“Simplicity is complex. It’s never simple to keep things simple. Simple solutions require the most advanced thinking.”
― Richie Norton
I’ll confess! I don’t walk willingly into the minimalist world. I constantly fight it because I am a collector of artifacts, travel mementos, of everything! My life is one big collection of memoirs! Yet, living on a small island, in the middle of a huge sweet sea, in the middle of Nicaragua, in the middle of Central America, I have been forced to reduce and reuse because: we have NO trash pick-up, there is no Super Wal-Mart or even a mall on Ometepe Island, and life is undeniably simpler.
I guess that can be a good thing. Right? I am forced to reduce my carbon footprint. My neighbor, Marina, cleans my house three days a week. She constantly reminds me that I have many “chunches” (things) as she waves my dirty old underwear, used as a cleaning rag, under my nose. “Look at this dirt!” she says shaking her head and waving my old underwear.
So, I will…reluctantly…take Annette’s Minimalist Challenge because I know I must figure out a way to actively reduce the amount of plastic and tin we collect around the house.
“I would like to challenge YOU, my reader, to think of at least one action you can adopt in 2015 that will reduce plastic and other throw-away products; that will bring down energy usage; and/or minimize unnecessary consumption of any kind.”
We really like the Flor de Cana rum drinks, so I reuse the glass bottles by filling them with colored water and setting them on my porch as sun catchers. We are fortunate to grow much of our food and we have over 15 varieties of fruit trees growing on our property. Plastic and glass bottles and jars are always washed and stored. I can use the glass jars when I make mango jams.
Seriously, we are very fortunate to have little trash because: the little pulperias and mom and pop grocery stores have only a few items that are wrapped in plastic, we reuse most of our containers, and we can use our creative imaginations to think of ways to reuse some of the nonburnable stuff we collect.
Our beach was destroyed during the October storms, leaving an eroded mini-canal in the middle of our beach. Today, while I was cleaning the beach and burning old brush piles, Ron was hammering and sawing…and voila… he made a bulldozer blade for our dune buggy so we can level the beach sand.
Our carbon footprints have been drastically scaled back by living on a small tropical island, but there is still more that we can do.
My goals for 2015 to lead an even more minimal lifestyle and reduce our carbon footprints:
1. To make a better and larger compost pile for our organic waste. Basically, that means it is time to dig another hole for the mass of mangoes. We want to use the bushels of mangoes and research the idea of making methane out of the compost.
2. The biggest problem we have is what do we do with our plastic? If we take it to the dump, they just burn it anyways. There are no recycling centers on Ometepe Island. Even though we have considerably less waste than when we lived in the states, it is embarrassing to admit that we either burn it or bury it.
Our goal is either to make a better trash incinerator, but that won’t solve the problem of releasing hydrocarbons into the air, or research a way to shred the plastic and use it by combining it with concrete to use as a building material.
3. To make a Neem Press so we can press Neem oil and use it in our garden as a natural pesticide.
4. Develop a better water filter. Many people have kidney problems on Ometepe Island, and we need to test our water and make a better filter system that removes all impurities. We need to become more aware of the water we are drinking.
5. Our electrical system. Electricity is expensive in Nicaragua. Our average monthly bill is $60. We only run ceiling fans, computers, lights, a refrigerator, and a washing machine. Although we don’t have long outages like in the past, we still have daily outages of about 10 minutes. We need to explore solar panel systems and batteries and back-up energy systems to be ready if we do have long outages.
6. Water drainage. When we are in the rainy season, the rain slashes to the earth creating many erosion problems. We built a retaining wall near our house, but now we need to research a way to protect other sections of our property and the beach.
7. Plant more trees that replenish the soil. Our soil, although rich, is composed of volcanic sand and it loses water quickly. The compost will help enrich the soil, but we’d like to explore a possible irrigation system for the dry season.
Our goals are lofty, but achievable. Thanks Annette for the nudge to set goals for a more sustainable lifestyle. I’ll keep you updated on our progress throughout the new year.