I don’t know if it’s the economy, the downsizing trend or just my obsessive compulsive personality, but lately we’ve been more into living with less than ever before.
From paring down our closets and cabinets for a soul-cleansing Goodwill run, to sorting our files and folders in an attempt to whittle down our paperwork, we’ve officially been bitten by the “it’s-a-new-year-so-lets-organize-the-whole-house-for-real-this-time” bug. But not only do we find ourselves striving for a clean house with everything in its place. Lately I’ve actually been craving less. Less to buy. Less to clean. Less to store. Less to use.
For example, here’s what we now see when we step into the shower:
We recently realized we both liked the same shampoo and conditioner (Burt’s Bees) so why not stop buying our own bottles and share? Purchasing a single bottle of each breaks the constant cycle of someone needing shampoo or conditioner every time we go to Target (or worse, someone thinking they do and realizing they don’t when we get home). And using the same body wash (Jason) allows us to pick up a jumbo sized bottle every once in a blue moon which saves us money, time spent replacing smaller bottles more often, and even cuts down on packaging waste. We also share a loofa, a bar of face soap, and a pumice stone (ok, the last item’s all me) so other than the razor (also all me) there’s nothing else cluttering up our shower or frequently appearing on our shopping list. Just the small decision to share shampoo, conditioner, body wash and a bar of soap has seriously cleaned up our act in the shower. But there are a few more places that we’ve opted for less. Update: we’ve since switched over to Avalon Organics shampoo & conditioner and Dr. Bronner’s body wash (which is even more natural) and we love it!
Thanks to a lot of our eco-related changes, pairing down in a few other areas has gotten downright automatic. Relying only on Seventh Generation laundry detergent (no bleach or fabric softener) makes shopping for laundry products few and far between (and makes storing a single bottle a breeze).
And now that I only use all natural eco-friendly and organic makeup, I find that I no longer amass a pile of new products in my makeup bag that I never use. Presto- no more impulsive purple eye shadow or bubble gum pink lip gloss purchases that seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve also permanently passed on painted fingernails (and painted toes most of the time) and must admit that I love the clean and never-chipped-and-in-need-of-a-touch-up look. Of course there are water based non-toxic formulas (like Honey Bee Gardens and Zoya) but something about completely eliminating that expense and the time it takes to maintain painted fingers & toes feels like more of a gift to myself than polished ones ever did. And I still keep ’em clipped and buffed for a polished appearance so I hardly feel like I’m “letting myself go.” Not that John would even notice if I was (love ya for that, honey!). And in the rare event that I do paint my toes, I use one of three vegan non-toxic polishes that I own (soft pink, deep red and punchy coral are all the colors I’ll ever need). No more spending money on the trendy hues or having to store dozens of bottles.
Here’s another example of the simplicity bug. Ladies (and gents?), I give you my makeup bag:
You’ll have to excuse my $5 fake Louis purchased in Chinatown over six years ago (can you believe the zipper still works?) but the point is that all the makeup that I own lives in this little bag. It’s not a travel bag, it’s my only bag (which makes it easy to pop into the suitcase when we do hit the road) and it only holds a handful of tried and true products that get me through the day and the occasional fancy schmancy event.
Here it is all emptied out:
Organic Wear bronze and blush (in recyclable paper containers) not only add a bit of color to my too-pale face, but the bronzer also doubles as shimmering tan eye shadow when applied with the little padded brush. Then I just curl the ol’ eyelashes, slick on some mascara and polish things off with a little brow gel and I’m good to go. I’ve never been great with anything like liquid liner or fake eyelashes, so for those of you who are, maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. But either way, my simplified makeup bag facilitates super speedy makeup application, which actually results in my looking more polished than ever before, thanks to a streamlined process that actually appeals to an on-the-go girl like me.
In short, I’ve never felt like less of a slave to beauty products. Or hair products and perfume for that matter. I’ve always been a wash and wear girl, so hairspray and pomade have never been my thing, but I’ve recently made the decision to forsake perfume as well (after years of somewhat religious use). All those chemical fragrances can be irritating and can actually contribute considerably to indoor air pollution, and I actually love the smell of my organic soaps and lotions so I hardly miss the alcohol-riddled scent of perfume hanging in the air before I leave the house. And now there are entire sections of magazines about makeup, perfume and polish that I can gloss over entirely. I can’t tell you how nice it is to not always want everything I read about.
