Mar 28 2011

mental gymnastics [day 305]

Buy one, purge one.

I’ve been practicing my “buy one, purge one” philosophy and it’s going well.  I was hoping to photograph all of the items, however that would take a lot of time.  I am doing it though.  I don’t shop near as much as I used to.  Even though I purchased things from a thrift store, it was still buying a lot of junk I didn’t need.  Now I’m much more selective and I buy much less, especially knowing I will have to get rid of something every time I buy something.  It’s a good plan and it’s not been a struggle at all.

I bought 2 pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans and a pair of swim trunks at the thrift store a few weeks ago.  I needed a pair of dress shoes that were comfortable.  I found just the right pair and I bought another pair that were on sale for $2.00.  I came home and got rid of 2 pairs of shoes.  The jeans, girl’s size 16, fit me, but a little snug.  I bought them with the intention of wearing them if I could, but if not, using them to repair some of my other jeans.  The boys needed a pair of swim trunks, as they’ve been fighting over the one pair they have.  I actually got rid of a lot of clothing, not just 2 pieces.  I’ll be blogging that soon.

Just a few days ago, I bought some throw pillows for my patio swing.  I’ve been wanting some because I love the swing this time of year and I like to lay on it and read.  Considering I got the swing for free from a friend and the cushions free from a dumpster, spending a few bucks at a thrift store on pillows seemed okay.  They’re the same fabric as my patio chairs and are from Pottery Barn, so they cost someone a lot of money.  I plan to dye or paint the unbleached cotton cushions.  So what am I getting rid of?  My colorful tile pot (that’s broken), some of my solar lights (a few that don’t work) and the shiny rocks (that are serving no purpose whatsoever).

Buy one, purge one is not difficult.  It’s a good feeling to know I’m not going to be accumulating more stuff when I do shop and it makes me walk away from many things I would have purchased with my old shopping habits.

Snap one, show one.

I started a quirky little habit.  I take photos of the things I considered buying, but chose not to.  I snap a photo and I show it here on my blog.  Here’s a couple of pics.  To the left are 4 square glass tables.  I thought these would be nice for my patio.  Mental gymnastics:

  • What would I get rid of?
  • Do I want to clean these?
  • Will I maintain the plants I want to put on them?
  • Where will I get the plants?  The pots?
  • Are these made for outdoor use?
  • Do I really want to spend $70?

I thought about all of that in less than a minute and easily decided against them.  Next was 2 latte mugs, the polka dot one and the orange rimmed one.  It’s rare to find oversized mugs.  Here we go again.  More mental gymnastics for he sake of consumerism.

  • Do I like these mugs?
  • Do I need these mugs?
  • What will I get rid of?
  • Do I need more dishes to wash?
  • How many cups can I use at one time?
  • How do these fit into my minimalist approach to downsizing?
  • Do they coordinate with my mismatched collection?
  • Do I really want to spend money on these?

Again, in less than a minute, I walked away from these.  I like the new habits.  They aren’t painful at all.  I haven’t quit shopping, but I’m spending my money less frequently and more wisely.  Time to kick it up another notch?  Probably so.


Jan 26 2011

recycle freecycle [day 246]

Freeycycle is the modern day dumpster diving, without having to touch a dumpster or trash can.  From the freecycle site: It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

I had my first free items from freecycle.org a couple of weeks ago.  Three empty 5-gallon paint buckets from Home Depot.  I really needed just one, but the others will come in handy too, as I need to get rid of most of the paint I’ve been hoarding for years.

A few days ago, I got 3 lamps from freecycle.  One of them being a really cool, ultra-modern lamp, but needing repair to the on/off switch.  I haven’t repaired the lamp yet, but I can use the electrical from one of the other lamps that was missing a shade.  This lamp was not cheap and is probably the nicest lamp I own now.  The other small lamp, also missing a shade, will be my new energy efficient light in the nook on my staircase.  I ran electrical to that a couple of months ago since there was electrical in the closet underneath the stairs.

I’ve also gotten rid of things that I don’t need anymore.  Clutter is not my friend, so this made it easy.  I had some fence boards that I had no place to store.  Someone on freecycle was getting as many fence pieces as possible so he could build a new fence.  Smart dude, as he probably saved $5k and kept a lot of wood out of the landfill.   Continue reading


Dec 26 2010

returns [day 212]

It’s the day after Christmas, the day where everyone returns the gifts they don’t want.  I gave myself a Christmas gift yesterday, and that gift was to take a day off of blogging.  I’m a couple of days behind and will get caught up.

I did go dumpster diving on Christmas day.  It was way too cold to be doing this, so I only hit a couple of them, but I did find some interesting things.  I found one full of books, CD’s and DVD’s.  The sad part about it, is that most of this could have been placed in a recycling bin, not a trash bin.

At least if I don’t like the stuff, it’s easy to return.  :)  The fact that return lines are longer than purchasing lines, the day after Christmas, supports the theory that not only do people not need all this stuff, they don’t want most of it either.  I guess I should go diving in residential trash bins, although I hope the unwanted things make it to a thrift store.


