Replacing Items to Become More Minimal

06.29.2016

0800

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There are times when I purge my possessions and I’ll tend to donate my smaller items that are contained within larger ones. I know that I do not need certain items any longer and that will bring me to the question of ‘Should I replace it with a more convenient and logical container?’. There are a few reasons why I tend to trade out items for others. Sometimes the function of my possession will not benefit me any longer or simply that it takes up to much room.  As someone who tries to continually downsize and minimize my life, I’m in a constant battle with this issue.

When I look at what I’ve accumulated over the years, I can pinpoint each moment in my life when I bought all of my possessions. Each of those memories mark a certain age, stage of life and mindset I was in at the time. As I’ve grown older and my dreams changed as well as my goals, certain items in my life no longer fit. It used to take lot for me to let go of items. I never owned a lot of items to begin with, but the notion of letting certain items go was still not easy for me to get used to. I tend to look at my items and wonder “What if I need it someday?” and that question has always created hesitation.

As our society has changed, one of the newest discoveries was that services such as tool rentals or car rentals or lending  and trading services have become more accessible. I really do enjoy the fact that I can let go of certain items now because there is a service out there that can fulfil my  need for household chores or auto service and even more. The fact was, I used to want to hold onto items because I wanted to depend on me and only me to have the tool ready whenever I needed it. However that came with the burden of the items taking up room and the maintenance of the item. If I can find a service that can fulfil certain items I’m purging from my collection, then I will donate it and never look back. That decision in itself changes the way I look at everything I own.

Downsizing will usually result in the purging of items and I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. My life is still divided into functions and routines and even different areas of my home are separated, so by downsizing into smaller and more reasonable possessions- well it makes sense.

For instance, recently I donated my large toolbox for a smaller and more reasonably sized tool carrier. The length is shorter and the width is smaller but it still contained all of my tools perfectly. Also, I donated my old purse for my shoulderbag. I simply needed an a shoulder bag that could carry more items due to my current lifestyle.

Replacing items isn’t exactly living minimally but it is living zero waste. When I donate my items, I know that I do not need them any longer and they do not serve a purpose in my life anymore. Trying to make my life as compact as possible tends to be the reason for the tradeouts. Also, the smaller my containers are for different areas of my life, simply reminds me of the minimalist lifestyle I’ve committed myself to.

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Trash Update

06.27.2016

0800

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So here is an update of my trash I’ve  produced since the beginning of this year:

  1. Gillette Disposable razor
  2. Clothing tags
  3. Plastic packaging and plumbing tape from a towel rack shelf I installed in the bathroom
  4. A plastic bag from a gift I received from a friend who traveled to Taiwan and brought back Oolong Tea.
  5. Hair ties after the rubber structure broke (I’m still trying to figure out how to contain my hair during workouts so I don’t have to use these)
  6. Fruit Stickers, which was my lack of paying attention to the fruit I bought and brought home.
  7. Dental floss due to the fact that I have round shaped teeth and I have to use dental floss in order to get to the food between the crevasses of my teeth. I wish I didn’t have to, but I have no choice.
  8. Elastic trim sewn into fabric, from making produce bags out of old linen sheets. These pieces are the elastic edges from the fitted sheets, which started to crumbled due to the age of the elastic. These elastic edges were so dry that the interior rubber material started to crumble and became a powder.
  9. Plastic seal, from a Vitamin E facial serum that I used.
  10. Plastic electrical prong covers from two power strips I had purchased.

I should be doing better but I was making a lot of small projects earlier on this year. I kept all of my extra fabric and thread from when I made a bunch of my cloth produce bags so I plan to reuse those materials in the future. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce less trash next year at this time. I’ll have an update of my trash collection in a few months and we’ll see where this pile ends up.

Bathroom Update

06.22.2016

0800

DSC_4546DSC_4644So I decided to write-up a bathroom update for this post. My ‘bathroom items’ layout has changed over the years due to the products I use and purchase but it seems that I’ve stumbled upon my final layout of my bathroom.

As you can see, I keep very few items in my medicine cabinet. On the top shelf, I keep sunblock for my face as well as my sport sunblock. I also keep my retainer on the top-level as well. After all these years since my days of wearing braces, I still wear my retainer once a week.