By choosing to covet less (and only buy organic and all natural) it cuts way down on the products that can jump into my cart on a whim. And it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all, on the contrary, it feels like I’m gaining so much more. A healthier and more pure lifestyle, closet and cabinet space to spare, more moolah in my wallet, and extra time that I can spend doing things other than shopping and obsessing over every new product to hit the shelves.
It’s official. Life is good when it’s simple. And I’m dying to know what you guys do to make life easy and live with less. From sharing products and even making your own to forsaking certain things and purchasing specific items in bulk, we’d love to know what you guys are doing to clean out your closets (and your lives) for 2009! Dish the less is more dirt.
*Check out this great post over at decor8. There’s something in the air! Everyone’s getting back to basics.
**For an exhaustive list of our favorite certified organic/all natural/chemical-free products, check the comment section of this post for specific names of everything that we use and love.
I started last year purging all products that weren’t organic or all natural. I was a bit of a product lover, so at the end, I filled 5(!) Target bags, gave some to my sister and threw the waste away! It was a bit painful, but I didn’t see it as wasteful, I saw it as getting rid of the poisons. I, too now have just a small bag of chemical free makeup and it is very freeing. I save a ton of money by not buying every new thing or something I see on impulse.
I am still searching for just the right shampoo & conditioner, but I just ordered some and I hope I am done. But for the most part, I have found a replacement for every product I need. I also have decided to not buy perfume anymore. I am going to order a sampler of all natural perfume oils and see how that goes. I realize I don’t need to wear perfume everyday, but I would like to have these just for going out.
I’m working to simplify other areas of my life, but that is a bit harder with a husband, 3 kids and a dog, but I keep trying!
Erin Rose says
I buy natural fragrance oils from thesage.com (Sampler 7 deal is awesome!) and put a few drops in a spray bottle of water…. makes for lovely scents which my hub loves. I also use those oils in my homemade lotions, bath salts, etc. Helps the girly in me :)
I have definitely simplified my beauty routine over the years as well, and I love only have a handful of cosmetics to use every day. I’m also trying to switch over to organic and toxic-free cosmetics, soaps, etc. I know you mentioned Burt’s Bees and Jason products, but I was wondering if you could share what specific shampoos, soaps, scents, etc., that you guys like. Also, where do you find your organic cosmetics? Like I said, I want to try these new products, but I would love specific recommendations, as there are so many choices out there! As always, thanks for sharing all the great tips!
Here’s our attempt to supply Mary (and anyone else who’s interested) with an exhaustive list of our favorite certified organic/all natural/chemical-free products. We’ve experimented with our fair share, so here are our tried & true favorites:
Shampoo: Avalon Organics Peppermint Shampoo (from Target, CVS, Kroger, Whole Foods)
Conditioner: Avalon Organics Peppermint Conditioner (from Target, CVS, Kroger, Whole Foods)
Body Wash: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Shakakai Soap (from Target, Kroger, Whole Foods)
Bar Soap: Dr. Bronner’s All One Bar Soap (from Target, Kroger, Whole Foods)
Liquid Soap: Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap in Almond (from Target, CVS, Kroger, Whole Foods)
Bronzer: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Bronzer (the case doesn’t say the color but I get the darkest kind for some extra color since it’s pretty light when it goes on) (Target, CVS)
Blush: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Blush (the case doesn’t say the color but I get the darkest kind for some extra color since it’s also pretty light when it goes on) (Target, CVS)
Mascara: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Mascara in black (Target, CVS, perhaps Whole Foods- this is very new so it might be on the way in your area)
Sunscreen: Bullfrog Sunscreen SPF 30 (Target, CVS)
Body Lotion: Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Coconut Organic Lotion (Target, Whole Foods)
Nightly Face Cream (for me, J’s not a face cream kind of guy): Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Facial Cream- love this stuff (Target, Whole Foods)
Shower Cleaner: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Shower Cleaner in Lemon Verbena (Target, Kroger, Ukrops)
Dish Detergent: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Automatic Dishwasher Powder- we found this worked better than their liquid formulas (Kroger, Whole Foods)
Laundry Detergent: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Laundry Detergent made for high efficiency washers like ours (Kroger, Whole Foods)
All Purpose Cleaner (for counters, floors, etc): Mrs. Meyers Clean Day in Lemon Verbena (Target, Kroger, Ukrops)
Hope it helps! And now for a few more answers:
Yes, we did purge our closets (we actually donate items year round when we find we no longer wear ’em). The best way to do this is to be brutally honest with yourself about what you look good in, like wearing, and then just eliminate anything that makes you feel self conscious along with anything that just isn’t your style (yes it’s cheesy but I often ask myself “what would Angelina do” and keep the sleek, sophisticated stuff that fits my taste – I love how she dresses- while the too-tight/too-loose/too frumpy stuff gets chucked triumphantly). I’ve always had a pared down closet and I like it that way. I’ve found that it offers tons more failsafe outfits to choose from than a big overstuffed, unedited one does. I currently have four pair of jeans, one pair of black pants, two dresses, four skirts and 18 shirts/tops/blazers. That’s it. And I’m good.
