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.


Mar 19 2011

no retail shopping faq’s [day 296]

Since I’m moving toward the end of this challenge, I’ve been hearing a lot of questions.  Time for a quick FAQ’s update.  I’m going to write the answers to some of these questions in tweetable segments.

Wow.  I could never do no retail shopping.  How are you doing it?

NO RETAIL SHOPPING motivation & benefits outweigh discomfort & inconvenience. #ilovetheresults #saved$ #+time #lessstress #trashsociety

Are you going to do a big shopping spree on the day you can shop again?

NO, no shopping spree. http://trashsociety.com NO retail shopping #1year #minimalism #happy #lessstuff

Is there anything you would buy new right now if you could?

a $3 part to fix a light switch. #similarsmallitems #notavailablenew http://trashsociety.com

possibly a pair of TOMS shoes. http://wp.me/p1jNEP-Fx #oneforone #toms #good

Are you going to write a book after you finish this?

Yes. #yes http://trashsociety.com #unlessGodhasabiggerplan #book #ebooks

You’re radical.  Do you really expect others to do this?

not in the radical way as I am. many r participating on smaller levels w/ HUGE RESULTS. http://trashsociety.com #goodintheworld

How does this work with food?  Do you eat used food?

yes, I eat used food. SERIOUSLY? no, I don’t eat used food. #newfood #shopwithbetterchoices #startingagarden

I still don’t get it.

TRY IT on a small scale. #try1tinything #1smallchange #thentalktome http://trashsociety.com

These are some of the most popular questions, and at some point, I should list some of the responses I get.  I’ve had people tell me everything from it takes way too much time to do these things and I don’t care to the economy will collapse if everyone does this and nobody cares.  I don’t think I can single-handedly collapse the economy and if nobody cared I wouldn’t have a huge number of people reading my blog.  Yes, I’m radical, but through my radicalness, I’m trying to make a point that people can do some small things that will benefit them and the rest of the world.  Many thanks to all who read this stuff and make a few small changes along the way.  :)


Mar 17 2011

the one for one model [day 295]

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, was a keynote speaker this year at SXSW.  Not only was it incredible to hear his story, but just to hear the magnitude of positive change his company has created in the world.  Here’s the best part.  Blake made this statement at the end of his talk.

“From this day forward, TOMS is no longer a shoe company. It’s a one-for-one company.  Our next step is meeting those needs around the world.”

Yes, TOMS is now a one-for-one company.  In June, they’re launching their next product.  You buy one, somebody in need gets one.  It’s a for profit model, and an extremely successful one.  I have to say here that I would love to go out and buy a pair of TOMS shoes.  With my one year of no retail shopping, unfortunately that’s not an option.  If I buy them used, a person in need will not get a new pair of shoes, however, even in the secondary market, good can still be done.

  • If I get them at a thrift store, that money goes to charity.
  • If I wear them, I’m marketing TOMS and this one-for-one model.
  • If I buy them used, paying less than retail, I’ve saved money that I can donate to one of my favorite charities.

How else can we apply the 1-for-1 model?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few days now.  I don’t know how anyone can hear the TOMS story and not wonder how we can all be a part of it.  TOMS is obviously onto something here.  I have a few ideas of how this could be applied in other ways to benefit TOMorrow.   Continue reading


Feb 2 2011

where is she? [day 251]

I still need to get rid of some of my clothing.  I downsized by 50% a few weeks ago, but there’s still a few more pieces I could part with.  I was thinking about the clothing again after a short trip I took recently.

I went house hunting last Sunday, no, not to buy one, but to look for an abandoned house.  I’m part of a photo group that goes to small towns looking for abandoned houses, vacant buildings, old vehicles or anything else that has been left to deteriorate and wither away.  We’re never disappointed.  This last trip to Krum, Texas produced an abandoned house, a school bus, a fire truck and a semi truck, among other things.  The abandoned houses are always left full of stuff, but the things that surprise me the most is the clothing and the photographs left behind.  Who leaves a house without taking these things?

Just to give you an idea, this was the living room, going into the kitchen.

These are pics of the clothing left behind.

The nightgown still hanging on the back of the door…

I always wonder what the story is, but have yet to find one.  I’m led to look at the artifacts, ponder the possibilities and create my own fictional tale.

It’s dusk, the daylight slowly fading away.  The stuffed pig is sad, waiting patiently for the missing woman that should be coming home now.  After a long bath, she will put on the flowered gown.  Where is she?  Rarely is she late.  What was that?  A sound, followed with silence.  Silence that has turned to deafness over the years.  Still waiting.  It’s dusk.  Where is she?


Jan 17 2011

airing my dirty laundry… and clean laundry [day 235]

I promised you dirty laundry, so here it is.  There’s actually more of it, but this is my basket.  My kids have one upstairs too.  So why an I showing you this?  I have no idea, other than it seemed like a fun title for this blog post.

I was thinking a few days ago how ridiculous it is that I have as many clothes as I do.  I have a relatively small closet, at least considered small by Frisco standards.  It’s a walk-in for skinny people.  I thought, “What if I got rid of half of my clothing?”  Helping my friend move back into her house, and helping her purge clothing from her son’s outgrown wardrobe, was the final push I needed to do this.

I decided to do it.  Get rid of half of my clothes.  Going into this, I had no idea if this would be easy or difficult.  Will it feel like a sacrifice?  Let’s see…

Let’s start with my closet.  I have approximately 278 pieces of clothing in there, so I will need to purge 139 pieces.  The first pass through the closet yielded 84 pieces of clothing.  Not bad for a first pass, but still a pretty long way to go.

