So my list of “Items That I No Longer Buy” continues onto the kitchen area. This list will include items I stopped buying for the sink area, cooking and dining area. As well as a short list of items I no longer buy for grocery shopping as well as the refrigerator.
For the kitchen items, switching over to reusable items really cut down time for shopping and running errands. I didn’t have to constantly keep track of what I was running out of or running low on. Plus, looking for sales wasn’t as stressful as before. Since I shop so little now, I actually tend to only look for a sale once, and just stock up on the bulk item in my glass container. The products that I do stock up on now, will last me for a much longer period of time.
It’s interesting when I do go shopping for bulk kitchen items such as soap, vinegar or baking soda, because I know exactly where the items are located in the stores, but I’ll walk around thinking that I’m forgetting an item (also because my basket will ultimately have a total of 4 items in it). When in the end, the total number of items I need is just the four…. for the next 5 months, because that’s how long it lasts. It’s great. You should try it!
Dishwashing Soap ———————–> Bulk Dr. Bronner’s Liquid soap
Plastic Dish Rack ————————> In-sink Metal Dish Rack
Paper Towels —————————> Fabric Kitchen Towels
Kitchen Cleaning Spray ——————-> Vinegar & water mix, Baking Soda as an exfoliant
So I thought I would go over what I have actually stopped buying in lieu of alternative zero waste options. A few people have asked me about what I had to give up when I started my journey to a zero waste lifestyle and majority of the time I knew I was forgetting to mention certain items, so I decided to mke a list of what I gave up.
The items listed with “N/A” indicates that I no longer use it and didn’t find a replacement for it. There’s only one item that repeats and the item is the sage leaves which I use in lieu of candles and the scented bathroom spray. The bathroom and kitchen were the most effected rooms during the change of switching over to zero waste alternatives so this list is one of the more elaborate lists.
This list can give you an idea of what I gave up, but to be honest, I really didn’t have to give up too much. It’s simply a list of items that I simplified and the replacement items are longer lasting and more durable over a longer period of time. If you’re thinking of moving towards this lifestyle, I hope this list helps. If you’re loking for any of the items I listed, take a look at my store on my homepage and skim through the room categories. There, you’ll find the suggestions I recomend for certain areas in your home.
Face wash (Clearsil) —————————> Unpackaged organic soap bars
The route to the zero waste lifestyle is quite simple. As you can see from the illustration above, this route can have nine stops along the way. Even with nine stops, some of these steps can be combined with one another being as the actions follow one another quite closely. The beginning of the journey is a little difficult because you’re still unprepared to get rid of your wasteful items and you haven’t bought items to replace the functional use. To prepare for this, I do suggest you examine what you ABSOLUTELY NEED in your daily routines and then find/purchase products that will compensate easily. Here is a simple outline of how you can get started:
Edit your belongings. Understand your true wants and needs. This can be in a list form or simply going through each day and examining each routine you go through.
Refuse single-use disposable items. That’s anything you use once and then dispose of it. This can easily be done because all you really have to do is say no.
Bring your own:
Have durables to keep single-use plastics away. Items like a reusable bag, straw, tumbler and water bottle. Always bring these items items wherever you go. I’ve been stuck a few times in situations where I did not pack all of my utensils (reusable cup, fork, spoon and metal straw) because I didn’t think I’d run into situations where I would need them.
Become resourceful with food by learning to make easy & quick meals from unprocessed and unpackaged foods. I like to make simple meals from whole produce combined with food I buy from the bulk bins. I don’t like spending a lot of time cooking, so my grocery list is pretty repetitive and simple.
Separate your food waste! From backyard to warm composting, don’t let your food scraps go to the landfill! Composting is a great way to divert your foods waste and also create better soil for your garden.
Buy Better & Repair:
Buy less, buy better. Seek multifunctional, repairable, and lasting products.If you can learn one or two stitches with a needle and thread, you’d be surprised how much longer you can extend the life of your possessions.
