Waste Not, Want Not: Time, Money, and Trash

I recently watched a 2007 documentary called The Story of Stuff and I was blown away. The narrator stated “99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months.” That is a frightening statistic. Especially considering all the resources used to make the stuff and the state of the landfills where a lot of it ends up.

When I began decluttering, I noted time wasted shopping, cleaning and moving all my stuff and money wasted that could have been spent toward something of real value. This really got me thinking, ”What can I do right now to help eliminate waste and benefit both me and my planet?” Therefore, I am choosing to focus on these 3 areas: time, money, and trash.

Time:

I can say, since I made some lifestyle changes and began living with less, I have significantly decreased time wasted shopping for stuff. However, I still waste time. If I made a list of activities I enjoyed doing or goals I wanted to achieve, I’m pretty sure mindlessly scrolling through social media would not be on that list. Yet, time after time, I find myself sitting, eyes glazed over and my finger tapping and swiping, looking at things I’m not really interested in. I read about an app in the Technology Issue of Simplify Magazine which would change that. In an article called Consume Less, Create More Brian Gardner suggests using the Moment app to help avoid drains on attention. I downloaded the free version and in less than half a day I had been on my phone over 2 hours! I thought of all I could accomplish in 2 hours and opportunities I had missed while on my phone. After a week, I upgraded to the full version and cut time spent on my phone in half. I also increased awareness of when my phone was in my hand so I could put it down and get on with my life. Time is the one thing I can’t get back so I will make Izey Victoria Odiase’s words my mantra. She says, “Work on purpose, play on purpose, rest on purpose. Do not let yourself or anyone else waste your time.”

3 things I can do now to stop wasting time:

  • Keep my phone out of reach and continue to monitor use with the Moment app to become aware of when and why I am on my phone.
  • Read a real book or use my Kindle Paperwhite instead of the app on my phone. This lessens the temptation to wander to apps where I waste time.
  • Make a list of 10 things I want to do on paper. When I find myself wasting time, I will get up and spend time doing something on that list.

Money:

I’ve spent the last 20 years in education and am pretty naive about how things work in the business world. Therefore, I’m trying to become a more informed consumer and not be duped by flashy advertising into believing I need to consume more and more to be happy. I recently learned about planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. These are business practices used to get consumers to purchase a new product because the old one no longer works properly or is no longer cool. The Story of Stuff explains it this way, “Planned obsolescence is another word for “designed for the dump.” It means they actually make stuff that is designed to be useless as quickly as possible so we will chuck it and go buy a new one.” “Perceived obsolescence convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful.” These strategies have been around for decades but seem to be becoming more extreme, especially in today’s technology and fashion worlds. By being informed, I can stand my ground when the next marketing campaign tries to entice me.

5 things I can do now to save money:

  • I can give up “cool” for a bigger life, just like Joy Netanya Thompson
  • Make only planned purchases.
  • Have weeks or months of no spending. Cait Flanders did a whole year if your up for an extreme challenge!!
  • Purchase quality items instead of cheap and disposable ones.
  • Complete my capsule wardrobe

Trash:

My family of 3 averages about 1 kitchen sized bag of trash per day. To me it seems like quite a bit. Most of it is related to food – the food itself, forgotten in the back of the fridge and no longer recognizable, and food packaging, boxes, plastic containers, plastic wrappers, paper towels and yes folks, paper plates. I have been making my way through these documentaries to get more ideas for decreasing waste. One that really amazed me was the 2009 documentary, No Impact Man. In this film, Colin Bevan and his family spend a pretty radical year attempting to live in the city making as little environmental impact as possible. While I’m not ready to give up electricity and my car, I can make simple changes. I have started looking around my house and just in my pantry are a number of things I have purchased, intended for some Pinterest recipe, I’m sure. Unfortunately, many times these products end up in the trash, out of date, never opened.

5 things I can do now to reduce trash:

  • Purchase only foods I know my family will eat.
  • Get a water filter.
  • Purchase items with very little or no packaging.
  • Shop with reusable bags.
  • Use real plates and cloth napkins and towels.

Hopefully, a few small changes will begin to have a cumulative effect with big results for a more simple, more purposeful, and more joyful life.

If you have any ideas or advice, please share!! What is wasting your time and money? What are things you have done to reduce, reuse and recycle?

Until next time,

Be Well.

This post was published at No Sidebar. You can see it here.

Where to begin….

compass small

So how am I going to accomplish this healthy heart and joyful soul? Which road should I travel first?

