Be the change: The Minimalist Game Days 22–30

I successfully made it through to the end of the Minimalist Game. Along the way, I learnt about change and momentum – how starting small can make a big difference.

Minimalism, The Minimalist Game, #minsgame, decluttering
The Minimalist Game Days 22 to 30

The final days

I really felt the heat from day 25 onwards as I worked to reach my daily goal. However, I managed to power on through. With three weeks of decluttering decisions under my belt, I was able to work at a much faster pace. No longer was I umm-ing and ahh-ing over each individual item, I was discarding more but using less mental energy to do so. I was riding on the wave of momentum.

Be the change you want to see in the world

The momentum that I built up over the course of the Minimalist Game didn’t stop with me – it spread to others too.

When I rid my drawers of excess t-shirts, following my example, so did my husband. He then helped me go through a box of miscellaneous electrical items. While doing this, he remarked, “But, you’re right about all this stuff – it’s just clutter”.

The momentum spread beyond my own household. I mentioned to two friends and a family member what I was doing this month. They each independently embarked on decluttering exercises of their own.

When I started playing the Minimalist Game I thought there was a bit of an inner hoarder in most of us. This hasn’t changed. I now think, at the same time, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with clutter amongst most of us too. My friends and family just needed the tiniest bit of inspiration/solidarity/permission from someone they trusted and they were off. My experience with the Minimalist Game showed me the power of example.

I often feel powerless in the face of rampant consumerism, but after playing the Minimalist Game I have hope. Doing nothing won’t change anything. Even the smallest step in the right direction is a start. The steps build and then have a momentum of their own.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Gandhi

Have you taken steps towards a minimalist lifestyle? What inspired you to do this?

The week of the Wii – The Minimalist Game Days 1 to 7

Help I’m hoarding for the environment – The Minimalist Game Days 8 to 14

The cost of free stuff – The Minimalist Game Days 15 to 21

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It’s not a bargain if you bin it

Welcome to Food Waste Friday. This week, I fell victim to the supermarket’s super-marketers.

First, the good news. The system I implemented last week – designating a shelf in the fridge for items that need to be used up ASAP – is working well. All leftovers, half used jars of tomato paste, etc., were used up.

Food waste, Food Waste Friday, shopping
Broccoli to the bin – Food Waste Friday 3 July 2015

The bad news –1 ¼ heads of broccoli in the bin. I went to steam and puree it on Monday (in an attempt to save it) but it was too far gone. This was a clear case of “bargain blinkers”. Broccoli wasn’t on my shopping list, but I couldn’t resist it at a bargain two for $3. Wow, I could save $1 by buying two! So I did, but I barely used any of it – really, I wasted $2 and a lot of broccoli.

I have written before about how my desire to bag a bargain ends up costing me money and my efforts to overcome this. Today, I’m adding a new mantra for the supermarket:

“It’s not a bargain if you bin it.”

Are you a sucker for supermarket multi-buys? How was the food waste situation at your house this week?

Food waste – perception vs reality

It is Friday, so it’s time to stand up and account for my food waste.

How did I do this week?
Not great. Food wasted:
• 1 kiwifruit
• 1 mandarin
• 1 lime
• ¼ bottle of passata

#foodwastefriday, food waste
This week’s waste – #FoodWasteFriday 26 June 2015

This was an eye opener. I thought I was doing really well and on track for zero food waste this week. Wrong.

Three quarters of people think they waste less than average
I am not alone. I read ‘You’re wasting more food than you think’ in Mother Jones this week. Turns out, most Americans underestimate how much food they waste.

I am curious how my food waste stacks up against the average, so I’m going to estimate the value of each item that goes to waste and see how it tallies up.

Planning and routine
I received some excellent tips from readers about reducing food waste. Two things shone through for me – planning and routine.

I now have a designated spot in the fridge for things that need to be used urgently. I wanted somewhere prominent, to keep “at risk” items front of mind. I chose the bottom shelf, on top of the vegetable crisper. I am also training myself to put things into the fridge so that their expiry date can be seen.

Based on this week’s waste, I’m going to add a more thorough check of the fruit bowl to my routine too.

Save of the week
I had half a head of cabbage sitting in the crisper starting to look sad. I saved it by making a batch of Cabbage, carrot and caraway broth from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage: Light & Easy. Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t published online, but it’s a simple mix of cabbage, carrot, onions and stock – great for cleaning out the fridge and perfect for the cold snap we had this week.

However, my best save was at the grocery store this afternoon. Kiwifruit was on sale for a mere $1.98 a kilo. I was tempted to buy some, but I decided against it after remembering the one I threw out this morning. I wanted to buy it more because it was cheap than because I wanted it. So it stayed on the shelves – it’s not a bargain if it’s just going to end up in the bin.