On my middle self, I keep my bulk face lotion and another mason jar that holds my dental floss, Diva cup, extra soap suction holders, a bathtub plug, a dental pick, and a small bottle of citrus essential oil.

On my bottom shelf is where I keep my bamboo toothbrush and baking soda. I keep a separate bar of soap to wash my face with and my deodorant crystal on this shelf as well. I have one towel bar alongside the left side of my vanity where I hang my makeup bag.

As you can see, I keep almost nothing on my vanity counter except of a cup and a bar of soap for the sink. I like to keep surfaces clean in the bathroom because it makes wiping down the counter a quick task.

In my bathtub/shower area, I have one container that holds my shampoo and conditioner, one bar of soap, a pumice stone and a wash rag. I keep a bucket in the bathtub to catch the cold water when I run the shower to warm up before I use it. I usually move that water to my toilet tank when it’s necessary, or water my plants with it. This is just my way of wasting less water and until I install  a new toilet and more efficient toilet, this method will do.

This is simply an update and living a zero waste life style has helped me in designing my morning and evening bathroom routines. I do enjoy how simple my bathroom looks and cleaning it is a very quick task.

My Clutch Hacks

 

06.20.2016

0800

So it seems that regardless of how I go about wanting to own a cute clutch or a simple clutch, it never seems to pan out for me. I always seemed to struggle between the super compact concept of a thin wallet and a clutch large enough to hold the rest of the items I need to carry around to make my life “convenient” (ie. my eyeglasses, lotion, charging cords, nail filer, lip balm, etc.). As a teenager, I always obsessed over different wallet and purse designs. As time moved on the trendy style of a large clutch and even larger purses became more popular and I couldn’t adapt. At one point I gave up, I figured that I would have a wallet and the rest of my crap would be thrown into my bag and I’d spend a good part of my day-to-day life digging around in it to find items I needed.

About two years ago, I persisted once more to find the perfect clutch for myself, and it came in the form.. of a fabric pencil case. Now as a designer I am supposed to be trained to look beyond what’s presented in front of me to see the potential in the object, and with this pencil case, I knew I had found my answer. But in order to make this pencil case work as a clutch, it needed my personal touch.

I utilized the walls of the pencil case due to the fact that once you add in a layer of fabric, you can create built-in pockets into the walls of your pencil case easily. When I created the pocket on one of the walls, I used a piece of fabric that I had already divided into smaller compartments. The reason why I used a wall of compartments as a wall pocket creator was because of the fact that I knew I’d carry around small “intimate” items and I needed a place for these. This compartment was going to help me separate my intimate items versus my practical items.

So on one side of my clutch, holds my coin purse, and credit cards and within the other wall holds my ear buds (not pictured- I leave them at work now) and my phone charger. And if you’re looking that the images, yes, I wrap my cards with an elastic band with a ring attached to it. I’ve tried so many different wallets and I’ve been unhappy with all of them, so it has come down to a simple piece of elastic and a metal ring. I’m quite picky about what holds my cards, and if it feels too bulky or is inconvenient to pull my cards out quickly and put them away quickly, most likely I won’t be happy with it.

Within the center divide where I had created tiny compartments, I keep my makeup. Where the pencil case widens and you can see the entire bottom of the case, I keep my eyeglasses there along with a small container of lotion. This seems like a horrible idea to keep my eyeglasses in that location, but the width of the lotion jar keeps the glasses from getting crushed as well as my comb that I keep along the other wall. I also keep my eyeliner pencil alongside my comb because it’s too big for the compartments.

To make this object even more convenient for myself, I attached an elastic band along one side of the clutch. If when I’m gripping my clutch and I happen to almost drop it, I can always catch it easily with the band still wrapped around my hand. I don’t like to hold objects, and this elastic band is also a way I reassure myself that if I’m not paying attention, I won’t accidentally leave it in a public place. And as always, I attached a ring and carabiner to it, so that it can hang on the inside of my shoulder bag. This pencil case/clutch always hangs vertically wherever I go so it seems that my eye glasses never get crushed.

So there it is, my pencil case/clutch/bag of everything.  I honestly really am finally happy that I found an answer for myself and no clutch seemed to satisfy my lengthy checklist of needs. I also chose this pencil case due to its material- it’s easily washable.

