7 Tiny Steps for the Beginner Minimalist

Waiemi and I realized that zero waste and minimalism go hand-in-hand. Refusing to bring waste into our home and reducing what items we already have in our home helps to keep more waste from entering the home. Clutter attracts clutter. With minimalist living, you put value back into the things you own and makes it all the more valuable to you. Here are 7 steps you can take to begin your minimalist living.

Write it down…Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. These are your whys and your whys will provide you with leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Here are my whys:

  • I want to live more healthy and that starts with less clutter.
  • Decluttering my space declutters my mind, body, and spirit.
  • Having less things in our room will make it less stuffy and allow more air to flow freely.

Discard duplicates…Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you haven’t had the need to get anything from the box, donate it.

  • I found quite a bit of duplicates in our room. However, instead of putting them out of sight, we decided to just sell/donate them. They were of no use to us so maybe they could be useful to someone else.

Declare a clutter-free zone…Designate as area or zone in your home that will remain clutter-free. It can be a countertop, a room, anything. Slowly you can start expanding that area each day.

Travel lightly…Pack for 1/2 the time you’re traveling (ex// going away for 4 days? Pack for two days). You can either reuse some clothes or wash your clothes.

Dress with less…Implicate Project 333. Project 333 is a challenge where you pick 33 items of clothing and you wear only those 33 items for 3 months. We only use 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time anyway, so choose what you can wear and rewear and mix-and-match for 3 months. Jewelry also counts as part of the 33, so choose wisely.

  • I started the challenge for myself over the weekend and am currently on Day 4. I counted a pair of socks as one item since, well, I consider them to be one item. Everything else is in my other two drawers (they’re stuffed to the max, so I should go through them and get rid of what I don’t want anyway) and put my 33 items in my top drawer. Waiemi only ever wears his culinary uniform or work uniform every day so he only needs a couple shorts and shirts for the weekend.

Eat similar meals…Try eating the same breakfast and lunch all week with two or three dinner choices. Analyze your menu and everyone’s opinions at the end of the week.

  • Here’s where meal prepping came in for us. We would meal prep breakfast and lunch for the whole week. Dinner was pretty much fresh one day and leftovers the next. Try spicing up your leftovers so you’ll feel more compelled to eat it.

Save up $1000…You should always have an emergency fund. All that money you’re now saving from your minimalist lifestyle can be saved up for a rainy day or a vacation or that new (and useful) thing you’ve been wanting to get. Try the 52 Week Money Challenge – Number of the week is the dollar amount you put into your savings (ex// week 10 – put $10 in). Money for emergencies reduces stress.

  • We just started ours last week and we’re putting a little twist on our 52-week challenge. For the first 20 weeks or so, we’ll each put in the same amount (ex// week 10 – Waiemi puts in $10, I put in $10). After the 20th week or so, we’ll start splitting the amount in half. So by the end of the 52 weeks, we should have $400 more than what the original challenge entailed. Besides we”re also putting in anything we can spare into our savings for our wedding.

These are just 7 simple things that you can do to start living minimally. You do not have to go big or go home here. You can always start small and slowly work your way into it.

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The 5 R’s of Zero Waste

In my earlier posts, I had capitalized on a couple of R-words, namely Refuse and Reuse because these two words are part of the pillars of zero waste living. The 5 R’s of zero waste are: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle. When facing waste in your home, you should move through these 5 R’s in this order and here’s why.

Refuse

“The easiest way to prevent waste from leaving your home is to keep it from entering your home.” – Kathryn K.

If it doesn’t come into your home, it can’t be waste that you and your family have produced. No will become your most difficult and yet somehow easiest word to use. At first, it will be difficult to tell your family or even yourself NO. But think about it for a few minutes. Where did this product come from? How much plastic packaging is coming home with you if you buy this? Do you really need this now? Will you need this 30 days from now?

Where did this product come from? How much plastic packaging is coming home with you if you buy this? Do you really need this now? Will you need this 30 days from now?

Don’t be afraid of the negative connotation that comes with the word No. Let your family and friends know about your zero waste lifestyle and why you’re going through with it. Encourage them to be mindful of packaging and wrappings of gifts. Explain to them why you want to avoid trash and plastic in your life.

Be conscious of what you’re buying and have a gentle conversation with the ones you love to support you. They don’t have to switch over to zero waste, but if they could remember that you don’t want to bring trash into your life.

Reduce

By having less, you will create less waste. The more stuff you have, the easier it is to accumulate more stuff. Clutter attracts clutter.

By reducing the amount of stuff you have, you’ll have less stuff to take care of, less stuff to store, and less stuff to worry about; keeping you mentally at peace.

One key aspect of zero waste is to measure life, not by how many things we own, but by the experiences we have with ourselves and our loved ones. Reducing will help us to focus our attention and efforts on those experiences in life. We will also be able to put value back into our possessions and make them meaningful to us again.

Reuse

“Disposables are only appropriate in medical and scientific fields and times of disaster.” – Kathryn K.

Here is where we will refuse disposables and use items that can be reused. No more disposable coffee cups, use mugs. No more disposable tissues, use handkerchiefs. Here are simple alternatives for disposable products.

Plastic water bottle → Reusable water bottle
Toilet paper → A bidet attachment
Paper towels → Rags
Takeout trays → Reusable Tupperware
Plastic straw → Glass or stainless steel straw

You have a lot of reusable versions of the disposables in your home, you just have to remember to bring them with you when you’re out. There is no need to go out and buy new stuff.

Along with reusables, you can also shop at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other secondhand stores for cheaper used items.

Rotcompost vs avoid guide

Composting is one of the key aspects of zero waste. Composting allows you to return resources to the earth. You can compost food scraps, natural fabric, hair, cardboard, paper, and other organic substances.

Composting is the epitome of a circular economy as composting organic matter will eventually turn into dirt which ca be used to grow more organic matter. I found a resource for vermicompost bins, using worms to compost organic matter, I have yet to check it out, I’ll update you when I do.

You can also get backyard composters and kitchen composters (mostly for green waste). Vermicomposting is good for apartment living.

Recycle

Recycling should be a last resort. It’s energy intensive, an imperfect system, and not be viewed as our savior. Two things that can be recycled indefinitely are glass and aluminum, plastic cannot be recycled, it can only be downcycled.

Water bottles can’t be recycled back into bottles, they get downcycled to park benches or speed humps and when those items reach the end of their life cycles, it will be sent to a landfill.

It’s better to first refuse, then reduce, then reuse before we get to recycle. By following those steps, you shouldn’t have much left to recycle.