How Marie Kondo Changed My Purchasing Habits

Marie Kondo is a name that is familiar with a lot of people.  Marie wrote a popular little book called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  I first came upon this book while shopping at Urban Outfitters.  It caught my eye because I have always struggled keeping my place clean and I don’t know why.  I just thought I was too lazy.

Months later, I decided to buy the book and give it a shot.  I didn’t read it for a good while, but had already understood the concept of this “art of decluttering,” as I had begun the task of removing from my house what doesn’t bring me joy.  I knew I would have some tough categories to go through, that which I saved until after I read my book.

The book came with me on vacation and managed to read it within the first few days.  In my mind, while thousands of miles away, I was already purging my possessions.  I just had to get home to put them in a box.

It has been about 6 months since I started and I have already donated about 30 boxes of things that I no longer need.  One thing I didn’t like so much about the book was that Marie said to throw things out, instead of donating them.  Since I am limiting my waste, I couldn’t imagine throwing away 30 boxes of usable things into the trash.  This would include clothes, CD’s, dishes, etc.  The rest of the stuff was either recycled, and a few items given away to friends.

KM

When you remove so much stuff from your home something shifts in your mind.  I don’t want to refill my house with stuff anymore so shopping doesn’t have the same thrill.  I don’t have the compulsion to buy or spend money.  Of the things I do need, I try to buy second hand, try to mend that which I already have, or I just go without.  I also don’t see the need to holding on to things that I may need in the future.

I have not yet gotten to the organization part as I am still working on a few of the difficult categories of the purging process.  I have a box of sentimental items I want to reduce to half and for some odd reason, I can’t quite part with a box of stuffed animals and beanie babies.  I also have a box of glass cat statues.  When I was younger, my mom and I would go to rummage sales.  Every time I would see a cat figurine I would have to buy it.  It didn’t matter what it looked like.  I felt like if I purchased it, I would love it and make it feel special.  I know it will be fun opening that box and taking out all of the figurines I have collected over the decades but I do not know if I can make myself get rid of them.

I think there definitely is truth to the book being magic.  It has helped me helped me see things as objects, not as things that contain my memories.  I hold the memories in my mind, not the object.

Cleaning even is less of a task now.

The true joy to me is being able to walk into my house and see that everything has it’s spot.  To see that all of my hard work has paid off by additional time given back to me instead of on cleaning.  More time that I can spend doing the things that I love to do.

Making Life More Efficient

I always thought that decluttering would make life less stressed.  We own bigger homes than decades ago just so we can fill it up with stuff.  I think half of it is the thrill of shopping.  Buying something new makes us feel good.  These things clutter our lives and add stress.

So my husband and I had a rummage sale and tried our best to rid our lives of as much stuff that wasn’t needed.  We definitely could have got rid of more.  But, by even doing this…we continue to get frustrated by how cluttered and messy our lives are even with less stuff.

We had an ah-ha moment.  Yes, it’s nice to get rid of things and declutter, but it’s more about our home is organized.  We made a plan.  We figured out what frustrated us the most and drilled down to see why it was a problem.  Here is what we discovered and how we made it better.

1.  We always had garbage all over our counter top.  We decided that the location to our garbage can was not working for us.  We originally had it in a closet…out of sight, out of mind.  Having to open a door every time to throw away something was a hassel  By buying a new garbage with a lid, and putting it out in the kitchen has kept our counters clean.

2.  We always misplaced our keys.  I didn’t want to install a key holder because our sun room had nice wood paneling (not the 80’s style – more like cabin style) and I didn’t want to mess it up.  So I installed those adhesive hooks that you can pull a tab and it releases.  This was an efficiency that requires a new habit but so far it’s working.

3.  We put a garbage in the bathroom.  This made a huge difference.  I didn’t realize how much garbage we created in this room.

4.  We put a laundry hamper in the bathroom as well.  We would always have piles of dirty clothes on the floor and just putting it in a bin has made our house so much cleaner.

5.  We always had issues with one of us opening mail and leaving it all over the table.  We are still working this one out.  We need to find a way to remove consistently putting waste in the recycling.   This will require a new habit.

We do have a long way to go, but we are finding ways to make our household easier to live in.  So far, it’s making a huge difference.

If you had 260 square foot of living space…

What would you keep?  What would you donate?  Would you get bored with only the small amount of things around you?  Is our livelihood, happiness and popularity defined by what we own, or how little we own?

I live with my husband and 3 cats in a home the size of about 1400 square feet, included in that a 2 floor sunroom-loft and living space above the garage.  I believe I can live with half this amount of space.  If I did not have the loft or the garage living space I wouldn’t miss it.   The space we spend the most amount of time is the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.  These to me are the only required spaces and they do not need to be large.  More space makes us believe that we require more stuff to fill it.

