|Two Dogs Sleeping on Deck in the Adirondacks|
What is Simple Living? What comes into your mind when you hear the words “Simple Living” or “Simplify your life” You might visualize a family living out on in the woods, off the grid, growing their own food, home schooling, not using any technologies other than maybe a land line telephone, you know - going Amish. Or you might visualize the opposite: a family living in a super high-tech green house which allows the owners to have all the modern conveniences while expending half of the normal energy used to run computers, a dishwasher, microwave, etc. Both are Simple Living, and you would benefit both, yourself and the earth, by living either way.
The Balch family kinda lives in between these two worlds. We live out in the country, but we are only an hour from New York City where we enjoy all the culture and entertainment that a city has to offer. We live in an old farmhouse which we plan on putting up solar paneling when the roof needs to be replaced. When the furnace goes, we plan on possibly putting in a geothermal system. These things are all large investments, and most of us do not have the capital to make all of these changes upfront, so we maintain the goal. The intention to be as green as we possibly can.
So, in the mean time we compost our produce, we grow an organic garden, we raise bees for the honey and the wax. Bees wax candles are the best (but another time we will talk just about bees and why they are so important) We also barely use paper towels or napkins, yes we wash cloth napkins, no we don’t change them every day. Everyone uses their own... Americans really need to chill out on their germaphobia. When I spill something on the floor I use a sponge and a cloth towel to wipe it up. It saves money and trees.
What else, we recycle all of our paper, including the box our pasta comes in, and every scrap of mail. I’m always happy to see that our recycling items almost always out number our bags of trash on the curb come garbage day.
I don’t belong to any discount bulk stores like Costco or Price Chopper. What they sell in bulk I don’t use or need, and it just requires more space to store those 12 bottles of ketchup you got for half price. I try to buy as much as I can organic and local. And I try to just buy what my family needs for a week. By planning meals each week we reduce the chance that something will spoil before we get to use it.
Buying clothes are my weakness. I love having a new outfit. Before I was married and had kids I bought a new article of clothing every week. This was truly wasteful, and I have gotten a lot better. I really try to go through my wardrobe each season and weed out what doesn’t fit or is damaged and really try to shop to create outfits, instead of just buying a new shirt or boots because they are on sale.
Extra items, stuff for the house etc I hardly ever buy... the beauty of living in a modest size house, 1800 square feet, is that it would get cluttered if I bought too much. When you get into the new average size home, 2700 square feet plus, you can keep buying furniture and tchotchkes and you’ll never fill it up.
In the summer we escape to the Adirondack mountains were we have a camp on a lake. We try to unplug as much as we can, especially the kids, the camp is a TV and video game free zone. The kids actually swim, fish, and play board games when we are up there. I think unplugged vacationing is probably the most renewing.
This is my family’s vision of Simple Living I invite you to create your own, and I hope that my experiences and advice will be helpful to you in your quest to simplify your life.