Two years ago, two of my favorite BTV people suggested that a bunch of us band together to support each other in an initiative (The Compact) that would help us all to reduce crazy consumption, cut clutter and waste and simplify our surroundings. It sounded really hard, but Jon and I were game. No, we could not commit to making our own laundry soap but, yes, we'd try really hard to not buy any new "things" for a year. With some exceptions. The effort was somewhat successful. (You can read about it here).
Fast forward almost exactly two years to a couple of weeks ago when I started feeling super overwhelmed by "stuff." There were 9 kinds of snack crackers in my cabinet. The shelves in our basement and guest room were (and still are) stacked full of packed brown boxes never opened after our move. Which occurred 10 months ago. My closet and drawers contain loads of clothes I don't necessarily like anymore, jackets that I don't wear because they have missing buttons and ripped pockets, underwear from 2001 and two pairs of jeans that will never again fit unless I stop eating carbs, start nursing an 8-month old baby or begin running a half marathon each day. And I plan on doing none of these things. Our kitchen is overrun with potatoes from our CSA because we can't keep up. Because we keep going to the store to get the ingredients for recipes that "sound good."
I wanted all of that extraneous stuff to go away. I craved The Compact. Or, at least, a Compact Lite. I* am planning to start again on March 1. I'm still nailing down the details—including "am I in for a whole year? 3 months? 6?"—but, so far, here are some of the things on my list of to-do's for March:
- Start meal planning with food we get in our CSA; supplement with grains and, a couple of times a week, fish (sustainably sourced) and/or meat (local or organic). Buy in bulk. Slow-cook beans instead of buying cans.
- Clean out drawers and closets: donate, repair, swap. (Don't buy anything new—at least for myself—for defined period.)
- Ditch crappy old cosmetics, toxic cleaning products, paints, etc. (disposing of them properly, of course). Use more natural cleaning products, making them whenever possible.
- Stop buying convenience items like counter wipes, face cloths, etc.
- Establish plans for a 2014 garden.
- Switch from a credit card that encourages unnecessary spending on "things" to one that provides kickbacks that can be used toward experiences.
Tonight, we started planning what meals we'd make from tomorrow's CSA pickup, and Jon made carrot/parsnip soup and roasted beets from previous Pete's Greens bounties. Our shopping list for the week is quite small.
How do you simplify?
*Jon, who has far less trouble with accumulating "stuff" than I do, is supporting but not necessarily fully participating in this effort.