Replacing Items to Become More Minimal

06.29.2016

0800

DSC_4244

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.

DSC_4245

DSC_4247

Donating Even More Stuff

 

05.25.2016

0800

DSC_4331

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.).

DSC_4441

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 CraigslistFreecycle 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.

Less Is More

01.21.2016

0700

I bought this shirt in 2000. The shirt is from Consolidated Skateboards, a great company. I bought it because the quote sparked my interest and I’ve never been able to let it go. It’s a simple red long sleeved shirt, with only the front print that you see, and nothing on the back. I never knew how much of an impact those words would be.

DSC_3460

When people say that I’m simplifying my life, I jokingly call my system “Being Strategically Lazy”.

When I decided to start living a zero waste life and because I was eliminating so much from my life, I was also eliminating the amount of storage area I actually needed. So here are a few things I decided to get rid of:

  1. Dresser:  I use one shelf now and I hang up the rest of the items
  2. End Tables: I use two ottomans that have lids which I can flip over and use as mini portable coffee tables
  3. TV stand: My TV currently sits on a book shelf. I’m planning to use a projector that will be mounted to my wall to watch movies/TV (but that’s for the future)
  4. Filing cabinet: I digitized all of my documents and keep a small folder of the legal documents.
  5. Nightstand: I use my drafting table stool as my stand and I made a shelf to sit at the bottom of it, so I could at least place items down. I also created a pocket so that I could have a location to place my phone when it was attached to the charger as well.
  6. Bookshelf: I donated of one of my two bookshelves because I had digitized almost all of my books so I didn’t need the piece of furniture anymore.
  7. Futon: I donated my futon and replaced it with a couch 🙂 So it’s technically a replacement piece

I have:

  • 1 four level bookshelf
  • 1 couch with two ottomans
  • 1 bed
  • 1 drafting table, which I use as my desk
  • 1 hope chest, which I use as my seat at my desk
  • 1 “nightstand” (I use the chair from my drafting table set as my nightstand)
  • 1 dining table with 6 wood fold up chairs
  •  1 IKEA Poang Chair

I think getting rid of the dresser made the biggest impact because it wasn’t just the frame of the dresser or the drawers themselves, but it was also the amount of the contents stored within each drawer. There’s another article I read which might be of interest for those who want to read more about this: 15 Pieces of Furniture You May Not Really Need

It certainly helped me look at the use of furniture differently. Here’s my little nightstand contraption. I made the pocket from an old pair of jeans and I used pink shoelaces as ties for hanging the pocket. I used an old picture frame as a flat surface on this nightstand and attached it with some sticky velcro dots that were left over from another furniture set. I found a bag of pink shoelaces at my aunt’s house, she was going to throw it out, so I took it home. I keep all of my velcro straps because velcro is amazingly versatile and I keep extra metal rings and shoelaces  for projects like these.

dsc_3484