Check out this link.  I could live here.  You can pick where you want to live (it’s on wheels).  We ought to spend more time in the outdoors, rather than indoors anyways.  Do you think you would be happy living in a house this small?

Media Inspiration

I am inspired by a lot of things.  My interests in the environment and being healthy have been formed by many things that I have seen on the internet, watched or read.  I am even inspired by others.  I watched a really inspirational documentary last night and I wanted to share with you all.  Living On One Dollar is the name of the film and it is about Americans spending time in Guatemala living on very little income and trying to survive.  They show the difficulties local families endure deciding on whether to buy food or to educate their children.  It’s quite sad.  But it makes me want to do something.   I want to be happy with what I have and seeing these families happy yet struggling to get by makes me really think about all that I have and why I constantly want more.  If you want more information on this documentary or to donate, check out this link.

I have also seen several other documentaries that you should check out if you have not already:

  1. An Inconvenient Truth-you all probably have heard of this one by Al Gore.  This is the science behind global warming.
  2. No Impact Man-a small family spends one year without environmental impact.
  3. Supersize Me-made me swear of fast food.
  4. Food Inc.-overview on corporate farming.

Also, if you have a chance, you should read the book, Not Buying It by Judith Levine.  A woman goes one year buying only the specific list of agreed upon essentials prior to starting the year.  This means not eating out, going to movies or going shopping.  Wine is not a necessity, neither is travel.  To me, these types of videos and books are inspirational to me.  They make me want to make a change, as I hope they will inspire you to make simple changes.

Get Rid of Cable and Satellite

Our decision to cut satellite service was an easy one.  I wanted to save money.  On top of  money, we are still getting all of the shows that we want anyways.  Some shows are not as easy to get as others, but with the internet, you can see almost all shows just a day later if that.

My husband told me about Roku.  It is a little box you buy from Best Buy, or online and it works as a link between the computer and TV.  I think it cost about $60 (approximately $2.50/month if you assume an upgrade in 2 years).  You even get a little remote.  You then subscribe to Hulu, Amazon Prime and/or Netflix streaming.   $7.99 for Hulu Plus, Amazon is $79 per year ($6.58/month) and you get movies, shows and 2 day free shipping from Amazon.  Netflix I haven’t signed up for yet, but will soon.    With that all tallied up the approximate cost for all of this streaming is $17.07 per month.  Previously we were paying just over $70 for satellite service for the same TV.  We are saving over $50 per month.   If we add Netflix streaming it would be $7.99 per month in addition.

I find the quality of the TV is better.  There is limited commercials, maybe 30 seconds tops.  The only difference between Roku and having satellite is you have to know what you are going to watch.  You can’t just turn on a channel and just watch whatever is live.  All of these shows are previously aired and you essentially pick what you want to watch.  The only other thing is you never watch anything live.  So watch out for spoilers.

Is saving $600 per year worth waiting a day to watch your favorite programs?  What does $600 buy or pay for?  It pays for 1 entire month of mortgage payment on one of our properties.  Or it would pay for 5 full gas tanks worth of gas.  Or 3-4 nights stay at a fairly good hotel.  A lot of nice clothes.  20 meals out with your significant other.  Pretty tempting, eh?  Why not do some research on streaming and give up the bill!

 

Smart Phone Rant – No – I Am Not Anti-Smart Phone.

Before I get into my smart phone rant, I will admit that I WILL get a smart phone someday.  But hopefully not someday soon.  My distaste is not the large amounts of money that you spend on a data plan (that is a valid reason to NOT get a smart phone), but it’s the idea that we are already addicted to our phones way too much – me included!   And, not only cell phones, but computers, TV’s, video games and FACEBOOK!

If I were to average how much time I spend on technology in any given day, I would say 8 + at work, then come home and spend 2-3 more hours online and in front of the TV.   Much of that I am sure is because it is winter still, and not much you can do outside…but if I were to cut out 2 hours after work, just think of how much I could accomplish, how many friends I could hangout with, how much cleaning I could do, how much crafting I could do.

My goal is to live a simpler life.  Not one, bogged down using technology ever waking hour.  I want to go on walks, play with my cats, read and practice yoga or meditate.  I would love to write, draw or play piano.   Unfortunately I have carved such deep habits in my daily routine  that I don’t feel as relaxed as I should if I don’t spend time online.

So, if/when I get a smart phone, it will become a part of me.  I know it will.  An extra appendage that I can’t leave home without.  I am not ready for that yet.  Some day, I will be, but I am okay with the cell phone that I have now.   My happy blue dumb phone.

Make It Burn – Firestarters

What can you do with empty toilet paper rolls and a whole lot of dryer lint?  Make these awesome firestarters.  I hate when you are trying to light a fire on a quiet dark night and you are trying to enjoy some nature, but you can never get the fire going.  So you pull out the lighter fluid only for the fire to blaze for a few minutes.  That stuff is crap.  It is totally unneeded now that you have these FREE firestarters!

