Mar 23 2011

around the corner [day 300]

Wow!  Day 300!  Actually, that was yesterday, as I’m a day behind on the blogging.  It’s just a number, but I feel like I just made that last turn into the final stretch.  The funny thing?  I plan to keep going once I hit the finish line.  I’m sure I’ll start something new, but I plan to keep shopping the way I’ve been shopping.  There are so many good things that the challenge has produced, results I never would have expected.

  • My shopping habits have changed drastically. I think a lot more about things, all things, before I buy them.  Even small things like a pack of gum.  I look at everything long term now and I shop for the future, not the here and now.
  • I’ve lost my desire to shop. I still like to treasure hunt on occasion, but there’s no part of my being that wants to go into a superstore or the mall.
  • The amount of good things that have come out of no shopping. Since I’ve been blogging this everyday, it’s easy to go back and see all of the amazing things that have come out of the challenge.  Money I’ve saved, people I’ve met, ideas for sustainable living, and the list goes on.

Nope, I don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things.  I’ll stick with the new plan.  It’s very freeing.


Feb 16 2011

my new minimalist challenge [day 266]

I’m not sure how many challenges one person can have going on at the same time, but I’m willing to break a world record on it.  My recent wardrobe downsize was just the beginning of downsizing my entire house.  This has not been a super easy process, but I sure learned many things that could potentially make it easier for me and easier for anyone to downsize.  Now, you have to understand something.  When I get motivated to do something, there’s no time for grass to grow under my feet.  As a friend of mine fondly labeled me a few weeks ago, “a freak of nature”, I clearly live up to that when it comes to just doing anything without hesitation.

My new challenge is this: Maintain my downsized quantity of material possessions and continue to downsize on a regular basis.

Simple.  Sounds simple, but will it be that easy?  The first part of the downsize took a lot of time and effort, but the rewards are huge!  You probably won’t believe this, as I would not have believed it myself, but an astronomical amount of stress went out with all of the material things.  For one, ownership is responsibility.  Most of the things we purchase are bought with the intention of making our lives easier or better, however living in a sea of gadgets places us in gridlock, as we desperately speed up this vicious cycle of spending more and wanting more.  There is no magic gadget that will make life easier, but there is a way to make that happen, it just takes a little bit of sweat equity and a desire to create change.

When purging things from my garage, I had 3 books on organizing.  Seriously!!??!  Here’s how I will do this new challenge.

Maintaining my downsized quantity

Simple.  Every time I buy something, I have to get rid of something.  If I come home with 3 new (used) things, 3 thing have to go.  I won’t do this with groceries, as I already have a challenge there that is working wonderfully.  Once I get to my desired allotment of stuff, this will help me maintain it.  If you plan to do this challenge, this part is good to start immediately, as your situation won’t get worse, it will stay the same until you begin your downsize process.

Continuing the reduction of material possesions

For one year, I will get rid of one item per day, in addition to the maintenance plan.  I’m haven’t reduced to the level I want to yet, and this should get me there.  Slowly, but I’m doing it so I can blog the process, recording why I still have the items and why I made the decision to give it away.  It’s also a good accountability process to blog these things.  It takes a little time, but you can do that too (for free) on WordPress.  Just take photos with your phone, write a sentence or two and post it.

Tips on downsizing

Here’s a few tips to get you started in your venture to simplify your life by owning less stuff.

  • Minimalist mindset. You have to be motivated on some level to do this.  You might not be 100% convinced that this will change your life for the better, but if you believe it even the slightest little bit, then you have enough motivation to start.  And for my friends that will say, “I can’t do it because my family won’t help, they won’t participate…”, just to it.  If they can’t beat you, they’ll have to join you.
  • Staging area. Having a staging area is hugely important.  I’m using my garage right now.  Everything goes out there into pile of where it should go.  You must quickly get it out of that area of it will start to migrate back to places where it shouldn’t.  I purge to the garage, then at least once a week, I list things on freecycle or make a trip to the thrift store.
  • Storage areas. You do need to have some empty storage space, but not too much, as you will tend to fill it back up.  As soon as I emptied the 100+ cans of paint of the 5 tier metals shelves, I gave the shelves away.  I don’t need them and I’ll just add more organized clutter to my garage.
  • Clean slate. Yes, I need to clean my slate patio, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  When you start with any given space, clear it all out of the space first, then organize it back into the space.  You’ll be motivated to get rid of more things and your time will be better spent, rather than just shuffling things around.  It’s like those little number puzzles, the ones with the frustrating little plastic tiles.  Wouldn’t it be easier to pop them all out, put 1-6 back in order and donate 7-15 to someone who would be blessed by your extra stuff?
  • Deciding what to get rid of. This seems to be the hardest part for everyone, myself included.  Ask yourself these questions when going through your stuff.  Is this an extra or a spare?  Do I need more than one of these?  Do I need this at all?  When is the last time I used it?  Could I borrow one or share this with somebody?  Does it have more than one use?  If I keep this, can I get rid of some other related  things?  Is this something I can get easily in the future if I get rid of it and find I need it?  This new mindset has helped me part with things.  I’ve been working on this slowly for 4 years, but power working it recently.  I have no regrets about the things I’ve gotten rid of.

