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12 ways to live well with less

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Dear Wendy,

alt="IMAGE-listly-live-well-with-less-after-the-kids-leave"On this week’s Saturday Listly, I thought I’d take a look at some resources to help us live well with less…sometimes much less!

I’ve been thinking a lot about downsizing lately—not that we have imminent plans to move into smaller digs, but I do have an ongoing (though somewhat intermittent) project that involves divesting ourselves of a lot of the stuff we’ve acquired over the years.

Getting rid of stuff is one half of the equation, but the other half is making do with less, and that’s where this list comes in. Each of the items has to do with living well with less, whether it’s less space, less stuff, or just less new stuff.

As well, I’ve gathered up some ideas for recycling, salvaging, mending, and generally taking better care of the stuff we do have.

I’d love to hear your ideas on the subject—after all, when you moved to London, you found yourself in a much smaller space, right? You can vote these posts up or down in the list, add your own comments, or add links to other resources…it’s all fair game here!

Living well...with less

KarenWendy Irving Living well...with less

KarenWendy Irving | 15 items | 307 views

Ideas to inspire us to use what we have, fix what we break, and live better with less.

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  1. 1. 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

    50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

    Some great ideas for making use of those odds and sods you've accumulated...." If you're like me, you probably have a lot of old stuff just lying around your house. It's not doing anything but taking up space, but you're either too busy (or lazy), sentimental or just have more important things to deal with."

  2. 2. The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again

    The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again

    DIY mending is in again! Why throw away a piece you love, when it can probably be salvaged? When Make Do & Mend ("we make things and mend things," says Pippa Bray, the shop's owner) opened its doors in 2002, they had expected to be reasonably busy. That turned out to be an understatement. They weren't just busy, they were inundated, getting busier all the time.

  3. 3. Small House Bliss

    Small House Bliss

    One way to do more with less is to downsize. These tiny houses take that a step further: how tiny can you go? Small house designs with big impact (by SmallHouseBliss)

  4. 4. Do you know the true cost of your clothes?

    Do you know the true cost of your clothes?

    Buying cheap clothing seems like a bargain, but cheap factory-made items carry hidden costs you might not even know about. Emily Hundt 16 May 2013 Riding home on the tube yesterday, I saw two women clinging to their oversized paper bags, stamped with the Primark logo, bulging with that day's haul. Since moving to London, I have reluctantly got very used to this sight. But I wasn't expecting to see it this week.

  5. 5. De-Clutter Now: 8 Things You Can Live Without

    De-Clutter Now: 8 Things You Can Live Without

    This writer has taken the tiny house challenge, and won! "In 2009 I moved into a 200-square-foot cottage. The rent and location were awesome, but there was one problem. Half my stuff didn't fit in the place. So I got rid of it. Furniture, old clothes, books, shoes, art. And you know what? I haven't missed a..."

  6. 6. 5 simple steps we can all take to make more of the food we buy and avoid wasting precious water

    5 simple steps we can all take to make more of the food we buy and avoid wasting precious water

    One part of simple living: wasting less. Much less. Here are some tips to help. There are 5 simple ways to help us all waste less of the food we buy and avoid throwing away millions of tonnes of precious water at the same time It's already causing environmental damage through the use of water, fuel and energy to grow, make and transport our food, and on top of that it rots in landfill when we then throw it away, generating climate changing gases.

  7. 7. The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living : zenhabits

    The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living : zenhabits

    This blogger takes frugal living to heart--not sure if I'd like to be quite this spartan in my lifestyle, but they make some good points! "Confession time: I'm a cheapskate. Some would say frugal, which sounds much more positive, but in reality I can be a real cheapskate. I am fairly frugal (though not always), but sometimes I take it too far: I have T-shirts with holes in them, I never buy new clothes, we're shopping for a new couch because our current one has holes in it, and I ran my current pair of running shoes until the soles fell off...."

  8. 8. Home remedies are sometimes the best remedies

    Home remedies are sometimes the best remedies

    Carol Cassara has put together a list of home remedies you can try yourself for minor ailments. As she says, "PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor. These home remedies are not medical advice. Please consult your physician before embarking on any new course of treatment or use of any natural remedy.
    What's old is new again, it seems, and some of the natural remedies that date back hundreds of years - if not ...

  9. 9. Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers

    Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers

    I love to garden, and some of these recycled plant containers make it just that much more fun! Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers We know -- working in a garden filled with the same old standard clay or plastic planters can get really boring. If you're dreaming of breathing a little more life into your greens, just look to the materials you already have in your home.

  10. 10. Ana White | Free and Easy DIY Furniture Plans to Save You Money

    Ana White | Free and Easy DIY Furniture Plans to Save You Money

    Ana shares her DIY projects and makes them look completely do-able! She says, "Of course, I'm partial to all things made of wood - but really, the same basic skills that help you make wood projects nice, translate to other mediums - like tile!"

