The Joys (and Realities) of Simplifying

When you're kicking off a new project, whether it's waste reduction or anything else, it's easy to get wrapped up in new ideas. Sometimes all you want to do is try out ONE MORE new recipe for DIY hand lotion, ONE MORE new recipe for DIY dish soap, or maybe you just want to try out ONE MORE type of store-bought dishwasher detergent in your search for the least-packaged/best-working variety you can buy.

The problem with that is that soon your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are overflowing with half-used products. This is the place that we are at right now. I do feel like I've found what I like for most of the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry basics, but nevertheless my cupboards are overflowing with stuff.

Above are JUST the toiletries from our upstairs bathroom (after I unwrapped them from most of their packaging). As you can see, much of these are leftovers from the days before I stopped bringing home stuff from hotel rooms. There is a whole little section of stuff in the middle that I don't even know what it is (freebies from Lush that aren't fully labelled). This stockpile doesn't even count the shampoo, conditioner, and soap that we keep in the downstairs bathroom where our shower is, which is the variety we actually use and plan to use going forward. It also doesn't include the toothpaste, toothbrushes, the three deodorants I don't like but feel obligated to use up, the hand lotion we've settled on that I haven't even told you about yet, or the DIY hand lotions that didn't work out that I'm still using up.

What I'm saying is, it's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm not even going to tell you about the cleaning supplies that were in this house when we moved in (I'm still using those up too).

I guess what I'm getting at is that at some point you start to feel like you just need to stop. Stop trying to make stuff, stop buying new varieties of things, just stop everything and clear out the reserves. We wouldn't be reducing waste if we just threw out all the stuff we bought or made but didn't like, so we've got to use it up.

So that's what we've been doing around here. I'm working through a bottle of body wash I bought at a garage sale in 2006, and when that's done I'll move on to something else from the picture above. But I promise that once I make my way through all the half-bottles of hand lotion you see above (and the jars of DIY stuff I haven't shown you), I will tell you about the nice stuff we're using now. And maybe I'll even let you know about our new laundry detergent, or our new DIY dish soap. Simplifying takes time, especially if you are committed to reducing waste.

What kind of stockpiles are you working through? Leave a comment!


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