My name is Suzanne Perazzini and I have started this website to document my and my husband’s path towards minimalism and zero waste. Though few blogs exist on zero waste, there are inspiring and informative blogs and video channels about minimalism. However, the majority are written by those in the early stages of their lives before much accumulation of material wealth has occurred, and it is much easier to be a minimalist when you own very little. I started off as one too.
When I was 18, I taught at a high School in the Fiji Islands on Volunteer Service Abroad. I lived in a simple house on the school compound with two other teachers and my bedroom contained a bed, a curtained wardrobe and a desk. At least, I think I had a desk though I remember preparing lessons on the floor. My wardrobe contained 5 or 6 dresses, 2 tops, 2 pairs of shorts and 1 skirt – the sum total of my possessions apart from a few toiletries. Our living room had a sofa and a side table while the kitchen had a small table for eating. That was about it. I received a tiny monthly volunteer salary which was enough for very basic food with a little left over for bus fares and limited play money. And yet I wanted for nothing. My weeks were spent teaching and my weekends were spent outdoors exploring with friends. Life was simple and so were my expectations.
I returned to New Zealand at the end of the year and settled back with some difficulty, living at home and studying at University.
But, by 23, I was off again and this time to Italy, where I worked as a teacher of English as a second language, trained to be a fashion designer and found a husband-to-be. Those years were spent moving from apartment to apartment, accumulating more and more stuff. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and left nine years later with half a container of possessions which were shipped to us in New Zealand.
Careers, a child, much travelling and acquiring filled the next two decades. We bought, renovated and sold 12 homes in that time and climbed the financial ladder to a place of comfort.
And yet, today I look around me at all the trappings of my life and wonder at how far I have moved from that simple life in Fiji with 5 or 6 dresses, 2 tops, 2 pairs of shorts and 1 skirt. It doesn’t feel like progress, just like a shift sideways.
We have just sold our house overlooking the Pacific Ocean with five bedrooms, three bathrooms and two living rooms, where we both ran businesses from home, but there were still two rooms downstairs that were never used now that our son has left home. I felt the weight of our belongings as I dreamed and planned towards moving to a much smaller house near the water somewhere in New Zealand. I also feel the weight of living a life that had a large carbon footprint and to that end I gradually reduced our belongings.
Each day, I made inroads into this project to reduce our possessions and our waste in preparation for the next phase of our lives – a return to the simplicity of that year I spent in Fiji.
We now live in a delightful cottage in the country overlooking the water and are renovating it. We have sold all our large furniture and have bought smaller pieces and just what we need to live a comfortable life. Follow along as I continue on this path to minimalism. I feel it is a journey, not a destination.