I have done some soul searching and contemplation, trying to work out what I genuinely ‘need’ and what is just for ease, comfort or convenience, to see if I can make any improvements in my life. TV, microwave and other gadgets missing from this list are mostly not there because I don’t have them. Below are the things I’ve identified as luxuries, that I will try and handle better, cut back on where I can, etc. Some are going to take longer to fix.

The laptop. In terms of my ongoing energy use, this has to be the biggy. It’s on 12 hours most days, sometimes more. In my defence, I use it for work, I don’t commute, and at the moment it’s my only way of keeping in contact with my bloke. Currently my emotional wellbeing, and his, depends heavily on my using it, but once he’s here, I’ll cut back and only use it for work, and he will be able to cut back too.

Rubber gloves. Used for washing up, they save my skin from discomfort, but I cannot claim they are a necessity and they cannot be recycled. However, Tom says he can turn them into things, so I will save them once they get holes, and that’s an improvement I can make.

Gas heater. Last winter I used this a lot. It is easier than lighting the wood stove, and I did not have enough dry wood to get through. I’m working now on cutting and stashing wood in the hopes of doing better.

Cars. I don’t have a car, I blag lifts sometimes. However, I cause car use in others, who come to visit me. I’m not sure to what extent I can cut back on this without getting myself more socially isolated than I already am. One to think about.

Books, CDs, DVDs. In terms of stuff I own, these represent a lot of space occupied. They are luxuries. People buy me them as presents. I buy them for other people as presents. I perhaps need to consider how many I am keeping.

Radio. Another luxury use of energy. It is my primary source of news and current affairs, and I tend to put it on when working in the kitchen. I have cut back on using it, and am now unplugging it when not in use as otherwise the plug warms up, so is using electricity.

Washing machine. In my teens I handwashed all of my own clothes, out of necessity. Using the washing machine is pure ease and convenience for me, it would be hard work keeping up with the boy otherwise. I dry outside, I use green cleaning products, full loads and an efficient machine… can I do better on this one? Wear clothes a little longer perhaps to reduce the number of washes. I’m not sure I can face going back to handwashing.

Mobile phone. Usually turned off, carried in case of emergency. Not essential, but I’ve been glad of it during scrapes. I am dedicated to using it no more than for emergencies, and not replacing it any time soon.

Vacuum cleaner. It would be better to brush, but it’s hard to get the dust under control that way and there are people in the house with allergies – me included. Could solve this with floorboards and rugs, but do not yet have enough insulation to make this viable. Something to work on for the longer term there.

Iron. I own a fair amount of cotton and some linen, it has to be ironed, really. Cutting back on it where I can, being more careful about how I hang things to dry, and ironing in bulk for greater efficiency… I suspect I could improve on this issue.

Cat. According to New Scientist, having a pet can be as damaging as running a four by four vehicle. The cat doesn’t hunt, he eats dry food – no food waste, little packaging to recycle, but there is the issue of the litter tray. Room to improve, without giving up the kitty. He’s given me a lot of much needed comfort and companionship through the winter.

Tranquillity. For the sake of my own peace, ease and comfort I do not confront people around me over their lifestyle choices, what they waste, how they live and the ways in which I know their choices impact. Many of my friends are green folk too, and doing their best to make responsible choices, but there are plenty of people around me who could be doing one hell of a lot better. I don’t say anything. That’s one I’m going to have to think about very carefully indeed.

10 thoughts on “Luxuries”

  1. I agonised over books. I can’t imagine life without them, but at the same time I have to acknowledge that life without them is entirely possible. I’m acknolwedging the luxuries, although some of them I won’t give up – I don’t think full on spartanism is the answer, but just trying to be more aware… and to challenge myself to push harder.


    1. Nice piece, this one. you’ve made me think about my lifestyle a little more as well – thank you.

      instead of giving up books, you could simply buy from ethical printing companies, such as O books. There are a few of them out there! Then there’s always downloading books. but there you’re using electricity, and it’s hard on the eyes as well. a tough one! let us know how you get on…
      Jo xox


  2. Great list. With regard to the kitty waste, check out a litter product called “Feline Pine”. It’s made from pellets of dehydrated pine sawdust that turns back into innocuous pine sawdust when completely saturated. The fecal matter is easily separated and can be disposed of into the toilet. The rest of the litter makes great compost filler, or can be used as mulch in places that need a more basic soil. Plus there’s no nasty clay dust and it smells like wet pine sawdust, which I kinda like.


  3. Wind-up radio….? They do wind-up digital ones now.

    I have heard that laptops use a tenth of the power of desktop PCs. I read “OffGrid” by Nick Rosen and he used a solar-powered laptop.

    I would be wary of conflating “luxuries” with “material goods”. A luxury is something you do not need, but it brings pleasure to your life. If you think to yourself “I must stop all these luxuries” you will quickly get dour and empty. But “stop this materialism” is what your article seems to be saying. Keep the luxuries.. the things you don’t need but really enjoy … the walks in the wood, the music, the star gazing, whatever it is you may do which bring you pleasure. Recognise they are luxuries, and celebrate them!


  4. I’ve been watching the solar powered options, as soon as I spot one that I can afford and that would power the laptop, I shall be on it! Eco-luxuries for me – walking with james on Sundays, lieing in bed for half an hour before getting up, reading, playing music, watching the birds in the garden, good food… life is not totally spartan 🙂


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