If you do participate in this minimalist challenge in any way, please let me know how it goes.  If you do the blogging, please send me a link and I will add it to my site.  Have a happy, stress-free day!  :)


Jan 19 2011

the clothing experiment update [day 237]

Here’s the experiment.  I decided to reduce my wardrobe by 50%.  I also threw out a mini-challenge.  Take 25 pieces of clothing from your closet, place them in a box or plastic tote.  Put it away for a month and see if you miss any of the stuff in it.  If not, take it to the thrift store.  If so, take out the item(s) you missed.  Here are some updates.

50% reduction

I still have a long way to go on achieving a 50% wardrobe reduction.  I’m close, but I still need to purge some more stuff.  I went through my drawers and got rid of about 40% of that.  I need to make my 2nd and 3rd passes there.  I also had 2 loads of dirty laundry that were not included.  I didn’t count the pieces, but just guessing, I need to get rid of about 75-100 more pieces.  I’ll do that later in the week.

my boys did the mini challenge

I had both of my kids pull 25 clothing items out of their closets.

My youngest, 10, has some emotional attachments to his clothing, and to stuff he’s never even worn. Wow, we all start this process early. He has a lot of hand-me-downs that he intends to wear. The process was not easy for him.

My oldest, 11, is way pickier than I thought. I learned a lot about him in the process. He hates yellow and thinks it makes him look like a clown. He won’t wear anything with a collar. He had a lot of clothes in the back of his closet that were too small, and some clean laundry. I thought he had a lot of clothes, but he doesn’t because his brother, being the same size, has hoarded them all.

50 pieces of clothing is going to the resale shop.  And my boys? They feel good about it. It’s easier to keep their rooms clean.

others taking the challenge

I have gotten some great responses to the mini-challenge.  Besides the several people doing it, here’s some great feedback.   Continue reading


Jan 17 2011

the clothing experiment [mini-challenge]

I’m posting the 25 piece clothing challenge separate from the blog post, as I have a few people that want to participate already.  I’ll post the results monthly, along with the list of people participating.  Check it out.

Take 25 pieces of clothing from your closet, place them in a box or plastic tote.  Put it away for a month and see if you miss any of the stuff in it.  If not, take it to the thrift store.  If so, take out the item(s) you missed.  Rinse, lather and repeat.

If you do this challenge, send me a photo and the date you did it.  I will even pick up your box if you live in the north Dallas area and take it to the thrift store for you.  I would also love to blog your results.  :)


Nov 25 2010

half way! [day 183]

Today maks the half way point for the no retail shopping challenge!  It’s hard to believe it’s been one half of a year already, but it also feels like I have a long way to go.  Today is Thanksgiving, and no, I did not plan for this day to fall on a holiday.  If I had, I would have made it fall on black friday, as that makes more sense.  I was going to do a daily recap, however the search features on the trashsociety.com blog are a much easier way to find past posts.

I get a lot of questions about this challenge, once people process it and quit giving me the crazy look.  Here’s some questions I’ve heard.

What will you do when the challenge is done? Once I’m done with the challenge, I will organize the site into an resource blog, categorized by topics.  I’m sure I will also find another related challenge to do.  I also plan to make this into a book.

Will you go shopping the day it’s done? No, that would feel weird.  This is really changing my shopping habits, and although I will shop again, I will do it very differently.

Have you bought anything? Yes, I had to buy one thing.  Tires for my car.  They were bad and it was a safety issue.  If I wrecked my car or hurt my kids because of a challenge, that would be horrible and I could not live with myself.  No, I didn’t start the one year over, and I did learn a lesson about planning for tire purchases.  Even though I had to buy tires, the challenge purpose was accomplished, I had to learn and think differently.

So, you’re really going to finish this? Yes.  Why not?  Half way there…

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned? I’ve learned much, but the biggest is that I made a lot of impulse purchases.  I can live with much less stuff.  I don’t need that colorful stuff to sit on a shelf or another gadget.  Some of them might be nice, but most will probably end up at the thrift store.

Are you saving money? The quick answer to this is yes, but that was not my motivation at all when I started, although it’s a nice benefit.

What are the benefits of doing it? There are many, but the best one is not one I expected.  Less stuff = less mess.  It’s so much easier to keep my house picked up.  Not only are we not shopping, but we give things we don’t need or use to the thrift stores or to people we know that will use these things.  Our closets are not full, there’s extra space in all of our drawers and my garage, well, it’s made progress, but we still have a little way to go out there.  Need some motivation to clean out an area of your house?  Watch an episode of Hoarders.

Later today, I will be adding a new artistic twist to the challenge.  Stay tuned…


May 27 2010

the challenge [day 1]

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My boyfriend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said, “There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…