Moving here has (for various reasons), pushed us to examine and adapt several elements of our lifestyle: both as individuals and as a family.
One of the most prominent areas has been looking more closely at what we own, and what we consume. The drivers for this have been partly financial (having less disposable income), partly environmental (increasing awareness that everything we consume, also consumes resources that are becoming ever more scarce, and that everything we throw out, creates still more issues), and partly to do with quality of life (buying less, but better quality, and more consciously – plus cutting back on clutter in our home environment).
Before we even left the UK, we had a pretty radical cull of our possessions: selling or giving away a lot, storing some things we could not justify shipping to Denmark. Our apartment here (although spacious by Copenhagen standards) is not huge, but the white walls and white floors lend themselves to a ‘less is more’ approach. Despite the lovely landlord leaving us many of his books, pictures, and kitchen implements, we have ended up storing many of them in the huge attic, and stripping back to just the stuff we really love.
There’s definitely a very Danish influence too: a focus on quality over quantity, having fewer things but really investing in things that are well-made, bring joy, and are made to last a lifetime, not until the next fad for flamingoes, or pineapples, or whatever dictates a change in cushions and nick-naks.
On top of all that, a few months back we watched The Minimalists documentary on Netflix, and that sparked off another round of paring back, reassessing what we thought we needed: whether that was clothes, or things in the home. We even played ‘the minimalist challenge’ against one another: on day one you chuck out (or rather, put in bag for charity shop donation) one item each; on day two you each get rid of two items…and so on. I am not sure how far we got, but it was quite an interesting exercise. I am not sure I totally buy in to all of The Minimalists’ mantras (they have a podcast, which gets a bit repetitive after a while), but it has certainly made me think more and more about what we consume, and why we buy stuff (boredom, or just sheer ease of purchase, seemingly, often…).
Last, but by no means least, I am hoping to do some volunteer work with a new, local non-profit called think.dk, which is a small group of people committed to accelerating change and sustainability initiatives from the ground up. The more I read about issues like climate change, and the speed at which we in the developed world are consuming scarce resources (Earth Overshoot Day, anyone?), the more I feel as though it is up to each of us to pitch in and do something – anything – to try and effect change. Otherwise, in 2050, when we (probably, finally) get flying cars, but potentially vast swathes of the earth are uninhabitable, and instead of complaining about wet summers we are sweltering in 45+ degree heat, my kids, or grandkids, might be coming and asking me why our generation didn’t do more, when we could have, to make this planet better, and not worse.