I’m going to start with creating a joyful soul because I have only recently admitted to my addiction of sodas and Hot Tamales and the healthy heart journey is going to be a lot harder!

On my path to a more joyful soul…..I started thinking about happiness vs. joy. I did a little research and there is some debate as to whether they are the same thing or not. Merriam-Webster considers them to be the same. It defines happiness as, “a a state of well-being and contentment joy” and defines joy as, “a state of happiness or felicity bliss.” Others describe happiness as superficial and temporary, a feeling that results from our reaction to another person or thing and joy as something bigger and longer lasting, something you create in yourself despite outside influences. I think it would be good to find happiness and joy but I’m going with Merriam-Webster and will use them to mean the same thing for ease and simplicity.

Speaking of simplicity, Sandra L. Brown M.A., in her article Joy vs. Happiness, refers to “voluntary simplicity.” A lifestyle adopted by her mother which eventually led from a life riddled with loss and pain to a place of joy. Voluntary simplicity sounds a lot like minimalism, and I know after years of attempting to simplify my life, minimalism is for me.

Rachel Jones defines minimalism as “intentionally getting rid of the excess in your life, so you can devote time and energy to the things that are truly important to you.” Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, have a lengthier and more comical definition here

I can tell you for me, having less has brought me much more joy than having excess and always being on the hunt for more. However, like many worthwhile things, it takes lots of effort to achieve and lots of self-control to maintain. Because of this, I’ve been working for years to rid my life of the excess of possessions. By the way, did you know the average American home has 300,000 things

While I don’t know if I had that many things, I know at one time I had enough stuff, even after giving a small mountain away, to fill a storage space I could have parked a car in. Even worse, I paid thousands of dollars to keep that stuff comfortable in a climate controlled unit. After eliminating thousands, maybe tens of thousands of items, from my home and office, the only thing I wish I had back was the the time and money I spent on the stuff. I even wrote about it, 8, yes, 8 years ago and I’m still working on it. Sometimes when you let your guard down, stuff tends to sneak back into your home.

I say enough with the stuff!!!

James Altucher writes about the joy minimalism brought him here. (His version of minimalism is too extreme for me!) And then there is Lydia Slater who tried minimalism and concluded, “Minimalism, I realised, wasn’t morally superior to the alternative, it was just another aesthetic choice. Nevertheless, I had learnt one really valuable lesson: I was under no obligation to hang on to things I didn’t like, just because I had spent money on them.”

It is what you make it.

I got started minimizing after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing; however, the catalyst that really got me moving was Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  This film really lit a fire under me.

This journey has led me, not only to continue my quest to declutter, but to become more intentional about my purchases. I have started to challenge myself periodically with “no spend months” (essentials like food and gas are allowed!) inspired by Cait Flanders and her book, The Year of Less. I’m currently on my third attempt and it’s getting easier each time. What has been helpful is living in a very small house in the country…..not a lot of places for shopping and not a lot of space for storing or displaying. 

I have also developed a capsule wardrobe. Thank you, Courtney Carver! It’s basically having a few items that can easily be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. I guess as a girl I’m a little different……I don’t like to shop (except for books and cowboy boots) but seriously, shopping gives me anxiety…..heart racing type of anxiety. The decision fatigue nearly does me in whether its groceries or clothing, so having very few choices works well for me. This is not for the person who looks forward to going to her full and colorful closet and putting together an outfit with coordinating accessories. If this is you, please don’t stop! I want to enjoy the visual art of your ensemble, but I’m just a jeans and T-shirt kinda gal who owns 4 pairs of earrings and a modest collection of cowboy boots!

Minimalism has also help me open space and time for things that I truly enjoy. Simple things….writing, reading, and having awesome experiences with actual people. Like mountain biking with my son, eating delectable food with my sister, an impromptu hike in the woods with my family, talking with my friend for hours at her kitchen counter, hanging out at the youth rodeo chatting with neighbors, and dancing in the kitchen with my husband. For me these are awesome things!

This is my journey to do more of those things. I want to do more of what I really enjoy instead of just dreaming about it. I’ve been dreaming for a long time and now I’m ready to make some significant changes in what I do and how I think. Too many times I have found myself idle, letting the days pass by. I want to do more things that make me happy but I also want to create a joyful soul that can endure and rise out of the inevitable pain and disappointments that come with this human life.

So for now, I will continue to declutter (I’m in the middle of the 30 day mimimalism game), have at least one awesome experience a week and contact a nutritionist……

Until next time…..

Be well,

Lori

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about minimalism Joshua Becker’s website is a good place to start.