The Mins Game (Days 12-15)

De-cluttering Responsibly

When I first discovered minimalism, I initially wrote it off as not environmentally friendly. I, like many new to minimalism, tended to focus on the de-cluttering aspect of minimalism and less on minimalism’s impact on consumption. I was understandably concerned. It seemed as though it didn’t matter how objects, sometimes perfectly functional, left the house. I didn’t want to be feeding landfills. It actually took me a few years from learning about minimalism to taking it seriously as one of my top, eco-minded practices.

In doing the Mins Game, I am aware that not only am I focusing on the most visible aspect of minimalism, but also that I am responsible for how things leave my house.

I’m not able to get up to 30 items out of the house on a daily basis. My lifestyle just doesn’t support that kind of freedom. Most of the items leaving my house are not going to go for much either. This is why I’ve decided on a garage sale for my chief method of disposal. I’ve already set the date and have a good location so I’m pretty sure that some stuff will go.

The problem with garage sales is that there is no guarantee that items put up for sale will leave the property at the close of the sale. Therefore, I’ve decided that unless otherwise indicated, I will check to see if books and DVDs are wanted at the library and then put out front with a FREE sign on it, if not. In my neighborhood, most everything gets taken from the curb. For clothes that don’t sell, I will put them in a clothing drop off site for donation. Anything else will get curbed directly with a FREE sign. This will be my strategy so that when I get rid of things, they will stay gotten rid of. 🙂

Day 12: (78 items total from the start of the game)

On day 12, I got rid of:

  • 5 maternity garments that I can’t picture myself wearing. I’m going to try and sell them to the local used kids’ store that sells maternity clothes. Whatever doesn’t sell will go through my usual system.
  • 5 regular clothes
  • 1 book on French slang, too old to still be useful
  • 1 ceramic bowl

I’m doing my best not to include the garbage items that keep popping up – old receipts, packaging waste and the like. I may have to resort to these down the road, but for now I’m just recycling or tossing what I come across. Did I mention that I have a lot of clutter?

Day 13: (91 items total)

  • 4 clothes items
  • 1 shirt (I’ll see if my sister-in-law wants it before sending it through my system described above.)
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 toy
  • 2 Runner’s World magazines (I’ll see if my running friend wants these first.)
  • 3 DVDs

Day 14: (105 items total)

  • 3 garments too worn out for use. I put these in the garbage.
  • 1 ceramic Beatles “yellow submarine” mug
  • 2 dresses I’m going to offer my sister-in-law and her younger sister first.
  • 1 white blouse
  • 7 pieces of intimates, still in very good condition

Day 15: (120 items total)

  • 2 DVDs that I think my siblings might like to have.
  • 3 ceramic dishes
  • 1 mega block to join the others in the garage sale collection
  • 2 ceramic containers for tea that I’ve been holding onto for ages.
  • 1 Teflon rice cooker that works (we replaced ours with a stainless steel one)
  • 1 stuffed animal
  • 2 champagne flutes
  • 1 bath robe
  • 1 worn cardigan
  • 1 plastic wreathe that is too sun damaged and shedding. Garbage.

 

I’m satisfied that most of the things leaving my house have a chance to a good home. They didn’t have one here as they sat cluttered up and unused for far too long. How about you? If you’ve done major de-cluttering, what system did you put into place to get rid of things responsibly? Let us know in the comments below!

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

The Mins Game (Days 5-9)

This week was filled with activity. It forced me to group the culling for days 5-9 all onto a single day. This is not really how the mins game is meant to go down, but it is better than not doing it at all.

Day 5. Random Stuff

  • I got rid of a sock monkey with a run (the kids don’t like it anyway), this will go into the garage sale first because it could still find a home.
  • A 2015 calendar. I don’t know why I still had it. This went to the recycling.
  • Dr. Dolittle DVD to the garage sale pile.
  • Graduation frame I still have in a box. Clearly, I don’t need it.
  • A bird puzzle game to the garage sale pile.

This collection does not really point to any habits that I need to get rid of except for the oh so general habit of collecting clutter and not making quicker decisions about things. That’s why I’m in the mess that I’m in!

Day 6. Crochet and Knitting Patterns and Booklets

I enjoy crocheting and sometimes knitting, but when I go about a project, I will look up something very specific from the start. I tend to look for patterns that call to me from online or in a craft store. I almost never touch the dated patterns that I’ve collected. For day 6, I got rid of 6 old paper patterns and booklets. I’m putting them in the recycling because they are so tatty I don’t think they have value to anyone anymore.

