10 Things I No Longer Buy

10 things i no longer buy

My personal practice of minimalism is definitely about simplifying life, but it’s also about creating less waste and spending less money. It’s not always easy to say “no” to these things, particularly if I’m feeling down and there’s a super cute outfit on the clearance rack at the consignment store I frequent. But in these moments when materialism tempts, I remind myself that more stuff will not make me happy, and that the less I spend my time and money on, the more I have to focus on what’s truly important in life.

I’ll get right to it–here are some things I’ve managed to eliminate from my shopping list:

1- Clothes I don’t need or absolutely love

This has gotten tricky in the past few years with two pregnancies and nursing, but I think I finally have a basic wardrobe that can cater to all seasons of life (literal weather seasons, and also seasons of carrying children and not). I keep about 30 hangers in my closet and three drawers for socks, underwear, and workout attire. I rotate my clothing when the weather changes as well as if I need to accommodate a baby bump (like right now). I have a rule that I will NOT add more hangers to my closet, nor add anything to my drawers without first getting rid of something. Every now and then a tee shirt is donated or something gets an unrepairable hole or stain (welcome to mom-life), but for the most part, I have all the clothes I need.

Some tips:

-Know your style and stick with it. Chances are you’ve experimented a lot with different clothing styles and now is the time to choose what looks and feels best on you.

  • Have a limit. It might be 30 hangers or 50, but don’t allow your closet to intimidate you. You also shouldn’t have to search high and low for an outfit– there shouldn’t be so many clothes that you can’t easily find something or that you can forget about an entire collection of blouses.
  • Have a purpose. Before going through your wardrobe, call your local Salvation Army or Not-For-Profit Thrift Store and tell them you have a donation of clothing. When going through your closet and dresser, keep that “good cause” in mind and ask yourself who really needs that item more.

2- Purses

I’ll be honest, this one has been tough for me, to figure out. I’ve tried smaller satchels, I’ve tried larger shoulder bags, I’ve done the backpack purse, and I’ve tried to stuff all my essentials in a cross body. Finally, I’ve settled on a few bags that I use on the regular: A small shoulder bag– my everyday purse that can still fit my water bottle; a tiny cross body– when I’m out on a date with the hubby or making a quick trip; a large shoulder bag– when I need to carry all kinds of stuff with me (think traveling, carrying a laptop, or a trip to the library or farmer’s market).

This might seem like a not-so-minimalist list of bags.  But I’ve found that I need a few options depending upon what I find myself doing at any given time.

Even with these 3 bags, I’ve worked to make them as versatile and high quality as possible so that I won’t need to purchase a new one in the near future. They are all neutral colors and can go with any outfit or season. They are all well made and have stood the test of time. I also like the look and feel of all of them, which is pretty important if you ask me.

Some tips:

  • Again, know your style. This may take some time, but figure out the look and feel you like rather than what’s trendy or what you’re feeling in the moment.
  • Choose a size that’s realistic yet manageable, or, like me, choose a few sizes for very specific occasions. If you choose multiple sizes, make sure each purse can be used in any season and for any occasion. Avoid neon or super bright colors unless that fits with who you are and what you usually wear.
  • For if you have multiple purses: Rather than leaving all your stuff inside of your purse, take everything out between trips. You can have one spot for all of it, or you can place everything back where it belongs in your home. This will help you keep your bags less cluttered and will allow you to switch your purses easily if that’s something you feel you need to do.

3- Paper Napkins

This one is simple. I have invested in cloth napkins and I swear I’m never going back to paper. Paper napkins are wasteful and I also find that they don’t work as well as cloth to actually clean surfaces (surfaces like my daughter’s yogurt-covered face, for instance). When we are done using them, they just get thrown in the laundry. I love never having to purchase paper napkins at the store!

Tip:

  • Choose colors and textures that will go with your home decor, or keep it simple and use a solid dark color. I recommend a darker color as opposed to white if you have children or if you like to eat BBQ ribs 😉

4- Plastic Water Bottles

This one is also pretty easy folks. I use a stainless steel water bottle that I refill constantly. I actually don’t even use the cups and glasses we have too often because I’m always drinking out of my water bottle. We’ve invested in a nice water pitcher with a filter so our water is clean and safe for drinking, and this makes it so I never have to purchase bottled water.