Yes, we do have a food co-op near us and we’re actually looking into using them this year- should be interesting and we’ll keep you guys posted!
Yes, we do eat almost 100% organic produce- we made the switch late last year and never looked back. The farmer’s market is a great resource and we also appreciate mainstream grocery stores like Kroger that have expanded their organic section. It only costs about 20-50 cents more to upgrade to organic produce, and we hardly notice the difference in our bill but we definitely taste the difference. Plus we feel great about picking food that lived a good life if ya know what I mean.
Whew! That about does it. We’re loving all of your ideas and suggestions so keep ’em coming!
I have been switching my household products to “green” products, like the Arm and Hammer multi-surface spray that comes in concentrated refills to reduce waste. I have not gotten to the part about purging the rest yet though. I had not even thought about organic makeup. I love the idea of purging all of that stuff, as I think about the cabinet full of makeup and perfume that I never use…
I have definitely shifted my focus to this over the last few months. I’m in the middle of a borderline-obsessive organization spurt. I just want, once and for all, things simplified, pared down, and in order. Just last night, I filled three boxes with clothes and shoes to take to Goodwill. I was actually a little embarassed that even with all of that removed from my closets, I still had a decent selection of clothes. Why the heck did I have all that extra, unnecessary stuff?
I’ve also started paring down what I have in the house and have Craigslisted and e-bayed items worth selling and donated others. I’ve learned to not be so attached to items (for example, just because my grandma gave it to me–a framed calligraphy of the meaning of my name that has been hidden in one closet or another since she gave it to me in 1992 does me no good)! I still hold on to family items that matter: my great-grandfather’s office chair, grandpa’s fraternity pin, etc. It’s been very liberating to shift my thinking and not be weighed down by many unnecessary and unused items.
First things first… I just have to know why your bar of soap is wrapped. tee hee! Is it just coincidentally a new bar, or did you actually wrap it for the shot, or do you keep it wrapped most of the time since you have the liquid version nearby (which would negate the reason for having it)?
Inquiring minds want to know! = )
Good eye! That built-in soap tray looked silly without anything on it, so we placed one of those fancy soaps sealed with a gold sticker from a specialty shop (sticker side down) on the little shelf to fill the void. And because we also have a liquid soap dispenser, in about the year that it has lived on that shelf it’s never been unwrapped. Only time will tell if some brave guest will crack that baby open (which we certainly wouldn’t mind), but we also don’t mind that it’s gone unused- it has sort of become a decorative object that completes an otherwise oddly bare feature in our 50-year-old bathroom.
I recently cleaned out my closet (again!). I realized that if I haven’t worn some of my clothes since I’ve been married (all of 6 months now), I probably don’t need it. Now my closet is much less cramped and much more manageable in the morning. I’ve also jumped on the “less is more” bandwagon in the shower. My husband & I share shampoos. He likes bar soap while I prefer liquid, but I don’t have 10 different shower gels in cluttering up my bathroom anymore. It’s such a nice feeling to be able to easily choose the things you need without having to go through a search and rescue process!
This is probably really old news, but have you heard Unclutterer? I just found it, but it’s all about organization and simplifying.
