In terms of material needs, it is liberating and enlightening to know how little you actually do need. Over-consumption can be the cause of so much stress.
Years ago, I scaled all my clothes back to enough to fit into one box. Sometimes this dwindles to the size of a suitcase depending on where we are or what is happening around me. I find that having my environment free of too many belongings helps if I am feeling cluttered internally. I don’t believe in storing or accumulating things so if I ever get anything new, I re-cycle to charity. I won’t spend much on clothes; however, I have to balance this with ethical sourcing – I would rather have a few things that are ethically made than more things produced in an exploitative way. There is a wonderful shop near Brighton that sells a bag of second hand clothes for £10 which is an amazing model for reducing waste and consumption.
We have a 7 week old baby so I am currently finding myself navigating a new minefield of consumer society as peers expect you to have certain things. The whole industry has also been very eye opening i.e. you must have this new-fangled device because you might get more than 2 hours sleep in a row (so far, I have resisted getting a “sleepyhead”, “a sleep sheep”, “a baby nest” and countless more things that take advantage of sleep deprived parents!).
The GBGP comes at an opportune time, as my husband had the option to leave work several months ago to have a year long paternity leave and focus more on the charity we are trustees of. We moved from our house to one bedroom flat. Anything that we needed we have either bought second hand or rescued from being thrown away. It is amazing how the effort you have to put in by being creative makes it feel & look so much better. One interesting thing I have learnt is that hotels give away very comfortable beds for free when doing a re-fit!
Our next step is to move to France to make a conscious effort to consume very little and hopefully extend the time we have. I haven’t properly analysed how this fares in the material scheme of things. Our mortgage on our house will be paid for us by someone else’s rent so we still have financial security. We have often said to each other how fortunate we are in life because really why do we have priority to own land? Why is it ours? It is a false market in many respects and as charity workers, our earning power would never match the inflated trajectory of property. We are all suddenly made capitalists, interested in something that has no proper value that has been inflated generation upon generation. Economically, we are leaving a poorer legacy to the next generation. What right do we have to do that and how to rectify it?