A Sentimental Minimalist

Wowza, May has had a lot of major life events. As most of you know, we are downsizing. We completed our move this week. There is only room for what is useful and the teeniest tiniest amount of space for things that we love.

I'm a sentimental minimalist. Learn how to let go of sentimental items from www.goingzerowaste.com

I gave my mom a video tour of our new place, (don’t worry you’ll be getting one too) and she was shocked when I showed her my closet. She couldn’t believe it was true.

I’ve mentioned several times before that I used to have over 200 dresses alone. I had several closets packed full of clothes when I lived in Arkansas.

I LOVED my clothes. In fact, I wore all of them. I could go half a year without ever doing laundry.

Owning a lot of clothes was always something I considered to be a part of my identity. Being an actor, I love costumes. I’ve always considered clothing to be a huge form of expression. I loved getting to pick the type of person I wanted to be each morning.

I could go from preppy to retro to edgy to anything I wanted to be with my wardrobe. I didn’t downsize because I only wore a fraction of my clothes; I downsized because of space restrictions.

To be perfectly honest, I LOVE stuff. I am incredibly sentimental.

My mom would have to fight me to get rid of anything growing up. I had an entire chest of drawers full of just papers. I could associate any memory with something as simple as a piece of paper. Then it had to stay. That memory and that piece of paper were inextricably linked.

Without the paper, there was no memory.

With my grandmother’s passing, there are a lot of things I want. There are things that remind me of her. There are things that remind me of us and the times we’ve spent together.

But, when you live in such a small space, there is no room.

I can't reorganize. I can’t go and buy 50 more square feet. The only thing I can do is remind myself of the things I’ve learned along the way.

stuff does not equal a memory:

Your memories are not dependent on items. Your memories don’t live in your stuff. They live in your mind. This is one of the most freeing realizations.

When you learn to separate the emotion out of things, you free yourself from the guilt. You free yourself from having to hold onto certain things.

If something is really important to you, it can be helpful to journal about it or take a picture of the item. Anytime I pass something of my grandmother’s that sparks a memory I try and write it down.

Stuff can be a catalyst for certain memories. Instead of holding onto the physical item, try jotting the memories down. This way you’re free of extra clutter, but still, have the catalysts. Taking a photo of the item is another great way to remember something without holding onto the object.

focus on the positive:

Often times, people rid themselves of items simply because they do not like them or do not have a use for them.

But, sometimes you have to donate things you love and care for. Sometimes, you simply don’t have to space to store them anymore.

I’ve found it helps to look at the positive. With my wardrobe, for example, I picked the clothes I love most. Then I built my wardrobe around those things.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t love the other pieces, but they didn’t fit into the new picture. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. It’s just things. Things are there to serve a purpose; they are there to be used.

If you’re not using them, then they don’t belong with you.  

owning stuff you don’t need is wasteful:

I get a lot of emails from people telling me I shouldn’t advocate for minimizing or donating stuff. Zero waste means holding onto everything and using everything fully, right!?

Not necessarily. Of course, you can go that route, but clutter causes me A LOT of anxiety.

I’m not advocating that you throw everything away. But, there is something to be said for living with less. Reduce after all is the second “R.”

Owning less means less to care for and less to clean and less store. It's a waste to let a valuable item collect dust. 

Each item is a symbol of resources and energy that went into creating it. If you're not cherishing and using it, it's okay to give it to a new home. Someone out there is going to love it! 

Stuff can really pile up if you're not conscious of what you're consuming. You may have a lot of extra or unnecessary stuff that's bogging you down. 

But, it's important to remember you can't judge your pre-zero waste/pre-minimalism purchases the same way. You were consuming in a different mindset. You weren't looking for objects that are meant to last. You weren't thinking about the before and after life of a product. 

Now that you are concerned with these things, you can only make better choices about consuming in the future. 

What are some tips you'd give to someone to help them break with sentiment?