My guide to a minimal Zero-waste Christmas: Part 1

Hi everyone, it’s that time of year again. The crazy last minute mad dash between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or as I like to call it “the month I avoid malls and shopping centers” 🙂

We’re finally past Black Friday and the whole weekend of mindless consumerism and right about now you’re probably wondering how in the world you’re going to mesh your minimalist/and or/ Zero-waste lifestyle with the holiday season. I’ll admit, it can be quite the challenge to try and mesh the most consumer driven holiday of the year with a lifestyle that isn’t so dependent on having tons of stuff…but I assure you it CAN be done…with a bit of planning and preparation, of course.

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So over the next few weeks in my Christmas guide series I’m going to give you all my pointers tips and tricks to make your holidays as simple and waste-free as possible.

Let’s start with the most obvious subject…..Gifts. We’ll separate this into two parts, the first being gifts YOU buy for other people, and the second being the gifts you are likely to receive.

Gifts you buy:

As a rule, I tend to always get consumable gifts, i.e. something they can eat or use up (in other words, no tchotchkes). My two go-to gifts are 1. Candy/goodies from the bulk bins, hugs-and-kisses-mason-jar-2_thumband 2. Some sort of scrub/body wash/lotion I make my self that requires only a few ingredients (Google easy home-made salt scrubs and you’re bound to find something you’ll like).

To keep the gift minimal as well as zero-waste, I will save old glass jelly jars or mustard jars (anything you still don’t make yourself but buy in glass jars). I then wash them out, peel the labels off, and it makes for an easy and cute container to store your gift. If I’m getting something from the bulk bins I’ll usually take one or two  of my own larger jars that are already tared to the store and fill them up with a couple of treats I know everyone will love. Then when I get home I separate it into the smaller jars.

Packaging: once you have the jars filled with your consumable gift, I personally like to leave the jars plain and simply set them under our tree…no muss, no fuss. But for those of you who love to wrap gifts I’d recommend either reusing newspaper that was headed for the recycling bin….or….like I like to do, save wrapping and bows/ribbons from gifts people get for my birthday, etc. and simply reuse them.

More gift ideas…

~Experience gift like concert tickets, movie tickets, etc.

~Put together a Zero-Waste starter kit with extra jars, bamboo toothbrush, etc. you have lying around the house.

~Hot chocolate mix in a jar- just need some cocoa, maybe mini marshmallows….you get the idea 🙂

~Really, any sort of mix in a jar.

~Home-made goodies of any kind

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When in doubt about a gift….cash is always acceptable…at least for me it is lol

Gifts they buy for you:

The simplest way to avoid unnecessary packaging/junk you don’t want in your home is to ask for something specific ahead of time. It could be something tangible that you need/want or you could ask family and friends to donate to your favorite charity.

For some family members I can tell them not to get me anything and they’ll totally understand and not get me anything. But if your family is anything like mine, there are always a few people who are determined to give gifts, legitimate hold them in your hand and unwrap them sort of gifts….the type of family member who isn’t swayed by anything you say about not needing anything, blah, blah blah. You could get pissy with them and fight about it, or you could circumvent it. My strategy is pretty simple… in order to avoid any item I might mot like/use, I ask for a specific budget-friendly gift from that person/people.

For example, for my birthday I specifically requested socks….yep, you read that right, SOCKS. My ten year old self would pout at a gift like that, but my adult self loved not having to buy my own socks. And for Christmas I have asked for an adult coloring book, because coloring is relaxing, and the book will be made of paper, and they don’t have any extra packaging to them except whatever my relative wraps it in. (which I will take and reuse to wrap a future gift…I might even use the colored pages to wrap future gifts when I’m finished with them 😉 )

Side-note: for those of you with kids, the holidays can be tough. But you can always make a specific list for people to choose from, or even open a college savings account for each kid that people can gift to, or even ask for experience gifts (like a trip to the zoo) in lieu of a physical toy 🙂

So overall, it’s pretty simple with a bit of planning. The only thing you have to do ahead of time is scoop out a few eco-friendly, package -free gift options beforehand and be ready when you get asked what you want for Christmas. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have this….

Than this…1-corinthians-12-4

Anyways 🙂

 

Hope you liked part 1 of my Christmas Guide series. Stayed tuned for part 2: Christmas Cards

What kinds of gifts do you give for Christmas? Do you reuse wrapping and bags? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Saving seeds, Zero-waste style

Hey guys,
It’s been a crazy few weeks and it’s officially fall here. I’m a devout fan of spring and summer and usually don’t care for fall, but the colors on the trees have been quite beautiful lately as the tops of the trees are red, melding into orange and finally green still at the bottom.