Recycling is good, but it’s not the solution. Reduce the amount you recycle by reducing the amount you consume. This is a really good rule because although “recycling” seems like a solution, there’s still energy and resources being put into the recycling plants and not all “recyclable items” are 100% recyclable. Some items cannot be broken down and others have to be picked apart in order to extract the recyclable materials, which means the rest of the materials that made up the item will subsequently go to the landfill. The best solution here is to simply not rely on recycling alone.
Use your voice:
Kindly use your voice to express how you want products designed and recovered. Give companies businesses and manufacturers incentive to make the change! If you speak up, companies will listen. It may not feel like it or seem like it, but as a consumer, you have the choice to make each time you purchase any item. You’re voice speaks through your actions and that’s pretty loud.
Support the community:
Get to know your community. Shop local or start a community garden. You can walk, bike, bus, as a means of transportation too. I tend to shop at local stores because I don’t want to purchase items that are simple cookie cutter products. At times, yes, I will need a cookie cutter item such as a power strip or power cord, but majority of the time I don’t. Local businesses do need our support and voice to continue to let them thrive and flourish. Create a change- be the change.
Old Comforter you want to use as the backing for the quilt
Enough t-shirts to cover the back of the comforter easily
Not everyone in my family is big on donating items as quickly as I do. I don’t mind that, so I wanted to come up with a solution that would satisfy the use of the items but still make more room in the closet. In this case, the clothing item were the cotton t-shirt collections my family had accumulated. My older brother has a small collection of printed shirts from years of working for different companies or they were from different social events. I have kept a small collection for my mother over the years from elementary school t-shirts, to college t-shirts. I kept these because they marked a point in my life history that was significant. It bothered me that my t-shirts were stuffed into a bag in my old closet, so I wanted to make good use of them.
For both collections, I decided to make a t-shirt quilt for each family member. My brother’s shirts filled up one quilt and by combining my t-shirts as well as some of my mom’s, I would be able to create a single quilt for her. I found my brother’s old comforter which had The Transformers print on it and used that as the backing for his. I used my old comforter which had The Wuzzles print on it, for my mom’s quilt.
A few examples of t-shirt quilts that I’ve come across, suggest to cut out perfect squares in which the logo or image is centered in the middle of the square. I didn’t want to use this method because I didn’t want to waste any t-shirt material. I didn’t see the point in having perfect squares when the images varied so much on where they were located on each shirt. Also, I knew I could overlap the rows and create a slightly thicker quilt by leaving the extra material in place.
I decided to make this process in bullet form since a formal post would be too long to read, so here it goes:
Cut off all of the sleeves and collars from each shirt. Put aside the shirt sleeves which have logos printed on them because you will include them in the quilt later on as gap fillers. Keep your scraps when you make this project because you never know when you may need the extra material to fill in gaps.
Lay out the rows to see how you want the over all tile pattern to sit on the quilt and move them around if necessary. (I wanted each color shirt to create a checkered pattern with their base color)
Gather the sets of t-shirt rows and placed them on the blanket in the order from the top of the quilt, to bottom of the quilt. (You can take a picture before you move the tiles from the final layout on the blanket too)
Start pinning the t-shirts together with the shirts all facing upright and face to face. During this time, you may notice that come of the “t-shirt trimming” might be crooked, but that’s fine because that’s why you have the filler pieces.
Sew the tiles together in each row of shirts so that the rows become one piece.
Lay each row on the blanket as you want them to look and start pinning the rows to the blanket. Use as many sewing pins as necessary and be careful, because you may get pricked by those. Keep in mind that these pins may come apart once you move the blanket to the sewing machine, so you may want to pin the fabric together and give extra room on the pin for movement error.
For the areas that I saw were lacking in t-shirt fabric, I added in the t-shirt fillers. This usually happed around the edge of the blanket.
In order for me to fit the comforter into the sewing machine, I rolled it up on one side and sewed it through like this: (you my want to unravel it due to the weight of the blanket and that it may pull against the sewing machine as you feed it through)
Keep sewing, patient and you’ll finish. I sewed these tiles across the blanket. I have seen some people sew in a grid pattern along the tile edges. Since my tiles don’t line up exactly to the row above, I decided to only sew my tiles across the blanket.