Some tips:

  • I understand that some people are really into flavored water and soda. We sometimes will purchase soda, but it’s not something we have on hand all the time. Consider infusing your water or making your own simple syrup to sweeten your drinks and make your own “mock tails” of sorts. The hubby and I make a really great lemon cucumber spritzer and it’s a real treat we look forward to. If it becomes a rarity, it becomes something special!
  • Give yourself incentive to use a water bottle by investing in a really beautiful one that you like to carry around. There are some gorgeous glass bottles with space for infusing fruit or mint or lemon inside to give your water that extra kick too!

5- Cotton Balls or Cotton Rounds

Instead, I use organic bamboo round pads that are absorbent and washable. I can use them to take off nail polish, remove makeup, or to apply toner as part of my skincare routine.

Tip: 

  • Nursing moms, you can also use these as washable nursing pads!

6- Lotion

Instead, I exclusively use coconut oil. I find that it’s cheaper and works better, and I enjoy the smell. Many lotions have tons of ingredients (a key one being alcohol) that can actually dry out your skin, which is the opposite of what lotion is meant to do, right? So save yourself $12.99 and a trip to Bath & Body Works–just hit up your local grocery store and get some coconut oil.

Some Tips: 

  • Cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil is best, and will cost you anywhere from $3-7 for a jar, depending on where you purchase it. Be aware that it will solidify in the colder months. I use a small spoon to get it out, then rub it between my hands before applying.
  • Coconut oil is also a wonderful oil to cook with and is an ingredient in many DIY products that you can make right in your home (see below!).

7- Face Wash

Don’t worry people; I still wash my face! But I am wary of all the ingredients that most commercial face washes have listed on their ever-so-hard-to-recycle plastic tube. In order to be more thrifty, sustainable, and simplistic in my skincare regimen, I’ve been making my own face wash for about a year now.

Some Tips:

  • Last month I posted a Facebook Live video of me making the face wash I use on a daily basis with only 3 ingredients. You can also add essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender, or frankincense, depending on your skin type.
  • If you’re not a DIY-er, I still encourage you to be conscious of what is actually in the face wash you use. Also, keep in mind that many of the containers that commercial face washes come in are very hard to recycle. Try natural products that are packaged in glass containers. Neal’s Yard has some great options (not a sponsor; just sharing to be helpful).

8- Toothpaste

So… this is only partly true. I did purchase some natural toothpaste in the last month, but after using it a few times, I decided to go back to making my own. Similar to my face wash, I also started making my own toothpaste a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ll go back to purchasing it on the regular ever again. I like making my own because I can control the taste of it, I know exactly what is in it, and I can use my own silicone tubes, so I never have to worry about being wasteful.

Some Tips:

  • If you are interested, the toothpaste recipe I used is this one. But instead of peppermint flavor, I actually just used peppermint oil, and I also added a few other drops of essential oils that I found to promote health and kill bacteria.
  • If you do use the above recipe, please be advised that it gets hard in cold temperatures and very runny in warmer temperatures.
  • Again, if you’re not into DIY, that’s totally cool. I’m just sharing because this is something I’ve found to be helpful in my pursuit in sustainable minimalism.

9- Menstrual Pads or Tampons

Instead, I use a silicone menstrual cup and cloth menstrual pads. There are so many great brands of menstrual cups out there; I personally use the Diva Cup, but there are other great options out there.

Some Tips:

  • Read this post for the best menstrual cups if you’re thinking about this option.
  • Some cloth menstrual pads may seem expensive, but if you think about the amount of money you’re saving in the long run, it’s worth is. Besides, Amazon has some unbeatable prices in the area. Here is a great option to get you started if you’d like to go the cloth pad route.

10- Parchment Paper or Foil

It’s only been in the past two years that I’ve started to roast veggies and make some killer sheet pan suppers. I honestly don’t know what took me so long to discover how easy it could be to just chop, season, and stick it in the oven. Once I started, I found that I was going through parchment paper like most people go through paper towels. This made me search for a more sustainable option that would save me time and money at the grocery store.