Considering the declining weather, I’m pleasantly surprised that I still have things alive and growing in the garden. I have onions, potatoes, parsley, catnip, mint, green onions, and chives still alive and kicking. My poor watermelon died before maturing fully, and the gopher devoured my squash, but the rest is still good.

As you all know I’ve started an indoor garden for the winter. I planted green beans, parsley, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and a green onion. So far the beans have taken off really well, and the rest have sprouted and are getting bigger by the day.

I even took one of the green onions from the garden, used the top of it and replanted the bottom bulb, which is now regrowing (pic on the bottom right).

Tying that into today’s topic….saving seeds Zero-waste style….is super easy. Here’s what you do:

  1. Take whatever fruit/veggie you want to save the seeds from and cut the seeds out. This pic is a bunch of green and red bell pepper seeds I’m saving…and a few spinach seeds in the upper left part 🙂
  2.  Dry said seeds on a napkin/cotton cloth in a sunny window until they are completely dry. I mean, literally, 100% dry. If you put them away before they’re completely dry, they’ll mold and get yucky (believe me, you don’t want to clean that up).

3. The last step is to put them away in storage until you plan to use them. I repurposed this handy dandy old pill organizer for the job. (Of course I happened to have more seeds than pill compartments, so I put the rest in the black box.)

 

Now why should you go through all the trouble to dry your own seeds? First, because it reduces your overall waste, and saves them from randomly growing in your compost bin. Second, you won’t have to buy those little seed packets at the store if you save your own which not only saves the packaging but also saves you money. 🙂 and third, because it’s fun to start your own garden without spending a ton of cash to make it happen.

Did I also mention how fulfilling it is to be self-sufficient with growing your own food? It’s a literal representation of the “circle of life” (cue Lion King music).

If you’re just starting to venture into the idea of gardening, you can always experiment with pepper seeds, green beans (which you dry inside their shell then peel the outer green bean away to get to the seed inside), garlic (the clove is the seed), potatoes (let ’em sprout and then plant), watermelons, etc. Any seeds easy to get to are best.

So be adventurous and give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can do with that green thumb.

Psst…the giant green bean plant I have growing, along with all of my other indoor garden plants were grown with seeds I harvested from my garden this year. 🙂

Do you save your own seeds? How about gardening? If you do, or have any questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

xo,

Candice

New uses for old things…

A lot of people use minimalism and Zero-waste as an easy excuse to get rid of things. Things that don’t fit their lifestyles anymore, things that aren’t useful or aesthetically pleasing, etc. They donate or sell the unwanted items, or even give them to family and friends, which is great. But what do you do with the things that can’t be donated/recycled/ or given away? I’m not against downsizing by any means, I’ve done it myself. But now that I’m at a happy equilibrium with my things, when something loses it’s usefulness I have to ask myself if it’s really “dead” or if I can save it somehow so it isn’t wasted.

A big part of my new minimalist/zero-waste approach to life is finding new uses for old things before they find their way to the trash. Making as little trash as possible necessitates getting a little creative.

For example, I found a few of my socks have gotten new holes in them. I’ve patched the holes before, but the poor things have finally bit the dust. Now, normally I would’ve thrown them straight into the trash….but, I found myself thinking if there was anything else I could use them for to extend their life.

I thought about turning them into rags, but the holes were in the way, so I came up with something else. I cut the stretchy parts off the tops and am going to save the soft fabric of the foot of the socks to stuff a pillow later. But for the stretchy parts (which would be quite uncomfortable inside of a pillow), I had to do something else.

 

For the long socks, I decided to fold the stretchy part down and turn it into wrist sweat-bands.

And for the shorter one, I folded it over on itself and did a quick hand stitch to hold it in place. Now it is a stretchy hairband/scrunchie 🙂

So, I now have new sweat bands, a hair tie, and some fabric to save for a future pillow. Not bad for a few old socks, if I do say so myself. 🙂

It might not seem like much, but it’s a small change in a way of thinking that not only helps give things a second or third life, but it also saves simple things like old socks from ending up in the waste stream before their time.

This isn’t the first time I’ve repurposed/upcycled old items. I’ve turned an old pair of shorts and an old t-shirt into handkerchiefs. I’ve turned an old t-shirt into a reusable bag. Repurposed old worn out sheets into soft cat bedding for my kitties. Used an old coffee pot, punch bowl, and baking dishes to create an indoor garden. I’ve even used old trash cans as catchers for rain water from our porch, which I then use to water my garden.

Now I know some of you are thinking “Candice, don’t you thinking you’re taking this a bit too far? I mean, socks, really? Just toss them.”

