When we talk about our environmental wellbeing for us there are two elements:
- The environment where you live – i.e. your home
- The wider environment – i.e. our world
We can apply the principles of lagom to both and we can consider the wider environmental impact in all decisions we make about the things we have in our homes.
Here are some suggestions for managing your environmental wellbeing using the principles of lagom:
1. Does it serve a purpose or make you happy?
There is a quote by Ellen Key cited in Anna Brones’ book, Live Lagom, which reads:
“That whatever is useful is worthy of respect, all women realize; that whatever is beautiful is worthy of being loved, many realize; but that the only thing worth striving for is harmony between the useful and the beautiful—how many realize that?”
When we started to live lagom we decided to manage our environmental wellbeing by simplifying our home. We realised that the reason our home felt small and lacked space was because it was filled with stuff that we didn’t use or need.
We took the approach to only keep items that served a purpose or made us happy – just enough for us to live comfortably, but not so much that we were hoarding goods that were distracting from the space.
When it comes to de-cluttering, consider what is right for you and don’t follow any hard and fast rules. What makes you happy will vary from what makes us happy, but do challenge yourself to decide if it really does serve a purpose or make you happy?
Follow our Instagram page to see how we de-cluttered our home.
Here are some of the benefits we’ve experienced since de-cluttering our home:
- We’ve gained physical space and mental space – once the things were gone, we had more space to think about our goals, what we wanted from life and how we were going to achieve it
- We save time looking for things – everything now has its place and we know where everything is kept
- We spend less time cleaning – less things means less time needed to keep them clean and maintained
- We focus on experiences over things – buying things for us or others becomes less appealing and instead we think about experiences we can enjoy together instead
- We save money and reduce waste – we’ve stopped buying things we don’t need
2. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Here are some waste facts you might find interesting:
- British households create 26 million tonnes of waste each year (enough to fill around 260 large cruise ships)
- Only 12 million tonnes of that waste is recycled – 14 million tonnes is sent to landfill
- UK households create 7 million of food waste each year (which equates to £7.5 billion worth of wasted food)
- 50% of food waste sent to landfill could be composted
- As much as 80% of what we send to landfill could be recycled
Living lagom aims to balance the need for consumables with the need to manage the waste produced by them sustainably. We need to remove waste and excess from our home sustainably and minimise what we bring into our homes. Take a look at our financial wellbeing guide for advice on intentional purchasing.
Here are some suggestions for how to consciously and sustainably reduce your waste and impact on the planet:
- Buy less – only buy what you really need and what you will use
- Buy second hand – buying pre-loved items saves you money and is good for the environment
- Buy quality over quantity – buy fewer quality items that will last
- Re-use and Re-purpose – avoid single use items – buy items that can be re-used – use or upcycle items for another purpose (e.g. old crockery for plant posts)
- Avoid excess packaging – aim to buy items that have minimal or no packaging – for food items take your own containers to fill from deli counters, butchers, grocers and fishmongers
- Avoid plastic – plastic can never be fully avoided but aim to reduce it where possible – consider alternatives such as wood, bamboo, stainless steel and aluminium
- Use what you already have – it is more sustainable to use what you have first before replacing it with a more ‘sustainable’ item
- Donate – give good quality items to charity or ask friends or family if they can use items you no longer need
- Sell – remove items and adds some pennies to your savings
- Recycle – use your home recycling services – take larger items to your local recycling centre – use local government collection services or use community recycling programmes such as Terracycle
If there really is no sustainable way to remove an item it doesn’t mean you should keep it if it’s not serving a purpose or making you happy – find the best way to dispose of it legally and safely.
3. Reduce your household energy
Here are some simple suggestions for reducing your household energy to live more sustainably:
- Use energy efficient and LED bulbs – but wait until the current bulb blows before replacing with energy efficient types
- Unplug appliances when not in use – most electrical devices in your home still use electricity while turned off and some appliances are still consuming power in standby mode – unplugging an appliance will ensure that no unnecessary power is being used which is great for the environment and reduces your electric costs
- Manage your thermostat – add a layer of clothing and block out drafts rather than turning the heating up – lower the temperature when you’re not home
- Hang clothes to dry instead of using a tumble dryer
- Conserve household water – use water saver blocks in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water required to fill the tank – re-use washing up water to water plants or save rainwater for the garden using a water butt
4. Identify the purpose of each room
Every room in a home has a purpose – food preparation – dining – relaxing – playing – studying – bathing – storing – sleeping etc. Think of the purpose of each room in your home. When each room has a defined purpose consider the items, furniture and accessories in that room. Do they help to serve the purpose of the room? If not, remove them from that room. Taking this approach will help to maximize the space in your rooms and keep your home clutter free – you will be more likely to put something away if it a) has a home and b) if the home is right next to where you use it.
Some rooms will serve multiple purposes such as a child’s bedrooms which may be a place for sleeping, studying and playing. Try to limit the number of functions of each room and aim to designate areas of the room for each purpose.
Once you’ve defined the room purpose, think about what should be on show and what should be stored away – you may keep items on show for ‘easy access’ but how often do you access them? Is the item itself or the space it occupies more important to you?
For example, in our kitchen we use the kettle several times a day, for us it makes sense that the kettle remains on the kitchen counter. However, we only use the toaster on occasion, so we keep it in the cupboard and bring it out to use it. For us, the extra workspace and reduced items on the counter is more important that having ‘easy’ access to kitchen accessory we only use occasionally. Not only does this create more space, it is also pleasing to the eye, which is one of the principles of lagom.
5. Bring the outside in
The focus of a lagom home is to keep spaces simple but with an appreciation of the beauty of nature.
Consider how you can use natural light to illuminate a space and decorate with colours of nature to bring a sense of calm and relaxation. If you’re more of a colourful person, you could add pops of colour with accessories but choose classic pieces which will stand the test of time instead of purchasing items in ‘trend’ colours that will be discarded when that trend is no longer in season.
Bring elements of nature to your home in with natural wood, wool throws, simply designed ceramics and a house plant or two. Not only do house plants look pleasing to the eye, it has been proven that certain houseplants improve indoor air quality, and something green and living makes a study space more serene.
Consider mixing old materials with new to gain that balanced look. Bring plain walls to life by creating texture with upcycle old shelves, or by adding a few hooks to a reclaimed piece of wood to turn it into a coat rack for your entryway.
We should also consider where our products are coming from and the environmental impact of the products we are bringing into our homes. Many stores now offer worldwide shipping, but do we really need to have items shipped or flown from overseas increasing the environmental and financial burden of that purchase? A more lagom view would be to support local businesses by buying locally whenever we can.