Sometimes re-defining what you need versus what you see is all it takes to find the answer that you’ve been looking for. In my case, I know it’s not the most attractive clutch, but what I was looking for was not just a clutch, but one that was so convenient to my lifestyle- I’m not sure it exists. If I find a better pencil case that has a more attractive exterior, perhaps I’ll work on re-designing that one.

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Charging Stations

 

06.15.2016

0800

I love making my life convenient. “Convenient” can be defined by individuals in different ways and it really comes down to how much energy are you willing to put forth in any task. I like the convenience of pushing a button and the task I desire has started and is running on it’s own.

One of the conveniences I’ve created in my life are my power strip locations. I really dislike plugging in a charger into a wall. Perhaps it’s the height of the outlet or the fact that I have to shove the prongs into the outlet in order for it to take, but either way- I’ve never been a fan. I also don’t like to leave my items plugged in all day, so a power strip makes sense for me.

The act of pushing one button to run my life is a dream come true for me, the less work it takes to run my life- the better. Also, the convenience of having a few power strip locations helps me divide the items I charge up during different tasks. And it’s convenient for my friends and family when they come over and need to charge their phones or laptops.

I charge my phone next to a shelf, which is near my bed. I don’t like to place items on surfaces in my home because the surfaces tend to gather dust quickly. But due to the location of the closest available outlet,  I was forced to lay my phone on the floor, which is something I prefer not to do. One reason for that is that I like to keep my floor clear and free of any clutter and I don’t like to reach all the way to my floor in the early morning to turn off my alarm (I’d probably be searching for it for a good 10 minutes).

This brought me to my solution of hanging a power strip underneath the shelf and a small bag to hold my cell phone while it’s plugged in. I also thread the power cord through the handle that makes up the hanging bag so that the cord will stay in place. I made the bag from an old pair of denim jeans and shoelace. I simply plug in my phone and push a button to activate the power strip. In the morning, I just turn off the power strip. Essentially this is an elaborate extension cord, but there’s no struggle with pulling my charger out of the outlet or otherwise. I simple push a button now.

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I know this hack has been advertised before, but I also attach a power strip to my bookshelf. I actually attach this power strip to the back of one of my shelves. I’ve seen power strips attached to the outside of bookshelfs, but I try to limit the amount of items poking out of the sides of bookshelves due to the fact that bookshelves are great space savers if you can place it up against a flat surface. If I had the choice  and was trying to place a vertical power strip, I’d try to move it to the interior of the shelf structure. This book shelf power strip is usually used for my camera gear, laptop and other various electronics.

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My 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe

06.13.2016

0800

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Zero Waste Closet = 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe

So on my journey of living a Zero Waste life, I had to audit my closet. For many reasons, I noticed that I didn’t wear all of the close I owned. I knew I needed a more efficient system to hold myself accountable.

I discovered the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe and I was fascinated by it. The concept of a Capsule Wardrobe has been around for awhile and I’m pretty late to the game, but I was hooked. However, to get my closet to the point of a “Capsule Wardrobe” was going to take a lot of work and analysis. The first step I took was taking individual pictures of each item I owned. Yep, I spent about two days taking pictures, cropping them and then organizing them by category (ie. Tops, Bottoms, Intimates, Shoes, etc.). From there, I made subcategories such as “Tops- Jacket 1”, “Shoes- Heels 1”, etc.  As I was categorizing these clothes I did run into one problem,  and that was the fact that I have workout clothes as well as other sport clothes and I didn’t know how to fit those into this whole new system.

When I researched on what other people created when they made their capsule wardrobes, I didn’t see workout clothes included in their systems. For me, my capsule wardrobe was to be a collection  of clothes with a color scheme, style of clothing as well as the fact that all of the tops and bottoms could be mixed and matched to one another effortlessly. I ended up not including my intimates (you can’t mix and match a robe, unless you want to be THAT GUY), and I left off my running, snowboarding and surfing gear. Although I left those sport categories off, I did audit those clothes and donated quite a few pieces from each.