How did you go with your food waste this week? Do you have any good fridge-clearing recipes to share?

Thanks to sharing – old and new

This month I’ve been on a decluttering mission. I am playing The Minimalist Game, attempting to rid my home of 564 items in a month. One unexpected outcome of this mission – gratitude for the sharing economy.

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Thanks to the sharing economy

The sharing economy has come in for a bit of a backlash recently as community turns corporate, but I have a lot to thank it for this month.

Sorting through my home, I’ve experienced a range of feelings ­ guilt, overwhelm, joy, excitement. Undertaking this exercise has prompted me to search for ways of living with less. It has made me realise how grateful I am for the various ways that I can use and enjoy stuff without having to own it.

Old school sharing economy

While books and toys are often particularly difficult areas for people to declutter, they were relatively easy for me. I didn’t really have much book and toy clutter thanks to the stalwarts of the sharing economy – the library.

I love libraries. I have at various times worked as a librarian. To me, the library provides a world of possibilities. Through the library I can access virtually any book that I desire at no cost. Sure, I sometimes have to wait and I sometimes have to read faster than I’d Iike – but I don’t have to own anything.

I am also very grateful for our local toy library. It ensures my son gets to play with an ever-changing rotation of high quality toys. And, when he’s bored with them, they don’t hang around our house getting in the way – they go right back where they came from for other kids to enjoy. The wee guy loves his fortnightly trips to the toy library to return his toys and bring home some new ones. If you have young kids, I really recommend checking out if there is one near you.

New school sharing economy

Technology can create clutter but it can also help you clear clutter. I no longer need to hang on to those CDs and DVDs – if I want to listen to it or watch it I can stream it.

New school sharing really came into its own when I wanted to get rid of stuff. I realised that a barrier to decluttering was the guilt I felt about waste and my desire to find things a good new home. Sharing information through social media gave me a quick and easy way to do this. Through local and special-interest Facebook groups, my stuff is out of my house and with people who want it.

Decluttering this month playing The Miniminalist Game has taken a weight off my mind and loads out of my house. Thank you, sharing economy –I appreciate how you enable me to live more with less.

Are you trying to live more with less? What things do you share rather than own?

 This is my first post as part of the Gratitude Circle – expect more like this the 4th Thursday of every month.

Gratitude-Circle

The cost of free stuff – the Minimalist Game days 15 – 21

My decluttering has really ramped up over the last week. I am still amazed by the amount of junk I have stashed away. While my house doesn’t look much different, the kitchen especially is a lot easier to use.

Minimalist game, decluttering, #minsgame
Minimalist Game Days 15 – 21

Freedom from the freebies

As I decluttered over the last three weeks, I’ve been struck by the amount of stuff in the house I acquired for free. It is now clear to me that all this free stuff has a cost.

I have come across various categories of free stuff in my cupboards and drawers:

  • giveaways and promotional freebies (eg. coffee mugs emblazoned a with logo, stickers, pins and bags)
  • stuff that was included with other stuff I bought (eg. A measuring cup and spoon that came with a rice cooker and a potato spiral maker)
  • stuff that has been passed on to me by someone else (eg. half my kitchen items and most of my craft things)
  • gifts (I think gifts will get a whole post of its own!).

I am fortunate, as a lot of what I consider to be essential items have been given to me and saved me a lot of money. Then there are the non-essential but potentially useful items.

My (former) slow cooker was one of those. I thought it would be really useful and I gave it a premium spot in my kitchen cupboard. However, I got it out more times to get to the special-occasions-only glass jug behind it than to cook with. Turns out I’m just not a slow cooker.

The lure of free

Then there are the more random things (coffee art stencils), the just plain useless things (bobble heads) and the things that would be useful if you didn’t already have 100 of them (promotional reusable shopping bags).

This got me thinking – what is it about free stuff? Why do I feel compelled to bring it into my home?

It is like we are hardwired to want free stuff – just because it’s free, no matter what it is. If there is something free on offer and I miss out on it, I feel disappointed and annoyed. Free stuff evokes a weird mix of feelings – both entitlement and gratitude.

I have a large pile of packaging sitting around. I had been saving it to redeem points on the products to get free stuff. I might get two or three free children’s books a year from doing this. I would never buy these books, as we have plenty of much better children’s books and use the local library heavily. Plus, the free books aren’t great quality so my son tears them easily. But no! I have been wasting time on redeeming points because it’s free stuff and I don’t want to miss out! Well, no more. If I wouldn’t buy it why accept it for free?

Not taking it

That is the lesson I learnt this week – it’s the stuff that I don’t buy that contributes most to my clutter. If I’m going to stop the clutter creep, it’s not just my spending I have to watch, it’s my accepting of free stuff. I need to get more discerning and practice saying thanks but no thanks.

