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A Minimalist Christmas

This year my family decided to do without gifts. We wanted to switch things up and try something new. The idea came from the notion that we always end up with more things, and not necessarily things we need. Today, we spent our money on food and entertainment instead. Albeit, it was quite strange not opening gifts on Christmas. I’ve really come to terms with feeling good about having less, being more intentional about purchases and ultimately living a more minimalist life – this was the first Christmas doing so.

As a disclaimer, I have nothing against gift giving on Christmas. Although it does seem worthwhile to question how you do it. Christmas is really about being with the people you love, taking a step back from the day to day and enjoying family. If that time is shadowed with the stress of having to shop for the “perfect gift” for all of your family members the result can be less than desirable. Rather, a few years ago we started doing the X buys for Y and Y buys for Z model so everyone only had to focus on one gift, and could make it a good one. Even then there was an age old obligation to fill the stocking, and the end result was socks, books, chocolate, lottery tickets and all those other little things that still wound up in a drawer I cleaned out after watching the minimalist documentary.

Fast fashion alone is the second-biggest consumer of water and produces more greenhouse gas than all the flights in the world in any given year. As you can see, it’s important to begin questioning our own levels of consumerism if you value a healthy planet – fashion or otherwise. Since I can remember, Christmas has always commoditized holiday, but we seem to be trending to such extremes. black Friday and boxing day have become week(s), and as a result we are tricked into buying more things we don’t need by clever marketers. It seems the spirit of Christmas is getting caught up in pushing the consumerist envelope further and further down the line until we all have the most discounted STUFF we possibly can. Buying something on sale does not save you money (most of the time), in fact it does the exact opposite when you really think about. What I’ve found to be quite fulfilling is buying far less, but spending more on the things you do really want or need. That way, it last longer, you enjoy it more, use it more, and have a greater appreciation for it. If you have ten pairs of shoes you likely wear three, and even then only have one or two you really love. What if everything you owned you loved? The same goes for the rest of the clothes in most of our closets. Spend the extra money and get what you really want, but do it far less often. Likely, those things will last five times as long and cost you less in the long run. I’ve found my things more fulfilling this way.

That being said, it is nice to give your loved ones gifts from now and then. Although for most of us it’s hard to give five or more gifts extraordinarily well. Buying your partner something they desire as a treat because you love them is one thing, but buying your whole extended family something out of obligation is much different. And hey, maybe your family is really good at it and you get fulfilment out of it, and if that’s the case, that’s great. I just doubt that most families are this way. I’m not here to tell anyone how to live, but I do think it’s worth having a conversation about the traditions we take for granted.

Moving forward, I’m considering making the holidays about something new. This year, things were a little different as we didn’t supplement gift giving with something else. Perhaps going on a holiday or volunteering would be fun. I’m not sure, but something was definitely missing. There’s a certain thrill about opening gifts, even if you have an idea of what they are. Maybe we can get a similar thrill out of travel, or giving back – I hope to find out in a year.

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Why vegan real estate, you ask?

Why Vegan Real Estate? That’s usually the first question people ask when they hear about us. Our best response – why not?

We came into this industry looking to do something drastically different. It’s all too easy to default to the self-promoting, self branded, face on your business card real estate agent, isn’t it? But that’s not really why we did it. It started with this idea, and quickly avalanched into so much more. Being different is easy to say, but often more easily said than done.

So why did we do it then? Well, first of all we have collectively met thousands of realtors – consulted them, sold to them, worked with them, and we noticed something – most agents are just marketing themselves and selling what they can do. What if instead of selling ourselves, we can sell an idea bigger and more out there than ourselves that a community we support might just get behind? What if we could do business with this community and give back to it at the same time? This is where things really took off, and vegan real estate began. We hit the drawing board.

The most pressing question we get is – aren’t you pigeonholing yourselves by seeking to serve such a small segment of the market? Not quite worded like that, but you get the point. Well, I could sit around throwing stats at you about how quickly veganism is growing and how passionate this community is, but if you’re reading this you probably already know that. Instead, let’s talk about how overextending your brand is worth questioning in the first place.

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” You’ve probably heard that before, but how does this apply to real estate? Well, why does someone choose a realtor? Experience? Good looks? Referral from a friend? Maybe all of the above. The point is, if you try to be everything to everyone you face an uphill battle from the start. The same goes for relationships, work, business, travel, etc. We’re here to make a stance that in business you should stand for something, and from that the rest will follow. Making money is great, but it doesn’t really fulfill you, does it?

We believe business is about three things – making a living, making a difference, and making yourself and others feel FULFILLED. Fulfilment, it’s not something most people we know feel often, is it? Sadly, it’s not something most people objectively and honestly strive for – we are largely caught up in shallow endeavours and quick-to-the-dopamine-receptor pleasures these days after all. In a sense, we do, but I would argue most therapists could help you see otherwise. If your BIG WHY is money, you’ve already lost.

So, what is our big why? Our big why is that we live on a deteriorating planet, and it’s going to take a collective effort to change that. Veganism was a great place to start for us – for ethical, environmental, and health related reasons. So how can we bring this into business if we’re not selling a vegan product? Well, that’s easy. We can take a portion of what we earn, and put it back into the community in a positive way. We can engage with other vegan businesses to grow through strategic partnerships and cross-promotional activities. We can educate our peers on how to get their message out to the world through the forms of media in which we are practitioners. We can create awareness through our brand and bring light to our movement. The list goes on. I could ramble on about all the ideas we have for this brand, but it will ultimately be the community who decides how we give back. The new age of real estate will be rich with energy saving smart homes, micro-gardens that feed you, and sustainable construction – so it’s really not all that foreign in terms of what we value.

I’ll tell you what our why isn’t, though. It’s not because we are extremists trying to push our own agenda down everyone’s throat. We believe veganism should be about making a difference, and not about being perfect or idealist. In fact, we believe this is why some people fear giving it a chance in the first place. Leading by example will most often surpass leading with an iron first. Extremism with any belief will eventually lead to conflict and the creation of a divisive idiom. The reason why some of us fail to undertake a challenge is often through fear of failure and judgement. That is not us – we are here to support any and all people who care to have the non-judgemental conversation about how we live. We are here to create sustainability. We are here to create community. We are here to create respect.