The second pass, which was a little bit difficult, yielded 28 pieces of clothing.  This pass felt a little bit like a sacrifice, but when I thought about it, most of this is stuff I don’t wear anymore.  This batch included my pair of mismatched shoes, as they’re too small and hurt my feet.  Sad about those, but it makes sense to pass them on.  These will go to the first person that asks for them (size 7.5), as the thrift store would pitch them in the trash thinking they need exact matches.  Continue reading


Jan 9 2011

are you expressing yourself or propagandistically supporting financial insanity? [flashback – day 227]

n1355929489_107613_2584Original post: January 1, 2009

About two months ago, I got a really cool pair of shoes from a friend’s teenage daughter.  She said she was not wearing them anymore, so I took them home with me.  The shoes were awesome, great colors and artwork!  As soon as I got home, I put them on and went outside to play with the boys.  We got out the sidewalk chalk… well our version of sidewalk chalk… and started the outside art process.  I drew the skull that was on my shoe.

I had seen lots of merchandise with artwork like my shoes, but I didn’t really know much about it.  Ed Hardy.  Stuff that people are paying insane amounts of money for.  $109 for a short sleeve t-shirt?!?!?!?  Are you kidding me?   Continue reading


Dec 15 2010

dressed to shop [trashogram]

This trashogram was made from items sitting in bins in my garage, most of it purchased as props for a school photography class.  The doll, decked out in her fancy Mastercard dress, is surrounded by shoes and many other random objects that she could place in her shopping bags.  The empty Tiffany & Co. box, a vintage piece, costing $.25… empty.


Dec 11 2010

lesson learned through a pink bag and Barbie dolls [day 198]

Yet another trip to Target.  This time it was for my son.  Here’s the somewhat funny, yet disturbing story…

I was presented with a ziplock baggie full of Barbie doll parts this past week.  Normally, this would be okay, as someone might be giving me these for an art project or something.  This time, it’s because my son, along with a friend, decapitated and dismembered some dolls that obviously weren’t his.  He said he took the heads off, but didn’t do the rest, however he did choose to make a puppet show out of them.  I don’t have a pic of the dolls right now, but I’m quite sure they’ll be in a future trashogram.

I’m mostly upset by this because he isn’t being respectful of other people’s things.  These dolls belong to the church, and he made a really poor decision in destroying stuff that’s not his.  Now knowing my somewhat quirky parenting style, I came up with a pretty creative punishment.  My style has been compared to Henry Spencer from the show Psych.  It’s odd, but it works.  I’ll stick with it.  So my punishment started at Target…

First, my son had to go into the store with a pink “green” bag.  The friend that helped him also came along, as they’re both to purchase new Barbie dolls for the church.  She offered to carry the pink bag, and at some point, I allowed it.  The punishment, or so he thinks, is that I will video him in the doll aisle, selecting the new Barbie dolls and checking out at the register.  I did do the videos, but I’m not sure if I will actually post them.  As upset as he was, I think he might have learned his lesson.  The money came out of his bank account and he also has to write an apology letter to the kids director at church.  Continue reading


Dec 4 2010

things I just don't get [day 192]

Let me just say, before you read my list of things I don’t get, that there’s a purpose behind this list.  That purpose is something I say regularly.  Just think about what you’re buying and what you’re doing.  Your actions make a difference.  They say who you are, what you believe in and what you support.  They can help people, help the economy, help with saving resources, but they can also hurt these things as well.  Okay, so there’s a few in here just for fun too.

Luggage condoms. What exactly are we protecting the suitcase from?  If the plastic completely covered it, without wheel and handle holes, then it might make some sense.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have a paint ball gun or a big plate of spaghetti, because I would have needed to test this.  If you travel a lot and you’re worried about the condition of your luggage, it might be easier to pick up a set at the thrift store, then you don’t have to worry about the airline people destroying it.  As a matter of fact, you may want to consider one of these plastic condom outfits for yourself with the TSA “pat down” procedures now in place.

Wonder Bread shoes. I have a lot of crazy clothing, but shoes that look like a Wonder bread wrapper?  I know, to each his own…  Maybe there’s a bread maker employee who wears these to work as part of a uniform?  These shoes are made by Keds and have nothing to do with the bread company.  I get this more than I get the luggage condoms.  That’s another good reason to shop at thrift stores, there’s much to find under the category “random”.

Why any parent would buy this for their child? This t-shirt says, “1.  I want it.  2. You buy it for me.  3.  Any questions?”  I have questions.  If t-shirts are the modern day propaganda, is this what we want our kids to be saying?  I don’t want my kids growing up thinking they don’t have to work for anything, much less giving them everything they want.  I wanted to buy this shirt just to keep some kid from wearing it, although it is at the thrift store, so maybe the people shopping there see things a little differently?  Now I need to go back and see if it’s still in the rack.  When buying t-shirts for your kids, think about the message.  There’s lots of cute and funny ones available.  I hope the parents of this child are prepared to buy this kid a BMW when she turns 16…   Continue reading


Oct 24 2010

strings attached… [day 150]

I was paging through a girly magazine as I getting my hair done last week.  ‘Done’ meaning colored…  So this isn’t my normal choice of magazine, as I prefer art, life or business themes, however I thought I would look just to see what the hype is about.  I’m sure shopping in thrift stores doesn’t provide me with the current style trends I might need to know.

Strings attached… Now I love my friendship bracelets.  I have a few from my kids, some from friends, some made by the kids at Casa Hogar and one I found on the floor at the library.  I’ve had them on for months.  Mine are special because they were made by people I know, or the store bought ones (that probably cost less than $.25) given to me for s special reason.

Now I liked these pictured in the magazine, that was until I saw the price.  They range from $130 to $250.  Is that for all of them?  And enough for my friends?  The strings attached would be knowing that your friend gives you a piece of jewelry that costs as much as a small car payment.  Detaching strings…    Continue reading