consumerism

Returning to Simple

Early motherhood, for me, was a fog of overwhelming joy and stunning sleep deprivation.

That sleeplessness extended over half a year. For while my baby was a total joy, a ball of smiles and happiness all day, sleeping multiple hours at a time was, ummm, shall we say "not her strength."

This lack of sleep profoundly altered my life. Certainly in all of the predictable ways like drinking too much coffee, experiencing "heightened" emotional states (ask my husband about this...actually, don't), and craving every carbohydrate in the world. But being so soooo tired also dramatically reduced my willpower and focus to follow through on certain behaviors that had previously seemed effortless.

I knew in having a baby that things would change, some of my old standards would have to give... I was, however, surprised by how quickly older, more insidious habits came racing back.

I knew in having a baby that things would change, some of my old standards would have to give. The kitchen might not be totally tidy before bed each night. I would probably not do laundry until I was faced with the very last pair of underwear in my drawer. Maybe the dog wouldn't get his breakfast until mid-morning some days. 

I was, however, surprised by how quickly older, more insidious habits came racing back, e.g. online shopping.

To be clear: shopping online for the necessities of a newborn whose needs are urgent and continually evolving is something I can stand behind. If there was ever a time to stay in your jammies and let the stuff come to you, it's when you have a colicky infant in the middle of winter.

My little ball of joy.

My little ball of joy.

But once I got back into the habit of shopping, my definition of necessity started to slide. The one type of pacifier that will let your baby sleep in several hour stretches? Necessary. But what about the couple of extra cloth diapers to help you eek another day out your laundry? Or baby wash clothes (bamboo! organic!)? Or that amazing teether that everyone swears by?

It is SO easy to shop online. Case in point: "one-click" shopping. This is why, when I became a new minimalist, I gave it up almost entirely. If you don't have your defenses up, your blinders on, and your wits about you, you too might end up ordering an infant sized black robe, large bib necklace, and "I Dissent" pin in April. You know, just in case.

But you get how I fell for this, right? image //  via . 

But you get how I fell for this, right? image // via

The other thing I've found about being a new parent is that I am constantly humbled. My body grew an entire human and I also sometimes leave my car keys in the refrigerator. So I honor what I'm coming through, grant myself some grace, acknowledge that I was doing the best I could. 

My little sister taught me a while back that instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "It's not a priority." Because in reality we do have time for the very most important things. If, when you say, "it's not a priority" about something that statement feels bad and untrue? Well then it's time to make some adjustments.

For me, getting back to my simpler, slower, more mindful life is a priority. Both for me and to model for my daughter.

One Small Habit: BYOJ (Bring Your Own Jar)

New Minimalism doesn't end after you walk out your front door, that's simply the starting point.

Decluttering your home and donating items is the first step in cultivating a mindful, gentle way of being on this earth.  Many of the habits we practice at home, we also do our best to bring with us into the rest of our lives.  Today's small habit is a perfect example of this.  

One small habit that Kyle and I both deeply value is BYOJ: bring your own jar.  

In this habit, one essentially never leaves home without some kind of container with them.  Kyle and I both alternate between simply using our water bottles (which we also always have on us) or a mason jar.  This jar serves as a personal, always-available reusable receptacle for any food or drink item you may purchase when out and about.  

So far, we've used our jars for: smoothies, acai bowls, coffee (like Phillz Mint Mojito above!), tea, water, avocados, oatmeal, salad bar items, and freshly-foraged berries, just to name a few.

It's unimportant exactly what brand or style you use -- to each their own preference.  What does matter is that the jar is durable (it will be bouncing around in your backpack/bag/bike panniers after all), and that it has a good sealing lid (my purse still smells like cardamom on warm days from a slightly leaky jar of chai latte this past spring).

New habits undoubtedly require a little effort in their originating stages.  But their elegance and beauty comes from the effortlessness of habitualized behaviors -- when it stops being work and starts being second nature.

It takes a little bit of moxie to offer up your jar at restaurants, coffee shops, on planes or at grocery stores.  Do it anyways.  Not only is it a good deed done for our earth (avoiding the constant stream of disposables), it's also more pleasant to eat and drink out of a lovely glass or aluminum container and far easier to travel with than a paper or plastic version.

Each person, each time they use a jar in public, they strengthen the ecological awareness of their community.  When you BYOJ, you not only ensure that far fewer products end up in our landfills (or recycling or compost, which still require resources to process) but you also can't help but start up a conversation or set a small example for your fellow consumers.  You are one more person moving the spectrum, ever-so-slightly, towards environmental compassion and responsibility.  And that small act means a lot.