Wow Sherry — I’m impressed! I have an entire drawer full of make-up. I try to purge regularly (beauty products get pretty nasty as they age), but I guess I’m just a girl who’s gotta have her options (even if I tend to use the same small group of products 90% of the time).
Easy for you Sherry – you’re already naturally gorgeous! Others like myself need these beauty products to look fit to leave the house! ;)
I must know what mascara you use:)
I have always been a fan of using ONLY detergent. Forget the bleach and fabric softener. I find them irritating anyway.
I am going to make the commitment to get rid of all the makeup I don’t use. I have a huge cabinet FULL of makeup that I barely touch.
When my husband and I registered for our wedding, we were very picky and only registered for things we would use on a regular basis. No fine china (we can get that when we have more space and are hosting holidays or inherit my mom’s), no bread machine, no useless kitchen appliances. We opted for a MINI cuisinart, and other minis. It is very refreshing to know that I don’t miss the fine china or the bread machine or the other stuff everyone kept insisting I register for!
My beauty routine is paired down a lot these days. I also am buying less “products” too. I just find one thing, use it all then and only then do I buy another. I girl can have way to many products but not use any of them. Silly. And it saves money. I too always plan January as my clean it all out month, and I have to force my husband to do the same. Like you I have OCD tendencies. Keep it simple applies to everything in my life anymore. It is a work in progress but worth it.
Encouraging post–thanks for sharing!
I don’t know if you have a food co-op near you, but I am able to re-fill ALL our liquid (laundry, dishwashing, body, etc) soaps and moisturizers at the co-op. I can also buy almost all our food in bulk, just bring the glass containers we store food in, then I don’t even need the plastic bags in the bulk section.
this is one of my favorite posts! very inspiring! what type of hand soap do you all use? do you eat all organic as well? this switch seems big, but definitely doable! also, when i check out organic items at target, they seem more expensive. is this true? are the products worth the extra money? can you tell a difference? thanks!
p.s. did you also simplify your closet? how do you decide which items are necessary and which aren’t?
we’re going through the exact same “simplifying” process too. is it january/the new year that brings about this behavior? a huge run to the recycling center, salvation army, and some items tagged as “craigslist items” have already made our house feel a lot lighter on clutter. simplifying the bath products, cleaning products, & laundry products also surprised us with what a big difference it makes and we’ve been slowly doing that for months now.
something else that i’ve been trying to force myself to do: instead of running out to the grocery store immediately after some of your favorite ingredients are gone, use that opportunity to be creative with some of the items you’ve let get lost in the back of the pantry. if you bought them in the first place, they’re probably still ingredients you like (as long as they haven’t expired!). then make that grocery story run when things get really bare.
Just a quick question – where did you get that shelf/hook thing that you store your shampoo on in the shower? I have the same bar set up in my shower and could really use one of those!
Another thing I do is to really (and I mean *really*) consider whether or not I need an item before buying it, and the BF said last night that he has started doing the same–which is major progress for him. I loooove going through Target, Home Goods, Crate and Barrel, but I’ve become more at ease with just looking and then being creative with how I can create something similar with items/supplies I already have.
Jen, excellent idea for the groceries! Very rarely does a shopping trip for one or two items result in bringing home just…one or two items. Better to stay away until the regular shopping trip.
Love all your ideas! I am similar to you in I’m a wash n go kind of girl, so my makeup it pretty simple, just the basics. A couple other simplifying ideas I do is buy my laundry detergent from Costco. They have a natural eco-friendly Kirkland brand with essential lavender oil that smells great & comes in a huge bottle & very inexpensive. They also have a ‘free & clear’ version without the lavender. Another thing is I’ve started to unsubscribe myself to magazines and email newsletters. I can’t want what I don’t know about, so that major sale at the Gap that I would normally get an email about, I’m happily uninformed, more $ in my pocket! Also I buy a huge bottle of white vinegar for like 3 bucks at Costco & mix it with water for cleaning my floors, counters, tub, etc. Also I’ve cut down on a lot of my paper products in the kitchen. No more paper plates for us, we use our pretty glass ones all the time. One less thing to add to the grocery list! We’re on the same boat as you guys when it comes to organic, natural foods too. We barely have anything in our pantry, since the pantry is the place where food has a long shelf life – *most* of those foods are processed & not to mention more expensive. So aside from the usual dry pasta, canned tuna, we’re pretty empty. Also I’ve been buying dried beans & legumes in bulk instead of canned. It is SO much cheaper & doesn’t contain all the salt that even natural canned products would. I am soaking some pinto beans right now actually to make some refried beans for dinner tomorrow! Thanks for the great ideas! Loving your blog!
