Recently, as in for the past year, I’ve been trying to be more of a ~minimalist.~ Minimalism is essentially the idea that you have a smaller amount of stuff but all of the stuff you have brings you joy and adds value to your life. I was initially attracted to the idea of minimalism mainly because as a 20 year old I’m baffled by how much stuff I’ve already accumulated. In a capitalist society you’re encouraged to buy and spend constantly. Got an A in your really difficult class? Treat yo self! Had a really bad day? Treat yo self! Bored? Treat yo self! And around and around it goes. Looking at this from a sustainability standpoint, of course this is an awful idea. Continually buying and using things that you don’t really need is wasteful. Just think of everything that has to go into making that one thing that you never even needed or really even liked! I’m hoping that this will help me save time, money, and the environment.
Okay, I’m going to get back to my point. Like I said I’ve been trying to be more of a minimalist for a solid year. Maybe even before that, but I still haven’t taken the leap. I’ve downsized the amount of items I own entirely but I still have so much that I honestly never use and just crowds up my space. I figure that this is the perfect time to really commit to minimalism because a) it’s been a year and I have to get my act together, b) my room is an absolute mess, and c) I’m moving into my first apartment (eeeekkkk) and I do not want my mess to follow me there. Also, let’s be real, it’s less to move.
So of course I don’t want to waste anything that I have because that’s just adding to the landfills and a bigger problem. Instead I plan to donate or recycle everything I get rid of. Throughout this post we’re going to be talking about clothes, beauty/hygiene products, and random items. I figure that these are good categories for me personally because I have a lot of clothes, a lot of beauty/hygiene products, and a lot of random stuff lying around. If you’re following along and doing this with me though feel free to pick different categories or break up those categories into smaller, more manageable ones.
I always think setting guidelines is a good idea so here are mine. I’m going to go all KonMari method here and say if it doesn’t “spark joy” and/or if I haven’t used it in the past year I’m going to get rid of it.
Ok, I have a lot of clothes. As I took out literally every article of clothing I owned and put it on my bed I immediately became overwhelmed. All I wanted to do was just crawl into the large mountain of clothing and take a nap. With this came tip number one. Ask a friend who knows you and your personal style really well to help you out. In this case it was my best friend Nicole. Nicole has also been giving minimalism a go so we tend to help and encourage each other a lot. I texted her about what I was doing and she immediately came over, told me to get out of my mountain, and started going through clothes with me. She’s literally a saint. Find yourself a Nicole.
Nicole and I decided that it would be a good idea to have an everyday wardrobe and a business/special events wardrobe. This was really important to me personally because as a college student I like to be comfy from day to day but I also go on interviews, internships, and events where I need to be more put together. We used the capsule wardrobe method of having staple pieces that all go well together so they can be mixed and matched. The goal was to make sure everything flowed well so even though I would have far fewer pieces, I would have plenty of options. By minimizing the number of clothes I have I’ll be able to maximize my wardrobe. I also made sure that all of my business attire would be things I was comfortable wearing outside of a business setting by dressing it down with something like a sweater. This added more versatility to my wardrobe overall.
Ultimately, I’m really proud of myself. I narrowed down my everyday wardrobe to 30 pieces and I narrowed my business/special events wardrobe to 16 pieces. I did not count gym clothes, pj’s or shoes into my total count but they have also vastly decreased. 46 pieces for an entire wardrobe is not bad at all especially considering the average woman has 150 items of clothing! Some pieces are obviously seasonal; I’m not going to wear sundresses all year round, so those will be switched out with my packed away sweaters once it starts to get cold. This means the count shouldn’t vary too much from season to season. I’m going to avoid buying clothing at least for a while and when I do buy clothes I’m going to be more mindful and get rid of any other items that I may not use any more.
If you know me then you know I love makeup. To me makeup is a way to express myself. My wardrobe is not very colorful so makeup is a great way for me to transform an outfit. I think it’s fun and creative and I love doing my makeup every morning but I have way too much of it. There’s only so much makeup I can put on my face. So I’m setting goals going into this. I will allow myself 5 eyeshadow palettes, 1 primer, 1 tinted moisturizer, 1 concealer, 1 powder, 1 mascara, 3 blushes, 3 highlighters, 2 eyebrow products, 1 bronzer, 2 contours, and I will have to decrease my number of lip products by at least half. I don’t want to say the number of lip products I have, it’s far too embarrassing. I’m going to be upfront right now, the amount of eyeshadow palettes I’m going to allow myself seems obscene but 3 of these palettes my boyfriend got for me and I adore them and refuse to let them go and the other 2 are just so pretty. Yes this is still a lot of makeup but like I said, makeup brings me a lot of joy. That sounds so dumb. Anyway, it makes me happy so I’m keeping it. I’d also like to add that this was me severely decreasing the amount of makeup I have so it’s a step in the right direction.
As far as hygiene products, I’m going to have a guideline that if it’s open and I haven’t used it in 3-6 months then I’m getting rid of it. This is also important because beauty products can expire. Anything remaining that is unopened and I know I will use I’ll keep. For example, I sometimes buy body wash in bulk so I’m obviously not going to get rid of my body wash back stock.
When it came to makeup, I stuck to my goal. This was the right goal and move for me personally. If you would like to downsize more that’s totally fine! Even though I still have more makeup than the average person may have I’m pretty proud of myself. I was also able to stick to my goal with hygiene products and it turned out really well. I got rid of a lot of stuff that was half used. When something is half used it shows me that I obviously wasn’t a fan of it. All in all I’d say this was also a success. In the future, I think I’m going to try to stray away from buying body wash and similar products in bulk. I used to do this because I had a fear of running out of product but it’s really simple to just see when you’re running out of something and buy a new one to replace it right when you run out. I have a car now so it’s not like I have no way to get to the store. Buying one product at a time will ensure that I actually use that product up and prevent excess clutter.
This one is slightly harder for me because it’s just any other random stuff that I have lying around. For example, my desk drawer is where things seem to go to die. If I put something in my desk I will probably never look at it again. So obviously I should go through that.
At the same time, I’m moving so I obviously won’t need to bring everything with me. I have a full bed at my apartment so I’m saying goodbye to my twin extra-long bedding. I should probably downsize my stuffed animal collection. There are just so many things. Once again Nicole will be called in.
This was not nearly as organized as it probably could or should have been. I started moving before I could officially organize things so it just resulted in me going through things as I was packing. I would definitely recommend either splitting this into tinier more manageable categories or allotting yourself more time than you would ever think you’d need. It was really overwhelming but I really forced myself to go through everything and think about if I really needed it. For example, did I really need my dishes that I bought for freshmen year? They were really pretty but it wasn’t a full set and all of my roommates had a full set of dishes already. There are only 4 of us there’s no way we need that many plates.
Overall, this was a really great experience. I found it hard to say goodbye to certain things. For example, some of my T-shirts were from things I did and loved in high school. They meant a lot to me but I never wore them anymore. I think the biggest thing I learned is that just because you’re getting rid of something sentimental doesn’t mean you’re getting rid of those memories. It felt really good and freeing to be able to get rid of so much stuff that was taking up space. Even if you’re not willing to downsize extremely like me I feel like we can all benefit from decluttering our lives. Let me know if you try it and how it goes for you!
Written by Patricia Van Valkenburgh, Class of 2019