Day 7: Novels

Since having kids, I don’t really have time to read for pleasure anymore. Most of my reading is non-fiction for work or personal development. If I do get the time in the future, I could easily borrow something from my local library or download something to my iPad. My husband almost never reads either and my kids are too young for most of the novels I’ve been housing.

Therefore, most novels don’t need to live here. I will keep my favorites (and my husband’s favorites) and the one’s I want to share with my kids in a few years.

These novels are actually in really good condition. I’ll probably start with the garage sale for convenience sake, but those that don’t get sold, I will either try to sell on Amazon/eBay or donate to the library.

Day 8: Kids’ Coloring Books

The kids inherited a large number of pre-loved coloring books, but they don’t even look at them. Instead, they shove them aside in the search for the ones we purchased for them based on their interests. The pile had actually outgrown the coloring module which used to be able to fit the books and crayons together.

Therefore, I’m culling the collection by 8 so that the coloring books fit in the box with the crayons again. These I will put out for free or at a very low price at the garage sale.

Day 9: 9 Used Spools of Crochet Cotton

I inherited a bunch of crafting supplies recently. Among them, 9 partial spools of crochet cotton. Some spools have quite a bit of crochet thread left, some have small amounts. I may try to off-load this first in my garage sale and then at a meeting of the library’s crafting club.

The thing is, none of the colors speak to me and I tend to enjoy purchasing materials when I begin a new project as part of the creative process.

 

So, I’m still doing the mins game even though this is a very crazy time of the year for me. I’m already seeing an improvement in my home and in my minimalist skills.

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

The Mins Game (Days 1 & 2)

I’ve decided to take the Minimalists up on their minimalist game-challenge. How does it work? Every day, I will get rid of the same number of items as the day of the month. So, on June 1st, I’ll get rid of 1 item, June 15th, 15 items, and, finally on the 30th, I will get rid of 30 items.

There are two aspects of the game that I will be ignoring: one is the competitive aspect. I can be just as competitive with myself as I am with another and getting someone to play along is hard work! The other is that all the items must leave the house before midnight of that day. This rule is simply unrealistic for my life circumstances. But don’t worry, the items will be leaving my house and I won’t be counting them twice.

The reason I want to do this is that my de-cluttering goals have begun to stagnate and I’ve heard good things about this game jump-starting or refueling a minimalist journey.

Day 1: My Old Konjac Sponge

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I’ve been using a konjac sponge to clean and exfoliate the skin on my face for a few years now. It is made from the root of the konjac plant and is vegan and biodegradable. It generally is replaced every three months or so and I was due to replace the one I had.

I figured I would put the sponge in the compost, take the new sponge from the cardboard box and recycle the box (I got Dr. Sponge brand this time around hoping to avoid the non-biodegradable, non-recyclable plastic) but discovered that hidden inside the cardboard was the sponge …wrapped in… plastic.

This means that not only have I gotten rid of the konjac sponge, I’ve decided to discontinue purchasing more as I really want to cut down on my plastic use. For the interests of minimalism, I think I will just use a clean washcloth when I’ve finished with my current sponge.

Day 2: Two Plastic Spatulas

I have been gathering stainless steel cooking utensils for awhile. They are used with our stainless steel and cast iron cookware as we’ve been avoiding Teflon and plastic. We’ve been doing this for a few years now for health reasons. I had already replaced our two plastic spatulas with two stainless steel ones, but they hadn’t been evicted from our home until today.

My plan is to put the plastic ones in our upcoming garage sale (at the end of the month) and if they don’t go, putting them at the curb with a “free” sign, which works wonders in our community.

What Do You Think?

Does this sound like a challenge you’d like to take on? Have you already? Do you think it promotes waste? Or can it be done responsibly? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

Free Yourself With a Capsule Wardrobe

I never thought that I’d be delving into the world of conscious wardrobe design and fashion  – let alone writing about it!

See, I was one of those awkward teenagers who made serious errors in judgment just about every time she dressed. Further, even the words “fashion” and “style” had an air of otherness to them. Other people thought about this, those girls over there probably did, but not me. As a result, I had collected an eclectic mix of style, color, and pattern, much of which didn’t suit my personality, body, or lifestyle. And so, deapite having heaps of clothing, I never had anything to wear.

That awkward teenager in unfortunate attire? Well, she became an equally awkward adult in probably worse attire (as my body grew less forgiving with age and multiple pregnancies).

Stage left, enter YouTube, our new character. See, the beauty and danger of YouTube is that you can start with watching videos on minimalism and sustainable living and find your way to discovering that these topics relate to how you dress. Now, I had the missing piece, the motivation that made sense for me. I would learn to dress well to spend less time and money and to produce less waste for our planet.

