Month 1 Mop-Up

So how did I do during my first month? Well, I haven’t quit, so in that sense, I was widly successful. On the other hand, I have gone through significant periods of time over the past few weeks questioning my judgement and asking myself, ‘Am I insane? I’m totally insane, aren’t I?’ as tucked leftovers, straws and paper napkins into my backpack, carted off my possessions to thrift stores, forced my housemates to endure my (failed) experimentation with homemade dish detergent, and rubbed coconut oil in my hair, turning it into a greasy catastrophe. Despite the bumps and hiccups, however, I am feeling optimistic and I have definitely made progress. Let’s check out my January goals:

  • I’m going to take the vow of not buying anything new unless I’m replacing something old. And nothing new unless I try Freecycle, Craigslist, or vintage/thrift stores first. No new clothing, jewelry, accessories. I have way too many of those already. So…the downside: I bought new things. These include: my beautiful Kleen Kanteen, my reusable bamboo utensil set, and new contact lens case that is plastic-free and aesthetically beautiful. I do want to pat myself on the back for trekking out to Roxborough to rescue some mason jars off of Craigslist, which was amazing and has helped me transition away from plastic Tupperware.
  • I’m undertaking the Minimalism Game with my minimalist meetup group. I’ll be getting rid of one (or several) thing(s) a day that correspond with the day of the month. Eek! I’m not sure which outdated term of excitement to use: BAM or BOOYA, but imagine me saying something along those lines with a great degree of smugness and self-satisfaction. I got rid of FOUR F’IN HUNDRED AND NINETY SIX THINGS, baby. Don’t even ask me about the crisis of self I went through during that process. And is it even possible: there’s still a lot more that I could part with. Just don’t touch my mason jars.
  • Sell all the clothing that I’m ready to part with to Buffalo Exchange or on ebay; donate the rest. Sooo…I still have to do a lot of this. Most of the things I decided to get rid of are sitting in a corner of my bedroom looking all sad and guilt-inducing and terrible. Gotta get those out of here.
  • Sign up for Bennett Compost again (pending roommate approval) I decided not to pay for a compost service and instead use the free outlets available to me. I’ve been keeping the compost in a freezer and once a week I taking it to its dirt-making destination.
  • Use up the remaining food items in my pantry and refrigerator, then brainstorm where I can buy the items I need in bulk/without packaging. There will probably be less Trader Joes and more Whole Foods, farmer’s markets and Reading Terminal Market in my future I used up a lot of the things in my pantry, but there are still quite a few things that it will take a while to get through, including vast quantities of protein powder, spirulina and tea. In my fridge, I have to figure out what to do with white miso, mayonnaise, maple syrup and relish. Any ideas?
  • Use up my remaining shampoo and try switching to “no poo” (double eek). Still haven’t quite finished up my old shampoo, but I think next month I’ll probably make the transition. I’m pretty nervous about making this change, particularly because I seem to have hit a good hair groove with the happy, natural, free trade shampoo that I was using, Alaffia. Maybe it would just be better not to mess with a good thing? I’ll always try something once, I guess, so here’s to having hair that smells like vinegar (at least for a little while.)
  • Use up my toothpaste and mouthwash and switch to tooth powder and oil pulling (maybe? the oil’s going in the trash, so that’s not ideal) I switched to tooth powder and am getting used to that. I used up my mouthwash, too! Haven’t tried out oil pulling. It’s definitely going to be a while before I finish this tooth powder, so I’m going to stick with that for a while and I can revisit making my own tooth powder when I get close to finishing what I have a few months down the line. I’m also having angst about floss, and about my nylon toothbrush heads. Do I ditch the floss and switch to oil pulling/miswak sticks/a water pik? Do I ditch my rechargable electronic toothbrush to a wooden/boar bristle brush now or once I use up the heads? I need to figure that out, but for now, I’m going to keep using the floss I have until I use it up and keep brushing with the same brush.
  • Palmolive/handwashing soap/laundry detergent: I’m pretty sure I’m finishing this imminently. I’m going to switch to soap nuts. I used soap nuts on my handwashing on the 19th and it turned out really well! I haven’t used the soap nuts with my regular laundry yet; I’m still working through the last of my Seventh Generation detergent. We’ll see how the soap nuts work when I make the switch over. If it doesn’t work, I am really happy with my Seventh Generation detergent, so I have something to fall back on if I need to.
  • Sell off: short bookcase I had multiple opportunities this month to sell both my tall and short bookcases from eager Craigslist buyers. Both times, I surprised myself by reacting very strongly and having juvenile moments of NO, MINE and not selling them. Perhaps the minimalism game already had me at wits end parting with other possessions of mine, but I just couldn’t do it. Selling off more of my furniture is going to go on hold for me.
  • Post on Craigslist/Freecycle: frisbees, plastic jug, phone charger, accessories cabinet All of these things got donated!
  • Document waste/recycling generated here! I haven’t documented my recycling, but I have been posting my waste totals weekly. I definitely look forward to Thursday nights because of it, so I’m going to keep doing this on a weeklyish basis.
  • reserve Monday nights for meditation Yeah, no. I did not go to meditation once this month.  I put too much on my plate with these different projects, I think, and something had to give. I’m disappointed that this was the thing that fell by the wayside, but I’ll be better in February.
  • only check personal email twice a day, Facebook once a day-disconnect these from my phone Nope. This didn’t happen either. That’s ok, though; this will be a nice goal for later on.

Coming months:

  • use up remaining boxes of tissues; switch to cloth hankies still a goal
  • finish tooth powder and switch to homemade tooth powder still a goal
  • once spring/summer hits, use up the zinc oxide sunscreen that I do have, and investigate slightly less aesthetically atrocious options still a goal
  • work on using up my vitamins/supplements and floss still a goal
  • identify and get rid of/reduce remaining plastic in my life I made pretty huge amounts of progress with this in January. I now have no food storage containers with plastic in/on/around them, having gotten rid of my glass Snapware and any other glass bottles with plastic tops. I’ve transferred my personal care products to all metal and glass containers, as well, and have started working on making my own (which is an ongoing process.)


Next month: less, but better (to quote Greg McKeown’s Essentialism).
-less trash
-less stuff
-less time and money spent on things that don’t matter


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