Enter the silicone baking mat. These are what I use now, and I love them! They are pretty easy to clean, and I never have to worry with foil or parchment paper again.

Tip:

Here’s a great option if you’re interested in trying these out!

 

And there you have it: 10 items I no longer buy. What about you? How have you used your pursuit of a minimalist lifestyle to save money and become more sustainable? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

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Minimalism vs. Convenience

minimalism vs convenience

Minimalism can help you make your life easier because practicing minimalism, in whatever capacity, helps to simplify your life. But there is a distinct difference between making your life easier with modern conveniences and actually simplifying your daily routine, schedule, space and finances.

The difference between making things easy and making things simple is usually just less stuff. This is often the difference between convenience and a practice of minimalism.

More stuff can sometimes make things seem convenient, but it actually complicates and clutters your life.

We could spend days coming up with examples of this in different capacities, but I wanted to share with you 5 ways I have found that minimalism trumps convenience in my own life.

1- French press over Keurig

My morning routine always involves coffee. The first thing I do when I wake up is turn on the stove to heat the kettle, which I always fill with enough water the night before. I used to have a Keurig, which was given to me by my grandparents, who upgraded to a larger one, and I totally thought this would be simpler and more “minimal”. Wrong.

While it was super easy to load the pod in and pour a mug of water into the machine, owning a Keurig meant that I had to also buy those little coffee and drink pods, or at least own a reusable one. Then, if I used the individual pods, I had to find a place to store them. I also found that I used way more coffee pods in a day than seemed necessary, since it only made one cup at a time. Also, the amount of waste that created, or work it created to keep cleaning out the reusable one, was tedious and obnoxious. What I thought would make my morning more convenient actually cluttered my time and space with more stuff–stuff to own and stuff to do.

I quickly went back to my French press. It sits on my piano (yes, we have a piano in our kitchen), and it doesn’t need to be plugged in. I usually fill it will coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is pour the hot water in, and sometimes I’ll empty it into an insulated carafe to keep it warm for when my husband wakes up. It makes enough coffee for both of us in the mornings, and it creates zero waste, since we don’t use filters and compost the grounds.

Simple. Easy. Efficient. But oddly, few would call a French press a “modern convenience”.

2- Cloth diapers over disposable

So, I am well aware that not everyone who reads this will identify with this one, as not all of you have kiddos, but since this is my personal practice of minimalism, I have to share this way that minimalism beats out convenience in my life. I started cloth diapers when my daughter was 3 months (the first three months I was just trying to figure out my life and try to get some sleep). By then, I felt like I could handle throwing in a new laundry routine into my schedule.

While using disposable diapers is definitely much easier than washing cloth ones, I still think that choosing cloth simplifies my life. I don’t have to buy disposable diapers. Ever. I also don’t have to worry about the size changes either, since I own cloth diapers that adjust to smaller and larger sizes with handy little snaps. I have less waste as well, since we just flush the “stinkies” (as my daughter calls them) down the toilet with the diaper sprayer, and throw the cloth diaper and insert in the diaper pail to be washed.

My laundry routine for diapers is simple, and by now I’m used to it. While washing diapers would hardly be considered “convenient”, I believe it ultimately simplifies my life and helps me embrace minimalism as well as sustainability.

3- Limiting “Monthly Subscriptions”

A few years ago it became very popular to start subscribing to monthly subscription boxes that mailed you all kinds of things you might need or want. These seem to be becoming increasingly popular, and I totally understand why. It’s so easy to sign up, and then all you have to do it wait for the packages to arrive. No going to the store, no searching the aisles, no waiting in check out lines. Many of these subscriptions also make great gifts!

Some of the subscriptions our family has been a part of have included: Dollar Shave Club, Stitch Fix (get $25 off your first fix), Madison Reed hair color (get $15 off your first order), Amazon Subscribe and Save, Imperfect Produce (get $10 off your first box), FabAthletics, Ipsy, as well as other non-physical subscriptions like Hulu, ESPN plus, Prime Music, Spotify, and Netflix. (Not all at the same time, mind you!)

After evaluating the quality of the items I was purchasing via these monthly subscriptions, as well as the drainage they placed on our bank account, I decided to limit our monthly or bi-monthly subscriptions so that we get quality “stuff” for better prices.

