Living Lightly

poster bealtaine

It’s amazing how much one can live without.

And how much criticism one gets for daring to leave the accepted standards for today’s society!

I made this poster less than 24 hours ago and posted it on Facebook and Twitter.

 The reasons why people feel the need to denigrate such a poster are very interesting indeed. 067There is an overwhelming need, in most people, to conform to what they imagine to be the accepted normal in society, be that politics, religion, diet, dress…etc.

laying a mosaic floor at Bealtaine CottageStepping outside of this normal can be an uncomfortable experience for most.

Mist and trees in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageMaking the decision to live outside of it, however, is the opposite!

It is truly liberating!

The Craft room at Bealtaine CottageIf we are to progress in living on this little planet, then stepping outside of the current mainstream and taking the time to look back in, can only be beneficial in planning a way forward.

A way that will not cost the Earth.


I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 870 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

I appreciate your comment, liking, sharing, or even leaving a small donation. Blessings X


  1. You are living a dream of mine!!! Blessings x infinity to you! I’m gathering the courage (it’s been gathering a VERY long time but I have to take the leap. I’m ready to fly. Funny how it takes courage sometimes to live simply & truthfully!) May all of your dreams come true (or even better than you could ever imagine)! Divine Magic, Abundance & Love to you always!

    • We all need to take courage to live our lives as best we can. Just to begin to understand that each one of us is on a sacred journey can be a beginning.
      Blessings XXX

      • Bonjour et merci, Colette ! I probably have been focused too much about the destination (understatement), forgetting to remember the joy & sacredness (& FUN!) of the journey. Thank you for the encouragement & added courage! 🙂 Home is where the heart is. My heart is within me, so I am home wherever I am. 🙂 I can travel the journey lightly yet full of heart. Thank you again & joy to you always! Blessings xxx, Allison

  2. There are things I would find it harder to do without but they are not on that list! I’m working towards downsizing in every way and this sounds like heaven! Having all the ‘mod cons’ was once considered outside of the ‘norm’ but it only makes more work for us! So glad I found this site – thank you for the inspiration.

  3. I’m living a “normal” life with all sorts of appliances and looking at your list above, the only thing I really would not like to be without is the washing machine. However I do think most people wash their clothes way too often now a days. I have a colleague at work that used to point out people during lunch that wore the same clothes two days in a row and saying how discussing she thought that was. I have a desk job, I don’t get sweaty and when I get home I change from my work clothes to something more relaxed to wear around the house, garden, cats…. I wear my work clothes for two days, air them and if they still look and smell ok I hang them back into the closet. Unless you have a really heavy duty work or one where hygiene is important like in restaurants, hospitals etc. you really don’t have to wash your clothes every day (exception – underware…)

  4. Last year we “upgraded” our front loader washing machine to a tiny travel top loader machine. I love doing the washing out on the back deck now too where I can see my gardens and kids whilst I get a previously uninvolved and hated job done. More work but more satisfaction and pleasure now. 🙂 The machine came via post which made town talk. How on earth can a 5kg machine cope with the washing from a family of 5 with 3 kids under 7? We do occasionally use the laundromat for duvets etc (accidents do happen) but on the whole, the machine copes really well! Stepping outside the norm makes me laugh now. We’re still getting there but more and more nowadays, but the challenges we pose to other people who can’t/don’t/won’t understand and sadly the upset it causes my family that we are not normal (the weird ones) …
    As for our list… No gas connection, no heater (aside from wood fire), no second car, no electric kettle, no tv et al, no school run (we home educate), no worries! Love it! 😀

  5. I know how my circle of friends and family react to my way of living not being the standard mainstream and yet to me still pretty normal. I feel like I could do so much more but I’m met with opposition everywhere I turn around here. I buy or make cloth napkins, my husband.buys paper towels. My extended family think it’ to make fun of me being a vegetarian. I could.go on and.on but I won’t. It’s a challenge to.say the least. I love seeing.someone else able to do all the things I only wish to be able to. God bless!

    • People find anything outside of the accepted mainstream as something to be fearful of, for it manifests questions about their own path, deep inside their psyche…creating fear at times. However, consider this…subscribers to Bealtaine Cottage are increasing at a rapid rate, which means more and more people making decisions to be like you and live a better life. It’s all good and you are not alone!
      Blessings XXX

  6. Maybe we don’t all have to do without all of those things, if only we could all use them less often. I had a few years with no washing machine and small children and it was hard work. Perhaps we all need to do less housework? (she says hopefully)

    • Mags, its an individual choice thing for me. My idea of a contented stree-free life does not include hunched over a sink with a sore back and wet front doing washing! I had to do it for years when my kids were wee and we had no money and I’m not doing it again 🙂 But the tumble drier has gone !

