Over the past year, I feel like my life has been one big cleanse, in the most positive sense (not like the terrifying Purge movie!). I’m a big believer than when something isn’t working, you can’t just sit around and complain about it—you have to do something. Literally anything—but you just have to take action.
Throughout the past few months, I started to cleanse the shit out of my life, basically. And it has felt so, so good.
I basically followed the concept from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: if it’s not useful or if it doesn’t bring you joy, then say thank you and goodbye. So simple, but so powerful. Along with that, I’ve been really into minimalism: focusing on what’s truly important and buying (and using) only what I need— a.k.a. removing the excess from my life. This documentary on Netflix really inspired me.
The most ironic thing is that I’ve sworn off materialism before. After coming back from a few months in Peru, I swore that I was no longer going to just consume. And it lasted for a few months, and then I found myself raiding Target again, like there’s no tomorrow. The “stuff” brings me a moment of joy, but I’ve ultimately felt guilty for falling back into my old ways of just buying shit to buy shit. So it feels really good to finally make this choice and to stick with it.
Most of these changes were brought about by learning about how what I’m doing in my day-to-day life and how it’s impacting the world around me. It’s hard to use a ton of plastic when you know it’s contaminating the fuck out of our ocean. Ignorance is not bliss, and once you know better, you’re forced to do better. Otherwise, you’re just part of the problem. I’d prefer to be on the solution end of things.
I will say that I feel lighter and brighter without so much stuff in all the parts of my life. Because when we crowd our bodies and our spaces with tons of things, then there’s no room for new stuff to come in. I’m still very much in the process of “cleansing.” Here are some of the ways I’m working on cleansing the different parts of my life:
Bye bye Clutter!
Four years ago, I packed up all my stuff, got rid of a bunch of things, and went to Peru for a few months. When I came back home, it was like a clean slate. But slowly but surely, I accumulated an apartment full of sh*t again. So last year, I did a major cleanse of all of the…things. I went through and gave away anything that I wasn’t using or that didn’t make me happy.
I also switched up my perspective a bit. Instead of looking at things as “mine,” I started to practice non attachment to my stuff. This might sound a little out there, but it honestly feels better.
In the grand scheme of things, nothing in this world will be coming with us at the end of our days. I look at all the things in my life as temporary gifts that I get to use and enjoy for a little (or long) bit, and it makes my whole attitude towards things a little less possessive and a lot more grateful.
The biggest bonus of decluttering is being able to give to other people who need something I might have, but I’m not using or don’t actually need. I used to hoard all my books, keeping them kinda as trophies. Now I read them, keep the ones I love and know I’ll read again, and then pass the rest of them along to friends and family, a donation center, or a secondhand book store.
Capsule Wardrobe (and Conscious Shopping)
I decided to try out a capsule wardrobe and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I basically went through my closet and gave away everything I hadn’t worn in the past 6 months. My sister also does a little hanger trick – when she wears something, she turns the hanger around. That way, she can tell what she actually wears and what just sits there. Then I made a list of what things I regularly wear, and now I only have clothing that I can mix and match, and that I know will last for a while.
I try to be more conscious about where I buy my clothes and the quality of my clothes, especially after watching this little documentary called True Cost (warning: you’ll never shop the same way again—and that’s a really good thing).
I personally love the capsule wardrobe route because it’s simple, it’s clothes I love, and I always know I have something to wear.
I did a 3 week vegan cleanse and that really was a game-changer for me. I am so much more aware of what I eat. I try to pick foods and recipes that I know are nourishing. I still will cheat from time to time, but I try to eat an 80/20 diet – ninety percent healthy, ten percent special treats. I drink a green juice now every morning to get my daily dose of veggies. I eat mainly clean, but also let myself dabble from time to time. But I will say I’m pretty grossed out by some of the crap I used to eat. And when I eat better, I feel better.
Less Plastic + Less Garbage
I used to LOVE SmartWater. I’d drink multiple bottles per day. But after watching this little web series, I realized I need to be more mindful of plastic and all the other toxic things I use everyday. So I’ve started using a glass water bottle everyday (bkr is my fav!) and a Brita filter instead.
Some other changes I’ve made to cutting down on trash in general:
Started using reusable stainless steel straws
Use mason jars for food storage (very hipster, I know)
Opt for no receipt whenever I can to save some trees
Bring my own bags when I shop
I went through my beauty, household and cleaning products, and if it contained an ingredient I couldn’t pronounce, I stopped using it. Instead of fake scents, I’m now a big user of essential oils. I make my own room and linen spray with water, lavender oil, and vodka (if I have it). I used to love Glade Plug-Ins, which are basically carcinogens heated up by electricity. So I ditched those and use an oil diffuser instead. I also make (and reuse) my own candles, or buy ones made with clean products (organic soy is always great!). I also switched up all my beauty products and use (mostly) non-toxic soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste and makeup.
Less Screen Time
I’m still a work-in-progress when it comes to cleansing my life of the digital world. It’s nearly impossible, since I work at a computer. But I have given myself some limits, which is a baby step in the right direction. I’m super conscious about what I watch. I read and listen to podcasts and watch shows that make me laugh. I stay informed without staying constantly connected. I’ve also unsubscribed from all the spam in my inbox and I’m pretty quick to unfollow or block anything that I don’t feel is productively helping others. Life is too short for digital trash. My biggest weakness is reality TV—I just can’t help myself. I also use this app called Forest on my phone, which literally makes you focus for 2 hours without distractions, and when you use it a lot, they’ll plant some trees!
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