While it’s convenient to get perfectly styled and fitted clothes delivered to my door, I would rather go out in search for the items I really need, even if it takes me longer and is therefore less convenient.

However, I have found it to be worthwhile to have certain cleaning products and non perishable foods that we use consistently delivered to my door each month.

This one is pretty self-explanatory: the less monthly subscriptions I get, the less stuff I own. That always helps on a minimalist’s journey. So even thought it’s “easy” or “convenient” to have things delivered right to me, it’s not always going to simplify life.

4- Secondhand Clothes Only

This one probably exists more so because I’m interested in being sustainable than interested in minimalism. Just read my 10 Hanger Project posts and you will understand the lengths I’ve been to in order to curb my addiction to clothes.

It’s far easier to head to Target or Kohl’s or Anthropologie and purchase new clothing in the style and color pallet I like than it is to hunt for possible gems in my size at thrift stores, consignment shops, or even search online via eBay, ThredUP (get $10 off your purchase), or Posh Mark. However, I personally am tempted to buy less if I decide to only shop for clothing secondhand. If I want something bad enough, I’ll take the time to hunt it down, and I’ll spend less money on it since it’s slightly used.

This simplifies my wardrobe, budget, and time, since I only own a few items of clothing to choose from when get dressed each morning.

While it may be “convenient” to order a dress from Land’s End, or new yoga pants from Lululemon, it’s way more likely that I will end up owning more than I need this way, which doesn’t help me in my practice of minimalism. Buying exclusively secondhand also helps me create less waste in general, and allows me to support local businesses–added bonuses if you ask me.

5- Giving up the gym membership

I used to work at a gym. Actually, I’ve worked at three different gyms in the past few years. I love fitness and working out. So why would I give up a gym membership?

Well, this certainly will not be the case for many people, but for me, owning a gym membership was complicating my life unnecessarily. During this particular season of my life, I don’t have hours to spend at the gym. I have a small child who would need a babysitter, which I would have to arrange for, and I would also have to plan out my schedule around gym hours, or fitness classes, or open lap swim– something that’s hard to do when my life revolves around nap time, dinner prep, and a one-year-old’s intricate bedtime routine. Also, up until just a few months ago, my husband and I shared only one car, which also made it hard to plan for trips to the gym.

On top of the scheduling issues, a gym membership costs money, and so does finding a babysitter.

I have found that giving up the gym membership helped to simplify my budget and schedule tremendously. I still workout almost everyday, but I do so at home or out with my little one.

My workouts are usually pretty simple–running with a jogger stroller at the park, doing an Insanity Max 30 video during nap time, or practicing my favorite yoga poses before my family wakes up on Sunday mornings.

While it used to be convenient to head to a gym that had literally every piece of workout equipment I could want, or to drop into a yoga class on a Saturday morning, my time and budget is limited these days, and so too have my workout options become.

Rather than see this as an annoyance or something that complicates life, I am grateful for the reminder that all I really need to stay healthy is the desire to do so. I can easily stay fit by moving my body and using my own body weight. No special equipment, studio, or even attire is required. Simple and minimal.

Easy vs. Simple

I am all about making life simple and easy with less clutter and more time and space for the stuff that really truly matters. However, it can be very easy to confuse convenience with minimalism in the pursuit to be “more free”.

For me, “more free” doesn’t include the modern convenience of a coffee maker or Keurig, even if I do have to boil my own water for coffee. I does include a pretty intricate laundry routine for my baby’s diapers, even if that might seem like the opposite of simple. It doesn’t include a ton of monthly deliveries, even though not having to shop at stores sounds way more convenient. It does include hunting down necessary clothing at consignment stores as opposed to simply finding my size and color at a retailer. It doesn’t include an easy-to-swipe gym card or fitness classes already scheduled in my day.

These “rejects” might be what make your practice of minimalism easier to embrace. That’s okay. I share my experiences simply to inspire others to evaluate those “conveniences” in life that might actually be complications.

Because minimalism and convenience is not the same thing.

What are your 5 ways minimalism (or simplicity of any kind) trumps convenience in your life? Tell me please, I’d love to know!

