Author: Cheryl Magyar

Children Thrive With Fewer Toys

Children Thrive With Fewer Toys

Children with brimming toy rooms and hard-to-shut toy closets may feel like they are loved generously by their (grand)parents, family and friends, but are they just being bought off? Take it on a case-by-case basis, as you keep in mind that an abundance of choices […]

Ethical Shopping: Take a Stand Against Climate Change

Ethical Shopping: Take a Stand Against Climate Change

The hectic world of today is driven by unconscious consumerism – the want for better and more of it! And of course, at a cheap price. At the same time, our desires have created a slippery slope leading deep into a pit, labeled “Environmental Crisis […]

Four Unexpected and Hidden Benefits of a Minimalist Life

Four Unexpected and Hidden Benefits of a Minimalist Life

The events leading up to a minimalist life are usually preceded by a series of shopping trips to the mall to buy whatever you can afford with the money you have, or borrow on credit. You quickly take all of your newly acquired things home, hoping for happiness with a sinking feeling in your heart that something big is still missing – and it is. When you look at it that way, consumerism doesn’t quite sound so appealing. Yet, it is the chosen way of life for a majority of the population, though more and more people are slowly coming around to experience the benefits of minimalism, finding out that life with less, is actually more.

More experiences, more freedom, more relaxation, more free time, more money.

It is also about less.

Less stress, less mess, less work.

And it is about better health, better financial situations, a better living environment and better relationships – after all, deep connections take time to nurture.

For those sagacious individuals who end up choosing a minimalist lifestyle, the benefits are innumerable, and sometimes quite unexpected. Listed above are the commonly talked about comforts of a minimalist lifestyle, yet if we dig a little deeper, there is still much more to discover as I have personally found out over the past fifteen years.

In a nutshell, my minimalist journey started with a move abroad, landing 5,564 miles away from Seattle. Twenty small boxes sailed across the sea and traveled by land, only to come a few months later than expected. It turned out that we could make ends meet without our so-called “beloved belongings”. This led my husband and I to become intrepid homesteaders, able to deal with anything life had to throw at us, and throw some curveballs it did!

Outside of having less money, not more, which happens to all of us from time to time, we began to comprehend what true minimalism was all about. For us, it was a way to slow down and reconnect with nature in the literal sense, taking our shoes off to get grounded on a daily basis. It shaped us into the environmentally conscious beings that we are today. As we face a changing climate, the ability to adapt is priceless and minimalists are at an advantage as they already know their physical limits.

Yet, it is often the intangible items on the list that hold the most importance in life, let’s explore the four hidden benefits of minimalism:

More quiet time.

Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of minimalism is the peace that comes along with owning less. Getting rid of our television was one of the best things we have ever done. The quiet that ensued allowed us more time to talk to each other, strengthening our marriage and empowering our daughter to engage in life outside the screen. Even now, we take regular digital detox days to make way for a simple life lived offline. Remove email, social media notifications and the phone, then you will rediscover how calm life can be. Quiet is essential for deeper thinking and for not losing sight of what matters most in your life.

Make way for creativity!

The combination of slowing down, paired with moments of silence, translates into room for creativity to blossom. This can be taken in any which way, from singing, to songwriting or playing an instrument, all the way to writing poetry, which can lead us to greater self-awareness as we strengthen our brain and cultivate our vocabulary at the same time. It is multi-tasking to a higher degree, quite different than having twenty tabs open on our desktop. In a noiseless environment we are able to think straight as we regain the ability to trust our intuition once again.

Discover concealed confidence you never knew existed.

As you pare down your belongings, you will have the chance to discover who you really are – not the person who others expect you to be. Step into your new role with confidence and be proud of who you have become! With all the quiet, creative time you have on hand, you can focus on yourself. No, not in a selfish way, but in a personal growth kind of way, where you bring the attention to your goals and career, so that you become the inspiration for others. Sit with your thoughts for long enough and you will find that the necessary courage is already within.

More energy for caring about the environment.

Once you have fully embraced minimalism, the environment will be in the forefront. It will become the reason for buying, or not buying, certain things; just as it will make you aware of the damage that can be caused when we purchase for all the wrong reasons. Focus on quality over quantity, go plastic-free or zero-waste. Do whatever you feel compelled to do to live lighter on the planet.

Now, that you have unearthed more confidence and visualized your boundless creativity, you will be able to hear that nature is calling you outside.