This is a process and it takes time. There were a number of times when my sewing machine stitching backed up and I ended with a clump of thread on the backside of my quilt or when my needle broke twice. Just keep going and you’ll end up with the final product in no time. It’s an interesting project and you can put a spin on it however you like. This is a completely customized project which makes the intent that much more meaningful. I really am happy about how the blankets turned out and I know that my family is too.
It’s simple to keep clutter free spaces, but it means more than simply owning less. There’s a strategy and rules to live within to keep your spaces clutter free. It always looks easy, but even for veteran minimalists/zero wasters/tiny living folks, once in awhile- extra stuff creeps into your home. This may come during seasonal sales at stores, birthdays, holidays or maybe after coming home from a vacation. If you give yourself a set of rules, the decision to buy or not buy becomes easier and more clear. There can be even rules to consistently keep areas of your home clean and tidy. Here is my set of rules that I follow:
Live within your means
Let the size of your home dictate how much stuff you have, and not the other way around. If your closet is bursting at the seams, instead of dreaming of a bigger closet, why not try paring down your clothes to fit the space you have?
So set aside a time, a few times a year, to go through your things and get rid of the ones you don’t use anymore. You can even do this once a month or once every few months.
Have a place and a purpose for everything
‘A place for everything, and everything in its place.’ Almost a cliche, but still some of the best organizing advice out there. If you have lots of things in limbo on tables or countertops or the floor and still haven’t been able to find a place for them, then maybe the answer is to purge it.
Become a habitual putter-awayer
I think the easiest way to make sure you put things away is just to do it, and then keep on doing it until it’s so habitual that you wouldn’t ever think of not doing it. When I accumulate items from around the house to use for a project, and I’m not done with the project yet, I’ll place the items next to the door. I do this so that on my way out to grab another tool/material, I pick up an item I know I can put away on the way to the room I’m headed towards. I do this or I gather all of the items that need to be put away by the door and then walk room to each room to put away each item to its rightful spot. It’s like ‘reverse shopping’, I’m just returning everything.
Store items where you use them
Be smart about where you store things. Store items by function and necessity. Not having to walk halfway across your home to put things away will make #4 that much easier.
Stop clutter before it enters your home with a landing strip
A landing strip consists of hooks and a small side table where you can place items immediately after walking in the door. Setting up a landing strip by the front door is useful because clutter has to come into your home somewhere, and you can stop it right at the source. This location can also be the location where you may place items you are thinking about returning, so that they may never find a place in your home.
Go paper free
Scanning all the documents you’ve been hanging onto may seem like a daunting task, but once you’re done, they’ll be easily searchable (plenty of apps, like Evernote, allow you to search scanned documents for certain words) and you’ll have that much less stuff to manage.
Realize that life is about experiences, not things
We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements that try to convince us that a happy life is all about having the latest stuff: a new car, an outdoor kitchen, an ice cream maker. But studies have shown, over and over that it isn’t the things in our lives that make us happy: it’s our experiences that we treasure most. So the next time you’re tempted to buy more stuff, ask yourself if the money wouldn’t be better spent on a vacation or a nice night out.
Forgive yourself and try again
Remember that nobody is perfect, and nobody’s home is perfect. Even the homes you see in the magazines aren’t perfect — it took a whole team of stylists to make them that way. Try to stick to these rules each day and before you know it, these rules will become habits and part of your day-to-day life.
So I stick to a few rules to keep clutter from piling up. Although I do live a simple life with a limited amount of possessions, clutter can still find its way into my living areas. So here are some rules that I use to keep my spaces and surfaces clear of clutter:
Wash dishes when you’re done with them. Obvious, I know, but too often we leave dishes to pile in the sink. When you’re done with dinner, everyone should pitch in to put away leftover food, wash dishes, and clean the table, stove and counters.
Keep counters and sink clean. If you cook or prepare food, wipe down the counters real quick when you’re done. When you do anything in the sink, rinse and wipe it down.