These days, I look better and more put together. I spend less time in my closet in order to achieve this. What I wear matches my lifestyle, personal tastes, and body. I spend money more consciously and I have a much smaller wardrobe.

Discovering the concept of a capsule wardrobe is life-changing. It isn’t just that I look and feel better and have more positive social interactions. I also got my first tangible taste in the lesson that less can be more.

Capsule wardrobing is manageable minimalist change that allows a peek into the benefits of minimalism. No need to overhaul your life and home, no negotiating with family or housemates, just begin with your own clothes. Then, bask in some of the benefits of simplifying.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a streamlined, well-curated set of clothes that:

  • only includes clothes that fit you well and you love
  • has a limited number (the actual number can vary, but a hard numerical cap is helpful for decision-making purposes)
  • includes items that work well together to create more potential combinations to give the illusion of more clothes

A capsule wardrobe is useful for men and women as well as children.

A capsule wardrobe does NOT have to be monochrome or made solely of neutral colors. It is easier to combine multiple garments this way, but if you are thoughtful about selecting colors and patterns, you can make a colorful wardrobe.

Since the items have to pull so much weight, it is good to put careful thought into your selections. Does this support my lifestyle (maybe say “no” to the 3 cocktail dresses if you live in jeans)? Does this look good on my body (is it a good fit and color)? Is it my personal style? How often can I get away wearing it? And in how many different ways? The theory is that if you put thought into your selections up front, you won’thave to spend valuable brain power in the morning when you’re getting dressed.

Variations on Capsule Wardrobing

Capsule wardrobing has many variations. While you can find guidelines (such as Project 333, described below), tailoring your wardrobe to your life will make this practice far more useful.

For example, your region’s seasons may impact how you capsule wardrobe. If you live in a stable climate, an all-season capsule might be achievable. There are also two and four season variations. Some items will be useful in multiple seasons so it isn’t necessary to have four capsules, say, without overlap.

Some of you who work two jobs or have vastly different home and work lives may opt for two simultaneous capsules.

The main traits of any capsule wardrobe are curation and combination.

Project 333

My favorite capsule model is Project 333. It works well in a four-season climate, has a following with a lot of free resources available online, and the item number cap (33) is a challenge that is nevertheless doable.

The Basic “Rules” of Project 333 are:

  • 33 pieces (shoes, purses/bags, outerwear, accessories, and clothes)
  • does not include: active wear, PJs, lounge wear, under garments, or specialty wear (such as swim suits or snow pants)
  • 3 months (you set up for three months at a time and put the remaining or off-season clothes away)
  • you also want to refrain from buying additional clothes for the three month-duration

Project 333 is the creation of Courtney Carver. You can find more from her at: <http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/&gt;

Free Yourself

It may seem that this is a shallow subject, but all of us dress every day. When our choices remain unconscious ones, we can suffer from cluttered space, wasted time, embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, impaired social interactions, money waste and so on.

If we manufacture a conscious wardrobe, we can save time, space, money, and embarrassment. We can also make choices in line with our values. So what are you waiting for?

Minimalism 101

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism has taken on an elitist air. Popularly, the minimalist image is of a sparsely furnished modern home with no individual touches. And no children, hobbies, or, in some cases, underwear.

To be a minimalist, you don’t have to get rid of all but 50 things so that you can travel the globe by yourself. Though, if that is your pleasure, have fun! Minimalism is as individualistic as its subscribers. Because minimalism is a process, with no end point, anyone who employs the philosophy can consider themselves a minimalist.

So what is it that defines a minimalist approach? What makes someone a minimalist?

Minimalism is a process whereby an individual decides what brings value and enriches his or her life. It also means determining what doesn’t have value and doesn’t enrich. And it is about finding ways to increase the former at the expense of the latter.

We all do this to some extent. We gravitate toward things we like and are repulsed by what we don’t. But, if you don’t make conscious choices and don’t consider trade-offs in the process, you will find that chaos rules out and progress is slow or non-existent. Instead of freeing ourselves, we bog ourselves down with new commitments that could have made us happier. That is, when we accumulate activities/obligations we tend to tap into the wrong resources: our time and our energy. This leads us to feel stressed and exhausted. If we instead make trade-offs, something undesirable for something desirable, then we’re left freer and energized.

