>> Monday, March 13, 2017
This whole minimalism thing is a process. That's for sure. It started out long ago with just a thought. And then a bit of passion. From there, it got physical. And by that, I mean we got rid of a bunch of stuff. Remember last year when I took you all on our spring cleaning adventures? By the end, we had figured out some major stuff about how to clear everything out and we were down to just a few bins in storage.
Amazing. Not so amazing is where we're at a year later. I blame it on having a baby. But the stuff, or maybe should I type out The Stuff, has slowly made a return. Not to previous levels, but we definitely need to take some time again to get back on track.
The hardest part isn't actually purging. Sure, you need to make those keep, sell, donate, and trash piles. Sure, you need to part with things that you may be emotionally tied to. But once you've done that -- it feels amazing. The hard part is actually NOT BUYING and NOT BRINGING HOME things to fill all that empty space.
So, here are some things I have stopped buying since committing to being more minimalist. We're still a work-in-progress over here. But saying no to these areas has helped tremendously. We need to add more items to this list, and I'll note those down below.
5 Things I No Longer Buy#1: Paper towels, plates, etc.
We do not buy any paper towels, paper plates, napkins, paper cups, etc. Not only are they wasteful, but they also clutter up the trash can and pantry space. This isn't to say we don't have some rogue ones around the house. My parents and in-laws (trying to be helpful -- so we appreciate the sentiment) do end up buying us paper towels on occasion. My mother-in-law also has a thing for getting Ada decorated paper plates for holidays, birthdays, etc. We try to use them sparingly and re-use them as many times as we can (for example, I may use them as paint trays a few times).
We have a cloth towel system for cleaning the house. We also have two sets of Corel dishes in plain white. It is enough for eight people total. We very, very infrequently would need more than that.
#2: Cleaning Supplies
You guys know that we make a lot of our own cleaners. A great all-purpose spray is just vinegar with water and some essential oils. You can use different ratios of this to get the job done. You can add some rubbing alcohol to make it suitable for cleaning glass. In other words: Vinegar is awesome. Here are many ways you can use it.
We also make our own laundry detergent, dishwasher tabs, and even some of our own personal care items, like deodorant, lotion cubes, and face scrub.
#3: Fast Fashion
I have so much to write about this topic. I think my LuLaRoe obsession was my breaking point. I had this brief love affair and bought #alltheleggings and it left me feeling really empty and sad. I've made some major changes to my wardrobe, including selling most of my LLR (in my Poshmark closet) and buying the vast majority of my clothing second hand now (again, on Poshmark -- you can use code NYRLS to get a $5, btw -- not sponsored).
I have been trying to switch out my clothing with more timeless pieces. Also buying natural fibers, like FLAX, that are made to last for many years without wearing out. I will talk much more about all these changes when I show you guys my 33-piece wardrobe. That post will be a video. I'm in a weird place with my wardrobe right now because one day it's 65 and sunny . . . and tomorrow we're expecting up to 18 inches of snow.
#4: Sheets and Blankets
When we were doing the great purge last year, I discovered that I hoard blankets. If I see something warm and cuddly, I simply cannot pass it up. Or, at least I wasn't able to a year or so ago. I am happy to report that I have not bought a blanket in a little over a year. We've even pared down on our sheets so we have just one pair of flannel and two cotton for our bed.
In Ada's minimalist bedroom tour, you can see that I also stored away the top sheets on her bed and only use the fitted.
OK. So, this one isn't something we totally don't buy. We have just changed a lot about how we buy toys. As in, we don't buy many . . . and we are continually looking to pare down on them. This is really difficult with so many generous friends and relatives. Instead of toys, we try to buy Ada things to do, like coloring books, where she's being creative. Or we try to invest in experiences versus stuff. Like with clothing, this is a topic I need to devote an entire post to writing.
I also need to give you guys a tour of our basement play room. This is one area that I just cannot seem to totally control. Part of it is because it's hard to make kids give up toys. It's also hard to part with things that were given as gifts, whether or not the child plays with whatever it is. I think you parents out there know what I'm talking about. This is a tricky area.
Our policy in the house is that we do not buy toys unless it is a holiday, like Christmas or birthday. There are limits on the number of toys. And we like to get rid of something if we are bringing in new. I won't lie, though. Right now my basement looks a bit like a daycare center. That's what a late November birthday, Christmas, and having a new-ish baby will do!
We're Not Perfect
Thing is, we are far from perfect. Minimalism has been a two steps forward, one step backward process for us. What remains a constant is that both Stephen and I see value to trying to live with less. We may fail at times, but we regroup and often chat about how to get where we want to be.
Here's something cool, too. Using the cash envelope system is really helping us bring less stuff into the house. It's because we end up writing out shopping lists, seeing where our money is going, and thinking more about the purchases we make in general.
If you want to read more, check out these links.
How to program your mind to stop buying crap you don't need via LifeHacker
10 ways to stop shopping for a while via Be More With Less
Giving up (new) clothes for a year via Becoming Minimalist
How to not buy anything for a year via Two Less Things
Eliminating the Maybe
7 Clutter Categories
Cleaning Week Snapshots