But that’s the thing, they are socks, but their not JUST socks. They are a purchase I made that I am now responsible for disposing of when they have ended their usefulness. So, instead of simply tossing them, I found a creative new way to use them. This might seem crazy, but it is how I apply my values to the way I live. I want to produce as little trash as possible, and take into account the amount of resources I’m using to minimize my harmful impact on the planet.

I’ve been called a “hippy” before, but it’s a title I wear with pride.

Have you done any upcycling lately? Reinvented an old appliance/piece of clothing, etc? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Xo,

Candice

When things don’t go as planned…

This summer has been quite the lesson in how well-laid plans can go awry. I had a great plan for our garden and how I was going to get a ton of peas and squash and potatoes, etc.

Then the gopher happened…

He’s such a boob. Bigger than my fat cat and easily twice as fast, he currently lives in our neighbors yard and will crawl under the fence to trapeze through ours. He’s cute, don’t get me wrong…just a pest of the worst kind.

Here’s the problem with him. He ate ALL my peas…over 3/4 of my squash plants…the cucumber sprouts…and is now nibbling on my squash bulbs and watermelons…see those bite marks? Those were from him.win_20160925_152801

And last year he ate all my mom’s cabbage.

Thankfully he didn’t touch the potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, herbs, green beans, or the radishes or I really would’ve hated him.

So, long story short, my plans for an overly abundant garden fell through…mainly because he ate it. But it did inspire me to try something new…indoor gardening for the winter.

I wanted a way to have some fresh produce here in the colder months, which is pretty much half of the year here. So I improvised.

I went through our current donation box and repurposed a few things…

Like an old glass coffee pot missing the coffee maker…win_20160925_152627

Some glass cups and punch bowl we NEVER used…win_20160925_152632

And a few old surplus baking dishes…

Add a bit of potting soil, a few saved seeds from this year’s garden, and voilà! A cute indoor garden 🙂

Since these babies have been in a consistent temperature, have gotten plenty of sunlight in the window, and are watered on a regular basis, they’ve taken off beautifully. I planted the seeds a week ago and they’re already getting big 🙂

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So now I’ll have fresh leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, green beans, carrots, parsley, and onions through the winter. And when this batch runs it’s course, I’ll simply throw in a bit of compost and start again with new seeds.

It goes to show that you don’t have to have a huge backyard to garden. All you need is a box/jars of some sort, dirt, seeds, sunlight and water.

So my nice plans took a turn, but if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have come up with the idea to try indoor gardening. Wherever one door shuts, a window is opened. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is starting a watermelon plant indoors… haha here’s how big ours is outside…poor guy’s a bit wilted from the heat but it’s supposed to rain tonight, so he should perk up by tomorrow, fingers crossed*win_20160925_152817

Do you garden indoors/outdoors? What are your favorites to plant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

XO,

Candice

Minimalist and Zero-waste exercise ideas.

Hey hey everyone,

So you’ve started your journey towards minimalism, zero-waste, or hopefully both and now you’re thinking about your health. Not only healthy eating, but maybe getting in a bit more exercise during the week.

The excuses people give for not exercising are endless, but most fall into three main categories. 1. I don’t have enough time/energy. 2. I don’t want to have to buy any special equipment. 3. I can’t afford a gym membership.

So, I’ve compiled a list. Ideas that don’t require a gym, fancy equipment, or a ton of time. They can be made easier or harder depending on your fitness level. Some use things people already have and some require nothing. I’ve got a few ideas for you and you can pick and choose which fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you start with an easy one, then a week later add another or swap out for a more difficult one…it’s all up to you.