Do you find it hard to resist a free offer? What is the stupidest freebie accepted recently?

Confessions of a food-waste hoarder

I hate to waste food but, inevitably, it happens. Despite meal planning like a pro, things don’t always work out as planned.

I know I am not alone in this. In New Zealand, where I live, the average family wastes around $563 worth of food every year. In the United States, for a family of four, its around $1600 worth of food each year. It’s pretty shocking.

Food waste, food waste friday
New Zealand’s Food Waste.
Image credit: WasteMINZ

I feel terrible about throwing away what was perfectly good food. And so I don’t – I hoard it. Half empty bottles of salad dressing languish at the back of my fridge until they are a year out of date. A little container of unused canned tomatoes sits growing mold. You get the picture – it’s not pretty. Eventually something smells and I can’t ignore it anymore, and out it all goes.

Well that was until now. I am owning-up to my food waste. I’m starting out with a clean fridge and a new approach. As part of Food Waste Friday, I will report in each fortnight on my food waste.

Food waste, Food Waste Friday
Inside my fridge – 19 June 2015

Am I the only person who hoards their food waste? What’s your best tip to reduce the amount of food you waste?

Help! I’m hoarding for the environment – the Minimalist Game days 8 to 14

It’s the end of Week 2 of the Minimalist Game and I’m already reaping the benefits of less stuff. I’ve also come to an important realisation – I’ve been hoarding for the environment.

Hoarding for the environment

Most of the items that I got rid of this week were either:

  • once useful stuff I no longer require or is at the end of its life (eg. old baby bottles, broken safety latches)
  • potentially useful stuff that is too good to waste and might be useful someday but that I don’t think anyone else would want (eg. piles of plastic cutlery and paper napkins that come with takeout, used plastic bags).

Essentially, now it is rubbish, trash, garbage. Easy to let go of? Umm, well, no.

The guilt from Week 1 resurfaced. I have been trying to deny my wasteful ways by keeping stuff packed away in cupboards and drawers.

During the week, I stumbled across this article – Are you hoarding for the environment?  Yes, yes I am. Or I was. I’ve written before about how I’ve always had strong environment values but they’ve waned in the last couple of years. The decluttering process has highlighted to me that I still have these values and renewed my motivation to take action.

I’ve decided to note the areas of waste that make me most ashamed and work out baby steps towards addressing them. I found some reusable mesh produce bags in the pantry and I have already put them into action at the supermarket.

Benefits showing already

I am already reaping the benefits of decluttering. This came home to me with a simple occurrence – my pre-schooler ripped a book. I located the book tape within 30 seconds and he was happily reading again in five minutes.

There was no big sigh from me at the prospect of wading through packed drawers searching for tape, no putting the book on a pile for another day, no feeling guilty, frustrated or overwhelmed, and no buying another roll because I couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Fixing the book was no big deal. Two weeks prior, the sad fact is, it would’ve been an ordeal. Seeing these benefits in everyday life has given me great motivation to continue.

Next steps

So what is next? This week my husband commented that what I was doing and calling minimalism looked a lot like what he called spring-cleaning.

In many ways he is right. Although from what I’ve said above, what could look like mere rubbish to someone else actually held meaning to me.

My reasons for playing the Minimalist Game were beyond spring-cleaning. I do want to move onto some of the bigger items around the house and that is on my agenda for Week 3.

Week 2 Tally

Day 8 – 1 breast pump, 4 bottle lids, 4 teats (yes – I can’t count!)

Day 9 – 1 sippy cup, 1 bottle lid, 2 bottles, 2 broken safety clips, 3 teats

Day 10 – 1 toilet lid lock, 1 battery cover, 1 tube, 2 plastic keys, 5 medicine teats

Day 11 – 1 clip, 1 plastic key, 1 highlighter, 2 pieces of a piping set, 3 syringes, 3 plastic bottles I’d been keeping for crafts

Day 12 – 1 broken food cover, 1 broken safety lock, 1 pencil, 1 pen lid, 7 pens

Day 13 – 1 plastic tablecloth, 1 potato spiral maker, 1 tray, 1 bag of plastic cutlery, 1 pile of paper napkins, 1 set of cookie cutters (rusted), 1 empty box, 2 bags of plastic bags, 3 reusable shopping bags

Day 14 – 1 metal jug, 1 ceramic tile, 1 set of salt and pepper shakers, 2 glasses, 8 coffee mugs

I’m posting daily pictures of my progress on Twitter. You can find me under @AmyMoreTime.

Are you hoarding for the environment? Do you sometimes feel that minimalism is a bit at odds with your other values? How do you reconcile that?