Set down that screen, open the window or step outdoors, and take in a deep breath of fresh air and discover the (un)hidden benefits of minimalism.

Minimalism is comfortable freedom. Contemplate that.

Eco-Anxiety: What can we do about a changing climate?

Eco-Anxiety: What can we do about a changing climate?

Late one afternoon I was all eyes and ears, watching the second episode of Our Planet – Frozen Worlds. Tears started welling up in my eyes as the walruses were roughly climbing the cliffs in search of a place to rest their spacious bodies. After […]

Even Minimalists Are Affecting Climate Change

Even Minimalists Are Affecting Climate Change

We can all feel the weather getting warmer, stormier, scarier; and we can all see it becoming dirtier too, on land and especially in the sea – and we have no one to blame but ourselves. For some obscure reason, humans have attached themselves to […]

11 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

11 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Are your daily activities pushing your carbon footprint over an unsustainable limit? Or have you come to a crossroads, wondering how and where to reduce your carbon footprint next? It is a big issue when it comes to sustainable living.

First things first, before you begin to reduce your carbon footprint, it is beneficial to know exactly what it is and approximately how to measure it.

Your carbon footprint defined

carbon footprint
/ˌkɑːbən ˈfʊtprɪnt/
noun
noun: carbon footprint; plural noun: carbon footprints
the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

Google dictionary

It can also be stated that our carbon footprints measure the total greenhouse emissions caused by living, working and playing in our everyday lives. With our very act of being, we are emitting carbon dioxide with each breath, at the same time we release carbon in more than one way. As you read (not browse) through the list below, think about where we have gone wrong and how we can make amends with Earth, again.

How to measure your carbon footprint

While the end calculation of measuring your carbon footprint is just an estimate, it is also a starting point to know just how much greenhouse gases you are contributing to climate change with – it is also a great indicator to know where you can cut back on energy usage and where you could be making sustainable changes.

A carbon footprint calculator will walk you through the details of your life – starting with where you live, asking how often and how far you travel, how you get to where you are going, how do you heat your home, how much electricity you consume, etc. However, it does not take into account every aspect of life, such as do you grow your own food, do you work from home, how much of your life is stored in terabytes in virtual clouds?

While it makes for a fine starting point, knowing how well/bad you are doing in relation to the rest of the world, it is certainly not an indicator of how much you have to give back to nature. You can give more than you take if you so choose, slowing down the devastating effects of a rapidly changing climate. There may be periods of time when you create more carbon emissions than your conscience can bear, that’s when it is good to have a backup plan, outsource and start planting trees as soon as possible.

How to reduce your carbon footprint – starting now!

Stop flying.

Flying is bad for the planet, and we are in control to put on the brake. Taking to the skies is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases that private individuals make, and while it may seem like a modern way to travel, it is also at a detriment to the Earth. Ground transportation comes next, though we’ll talk about that in a minute. If we are talking about carbon sins here, air travel tops the list.

It may take rethinking your family vacation, even your honeymoon, or embracing a slower way to travel via train and public transportation, yet all creative ways of slower travel are viable options. And in a world where we are all available on-screen, it is high time to rethink business meetings. Face-to-face is always nice, though online meetings can be super-productive and reduce your carbon footprint too.

Some airlines are now offering carbon offsets with an additional fee, though you may want to offset privately and plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Drive less, bike more.

Just as planes are contributing to global warming, so are the very cars that carry us where we would like to go. Of course, it is necessary to be certain places at spot-on times, yet we are in control of that too. If we make unnecessary trips to the store, out of boredom or just as something to do, then we are only adding to the fire.

To reduce your carbon footprint, gradually discover ways to get out of undesirable situations. If you own 2 cars, find a way to only own 1. If you can carpool, ride the bus or bike to work, then explore those options as you increase your social connections. Another option is a car-share, where you get to be in the driver’s seat when you want to – with some prior planning. Every problem has multiple solutions, unearth what is best for you and the planet.

Walk.

There is no better form of staying fit than walking. Gardening perhaps comes closest, though any sort of active outdoor activity will do. Walk because you can and learn to carry the weight of all that you purchase at any given time possible. It is a humbling experience and it will make you a better, happier, more peaceful person, as you spend much needed time in nature.

And what better way to do it, than in earthing footwear, if not grounding barefoot?!