Check them out…

  1. Ditch the expensive gym membership you hardly ever use and instead utilize your public library. They have hundreds of workout DVD’s for every age, shape, and interest. I personally have tried everything from yoga to hip hop dancing to ballet videos. I even tried a little Thai-chi. For those of you a little more hardcore they usually have weightlifting DVD’s or ones where the workouts are uber intense. The best part of this suggestion is #1- it’s FREE, #2- there’s no excuse not to go to the gym, because your living room is now your gym, and #3- they’re fun and waste-freeWIN_20160802_120635
  2. Okay, so you’re not into the library or DVD’s, heck, maybe you don’t even own a television. I’ll bet you have a radio, or an Ipod, or a cell phone that can play music. Strap that baby on and bop to the beat while you do dishes or laundry, kill two birds with one stone, and make your chores a little more fun while you’re at it.
  3. All right, so you’re a guy, and you think dancing while scrubbing your kitchen sink is a bit silly. You can always strap on the music and use it as a bit of a distraction while you go old-school and do manly push ups or sit ups. (I, unfortunately have the upper body strength of a wet noodle and can’t do push ups to save my own life lol)
  4. If you don’t like sit-ups or dancing, try going for a walk around the block, with or without music and with or without a walking buddy, it’s still a basic but great way to get a bit of exercise, not to mention some vitamin D. 🙂
  5. If you have a park near you, like I do, or even a school playground, go during the off hours when no kiddos are around and use the monkeybars or the swings to get in a bit of fun exercise. Or if you have kids, or can borrow some nieces or nephews, take them out and chase after them at the park for a few hours. Never underestimate the amount of exercise you can get with a little one running around.27023_116681815014717_3333171_n
  6. If you happen to own handweights or even a few heavy books you can use them to work out your arms by lifting and moving them around. You can also substitute young children for the handweights by carrying them around or doing that crazy thing dads do by throwing their children into the air before catching them…it gives me a mini heart attack every time I see it. (Disclaimer: I do not advocate things that could potentially harm the children in any way)
  7. If you happen to have a public pool near you, or even a beach, you can go swimming. Easy, and no extra stuff required besides a bathing suit…unless it’s a nude beach, but I digress…
  8. Sneak in exercise by doing things like parking in a spot further away from the store entrance, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Easy things that don’t seem like much, but they add up if you do them even a few times a week. (I may use the parking technique to make a few family members get a bit more exercise without their knowledge, but keep it on the DL)
  9. If you must check emails on your phone or computer at home, stand while you do it instead of sitting. It takes more muscles to stand, and as a bonus it might motivate you to put the phone down more often 😉
  10. Even if you’re PMSing and don’t want to move a muscle, you can stretch. In bed, lay flat and lift one leg up at a time and hold it before slowly lowering it back to the bed. Stretch your arms and your back, this isn’t the most invigorating exercise in the world, but some is better than none.
  11. If you’re short on time, try ten squats or jumping jacks or lunges the moment you get out of bed or right before you hop into the car to head to work. While you’re driving contract your stomach muscles and hold them for thirty seconds before letting go (just remember to breathe!).
  12. During work get up every half hour or hour and take a quick walk to the copier, or the bathroom, or just around the office.
  13. Instead of using the grocery cart to carry your totes to the car, heft one on each arm. (If you have more than two, bring a shopping buddy or just use the cart.)
  14. Instead of going to a car wash, get out there on a warm day and take a bit of time to wash it yourself. Just needs a little soap, a rag, and a bucket or two of water…and some elbow grease.
  15. If you have someplace you normally go, for me it’s the library, that’s within walking distance from your place, save the gas and walk there if the weather is nice enough. My library is about two miles away, so it’s a four mile roundtrip walk for me, and the bonus is I get to rest halfway at the library while perusing books and new workout DVD’s 🙂
  16. Grab a friend and do something fun like trying partner yoga poses or playing basketball. One I love is if you have a large group to play Ultimate-Frisbee. Check it out, it’s so much fun.
  17. If you’re in the mood for a new look in your bedroom or living room, try rearranging the furniture. It’ll get you up and moving, chances are you’ll capture a few errant dust bunnies while you’re at it.
  18. Go dancing with friends or your significant other, or just push the coffee table out of the way and dance there.
  19. If you have a lawn mower, use it without the fancy automatic moving gizmo, push it instead for twice the workout.
  20. If you or your kids are addicted to videogames, check some out from the library like Just Dance or Wii fitness.
  21. Build a snowman.251164_10150210546031725_6383626_n

All right, there are plenty more ways to get in a bit of exercise, but hopefully one of these might give you some inspiration for starting off.

Remember, it’s not about how many miles you run or how many calories you burn, it’s about making exercise fun and an easy part of your regular routine.

Have any other suggestions for minimalist/zero-waste exercise ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Ten myths of Zero-Waste

Hey guys,

I’ve been noticing a few articles floating around that, in my opinion, completely misrepresent the lifestyle….hence today’s post on the myths of Zero-Waste.

Here we go…

MYTH #1

Zero-waste is a movement for only middle to upper class Caucasian women who are single and childless.

TRUTH #1

The Zero-waste movement is for ALL people to participate in. Now it does seem as though a majority of those blogging and promoting it do fall into that stereotype, but there are men and other ethnicities as well as parents living the lifestyle. There’s a comprehensive list of bloggers around the world who live it at zerowastebloggersnetwork.com

I personally fall into the stereotype, except for the middle/upper class thing…which brings me to my next myth…

MYTH #2

You need to have at least a middle class income to attempt Zero-waste.

TRUTH #2

I personally skate by each month on a very small income. Zero-waste has helped me lower my spending because I no longer need to buy things like tissues, lotions, hairspray, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

That’s right, Zero-wasting has helped me SAVE money. Ka-ching!