Quick answer to Jami’s questions: it’s a little contraption we put together to solve the otherwise useless bar. It’s just a normal shower caddy from Target that we hung using two closet hooks (can’t remember where we bought those – Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, maybe? Found them here on Amazon for now). It’s worked wonders and even though the hooks weren’t meant for the shower, we haven’t had any issues with them corroding in the year or so we’ve used them. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the info! That does help. The bar IS useless – what were they thinking?!?
I’ve got myself a weekend project now… ;)
Live a Colorful Life says
I loved this post also, and the many fabulous comments. Several years ago, my husband and I heard a speaker talking about determining when “enough is enough”–enough stuff, enough money,etc., and it really changed our whole outlook on life. We have simplified, feel no need to “keep up” with anyone else, which only makes you feel inadequate anyway and actually is very stressful. So that, in combination with my also slightly OCD tendencies to constantly go through my house and get rid of even MORE “stuff,” is really helping to simplify our life and also clarifies what really is most important–which is NOT “stuff.”
I forgot to mention that I am making a huge effort to get rid of all books that I don’t absolutely love. It seems bad for my chi to keep a book around that I didn’t enjoy. I donate to libraries, used bookstores, and most recently http://www.bookmooch.com
One of my favorite seasonal closet organizational habits is to have a “fashion show”. Before storing things at the end of winter or summer, I have my sister, who is a fashionista and not afraid to be blunt and honest, be my audience. (I’ll have my husband help in a pinch, but he gets tired of the process before the clothes run out!) I literally try on every piece of clothing in my closet. She tells me whether it’s too frumpy, too “last year’s trend”, ill-fitting, too worn, too tight, too big, whether I’ve worn it this season, what I would wear it with, etc. I find it’s way too easy to say, “Oh, it looks fine” without having the second opinion. AND, it also helps me think about how to mix up the usual pairings for something new and fresh. I usually end up giving a big garbage bag of clothes to Goodwill, don’t end up storing stuff I know I won’t wear, and feel so good to have purged stuff that just doesn’t work!
I’ve started reducing impulse product buys and purging stuff I’ve had in drawers too long…it’s certainly a process!
Thanks for the great post and all of the wonderful comments! AHHH I love organizing!
I just thought of another idea that I’ve just begun to do. I’ve taken advantage of the library! You’d be amazed at what the library contains, magazines, cookbooks, decor books, it’s endless! But my favorite lately is the wide variety of dvds! They have everything from all the seasons of The Office, to all the greatest new releases. Many of them are not available right away, so I search online for the movies I want, place a hold on them & in a matter of days (sometimes weeks), my dvd is ready for pick up! No more wasting $ at the rental store, it’s totally FREE! Also I see no need in actually buying movies, or seasons of shows anymore, since I can watch them whenever I want for free, thanks to the library. Without a huge movie collection, the house is even more clutter free, less stuff! I really recommend checking out the dvd library at your local library!
SoBella Creations says
I have started purging a lot of my stuff. AMVET came by this morning and picked up a bag and box full of stuff. It feels nice to unload stuff no longer wanted or needed.
I just discovered your blog and I love it and your house! It makes me want to redo all the colors in my house and redo pretty much everything else too!
Anyway, I had a question about your shower curtain. I recently ditched the plastic in favor of a chemical free, cotton one (great deal from overstock.com btw, I think it was $22 and it came in a lovely natural shade with spa look and the waffle texture). BUT it gets horribly wet when we shower! And it spends much of the day damp. I can’t help but think that is going to lead to mildew or worse. I am careful to tuck it out to dry and wring it out after showers but is there anything else I should be doing? Getting a plastic liner for it kind of defeats the purpose of having a cotton shower curtain, if you know what I mean. Would love to know what you think.
Love all your suggestions–keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more.
