GIVING THINGS A SECOND LIFE…
Shopping, shopping, shopping… Who doesn’t really like it? But has anyone actually reflected on what we purchase? And most importantly, whether we need those goods in such huge amounts, which would be enough to be shared among a few lonely neighbors?
I must truly admit that as long as I spend my money wisely and I try not to waste food and things that may still come in handy, I have never been thinking about what happens to this mass of waste which I produce weekly, monthly or yearly. I could continue with further examples, going back to the day of my birth.
As far as buying food doesn’t give me that much pleasure, purchasing clothes and other accessories can engulf my attention for good. Surely, I try not to throw away things which are not worn out, just because I got bored with them. I always try to find people, who would find my little things still useful. However, there are still loads of boxes, mini-boxes, canisters, mini-containers and other leftovers of all sorts which I simply don’t know how to reuse.
Of course, during this processing creative block, the Internet may come to help. Since we can find there an unlimited number of tutorials presenting crazy ‘hoarders’ making use of some pieces of an old string to make beautiful and quite popular macramé or using old pallets to produce wonderful and stylish patio furniture. All this sounds amazing but not everyone is as gifted as an artist or a skilled carpenter. What should we do if we can’t hit the broad side of a barn and we don’t know how to readjust ourselves to an eco-friendly way of life?
Well, there are people who will not only be eager to present simple ways of giving things a second life, but they will also motivate us to lead a sustainable lifestyle. This will bring us and the surrounding environment a lot of good. That’s why, I’m truly pleased to introduce you to my today’s interviewee – Agi Szentmiklosi – a blogger who will open the doors to a completely different reality, the one in which we will have time to pay more attention to ourselves and slow down the pace of our lives a little bit. Besides this we will feel joy while creating new, more or less, useful things out of those which at first glance may have seemed to be rather useless and in this way we will feel a stronger bond not only with the nature, but also with ourselves.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Agi: Hello to Everyone, I am so honored to be interviewed.
I am Agi Szentmiklosi ( my last name roughly means “from Santa Claus” in Hungarian). I live in Budapest, Hungary, and I lived in Kansas, US when I was in high school. I have a blog called karma.style where my main goal is to motivate and educate people about living an eco-friendly life.
I firmly believe that if we are not careful enough and don’t pay attention to the warnings, things will come back to bite us.
So I decided to motivate and inspire people, plus help those who haven’t figured out the importance of being green.
I write about our beautiful and wonderful nature, how much we get from her, and how much we can give back. I put up DIY project tutorials that are not only fun but also help reduce waste by repurposing everyday items from our homes. And there are some easy tips & tricks to live a more sustainable life, without too much effort.
Passion Piece: After more than a decade, you decided to avoid the dull 24/7 jobs and to slow down a little bit. That made you look at your passions from a different angle. Have you always been interested in being green and eco-friendly?
Agi: Unfortunately, no. Sure, I recycled, and I didn’t litter, and I have an electric car to save money on parking and gas, but I didn’t see the big picture. For 16 years, I worked at different television companies, and when it finally ended, I just knew, I do not want to work for anyone else anymore ever again. I’ve really enjoyed my freedom ever since. Waking up without an alarm clock is one of the biggest gifts ever.
My biggest change after I stopped working was not having monthly income. So I had to stop wasting my money. I was the kind of girl who went shopping every time I felt sad, depressed, or just simply got bored and went on a vacation to different countries every time I wanted to get out a little.
There is a great song by Shania Twain (Ka-Ching), and the lyrics just got to me and made everything so clear:
“We live in a greedy little world,
That teaches every little boy and girl.
To earn as much as they can possibly,
Then turn around and spend it foolishly.
All we ever want is more,
A lot more than we had before.”
So I started not spending money foolishly, and I realized, it’s not that hard, I just have to use the things I would throw away, instead of buying new ones.
This was the point when I realized, saving money and being eco-friendly are not that far from each other. If you think about it, being eco-friendly means reducing our ecological footprint, using less energy, produce less waste – how can you do these things? By not buying more things. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I hope it makes sense.
With this new set of mind, I was able to cut back, and now I only spend about 10% of the money I spent a few years ago monthly.
Passion Piece: How being eco-friendly and knowing how to lead a sustainable lifestyle changed the standard of your life?
Agi: While I had this huge change in life with my freedom, my mom moved to a small town. She also switched from the fancy capital life to having chickens and ducks and a big garden. Naturally, I helped her get through this transition, and I instantly fell in love with the countryside. I helped everywhere I could, designed the house, the barn, took care of all the animals.
