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There’s no room for the unimportant in RV living, less is more. If you’re like 99 percent of people you can easily pick out items in view that you once felt you couldn’t go without. You once valued enough to exchange your hours of hard labor to have in your possession. But now, those pieces sit on cluttered shelves or packed away in boxes preventing closet doors from closing and keeping our cars in the driveway because the garage is full. There will always be the true beloved possessions in everyone’s life that turn out to be worthwhile having, but for every one of those there are attic loads of forgotten clutter we work hard to keep out of our minds.
I won’t lie and pretend that downsizing to 200 sqft didn’t have it’s challenges. We’ve actually downsized our belongings numerous times in our lives and somehow it all just piled back up again consciously or not. It seems like having more space just attracts more things and causes us to think that we therefore need more space and the cycle continues. The truth is that the thought of downsizing so drastically was something I dreaded and welcomed equally.
For all the great gadgets, shoes, clothing and tools we, in the developed, world are able to surround ourselves with, we appear to be giving up a part of something much more important, our time.
“Minimalism is not the lack of something.
it’s simply the perfect amount of something.”
There is a huge cost to our consumption based lifestyle that few of us ever really consider. We lose the hours it takes making money to pay for items we feel we want. However, once we get those things we spend our time cleaning them, organizing them, packing and unpacking them, and eventually replacing them.
Nobody likes moving and when the time came to transition from our 1200 sqft house into our 25ft home on wheels it forced many hard decisions that needed to be made, and many trips to the donation bin. I remember it being so hard to part with the things I’d been lugging around on my many moves, some of which never made it out of their boxes. I wasn’t even a hoarder, in fact people who came to my house often told me that it looked empty, and that was at its fullest!
After a week of decluttering, boxing the few pieces of value and moving the essentials into the RV, our entire lives were gathered in a 6×10 trailer (a very full 6×10 trailer!) and the many storage hatches of our new motorized home. The feeling of reducing all that time wasting stuff was like a 1000 lb weight off our shoulders and a fresh chance to appreciate what’s truly important in our lives, time with each other.
The trailer and its contents, consisting mostly of tools and a motorcycle, were quickly dropped off on some family land and we’ve frequently jettisoned many items from the RV hatches on our journey. In fact, I don’t even remember what we got rid of because it was all so meaningless in retrospect but at the time felt so painful to dispose of.
“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Our lives have become enriched by focusing our wants on the simple parts of life. In the morning we want the sun on our faces and a fresh brewed coffee in our hands. We want our picnic lunch in the park and some peaceful hours to work and collect our thoughts. To finish the day, a colourful dinner around the table and conversation through the evening. The Jones’ can keep up with themselves.
Less Is More Money
It’s not rocket science to say that you’ll have more money if you buy less stuff yet many of us battle with the thought of not having enough money while we’re surrounded by mountains of things. Self storage is one of the fastest growing business, things aren’t valuable enough to have in our homes yet we continually sink fortunes into them via storage costs. The larger the house the larger the utility bills, mortgages and taxes. Don’t forget higher maintenance, more furnishings to buy and space needed to be filled. Many of us end up going to work to pay the bills we acquire to buy the things that we need to get to work! How crazy does that sound!
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned
to buy things they don’t want
to impress people that they don’t like.”
Less Is More Natural
All the great things in our lives have their roots firmly planted in the soils of nature. Plastics are a big part of our everyday life as more and more products are derived from plastics everyday. Packaging, bags, toys, kitchen utensils, dishes, and foam are all oil products, in fact, it’s a lot easier to name the things in our lives that aren’t made of oil because they’re far fewer. Plastics are a wonderful tool to create the shapes of anything that can be imagined however on a conscious level we forget that plastics are forever. Because they never break down they are often piled in landfills for eternity or spend their lives drifting around the oceans until they wash up on a beach somewhere.
Wood, paper and cardboard all start as trees and in truth are mainly biodegradable and recyclable minimizing their long term impact on nature; however, the manufacturing process to get them to their final state and then recycle them back into a new product is heavily dependent on chemicals for processing and fuel for the equipment to harvest and transport them. There’s no doubt that recyclable items are far superior in nature’s eyes but they all still have a major impact on the environment.
“Nothing against walk-in closets
but I’d rather walk in the woods.”
Electronic are a collection of silicone, copper, lithium, silver, gold, aluminum, lead, nickel and a host of other materials mined from the dirt. These all require digging machines, manufacturing plants, transportation vehicles, and processing chemicals leaving large scars and gashes across the face of the earth that once flourished with natural beauty.
More people, more cars, more roads, more concrete, more houses, more mining, more garbage, more landfills, less trees, less plants, less wetlands, less animals, less water, less nature, less time. The point of stating these realities aren’t to place blame or create guilt but to open our eyes to the impact our consumption based lifestyle has. The wonderful products in our lives generally make life better, more productive and more enjoyable for all of us. Taking a few moments to reflect and focus on the impact of our wants versus the impacts of our needs will go a long way toward preserving our true need of natures gifts.
“I’d rather have extra space and extra time than extra stuff.”
– Francine Jay
Less Is More Time
There’s no doubt we’re in a time of instant gratification and bigger is better. Frequently, we’re trying to find comfort in one more gadget, one more appliance, or one new car. This mentality forces us to spend more hours at a job we don’t like and less hours doing the things we love with the people who are important in our lives.
Having more cars can be a treat for the few moments we get to drive them on the open road; however, we spend most of our driving time sitting in traffic, getting gas, waiting for oil changes and simply deciding what to drive.
Having a nice big yard is rewarding in a lot of ways but it’s also more weekends mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes and fixing the fences.
Everything we buy requires time to manage in some form or another. Cleaning, moving, organizing, installing, and often just distracting us from our true passions and enjoyments. Wanting less, needing less and having less bills to pay, jobs to do and energy wasted on the less important tasks will generate a much greater amount of life’s precious moments and in turn happiness and life satisfaction.
“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”
Our favourite part of living in a small space is that we are able to travel to new places, meet new people and experience new sunsets. We thrive on being happy with the things we have and content with those we don’t.
So don’t look at moving into a small space as having to give up all the possessions you worked so many long hours to get. Think of it as getting back the hours you would have wasted on the things you don’t really care for. The opportunity to get back the hours you long to spend living a happier life with friends and family is well worth the effort.