This mantra of three words is one of the first step towards sustainability. Maybe one of the easiest to take, since we can start to apply in our everyday life. Though, its application can lead very far in the reconsideration and the active change of our lifestyle.
The first and most fundamental act we can do is to reconsider all the resources, goods, energy we need to supply our lives. Of everything we buy, consume, waste: do we really need them? Can we use less of them? Less often?
As a starting point it will bring us to reconsider what we buy, how we buy, how often. It will bring critic consumers and personally, we will reconsider what we really want and what are induced desires, ephemere immediate satisfactions that leave us empty and hungry for new items that will lead to addiction.
Reducing is also making our lives lighter, easier to manage leaving us more time to share with others, to develop real interests that will bloom our talents.
Of course we shrink our economical demand on the globalised system, our energy consumption. The backflip is that this system will loose some lever on us, making us more independent physically and mentally.
Furthermore, in a future that will eventually steer towards renewable energies, we will have to shift towards Reduction. Whether our energy should be supplied by natural elements like sun, wind or water there are two main factors:
- These sources will never provide as much energy as oil and atomic energy. Let’s consider this as luck: we will value our energy, choose properly where to employ it, what goods to produce and make them to last. So Quality will return in our lives. Plus, constraint and limitation will enhance our imagination and creation.
- The supply of energy will not be steady and restless as it is now. Once again, let’s take it as a chance. The 24/7 energy supply has turned us into drones, working, producing, marching the monotony of blind profit. We will have to live accordingly to natural rythms, slow down, wait, diversify our activities. Diversity will come back in our lives.
At Monestevole we constantly monitor our purchases, searching for local, reducing the length of supply chain, purchasing what is really needed and choosing good quality stuff. Maintenance is clearly a big voice in our management as it prevents breakdowns and replacing spare parts. Obviously disposable items are avoided like pest!
The quantity of waste that goes to landfills is just beyond belief. The greatest realizations of this culture we live in ARE landfills. Where others built temples, monuments, cities, churches, pyramids and ziggurats, we made dumpsters. Not much to be proud of.
On the other hand, if all factories worldwide would stop producing tomorrow, we’d probably have enough goods and materials to provide for our vital needs for a long time.
Using our imagination and manual skills, there are lots of useful, fun, creative things we can achieve with “old” stuff. Breaking the bonds of planned obsolescence, there are infinite ways to find new use to our old, unfashionable, broken stuff.
If we cannot do it ourselves, there are more and more “Repair cafés” opening in towns and villages. There, some nerdie will guide you to fix your broken devices, and other people will give advice and show how it works. Catching several birds with one stone: you’ll extend lifetime of your items, save money, learn something, get to know new people, spending a nice, alternative afternoon!
Here in Monestevole, we finally have our workshop up and running, which allows to build, repair, fix, invent our tools, furniture and so on. Luckily enough there’s a network of amazing artisans from the older generation and that still have that mindset that help us keep our gear in good working state.
Pictured above: Carlo using chicken wire to make a ping pong net on our dining table, pallets reused as chairs for the bonfire, a broken mirror re-framed with tree branches
Well if anything is beyond repair or reuse, one can still make sure the matter its made of can be brought to new life by carefully separating trash.
Every city and community has its collection system, as citizen we should take responsibility and inform ourselves on how it works. This means we’ll have to gather our broken stuff in one place and bring it to a collection center. A little change in mentality and habits is required, but the we properly apply the first second principles, the less stuff we will to carry around!
This may sound like patronizing, and in some way it Is, as it is a call to gain an ethical path on our lifestyle.
Here at Monestevole, if a thing can’t be used anymore, we have a “landfill corner” and once a month we bring it down to the “isola ecologica” where they separate and recycle all kind of different materials. It’s sometimes a chore, and it took some effort to get the workers to cooperate, but it’s worth going through it to keep coherent to our vision.
Let’s consider the long supply chain to our shopping list and we’ll realize that in our daily choices lies the lever that decrease the use of resources, pollution, and somewhere in this planet someone won’t be forced to leave its place in search for better land.
Pictured above: At Monestevole we separate our recycled items (paper, plastic, aluminimum and glass), our compost, and our left overs for the pigs. Over 80% of our items are reused or recycled.