Keep floor clean. I find that most of the house needs sweeping or vacuuming only once a week, so that in itself is a bonus. I don’t wear shoes in the house so once a week floor sweeping is all it takes to keep it clean. I also keep items of of the floor so that running around with my microfiber cloth is a quick task.
Put away clothes when you take them off. If clothes are dirty, put them in the hamper. If they’re still clean, put them away or at least hang them up on a designated side of your closet so you know that you’re going to plan to wear it again later. With a capsule wardrobe, I tend to repeat pieces of clothes during the week.
Put other items where they belong. Instead of laying something on a counter, table, or floor, take a few seconds to put it where it belongs. This is a simple habit that will save tons of time.
Pick up before you go to bed. I like to do a quick pick-up before bedtime, of stuff that has been left around. This leaves the house beautifully clean when I wake up in the morning.
These are the main rules I stick to, it’s not a complicated system being that I also have a limited amount of possessions, but it does help. As life changes these rules may have a few others added on to adjust to everyone in the household. What are your rules you stick to?
So I heard about the Konmari Method that has been quite popular around the internet. Marie Kondo is a professional “tidier”, she specializes in tidying. She is the author of the book, The Konmari Method, and has inspired many people from around the world. She helps people transform their homes into peaceful, inspiring spaces.When I read through the information, I actually thought the book was quite inspiring. I don’t own enough stuff for this system to work in my life but I do respect what Ms. Kondo has stated about our relationships with our items. Currently, I live a more minimal life but for those who do own more items in a few categories in their home, I think this is a great start to tidying up your home if you choose to. I think the biggest game changer in her method that I noticed was that instead of focusing on “fewer items” and therefore throwing out items in your home, she focuses on the relationship you have with each object. When you organize using the Konmarie Method, and you decide to donate or get rid of an item, you will respectfully end your relationship with your item. It’s an interesting twist and there’s no pressure to get rid of any of your items if you’re unsure about donating them. It really boils down to the question, “Does the object spark joy for you?”
Ask yourself: What is the ideal life you want to live from now on?
Think of your ideal life, this is why you are tidying your place
Take all of the items out to examine each one
Pick up each item- Does it spark joy?
Thank each item that does not spark joy, then release it
If you are unsure- Does it spark enough joy to take the extra step to care for it?
Hang long and heavy items on Left side of closet –> Right side of closet which is short and thing items
Fold clothes so they stand vertically in your dressers, so that they are all visible at a glance
Separate those that spark joy verses those that do not
Separate total disposal papers verses total necessity
Sort for each person (Keep File & Pending File for each person)
Store larger items vertically, it will save you room
All items have a functional value, instructional value and emotional value.
With the KonMari Method, you can get out from underneath your clutter once and for all. Here’s how:
Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works. Things will get messy again quickly. (All at once means allotting about 6 months to the project.)
Visualize your destination. Before you throw things away, visualize your ideal lifestyle. Goals such as, “I want to live clutter free” or “I want to be able to put things away,” are too broad. You must think in concrete terms, such as: “I want to live like a Goddess, surrounded by peace and beauty.”
Identify why you want to live the way you envision. For every answer ask yourself “why?” again. For example, if you want to live clutter free so you get a better night’s sleep, ask yourself, “Why do I want to sleep better?” Do this 3-5 times. When you find the answer to why you want to be tidy, you are ready to move on.
Determine if each item “sparks joy.” Rather than focusing solely on throwing things away, which Ms. Kondo acknowledges only brings unhappiness, be sure to cherish what you love. Do this by taking each item in your hand and asking yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If it does not spark joy, then throw it out. Note: You must touch every item so that your body can react. This is NOT an intellectual process. It’s a “felt” physical sense that you can develop over time, or the kind of intuition I discuss in depth in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. You let your BODY and emotions tell you.
Tidy by category, not location. In most households, items that fall into the same category are stored in multiple places. If you are tackling your clothes, then you must get all the clothes out of every closet and drawer in every room first. Start with tops first, then bottoms, and work from there. She also instructs you in the fine art of folding, which frees up an enormous amount of closet space. My drawers are now works of art—with my folded blouses and tops arranged like envelopes so that I can see everything easily.