      • A considered approach to what we can and can’t do without is a brilliant way to start…every little helps and has a positive cumulative effect for the well-being of us all.
        Blessings XXX

  7. This is a very timely reminder as my family and I are making serious counter-culture lifestyle changes, and we were already weird! The thing is to get past that unccomfortable ‘stepping out’ transition into the ‘living free’ part!

    I would like this post if I could get wordpress to cooperate!

  8. My goodness, no denigration from me. I could make an identical poster. 🙂 Well, I’d have to add no hot running water, too.

    Years ago, I read that there are two ways to be rich – have lots of money or few needs. I’ve always leaned toward the “few needs” version of rich.

  9. I have often thought that if my husband had been willing to live off the grid as we discussed when we were courting, we would never have divorced. More than forty years later, I still have dreams of living off grid and hope to achieve it in my old age.

  10. Well said Colette, i agree, resources are limited on this planet & we we must adapt to care for the planet. I hope in a few years to put this ideal into practice in a small with my efforts. Keven xx

  11. Colette you are an inspiration to all. There will always be negative people but that’s how you know you’re striking a nerve. I’m reminded of the Vikings in Greenland who stubbornly refused to adapt to the environment. People who aren’t prepared to make any adaptations to change are the ones who will fail miserably. I like knowing there are people like you in this world. You make it a richer place. All my best.

  12. I love the “No Problem” poster. Once you start to see, it really is easy to lighten one’s step, one pace at a time. Step by step. You really are getting to be ‘off grid’ as the Americans like to say. Good on ya, lass. “Non illegitimi carborundum.” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.) Ecoboy

  13. Hi Colette,
    People respond in this way to things they do not understand, OR if it brings out feelings of guilt! I am envious of you having your own place where you can institute so many sustainable methods of living. I do what I can here in the city, and must admit it raises eyebrows!

    As you know, I am an herbalist and I am experimenting with fermented vegies and the like this winter as a healthful additive to my diet. I drink homemade Kombucha, Kefir, and take my fire cider…if I were a germ I wouldn’t want to take up residence in my body.

    I recycle everything possible within my home. Double duty on any packaging.( creativity that my Gran was very good at back in the day) It amazes me to see the waste that single people like myself put out to the curb each week…I put mine out once a month and then it is rarely filled. I guess that comes from cooking from fresh and thinking about packaging when buying.

    You are an inspiration and I find that I keep looking for new and different ways to solve economic problems based on your logic!

    Thanks for sending a bit of spring to us in your photos. It was encouraging. I send your blog to an older friend and she so enjoying it.


  14. How I enjoy your beautiful photography. I admire you so much for living life without all electrical gadgetry we have all aspired to. A friend passed this wonderful poem on to me. It is by Joanne Limburg. I hope I’m not infringing copyright here by including the poem in my comments!

    Travelling Light

    Never underestimate
    the ecstasy of chucking out

    the clean desktop, the orderly wardrobe,
    the black plastic bags stacked by the shut front door;

    the softness of the shaven calf,
    the bracing softness of the friction glove –

    a text that could edit itself would know it,
    linen being boiled must know it,

    that godly joy of cleanliness,
    the pleasure of being stripped bare

    and blameless, a born again
    with just one suitcase, on the right road.

  15. I have found that a hostile response comes from those who feel uncomfortable with what is said. They are unable to counter with a sensible answer and so become abusive. The most abusive comments I have received have been on the subject of the dreadful cruelty involved in boiling shellfish. Even with family members this has caused problems.

    You have to do what you believe is right, even when others attack you for it, so good on you Colette, for not only are you doing your best for the planet, but are an inspiration to others, and it doesn’t get better than that!

    • Thanks Polly, you have lifted my spirits! I am aware that the current state of living for much of the western world and beyond, is predicated on completely unsustainable growth. It’s a simple fact. We have a massive problem in facing that one small fact!

  16. I was blessed to know my grandparents both of whom had lived without all the modern ‘conveniences’ in the beginning of 20th in the remote rural area. What a treasure trove was their stories. I couldn’t help but to ‘interrogate’ them constantly about how the life was back then. Once I remember asking my grandfather – you explained me how you did make/grow anything you needed, but did you ever bought anything a the store? Yes, he laughed – we bought salt, sugar and spirits 🙂 🙂 🙂 And I think not because they couldn’t make it all or do without, but just because of ‘convenience’ of that time.
    Thank you for your posts, Colette!

