Just wanted to sit down and share some thoughts on settling and why I won’t settle for good enough when it comes to stuff. It’s a minimalist win for me.
It’s a little more than 3 years since I decided to adopt a simpler, more minimal approach to life and consumption. I was already interested in green initiatives, but, naturally, this led to an increased interest in low waste, DIY, conscious consumerism, curated collections, and introspection. Like many, I started with a copy of Marie Kondo’s Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and took off from there. The book really was life-changing, altering my philosophy on home, spending, and happiness in general. My initial goal in reading the book was to inspire my mom to change some of her own habits and overcome her fear of letting go, what I found was a new outlook that resulted in a happier, simpler me.
I filmed a few videos describing my early experience with “sparking joy” (I’ll be restarting that that series soon, re-titled “minimalist transitions”), but here are 5 things that facilitated the process and/or inspired me to think about what I consume.
5 things: minimalist transitions
This is the book that started it all for me. I borrowed it from my library and learned so much, I wanted to share it with everyone. I still apply KonMari’s philosophy and strive to surround myself with things that spark joy — in life, work, and home.
I have a coffee habit, and while I’m still working on minimizing my use of disposables, this was a start. KeepCup has since become the cup du jour among the cool kids.
I am not a cool kid, just a posh nerd.
Fjallraven Kanken (classic and mini)
I have two of these – the classic in red and the mini in brick. I work at a university and I have a lot to carry. I also travel for work and love Swedish design. These bags hold EVERYTHING and don’t make my back hurt (joy all around); they also helped me re-evaluate what I carry, and learn that I value comfort and practicality above all. I wear a Kanken on most days and have gotten sooo much use out of them. Fun fact, I used my amazon reward points to purchase both of them. I paid $0 for each.
Lesson: use those credit rewards!
I’ve talked about these before (here, here, here, and here). These were the 1st big, well-researched fashion purchase I made after re-evaluating my spending and shopping habits. Purchasing a pair of $175 shoes is an investment and not one I made lightly. This purchase forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with fashion, and appreciate the quality and durability of well-made shoes. Two years on, my first pair is still one of my most-worn items.
Another happy side-effect, I was able to let go of all the shoes that made my feet hurt. I reach for tieks whenever I’m not wearing my Lotta’s (another purchase made for comfort and durability).
Note: I have the luxury of being able to afford these. This is a luxury that I did not have once upon a time, but one that I am aware of. Buying secondhand, quality items that live up to their value is always an option. Quality does not always = $$$.
project use it up
Not a thing, but a concept – “project use it up,” or tracking my empties, has resulted in a greater understanding of what I buy and use, which leads to fewer impulse buys and more selective purchases.
Do you need these things to adopt a lower waste/minimalist philosophy? No. Do they help? Sometimes, but you can find your own joy sparking alternatives. The items listed are items that I love and appreciate for their style and purpose; they have a classic, timeless style and will serve me for years to come.
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Another month, another round of stuff I used up.
Kicking it off with the supplements… my doctor is in awe of my self-experimenting and documentation.
- Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water: Watermelon Mint – Have to admit, this tastes pretty awful until you get used to the flavor. I’d much rather use the Collagen Peptides, but I decided to try this to flavor my water during the summer. I used it up, but it took some time. After trying a different flavor (and finding it just as bad), I’ll be sticking to the Peptides in future. I take collagen for my joints and find that it does ease my aches. Also, an extra source of protein since I tend to have a carb heavy diet on most days (especially after going mostly plant-based).
- Florastor – I had a nasty bout of tonsillitis in July (still not over it), and had to take a round of antibiotics. Once upon an infection, a doctor recommended this brand and I turn to it whenever I need to take antibiotics.
- Nature’s Way DIM-Plus – My first bottle and not my last. I started taking DIM because it works to balance estrogen in the body. I’ve been taking it for three months and have seen a significant change in my charts, as well as my overall mood and health. I’ve had fewer migraines since taking this and I am convinced this is due to the estrogen that it helps metabolize (I take it with milk thistle to detox my liver – where excess estrogen is stored).
- Vitacost Selenium – Selenium is important for thyroid health and *newsflash* I’m hypothyroid. I recently started a multi that includes selenium, so I’m not supplementing for the moment. I took it in conjunction with Vitamin E and noticed some improvement in my nails (there is a kind of nail splitting that happens when thyroid hormones are not being produced or taken up by the body).
- Solgar B-complex 50 – Not supplementing at the moment because of the multi noted above, but I used to take it for energy and metabolism. Sometimes, it made me a little too hungry.
On to the products…
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 in Fair – I’ve tried the Suntegrity Light, which is too warm on me, and decided to give Fair a chance. It’s nice, but still not my favorite. I’m currently using their moisturizing primer, which has a different texture and no tint, but smells very strongly of orange jellies.
