Green words, by Emma

How to lead a greener lifestyle, with Emma Bowen, our previous editor.

Clear home, clear mind

Credit: istockphoto

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Recently I’ve come to realise I’m sick of having too much ‘stuff’. So over the last few months I’ve cleaned my place out. I mean, really cleaned it out… to the point where I got rid of around half of the things I owned. To put this in perspective for you; visitors to our garage sale kept asking if we were moving overseas.

I found myself at a point where I just didn’t want that many things anymore – what was I holding on to them for anyway? You know the things I mean – we all have them. Those items we never use that we keep just in case circumstances change or that rainy day rolls around… the boxes of things that we still haven’t used, unpacked, or even so much as looked at since moving house a year ago… all those clothes I hadn’t worn in a year or so… a crazy amount of kitchen stuff that never gets used… books that linger on shelves collecting dust… the list goes on. I came to realise that it was time to lighten the load, and that I actually didn’t need any of this stuff at all. So after a garage sale, a market stall, some eBay and Gumtree posts, and a few trips to our local op shop (through a bit of time and research, I managed to avoid anything ending up in landfill!), I was free of unnecessary stuff. And it so felt good! Importantly, I’ve decided to back this up by avoiding buying new stuff, unless it’s really necessary.

While doing all this I’ve discovered that it can take some very conscious thought to revert to a more ‘anti-consumerism’ mode. Our society’s foundations are built upon consumerism and growth, and it seems ingrained that accumulating more ‘stuff’ should equal more happiness. Yet studies are showing that the opposite is true. The more wealth we have and things we buy, the more our happiness tends to decline.

So, this issue we’ve decided to focus on slowing our lives down, and on simplifying – from the stuff we own and buy, to the way we live our lives day-to-day through food, money, travel, communities and even our own minds (see the Feb/Mar '12 issue, on sale now, for the full story). Because ultimately, slowing down = using and buying less = a greener life.