10 Benefits of Minimalism

  1. Fewer things to schlepp around. Less baggage to travel with, to live with, or to move with.

  2. Fewer things to clean, which means less time and energy wasted.

  3. Fewer things to buy, which can help you get out of debt and achieve financial security.

  4. Greater satisfaction with the stuff you do have. You’ve surrounded yourself with those things that bring you joy (these are now unburied, dusted off, and placed front and center).

  5. Less looking at stuff that makes you unhappy (those “skinny” clothes you haven’t fit into since your last pregnancy or that picture that reminds you of a fight you had with your Dad).

  6. More space to move in.

  7. More time for family and friends.

  8. More time to pursue your new hobbies, current interests, or writing your novel.

  9. Greater involvement in your own life (less auto-pilot).

  10. Greater awareness of what matters to you. This can help your relationships, bring about a passionate life mission, or allow you to finally identify what you require from a shirt’s hemline.

Tips to Get Started

Physical clutter is a great starting point in a minimalist journey and helps you hone your minimalist skills.

I recommend starting in your closet because it decreases the need to navigate inter-personal relationships right off, it is a finite area, everyone has to dress, and you can see the benefits of minimalism straight away.

Setting space or number limits on things is a great tool for decision-making and can immediately change a perspective from one of lack to satisfaction or even over-abundance. A closet-inspired example of this principle is setting for yourself a cap on the number of jeans. If you say, two is enough for your lifestyle, then you can pick your favorite two, sell or gift the rest and until those two get damaged, you won’t feel compelled to buy more.

Group things before you cull them. It is easier to get rid of the pants you don’t need when you have 20 of them staring you in the face.

Don’t just think about what you’re getting rid of, determine what it is you’ll get in its place (more space, time, energy, a nicer blouse with the money you got from selling those that didn’t fit).

Don’t focus on what to get rid of, focus on what to keep. Clear out the space entirely and then include those things you really want and need.

May this work bring value to your life!

Three Simple Tools to Change Your Life

Tool #1: Limits

I find it strange that I can wake up in the morning so full of gratitude. There is food in the pantry, a roof over my head, water, heat, and clothes waiting for me after I shower. I live in a comfortable home with security and love. All my needs are met. Then, I go to buy some winter boots (you know, not utilitarian, but trendy) and find a beautiful, faux-leather jacket, a blouse, and a pair of Pjs that look and feel oh, so comfortable. Where did all that contentment go? Suddenly, I experience the lack of things that I didn’t know existed this morning.

Many of us, myself included, confuse our needs with wants. I submit to you that it is the pursuit of unquenchable desires, rather than our basic needs, that sabotages our happiness. Needs are finite and few. For survival, we need air, water, food, shelter, heat/temperature regulation, and security. Any decent survival guide can teach you this.

Our wants are boundless, limitless, and striving after something that can have no end results in never feeling satisfied.

I’m not saying that everyone should eschew trendy boots or that faux-leather jacket. There are useful and beautiful things that can bring joy (until they fall apart). I am saying that I believe we could all benefit from focusing first on our needs, and then putting some kind of cap on our wants. Minimalists use this trick all the time. The exact practice of limits will vary from person to person. Two pairs of pants can feel meager – unless you’re living out of a back pack. A two-story home with a book habit might benefit from limiting books to one shelf.

The lesson here is that we can all be masters of our limitations and see how putting a self-imposed cap on accumulation can free us to experience not lack but plenty.

I mean, who doesn’t want to be happier while saving money?

Tool #2: Know Your Core Values

I’ve slogged through to-do lists without an ounce of passion. Who hasn’t? I’ve signed on to a job that has brought me no joy. Again, who hasn’t? I’ve felt that familiar desire to bolt, screaming, from the reality that I’ve found myself in.

I mean, I’ve worked at McDonald’s. As an environmentalist. As a vegetarian. And while my example may be specific to me, we all find ourselves at one time or another completely out of sync with what matters to us.

This is why the second tool can save you time and frustration. It can lead you to follow a life of meaning and alignment with your values. Your life can be infused with passion.

I can’t tell you what your values should be because they are unique to you. You won’t feel passion for another’s list. But identifying what matters to you can help you make the great life decisions that you deserve.

How do you do this? Start by thinking about a time when you were proud of yourself. Why were you so proud? How about when you were really happy? Create a list of qualities that you aspire to and spend some time with them. Are two pretty much the same thing? Is one thing more important than another?

I have a numbered list from 1 to 10. And everything on that list infuses my life with passion. I have begun to go to that list when it comes to the big decisions. And, every day, I feel more in sync with my core values.

Tool #3: Clutter Control

Clutter is the meaningless stuff that fills spaces in our lives. Ultimately, clutter can crowd out what we really want. It can add stress and steal joy.

