I came to the realisation that every decision that I made, somehow impacted the environment. Now every time I make a decision, I think about the impact that decision will have and choose accordingly.
When I asked some people if they would like to be guests on my blog, I had such a positive response that for the month of March I would like to introduce you to a guest a week.
Today my guest is Alice Carwardine. Alice is a zero waste campaigner who is committed to guiding others on the path to ecological conversion and cultural change. Her story is closely linked to Lent so I think it is very fitting that we get to know Alice during this time.
Thank you Alice for being my very first guest!
Living simply looks different for different people. What does living simply look like for you?
For me, living simply started out as being zero-waste. But now it has really blown up into every aspect of my life.
My zero-waste journey began in 2018 when I chose to reduce my rubbish bin over 40 days. I’m Catholic, and my biggest motivation was my faith. It started as 40 things, 1 thing per day for each day of Lent. That quickly expanded into 100 things.
And now, every choice I make, every action, every purchase has a meaning and has some thought behind it. To me, living simply is living and being aware of the complexities of how things are interconnected and interrelated.
Do you have a specific interest that you like to focus on in the area of simple living?
My focus is just to know where things have come from, what I am using them for, and where they are going… and doing something about it if I do not like those things.
For example, my electricity used to come from coal, and was used sometimes excessively and therefore being waste. Now, my electricity comes from the sun, I reduce my consumption where possible and therefore have little waste.
Or another example is chocolate. I make sure my chocolate is as sustainable as possible and has the least amount of packaging as possible, and then ensure that I do not have to put anything in the bin.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey toward living a simple life. Was there a catalyst that led you to follow this path?
I had a few catalysts. The first was reading Laudato Si in 2015 when it came out. At that time though, still living under my parents’ roof, I felt as though I couldn’t change anything. Once I moved out, I did make small changes.
But it was not till Lent 2018, that I really started to make a big change with going zero-waste. I had heard about it lots, but it was through prayer that I made the decision.
What do you find challenging about trying to live simply?
The temptation for convenience! Especially when I have had a long day, it is so tempting to just revert to how I used to live.
I also find it difficult when I can see the potential for something to be one way, and it isn’t that way. For example, it should be a no-brainer that we shouldn’t be using single-use plastics anymore.
We should have routines that stop the use of single-use plastic. And yet, so much of it still exists because our culture has not changed. Changing culture is the most difficult part for any person or any group trying to live simply because the normal is not simple, it is luxurious, convenient, and consumerist. It is hard to turn away from those things.
What are some of the benefits of this way of life for you?
Apart from the obvious like saving money, spending more time with family, being free of the need to ‘have more,’ I really like that I have learnt so much about the world.
How much plastic impacts our health and lives, how important seaweed is, how to make jam, how great second-hand clothes can be, how great green lentils are for making mince! And most of all, how my choices can benefit others.
What simple pleasures bring you joy and help you to slow down?
I love spending time with my nan. She gives me so much joy. I love walking slowly beside her, taking her shopping or to the movies or for a walk. Because she has 7 factures in her spine, she walks slow, and you cannot help but walk slow with her. I really enjoy that because I can listen to her.
Are there any podcasts, books, documentaries or websites that you have found helpful?
So many! I am a big fan of project Drawdown, I think that is some excellent science. 2040 was also excellent. Plastic Ocean, Fight for planet A, War on Waste, Uninhabitable Earth, On Eating Meat, Blowout, Rotten, The Inconvenient Truth and The Inconvenient Sequel, Life on our Planet. As well as some great theology such as Creation in Crisis, Ask the Beasts, Creation and the Cross, and Green Deen.
What is something new that you have done or learnt about in the last year?
My husband and I purchased our first home! And I learnt about banks (although the fees are still way too confusing).
We also put in lots of gardens and have more plans to add more. That really was our focus last year, to get our house and ensure that our bank was ethical and our gardens were full of plants.
What would you like to learn about or do in the future?
At the moment I am on the path to becoming a vegan. So I’m learning different vegan recipes.
We also recently got a puppy, so I want to learn more about how to have a puppy sustainably.
And in the distant future, my husband and I will hopefully have kids, so we will want to learn how to be as sustainable as possible with them.
If money or time were no option what would you like to do?
Oh! What a question! And where to begin! I would build design and build my own tiny house that suited my husband and my dog and I down to the ground.
I would get lots of land, and plant natives and vegetables on it, and learn more about how to plant and eat bush tucker.
I would then build a shed on there and run workshops for people and I would run a tool library from the space.
And I’d write a book.
And I’d have another tiny house with as an air bnb for visitors who wanted to stay.
If people would like to learn more about you and what you do, how can people follow you online or get in contact with you?
The easiest way is through my facebook page: Overturn the Tables, and my website: Overturnthetables.net.