    • That was the same as my great grandparents, my great grandmother in particular, who bought a sack of flour or a chest of tea a couple of times each year. And as for packaging…that was a bonus to be saved and used again!
      Blessings XXX

  17. Is`nt it AMAZING the way people get Attached to “stuff” and say “NO , couldn’t live without THAT” before they EVEN TRY TO? We live in a town , have a rocket stove , use a line or air-dry enough clothes for a family of 4 , use a broom , and in the winter have a kettle for our stove inside. Granted we have a flush toilet (but I have Chrons so for the moment need to keep that for health and hygiene sake) , BUT…my kids LOVE using my commode lol !!! Our ducks laid their first eggs today and I think the excitement level was higher than at Christmas !!! We make, reuse, repair EVERYTHING ! And yes, even in the town we CAN grow fruit and veg…not all , but enough to help stock the table and pantry ! We are 18 years together (my husband and I this week) and NEVER had a car…and we homeschool…YES it can be done , if a couple living on disability in a town can do it , I think pretty much anyone can , FEAR plays a big factor , plus nowadays , hard work seems “such a waste of time” ohhh the sadness of it all….still if we all do our bit 🙂 THANKYOU again Colette , your posts keep the spirit alive , and the world IS a better place because of folks like you !

  18. Getting rid of the vacuum cleaner was very liberating for me, but I do still have a washing machine and a flush toilet both into a treatment wetland as I don’t have mains drainage. You are so right, living with less frees ones self from fear of loss, when you realise you don’t need all of this ‘stuff’ to live happily.

  19. A few years ago I had a conversation with my nephew on how would we cope if suddenly there was NO ELECTRICITY anywhere in the world. He was 22 at the time. He said the world wouldn’t survive! I explained that of course we would. He then threw question after question at me as to how I would cope for water (rain barrels and I have a creek at the end of my property), food (grow my own, plus have chickens for eggs and meat),.. this went on for a while and then I asked him what would he do to survive “Come live with you” was his reply!! LOL
    I should get him to read your blog, it would knock his socks off!!

  20. Colette – you beat us by two items! We have a washing machine (thankfully it’s A+ rated for electrickery and water usage) and a vacuum cleaner, though we often use a sweeping brush.


  21. Wandi— ja tak tusim budem tiez zit v tych mojich Repistoch….ak sa dozijem…… Bigsmile here….. A ak to nebude lahke…. tak urcite aspon pomale…..

    Sent from my iPad

  22. Love this poster and find it hard to believe that it could be met with such scorn. I love visiting here, it is a balm for the soul and a challenge and inspiration for me to do better!

  23. I love your poster! Although, for clarity’s sake, maybe you should have alluded to the shower! I lived for years (due to a fire) with no water and only wood heat. Of course, it goes without saying that I also had no washing machine or drier. I didn’t even have a shower (which I must say, I really missed); but I kept clean anyway. I also had no indoor toilet, and going to the privy at night at -25C with hoarfrost on the hop vines that surrounded it and a full moon overhead is almost something I now miss!

  24. reading this post in the early hours, here in New Zealand has stirred a quiet challenge within.. how much can I do without, and to rethink a much more full hearted approach to my veggie garden beds. thank you for inspiration! love your journey along side the land. G.L.

  25. Where on Facebook did you post this, Colette? I want to “Like” it.
    Not only do I think we should cut back on a number of “necessities”, but this may very well be the only alternative. I’ve just been calculating my future (if there is such a future) retirement pension and I certainly won’t be able to indulge (and I’m not totally poor either). You are an inspiration.

  26. I have found that keeping my choices to myself relieves me of criticism from others. You are brave indeed to stand at the forefront and show others that living lightly is living kindly. I imagine you take a lot of heat for showing the modern conveniences for what they are, a drain and a cancer on the earth. Keep up the good work….do not let criticism keep you from showing the better way.


    East Texas

  27. I get all the self reliance stuff, getting back to a more natural lifestyle, without all the electrical interference into our bodies and surroundings. But what I don’t quite understand, and hopefully you will explain what you mean by no bath? You bathe in a pond? Or “cat” bathe (I’ve done that when staying on a remote island)?

    • I’m laughing as I type…I got rid of the bath and installed a shower…still laughing…and do smell very sweet! Seriously though, a bath uses a huge amount of water compared to a shower!
      Blessings X

      • I trust you smell sweet, I was just curious about that statement hehe Hey, that remote island I stayed, we were 100% off the grid. They had a claw foot bathtub in the woods, would fill it with water from their cistern, then light a fire beneath it. Cast iron tubs can take that. I like the concept of living off the grid, I can see how it could feel very freeing, not chained to someone or something.

      • Unless you’re my son! We make him turn off the shower while he lathers, sings, mimes, dances, etc, and then he can turn it back on to rinse off.
        But seriously, you are SUCH an inspiration!

Your comments are welcome!