When the Simple Life Gets Complicated

Source: cspost.com via Kelly on Pinterest


I do love the Isle of Man.

I love this slice of small(er) town life. I love that the horse tram drivers always give us a wave if we’re walking on the Promenade and that we haven’t been asked to show our seasons pass in months. I love that it’s quiet and friendly and that people look familiar even if you’ve never met them.

One thing I don’t love about the Isle of Man is the recycling.

Vancouver spoiled me. Vancouver has convenient readily available recycling for both apartment and house dwellers. I could take all of my recycling to the waste disposal room in our condo building: paper, plastic, tin, cardboard.

We also had less to recycle in Vancouver because our food had less packaging on it. It might seem strange but it’s hard to find unpackaged produce here. I’m used to fruit and vegetables out in the open, you can smell and feel the oranges and kiwis and melon and you don’t have to put them in a plastic bag to be weighed.

Now most of our fruit and vegetables are packaged in plastic with best by dates printed on them.

We have more waste and fewer recycling options in the Isle of Man.

The new building we moved to has no recycling bins. None.

After some sleuthing I found nearby recycling options for glass, tin and gray card (light cardboard). Every other week I tie several bags of recycling to our stroller and get the job done.

After a lot of research I found out there is public recycling available for plastic, cardboard and clothing. The only snag is that the walk there is over an hour.

Not having a car can be inconvenient.

We like not having a car. It simplifies things for us. We can’t overload our schedule, we have to be deliberate in our planning and it saves us a lot of money.

Sometimes though, it makes life harder.

It would be a lot easier to have a car for my high maintenance recycling routine. Bundling a toddler, stroller and a few weeks worth of cardboard and plastic onto a bus, or out for a very long walk, is a lot of work.

Simple doesn’t always mean, perfect or easy. And sometimes it complicates things.

I’m not ready to give up recycling. I’m also not ready to buy a car to make it easier. So for now I’ll make do. And maybe write a letter or two asking for better recycling options in my area.

Anyone else made a choice for simplicity that complicated, or created more work, in another area of their life?

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  • I’m trying to make bread from scratch, so that I know exactly what is in it…which is in one ways simpler, but in other ways more complex and time consuming that buying it from the shop or using packets in the bread maker..but it is nicer!

  • Had to smile at this post, I live in a rural place in england and can relate to a lot of this.Some places seem so up on the recycling and some just don’t seem to care.

  • We only have one car, which is quite rare around my city. While it’s pretty easy day-to-day and I love saving all the money on maintenance and insurance, there are times when I would like to have another, especially on days we have doctor appointments. I can usually handle all three kids, but when it’s a sick visit and the doctor needs more of my attention, I require my husband’s help, which adds a lot of driving for us.

    Having one car might not remain an option for us, though, because our county continues to cut back on public transportation. They’ve cut many routes in the past year, and we worry my husband’s is next. We live too far to bike, so we’d have to look into carpooling. Moving wouldn’t work because the area around his work is quite expensive. So we have spent plenty of time chanting and hoping the bus keeps on runnin’!

  • I feel like trying to eat less processed foods, which sound simpler, creates a lot of extra work. It’s mostly the convenient snack food like crackers & pretzels that I am trying to replace. But then it’s more work to wash the veggies, peel them, chop them, store them, wash everything up, wipe down the counters. Much healthier & better for sure, but way more work & time.

  • Yup. We only have one car and not the best public transportation. Thankfully we are within walking distances of ALMOST everything. If I have a doctor’s appointment or need to run any other vital errands that I can’t walk to during the week it means I have to drag a cranky two year old out of bed at 6:00 to take my husband to work. It also means leaving at 5:00 to go pick him back up…making dinner time really hectic. Despite these minor inconveniences I still don’t foresee us going back to a second car any time soon. If we have ever get stationed anywhere (husband is in the Navy) where we can live on base and/or has better public transportation I could see us ditching a car all together. You almost have me sold :-)

  • When I lived in Spain, it was very difficult to buy produce without having to put it in a plastic bag to be weighed and stickered. Eventually I just quit putting stuff in bags and requested that the attendant (very few self-service places where I was!) put the weight sticker directly on the fruit. Such a pain in the neck and I got some weird looks, but I felt sick having to accumulate so much extra packaging.

  • My husband and I have always had a recycling mentality and simpler life style, our kids call us hippies. Our life has actually gotten simpler on the recycling front because society is catching up to us. We used to have to drive to a recycling center, but now almost everything is picked up curbside. It’s being conscious of living simply so others may simply live. We believe it’s worth the effort.

  • I live in Scotland and every house and flat is issued with a recycling box for plastics and tins and a bag for paper. It’s collected once a fortnight and you just put it out on the street on collection day. I don’t know if they do something similar where you stay, but here you can contact the council to get a new recycling box and bag. It may be worth phoning your local council to see if they do the same.