We actually picked up a fabric shower curtain liner (from Amazon) to keep our extra long cotton shower curtain dry as a bone. I actually think it’s made of polyester, which isn’t as fabulous as cotton, but it dries super fast and keeps our cotton curtain from getting wet so it’s definitely a necessity for us. Plus it’s a lot better than those terrible stinky vinyl shower curtains, and we can actually toss it in the wash every once in a blue moon to truly get it clean since it’s made of fabric and not plastic. Hope it helps! Try searching for a “fabric shower liner” and see what you can dig up. Happy hunting…
Great post! We simplify our lives by using the same shampoo and conditioner, using fragrance free laundry detergent, and trying not to spend money where it isn’t needed. For me, I keep it simple with makeup as well and during the cooler months I don’t paint my fingers or toes also. And we are currently doing the ‘eat what’s in the cabinet’ b/f another trip to the grocery store. As for cleaning products, I am trying to finish using what we have before switching to the organic cleaners; almost there!
Oh, and we also have a useless bar in our shower and looked forever for a shower caddy. We found this one at The Container Store. It can be hooked on the bar or on the shower head.
Very inspiring. I too like to keep things simple (makeup, cleansers, food), but this post and all the helpful comments makes me realize that there is more that I can do. I love the idea of editing our book and DVD collection. Some are keepers, of course, but some of our “trash” may be someone else’s treasure. (Really, why do I own St. Elmo’s Fire? I think it’s time for someone else to enjoy it.)
A post close to my heart! Thank you!
Depending on how nutty you want to be, here’s a great site to look up every product you put on your skin/face for potential hazards. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/index.php?nothanks=1
I always try to choose a product that’s lower (healthier) on the list. Also, my favorite tip is: a cup of simple vinegar as your fabric softener. No fragrance left behind, eliminates static, no nasty chemicals.
We too like to peruse the cosmetics database for product information (who knew things that we perceive to be so pure, like Neutrogena and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo could be so toxic!). The only issue we have with their info is that it rarely seems updated (so it’s often hard to search for new eco products like my talc free bronzer and blush by Organic Wear and a lot of the other new products that have hit the shelves)!
But it’s certainly a fabulous resource for people to get a general idea of what’s full of dangerous substances (who knew eye shadow could be so bad!) and which products are a bit lower in toxicity (hooray for fragrance free stuff!). Thanks so much for the reminder!
My husband and I purchased a foreclosed house about a year ago. We were spending so much time and energy on the house (and school) that we decided against getting cable tv. We have found this to be a fantastic way to simplify our lives. We have been so busy working on the house that we didn’t have the time to waste watching TV, plus we get to pocket the extra money each month!
We signed up for Netflix and enjoy two movie nights a week. This gives us extra time to spend together during the evenings; not in front of the TV. It is an easy way for us to manage our time, squeeze alone time in and not waste hours watching television. I highly recommend it! It’s super romantic and simplified at the same time.
Love your blog! I have so many helpful things bookmarked, for our future home.
I just wanted to throw this out there: our bathroom is identical to yours (except ours is a horrendous peach color, tile and wall color, not sure what our landlord was thinking…) but since we have liquid soap, we have placed a rectangle glass candle holder/candle in our soap dish.
Just another idea for that no longer useful dish!
Your past posts about this subject have been one of our main motivators to use and own less! I would love to cut down on my makeup. We now only use just Seventh Generation detergent, and we also use their dishwashing liquid. I make our own all-purpose cleaner with water, white vinegar, and a little borax. It works great on windows and counters, and now with a little puppy in the house, I really like that he won’t be harmed by licking anything. I am trying to make a carpet cleaner as well, but haven’t been too successful, so I use the organic Off! carpet spray, in the pet section at Walmart.
We carry reusable cloth bags religiously – after certain stores had the challenge to carry reusable bags around the holidays, we realized it didn’t make sense to not carry them for non-grocery purchases. It has really cut down on the mass of plastic bags under the sink.
Another way we use/buy less is we plan out every dinner for the week before we go grocery shopping. We go grocery shopping once a week, though we are trying for once every two weeks. I work late so I try to make freezer meals on the weekends that my husband can defrost and put in the oven while I’m on my way home. By planning our meals, we don’t buy extras that will go to waste and we can double-check our pantry before we buy more.
