My Facebook feed is full of posts denouncing the suggestion made by decluttering guru Marie Kondo to keep no more than 30 books (example). How dare she, they write, attack the most noble of middle class obsessions – book hoarding? In the age of bite-sized online news, screaming headlines and kids who never let go of their tablets, aren’t books the last refuge? As an avid reader, I beg to differ. Continue reading
As we completed half of our studies, my best friend at the time and I set off to opposite ends of the European continent for our much-awaited exchange semester. We had both been informed that our dormitory rooms will only have the most basic furniture, and we chose very different ways to deal with it. My friend at the time decided to travel with a huge suitcase complete with pans and cutlery. I went with clothes for all seasons and products that I was told were expensive in the destination. This was before Facebook, meaning, before exchange, second-hand and upcycling groups.
Fortunately for me, I found that the dormitory kitchen, shared with seven other rooms, was fully equipped. I also found that the previous inhabitant left a pillow and a blanket, so I didn’t need to look for those. People who stayed in the more expensive dormitories, either because they applied too late or because they preferred not to share anything, had their own kitchenette – and had to procure utensils themselves. Ever since that time I’ve been contemplating this issue – kitchenware is bulky, heavy and, although not extremely expensive, adds to the ballooning initial costs when moving to a new country. How to go about it in an affordable and sustainable way?
In the first post about an essential kit to take along when moving countries, I wrote about an essential wardrobe to go through most of the life situations in one’s new home. I want to make it clear that all of the countries I’ve lived in had plenty of shops for various budgets, but whenever I can, I try to avoid a shopping spree in a new country, because it is neither financially nor environmentally sustainable. It can also feel totally overwhelming in a new place, before I get to know how to navigate it.
On a minivan from Maasai Mara, I thought my pockets were already stuffed with beadwork and souvenirs, so there was no way I would acquire more. When a trader lifted his arms, with bracelets and necklaces hanging from them, towards my window as we briefly stopped by an ATM somewhere close to Narok, I told him I was not interested and continued writing my diary. “Do you have a spare pen?” he asked. Indeed, I did. “Are you interested in trading it for something?” I asked to confirm, and thus started one of my favorite adventures in Kenya.
I often travel with cheap airlines, so optimizing my luggage is a constant concern. I certainly have no weakness for shoes or any other bulky stuff, but I frequently stay with friends or Couchsurfing hosts, for whom I always try to bring a gift. Also, I like bringing back goodies for my family and friends, things I cannot find back home, and various keepsakes. Blogging about stuff and shopping is relatively new to me, but I have already shared a review of my purchases for last year′s trip to Thailand and things I wear to enter places of worship. So I might as well share my recent discoveries before a week-long trip to the US East Coast.
Some of my friends are posting and discussing this article about living light and decluttering. It’s an interesting mental exercise to do. I have moved apartments so many times that I can certainly see the benefits of living light. Gradually getting rid of my books is on my agenda.
At the same time, there are certain limitations for traveling/ living light. Continue reading