MYTH #3

You need to buy fancy matching Mason jars, bamboo cutlery, and a butt-load of stuff to start your Zero-waste journey.

TRUTH #3

This one irritates me the most because it’s total bull. You can go zero-waste cheaply by saving glass pickle jars or spaghetti sauce jars and wash the label off before reusing them. Instead of buying a pack of hankies, cut up an old T-shirt and use that. Instead of getting a fancy set of glass jars for storage, check out your local dollar store or thrift store. Easily 3/4 of my containers I got really cheap from both of those places. Or if you have a friend who uses glass baby food jars, ask if you can have the jars when she’s done with them to use for bulk spices.

WIN_20160510_161947
jars (The one in the middle used to be a mayo jar) 😉

The order of operations: Use what you already have, ask a friend, thrift, then lastly buy new.

I think I’ve made my point 🙂

MYTH #4

It costs a lot of money upfront to start.

TRUTH #4

The only upfront costs I had were for a few jars from the dollar store, my divacup, cloth pads, and a safety razor. These were all investments that have paid for themselves in the past year since I am no longer buying their disposable counterparts. These products will last for years and years to come since they are resusable, so I expect they will pay for themselves multiple times before they finally wear out.

The other zero-waste purchases like bamboo toothbrushes, soapnuts, and alum stone deodorant are going to be repeat purchases, but their cost is similar or even less than the regular products.

MYTH #5

You are failing if your trash doesn’t fit in a Mason jar.

TRUTH #5

If you are even reading this post you are already winning and one step ahead of the game. Most people simply aren’t conscious of their waste- or, more likely they don’t WANT to be conscious of their waste. So they ignore it. Even if your only step has been to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, you are contributing to having less waste. EVERY STEP COUNTS!

My personal trash from the past two months does happen to fit in a small jar, but I don’t include pet waste in that factor because my pets do make quite a bit of litter waste and such. Which, for obvious reasons, I am not collecting in a jar lol.

But like I’ve said, I have been on this journey for over a year already, each person’s situation is unique and individual to them. Some have pets, some don’t, some have kids, some don’t, etc. As long as you are trying, you are pretty awesome in my book.

MYTH #6

You have to have special equipment to go Zero-waste. Bamboo utensils, jars, produce bags, etc.

TRUTH #6

So, okay, I have a glass water-bottle. I also have some jars for storage, and a reusable tote to take to the store. But do I have portable bamboo utensils to take with me to restaurants? No. Have I bought specific bags just for produce? No.

If I want to go out to eat, I pick a place with reusable flatware. If I want to buy produce I put it loose in my cart and loose on the cashier belt, and then loose in my big tote.

Now, that being said. There are things you will find you use and would be convenient to have for Zero-wasting. I personally like my water-bottle, and would it be nice to have bamboo utensils? yes, but I don’t need them right now.

The only things you will NEED to go zero-waste are a few containers that you can refill with bulk purchases, and a reusable tote for going to the store. End of story. Everything else can be improvised. (Except if you’re a woman who happens to PMS, then a menstrual cup or reusable pads are kind of necessary. The joys of being a woman, huh?)

MYTH #7

To go zero-waste you have to give up everything good like packaged chips and candy-bars, and the only way you’ll ever have good food again is if you become Suzy Homemaker.

TRUTH #7

Oy, where to begin. I do not buy chips, personally, since none come in packaging I find acceptable for ME. But I do cut up a potato and throw it into my little deep-fryer I have at home. Or a skillet. A few minutes later, voila, fried potatoes!

I also make things like salad dressing, because it’s easy to make. I have the skills to make my own mayo and barbecue sauce as well, but given that I use so little of them and they have enough ingredients that it is easier to buy BBQ sauce in a glass jar with a metal lid than make it myself, both materials being completely recyclable.

If I want a chocolate bar I make sure to find one that is in paper packaging that is easily recycled. (I simply won’t give up chocolate, sorry guys, I need it for that time of the month 🙂 )

MYTH #8

If you Zero-waste, you must not use contraceptives or toilet paper.

TRUTH #8

Whether you use contraceptives or not is a personal choice, I personally am a fan of not spreading diseases or getting pregnant unexpectedly. The trash that comes along with that is inevitable unless you get fixed, which isn’t an option if you want to have children.

Toilet paper is a touchy subject. I still use it since everyone in my household does. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to look into other options just yet, but I’m sure I probably will eventually. For now the best options are if you can get it wrapped in paper, or at least without the inner cardboard tube. Recycled is even better, but it depends on what your preferences are.