- Kiss My Face Triple Action – My favorite brand of SLS, Fluoride-Free toothpaste 🙂
- Andalou Naturals A Path of Light hand cream in Lavender – At first, I hated the smell. I don’t love lavender (I meant to buy the citrus one and grabbed this one by mistake), but I grew used to the smell and I really enjoyed the moisture.
- ACURE Brilliantly Brightening scrub (trial size) – My BF recently noticed the number of ACURE products in my bathroom… they work well and are an affordable eco option if you’re trying to switch to a more natural skincare routine. I like this scrub, but the full size tends to go bad in my shower if I don’t use it quickly, because it’s so hot in my apartment. This trial was just right.
- Honest Beauty cleanser (trial size) – This was part of a Target beauty box. I always wanted to try the Honest cleanser and I’m glad I got to use a trial because it’s not a keeper. I used it while traveling and had to wash my face two or three times to get the makeup off. I ended up using it as a second cleanse to finish it up. Not buying a full size.
- Ulta Luxurious Cleansing Body Wash in Coconut + Almond Milk – Have to admit, this was an impulse buy that was on clearance, but I like a bit of bubble in my bath. Nice scent.
The red and green ones are actually declutters. I gave up on trying to use them because they were always scratchy and dry. They were part of a set that I plan to give away at work (where pens walk away on a regular basis). I used up the yoobi and the Faber-Castell was a mediocre brush pen for calligraphy that didn’t quite work out.
What I used up in May. Body care and supplements.
- Me! bath tini ME! Lavendar Lullaby bath bombs: These were part of a Target sample both and proved to be a pleasant surprise. It brought three little bombs and they were perfect and nicely scented.
- Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Baby Unscented Pure Castille Soap: This is the workhorse: hand soap, brush cleaner, body wash, I may not have 18 uses, but it’s a fave.
- Oral B floss: True confession: I hate flossing. My teeth are crazy tight and I’ve yet to find a floss that doesn’t get stuck. This one was ok.
- Weleda Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash: Another sample bag trial. Smelled like orange peels and felt like the L’occitane Almond Shower Oil.
- wowe wooden toohbrush: Not really an empty so much as a new addition… I went through all the plastic toothbrushes I had and made the switch to bamboo. So far, I’m impressed by the quality and like that they come in a 4-pack that will get me through the year. They’re no more expensive than plastic brushes. win-win.
- NOW Foods Super Enzymes: The best and always a repurchase. I started using these after my gallbladder surgery, when I started to have issues with food intolerance. They make my tummy happy and I can double up when I choose to indulge in something problematic, like ice cream.
- PB8 probiotics: Another frequent product. I alternate brands, but this is a trust fallback. As with the enzymes, probiotics keep my gut working.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Part of reducing my consumption and learning to live simply is my desire to live a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. I have a long way to go, but this book provides practical, tested advice from one of the top advocates of the Zero Waste Movement.
Beauty (aka. on my face)
Nothing new, but I am appreciating a nude pink lip now that the season is changing. Current rotation: MAC Mehr and Patisserie (obvs. not cruelty free or eco, but I’m not a purist), and Kosas Undone.
Between writing and life, I shoved recording to the side, so no videos for the moment. Instead, I give you the latest installment of The Bluestocking Circle Podcast — lady nerds on popular culture.
Another video in the minimalist transitions series.
Let’s delve into my closet for another round.
Not that anyone has asked, but these videos help me make sense of my belongings and aid in the process of decluttering :).
Also, post-video update: the white shelf is now gone and a simpler, smaller solution in place. Progress every time.
A few months ago, my mom unearthed my old cd collection. This is good, because it means she finally cleared out enough of her own stuff to return what was left of mine. However, there was something about sorting through those old albums that made it really hard to purge. It had been years since I played any of the cds in the box, but the thought of parting with them was extremely difficult. They were tied up in nostalgia and sentiment in a way that surprised me. So I left them in a box and let them gather dust for a few months.
Three, to be exact. I looked through them a couple of times, but couldn’t do it. Then, the day after the Garbage concert, I was ready. I knew what I needed to do and I did it. The result is a small collection of albums that were essential to my young adulthood, and includes those that I still enjoy today. I sorted them into three sleeve cases, and kept a handful of soundtracks for future library events and writing sessions. The rest, I donated. They’re gone and I’m free of the baggage (in more ways than one).
I have the flu! Which means I had a lot of time to sort through my bedroom and make some decisions. This is a fairly small declutter, but after the last two rounds of decluttering, I am down to those items I thought stood a chance. They didn’t, but I sometimes I find it better to wait than to live with regret.
