How to start a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle as a family

First of all: What do you think about the headline? It’s quite impressive, isn’t it? And what on earth is a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle?

Well, let me explain.

Actually this kind of lifestyle is exactly what we chose for us as a family. Sometimes I feel it’s kind of unique and I think it shouldn’t be so that’s why I’m sharing our thoughts and our philosophy here. And I also share what you can do to start something similar.

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Anyhow, why would someone choose something like that after all?

Since we’re a Catholic family our faith means a lot to us and we’re eager to live a faith-based life. And that’s where you can start because actually that’s where everything started for us.

What does it mean to live a Catholic life? Obviously there is a lot of personal and family prayer, Church time, Bible reading, pondering, celebrating and getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Being a Catholic requires you to ask for God’s will and his plan for your life. And that’s what we do – and God answers. He always does. Not always the way we want him to, though. He answers our everyday questions and he also answers the big questions. And you know what he told us?

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

~ Matthew 25:40

So where does that lead us?

It made us ponder the consumerist lifestyle that we mostly have in our Western culture. It made us think about the side effects that are created by it: Substandard labor conditions, pollution, species extinction, mountains of trash, misery.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

~ Matthew 6:24

God always called us to humility – not just for the sake of ourselves, also for the sake of others. Think of those who are sewing our clothes, think of child labor, think of God’s beautiful creation that is destroyed – by our greed basically. God doesn’t want that, that’s why he called us to humility.

Knowing that we started to refuse consumerism, we started to try to live a “zero-waste-lifestyle” – and we started to raise our kids in a need-oriented unschooling way (remember MT 25:40?).

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So what can you do to start?

Well, you want to take it one step at a time. Noah didn’t build the arch in just one day, right? You have plenty of time ahead of you so you can change the way you live. So here’s my top ten:

  1. A good starting point is to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” – because often you will honestly say “No!” Then don’t get it! You don’t need what you don’t need. Simple as that.
  2. If you do need something than there’s another helpful question to ask: “Do I need this to be new?” You can buy so  many things used and they are still good! Search for thrift stores or try to find the things you need online.
  3. Many of us own just so many things. You can go through your things and ask yourself: “Do I really use this?” If not: give it away, donate it, bring it to a thrift store, sell it on the internet.
  4. If you do need something new double-check the way it is produced. Where is it produced? Does the company it is produced for apply certain standards? You may want to support the Fair Wear Foundation.
  5. There is also a lot you can do in terms of food: Opt for organic fresh food. That means vegetables and fruits in the first place. Make sure they are not wrapped in plastic. That IS difficult, I know. Maybe you can get vegetables and fruits from a local farm? Or a food coop? Or something like that? If that’s not possible you will most definitely find some fresh food in the supermarket that is not wrapped – but maybe you’ll have to really make an effort. I think it’s worth it, though.
  6. Try to buy vegetables and fruits that is produced in the area where you live – opt for apples from your neighborhood instead of papaya from kenya e.g. Avoid long hauls!
  7. Eat less meat and other animal products!
  8. Start DIY. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot cheaper than buying everything new and you avoid products that are produced in a bad way (plus things you made yourself aren’t wrapped in plastic!)
  9. In terms of unschooling: Well, there actually is not real start – it just happens naturally. Unschooling is natural learning. Unschooling happens by the way – intrisically. You don’t really have to do much. What you should do is talk with your kids, be a part of their lives, ask them what they are busy with, ask them how you can support them – show interest in them. Try to really meet their needs.
  10. Speaking of needs: Need-oriented parenting isn’t hard, either. Observe your kids, communicate with them, take them seriously, value them – and set your limits.

What do you think? Tell me how you feel!

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Living a minimalist life as a family – and why that is something worth considering

This is a very special day for me because I want to share some ideas with you  that I’m very excited about: Minimalism.

Have you heard about Minimalism?

In case you haven’t I’m more than glad to give you a short introduction. Minimalism is a highly idealistic philosophy and a way of life that focuses on living a kind of essentialistic life.

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I know, that is very theoretical and I’m going to show what it means to live a minimalist life in practice and why that might be something worth considering in just a minute. But first I want to tell you why minimalism sparks me so much and why I think it is a deeply Christian way of living.

Do you know the saying “less is more”? I guess you do and if you do you also know Minimalism – because that is what minimalism is all about: owning less, consuming less, polluting less, harming less. Minimalism is all about focusing on what really matters and not getting bogged down in details.

So what does really matter to you?

Growing into a Minimalist lifestyle actually requires two things in the first place: Finding our what really matters and reducing things. Minimalists often refer to the “5 R’s”:

  • refuse
  • reduce
  • reuse (+repair)
  • recycle
  • rot

Those are actually not only the 5 R’s of Minimalism but also the principles of Zero Waste – but I will come to that later. So what am I trying to tell you here?

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We often get bogged down in details – simply because we own too much, we consume too much and we want too much. We kind of lose track of what really matters, what really is important and essential because we are so distracted. Other than that we cause pollution and harm others with these kinds of lifestyle choices.

Do you remember what Jesus says in Matthew 6?

No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

~ Matthew 6:24

This is Minimalism. Consumerism doesn’t only cause pollution and harm other people due to awful labor conditions in many countries – it also distracts us from what really matters: God and his message to us – the Good News.

Minimalism can do so much for us, for our neighbors and the entire planet. It can help us grow as a person, it can help us grow in faith, compassion, responsibility and love and it can help cure the planet.

I’m very excited about these ideas and how Minimalism can look like in practice. So be prepared for a whole bunch of articles about Minimalism and its benefits! How do you feel about that?