MYTH #9

You have to have tons of free time in order to worry about all the extra “work” that goes along with Zero-waste. I.e. grocery shopping, making products

TRUTH #9

Zero-waste grocery shopping is no harder that regular shopping once you have your system in place. I have little labels for my jars, and except for the first trip to the store where I had to get them weighed, grocery shopping takes me the exact same amount of time it did before. No big deal. You just take your jars or bags (if you are buying bulk items), fill em up, and pay for them. Easy peasy. It just takes a little big of gusto to make that first trip, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.

You don’t have to make your own products to be zero-waste. It’s easy and convenient to make them yourself mostly, but it isn’t necessary. I only make one product regularly, toothpaste. 30 seconds, some coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint oil, and I’m done. That’s it.

Most things have a purchasable replacement. Like bars of soap free of packaging versus body-wash, an alum stone instead of deodorant, soap nuts instead of laundry detergent, etc. It just takes a little experimentation to figure out what works the best for you.

MYTH #10

There is no point to Zero-wasting because the planet is already doomed and one person can’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

TRUTH #10

One person can make a difference. It might not be a ginormous impact, but you can impact yourself and the people around you. I’m not a perfect environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but every single time I go to the store I always get asked about my jars, and those two minutes spent talking to another person may or may not end up encouraging them to try it, or it might just remind them to bring a reusable bag to the store.

I might not save the planet, but I’m saving one plastic bag for each jar I use. One plastic bag every time I use my reusable tote. One plastic water-bottle every time I bring my own reusable one. One disposable toothbrush for every bamboo toothbrush. One more bit of empty space in my drawers for every cheap freebie I turn down.

It adds up.

I’d also like to think I help out by spreading the word through this blog, for those of you who read it.

So, if any of you have any comments or any other myths you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

XO

Candice

10 Motivations for becomining a Minimalist

I’ve been thinking  a lot about how minimalism has changed my entire perspective on life and I’ve met people who ask me…

Well, why did you become a minimalist? What’s the big deal?

So I thought it would be a great question to answer on today’s post.

Here are 10 motivations to become a minimalist:

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Less Stuff=Less STRESS. Simply because there’s less to think about. I’m not spending my time wondering if I have a dress to wear to a certain occasion or if I’ll have enough clean clothes for the rest of the week, I already know exactly what’s in my closet (because there’s less and everything is visible and worn multiple times) and when I’ll need to do laundry, mainly because I don’t have as much of it to do or worry about.DSC03866
  2. Speaking of laundry and chores…Less stuff =Less chores to be done! Can I get a hell yeah for not spending your Saturdays cleaning out the garage-again. Or laundry, I went from 5-6 loads a week to 3…maybe 4 if I’m doing all my blankets off my bed in the winter. That’s it! When surfaces are clear it takes all of thirty seconds to dust them too.
  3. Consumerism, ah the beast that is consumerism. Ads on television, ads online, ads at the grocery store and even at gas stations now. They all tell you that you couldn’t possibly be satisfied with what you already own. Why use your perfectly functional grill when you could buy this new fancier version!………😒 Yeah, anywho, once you minimize your stuff you learn pretty quickly that you don’t need to buy 3/4 of what they’re selling. This, in turn, saves you money and useless time spent perusing the malls. 🙂
  4. More time= more time! Once you free up all the time from shopping trips and cleaning, you’ll have more time to do whatever you want. You could spend time reading a book or going to the park with your kids or just taking a nice long relaxing bubble bath….ahhh relaxation…
  5. Less stuff is less to worry about and pack when you move. (This is a big one for me since I’ve easily moved over ten times in my lifetime already, gotta make it as easy as possible)
  6. I’m going to be a bit morbid here, but when you die…and all of us will at some point….do you really want to leave a huge pile of stuff for your loved ones and kids to have to go through and sort and trash afterwards? I already know I’m going to have tons of junk to go through when some of my family members eventually kick the bucket, and frankly I’m not looking forward to having to do it. I’d rather leave future generations a wad of cash or a vacation instead of a pile of crap I’ve been hoarding “just in case they want it”. Just sayin.
  7. On a happier note, minimalism makes it so easy come holiday times, I tell family and friends I don’t want any STUFF, if they want to do something for me they can take me somewhere out to eat or ice skating, or to the park. Experiences trump gifts every time. 🙂 I’d rather spend time at a concert with my mother than have another useless tchotchke sitting on my dresser. Yay for bonding time.
  8. Have you seen pictures in magazines of open airy rooms and nice neat counters without a thing on them…I don’t know about you but I think they are so nice and inviting….psssttt, your place can look like that, all you got to do is get rid of everything that clutters your place up. My bedroom is my pride and joy, it went from cluttered and stressful to calm and relaxing, all by removing unnecessary things!
  9. Another thing that motivated me to start this minimalist journey was my beginning into zero-waste, I am a big believer that each and every single one of us impacts the planet with our daily choices whether they be good or bad. I buy my food loose or in glass jars, not only does this satisfy my environmentalist side, but it satisfies my minimalist side too because zero-waste pantries aren’t cluttered with brand names and tons of packaging.
  10. And last but certainly not least I always wanted to have a deeper connection with nature, and minimalism has allowed me to do that. I now have extra time in the day that I used to spend watching television or trolling on the internet that I use to get my hands dirty in my garden or just to go for a walk around my neighborhood. Its almost spiritual when you get to the place where you have just what you need and not much else, it almost feels like you’re harmonizing with nature. Taking only what you need to survive and respecting the planet.

