Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Confessions of a Former Shop-o-holic

With minimalism, other ideas tag along. The one that hit me a couple weeks ago was in regards to fair trade clothing. I've known for years that it was an "issue" but never chose to truly educate myself on the details.

So to take a break from my studies on my birthday, I'd been looking forward to watching this documentary on Netflix called "The True Cost."

I'd say it was life-changing. For the last 20+ years, I've been a part of the problem. Now I know.

Fast-fashion is literally killing people in developing countries, as we consume the next cheap product that we may wear a couple times before replacing. That $10 shirt was likely made by someone who makes $2/day, may not see her children for months at a time, and daily faces the risks of violence by her employer, disease through chemical exposure, or death though unsafe work environments. It’s not right. I know we care about human rights. We can do better than this. 

“Fashion today is the NUMBER 2 most polluting industry on earth, second only to the oil industry.”

“Fair trade is a citizen’s response to correcting the social injustice in an international trading system that is largely dysfunctional…where workers and farmers are not paid a living wage, and where the environment is not considered at all, to make the products that we buy every day."

It's shocking, and overwhelming. But there's hope; one by one we can take responsibility, and not allow our own actions to contribute to the injustice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Last summer I developed an interest in the minimalist lifestyle. It started with this documentary called Minimalism, which had been in my Netflix queue for God knows how long.

Three minutes into the film I was like, “Yeah! Me too!” Though in the back of my mind I knew I’d never be like the people I was watching in their tiny house, or the guy who fits all his belongings into one backpack, or the person with clean white walls throughout their home.

If anything, I am a natural hoarder, not a minimalist.  But I have found that the enormous amount of random stuff I own, as well as the amount of appointments I cram into my daily schedule, can become overwhelming and stressful. So I wanted to give this a try.

My cousin Christi had encouraged me to join her in her pursuit of minimalism in the past. So after finishing the film I texted her, and she quickly persuaded me to start on the 30-Day Minimalism Game. If any of you are interested in getting on the minimalism train, this was an awesome way to jump start the journey. Each day we ‘minimized’ the number of items in our home that correlated with the day of the month. For fun and accountability, we texted each other pictures of what we chose to part with that day.

My mom worried I would just get rid of all this stuff, then go out and buy it all again when I was over it. A valid concern considering my love of collecting stuff, and my past addiction of retail therapy! But I’ve been doing this half a year now and haven’t looked back.

I’ve simplified my life by eliminated over 1,500 things so far.

For me, the key to doing this successfully is to keep the “Why” at the forefront of my mind whenever I am sorting through my belongings, or considering buying something at a store. During the first 30 days I listened to a lot of podcasts, and focused on reading blogs and essays by different minimalists.

I keep coming back to two ideas that keep me motivated to continue this process:

If everything is special, nothing is special. If everything is SO special that you need to keep it, all these special things you have are just going to form a big mass you don’t pay attention to, and items lose their value in the crowd of stuff.  

When we try to juggle everything, we can’t enjoy anything.  I’m a huge multi-tasker and like to be efficient with my time. I’ve found that I tend to cram as many events as I can into one day, whether they are random responsibilities, or fun activities with friends. When I look at my calendar on a given day and let out a big sigh as I mentally go through all the potentially enjoyable things I “have” to do that day, it’s pretty clear that something’s not working. Yes, I really want to do all those things I had planned. But I also really want to ENJOY them….not see them as tasks to accomplish on an exhausting checklist. So I have to make choices. One idea I’ve read is that every time you say yes, you’re saying no to something else. That “something else” might be taking care of responsibilities, time focused on your kid, time with your closest friends, or maybe just spending enough time at home to feel balanced. Truly unfortunately, there is not enough time in life to do everything, and still stay balanced. I have to keep fear-of-missing-out on the backburner, so I can fully enjoy what I DO say yes to.

I’m including a photo of my bedroom, because I don’t want to live under the guise of being a “purist” when it comes to minimalism. My room still looks pretty full, my taste in d├ęcor is still eclectic, and I still have a lot of stuff. But the amount I have been able to part with has truly created more space to breath inside my head, which is a valuable thing.