How to start slowing down?

Zero packaging, zero waste, degrowth and many other lifestyles share a single central principle: stop rushing and take your time! Even for the little things!


In these trying days, when all communication, work and learning are bottled into a single type of device, we should take time to mind the (mental) health of ourselves and of the planet and to be present in the moment. How to go about it, though? In fact, it's not as hard as it seems. Just start somewhere. A good start would be bringing along a thermos mug that can handle both tap water and hot drinks and have them available for you anytime, anywhere. Enjoy them, don't rush, take time for yourself and carefully prepare your daily plans.

Real things

It is worth choosing your food based on how long and calm its journey to your table was. Did it grow undisturbed in Estonian soil in a nearby village or has it suffered several chemical treatments and air travel from a different continent? Should I grab a plastic-wrapped supermarket sandwich and sink my teeth in on the way out? Or do I opt for real food and real tableware, eating calmly at the table, experiencing every taste and texture? 

Bringing our own bag to a store or food market lets us calmly choose reasonably packaged raw ingredients and take them away in our own reusable boxes, nets or bags. Cooking can be a fun and creative activity, especially with friends and family. You can let off steam from the stresses of the day – not to mention that home-cooked food tastes better, is healthier and also cheaper.

Paying some thought to the leftovers and waste goes a long way, too. Can we share the leftover food with our peers or the community? How about collecting vegetable scraps and boiling them into a hearty, multifunctional broth? Or why not set up composting and slowly convert any surplus back to nutrients. 

Directly from a specialist

Growing your own food on a windowsill or in a greenhouse is an already well-known pleasure: watching the seed become a plant eases the mind and biting into a home-grown tomato satisfies the soul. Sure, it takes time, but the result is worth it. Let grass grow in your garden and let fallen leaves turn into soil!

Instead of bowing to societal pressure and consuming fast fashion, it makes sense to have some universal, well-fitting items of clothing that are well made and last a long time. Combining them gets you a new look every day; buying handmade clothes directly supports skilled workers; and choosing environmentally friendly materials is a nod towards the health of our planet. Any discarded, but still usable clothes can be recirculated, for someone else to discover and enjoy. Meanwhile, evenings are well spent making a patchwork quilt out of old jeans.

Self-care and hygiene do not need to mean leaving behind a large pile of waste, either. Wash yourself with soap and use solid shampoo and conditioner on your hair, peel your skin with used coffee grounds and nourish it with honey. Women might want to check out period panties and menstrual cups. When brushing your teeth, opt for a brush made of natural or compostable materials and pair it with plastic-free, zero-waste, locally produced toothpaste tablets or tooth powders.

Look out of the window!

Instead of putting on yet another Netflix show, have a look out of the window. Take your time, have a good look around. Observe where your thoughts take you. Instead of rushing to the gym to race the treadmill, why not explore your own hometown – a new area every day. When you're sitting in a car or on a bus and thinking foul thoughts about fellow road users, the oxygen-deprived brain does not perform the way it does when walking or cycling. And do we really need to fly out to catch the tropical sun a few times a year when we could spend a family holiday camping around Nõva, Värska or Hiiumaa?

Instead of owning and collecting things, we could rent and lease them and share our belongings with the community. Maintaining and repairing items is a good way to tinker with things and learn new skills. Lending your time and experiences to others brings a double return, because spending time together, joking and laughing also triggers our own happiness hormones. This way, trying to live calmly and peacefully in the moment, we will soon realise how little we need to be happy.

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