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Decluttering->Minimalism->going Green

Update post on the de-cluttering drive

It is true that one good thing leads to another. Years ago running helped me stabilize my diet. The combo of workout and healthy diet for an extended time gave me a metabolism like I had never experienced in my life before and I reap the benefits of that till today. It is fairly easy for me to lose/stabilize my weight; I can’t binge or overeat; I don’t have sugar cravings; I don’t feel the need to eat junk when stressed or famished; I love raw foods; I don’t feel like I am subjecting myself to torture when I make a healthier choice; Most importantly, it has been easy for me to make the right health-related choices I want to, without being carried away into something else I will regret.

I digress.

De-cluttering has pretty much turned out to be one such journey. And once we won the battle on “stuff” fair and square, we are now exploring minimalist living and greener choices. It is a work in progress. We don’t have a hard goal. But the journey itself has been very liberating. So here are bullet points of things we explored. Hoping it will help others on the same path –

  • We have strict check on stuff that enters the house. “Want vs Need” is asked and explored many times even when we are contemplating/fighting/arguing about buying something online. If we are looking to replace an item that has worn out, we must have a proper exit plan, preferably environment friendly, for what we are replacing.
  • If we still end up with stuff we don’t need, from gifts, yankee swaps and other obligations, we avoid keeping them around after the “need vs want” is answered, especially bless the souls who give a gift receipt! OR donating them accordingly by asking friends who may need it as first go, before dropping off at goodwill.
  • When we are tempted to buy a toy for the kids, I instead spend time to find an activity to do with my kids that week or over weekend. We found a walking the park and story telling event in next town which the toddler loved; a puppet show in city, we are yet to explore; visits to houses of great authors and lighthouses of NE were results of refuting the purchase of yet another colorful plastic mould.
    • It has become addictive and we have made a pact to not buy/keep new toys for another year!
  • Make sure gifts and return gifts are plastic free and simple, that even if the person decides to throw it trash, it wont harm the environment. (example: mud pots, wooden cars, pencils, paper)

Little conscious changes (going back to basics)

  • I pack steel spoons and a bowl in lunch bags everyday for my older one, so he uses that to eat his lunch instead of plastic spoons and paper plates. I pack steel spoons for our lunch bags too. I use a personal coffee mug for water at work.
  • Repurposed baby wipe clothes and burpee clothes as kitchen counter towels. Shifted to cloth wipes for kitchen and bathrooms. I still have the kitchen towel rolls, till we fully transition. So far it has been great.
  • Switching kids to use hankies for cold while in the house, to reduce/avoid using tissues in the house. Eventually hope to switch them outdoors as well.
  • Installed butt spray nozzle for the toilets. As absurd as it sounds, the Japanese do make great inventions. It has reduced our usage of bathroom tissues to nada!
  • Using baking soda and vinegar as the primary cleaning products for everyday cleaning. Sticking to using granite top spray and Lysol as minimally and rarely as possible.

Goals for this year

  • Start packing cloth napkins in lunch bags and have a set for home meals too (kids ask).
  • Make kids-ware atleast 90% plastic free. It is in a 60-40 stage now.
  • Explore menstrual cup options and go sanitary napkin free
  • Learn to mend small tears and simple stitching.
  • Continue to work towards a capsule wardrobe.
  • Explore a no-birthday-party option replace with vacation or simple dinners.
  • More digital detoxing and avoiding deliberate digital footprints.
  • Spend more time with people, make more phone calls.

 

Links and other useful information –

  • Search for consignment stores to sell baby gear. We have had good experience with “itsy bitsy thrifty” in Billerica MA. They also donate to cradles-to-crayons products they cant buy. I have spoken and met the person from c-2-c who is friendly and willing to go over how the product may be put to good use by their organization. If any of you are interested.
  • The big beast called carseats. They cannot be reused or sold. It is illegal. Best bet is to wait for the event at toys r us, which usually falls in February for recycling car seats for store credit. Also look out for community and police departments events which take car seats.
  • Lots of clothes we throw away are so worn out that they are not deserving of charity or resuse of any kind. Try to repurpose them (example: Indian men’s baniyans are soft cotton which make good mop cloths or to wipe liquid spills on floors). Others like old underwears, please look up textile recycling options in your state. MA has a good program and I dropped few bags at a facility in Lowell last year.(http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/recycle/reduce/textile-recycling.html#HowWheretoRecycleTextiles)
  • Electronic recycling: Best buy has a program and you can drop outdated electronic goods. TV and monitor recycling has a 25$ fee.
  • Medela breast pump has a recycling program, you can simply drop the box with the printout pasted on it at the nearest USPS.
  • Nifty, the minimalists and Leo Babauta’s blogs are all great pages on FB for reusing, re-purposing and minimizing! Enjoy and please share your experiences too.!
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