  11. 11. Consumers May Not Know They're Getting Lower-Quality Clothes At Outlet Stores

    Consumers May Not Know They're Getting Lower-Quality Clothes At Outlet Stores

    One part of doing more with less is making sure you get the best deals on anything you do buy. Sometimes "warehouse stores" look like the ideal place to pick up great buys...but this article warns that you might be getting less than you bargained for.

  12. 12. Homemade Natural Beauty Products - 7 Ingredients and 20+ recipes

    Homemade Natural Beauty Products - 7 Ingredients and 20+ recipes

    It's completely possible to make most, if not all, your own beauty and personal care products. Here's how: "Now that we make all of our own personal care and beauty products, I keep a lot of the ingredients on hand in bulk ( from here). I looked at the numbers from last year, and we actually saved money doing this!"

  13. 13. Soda Bottle Drip Feeder for Vegetables

    Soda Bottle Drip Feeder for Vegetables

    Another great gardening tip, that uses up your old soda bottles, saves water, and nourishes your plants at the same time! Soda Bottle Drip Feeder is a great DIY Project Drip feeders are great for a variety of different vegetables. Most vegetables prefer the moisture at their roots rather than overhead sprinklers which can encourage some leaf problems. There are many retail products available but this Soda Bottle Drip Feeder makes use or recycled materials and works really well.

  14. 14. over50feeling40: Goodwill: Where do I Start?

    over50feeling40: Goodwill: Where do I Start?

    Over-50 fashion blogger Pamela Lutrell knows a Goodwill bargain when she sees one. Here are some of her great finds... Whenever I enter my local GOODWILL locations, I always begin the same way... First, I check Julia's Attic...the top fashion selections.... Second, I check my favorite clothing racks and accessories.... Third, I never leave without looking over home decor!

  15. 15. Cash for laptopssell laptop online for cash

    Cash for laptopssell laptop online for cash

    About CashInYourLaptop.com: Sell Laptop for e-cycling CashInYourLaptop offers you a Golden Opportunity to sell your used and broken digital gadgets like a lapt...

View more lists from KarenWendy Irving

Hope you have fun, and let me know what you think!

Love,

Karen

 

Weight loss after 50: Who’s responsible for your weight?

Dear Wendy,

I went grocery shopping yesterday. Continue reading

Help me make it through the winter: Staying warm as the temps drop

Dear Wendy,

It’s started to happen. When Mitchell and I walk the dog in the morning, we encounter frozen-over puddles; the dirt track along the river is icy hard instead of muddy. We see our breaths as we walk. It’s even snowed a couple of times, though it hasn’t stuck. Continue reading

Buy handmade, buy local: Great reasons to spend money close to home

Dear Wendy,

On Saturday, I spent my afternoon in my Happy Place—the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild annual exhibition and sale. Every year, I get the chance to wander around, fondling fleece and catching up with friends, and (often as not) coming away with an armload of wool.

Because, as you know, that’s just how I roll.

alt="IMAGE-handspun-yarns-spinners-weavers-guild-ottawa-exhibition"

My favourite–lots and lots of yummy handspun yarns, grown on real sheep and spun by real people.

While I was admiring Guild members’ gorgeous creations, I started to think about why I’m so enamored of handmade things: not just yarns and knitted or woven goods, but soaps, candles, furniture, clothing, beer, breads….

And I know I’m not alone.

What makes “buying handmade” so attractive? I think it’s the same thing that drives us to “buy local”: as the world gets swallowed up by technological gizmos and slick, packaged, mass-produced merchandise, we want to know that at least some things we use have been touched by human hands.

And if those human hands belong to people we’ve actually met, well, so much the better.

When we buy something from a local artisan—a soap-maker, say—we’re not only buying their product, but we’re purchasing the story that comes with it.

And in a sense, we’re purchasing a human connection. We can talk to the person who makes the soap; we can ask what’s in it, how it’s made, where the ingredients come from…it’s a far cry from the usual plastic, mass-manufactured shopping experience.

Yes, the soap might cost a bit more than what we’d buy in a grocery store, but we’re getting an excellent product made by some pretty awesome people…right here in Ottawa. To me, that’s worth the extra cost.

alt="IMAGE-purple-urchin-handmade-soap-ginger-ale"

Purple Urchin soap: this one’s called “Ginger Ale,” and it’s a real waker-upper.

And it’s not just soaps and yarns—these days, Mitchell and I get all our vegetables via a local organic delivery service. We don’t know exactly what we’ll get from one week to the next, but we know it’ll be good. The veggies are fresh (once or twice so fresh that we’ve found small green caterpillars on the lettuce leaves!); they’re grown without pesticides; and they come from farms within 100 or so miles of here.