(Please note: this post contains referral links but was not written for the purpose of using them. They are there incase you are interested; feel free to ignore them completely.)

10 Hanger Project Week One: Baggy Clothes, Fear of Failure, Wardrobe Whittling Tips, and #OOTD

Well, I have officially survived the 10-Hanger Project Week One. If you are unfamiliar with this project, check out my blog post and get all the deets.

I will start by saying that I had to make some minor adjustments to the wardrobe… well, given that it’s only 10 hangers, I guess they would be considered major adjustments, but I think I’ve finally got it figured out now.

See, when I started the project, I chose items I thought I could make great combinations with. The only problem was the timing: I decided to do this right when the seasons were changing, so I chose some items I haven’t worn since last fall.

Well, over the summer I completed the Insanity Max 30 Program with my friend Michelle and we kicked the crap out of it! I lost almost 2 inches around my waist, and I wasn’t even trying to! All I wanted to do was tone up a little and work out with my friend– I had no idea I even HAD 2 inches to loose around the middle! I guess a terrible last year of teaching made me stress-eat and gain some extra pounds that I didn’t realize, or maybe I just toned up more than I thought. Anyway, right after that, I started the P90X 3 program, which I am ALMOST done with (check out my November goals— I’m so close to completing that one!). I haven’t taken measurements, but I’m guessing I lost some flab and toned up with this program as well.

That being said, the skirt and the dress I chose for my 10 Hanger Project did not fit me at all. Check it out:

IMG_6076

***Note to self: try on the clothes before you decide to wear them for 30 days straight.

So, I swapped out and put the baggy clothes in the donation pileIMG_6077.

My new items are on the side ————->

You can see that they are vey similar to the previous ones.

Here are some tips I’ve learned through this process:

1.) Don’t keep clothes that don’t fit. Even if they are just a tad too loose or a tad too tight, you’ll feel uncomfortable every time you wear them, and you should feel great in every item you own.

2.) Do an in-depth closet evaluation at the beginning of each season. This will help you get rid of things that may not work with your style anymore, or things that don’t fit right or have stains, holes, or too much wear. Just because you loved it last fall doesn’t mean it’s salvageable this fall; just because you lived in it last summer doesn’t mean it’ll work for you this summer.

3.) If you have clothes that are very similar, get rid of the ones you like least. There is no use having 5 of the same gray tee shirt or 3 black skirts. Choose the one that is the most flattering, makes you feel the best, or is the most versatile. Donate the rest, especially if they no longer fit (like in my case)!

4.) Don’t be afraid of failure. This isn’t so much a wardrobe tip as it is a life tip. If I was going by my own rules, I would have just stuck it out and worn the clothes that don’t fit me. It honestly made me fearful to share this failure with you because I felt like I was cheating– I didn’t get this project absolutely-positively-perfectly-right.

But the point of this entire 10 Hanger Project is to get rid of my attachment to clothes. There may have been a time when I would have noticed that the dress and the skirt didn’t fit right, but still tried to keep them and make them work because I was attached to them. One of two things would happen: 1.) they would have hung in my closet, never getting worn, or 2.) I would have worn them, and felt awkward and uncomfortable the entire time (I probably would have looked pretty awkward too!).

No, no no. This time, these babies are gettin’ tossed! I failed at picking out the very best 10 items for my project. I failed. It’s okay. Fix it. Be flexible. Move on. Breathe.

And finally, I wanted to share with you some of the outfit combos I came up with this past week (#OOTD):

Not bad right?! See, I don’t need new clothes! In fact, I only need a few. But I’m not going to lie, laundry has been a doozy… Now I know what it feels like to have LITERALLY nothing to wear by the end of the week!

Thanks for tuning in with me as I journey on this minimalist mission this November!

What do you think would be the most challenging thing about whittling your wardrobe down?

The 10 Hanger Project

10 Hanger Project

This November my goal is to simplify in the area of my wardrobe.

Some of you know that I have been known to be a little bit of a fashion addict… or maybe you have no idea. Well confession time: clothes have become an idol for me.

I’m not proud of it and it’s quite embarrassing to share this with the public– I was even embarrassed to share it with my husband (as if he didn’t notice already), and he knows just about everything about me.

