We live in a world full of marketing, brands, advertisements, and the next best thing. Growing up, everybody envies the person driving the Mercedes, the 9th grader who is wearing a Hollister jacket, that girl with the $300 Ugg boots, or the college student with the lofted apartment in downtown Boston that is right in the center of nightlife. But when you finally get the chance to look at all of the items you have collected throughout college and kept in a tub ever since middle school, is it really worth all of the trouble? You come across all of these items cleaning and say, “No, I have to keep this. I’ll use it someday.” Is your closet overflowing wall to wall with clothing? Are you unable to see to the back of your fridge? Do you spend hours a day texting or using social media? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there is probably too much going on in your life. Although many may not realize it, having this “clutter” tends to take away from the simple things in your life, from being more creative, and enjoying spontaneity. Admittedly, I answered yes to all of these questions recently when I moved into my new apartment. I’ve started to take steps to fix this, eliminate the excess, and live lighter, and you can do the same. Although this is something I am working on day-by-day and week-by-week, the process is slowly bringing more clarity to my everyday life and allowing me to learn. Clearing this clutter allows me to realize how much of my hard earned money has been spent on items that brought me short term enjoyment, when in reality, this could go so much farther through experiences that don’t involve that shirt I wore once and will never touch again. And you can do the same.
Take EVERYTHING out of your closet; put it all on your bed, floor, whatever is closest. Now hang everything in a similar pattern: have all of your shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, blazers, pants, suits, ties, etc. Face them all in the same direction. For example, I have the fronts of all my clothing facing the right of the closet. After I wear and wash a piece of clothing, I put it back with the front facing the left. This is how I keep track of what I am and am not wearing. On October 1st (I started this at the beginning of September) I will go into my closet, take out everything still facing to the right and get rid of it. Goodwill is a good option, they take everything and sort through the junk. If you have younger siblings, or friends similar in size, hand it over to them. Also look into second-hand stores that you can potentially sell to.
The reason I do this? Simple. If I can specify a time period that I think is reasonable to show myself what I use in my life, it would be one month. So at the end of a single month, I may have 75% of my clothing that I never even touched for an entire 30-day period. “But I will definitely wear that come winter. Or that’s my favorite shirt, so I can’t just get rid of it.” The same thoughts have gone through my head, and they’re a simple way to deny getting rid of something that you think is important, yet really is not. If I can live without something for thirty days, three thoughts go through my head:
- Could somebody else be using this that may need it on a daily basis to get through life or survive?
- Is this something that could fund an experience of travel, fine dining, or a hobby of mine that I would be better off with?
- Why the hell would I pay to move this somewhere later in my life when I don’t ever touch it?
These questions always bring to light that I need to separate myself with certain things that may not be of importance.
Don’t do your laundry. Everything you pull from drawers, after being worn, goes in the laundry basket (bin, bag, or whatever you call it). Don’t do laundry until you look in drawers and say, “$#!+, I don’t have anything to wear”. This might be a week for some, two weeks for me, or a month for the serious hoarders. BUT, before you do the laundry scoop those clothes out of the drawers, put them in a bag and repeat what you did for the closet. Goodwill, siblings, Plato’s Closet, or even re-purpose some old t-shirts into cleaning rags. Everybody has their favorite clothing that they wear on a weekly or monthly basis; but when you consciously decide to do laundry instead of wearing something in the drawer, maybe you don’t need what’s in the drawer. Right?
This might be the hardest one, because nobody wants to say bye to food. Before you go on your next trip to the grocery store, clean out your fridge. Throw away anything you can’t remember buying, now organize the rest. When you do go shopping, put your fridge in a FIFO setup. First In, First Out. That means put the new stuff you just bought behind the old stuff that you already had in the fridge; this way the first items you bought will be the first that you use. Now that your fridge is organized and you only have what you need, keep track of it. Put a list on your fridge and write down what you’re using, cooking, and drinking. Not only will this narrow down your shopping list, but it will save you time and money! This is something I HAD to do, and wish I had done sooner. I eat a lot, and apparently I waste a lot too. I was throwing away vegetables, meat I forgot about, and fruit was that was hidden behind condiments. Since starting this, I’ve spent, on average $40 less with each trip to the grocery store.
This exercise can be applied in a variety of other ways. Cutting down on kitchen appliances in your cabinets, cleaning supplies in the cupboards, the list goes on. Try it, love it, tell your friends.
Live light, everyone.
DL & JC