Back to basics… less is more… write to express not to impress … naturalist thinking … those are all phrases that virtually mean the same thing — keep it simple or as one of my all-time favorite clients so eloquently says, simpler-fi.
I smiled when she said it believing she blundered her words. She’s much smarter than I am, so my ego swelled and I rushed to correct her. Sensing my verbal pounce, she gently shook her head; not out of defiance, but to indicate I misunderstood. Then I realized her murmur was no consonant stutter; it was a timely, clever and deeply meaningful wordplay. To an impressionable and self-proclaimed minimalist like me, it was much more than a spoonerism, twas an inspiring life slogan — simpler-fi!
In a world full of excess… mega-million dollar estates, feature-packed vehicles, extraneous technology and super-sized meals it’s easy to fall victim to the more-is-better hype. Heck, Texas framed their state slogan on size “Every thing’s bigger in Texas“, but bigger is not better. It just costs more. Is there something people like us can do to offset abundance? Yes, there’s a contagious concept sweeping the world marketed as green homes, hybrid vehicles, simple technology and dollar menus. And no matter what advertisers call it — it’s simpler-fi and maybe there’s something the WishingRock family can do.
Our House: Compared to today’s modern mansion and the lifestyles that accompany it, we live a surprisingly humble and environmentally respectful life. Our right-sized home is smaller than the average new home and considerably more utility conscious by design and lifestyle. We designed the home to reduce impact on the land, utilities and motion. We planted low maintenance plants or left landscape natural. We limit artificial light to that absolutely necessary. We set computers to turn off when inactive. We oriented the home for a future solar array retrofit when they become more competitive. Despite valiant attempts to be earth friendly, we sacrificed several advantages of the old house.
- Half the commuting distance
- Curb-side recycling
- Convenient shopping
To offset this, I work from home at least once a week and may begin working two days from home. We recycle paper, plastic, cardboard and deposit them conveniently at recycle centers in route to work. We reuse shredded waste paper for chimanea or packaging material. We’re septic-friendly and closely monitor oil, grease and food waste. But that’s not enough.
Our Car: I have a low maintenance vehicle, we keep maintained and it gets decent gas mileage, but I use a lot of gas on the 50 mile commute to work. Occasional work-from-home days helps, but we also consolidate trips and shop as close to home as possible. We’ve contemplated a hybrid vehicle, but in addition to conserving natural resources, we conserve financial resources too and we have no car payments so my earth friendliest alternative is to be mindful of trip distances and reduce wherever possible.
Our Gadgets: We’re heavily reliant on computers and rechargeable games, cameras, printers. All use electricity in some fashion and generate waste that requires special handling. We dispose of batteries, cartridges and components at approved recycling centers which are easier to find than you think. Best Buy and Wal-Mart have battery and print cartridge kiosks to collect disposable objects to be recycled and reused. Dell will recycle your old Dell-brand computer for free. Simply logon to their website and print out a free DHL shipping label. Call DHL for pickup and they take care of the rest. An even friendlier alternative is giving your old computer to someone else — like my dad, who loves to use old computers.
Our Food: Gone are the days when I equated value with quantity. Those supersize value meals only supersize me. We eat at home more often to conserve cash and calories, but when we eat out, we often purchase the child’s portions to reduce consumption. To unload my supersize baggage, I’m trekking the neighborhood terrain to recapture the trimmer waste line I had when fit was phat. This is a double bonus because I feel better and I don’t have to buy new clothes.
Reading through our simpler-fi initiatives helped me realize something important…I’m exhausted. When living large is a convenient habit, living simpler can be much more work. Forming habits is a type of change and change is challenging. If you don’t believe me, try changing a wet swimsuit. It may not be easy, but maybe our efforts will permit someone else to simpler-fi either in this generation or the next.