We had a chat with the winner of the Sundried Ethical Blogger of the Year 2019 Gina Caro who runs a sustainable living and zero waste blog called Gypsy Soul. She talks to us about blogging and living a minimalist life.
When did you decide to start your blog and why?
When my second child was born I had to give up work as the cost of childcare for two children was just too high. I decided to research ways to earn money from home and I found an article about blogging and decided to give it ago. I’d never even heard of blogging so it was a slow process to start with. After 6 months of working for free I finally started to make money from my blog. Now, 8 years later, my blog has become my full-time business.
My blog has evolved over time and predominantly started as a 'mummy blog'. As the children got older though I didn’t feel it was right to share every detail of their life online. I decided to re-brand my blog and focus on the one thing that I’m really passionate about which is sustainable living.
Why should people be aware of sustainable living and zero waste?
It’s no secret that our planet is under threat and at the risk of sounding all apocalyptic we all really need to be doing something about it now before it’s too late! This is not something that will ‘just go away’.
I think a lot of people feel that their small efforts won’t make a difference but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A quote I love that has been doing the round recently pretty much sums it up: “It’s just one straw said 8 billion people”. Collectively we have the power to turn this mess we’ve created around. It’s not too late but we must act now.
“The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who do the little things consistently.”
On a more positive note, since the IPCC report came out last year I have seen lots of changes happening all over the world from supermarkets rethinking their plastic packaging to hundreds of people getting together to do beach clean-ups. As I said before, every little thing helps.
What challenges have you faced since changing to a more minimalist lifestyle?
Minimalism is not something that you can achieve over night. It took me a good 4 years to de-clutter our home properly. It’s often a long and hard process but the end result makes it worth it. My ultimate aim was to minimise, simplify and just enjoy life more. Minimalism doesn’t just stop at the things you own either it’s everything in your life. It’s the emotional clutter, the decisions that haven’t been made and the mental to-do list in your head.
Essentially, you are trying to change your whole life which is never going to be easy. We are living in a world where we are told 'the more you have the better you are'. However, we have started to look at life differently and our motto is ‘the less you have, the less you have to lose’.
Minimalism for me is about creating space in our lives for the things that really matter to us like spending time together as a family, mainly on the water. You can find out more about our personal minimalism journey here.
What's been the best part of your journey so far?
Downsizing our home is by far the best decision we have ever made. By moving to our downsized home we paid off all of our short term debt and reduced our mortgage by 10 years! We also significantly reduced our monthly outgoings. It really did change our lives.
What's your favourite thing about being a blogger?
Being my own boss. I love the flexibility of running my own business and I can work around the kids. I still get to pick them up from school everyday and go to all of their school events. I also love the variety of clients that I work with.
What are some quick things people can do right now to make their day more sustainable?
That’s a hard one to answer as everyone’s lives are different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to sustainable living. Something that works for one person may not work for another.
The best way to start on your personal sustainable lifestyle journey is to do a waste audit for your home. You need to know exactly what it is that you are throwing away and then you can start looking into sustainable alternatives for those items.
I talk about the 9 Rs of living a sustainable lifestyle on my blog. If you’re just starting out on your journey then I’d recommend focusing on the first 2: Rethink & Refuse. You need to have a rethink about your current life situation. What are you happy with and what are you not happy with? What changes would you like to make and then make a plan to make the changes happen.
A big part of sustainable living is refusing. Refuse anything that you don’t really need or that doesn’t bring value to your life. Say no to junk mail, say no to plastic bags and say no to the straw at the bar. Saying no doesn’t cost you money and it’s a great way to begin your sustainable lifestyle journey.
What advice would you give to people thinking of following a similar path to you?
Take it slow. Focus on making one sustainable change at a time. When I first started out on my journey I wanted to do ALL THE THINGS! I quickly realised that wasn’t the way forward and became completely overwhelmed with it all. I had to stop and have a rethink and decided to focus all of my efforts on one area of our home. I chose the bathroom as we seemed to generate quite a bit of waste in there.
It took me over a year to reduce our bathroom waste. You have to test out alternatives, some will work for you and some won’t. It takes time and patience. I’m now proud to say that we no longer have a bin in our bathroom because we simply don’t need it. It was at that point that I knew all the effort was worth it. Once I was satisfied with my bathroom efforts I then moved on to another area of our home.
Trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming at times. That is why I share my journey on my blog, in the hope that it will help others on their journey. Hence my tagline ‘Helping you to live a more sustainable & simple life by breaking it down into simple steps to avoid the overwhelm.’