Simple Life. Is It Really So Simple?

Written by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese.

When my family and I embarked on our journey to live a more sustainable lifestyle after I had my green epiphany, little did I realise that this type of lifestyle takes a while to go from the complexity of modern society, to the simple and green lifestyle that I envisaged and yearned for.  My initial motivation was to lower my carbon footprint, so that our grandchildren (yet born) and future generations had a liveable planet.

I knew that I had to change my thought pattens somewhat, having to learn how to slow down, relax, and worry less about things that just were not as important as I thought they were, but inversely I also had to skill up so that I could do all the things that I wanted to do.  However, one rather large thing that I did not realise at the start, was that living a simple life did not mean that life got any easier, it just meant that my priorities had changed.  Hard work was there, and continues to be there in droves.

Let me give you a few examples of how my mindset and workload changed.  Instead of worrying if I needed a shiny new iPad, I had to worry about whether whether we were saving enough energy and that our solar PV system was working as designed.  Instead of wondering what rubbish I was putting in my mouth, I had to ensure that my chickens were getting ample nutrition every day.  Instead of thinking about the price of food going up, I had to think about what I was going to plant in the veggie patch for next season that we would eat and what I could harvest right now.  Instead of having to choose which green grocer was the best in town, I had to think about the optimum way of pruning my fruit trees to maximise next years harvest.  Instead of replacing broken things, I tried to mend them.  Instead of throwing away food scraps, I collected them (and fed the chickens, worms and compost bins).  Instead of spending money, we paid down debt, then saved money.  You get my drift, so many new things to learn and master.

All of these things helped us become partly self reliant and meant that we had to do additional work.  We found that the extra work had meaning more than any other work we had tried, and was worthy of our time, because it made us feel better.  By thinking a different way, and by paying attention to our goals, we found that all the things that we set out to achieve, were achieved, however they always took longer than we planned.  Maybe it was because most of the things we did, like raise chickens, make garden beds, grow food, bake bread, etc. were all new to us but very exciting and fun.

Further down the path we began to question the status quo, the current "business as usual" mentality and realised that what we were doing made sense, was more sustainable than our previous mindset, and would put us in good stead for possible future events like resource scarcity.

We found that living a simple life was fun, enjoyable, and rewarding, but the name of this lifestyle was a little bit deceiving.  It was a lot less complex, and now that we were not caught up in the consumer culture, we did not have to buy stuff we did not need, with money we did not have, to impress people we did not like!

Maybe we should call it the "Rewarding, Fulfilling, and Happy, but Constant work Life".  Have you had a similar experienced, or did it just come naturally to you?