Well, we made it through the first week of the Minimalism Game. Even though I know it is supposed to get harder as the days progress, I feel like it is actually getting easier to find things to toss. Now everywhere I look I am seeing things we don’t need or use.
The hardest part has actually been figuring out how to get rid of all this stuff responsibly.
The worlds of minimalism and zero waste overlap in a lot of ways, but this process has made it tough for me to please both of these internal desires. Both care about the environment, but have different primary goals. Reducing what you own to a minimum and only buying what is absolutely necessary creates very little waste and purchasing everything waste-free often ends up being very minimal, out of necessity. BUT the process to get from where I currently am [or was] – a wasteful hoarder – to where I want to be – a waste-free minimalist – is creating a lot of trash.
The minimalist in me says “GET RID OF IT,” while the eco-friendly hippie in me chants “REUSE, REPURPOSE, RECYCLE.” [I imagine these two internal personas as little angels, one on each of my shoulders, shouting into my ears.] Every time I select something to get rid of, the hippie says “Maybe you could use that in some other creative way.” And then the minimalist says “You know you won’t use it, so just let it go.” And then the hippie says, “But you don’t want that to end up in a landfill, do you?” And the minimalist says, “You don’t want to carry that around with you for the rest of your life just so it doesn’t end up in a landfill, do you?”
Do you see my struggle?
So, what do I do?
Well, I’m trying to compromise. I have to get rid of the excess, AND I have to do it in the most responsible way that I possibly can. And that takes some time. Some stuff may end up in a landfill. I feel badly about it, but I can’t redeem every bad purchase or every superfluous possession. Something will inevitably have to go in the trash. But for everything that can be repurposed or given away or donated or recycled, that’s what I will do – even if it takes me a little longer. We are supposed to be getting rid of the stuff each night, but, honestly, that doesn’t feel responsible to me. I have to take the time to appropriately dispose of all this stuff. I have to do research to find out how and where and what to do with some of these things. I have to think about whether I should repurpose old t-shirts into dust rags or whether that would just be making more clutter. I have to ask friends and family members if they could put some of these things to good use. But some things I just have to let go.
Like, for instance, Brett’s senior picture proofs – all 75 of them.
These can’t be donated or recycled or even burned and even though I wouldn’t ordinarily want to get rid of old photos, I do not want to hang on to 75 photos of Brett’s 17-year-old self.
[We did read about a way to reuse old photos as game pieces by cutting the heads out and placing them in binder clips, which is hilarious and brilliant, but won’t help me reduce my clutter.]
So, into the trash they went. [And they take up quite a bit of space in our new small trash can.]
All except two, which I use as bookmarks now – partially because he is nicer on the eyes than the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon I had been using and partially because I like to laugh at his baggy clothes.
Anyway, here are the photos from this past week of the game.
On the plus side, the house is already looking better, and we’ve still got three weeks to go!