Leggi questo post in: Italiano
no, i’m not talking about myself, but the book by stefania rossini, aka stefy of naturalmente stefy. i had the pleasure of meeting her virtually a couple of months ago and i was immediately drawn to her book, which is about degrowth and how to live without the obsession of having to buy a lot and buy it new.
sure, there are a lot of books and blogs about downshifting (in a nutshell, the opposite of industrial development and growth, so consuming less, making as much as possible on your own, and avoiding the cycle of buying, accumulating and throwing away) and there’s a lot of information on self-producing things and tricks from the more simple and natural good old days on facebook, pinterest and basically anywhere else. but what really struck me about this book is the author’s concept of degrowth which spans many aspects of life.
those who choose to downshift do so for many different reasons: to spend less, to protect the environment, for social reasons, etc. but what stefania proposes is a return to a more natural and in-touch life, as was the norm years ago. this does not mean that one must give up all of today’s luxuries, but only those which we do not absolutely need in order to live a more simple life. stefania writes the same thing that i’ve been thinking for a while, that there are values and ways of doing things that have developed over millennia and people have always lived this way. but the lightning-fast progress made over the past few decades has been enough to destroy a huge part of these values and this knowledge, but without improving the quality of our life, just filling out homes, landfills and the environment with useless stuff and shifting people’s values to these materials objects rather than other more important values.
our buying choices are much more important that what we might think. stefania advises us to think consciously before buying something in a store, if we want to “vote” for the ideals and ways of life that that particularly product represents. this is another reason why she write much about self-production in her book, as an alternative to the belief that we have to buy everything and the need to voite for multinationals. she aks why one ought to self-produce instead of buying, and then supplies two pages’ worth of reasons having to do with our health, environment, wallet, time, abilities and personal satisfaction.
the author defines her own “household-business policy”: if her ancestors didn’t have a product, it means that she can do without it. sure, one can also choose to use it, but it’s not totally necessary. her example: shea butter, while a wonderful substance that can be used for many things, does not come from italy, so if you decide to use it, it needs to take a long, polluting trip to get here. but our ancestors still made their own creams without shea butter because there was the equally wonderful olive oil which is native to this area. i have to say, i hadn’t really thought of it that way before, and it seems spot on.
i found the entire concept behind the book fascinating, but now let’s get to the main content, the advice and ideas of how to live better buying and spending less. the first two chapters deal with how to make DIY home cleaning and body care products. the great thing about this type of recipe is that there are loads of ways to make them. even though i’ve already read and tried out lots of this type of recipe (including those from pulizie creative and these books on baking soda, vinegar and lemon), stefania has proposed many that are new to me that i’ll definitely try out.
after these two parts comes a brief chapter on upcycling and reusing clothes that anyone can do. (although there is no mention of refashiong, modifying unused clothing to create new ones, a love of mine, but this is probably because one needs to have a certain knowledge to do it.) then there’s a collection of food recipes. i admit that i was a bit skeptical about this part, wondering what it had to do with this book. but i soon understood: the proposed recipes are often alternative versions of classics or recipes that are not at all traditional, using local products or leftovers, sometimes giving advice for children. i want to try out a bunch of them!
then there’s a quick section on bartering. i found this quite interesting because i’d never tried it online because it seemed too complicated and unlikely that i’d find someone who’d want what i have and that had what i want. however, it sounds like a very interesting practice that actually does work. i’m already putting together a list of things i’d like to start proposing on online barter sites and see what happens.
the sixth chapter is the one that i found the most fascinating: making an urban or balcony garden. i already have quite a few potted plants and herbs on my balconies and also a small composter, so i thought i already knew a little bit about how to grow plants. but here there is lots of information for a beginner on how and when to plant, naturally fertilize, correctly water and what consociations are (which plants to place near each other to help each other’s growth and defence).
after a short “miscellaneous” section (other recipes and DIY tricks for the home) is a nice chapter on games for children, because happiness is free and there’s no need to shell out lots of money to have fun! another chapter gives ideas on how to do the shopping without spending more than necessary and yet another is about the author’s hobby, crocheting.
one thing you may be asking yourself: is it really possible to spend just €5 per day for a family of five people? stefania explained to me that the title wasn’t her choice and never says that you can really get by with just €5, even though she claims that at times she even spends less than that. and these €5 obviously don’t include what she calls in the last chapter “the difficult things,” such as bills, mortgage, car. but in any case, in that section she provides even more ideas on how to save whatever you can on these bigger exenses that we generally can’t do without.
i guess i wrote quite a bit, but i truly did find this book a source of a lot of very useful information and also a proposal of a fascinating and gratifying way of life. if you’re interested, take a look at stefania’s blog, naturalmente stefy, and order her book (in italian). it’s also available in spanish and in september will also be in german.