Keep up all the good ideas!!
To live with less and keep the bathroom clean and clutter-free we buy all soaps and shampoos in bulk at our local health food store. This way they get stored in reuseable blank containers which looks very clean and uniform. We’re also cutting way down on waste now that we reuse the same bottles. We made the transition when Clorox bought out Burt’s Bees. I was a huge BB fan but I just couldn’t continue to buy something from a company that tests on animals.
I have a small basket of my regular everyday makeup, and a small box in the hall closet with “extras” in it – extra mascara, powder, chapstick, contacts, toothpaste that kind of thing. I HATE forgetting to buy powder or toothpaste and then running out so I always keep an additional just in case. I have not painted my fingernails in years (though I give myself regular pedicures, I love red toenails) and it is so freeing to just file and buff and have beautiful natural hands.
I am trying to simplify my sewing/craft room and finding a lot of junk that for some reason I have been hanging onto, and I agree – it sure does feel good to let go of it. It is helping that I have to downsize my sewing room to share space with our guest bedroom, because my sewing room is going to become our new baby’s nursery in a couple of months. The problem is I have a slight obsession with fabric and have TONS of it. DH keeps telling me I can keep storing my fabrics in the nursery for a while… but I don’t even want to go there. Enabler!!
I love to organize and purge of things I don’t use anymore. However, the thing that has recently helped us simplify our life it to start budgeting (after taking a Dave Ramsey course in the fall). We no longer use credit cards, and our spending dropped dramatically! I now use a set amount of cash to buy groceries which prevents me from buying extra food we won’t even eat.
Another thought, I have sometimes use lavender essential oil in place of perfume. Just a little dot behind each ear and on each wrist is enough for me. Lavender EO is one of the very few EOs that can be used “neat” (straight on the skin). One of my mother’s friends also was allergic to perfume and used (pure, not imitation) vanilla extract in the same way.
We recently moved interstate and had a HUGE clean out before we packed everything up. You wouldn’t believe the piles and piles of stuff we threw out, gave away, donated to charity, and sold on Ebay! And it felt SO liberating. I think we still have too much stuff, but we’re definitely living with less than we did before, and it’s GREAT :)
Also, I love the simplified make-up bag. I’m definitely going to start looking into downsizing and investing in just a few high quality products to use regularly, rather than having a huge box full of things I use once in a blue moon!
This is an interesting article about legislation Dr. Bronner’s has against other so-called “organic” companies such as Jason and Kiss my face…a good read.
The web site that Evan mentioned sounds super helpful, there is also http://www.caringconsumer.com that focuses on which products test on animals. I like to keep both toxins and fuzzy creatures in mind. I didn’t know that Bert’s was bought out by Clorox, sad times :(
Cecily T says
Just a quick question here for Sherry: Is that the Physician’s Formula organic line there? I tried the mineral foundation and I absolutely hated it b/c it had such a funky smell. It said it had olive oil in it, and it smelled like it had turned; I actually could smell it on my face the entire day.
Other than that, we are working towards this as well…although I’m too frugal to dump stuff, I’m just using up what’s left and then I’ll start buying organic. I mostly have body wash and some moisturizer; all my hair stuff is organic now, as well as my laundry stuff.
Hey Cecily T,
It is in fact the Physician’s Formula Organic Wear line, but it’s just the blush and the bronzer- both of which have no smell at all. They’re talc free so they’re a lot healthier than other stuff, so it’s the perfect choice for a pale girl like me. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with the foundation! Definitely take the blush and the bronzer for a spin, but pick up the darkest colors of both that they offer (they’re extremely subtle and the light ones are borderline invisible so go for the ones with deeper tones). Hope it helps! Happy hunting…
Hey Keatra and Bee,
Thanks so much for those thought provoking links! The Dr. Bronner’s one really blew us away, and of course it’s always smart to think about the fuzzy creatures. Also didn’t know that Burt’s Bees was purchased by Clorox. Craziness! Thanks again for all the info you guys bring to the table.