Tidy in the right order. Ms. Kondo says that the following order is the way to tidy: Clothes, Books, Papers, and then Komono (miscellaneous.) She goes into great detail on how to separate and each category into sub-categories.
Discard before you place things back. You must discard first. Don’t put anything away until everything you are going to discard is removed.
How To Organize Your Home
Once you are done discarding, Ms. Kondo then teaches you how to organize. Again, there is an order and simplicity to this and everything has its place, even the items in your handbag! The KonMari Method also teaches you how to store all items of the same type in the same place so that things don’t become scattered and lead to more accumulation. Once you learn proper storage methods you will not only be organized, but you will save money because you won’t spend it on buying special storage items and gadgets. All you will need are drawers and boxes. Ms. Kondo prefers shoe boxes!
There are a few reasons as to why I chose to live a zero waste life and why I continue my efforts in doing so. Here are a few reasons of why I continue to live this way and have found happiness in it:
Facing the reality of the packaging convenience
Everything I’ve ever known since I was young was that groceries came pre- packaged. I never lived in an area where packaged free foods were readily available and promoted as so. Once I started using cloth bags that I sewed and bulk bins became more prevalent in my neighborhood grocery stores and surrounding cities, I started changing my lifestyle and really understanding how conditioned I was to accepting that producing trash was normal. Yes, pre-packaged items are convenient. Yes it would be so much easier to simply accept it, but the damage I know I’m creating for the environment is not something I can accept so easily. If I can make a change and give up a few items, I will.
Life becomes simpler (cleaning, routines, eating)
I have to admit, becoming zero waste has changed the way I clean and approach cleaning completely. It takes me less than five minutes to wipe down my bathroom counter and clean the bathroom sink. It also takes me less than three minutes to clean the toilet too. Granted, scrubbing the bathtub takes slightly longer, but really it’s still a very simple process. I just apply some Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint soap or my vinegar and water cleaning combination, then scrub, then rinse off.
Cleaning the kitchen is just as simple too. Wiping down counters that are clutter free and rinsing the sink out, are basically all I do. I don’t think cleaning could take fewer steps than what I currently do now. For cleaning the floor, I just run around with my microfiber broom and pick up all the dust and just dump it outside. When I wash dishes, because I don’t really use oil and I’m a vegetarian, cleaning up is pretty quick. All of my food is pretty much water based so it doesn’t really create a sticky mess.
Spend less money
I do spend less money now that I’ve simplified my life. It was a bit odd in the beginning, because I was used to spending a certain amount of time in certain stores, and I had a route when I was in each. Like when you go to specific stores and pick up certain weekly or monthly items, you have that path you take from the beginning of your trip around the store, to the very last stop at the check out stand. Sometimes I’d spend hours inside a store, not realizing how much time had passed or would window shop (for no reason at all) and time simply slipped away. Not having that route and creating shorter routes with less time spent “shopping”, actually freed up time in my schedule. I never wander the grocery isles anymore.Now I go straight to the bulk bins and then stop off at the vegetables and fruit, and then I’m done. Sometimes I’ll stop off at the hot foods area, grab a coffee or some lunch (maybe some cookies) too- but then I’ll leave, because shopping while hungry is never good. Still, my time spent in a grocery store is significantly short, even with my stops.
When I go buy clothes, because I have a capsule wardrobe with a specific color scheme, I am looking for specific pieces to complete my collection. I don’t get distracted by new trends or “the color of the year”, I simply look for what I need and if I can’t find it, then I’ll leave. For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping too much, having a capsule wardrobe solved a lot of my issues with shopping. I used to like shopping because I would receive new items, but I always felt exhausted afterwards. The exhaustion was spent combing the racks, which half of the time- never fit my style anyhow. Yet, I did constantly look for bargains and deals. The “what if” factor always kept me looking at more clothes. “What if there’s something good on the next rack?” “What if I missed a good bargain?” With my capsule wardrobe, I know exactly what I need and nothing more is necessary.
