Simple living, back to basics, minimalism, and even Marie Kondo are buzz words that have been around for a while. However, it wasn’t until South Africa entered a nation wide lockdown at the end of March in response to COVID-19 that the concept of living with was less really put to the test in a way we could never have imagined. For five weeks we could only buy essentials and had to make do with what we had in our homes and this made me take stock of what I really need. What I realised is how little that actually is. It brought into focus what truly matters - your health, your family, your job security.
The spending freeze and break from consumerism was an unexpected joy this difficult time, and the reality of simplified living will hopefully extend beyond the global pandemic into a new way of being. Learning to live with less is not just what you buy, it’s also an approach to what you already have. Buying less and getting rid of more go hand-in-hand as simple living becomes an authentic characteristic of your lifestyle, and not just a passing fad or temporary response to a crisis.
Aims of house-clearing and cupboard-sorting may not have been fulfilled during lockdown as we all dealt with the adjustment to a new normal and its challenges in our roles as girl boss, working mama, stay at home mama, career girl, scholar, home-carer, and general household cheerleader. But, if the intention of living with less was sparked, there are ways to incorporate that purpose into the fabric of your life until it becomes your new way of being. The idea is not to become a minimalist over night but rather to create space for all the important things to shine.
Here are 5 ways to begin the process of living with less in our everyday lives:
- Find your mantra
William Morris’s famous quote “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" is my mantra when it comes to living with less. It gives me a benchmark from which to judge an item of clothing, an object in my kitchen or even the kids’ toys. Does an item tell a story, does it bring me joy and do I need it. Find the words which work for you, and use them as your judge.
- Do it for a cause
Motivate your self to embark on the journey of living with less by finding a cause to donate the items you no longer need. One Bag Full is an awesome charity which has created a 14-day de-clutter challenge to create a bag of love for someone in need. For example, day one is a piece of upper-body clothing, day five is an item of tupperware. Find out all details here. You clear out your clutter and help some one by doing so. A win-win situation.
- Baby steps
Follow a step-by-step process on the path to living with less. I find a 30-day declutter challenge a super easy way to keep focused, for example day one, clean out your make-up bag, or sort out your kitchen drawers. The simple steps allow you to achieve something each day and motivate you to carry on. I find my Alexa Lily monthly edit calendar really useful here as I can keep track of the task for each day and see an overview of the entire challenge for the month ahead.
- The conscious consumer
Living with less means buying less, and understanding quality. “Less is more” and “quality not quantity” may be cliches but they’re apt here. Aim to buy local, well made clothing items that will last for more than a season. Avoid fast-fashion trends and the never-quenched need for more. This extends to other purchases too. Avoid plastic, seek out local solutions, becoming conscious of the impact of your spending and purchase, and be aware of the origins or your products. All these aspects feed into the idea of living with less and dispensing with the need to have more, new stuff cluttering our lives.
- Well being
When I do clean out and declutter a space, the mental benefits almost outweigh the aesthetic and organisational benefits. I feel lighter and less burdened by stuff. I think in the end this is what it is all about. By creating spaces that are free from clutter and unnecessary stuff we allow more light into a space (literally and figuratively) and that energy can be channeled into your work, your family and your self. By living with less we allow for more intention and purpose in our lives.