Some of these may be relevant to you, others not. These were what inspired me to become a minimalist and it is by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you have any other motivations that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Minimalist Equilibrium

 

Hello lovelies, it’s a beautiful Monday afternoon. The sun’s shining, my garden is starting to produce little harvests of lettuce, herbs, and the like. And I’m sitting here thinking about how much minimalism has changed my life, but most of all- my stress levels.

I started this journey a little over a year ago as most of you already know. Back then I was stressed-out, big time, all the time. It was like this giant cloud hovering over me whispering about all the things I needed to get done and what I wouldn’t have time to accomplish that day. It was exhausting.

These days things are much better. I hardly have any stress, and I’ve found my minimalist equilibrium.

That’s right my equilibrium. I’ve finally hit the magical minimalist sweet spot in my life, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Now there isn’t a set number of things that makes up the “perfect minimalist feel”, it’s all personal and varies by individual. For me, I have finally found that I am happy with the number of things I own. I have my needs and a few wants, and that’s about it.

The benefits of finding your equilibrium are many, but I figured I’d list a few here for you:

Every single thing I own has a specific place, and there is extra room around everything for it to breathe. This has lightened my mental load by tons, I don’t feel surrounded by stuff or like I’m trying to cram things into tight spaces anymore. No more claustrophobia in my own home!

Cleaning- no minimalist list can be complete without mentioning how little I now have to clean. I’m not a big fan of cleaning in the first place, so this was a very attractive motivation for me to have less stuff. It used to take at least a half hour just to clean my bedroom! Now 30 seconds with a dust cloth, a minute with the broom, a swish to clean my mirror, and a bit of laundry and I’m done! (Think about it- less clothes=less folding=less loads of laundry)

I have more free time then I’ve ever had. I gained a good half hour a day that I would’ve spent cleaning, another 20 minutes from how easy it is to get ready in the morning, 2 hours I would’ve spent watching television (minimalism isn’t just about the stuff, it’s about time too), 5 minutes looking for missing objects…you get the idea 🙂

By minimizing my shopping and errands during the week, I’ve prioritized my time, so I can now spend time in the garden, cooking, reading, writing, etc.

Less stress! Less to clean, less to do, less to worry about, less to go searching for when it goes missing…

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Things that used to be extravagant luxuries (like taking a bath and sitting on the porch in the rocker doing nothing) are now things I have time for.

And finally, since I’ve also minimized my waste (both food and actual trash) I now no longer need a giant trash can but only have a small metal bucket for trash and a compost bin for food scraps.

This has also led to minimalist grocery shopping that is also zero-waste, as well as making my own condiments and just eating healthier in general 🙂

Now, my equilibrium is not going to look like your equilibrium, or the next persons. Each of us have different needs and wants, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s human. But I thought, just for fun I’d show you a bit of my equilibrium in pictures…enjoy!

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Dealing with pre-minimalist/zero-waste purchases

Hey guys,

I wanted to do a quick post on something that I see questions about a lot…..what to do with those pre-minimalist/zero-waste purchases.

 

I’ll deal with them separately, let’s start with pre-minimalist purchases first:

When holding an item that you purchased weeks, months, even decades ago…it can be hard to let go. Whether it be a piece of clothing from high-school or a set of your great-grandmother’s doilies that sit around collecting dust, there are a few questions to ask yourself.

  1. Is this item being used?
  2. Is this item something that fits my body/current lifestyle?
  3. Do I LOVE said item?
  4. Do I really need it?

If you answered NO to any, or all of the above, then it’s probably time to let the item go. But don’t just throw it away…unless it is actually trash….if you can give it to a relative/friend who actually Wants it…donate it..sell it…recycle it…you get the idea.

Now I know what you’re going to say, “But Candice, I spent a lot of money on this/it has sentimental value/it was a gift…”

My answer, if you don’t love it and it doesn’t fit your lifestyle…then you shouldn’t hang onto it out of guilt.