I started creating an outline of how I wanted to narrow down my scope of my wardrobe by defining my lifestyle, my color scheme (which included major colors, minor colors and accent colors). For me, there was a huge difference in viewing my clothes on a computer screen than in real life. There was a level of accountability when I viewed my clothes on my computer. I mean it was all there; as if my closet barfed all over my computer screen.  I was able to compare the color scheme, style and even seasonal wear of my clothes when I saw all of them side by side.

After my capsule wardrobe was created, it forced me to pay attention to the care I put forth for my clothes. I always took care of the items I owned, but knowing I had a very limited amount of clothes, it made me more aware of my limitations in clothing choices now. For example, I own two short sleeve shirts, one dark and one light, and if I were to stain the light shirt, I’d definitely have to go thrift shopping after. Eventually I started picking out “Go To Outfits” for work, casual social events and even dressy events. With a limited amount of clothes, that wasn’t hard to get done.

There are quite a few helpful outlines floating out there on the internet, but this is the one I used for the beginning of my journey Capsule Planner by Un-Fancy. I have to admit that after I put this together, my morning and evening routines became simpler and quicker. I’ve enjoyed cleaning up and putting away clothes and I enjoy doing laundry more. I actually dislike doing laundry the most out of all the possible housework tasks, mostly because it takes so much time to get it done, and I haven’t figured out how to cut down time during the process- so I just deal with it. Some people can wear every piece of clothing they own and utilize them through their lives. I am not one of those people. Perhaps I favor certain pieces more than others, perhaps I simply have held onto a piece for so long because I’ve had it for so long and it evokes a special memory for me, either way, it only adds up to clutter in my life.

The purpose of my blog is to create effective and efficient life hacks so that daily life can be simpler and less stressful. I’m continuing to learn and grow and the small and simple life hacks I stumble upon, I hope to bring to you. If you’re thinking of doing a capsule wardrobe, you might want to first take pictures of every piece of clothing item. I stuck a push-pin to my wall and hung clothing pieces on a hanger and then took pictures of each. It’s a simple set up but looking at your clothing pieces hung up verses laying on the floor creates a more realistic image for your clothes. From there, start categorizing your clothing pieces and then naming them specifically so they group together easily on the computer screen. Admittedly, it’s a bit of work to get this project started but it’s well worth it in the end. And once you do this once- you really don’t have to do this project again. So I hope this helps whoever might be thinking of creating a capsule wardrobe.

This is my new 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe:

Accessories:
1 bracelet
1 pair of earrings
1 necklace
1 pair of sunglasses
1 purse
1 scarf

Tops:
1 gown
2 jackets
1 dressy top
2 long sleeves
2 short sleeves
3 blouses
2 sweaters
2 tank tops

Bottoms:
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of shorts
1 skirt

Footwear:
2 pairs of boots
2 heels
1 pair of house slippers

5 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing

06.08.2016

0830

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When it comes to making purchases, I like to carefully consider my reasons for the purchase. It’s easy to give in and buy a new product. Who doesn’t like new items, but do you really need it? But once you carefully consider essential reasons before a purchase, you might find that purchasing the item may not be the best decision at the time. These are the questions I will ask myself before I purchase an item:

  1. Do I really need it?
    1. There are times when I see the potential for buying an item. When I see or encounter problems during my day, I try to brainstorm ideas for solutions on the spot. This usually leads to the search for a product that I don’t currently own. These moments happen often so I always sit on my design solutions for a few days. IF after a few days, I cannot find another solution I’ll usually research solutions and see what design solutions are possible. A lot of the times when I find solutions within the current products that I own, I won’t need the new purchase.
  2. Do I already have something that can do the job?
    1. This question is essential because there are other solutions to my design problems that I can make or manipulate with my design tools. A lot of products can have multiple uses if we search hard enough.
  3. Can I trade someone an item or a service for it?
    1. The question helps me brainstorm family members and friends who may own a tool that I can borrow. This questions also allows me to turn to tool rental locations to search what they have available to rent.
  4. Can I make it myself?
    1. I always ask myself this question and the deciding factor is “Do I have the right materials to make it with?”
  5. Have I looked at a thrift store or discount grocer or consignment shop for it?
    1. This question helps me delay buy purchase- for good reason though. Usually when I sit on the idea of a purchase, it only takes me a few days to decide if I truly need the product or not. I also take extra steps to ensure that I can purchase the item with as little waste as possible. I search through thrift shops and secondhand stores to find the solution I need.

