the old microwave

November 8, 2006

There is no microwave in my office at work. My coffee was cold so I went next door into the physio’s office to heat it up. I asked the receptionist if I could use her microwave and she said “It’s very old” and it was. This ancient microwave was probably worth nothing. You couldn’t give it away let alone sell it. And yet, it heated up my coffee. Now some might say I really should get the latest model of microwave because it has so many new features and it heats things better, in so many different ways and more conveniently. It heats up all sorts of different things not just coffee and it looks so much nicer than the old one.

But I would rather think in terms of having just what you need. If an old microwave does the job you want, then it’s the best microwave for you. Don’t think about getting the best microwave, but one that does the job.

The advertising-driven consumer society says “Get more, you owe it to yourself to have the best of everything” but that is how it can continue to exist. There is such a pressure it almost feels like a duty or obligation.

I’m giving myself permission to neglect this duty. I don’t have to have a new microwave, the best car or the most luxurious holiday destination. I just need to have one that does the job.

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Simple weddings

October 8, 2006

How about that for an idea for a business. Set up a wedding planner based on simplicity. Have some kind of quiz or assessment for couples to determine what their values are. Start with nothing and work from the basics. Absolutely forbid anyone to do make-up rehearsals or have those horrible white sweets sitting on tables.

Our wedding turned out to be pretty casual really but there were still a whole lot of frilly bits that somehow sneaked in there before we had a chance to weed them out. Still, what was important to us was that all the people we loved were there, that they all had a good time, we were at the beach and there was dancing to live music. Oh and good food and wine.

I would love to start a business to rival all those dreadful women in bridal shops who sneer that you really ought to get organised, the date is only a year away.

Hehe. Just a thought.

Rules for living simply

October 8, 2006

1. De-clutter.
This is a huge one. There are many things in life that can be de-cluttered. Your house, your financial situation, your diary / time management and I’m sure there’s more. When in doubt, throw it out. We’ll start with the stuff in the house first. Basic rule: if you don’t use it, lose it.

2. Give it away
Don’t feel as though you need to get someone to pay for your old stuff. I have a policy of never selling anything and it’s very liberating. Give to friends or charities but the best way I think is to Freecycle unwanted items. That way you have a good chance of finding the person who actually wants and needs your item, and even better, someone comes to pick it up.

3. Buy second-hand.
Reducing how much you pay for common items also reduces the need to cling onto them. Easy come, easy go. You will be surprised how good second-hand items can be. Ebay is great for this purpose, and is, I think, revolutionary. There are so many benefits including reduced manufacturing and consumption.

4. Think about your customs
I no longer iron or gift wrap presents for example. The reason being these are things I hate, I don’t think either of them adds to my or anyone else’s life. People just rip the paper off. The only exception is possibly kids, in which case the mystery can be maintained by wrapping in newspaper I think.

5. If you love it, buy it
I don’t think living simply means self-denial or a spartan existence. Getting rid of the clutter (things you don’t love) leaves room for people and things you do love. There is room for luxury, depending on what particular luxuries fuel your engine. I don’t need kitchen appliances but I love nice clothes. Think about the value not the money. If the Mercedes is going to make you happy for every one of those hours spent at work paying it off, then go for it I say.

6. Act locally.
This is a big one too. Try to imagine a world in which there was suddenly no petrol at all, none, zero. How would you organise your life? Live closer to work, shop closer to home. Make friends with your neighbours and develop a local community. The more local we are the less we need to drive.

7. Avoid using the car
Use public transport, ride a bike, walk.

8. Get rid of the car
Maybe one day…

9. Avoid flying.
This one is tough. What about that trip to Europe? But it’s worth thinking about the fuel consumption involved in planes. What is it you want from a holiday, is it relaxation, beautiful surroundings, culture, friends? Can you have a great holiday by driving up the coast to a beach house, or if it’s culture you are after can you check out what’s available in a local city. There is a lot of culture in Sydney which I don’t know about, despite the fact I’ve been to just about every continent.

10. Find other ways of shopping
Check out the auction houses, go to direct factory outlets, local markets to name a few. Avoid big malls and retail centres like the plague.

11. Reject brand names

Remember, these are my rules and obviously won’t suit everyone. Make up your own

To be continued…