You can get organically grown hemp shower curtains from Amazon and from Rawganique. I have three in my house and am very happy. Also, a great organic hair care line that is available at the stores Sherry listed is Giovanni. I’ve been using for almost five years and love it. Burt’s Bees is still run the same way (supposedly) and with the same formulations as before the buyout. I’ve continued my use of their products because I love them and because Clorox should be encouraged to continue in this line, not punished. And the buyout by Clorox made those products more available in more stores, so that’s better for us.
Thanks for the purging tips, guys — very helpful! The one comment I have to make though, is that if you don’t want to give up perfume want to support a really awesome organic / all-natural company that DOES make awesome fragrances, Indigo Wild is the way to go.
Though I’m now in Brooklyn, I grew up in Kansas City where these guys are headquartered and they are awesome. They have a pet-friendly warehouse (except for testing, of course), all-natural products, and some totally delish scents. I just bought myself a roll-on vial of their Frankincense and Myrrh scent — it’s not my normal preference, but it is just so sexy and I get tons of compliments on it. You can find their goat’s milk soaps at Whole Foods, but when you order through their website they send you a bunch of cute free gifts like soap slivers and lip balm. :)
[email protected] says
I have been thinking about this a lot lately and feel like it is time for a change. You have inspired me to go clear out my makeup drawers.
One thing I noticed was that you’re using body wash, bar soap and liquid soap. I see no reason to buy body wash and bar soap. I stopped buying bar soap a long time ago. It gunks up the soap dish and makes a mess. My husband and I both use California Baby Shampoo & Body wash. This product has replaced shampoo/conditioner/soap/bodywash all in one. It’s safe enough for babies. I buy it online and stock up with one purchase every six months. No more soap,shampoo, conditioner, etc. etc. etc. One bottle in our shower. That’s it. I use the same thing on the bathroom counter in a glass container to wash hands. I think if you find a good shampoo you don’t need a conditioner. Conditioner’s are needed when your shampoo strips your hair.
Bravo for getting down to one bottle. We’ll definitely have to look into that California Baby Shampoo! As for bar soap, we don’t use it near the sink (and agree that it gets super gunked up and gross for hand washing) but I do use it in the shower (I use it to scrub my face) while the body wash is mostly John’s thing but I also occasionally use it on the ol’ bod too. And the liquid soap lives near the sink in both of our bathrooms for hand washing (we could never give up our Dr. Bronner’s but we doubt it would work as a shampoo & conditioner too- boo!). But we definitely can brainstorm about paring down even more somehow. The simpler, the better we always say. And where there’s a will there’s a way. Thanks for the inspiration!
Oh and Cari, scroll up to see a big list of my favorite products listed above (including my favorite face cream and bar soap). Thanks for the sweet skin complement!
This is a great post! I am moving soon and it will be the perfect time to purge all of the useless stuff that’s just taking over my space as well as doing away with items that just aren’t good for me. I’m curious as to what Sherry washes her face with? You have great skin! Thanks!
Every time I visit this blog I find posts about exactly what I am doing! I started simplifying last year when I moved, because who wants to carry all those boxes up the stairs. Plus it was a great chance to get rid and start new.
I’ve also been searching for a lot of natural products lately, from cleaning products to body care, it’s easy when you start to look. I won’t throw out the old ones, but buy natural when they old ones are done.
I love to purge and fill a box for donating about once every 2 weeks. The satisfaction of letting go, cleaning out, getting rid, and simplifying is addictive and feels good! I’m glad to see so many people like me out there who are conscious about the earth, their health and environment overall. I think the rule is – if it doesn’t have a purpose, get rid of it!
Bungalow, Samantha, Live a Colorful Life – I’m with you. Leila – I do the fashion show too! Nichole – thanks for the tips on Giovanni, I have been looking at that one and am glad to know it is good.
Sherry, Haven’t met you yet, but I love chatting w. John at the Y. I must admit, I had cut out many of those things a while back, more trying to save money than the environment… now I’m more environmentally conscious. But since I’ve had kids, I’m also more ME conscious… I love the way painted nails, purfume, and a few too many cosmetics in my bag make me feel! I’ll never give them up! Good for you for being content to manage well with less though! Kudos!
Live a Colorful Life says
Sherry, I love the idea of paring my wardrobe down to the items you have. So you’re basically saying your cloest looks like the ones you see in magazines after a closet makeover–a few items in the closet with space between the hangers? I always thought that looked impossible…but maybe not!