That means that when we buy our carrots and lettuces and squashes and tomatoes, we’re supporting small farmers, and helping our local economy. Again, it’s an intangible, but I like the sense of community that comes from knowing that at least some of the food we eat comes from local soil, is grown by local people.

And I like knowing that my vegetables aren’t travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles on their way to my table—food with a smaller carbon footprint tastes a lot better to me.

Then there’s the pride factor. When you buy from a local artisan, in many cases you’re buying a one-of-a-kind piece. Why bother with fancy-shmancy designer labels when you can go for “this one-of-a-kind nuno-felted shawl was designed and made locally by my friend Tonia, out of locally sourced, hand-dyed wool”?

And it’s no longer hard to find local, handmade products. Take a look around your own city, or even your neighbourhood: I guarantee, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Love,

Karen

Take my clothes – please!

Dear Karen,

Continuing with the theme of mail, I got a bank statement this week that had a surprise credit to my account.

I like surprise credits.  They both make me happy.

Generally, they aren’t huge amounts, and they’re almost always from the same company:  Buy My Wardrobe.

Last year, when we first moved in to our much smaller home in London, I realized I had too many clothes for the space we were now to live in.  I had no idea what to do with my things, until one day, I was walking in my neighborhood and passed a shop called Buy My Wardrobe.  It’s a small shop, just recently opened, and I went in to find out if they’d like to take my clothes off me.

I was thrilled to discover that, not only would they take them and sell them on my behalf, but they’d pay me for the pleasure.

This was totally a win-win situation for me.

But wait!  It got even better when the owner, founder and brains behind the operation, Kal di Paola, said she’d come over to my home to help me sort through my closet.  Oh, heaven, oh bliss!
I walked home that day with a song in my heart and a weight lifted from my shoulders.  At last, I’d have my closets back to myself.

Kal came over a few hours later, on the highest heels I’ve ever seen someone walk in, especially on cobblestones.  This woman is a walking, talking fashionista and she wanted to take a peek into my clothes collection.

Before starting BMW, Kal was a fashion designer with an eensy-weensy shopping addiction.  Deciding that enough was more than enough, one day she contacted all her fashion friends and invited them to come over, take a look at her collection and buy, buy, buy.  Luxury recycling took off like wild-fire, and over time, she decided to make a go of it by opening up a dedicated shop.  For space-strapped people who want to wear beautiful things, this is the ideal solution.  Buy it, sell it and buy something new to take its place.

We began in one room and the clothes were flying onto large piles on my bed in seconds.

alt="IMAGE-colourful-heap-guerra-de-la-paz"

This is exactly how it looked. My bed is under there somewhere.
(photo credit: Guerra de la Paz art with old clothes)

“Yes, I’ll take this”, “No, wrong season for that”, “Please may we have that?”… all were heard at various times during that afternoon.

All those dresses I’ve bought and never worn.  Those dresses I’ve worn once and put away for “good”.  Those trousers with the too-tight hips.  Too-high hems.  Wrong colour.  Wrong cut.  All gone.

I had such a thrill when one of my dresses ended up in the front window of her shop, along with one of my handbags, and a pashmina.

alt="IMAGE-buy-my-wardrobe"

My clothes take centre stage in this shop’s cute front window.

I came to a decision that day, that I would no longer hoard things, be they clothes, bags, shoes or even books.

Every six months, I get an email from the shop, telling me what has been sold, what they want to hold onto until the following season, and what they think is out of season and unsellable at the moment.  For the unsellables, I have a choice:  come pick them up and take them home, or ask for them to be donated to charity.

My “unsellable” list is wonderfully short, I’m happy to say.

Buy My Wardrobe has gone from strength to strength this year.  They have a web-site up and running, buyers can purchase on-line, sellers (like me) can see which items are selling and who’s interested.

A highlight for me was when one of my dresses, an Issa kimono gown, perfect for summer but never worn was sold to Emma Owen, wife of singer-songwriter Mark, of pop group, Take That.

alt="IMAGE-red-issa-kimono-dress"

That’s my dress she’s wearing – mine! Now I kind of wish I’d kept it : ) (photo credit: www.mirror.co.uk)

I think this is an idea whose time has come, especially for those of us downsizing our lives in every respect.  If you’re not wearing that beautiful coat from 1998, then sell it and let someone else get good use out of it.  You can take the money earned and buy yourself a newer one.  Or you can save the money earned and take yourself on a little holiday, or get your hair dyed purple…whatever you like!

It’s the millennial way of Reducing, Re-using and Recycling.  So please, anyone living nearby, go to Buy My Wardrobe and buy my wardrobe.  My bank account will love you forever.

love,
Wendy

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