Support local businesses
I really do enjoy supporting local businesses. My city has a high turn over for restaurants and stores in my city’s downtown area, and it’s disappointing to see restaurants leave. For many reasons, they may leave, but a lot of what I hear is that there simply wasn’t enough traffic for them to stay in business. I do feel bad for these businesses because I can’t imagine how hard and costly it must be to start a business and try to sustain it.
With only stopping off at the bulk foods sections and the vegetables and fruits, my eating habits definitely improved. I don’t buy cheese and I rarely buy eggs now so I’ve noticed a change in how I feel when I sleep and workout. I still love burritos, sandwiches and french fries but for the most part, my grocery haul is much healthier.
Preserving the planet for the future
I know that by giving up meat, I’m helping the plant (even if it’s just a little bit) and I hope that this planet can withstand the damage that’s been done to it. I try to be conscious of what I use and how I spend my money and time. I pay attention to convenience over effort in every aspect of my life. I may not be on this earth for long, but I hope that I’m doing my part in trying to preserve it for future generations.
Keep local nature beautiful
I like my city, in fact, I really love my city. I’m very blessed to be able to live where I do and have all the luxury of eating a variety of foods and meeting people from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. I want my city to stay beautiful and maintain its character and natue, so I’ll do my part to try to keep it that way.
Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals
With the advancement of technology and new discoveries drummed up in labs. I’m slightly weary of what toxic chemicals are around me. I know that I can’t control everything, but I can pay attention to what I consume and use in beauty products or cleaning products.
Become more self-sufficient
This point follows along with the point I made earlier that I enjoy simplifying my life and routines. With my newly discovered routines, there’s a pride that goes along with the outcome I’ve designed for my life. It does take effort and the first try of a routine or product may not work, but if you sit down and step back, and analyze the outcome you want- you’d be surprised that you’ll be able to find that comfortable and happy place in your zero waste life.
Cherish what you own and your time spent on taking care of them
My capsule wardrobe has created a valuable lesson for me in that I cherish each piece of clothing I own; all 30 pieces to be exact. I never looked at my clothes that way before, but now that’s all I see. Each piece has a place and purpose in my wardrobe. Even with my digital books and photos, I really do enjoy not owning a lot of physical items. I still value the digital photos because they still capture a moment in time, but if they were to disappear, I’m not sure how much I’d miss them. The moments captured still happened, there’s just no physical recorded of it happening. I love that I own a surfboard and snowboard and the memories I create with those are far more valuable than any of my sports gear. I love that my bathroom and kitchen cleaning routines are so simple and fast, that I can be rushing to get out of the house to get to work and still be able to clean my bathroom in less than five minutes. I think I like the fluidity of not owning items in my life. I really enjoy streaming Netflix or movies from different internet forums. Owning an item is a commitment and by streaming movies, television shows or even music, it connects me with the world more. With streaming, I can watch and listen to a piece of entertainment, enjoy it, and then let it go. I’m okay with that. I really like that experience each time I go through it.
These are the reasons why I chose to start a zero waste lifestyle and why I continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I still will produce trash once in a while, but majority of the time, I don’t. A simple life takes time to get used to (as strange as that sounds). I had to be comfortable in how simple my life was becoming but not stay stagnant. With all the free time I had created, I didn’t really know what to do in the beginning of this journey. When you’re used to cleaning your home for three hours and then it cuts down to thirty minutes, it takes some getting used to. I think that’s why I love designing, my mind is always moving textures, shapes, functions and systems around in my head. I still try to be a better participant with this lifestyle each day, and I’ll continue to try new experiences and somehow do it without producing waste. I hope this blog post helped for those who are curious about the benefits fo living a zero waste lifestyle. I really do highly recommend trying it.
So there are a few ways I organize my boots. Over the years, I’ve played around with different set ups of how to hang boots. If you’ve read my blog, you might have read that I hate having items on the floor, I just don’t like clutter on my floor.
