Spring Cleaning

I am someone who takes pride in being organized. From meticulously color-coding my Paper Source planner, to syncing the three calendars I maintain, and having about 62 tasks on my iPhone Reminders app to keep track of, I love keeping track of things in order to keep my head clear. If I make a to-do list for things to do this summer, I feel satisfaction from checking off a coffee place or art museum I just visited. I even write down when I exercised so I can look at the past month and note my (relative) fitness. Yet there are two aspects of my life that need a lot of improvement: my bedroom and my carbon footprint. Coincidentally, I have found that they may go hand-in-hand.

As I have been cleaning my room after graduation, trying to emulate adult life and be organized before I start my job, I have had one main goal: minimalism. Taking magazine clippings off my walls, cleaning clutter off my desk and night table, moving furniture so it’s easier to walk through. I have found that the downside of being an organized person is that I have organized clutter; I’m so nostalgic about every year of elementary school, every high school play I was in, every city I traveled to when I studied abroad, that I have a room full of alphabetized or chronological things I can’t get rid of because they are tied with memories. Just as it’s difficult for me to discard memorabilia or minimize my belongings, it’s equally hard for me to cut back my un-ecofriendly habits and reduce my carbon footprint.

While sorting through the umpteenth pile of middle school T-shirts or trying on a dozen of my mom’s old belts that don’t fit me, I kept on asking myself, “Can I live without this? How hard would life with me if I gave this up? Would I miss it tomorrow or realize it’s gone?” Often the answer was no (sometimes the answer was “maybe” or “let’s put it aside and consult Mom”). Those times that I put a whole pile of things into a shopping bag and removed them from my bedroom, I felt lighter — not only because I literally had less in my room, but because I also had fewer materials to worry about or distract me. Plus, parting with something that I may have once loved and not feeling sad or sentimental was incredibly empowering. I was practicing letting go and living simply.

We have all given things away, whether it’s because we downsize for a big move, give hand-me-downs to a younger sibling, or sell a loved one’s belongings after a death or they enter a retirement home. It’s always hard, but we always make it through. If we can part with these materials that have meant a lot to us — these earthly things — what habits can we part with in order to benefit our Earth? For example, I love burgers and ribs and can never imagine myself becoming a permanent vegetarian, but what if I gave up red meat just for a few weeks at a time? An immense amount of water goes into the production of meat, and the consumption of certain types of meat emits as much carbon dioxide as our transportation. It wouldn’t be fun for me to give up red meat, but if I can part with the things that I cleaned out of my room, then maybe I can part with that as well.

Even though May is more than half over, it’s never too late to start your spring cleaning. What could start as just tidying your room may end up being a deep clean that begs you to question how much you need in your life, and challenges you to practice living more minimally. In addition to parting with things we do not need, try also refraining from purchasing things you do not need, and looking at the items you have and can re-purpose. Last week I browsed Target’s website and noted things I wanted for my room, which probably would have cost hundreds of dollars in total. But instead, I tried to be resourceful and use things I have to revamp my living space. Just a few examples, you can see pictured from left to right:

Spring Cleaning

  • I used an old rolling pin from my kitchen to hang my necklaces from. I hate when they get tangled, and these necklaces are too large to hang on a small jewelry tree. Just put the holes in the ends of the rolling pin on two adhesive plastic hooks, and you can place it on the side of a dresser or armoire like I did!
  • The fabric pinboard I had next to my desk only had a few photos hanging from it and wasn’t being fully utilized. I usually keep my earrings in a small bowl or dish, which makes it so hard to find a pair! Piercing my earrings through the ribbon crossings of this bulletin board (where papers and cards are often tucked in) has made it so easy to keep track of them and is much more aesthetic for color-coding or organizing earrings.
  • Lastly, I also wanted to display my headbands like I did with my necklaces. Elastic headbands look great on a rolling pin, but also work well on a large glass bottle. Using a large Evian or Perrier bottle (or even a wine bottle!), you can put your headbands on it and they will stack perfectly!

You don’t need to go out of your way to find these items for organizing your jewelry and accessories, but I found these little ideas really helpful and almost refreshing. Instead of purchasing plastic or metal organizational pieces from Target or the Container Store, I used things I already have and re-purposed them. For me, this was a wonderful culmination of my “spring cleaning” saga and an encouraging example that I can cut back and be resourceful in other aspects of my life as well.

© Rissponsible Living, 2016

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