I quickly realized that having this lifestyle helps reduce waste tremendously. We eat what we grow in the garden, we give the leftovers to the birds and the birds give us food. It’s beautiful. My favorite post is actually about this very topic.
Still, my biggest issue was with all the waste we produced. We renovated an old house, so there were thousands of leftover junk.
Also, with the move, we had to pack up 60 years of stuff. My mom had a lot of “useless” things.
I never thought of anything as “useless”, I had been collecting stuff in my tiny apartment in the city for years, from remaining mason jars, bottles, to leftover eggshells, pieces of wires, even paper shreds, because I saw the possibilities in everything.
Every time I see something useless, or junk, I start thinking about things I could do with it. I‘m not a hoarder, I just hate throwing things out.
Luckily, I “got” the basement of the house, so I moved all my creative things, the tools I inherited from my dad, decorations, “useless” stuff there, and finally, I had my dream workshop with big enough space to create anything, from anything, any time I want.
This changed everything because now, I had the possibility to really reduce waste in ways I wouldn’t have even dreamt of before. I can make my own stuff now, I have the space and the equipment to do anything. And since the Internet kicked in, there isn’t much you can’t learn from there.
I learned how to use the jigsaw, the circular saw, all those sanding tools, and I can repair most of the things around the house. And I am not calling this a “man’s work” – I am calling it a creative task.
Passion Piece: You set up your own blog Karma Style. How is it related to the previously mentioned passion of yours? What can your readers get to know about while visiting your website?
Agi: From my teenage years, I always loved working with kids, I was always responsible for the DIY sessions in preschools, camps, and other creative workshops. We made decorations, jewelry, other useful things – my only rule was, try to not spend money on the ingredients. Look around the house, surely you can find some leftover pieces of colored paper, or some socks without a pair. Or, just go outside, and collect something in nature – and I could go on. This way, we can all avoid throwing things in the trash, and in these sessions, I could show children the importance of reducing waste.
I hate it when people go into creative stores, and buy a “DIY package” – which contains all the elements of some table decoration, and just have to click it together. DIY means Do It Yourself – so, do it yourself. Collect the tiny pieces of decorations in the garden. Paint them. Cut them. Have your own ideas.
Passion Piece: You are keen on DIY projects. Have you got any favorite ones you’d like to share with your audience?
Agi: My favorite DIY project is the old light bulb decorations. They are not easy, but the end results are beautiful. Opening old light bulbs, and showing decoration ideas was one of my first posts on my site.
Passion Piece: Why is it good to create new things out of the ones which seem to be rather useless?
Agi: Recycling is not the only way to help the environment. I don’t know why this is the most advertised word. Reusing, repurposing, repairing – these things stop putting things in the trash – even if they are recycling bins. Reducing waste means less waste, which means less danger to animals, oceans, nature, which means saving our planet.
Using useless things reduces waste. For example, I never throw away old candles, even when they are only melted shapeless burned-out blobs. Once a year, we melt all those leftover wax and create new candles. We use toilet paper rolls, leftover plastic cases of chocolates, gadgets, decorations that come in plastic cases as molds. Then we use the candles on our advent wreath, xmas decorations, or give them away as gifts (which we don’t spend any money on). – I didn’t throw things out but have more space in the drawers in my workshop.
Passion Piece: Where do you look for your inspirations while thinking of new projects?
Agi: I’m a member of different creative groups on social media platforms. For about 10 years, I have been saving every picture I like in all kinds of genres. Also, when I want to do something, I just search for a similar topic on the Internet, and with all those pictures, I create my very own idea. I never copy. I just mix the ideas and then tune them up with my own – mostly with the things I already have.
Passion Piece: The awareness related to protecting our planet and our climate is constantly raising. Why do people pay more attention to how they act and to what they buy and use in their households?
Agi: The Internet helps spread the word. Devoted actors talk about it, TV shows write about these issues in their storylines, companies advertise their products as eco-friendly. It became a true Unique Selling Point. This is the reason I started my blog – to spread the word and motivate the ones who haven’t been thinking about these things yet.
Passion Piece: What do you love doing in your free time?
Agi: I love taking pictures, especially in nature, and other close-ups. All pictures and illustrations are made by me on my site.
I also love taking care of all the animals on my mom’s farm, and I love creating new stuff. I always have a new project in my head – whether it’s building a new cage for our quails, making life easier in the garden, or coming up with new decoration ideas.
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Agi: Hopefully managing a blog with thousands of readers from all over the world.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Agi: Reuse, repurpose, reduce, repeat.
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I can’t wait for your new DIY projects!
See you around!
Photos by: Agi Szentmiklosi