I was going to film a video, but these items are not revolutionary, so a post will suffice. I also tossed my empties. I was in the mood to purge and decided I could live without sharing my thoughts on mediocre products.
pictured from left to right:
- hair clips (assorted): My scalp reacted to these. Not sure if it’s the material or the tiny metal parts, but it was no bueno.
- Honest Beauty creme foundation in Linen: I never really loved this. I thought about returning it at first, but decided to work with it instead. I found that the best application was skin to skin, patted on with fingers and blended with a brush, but the overall experience was mediocre and often patchy. I used it as a concealer more than a foundation, and now it’s well past the best by stage and I hit pan long ago. Tossed.
- Hurraw balms in cherry and earl grey: They dried my lips. Did not moisturize at all.
- elf lip stain: It’s ok, but it dries my lips the more I apply it.
- Whole Foods dry skin hand lotion in vanilla amber: I like these lotions, but this scent is a little to heady for me.
- Hourglass mineral veil: This was a sample and I’m unlikely to ever use it. Toss.
- Assorted brushes: I have too many and I don’t use any of these regularly. Toss.
- Assorted samples: Red Apple lipstick, Buxom eyeshadow, Kjaer Weis eye shadow. These were nice, glad I sampled rather than purchased.
- hair stick: like the clips, there’s just something about the material that doesn’t jive with my sensitive scalp.
- Bare Minerals eye shadow (pink and smokey gray), Honey Bee Gardens shadow in Chai: I hate loose shadows. I don’t know why I even try.
- Pixi shadow palette in gold: I like the colors, but the pigmentation is kind of weak. Replaced with an elf palette that works much better.
- OPI gold matte polish: I like a nice gold for the holidays, but I’m not crazy about this formula.
- Red Apple Lipstick in Audrey, Nars lipstick in Fast Ride: Audrey is past it’s use by and the formula went off. It smells really strong and feels slicker than before, and the color seems to be darker than when I purchased it. Fast Ride is nice, but it looks too much like Glossier Jam, and I like Jam better.
- Elate lip to cheek color: This came in a Petit Vour box. The color is ok, but I hate that it smells like lemongrass and the packaging may be eco, but it just feels cheap.
- Sephora lip liner: I never use lip liner.
- Honey Bee Gardens eye liner in gunmetal(?); Pacifica eyeliner in jet: The HBG has glitter in it. Glitter! No good for my eyes. I like the Pacifica, but I prefer the brown.
- Johnson’s bedtime lotion: An experiment for my nighttime migraines. Fail.
- Marc Jacobs’ Dot: I like MJ scents, but Dot is a little to warm and cloying for me. I’m a Daisy girl, at best.
In lieu of a proper “view from Sunday”, I give you a quick little update on “project use it up,” wherein I commit to using the stuff I have before purchasing replacements or backups. It’s all part of my goal to live more intentionally and minimally.
My goals included using up my collection of scented candles (impulsively purchased throughout the year) and at least two of my perfumes. I used up nearly all my candles, and currently burning Wilfred Wax’s steamed&frothed, along with my favorite vanilla from IKEA, and a Healing candle from the Crystal Journey collection sold at my local Whole Foods.
Time to clean these out and repurpose!
I decided to shelve Honey & the Moon until the fall (it’s just too warm a scent for spring/summer) and am only a few spritz away from using up my spirit of moonflower from The Body Shop.
I also used up two pens, which was not part of the original plan, but deserve recognition, nonetheless. I am a pen hoarder by nature, though I’ve seriously decreased my collection over the last two years, and have made a concerted effort to only replace those I really love.
I’m on a sort of “no buy”… mostly because I spent more than I should’ve during the months of November-January, but also because I have enough stuff and it needs to be used! Kind of like a “project pan” (for makeup), this is “project use it up”. There are lots of areas that I have to work on, but I’m all for manageable, small goals.
Here are four categories I want to work on:
I’ve had the Body Shop’s Moonflower since the early days of grad school (circa 2006). They don’t make it anymore, but I’ve held on to it long enough and just need to use it.
Tokyomilk’s Honey & the Moon is a little too warm for me on most days. It’s one of those scents I should’ve sampled on my skin before adding it to my wishlist, but I do enjoy it sparingly. I’m going to try to finish this one up as well.
I stopped buying candles recently and have made a good dent into the ones I currently own. I always go back to IKEA’s vanilla candle (it’s my happy scent). Just want to use up the scents that are a little too warm for the coming months, and stop buying candles that I don’t love.
I have a lot of tea. More than I can drink, especially since I spend more time at work than at home during the week. I have a similar collection at work and I’ve started using that one up, so I’ll migrate some of the basics to the office once that selection dries up.
This is really just a snapshot of the full collection. I’ve gotten better at keeping track of use by dates, but I still have more products than I need. I’ll review these again and give away whatever isn’t working, while aiming to use up the rest.