Dec 12 2010

robinhood is good, homeLESS, organized hoarders and more… [day 200]

Is 200 a milestone in the challenge?  No, it’s just a nice, round, even number.  I remember my mom pumping gas into the car when I was little and she always rounded it up to a full dollar amount, even if that meant topping it off to the point it overflowed.  I asked why and she replied, “I don’t know, I just like to do it that way.”  Can we say OCD?  My OCD isn’t that bad or maybe focused somewhere else, so 200 is just that… 200.

I have a short follow up on the Oprah post.  I don’t really follow her or much of anything on television, so I did not know that she is starting her own network.  The Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN.  How completely appropriate.  After all, she does OWN a lot.  If those who die with the most win, then she’ll be the number one winner in whatever afterlife she believes in this week, thus the other namesake, WINfrey.  Well, Hoo(op)RAH for her.   Continue reading


Dec 11 2010

AWESOME dumpster diving video! [day 199]

This video was created for a school project by a student at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania for a Physics of Energy and the Environment class.  It’s a wonderful video on the how-to’s of dumpster diving with some alarming statistics.  Check it out.  It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.


Nov 23 2010

ready. set. action! [day 180]

I have to go shopping today.  It’s for work, so I can’t ditch my job to not shop.  I have to get paint, glitter and fabric for a stage set.  I’m not looking forward to going shopping, even though Home Depot has always been one of my favorites.

I’ve always liked doing stage sets with old objects or stuff from thrifts stores.  When we first moved into our church building, we asked people to bring candles, any size, any type, but they had to be white or cream colored.  I placed metal roof flashing around the edges of the stage, built candle risers out of scrap metal wall studs (I have a nice scar from that dumpster diving excursion) and placed over 500 candles around the stage.

No, it didn’t set off the fire alarms.  I tested that before the services.  It was beautiful after the candles were lit and the lights were all turned off.

The most fun set ever was for a series called Exposé.  We used 23 vintage tube television sets, creating a large sculpture, with a few also on the edges of the stage.  We ran 2 signals to the tv’s, the graphics coordinating with the screen graphics.

This was an effort of many people, Rod with a tv idea, Jerod and Bob for the wiring, Peter hanging the sign and Tony and I building most of it.  This was 3.5 years ago, so if I missed anyone, please let me know.  You can see all of the pics on flickr.

This set cost very little.  The only new stuff purchased was the wiring for the tv’s, the Ikea lights and the metal grunge mesh panels around the tv sets.  The tv sets were $10 each at the local thrift store, with the agreement that we donate them back when we’re done.  A set to support people in need, gotta love that!  Our budget was only $500, and although I don’t remember the final numbers, I do know we came in substantially under budget.  We reused the metal mesh panels for a couple other series, but in different ways.  We also used the Ikea light boxes for a few different events and series.

I guess I’m blogging this to show how old junk can make cool new stuff.  I guess I’ll go get ready and shop now…


Nov 13 2010

black friday shopping: the new olympic sport [day 170]

Okay, so it’s not an olympic sport… yet.  I do however, find this black friday business very interesting.  The idea for this blog post started with an article I found in a local magazine, called Black Friday: Survival Tips.  Please understand, if you choose to participate in this sport, I’m not saying it’s bad, this might just be another way to look at it.

Black Friday, ironically a name associated with financial crisis, started back in the mid 60’s and has become a cultural icon of holiday shopping addiction.  “Door busters” is another iconic shopping term, born out of the black friday marketing efforts of the major retailers.  Back in 2008, a WalMart employee was trampled to death by a black friday door buster event.  Is this really what its come to?

Back in 1993, I worked as a manager for Toys R Us in Miami, Florida.  This was during the Power Rangers craze, where people would line up outside the doors, knowing the the shipment came in the night before.  At opening, two people had to unlock the doors, simultaneously at the count of three, then run to paste their bodies as close to the wall as possible, as to not get trampled by the insane crowd pushing their way into the store.  I only wish I had saved the security tape where we recorded this, as it’s hard to put into words.  I also remember calling the police several times a week to break up a fist fight between parents fighting over the last of some random toy that is probably in a landfill by now.   Continue reading


Sep 18 2010

labeled: TRASH [day 115]

Dumpster diving.  I have to say, I really love those two words together.  It never ceases to amaze me what retailers will throw away, expensive stuff, stuff that could be used elsewhere or repurposed.  The corporate blockheads force them to throw everything away versus giving it away.  The logic?  If you ask the people in the stores why they pitch perfectly good items in the trash, the response will be something along the lines of, “…the corporate office told us we have to…”

I went dumpster diving a few months ago behind Target.  They had the largest trash dumpster / container possible and it was starting to overflow.  I’m guessing they might have been doing a remodel, however I’ve seen this large container return on a regular basis.  Scheduled waste?  Take a look at the few pics I took.

Fixtures & more…

Continue reading