The Idea of Living with Less

I know, after this particular post, anyone would laugh when I throw them the idea of me going on a living with less journey. To my defense though, they are all quality bags that I will cherish for years and years to come. They are also have been through a few steps of consideration and logical thinking :-)

Actually, the idea of living with less have been intriguing me for the past 1.5 years. I made this post on August 2010 to help me with my purchase decision making process. So have I been living with less since then? Well, let’s just say that some days are better than others, of course. There were times when I didn’t buy anything for a whole month but there were also days when I totally forgot the idea and shopped like my life depended on it. I need to be more consistent.

This living with less concept popped up in my mind when I went on a Europe trip in June-July 2010. It’s true that you’re bound to learn something when you travel, and I wasn’t excluded. Some things I learned;

  • I learned that I look just fine without eyeshadow on.
  • I learned that my hair turns out ok without a fresh from the salon hair style.
  • I learned that my face looks alright without a foundation and lot of makeup on. In fact, I looked fresher and happier (true, could be due to the fact that I was having a really good time there).
  • I learned that I could live with one bag over and over again (I usually change bags at least every other day), same thing with shoes
  • I learned that we don’t need different products for the adults and the kids, such as shampoo, soap, lotion, sunscreen, toothpaste, etc. I felt ridiculous that each of us had different products/brands that serve the same purpose at home.
  • I learned that I could get by with limited clothes and still look nice. It forced my creativity to mix and match.

That was only in fashion and beauty department, I also learned a lot about consumption, consumerism, Eco-movement and having a quality life. For example,

  • I learned that Europeans are very environmentally friendly people.
  • I learned that in Paris, most don’t have an air conditioner in their apartments and the office! Even the stores don’t feel significantly colder than the outside temperatures.
  • I learned they have clothes line in Italy! And I used to annoy my mom for the clothes line in our house and asked her to dry the clothes in the electric dryer instead.
  • I learned that soulless products made in China are invading the world, even in the small alley in beautiful Venice, which saddened me.
  • I learned a lot about life too, which surprised me that I gained so much knowledge from the trip other than figuring out that sale is soldes in French, rebajas in Spanish and saldi in Italian.

Bottom line is, when I came home, I just realized the different kind of life I was exposed to than the one I just saw during the trip. You see, I lived in the US for 10 years. So I was totally accustomed with the American way of living. You know, the fast food, the fast fashion, the SUV, the big house with attic and basement overflowing with stuff, the over the top consumerism, the celebrity worship culture, the everything instant life. Well, not that everything was bad in the US, but a lot of people were having this so called American Dream concept and busy chasing it and shopped their way through.

So when I came home, I de-cluttered my house. Not only I got rid of so many clothes, shoes and beauty products, I also got rid of unused kids toys and other house decoration. De-cluttering my house is a never ending project. It seems that I de-clutter every week yet stuff just got accumulated on its own *sigh*. The goal is to have as little items as possible and the items that left have to be: functional, works great and used often, a treasure or something that holds so many memories, things that I dearly love and have a purpose at home. Miss Minimalist has listed 20 questions on her web that you need to ask yourself when you want to get rid of stuff in your home.

Since it’s a new year, I would like to make ‘living with less’ as one of my new year resolutions. For a start, I’ve already gotten rid of 40 pieces of clothing from my wardrobe and reduced my beauty products collection. I still have to make my way through each room in my house and get rid of more stuff. As a human being, it’s just impossible not to buy stuff, after all, to live is to consume.  So the idea is not to not spend money, but not to waste money. I need to make sure that what I buy is exactly what I need, not because I was swayed in the notion that that product is what I need to solve all of my problems, or what I need to complete my life, or will make me look better, because they will not be one product that will do just that.  It’s actually tiring to be trapped in the consumerism. For example:

  • The amount of time we spend on researching the product! I spend hours and hours online to read reviews, compare prices and features, browse on different kind of looks. And then the visit to the mall or if you buy online the transfer process, the waiting for the goods to arrive and all those little things that add to our to do list, add to our worries and just clutter our mind.
  • The clutter those products make in my house. I’m tired of having disorganized house, having to clean the products, restoring it, maintaining it.
  • The additional products that I need to accommodate that one product. For example if I buy a pair of beige skirt that will look oh so lovely to be worn with red pumps, if only I have the red pumps so next thing I know, I was on the hunt for a pair of one.
  • And so many other things.

So here’s what I’m going to do other than de-cluttering and get rid of my stuff:

  • Keep track on the expenses I make, every single day. I already have an excel file that works just how I want it and I haven’t missed a day. It cringes me to see the number that adds up each day.
  • Using more natural products. I have ditched my conditioner and used virgin olive oil instead. It’s more expensive than drugstore conditioner, but it’s healthier.
  • Cook! I can’t cook everyday but at least I can find a way to cook or bake twice a week. Not only clothes, the over consumption has also made its way to my fridge and kitchen cabinet! I need to check it once every week and make sure the almost expire stuff is used or cooked right away. I have wasted so many vegetables, fruits, cheese and other stuff because of it :(
  • Plant something the whole family can eat. I’m thinking of chilly :D, we always use it everyday and seem to be the easiest to do.
  • Be more selective with the stuff I’m bringing home. Not just the things that I buy but those freebies that look harmless to bring. Working in Female Daily Network and being invited and sent so many stuff make it easy to abandon this rules. But really, I don’t need anymore junks in my house.
  • Never forget to bring my Fashionese Daily green bag. I often brought it last time, only to fill it with the stuff I bought and forgot to take them out when I got home. I’ve never left home without it. Grocery shopping is easier because I’ve always asked for box instead of plastic bag.
  • I always sort the waste at home, something that I haven’t adamantly enforced in the office. But I will do starting this week!
  • In order to have a more peaceful life and spend more time with family, I have also be more selective with everything I read, hear and see. For almost 2 months now I have decreased my online, especially Twitter time significantly. I haven’t watched TV for more than a month now. The first thing I did when I entered my room is no longer turning the TV on, but turning my iPod dock and listen to soothing music. Life is indeed more peaceful when you don’t have uninvited and unnecessary noise around

I guess that’s my plan for now. I’m more determined to make it ever since I watched The Pursuit of Happyness last week. Wish me luck with this living with less journey and I will update in here as I go :).

*picture courtesy of www.thetinylife.com