Onto the pre-Zero-waste purchases

This one is a bit more difficult, because there are things that inevitably have been bought before becoming environmentally conscious that are still in good condition…but they’re plastic or made from something you don’t want near your body or your kids…or they’re hazardous to your health (hello most cleaning supplies, I’m talking about you).

For me, I did a few things.

First, I had a transitional period where I used up what was left of my personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I did dispose of their containers responsibly when I was finished. But here’s the key- when I finished them off I found alternatives that were 1. Better for my health 2. Package free 3.or easy to make myself

As for the cleaning supplies, I gave them to family who wanted them. I wasn’t going to keep those carcinogens and neurotoxins near me any longer than absolutely necessary,  I switched straight over to vinegar and baking soda…no need for gloves or surgical masks when using them, they’re edible lol For laundry I switched to castille soap and soap nuts.

As I went through my possessions while I was minimizing, I automatically donated random things that were made of plastic that I was no longer using such as organizing buckets, etc. Since I was getting rid of so much stuff, I didn’t need them anymore.

I did have a few things that were still usable like plastic hangars and tupperware…the tupperware I got rid of immediately because I didn’t want plastic anywhere near my food, switched them all out for glass jars (you don’t necessarily have to go purchase new glass jars, you can always reuse ones from things like pasta sauces and jams, get creative) Same thing with plastic baggies, you don’t need them if you have glass jars. Let them go or donate to a local elementary classroom, they use them quite frequently.

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The hangars on the other hand stuck around for a while, but then they started breaking one by one and I found some wood and metal hangars lying around that were my grandparents that no one was using, and I ended up donating the plastic ones. Now, I did purchase one set of 6 new wood hangars to round out my set, but that was a personal decision. Not everyone can afford to buy new things just to replace their plastic counterparts.

So, to date…. I’ve mostly gotten rid of things as opposed to buying new. There were a few exceptions, such as glass jars, a set of hangars, cloth pads, a safety razor when I ran out of disposables, a new hairbrush when mine broke, and an adult laundry bucket (not made out of mesh!). But that’s about it.

The solution for pre-minimalist and pre-zero-waste purchases really depends on your personal situation, but most of the time they can be donated or recycled.

Keep in mind that minimalism and zero-waste are both journeys. They aren’t meant to be accomplished in one day or even a week, they can take years to switch over to. Look at me, I’ve been at it for a year and am just now starting to get really comfortable with my progress.

It’s all about the baby-steps!

If you have any questions, or any suggestions for future posts you would like to read…lett me know in the comments 🙂

Minimalism: Doing what you love

Normally my posts are more tip oriented, but today I wanted to branch out a little bit. I wanted to talk about living and doing what brings you joy.

Now I’m not necessarily talking about a job, though it could apply here.

After minimizing my television time, my possessions (which led to less cleaning time), useless time roaming and trolling the internet, bored shopping trips, and random hours where I was very unproductive….I found that I have quite a bit of free-time, or should I say unstructured-time.

Which opens up the topic, what do you love to do? What do you want to fill this time with?

For me, there are quite a few answers…

I love to write

I love to argue and spar with the characters I’ve made up for my books…this is what’s happening if you ever see me talking to myself lol

I love to pet my cats and hear them purrAviary Photo_130857930535594767

I love to draw and paint

I love to share my experiences in both minimalism and zero-waste with others through blogging and Facebook groups

I love watching my plants and vegetables grow

I love going to the store and having people comment on bring my own jars or bags and how little trash I’m producing

I love sitting in the rocker on my front porch and soaking up some sun

I love the smell of books…yes, I’m weird like that 🙂WIN_20160129_124853

I love reading for fun…reading as an assignment, not so much

I love trying new fruits and veggies

I love waking up each morning knowing that I’m in control of my attitude for the day

I love singing along with the radio every time I drive somewhere even though I can’t sing

I love the smell of fresh air and the sound of running water at the park or beach1239664_10151622376846725_542846045_n (2)

 

Now you may agree with some, or none of my answers. But the point is to think about the question and come up with your own. It might be spending time with loved ones, or hiking, or jogging, or whatever else you enjoy…the point is that when you apply minimalism to not only your life, but your possessions…a whole new set of time opens up that you previously spent cleaning or shopping or taking care of your possessions. If you’ve gotten down and dirty with minimalism you now have this time….take it and do something on your list. I promise, you’ll love it.

If I hadn’t started my minimalist journey I would’ve never had the time to write a novel…and I would have never gotten it published either 🙂 I also am spending time now writing the rest of the series…

So take the time to do something you enjoy, you won’t regret it!