The Joy of Using Things Up

In January 2018, I decided that I was going to go at least 3 months without buying any new clothes (the exceptions: underwear, shoes, leggings, and anything needed for bridesmaid duties). I ended up going until October and found it shockingly easy. I fell in love with thrifting, Poshmark, and shopping my own closet. This January, I decided to re-start my “no new clothes” challenge. We’re in the middle of April and, so far, so good. The challenge got me thinking — what else could I stand to stop buying this year? Like clothes, other personal and household items can accumulate. Think… candles, skincare, makeup, even food items … generally smaller, consumable items that are OH SO EASY to impulse purchase (especially when traveling!).

Anyone else feel a sense of joy (or even accomplishment) when you get through an entire skincare product or hit pan in a makeup palette or burn through a candle in it’s entirety? I want to feel more of that. So here are some items I am adding to my “do not buy” list until there are no “backups” left.

  • Candles. Yeah, I’m one of those people. I make candles in old candle jars. I also buy candles because I’m a total sucker. I am given candles because everyone knows how much I love candles. A candle is lit daily so they do get used up… but, right now, I have an overwhelming amount to go through.
  • Bath Bombs. I was given a lot of bath bombs over Christmas which piled up on top of my impulse bath bomb purchases at Lush. I am making a habit of taking more baths and making sure to use a bath bomb each time.
  • Bar Soaps. I blame my husband. He’s a soap fiend. At Whole Foods? Buy soap. Traveling and see a small business owner selling soap? Buy it. Obviously, these get used up. But, right now, I have a small shoe box full of soap.
  • Body Moisturizers. Don’t know how this happened but between gifts and half empty lotion bottles — I probably have 2 years worth of the stuff.
  • Face Masks. Not the sheet ones but jars and tubes of them. They come as part of skincare kits, as gifts, etc. I also find that I take forever to get through them as I’m not super consistent about masking. Goal: Mask twice a week and get through all these jars! In the future, maybe DIY masks to save self from collecting (somewhat unused) masks.
  • Lipstick and lip balms. I have too many, plain and simple. I also have every color and forumation I could possibly need so I just need to stop picking these up.
  • OTC Medications. Somehow we end up with multiple bottles of Ibuprofen, allergy medications, and Pepto. Usually while traveling or out and about, someone ends up with a headache or sniffles and we end up buying meds that come home with us. Goal: Make sure to pack medications in travel bag to prevent purchases. Thoroughly check medicine cabinet before buying any medications.
  • Tea. Another impulse travel purchase. Wherever I am in the world, I end up buying local tea. Yeah, the loose leaf stuff is great and compostable but how much tea do I really need?! So. No more until I’m through the majority of my stash.

What items could you stand to stop buying for the next few months?

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Simple Tip: Taking Care of Bar Soaps

Bar soaps are a holy grail product for low-wasters. You can often find them without any packaging and once they are used up, they’re done. No bottles or pumps or lids to recycle or trash. No waste. It’s awesome. However, these wonderful creations do require a little bit of care to get the most use out of them.

First up, soap dishes. My view: the best soap dish is one you already have. You don’t have one lying around? This is the perfect time to use unused jewelry dishes, a small fancy plate, empty candle jars, empty jam jars, Altoid tins… any jar/plate/trinket dish that is shallow and wide. I personally use an old candle jar + a trinket dish at home and a Lush tin + a random old gum tin when traveling.

But what’s more important than where you place your soap? It’s how you keep your soap dry when not in use… a constantly wet soap bar that doesn’t have time to dry out is a soap bar that becomes mushy and dies in a week. Enter the soap lift or soap saver (examples here and here). In addition, I use a sisal soap saver (like this one) for my body soap bar to help exfoliate my skin, keep my bar hung up and dry between use, and to corral small soap slivers together.

And, a final tip: if you get your hands on a large bar of soap, use a knife and cut the large bar in to smaller pieces. This way, you aren’t getting a massive bar of soap constantly wet (and, therefore, wasting a large amount of it).

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Spring Sprucing To Dos

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

William Shakespeare

Ah spring. The time for fresh starts and spring cleaning. Although I try and keep up with everything year round, I like to go extra hard in the spring in preparation for the brutal Texas summers. I want everything as streamlined, minimized, and light/airy as possible. So here’s my spring to do list (and hopefully you get some ideas as well)!

Purge

  • Expired or unneeded OTC medications, vitamins, and prescriptions. (You can safely dispose of these at certain Walgreens locations.)
  • Extra cords and chargers. (Drop these off at your local tech recycling.)
  • Unused hangers. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)
  • Ripped and worn out towels and blankets. (Drop these off at your local animal shelter.)
  • Decor items that went unused this past holiday season. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)

Clean + Reorganize

  • De-pile sweaters and winter wear before storage.
  • Wash winter bedding and blankets before storage.
  • Clean out receipts and other trash from purses and wallets.
  • Re-organize car kit and donate/give away to friends any excess reusable bags.
  • Clean out the fridge/freezer of any expired or unwanted food items. (Remember to recycle any glass, plastic, or aluminum packaging.)

Fun Stuff

Boring Stuff

  • Make sure all light bulbs in the home are LED — 4 years later, we realized that we never changed the incandescent light bulbs in our closet!
  • Swap out all water and air filters in the home.
  • Call pest control for a treatment before summer.
  • Touch up the walls and baseboards.
  • Install fans in bedrooms before summer.
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