Minimalism + Frugality + Zero Waste Part I

Happy Labor Day to all my fellow Americans! I hope you are all enjoying your day off (I am sorry if you had to work!) and are taking a moment to be grateful for labor laws in this country. Yay!

So today I want to talk about a topic(s) that has been my most recent passion/hobby/interest for the last few months. Really the 3 topics are very different from one another yet somehow all manage to come together for me. And because they are all different, I will be writing about this in 3 parts.

 I feel like it is all a very natural progression for me. As I become more passionate about eating plant-based/vegan I continue to learn how beneficial it is for the planet too. And as I become more of an animal lover (I had no idea when I first changed my eating habits this would happen! Plus I have always been an animal lover, now I just choose not to eat them. Seems logical now, haha) I have become more or a lover of the planet that they and I live on and well, it seems I have turned into a tree hugging hippie chick, which I think many of my loved ones knew was coming one day. 

I may not be hugging a tree per say, but I am very happy here surrounded by them! 

So the first topic: minimalism. It is interesting because the meal plan group I belong to, Happy Herbivore, actually naturally found her way to minimalism too, which is where I first learned about it. You can read about her story here. I have always struggled with stuff. I love to keep things of importance and over the years have kept various items that hold meaning. I am also very organized so the "stuff" has been a comfort to me as well as something that has been overwhelming. I also am a pretty clean person (or a "clean freak" if you will) so having so much "stuff" does make that challenging. And then if there is a lack of cleanliness to this "stuff" it seems to make me feel like my skin is crawling and I go into full on anxiety mode and well, I just do not enjoy that. So, minimalism seems to make sense for my Type-A borderline OCD personality.

 I have liked knick-knacks, decor and the like over the years too but find that eventually it is just STUFF. I remember when I first moved into this house I loved how much SPACE I had! I could not even begin to fill this house with the items I owned. So, being that I had not discovered the idea of minimalism, I fell into the consumerism trap of buying stuff to fill my home. Artwork from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, various unnecessary furniture from Cost Plus, and plenty of random kitchen gadgets to "make my life easier" and have the perfect "show home." Then when Tyler moved in, he too came with stuff, and very quickly our home was full. At first it really made the home more "homey" but then over the years it started to seem more cluttered. 

In case you were wondering, we are no longer collecting pint glasses

I have regularly assessed my belongings to see if I can donate items or potentially sell them for consignment or on Craigslist. One of the things that I love about Tyler is the latter item where he is not hesitant to sell used items he no longer needs on Craiglist. I tend to be all about the donating, mostly because it is faster to do that most of the time. Load it up in car, drop it off, and you are DONE. 

So now that I am aware of what minimalism is these trips to Savers and the Idaho Youth Ranch have definitely increased in frequency. I am trying my best to evaluate items in our home and asking myself, "does this have value?" And what I mean by that is, "is this item used regularly?" "does it bring me joy?" and "do I need it?" If the answers are yes then I keep it. Another strategy that I like and have used is if I bring something new in our home, I see what can go. That way I continue to reduce what comes in rather than simply adding more. For the most part this has worked really well. At first it was tough because thoughts of "I may need this one day" or "But so and so gave this to me so I don't want to part with it" were frequent. Usually I keep those items and then reassess later. This seems to be the best habit for me. If I am not ready that day, maybe next month it will be easier. I figure, the longer something just sits there, not adding value to our lives, the more it causes me stress. It is one more thing I have to dust or one more thing I have to find a home for. Or one more thing I will have to take with me to the next house (more about this in a later post!). 

I will tell you that this is not something that happened quickly, nor do I think I will fit the" ideal world of minimalism"... whatever that is. There are many gurus out there that encourage you to have a capsule wardrobe and to load all your photos to the cloud and other various things to decrease the number of items you have in your home. There are indeed times I find that appealing, overall I do not think I will necessarily incorporate all of those practices into my life. It is a journey for me, and for my family. 

A journey, I tell you.

And that is another thing, I am not alone. I have a partner who I love, respect, and admire so radically changing my life dramatically effects his life too. I will be candid and admit that I have donated something(s) my husband was not ready to part with, and I did so without asking him. This led to frustration and well, let's just say it was a learning opportunity. So, unless the item is mine ALONE, I show him what I am donating before it goes. It has definitely helped me embrace this concept more because when my hubby is on-board, all is right with the world. 

When he is happy, I am happy (and vice-versa, am I right dudes?)

There is plenty more I can say on this topic, and I just might soon enough, but for now I will pause to give you some time to consider the concept of minimalism. Do you have a tough time finding your car keys in your purse? Do you get frustrated when you are looking for a kitchen gadget and you have to take out a million other things from the cupboard to get to it? Do you find yourself saying, "I have nothing to wear."? If so, you may want to consider down-sizing in places where it makes sense for you. With fall being just around the corner, now is a great time to consider doing some fall cleaning (who says we have to only do it in the spring?). Also, the holidays are on their way so maybe you can make a pile for donating to those in need? Or maybe gifting something you do not need to someone who does? 

Here's another example: I like to decorate for the holidays and somehow over the years I ended up with a TON of Halloween decorations. I mentioned this to my sister and she said she wanted more decorations because she did not have many. So I went through all of my decorations and gave her the ones I had duplicates of or the ones that were not my favorites. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Not only am I able to now fit it all into one tote, some of the decorations my mom gave me that I feel very close to, can now be admired by my sister and niece, keeping it in the family. 

Bella as a robot with my sister, September, at Boo at the Zoo last year

What are your thoughts on minimalism?


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