2017 is the year where our family is going to learn how to live with less.

The consumerist nature of the world we live in has bothered me for some time. I have read countless books and blogs, learning about how others have gone about reducing their footprint on the planet. Many people make a commitment to ‘no spend‘, ‘buy nothing new‘ or ‘going zero waste‘ and I take inspiration from all of these amazing people (and hoards of others) who have gone before me. However, as a family with small children, all of these specific commitments felt like a little too much. We needed something that was a challenge but that we felt that we could actually manage to stick to for a full 12 months. Hence theLife with Less Challenge was born.

The Life with Less challenge is about helping us to see that we can go without all of the mindless purchasing that we do – the toy cars, the Lego, the birthday presents bought ‘just so it feels like they have a little something extra’; the lipstick, the magazine or the new dress – ‘because it was on sale’.  Essentially all those things that we buy simply because we have the luxury of disposable income and a why not attitude. Over the past few years our house has slowly filled with stuff – so much stuff that it makes it hard to appreciate the stuff we have. I am drowning in stuff. Along with the stuff comes the packaging (Oh so much packaging!) and the clutter and the tidying – all eating away at our life because we have to spend time managing the stuff.

The kids don’t appreciate the nice things that they have; brand new toys are treated with disdain and when they are inevitably broken, I am told with a shrug of the shoulders ‘I don’t care’. They tell me they don’t like the food in their lunchboxes (which is varied day to day to keep it interesting). Well I am a bit sick of us not caring and taking for granted the possessions and food that we are so blessed to have.

I am sick of spending most of my time off each year decluttering all of the things that have built up over the previous six months. I really hope the learning to Live with Less is going to help to change that.

Live with Less Guidelines

  • Day to day essentials such as food and essential toiletries are acceptable purchases – however throughout the year we will explore ways to make our purchasing more sustainable through mini challenges. Toiletries should only be purchased when they need replacing. Clothing should only be purchased where essential and second hand where possible.
  • Toiletries should only be purchased when they need replacing. Clothing should only be purchased where essential and second hand where possible. Craft supplies may be purchased where they are required to complete a project. Major spending such as car servicing and planned purchases are allowed.
  • No ‘Non-essentials” are to be purchased. This includes books, magazines, toys, candles, artwork, knickknacks, stationary, non-essential craft supplies
  • Adults and children are allowed to save up to purchase an approved item. They must present a case for their need of this item at a family meeting. They must be able to demonstrate why they need to purchase this as a new item.
  • Gifts are allowed to be accepted where the gift is an experience – such as a trip to the zoo, the movies, a show etc. Gifts for others will be made from existing materials where possible.
  • We will write about the things that we do buy throughout the year here in a weekly Live with Less summary.

I am looking forward to undertaking this year long challenge. It will be quite the challenge – especially for me as the main purchaser. Often I am the one who is guilty of succumbing to the needs of the children while out and about. I also have quite the large yarn stash and am well known for impulse purchasing on the whim of whatever enabling podcast I happen to have been listening to that week. But the bottom line is, I am pretty sure that we do have everything we could possibly need in our lives already.  I am also pretty sure that there are many things we could learn to live without – and that much of our purchasing is out of habit rather than need. I am looking forward to exploring the thoughts, feelings and realisations I have while travelling this road – and I hope that our experience can be of benefit to others out there who might be struggling to help their children be thankful for the life we have in the ‘buy it now’ world we live in.  Let the 2017 Live with Less Challenge begin.

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