This past year I have been thinking about spring cleaning and minimalism, about keeping things out of the landfill, and what a burden my lifestyle might be on the Earth!

When I moved to the USA, like everyone else who came here to work or study, I brought a suitcase full of clothes and have been, over the years, gathering more and more belongings. Initially, living in rental apartments and homes, I would think twice before adding to the stuff I own because I knew I will have to move in a couple of years. And every move also helped me cull the unnecessary.

Spring Cleaning Time

Now having lived in my own home for 5 years, things got out of hand. We were officially adults and had a salary and could buy stuff. So we did.

We had not figured out the game plan to get rid of stuff! Having a child just adds to the amount of stuff you can end up with. Clothes change sizes rapidly for kids and if you are not on top of it, soon enough you have a problem. The same thing with furniture. Babies need cribs and diaper changing stations, toddlers need toddler beds, then little kids need their own beds and so on. 

I finally decided to tackle the problem areas like the stash of stuff in the garage this past year. Some of this stuff came from our last move and I never got around to getting rid of it. I had never even opened to see what was in there! 

So here is how I sorted things out.

Clothes

I got all the kids clothes together and removed the very used ones and gave the rest away to the local crisis shelter. 

I used the Kon Mari method on my closet and am much happier to see the mess reduced. I realized I don’t need my business formals from back in 2007 in my current lifestyle, even though I used to “keep it for a rainy day!” 

Furniture

The furniture we had outgrown was sold on Facebook groups in the city where I live. For e.g.: I sold my daughter’s toddler bed and bought a twin bed for her from the same group. The costs for sale and purchase evened out! And nothing went to the landfill.

I also bought my daughter’s diaper change table through Craigslist back in 2010 (Facebook groups were not big back then). It looks great, fits the color scheme in general, is sturdy and I still use it as a shelf in my office today. People tend to give away diaper changing tables soon enough when the kids turn 1 and no longer safely stay on the table for the change! These are great items to look for in Thrift stores and Facebook resale groups.

Bikes

Kids also outgrow bikes rapidly too! Again, I sold my daughter’s functional bikes on the Facebook group and bought my daughter a bike her size from the local SPCA thrift store. Granted, it has one white wheel and one black. But she does not care. Two birds with one stone, no new bike to add to the landfills, and we supported the SPCA! Money earned from sales went to my daughter to deposit in her bank account where she is learning to save, thanks to her school.

Toys

Sell/give away for Free on Facebook groups and I don’t buy anything new! Seriously! We have a blanket ban on toy buying! Toys simply don’t get used in our house. For now, my daughter is content playing with a big exercise ball and pretending the living room rug is lava! Who invented toys anyway! I much prefer monthly activities the come from subscription boxes like our very own Toka Box, where all the supplies are there and you can recycle the rest. 

Freecycle and Neighborhood Swaps

I am a part of the local freecycle group and it is a great way to find things you need and also keep stuff out of the landfill. I recently picked up free UPS mailing supplies from a local office to use in Toka Box shipping. I plan to give away excess products from Toka Box here, the things that we don’t end up using.

Plan for the future

Bulk Purchases and Groceries

My next step this spring and summer is to curb my Amazon addiction and buy from local stores to keep packaging low. I especially want to buy bulk items like rice and daal from the local co-op bulk bins. Of course, carrying your own tote bags while shopping is mandatory in a lot of cities now as it is in ours.

Compost

There are a lot of ways to compost all the organic matter that is thrown away in our households. We compost whatever we can in our compost bins and a lot of food scraps are simply mixed into pots of soil that are out in the backyard. Ready to grow food in the summer! My plan is to be more diligent about this.

Bike to School

Our goal this Spring is to bike to school whenever the weather is on our side. It is a small start, but it keeps me exercising and is actually a lot of fun after the initial hesitation is gone. The only struggle was to teach my daughter road rules. 

Resist! 

I have the urge to buy other people’s stuff from Facebook groups just because it is there. It is almost too tempting sometimes! You never know what gem you will find! I have an unwritten rule that I get rid of more stuff than enters the house. So if I absolutely have to get something, something else has to go – either sold or given away! 

What are some ways you have found to reduce your footprint on Mother Earth? I would love to hear your ideas that I can try to incorporate into my lifestyle.

Featured Image: https://flic.kr/p/HaAH96

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