We can have clutter in our homes (that garage that no one wants to enter – filled with forgotten stuff that breeds resentment). We can have cluttered schedules too. Since all of us only have 24 hours each day, why do we crowd our free time with the hobbies of yesteryear? Clutter control can take away stress and leave time for friends, family, and those hobbies we do love. Clutter can even invade our minds and hearts when we worry over problems we have no control over, invite toxic relationships to stay, or spin our wheels in circles over the mysteries or vagaries of life.

Of these kinds of clutter, the clutter of our spaces is often the easiest place to start. Most people begin with the physical stuff crowding them and when they discover the advantages of living with less, they begin to apply the philosophy to their schedules and thoughts too.

If you’re eager to start decluttering now, begin looking around you. Is there one thing you own that doesn’t bring happiness? Isn’t useful? Can it be sold, given, re-purposed, recycled? And if you continued with one thing every day for 365 days, what would your home and life be like in one year?

I hope that these tools bring value to your life.

Waste-Free Fashion?

I’ve never been what you’d call “trendy”. This year, I’ve begun building “capsule wardrobes” and learning to make fabulous outfits with fewer clothing articles. This has drastically increased my fashion savvy (I finally learned what a “cardigan” was!).

The thing is, Project 333 (and really most capsule wardrobe planning) is a zero waster’s dream. And while I’ve adopted this habit, I’ve also got a few zero waste tweaks that I’ve added in!

What is a Capsule Wardrobe? 

A capsule wardrobe is a limited number of clothes that are selected to work with each other to create as many combinations as possible. The actual number doesn’t really matter, but most will fall between 30 and 40 items. Emphasis is put on quality, personal taste, proper fit, and coordinating colors.

Some capsule wardrobe projects will suggest avoiding buying more clothes within a 30 day to 3 month time frame, which helps shopaholics from running into further trouble. Since you’re buying with the whole plan in mind, impulse purchases are reigned in. For example, a patterned shirt that looks cute on its own is passed on if it doesn’t go with anything in the wardrobe.

And, if you live in a four season climate like I do, you don’t have to have 4 40-item wardrobes. You can transfer items that can pass between seasons – or not if you prefer.

My experience with this so far has been amazing! Building with an entire plan in mind meant fewer purchasing mistakes and I’ve finally got a closet that is a pleasure. I’m not so terrified of pictures capturing my unfortunate fashion faux pas for posterity either. I genuinely look passable.

Minimalism

“Refusing what you do not need” and “reducing what you do need” are the first two R’s in Bea Johnson’s approach to Zero Waste. They are also fundamental to the minimalist philosophy.

Buying Used

Re-use is an important part of the zero waste movement and thrift stores and clothing swaps have been personal life-savers in the past. Unfortunately, my new home doesn’t seem to have either in the area. So, I shop thrift stores when I go visiting, but at home, I’ve been using a site called ThredUp. Most of the packaging is recyclable and the clothes are both on trend and once-loved. I love how the site’s curators help me to keep somewhat up to date!

These pieces were bought to flesh out my running / workout capsule. I got these previously loved and cheap from ThredUp.
Beside the sticker, the waste is either recyclable or compostable. I may also be able to use the tissue paper for gift wrap.

Disposal

Once I’m finished with still usable items, I’ll send them back to a thrift store. I will try to down cycle pieces that are stained or irreparable. One possibility I’m looking forward to trying is making t-shirt shopping bags.

I tend to buy organic cotton socks and when these become unusable, I’m going to cut the elastic off and try to compost the rest.

Areas To Address

Bras? Not sure I will replace them when they finally fail.

Underwear and intimates? I must admit I tend to buy these new and cheaply, but I will look into greener options in the future.

A Year Later…

I’ve become very specific in what I’m looking for to flesh out my capsules and a little aggravated by the selection in thrift and online stores at times. Though this is still my preference.

To save on aggravation, I’ve learned that you can get very specific, and search used, on ebay. So this will be the route that I’ll be turning to in the future instead of giving up and buying new, a recent habit I’ve developed.

I will put a cap on the new items I can buy each year. For 2017, I’ve bought a vegan themed t-shirt, maternity pants, a fleece jacket, a plain maroon t-shirt, and a pair of workout leggings. I was thinking that 5 was a good number cap, but looking at this list, I guess I’m done buying new for the whole year! Ooops! I guess I know my challenge better.

How About You? 

Has your zero waste lifestyle affected your wardrobe? Has it changed how you get, keep, and dispose of your clothing? Have you heard of capsule wardrobes? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, keep that talk walking!