Switch to a clean source of energy.

As you tumble dry your clothes, and watch your electric bill skyrocket, you will note that not all appliances are particularly environmentally-friendly. Same goes for your oversize fridge too. If it isn’t kept fully stocked, its efficiency is limited. The simplest way to get around drying your clothes, is to hang them outside (or in) depending on your location. And always choose the smallest appliance to suit your needs.

If and when possible, switch to a cleaner source of energy. Even your coffee maker constantly plugged in, is continuously consuming electricity. Invest in renewable energy for a brighter future, be it solar, wind, biomass or – better yet – a combination of those.

Conserve water and clean up our waterways.

Water is a precious resource that we have been known to waste. With climate change fueled by droughts and unpredictable storms, we need to be doing all we can to save what we have, both for today, tomorrow and future generations. It’s simple: fix any leaks, take shorter showers, turn off the tap while you brush your teeth. Repeat small actions lead to big change.

It is not just about drinking water though. Our waterways are becoming polluted at all points of entry, from physical floating-sinking objects to diluted chemicals, pharmaceuticals which cannot be seen, the water can hardly be purified from, though any and every living organism is affected by them. We’ll all feel better about the environment when we leave it better than we found it.

Water is second only to air, if one is pressured into setting up a check-list of most urgent tasks to tackle for attaining sustainability.

Try a change of diet.

No, it is not what you are thinking. We aren’t promoting a vegetarian or vegan diet, on the contrary: we are suggesting a place-based diet that includes what is native and grows near you – meat, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, wild herbs and insects alike. When you reduce your food miles, you are also reducing the transportation of your dietary requirements.

It is also wise to avoid extensive consumption of monoculture crops which have an increased use of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Not only this, monoculture farming often leads to land degradation, soil erosion and water scarcity. Let’s fight back against the loss of biodiversity by growing smaller gardens, and foraging for nutrients nearby. Could perennials be the food of the future?

Go plastic-free.

Plastics are everywhere, yet they are only good for a few moments in time. That single-use bag? Recycle it and bring your own handmade hemp or organic cotton bag instead. The plastic straw? Skip that and help to prevent death in the seas. Plastics have a way of floating far from where they were sold, be the eco-conscious one who prevents them from littering the landscape – go for quality, not quantity.

Embrace the philosophy of zero-waste.

While achieving zero-waste is a far-off dream for many of us, the concept of refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot is plausible, uncomplicated and everyone can do it. It just takes self-discipline, perseverance and dedication. In the long run, it benefits all living creatures, take action starting today!

No matter where you live in the world, you can make a difference in the amount of resources that are saved or wasted.

Become an eco-minimalist.

As you pare down your belongings and discover the benefits of ecological minimalism, you will find that consuming less is a wonderful route to lower your carbon emissions. Buy less, invest in better. Go for handmade items constructed from sustainable materials and create with the future in mind. If it is compostable, and fully biodegradable, then you are on the right track.

Plant trees.

And not just a single tree, reduce your carbon footprint and invest in an entire forest! Humans consume to survive, yet we are also here to create. When we generate oxygen by planting trees we are helping the Earth, and everything on it – to breathe easier. If you travel, drive a car, or eat asparagus out of season, you are raising your carbon emissions. Reduce your carbon footprint by planting trees near and far – oxygenate!

Reduce your dependence on technology.

Smart phones and laptops, all electronic devices including appliances like refrigerators/freezers are adding to the long list called means of depletion of resources. As we spend more and more time inside (overusing air-conditioning and heating), we are spending less and less time outside in nature, where we belong. If we break this intimate connection to the wild-world, we gradually lose interest in saving it.

Technology will not save the world. Although it has brought us closer together than ever before, let’s not put all of our hope into that EMF basket. When you feel your love for nature waning, take a digital detox day, or two, even an entire week, to return to the fresh air. Explore the grounding energies with your bare feet, gaze up into the sky as you lay under a tree, and wonder why you haven’t discovered this sooner. Make it a weekly routine.

Your carbon footprint says everything about the way you currently live – both good and bad. If you are not happy with the story it has to tell, then take necessary time and action to reduce your carbon footprint, starting today!

When you are in need of a green living coach to hold you accountable for your sustainable (re)actions, Cheryl and Roland are down-to-Earth sustainable life designers – here to make sure that your home (and business) is as green as it can possibly be.