These are simply a few of the questions that I ask myself before purchasing items. Living a zero waste life means it’s living a conscious and accountable lifestyle. You’re accountable for the items you buy in every area of your life because you’re choosing to be responsible for your impact on the environment. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the beginning of this journey is a lot of work, but once you find that comfortable routine from buying groceries without packaging to going on a picnic without producing trash, it’s very rewarding. By not buying items when I can find an alternative answer actually keeps my life simple. I use materials that I already have and I know that the materials that I currently own are dependable materials. I hope this helps for any future zero waste folks out there.

Shoulder Bag Hacks

 

06.06.2016

0800

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Materials:

  • Metal rings
  • Carabiners
  • Shoelace

 

In an earlier post, titled Always Consider Gravity, I wrote about my consideration of gravity when it came to organizing my spaces.  This consideration also applies to individual items and each system that’s working within it.

Consider my purse/shoulder bag. I carry a few items in my shoulder bag that needs to be organized easily. I specifically choose this bag due to it’s height and the materials it was made with. However, the reason why I needed a tall shoulder bag was for the fact that I would be carrying around items that were tall in height, and if I used a bag that sat horizontally- I would be constantly digging through my bag to find items. With this bag, I can eliminate the digging around part and not waste time.

I always attach rings to the interior framework of my bags. I always have carabiners attached to everything I carry around so it makes sense that I create a spot for them to be attached to. For this reason, I usually will have at least two rings attached inside the frame of my bag.

Nowadays, I seem to always carry around a set of utensils, a coffee tumbler, water bottle, cell phone, keys and my wallet. There are days when I may leave the coffee tumbler and utensils at home, depending on my activity for the day. For the most part, I will always have my wallet, cell phone, keys and water bottle with me. I usually hook my wallet and keys together on one ring and on the other ring will be my water bottle and utensils. Because the water bottle is heavy compared to the combined weight of my other items, it usually gets it’s own ring. The extra bag that’s attached to the same ring as my water bottle is the bag I carry my utensils in. It’s also the bag I will carry my lunch in during the workweek. I don’t like to carry an external bag for lunches because I don’t like to carry items in my hand. If there is no other choice, I’ll carry items by hand, but I prefer my hands to be free. So during the work week, I’ll pack my breakfast, lunch and a smoothie into that bag for each day I go to work. On the weekends, that bag tends to be less utilized.

In a way I’ve divided my bag up into the “food” end or “all the other stuff” end. I’ve always organized the inside of my purses and bags this way and it seems to work. I organized my backpack similar to this method during graduate school and also during undergrad; partly because I like my bags organized and partly because as an art & design student, you carry a lot of stuff to class and organization is necessary.

I don’t like searching for my keys or wallet because that wastes time, which irritates me. I like my items convenient and in place ready to be used. These are some of my hacks, I hope they may come in handy for you as well.

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DIY Simple Face Exfoliant And Facial Mask

06.01.2016

0600

Materials:

  • 1 Lemon
  • Raw Honey
  • Sea Salt

Tools:

  • Small bowl for mixing

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So this is a Personal Face Exfoliant recipe that I use. It is a simple recipe and it only involves three ingredients. I like to use organic ingredients and it helps that I already own these ingredients in my kitchen cupboards.

Lemons are antibacterial, so they help treat acne. They are also rich in Vitamin C and citric acid, which can help brighten your skin when used over time.

Honey is naturally antibacterial, so it’s great for acne treatment and prevention. It’s also full of antioxidants, so it is great for slowing down aging. Honey is extremely moisturizing and soothing, so it helps create a glow.

By adding the sea salt, the mix becomes an exfoliant and without it, then the recipe can be a mask for your face. Either way, it’s a great and simple treatment for your skin… Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Lemon
1 Tbsp of Sea Salt
2 Tbsp of Raw Organic Honey

Steps:

  1. Mix ½ lemon juice + 2 tbsp Raw organic honey + 2 tbsp sea salt
  2. Rinse off face with warm water and then pat down dry
  3. Apply mixture all over face and leave on for 20 minutes
  4. Rinse face off with warm water