I know it can sounds weird to imagine a life in which the majority of the stuff you have is actually second hand. It took me almost three years to define a more conscious and environment friendly lifestyle. If I think in terms of percentage, I could say that, so far, we are at 70% on a true second hand kind of life and this is leading us towards the use of always less “stuff”.
What does this concretly mean?
We try to buy less. This is the very starting point. Realize that you can do the same things with less stuff is essential. An example? Cleaning detergent.
Supermarkets spill out every possible kind of cleaning detergents as it really was impossible to simply CLEAN the stove with the same detergent used for the sink or the bathroom. If you check the ingredients, you will find that they are quite the same for all so no need to multiply the amount of plastic bottles in your cupboard. Less bottles, more space, same neatness! And more savings! We use either the “multipurpose detergent” or we do our own with water and infused vinegar. Sometimes I also use a good dose of baking soda (not in the same bottle of the vinegar unless you want to have the “smashed coca-cola effect”)
In general, we try to apply the same rule to everything: from clothes to kitchenware, to cosmetic products. It is not always so easy because we are all under the spell of the marketing Gods but at least start to be aware of our real needs is already something. In addition, usually the less means also the more ecologic and environment conscious and you will have a fair amount of savings at the end of the month (try it once! ).
Clothes and shoes
Buy second hand is usually the easiest step: shifting from buying only new clothes to buy almost only second hand ones was the first step for me. I started from myself: you can find really nice pieces in charity shops, flea markets and in the more usual second hand shops. Then, it was the turn for my kids. Since my first born, I always shopped into what the French speaking people call “brocante”. It is a super nice concept for which twice (or more) a year people usually from a same neighborhood/area sell the stuff they don’t use anymore. Some of them are thematic that means you can find specific piece of clothes (for kids 0-5 e.g.) or furniture, accessories, toys. Here the most difficult part is to understand that (again) you don’t need a lot (and also the kids) and even though the items cost very little this is not a justification to buy mountains of them! This discourse leads also to the Fashion Revolution mouvement and how buying less, second hand or high quality items is contributing to reduce also the exploitation of the workers in the fast fashion industry.
Here comes the fun! I literally have a thing with going to look for old/used piece of furniture that I can adapt to our place. On one hand it gives me the feeling that it’s something already loved by someone else and though has its own story to tell. On the other hand it’s cheaper and super original because you can transform it with a simple layer of paint. To be honest, I’m quite creative but not so skilled when it comes to crafting. I’m more on the basic side: 1) use sand paper 2) color paint/stencil 3) waterproof paint or covering layer. That’s all. I’m not able to carve or repurpose whatsoever as those super cool pictures on Pinterest. But still, I love to put my creativity to work on those stuff and it usually gives me a real satisfaction!
As I mentioned in a previous post, we are trying to get rid of our car by using our bikes more and more. Honestly, a part from using it when going to Italy for summer (not this 2020 though), we rarely use the car. We bought it second hand in France and basically used it for moving from one country to another 🙂 In a city like Brussels, having a car is not a priority. We live in a area served by many amenities and almost all of them are reacheable by foot or bike or public transport. Brussels has also very nice car sharing services so basically our only problem would be to attach and detach everytime the two kids seats. But, you know, once you have something, it is quite difficult to decide to get rid of it. It’s comfy, it’s easy and there’s always that small voice saying that maybe one day you should need it. There’s false. If you realize you don’t need it on a every day basis that means you don’t need it. Full stop. In case of emergency you can always call a taxi or Uber or whatever. For us it’s still a process but we will get there!
We have three bikes (one for each walking component of the family) and they are all second hand.
Less is less not more
I always hated the sentence “less is more” even though I fully understand the meaning. Less is less in any case and we should rather underline this! Having less items in our life is a form of rebalancing the unbalanced share of wealth in the world. It is not fair that a bunch of people (compared to the entire world population) has to consume and therefore have so much. It is nonsensical because we really do not need so much!
Just think of how many items you have in your life that actually do not make the difference. I can clearly spot at least three of them while I’m sitting here writing this post.
We, as a family, still have to grow on our path to reduce our footprint on this planet but at least we started and even though we are not perfect, we keep going. Endlessly. Steadily. Joyfully.