For those who own tall boots, you’ll know the issue of your boots folding over when they’re standing upright. I deal with this issue by hanging them up.Using my current pant rack in my closet system, I clip large binder clips to join the sets of boots together and then I’ll attach a metal ring to the binder clip. With this method, I attached the rings to a carabiner that hangs from one of the pant racks. I also tried splitting up the pairs of boots to hang from separate carabiners too.
The metal carabiners were slipping easily from the pant racks so I switched out the carabiners with velcro straps. The velcro straps created more friction so the boots stayed in place easier.
Another method I tried to use was to hang the boots from my existing shelf. I screwed a few screws to the interior of the lip of the shelf and hung the boots from there. If you own a metal over-the-door-shoe rack, the boots can also be hung from there with this technique.
With the idea of hanging boots using adjustable Velcro, you can pretty much hang sets of boots anywhere. the idea is to keep them organized and not loose their shape so that you can continue to extend their lives. This is how I organize my boots, maybe it’ll help you as well.
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.
So here is an update of my trash I’ve produced since the beginning of this year:
Gillette Disposable razor
Plastic packaging and plumbing tape from a towel rack shelf I installed in the bathroom
A plastic bag from a gift I received from a friend who traveled to Taiwan and brought back Oolong Tea.
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)
Fruit Stickers, which was my lack of paying attention to the fruit I bought and brought home.
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.
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.
Plastic seal, from a Vitamin E facial serum that I used.
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.
So 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.
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.
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:
1 pair of earrings
1 pair of sunglasses
1 dressy top
2 long sleeves
2 short sleeves
2 tank tops
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of boots
1 pair of house slippers
It takes awhile to really clean out your life. It takes a tremendous amount of time to go through every single part of your life, to go through every single room and then analyze every single routine that you go through with these items. These routines don’t just focus on the day to day routines such as your morning routine or evening routine, but seasonal as well as special events (ie. birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc.).
I’ve been living this zero waste life for the past six years and I still find ways I can improve and reduce my green footprint. (I’m also donating a large amount of clothes due to my recent capsule wardrobe creation.) Only recently did I start to combine my zero waste lifestyle with a minimalistic approach to my lifestyle. Not producing waste is simple once you can refine your system, but my newest challenge was to figure out how to live with the least amount of stuff in each area of my life. With that challenge, I had to continually purge my life and re-evaluate everything I owned.
Regardless, donating items is a great way to repurpose the item to another person and it’s a great way to save the item from ending up in the landfill. I’ve donated to several charities over the years. I’ve donated to Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army International. Both of those charities have their own missions and visions and some may favor one over another. I personally donated to both for different reasons. Most recently, I discovered a program called the Homeless Prenatal Program, located in San Francisco. Their mission is “In partnership with our families, break the cycle of childhood poverty”. It’s a great program that I encourage people to donate to, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When I purged my closet, I also came across two gowns that I’m planning to donate to the The Princess Project Silicon Valley. This organization ‘…promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who cannot otherwise afford them. Our effort is made possible through invaluable volunteer, donor, and community support.”. I previously donated my own prom dress shortly after I went to college, but these other gowns now need new owners. There are actually quite a few organizations in the Bay Area that collect prom dresses, but there is a small window of time to donate the dresses, so please check the donation date ranges.
Also, there are a few websites that also allow for donating or exchanging items between neighbors such as Craigslist, Freecycle and Second Harvest Food Bank. I’ve actually used all of these organizations for donations in the past. With Craigslist and Freecycle, it’s pretty straight forward with donating items. You usually list your item on the website and offer it to whoever you choose. You can xhose, “first come, first serve” or perhaps there is a direct agreement of time and place of item-pick-up with the other person. Please be careful when using these types of sites and take extra precautions when making your exchange. If at all possible, make the exchange in a busy and public area.
I volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank when I was in college, and it was a pretty busy place. It was very organized, but busy nonetheless- especially on the weekends. It was a great experience and I wish I could have spent more time with the organization, but I wasn’t able to.
If you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area, please seek out any local charities, donation centers or even churches in your area, that might need your donations. You never know who might need your items or your time.