Directions:

1.  Do a few loads of laundry.  This is something you are bound to do anyways, unless your parents still wash your clothes.  If they do, you have awesome parents.  But see if they can part with their dryer lint.

2.  Collect lint from the dryer.  We typically only dry our clothes inside when there is still snow on the ground so the time for us to prepare these are only through the winter season.  *Sadly our winter is from October through April.  So, had I started these earlier, I would have had a butt load!

3.  Collect toilet paper rolls.  Generally my husband and I are too lazy to throw these away, so they end up collecting on the back of the toilet.  Surprisingly I must have been on top of my game this week at cleaning because I only found one.  *You can use paper towel rolls as well.  (Do you see a face in the pile of lint in the below image?  I see Yoda smirking at me).  {I didn’t know the name Yoda so I had to ask my husband who the gremlin looking feller was in Star Wars}.

DSC_19361111

4.  Stuff the lint into the roll.  Voila!

I think this blog can go under being thrifty as well.  You can save money, reduce waste and live green – all at the same time!

Off The Grid

What does living green mean to you?  To me, it means reducing our carbon footprint, living simpler and without convenience items that serve a single purpose.  Living with just the necessities, leaving the least amount of waste and being one with nature.  I think living green is much more than reduce, reuse and recycle.  It is a state of mind.  Making decisions and keeping the earth in mind.

I have always said that living off the grid would be awesome.  Using solar panels or wind for energy.  Using a composting toilet and a rain collection system for your water needs.  I am not really into the freegan lifestyle, but growing a garden, canning and composting is important to me.

I am always inspired by people doing just this.  I wanted to share some stories that I came across that may inspire you too.

One family built their home out of a bus:

bus

This following article really inspired me.  A family chooses to not work, but instead live off the excess of others.  They are on a money strike and do not want to support the “excess-consumption society.”  It hits home because we have a side project that gives us a little bit extra money each month, but it always seems that even with more money, it is not enough.  We always want more.  More money, more things.  Here is the link.  Don’t they look so happy?

family

If you want to read a bit more about how to live off the grid please click here.

If you had a chance to live this lifestyle for a while, would you?  I want to feel what is is like to live with less, to live free.

Anti-consumerism and Freeganism

I hate clutter and I hate waste.  These two little things can be removed from my life.  It would require a huge life change.  I am no expert on the topics of anti-consumerism and freeganism but I want to use this blog to educate myself more and my audience on how we can contribute to reducing non-necessary buying and reducing waste.

When I decided to start a blog, I wanted it more than a blog to post craft projects.  I wanted to post challenges to myself and you to help live a greener life.   I want to educate myself on how to live more green and inspire you to also.  Today’s blog I hope to do just that.

I should briefly describe these two topics.  Anti-consumerism is summarized by cutting our self off of material possessions, ie all of our wants.  Freeganism, a more extreme movement, is defined as using alternative living strategies that followers remove themselves from society completely.  Freegans use the ideal of foraging and squatting (living in abandoned or unused buildings).  Freegans take what people don’t want (trash) and use these goods to survive.

I am not on the path to ever become a full blown freegan but I understand their ideals.  The idea of using other peoples trash makes me want to plan my meals so all of our food gets used.  Or instead of buying a new shirt going to the thrift store.   I may never dumpster dive, but I may go boulevard shopping during spring cleaning.  I have found useful home things, like a desk chair and laundry basket that are good quality.

Anyways, I am more in line with anti-consumerism.  I would like to give you two resources that have made me want to change my life in this regard.  Please spend some time checking this out.  It is well worth your time.

  1. The Story of Stuff video.  Click the link to watch a 20 minute video that is actually quite entertaining and educational.  Annie Leonard narrates the video describing the product life cycle and how companies create products that are designed for the trash.  They are purchased only to be replaced quickly.
  2. A book that I read called, “Not Buying It” by Judith Levine gave me in site what living without wants for a year would be like.  The idea of not buying things just for status or convenience may seem difficult, but can save you lots of money and save us lots of time to get in tune with your family.

I fully support the idea of freeganism.  If there are people out there who will use other people’s garbage, I say “go for it!  Why not?”  I will continue my quest to reduce my desire to purchase things that I want.  It is very easy for me to keep products that still have use or value.  This is no big deal.  Of course, the feeling of buying a new shirt or shoes always feels good.  But, I do like the idea of saving money.

I have a new challenge for myself.  I am going to use the rest of April to not purchase wants.  This may be difficult since it is planting season, BUT I am going to give it my all.  I will control my urge to spend on things that I think are needs when they are actually wants.  Will you be willing to take a simple challenge?  For 2 weeks, cut back on unnecessary spending?  Not purchase things that are just to be replaced quickly?   Let me know how you will challenge yourself.  I would love to hear about it.