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5 new year's resolutions to help you live simply

Now is the perfect time to consider changing habits. For those of you who haven’t chosen a new year’s resolution – here’s a few for you to consider. These resolutions are not only good for you, they’re good for the planet.

1. Make do with what you have.

When I make do with what I already have, I usually end up with something better than if I’d gone out and bought something new.

Simple green and sustainable Christmas table decorations Little eco footprints

Christmas crept up on me this year. Guests arrived at our house and I hadn’t thought about table decorations. I covered the tables in sheets and went for a wander around the block to gather leaves and branches.

Knock knock jokes on gum leaves instead of bon bons. Little eco footprints

In lieu of bon bons we wrote knock knock jokes on gum leaves.

I loved the simplicity of our table and the knock knock jokes were a hit.

2. Consider yourself a contributor rather than a consumer.

Every dollar you spend contributes to something.

Instead of searching for bargains, look for purchases that contribute to people, organisations and activities that match your beliefs.

You can buy your vegetables from the supermarket and contribute to the massive profits of a big national company. Or you can buy direct from the farmer or from your local greengrocer and contribute to the viability of a small local family business.

3. Learn to want less.

Feeling like you have everything you want is empowering. It frees you from yearning for more and allows you to appreciate what you already own. The answer is not to earn more money so that you can buy everything you want – it is to want less.

In the wise words of Henry David Thoreau,

"I make myself rich by making my wants few".

For me, learning how to want less is made easier by clarifying my greater life goals. If something doesn’t contribute to my goals – then it’s just clutter and I find it easier to resist.

4. Practise being creative.

Get your hands dirty, build, garden, paint, cook from scratch, mend and make a mess. The more time I set aside to be creative, the more confident I am in my creative ability. Creativity breeds creativity.

Being confident in your creative ability will empower you to jump in and tackle any challenges you may face.

Creativity doesn’t need to be restricted to an art table. The kitchen or the garden are my favourite places to be creative.

5. Find meaning in the doing.

All this creativity, mending and cooking from scratch does take time. But if you find meaning in the doing it becomes valuable time. Rather than search for meaning and happiness in stuff – look for meaning in doing.

I spend a fair chunk of my day gardening and cooking from scratch. But this time and the food on our table enriches my life. Baking my own bread is particularly rewarding.

Whatever habits you wish to change over the coming year, I wish you good luck.

My New Year’s resolution is "to clear the backlog". I’ve reached a point where I can’t simplify my life any further without tackling tasks I’ve neglected.

I’m learning to accept that 2015 will be complicated and chaotic.

Perhaps by 2016 I’ll find that simpler life I’m aiming for.

Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 29th December 2014.