This is about how I got started and transitioned from reducing clutter to recycling and my journey toward a zero waste lifestyle. It's about choosing the level of consciousness you want to embody and taking action in that direction. It most definitely has been a process for me with setbacks and leaps forward. All I know is that I want to live my life as mindfully as possible and I want to do what I can to help Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants. I also want a stress free life with less clutter, less baggage, and more peace. I have found I am happier with less. It’s about being conscious of what I'm bringing into my home, into my life, and into my body.
Over the years I have begun to make a concerted effort to declutter my home so that I could have less waste, more open space, and be mindful of what I was bringing into my life. I have found that the more clutter we have the less organized and less aware we are of how wasteful we can be. My goal is to live my life mindful of what I’m doing. I didn’t do this all in one day and some of it has grown with the momentum of the change in lifestyle. I started over one summer vacation when I was off and had time to really delve deep. At first, it was overwhelming; but found that if I went room by room and did a little bit at a time, it became easier. I also found that having friends that I could share ideas with is fun, inspiring, and has brought us closer together. I have also found that online blog groups promoting this lifestyle are very useful. Sites like www.zerowastehome.com and Bea’s philosophy of the Zero Waste lifestyle: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot are very valuable.
I want you to know that the idea of getting rid of so many things caused a lot of anxiety within me. I have been a single mother for 19 years and live on a school teacher’s salary. Many things I had were hand me downs. I was fearful that once I got rid of something I wouldn’t be able to replace it. Once I let go of the fear and just went with it, I found I was able to purchase the important items I needed to replace but have been really mindful of what I bring into my home.
I went through the refrigerator, cupboards, and pantry and threw out any expired condiments, spices, canned, processed, and packaged foods along with anything that I realized I bought on impulse and knew wasn’t healthy for me or my family. I was shocked to see how many useless items took up valuable space! At that point, I was ready to go much further. Next, I cleaned out the junk drawers and got rid of all of the utensils that I didn’t use or had duplicates of. I looked at my pots and pans and cleaned out any that were scratched or worn out. I replaced them with a few quality eco-friendly PTFE free ones that I found discounted or secondhand. I looked at my dishes, cups, and mugs and kept the set that was in good shape and that I would use on a regular basis. I did a thorough cleaning of my refrigerator and cupboards and really looked at each item I was keeping to decide if I would use it, eat it, and need it often. I bless and honor my kitchen for it is a source of nourishment and love for my family and me. I affirm that I make healthy, nourishing meals that show love, gratitude and respect for our body.
Next, I looked at what I was bringing into my home. I began making lists of what I needed so that I could get all of the ingredients necessary to make healthy meals and wouldn’t forget anything. The lists reduced any impulse buys or duplicate purchases. Now, prior to making a purchase, I really look to see if we’re going to eat it, need it, or use it. I buy as much organic, free range, natural food as I can. It does cost more; but as a consumer, my money is going toward the things that I believe in. Our local grocery store is carrying more and more organic items as they see the public is yearning for them.
I went from buying bottled water to getting the gallon jugs and purchased BPA free cups with straws to take to work or use around the house and a sports bottle to use on the go in place of the water bottle. I went one step further by buying a Brita and refilling it with filtered tap water. I also use the BPA free mugs for coffee and tea and bring them with me to my local coffee shop. I bring my own cloth bags to the grocery store rather than using plastic bags. I would give up paper towels and use rags instead but I have pets and think its more sanitary, something to work towards though. Of course I recycle whatever I can. My next goal is to start to compost my kitchen scraps.
I went through the closets and drawers and got rid of any clothes and shoes that I no longer wore and hadn’t in the past year. Then I had two friends come over and I had a fashion show for them. One by one, I tried on the items I was struggling to rid of and with each showing, they gave me the thumbs up or down to help me determine which items needed to go. If an item was too small or large, didn’t fit nicely, had stains, pulls, or was simply outdated, it was put into a pile for donation. We had such a good laugh! I cannot tell you how many items I got rid of. Bags and bags full went to Goodwill and a garage sale. I made it a point to keep only the best clothing and shoes in my closet. I only kept what I would wear. Then I went through my drawers and got rid of the items that I’d thrown in, forgotten about, and never used. Once again, I only kept the things that were meaningful and purposeful. I did this for my son’s room as well. He had so many clothes he’d outgrown, toys and trinkets he no longer used and items that were broken.
I went through the drawers and medicine chest and discarded expired medication and old items that I never used. I threw out makeup that was over a year old. Now, I make sure to completely use up my shampoo, conditioner, and hair care products before bringing any new ones into the house. I went through lotions and toiletries and only kept the ones I found useful. Now I find that I would rather have a few high quality, organic and paraben free products than a ton of products with toxic ingredients. I got rid of towels and sheets that were stained, worn out, and never used. I purchased a nice set that I am proud to use and display.
I went through the house and into each room and discarded any knick-knacks and items that I didn’t find meaningful, anything that was chipped or didn’t go with my décor, or looked worn out. With less stuff to take up clutter there was less to dust and clean and it made the room look more open, airy, and organized. When we have only a few well-placed items it draws attention to their beauty. Resonance means looking at our belongings and keeping items that are really special to us or have a purpose. I went through old CD’s, DVD’s, and cassettes and got rid of any that I no longer watched or listened to. I loaded my iPod with the songs that I still loved. Then I went through all of the drawers and closets to eliminate anything that I didn’t need or use. Old and outdated documents were shredded or recycled. I have a real passion for books and owned tons. In order to continue to satisfy my love of reading a wealth of material, I participate in paperbackswap.com to trade books.
I feel really good about the lifestyle changes I’ve made and plan to continue on this journey. In order to maintain the zero waste changes I’ve implemented, I conduct a clean sweep of my home on a regular basis. I clear out things that build up and make new changes to benefit my zero waste lifestyle. A huge part of conscious living is embracing a mindful approach and being aware of what we consume, use, and purchase. By slowing down our busy lifestyle and really paying attention; we can make changes that benefit our lives, our bodies, and are also good for the Earth and our environment.
Show me how I can declutter my life. I find I have become wasteful and disorganized. I know this doesn’t serve either You or me. Please release me from my attachment to accumulating more things than I really need. I am ready to let go of all things that are taking up unnecessary space in my environment, in my thoughts, and in my heart. I want to clear out all things that no longer serve me or have a significant purpose. I want to serve Mother Earth by eliminating waste and being more conscious and aware. Thank you for guiding me in this process.
And so it is.