Some of you know me well, or perhaps just follow me on Instagram. Either way, you may have noticed my somewhat obvious obsession with clothes and brand names which appeared seemingly out of nowhere (just look at my #OOTD posts and you’ll get an idea).

I want to get into why this happened to me, but I think I’ll save it for another blog post.

For now I’ll just say that the accumulation of more clothing wasn’t doing for me what I wanted it to; it wasn’t making me happy, it wasn’t making me feel better about myself, and it wasn’t making me feel fulfilled. In fact, I found it was the opposite: I was spending too much money on clothes, which stressed me out after I’d see the cumulated amount, and then I’d feel guilty, selfish, and empty inside, wondering why I couldn’t just be content with what I have and stop looking for my worth in material things.

After a long talk with God in the bubble bath (we talk there; it’s cool), it was decided that something must be done.

But how do I curve an addiction that surrounds me everywhere you go? I mean, I don’t live in a nudist colony, so people do wear clothes. How do I kill the idol of clothes wile having a closet full of beautiful ones? Sure I could work on self-control and stop buying more, but buying more was only part of the problem; the accumulation that had already occurred was an equally important role in this addictive stronghold.

We decided to go drastic. I pulled aside 10 hangers from my full closet, then chose 10 items to hang on them.

Hanger 1: thick black and white Aztec printed cardigan sweater

Hanger 2: beige boyfriend blazer

Hanger 3: gray scoop-neck tank top with breast pocket

Hanger 4: black skinny jeans

Hanger 5: navy and white striped oversized tee shirt

Hanger 6: dark wash denim skirt with pockets

Hanger 7: black flowy long sleeve shirt

Hanger 8: chambray button up shirt

Hanger 9: multicolored basic flannel

Hanger 10: gray and black v-neck dress

I took the rest of my clothes to another closet in our house which I rarely go to and boxed up the contents of my entire dresser save for my sock drawer, underwear drawer, and a few workout items (I’m a fitness instructor, so workout clothes are a must even if I wasn’t also in love with exercise).

The workout items included:

1 white tank top with shelf bra

2 tee shirts: the world vision 6k race one and the insanity max 30 one

1 pair of leggings

2 paris of jogging pants: one dance studio pair to wear to dance rehearsal and over the leggings, and one pair to use for running outside

So really I guess this should be called “10-Hanger-plus-7-workout-items-and-all-my-underwear-and-shoes-Project” instead, but I was mostly focused on the majority of my wardrobe to be inaccessible  to me so that would have to be satisfied with less.

Remember, I’m the “Wannabe” Minimalist; this is not easy for me to do.

For the entire month of November, these clothes will be the only clothes I wear. Yes, it will be challenging. Yes, I will wash them.

Here are the rules:

  1. Any combo of the clothes on the hangers may be worn.
  2. I can repeat outfits, but my goal is to be creative…. still I think it might be virtually impossible to wear a different combo each day of the month and not look like a crazy person.
  3. The limited clothes do not include accessories like scarves, jewelry or belts, and do not include underwear or shoes either.
  4. Workout clothes are for only working out or teaching fitness classes in. Except the leggings; I can wear them under the skirt or the dress. But not as pants because that’s tacky.
  5. No cheating; stay strong!

I will be updating you on my outfits, my progress, and what I am learning during this whole process, because I can’t even express to you how crazy this is for me or even all of what I’m hoping God will do with me during this time.

But I hope I’ll come out on the other side of November more content with my life, more free, more selfless, and more confident in who I am.

I hope to learn to appreciate even more what truly matters in life, and I hope I am able to forget about myself and my appearance in ways I never could before.

I hope I can break free from the stronghold of greediness and vanity so that I can focus more on loving God and loving people well. 

I hope that come December, when I pull out those boxes of clothes again, that I’ll be able to cut my former wardrobe by at least half so that I can continue to carry what I learn through this month with me onto the new year. 

But who knows what I’ll learn this November?!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with lessons, thoughts, and pictures that document my walk through this #10HangerProject. That way, we can learn together and hopefully come out less of a wannabe and more of a minimalist on the other side of this 30 days.