one small change

by eringoodman on January 22, 2010

in at home

When Suzy from Hip Mountain Mama introduced the One Small Change project back in December, I knew I wanted to participate and immediately started thinking about what we could do in our family.

As the holidays came and went, and we moved into the New Year, I was inspired by all the changes others were making, but still wasn’t sure what we would do.

Right around that time, we embarked on yet another major house clearing and decluttering, this one initiated by my husband. (Umm…yeah. Let’s just say that when things get above John’s threshold for clutter, it’s safe to assume it’s a pretty scary scene at the Goodmans.)

CSA event stuff, Birth Network materials, teapots and other supplies for my retreats and mothers’ circles, and magazines being collected for my next Treasure-Mapping funshop mingle with cleaning supplies (a.k.a. white vinegar), bulk dried herbs and clothes waiting to be mended — all in our tiny downstairs bathroom.

As John did load after load of laundry and together we dug through closets, the floors of which have not seen the light of day in years, it hit me.

We need to clear the clutter and lessen the chaos.

Not just for ourselves and our sanity and peace of mind, but for our world.

Did I lose you on that one?

Let me explain.

As we were cleaning closets and emptying drawers we started finding things. Hammers, pieces to toys, flashlights, missing flip-flops. Things that we have lost, and in many cases replaced (sometimes multiple times).

Wasting our money, time and energy chasing down lost items detracts from our ability to live a simple, purposeful life and wastes world resources.

The contents of one of our many junk drawers and the sorted container of hardware and tools on their way to our new tool cabinet (yay!) in the basement.

We frequently have to repurchase items that are lost in our own home — things that could otherwise be reused for years. And many of the items we repurchase are done in a panic, leading us to shop at the most convenient places, which are often not in alignment with our eco-conscious values.

I also started thinking about how I feel in my home when the clutter level peaks and how much more likely I am to throw everyone in the car and go out to eat, at times even opting for food that is purchased by me shouting into a speaker and then grabbing a bag through a window, because I am just too overwhelmed by the state of our kitchen to attempt to cook anything.

Clutter and chaos get in the way of me making the kind of nutrient-dense, locally-sourced, whole food meals that I believe in.

I also thought about about all the trips to Pier One Imports ( TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Michael’s, my favorite thrift store…) to buy baskets and bins and other storage containers in hopes of creating the illusion of calmness and peace.

Or the trips near-weekly trips to the thrift store I *have* to take because I have nothing to wear — or more accurately I can’t find the clothes I want to wear because they are mixed in with piles of clothes I no longer like or don’t fit into and it’s all rolled together in a heap in the bottom of our closet or buried in the mountain of Are these clean or dirty? clothes that permenantly live in a laundry basket on the floor of our our room.

Clutter and chaos often lead me to seek out retail therapy, which only serves to add more clutter and chaos to our small house.

So what are we doing? What One Small Change(s) have we been making this month?

~ We’re noticing and talking about how we treat our belongings and creating storage places for things we value.

Favorite family games, our soft globe and my dancing kit now live on top of one of three new storage shelves built by my cousin, Dan.

~ We’re being more conscious of stopping “future clutter” before it comes in the door.

~ We’re making regular trips to the thrift store, not to shop, but to purge no-longer-needed stuff.

~ We’re “doing a sweep of the house” every night and making sure that the kitchen is ready for cooking healthy meals the next day.

~ I’m creating an inventory sheet of our most used items so I can quickly scan our pantry and see what supplies we need before I go shopping and can group my errands accordingly. (Saves time and eliminates extra driving.) 

~ And on the recommendation of a friend, this book is on its way to me. I think the title perfectly sums up our family’s first step in the One Small Change project.



{ Happy weekend, friends. } 

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