As we move into 2017 I wanted to revisit what I think it means to me to live sustainably to achieve simple living and what I still need to achieve.
As I typed this article, I was sitting in our campervan at the Lakeside Caravan Park in Robe, South Australia. We make an annual pilgrimage to this neck of the woods each January to relax, recharge and play with a group of friends and family.
We really love this holiday and as I reflect on ‘sustainable living’ – ensuring our lifestyle has our economic, social and environmental needs in balance – I think our holiday nails it as we get back to simple living and do not feel deprived as a result.
From an economic perspective we live sustainably because we:
- Pool our Resources – we do this by sharing our food, household items, sporting equipment and money.
- Have Simple Needs – we live within our means as our needs are simple as we gain so much from just sharing each other’s company and doing lots of activities that cost either nothing or very little.
- Live in Community – if you have ever camped you’d know that a caravan park is like safe and fun neighbourhood where everyone is looking out for the kids so they are off all day making new friends, riding bikes and having loads of fun. Each year we meet up with the folk who come on the same pilgrimage from other parts of the Australia. This creates a strong sense of belonging and acceptance.
- Have More Time – this is spent really catching up with important people in our lives.
- Live Outdoors – we are really active when we are not ‘nanny napping’ so we spend lots of time bike riding, surfing, bush walking, running and bare foot bowling.
- Limited Wifi – electronic devices are not the focus as they are in our day-to-day lives with wifi being on limited offer.
Environmentally we reduce our impact by:
- Eating Local Produce – lots of local seafood either caught by local fisherman or us.
- Managing our Waste – quite good systems are in place to manage the waste we produce although improvements could be made to deal with food scraps but we try and keep this to a minimum by planning our meals.
- Reducing our Energy Usage – we cook and eat together by sharing a communal kitchen with the whole park so we share the cooking facilities, fridge and TV (which is hardly used).
One of my holiday reads was ‘A Year of Living Danishly’ by Helen Russell. It was interesting to read about the lifestyle in Denmark, the ‘happiest’ country in the world and what makes it so. There were lots of parallels with how we live on this holiday.
They have an economic model that means their cost of living and income tax is high but this tax they pay ensures that all Danes have access to free education, health and a very generous welfare system. For example a person can be out of work for up to two years and receive 70 – 80% of their salary. Job satisfaction is high as Danes never feel they are ‘stuck’ in a job they hate. If they don’t like it, they can make a career change fully assisted by the government. The key tips for living Danishly from the book were:
- Trust (more)
- Get hygge*
- Use your body
- Address the aesthetics
- Streamline your options
- Be proud
- Value family
- Equal respect for equal work
This list makes good sense to me and I felt I was living this way on my holiday.
So based on the Robe experience and the Denmark model, my goals for 2017 will be to:
- Keep it simple
- Move more
- Continue to build a sustainable, energy efficient home
- Consider replacing car with an electric car
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Stop the free distribution of single use plastic bags in Daylesford
Happy sustainable New Year everyone!
* Enjoying the simple pleasures of life such as lighting candles and getting cosy in your home with the people you love.