  • Maybe you should suggest a better recycling program to “the power that be” on the Isle – In your spare time, of course 😉

  • Totally agree with the food thing. I mean, a frozen pizza represents 30 seconds of work. Homemade chicken and veggie enchiladas is almost an hour. But, of course, I look better, feel better and am happier when I eat properly.

    Not a new idea, but took me a while to really get it is cooking big batches. If I make anything – ANYTHING – I always at least double the recipe and freeze half. Frakin unbelievably helpful.

    • Since we now have a freezer, I’m batch cooking again. You’re right: it is so helpful. I’m already scheming for how I will fill my little freezer before the new baby arrives. :)

  • First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! By the time I read your post, you had 71 comments, so I wondered what all the discussion was about. How exciting!

    Life was easier when I threw everything away. We have a good recycling program, but there is always stuff left over that shouldn’t go in the trash or the recycling bin – expired medication, old beauty products, unwanted cleaning supplies, toxic paint. I’m shopping more carefully now ( I cancelled 3 department store credit cards!), and using less products, but I still have this clutter to take care of.

  • I was very surprised when I moved to England in 2001 that recycling really wasn’t done where I was. And McDonalds still used the styrofoam containers. When my husband (English) moved over to the states it took a little while for him to get in the habit of separating out recyclables instead of tossing everything into the trash. Now it’s second nature for him. Even with a good recycling program here, I try to buy things with as little packaging as possible and think about how easy (or difficult) it will be to get rid of things after I no longer need them.

  • I of M has clothing recycling? Are you aware of any like that in Vancouver or the island (of Van)? I have been wanting to find something like that, but haven’t yet. I have Aussie friends that had to beg their office to get paper recycling. Seemed so odd to me.

    • I haven’t heard of it in Vancouver or the Island but I would bet there is. Jo left a comment that you can talk to thrift stores, Sally An, etc, and ask them if you can drop off rag clothing. They have to have a way to recycle the loads of stuff that comes in that is not in good enough condition to sell. Good luck!
      I’m not that surprised by the limits of the recycling here. All of it has to be shipped off island to be processed and I think each county or borough is responsible for their own for recycling services. There seems to be an umbrella nonprofit that tries to get the word out about services but no one governing body ensuring everyone has the same access. For instance, if you live in a house in my area you get recycling pick-up every two weeks. But if you’re in a flat or apartment it seems to be up to the building management company to put recycling in place.
      Just packed up some tin and light cardboard to drop on my way into town… :)

      • Yeah! I met a woman at an outdoor market here in Victoria who will take all my jeans that I have been dreaming about repurposing and do it better than I can! She told me value village will take unsellable/usable clothes and sell them to carpet makers.
        I find it quite funny that I am VERY excited that my city will be providing waste containers for ALL kitchen waste (including paper products- which I don’t really use). So we can keep composting raw scraps and the city will compost the rest. We will have hardly any refuse for the dump!

        • I’d be off my chair excited for city run kitchen waste. Nothing like that here and we don’t have a yard to compost. Maybe I will finally bite the bullet and get an indoor worm compostor.

  • It is annoying the recycling is so different throughout the UK- I am realising how lucky I am to live somewhere with good services. It is down to the council (Borough, I think) so the way to influence it is during local council elections…which may not apply to you, but perhaps you could campaign to raise awareness… You know, as well as filling freezer with batches of food, having a baby and everything else :)

  • I’m so happy to have come across your site! I’ve been on this minimalism trek for the last year or so. I’ve never regretted getting rid of something! I finally gave up my cable today – I have no channels at all! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and then didn’t turn on the tv for a couple of weeks as an experiment….at first it felt weird not having that background noise, but I am now loving it!! I used to think the non-TV folks were kind of odd, but now I completely understand it. It’s not for everyone, but then minimalism has no right or wrong way – it’s whatever works for the individual.

  • I ran into huge problems w/ recycling in GA until a curbside recycling program came into our area at long last. I still have to take batteries, electronics, CFC bulbs, etc in person- very long drive. Biggest problem was with decluttering our home after having been here a decade…trying to get rid of a playset, finding out that donation centers won’t take appliances or furniture with any stains or holes (in our area), disposing of paint (huge problem- you consider your paint colors very carefully!), trying to decide what to do with items that are may be semi-valuable, getting rid of a very heavy CRT TV that has to be carried into a recycling center but I cannot lift it. All of these actions led to simplifying our life by making our home less cluttered but it was a process of that was hugely time consuming (and still on-going) and in the case of getting rid of the playset and some of the furniture, I had to pay to have it hauled off, so it was expensive too!

  • Homeschooling. In a lot of ways, it simplifies our lives. In a lot of ways, it fries my brain.

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