The Thirty Days Of Less

Day 17.

Less Social Media.

So this day’s post may be a tad hypocritical, as I’m sharing it all via social media.  However, I think we could all agree that we’ve fallen into this trap one time or another.

 

The reason social media is such a problem, aside from the sheer absurdity of the content and its purpose, is that it completely removes our own intentionality.

 

The goals of owning less are to live with intention.  However, rarely do we jump on social media for a specific purpose.  And on the occasion that we do, the goal of these platforms is to quickly steer us in other directions.  Be honest, when you jump on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Tik Tok, you are truly just allowing the screen and the digitally manufactured algorithms to dictate how your attention will be spent.  Enter mindless scrolling here.

 

So thinking that a weekend with our family could be better spent.  Let’s ditch the social media, or find creative and intentional ways to control the unintentionality.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Less Social Media.

Share your best tricks to avoid the trap.

 

 

Day 16

Drop Your Drawers.

 

OK, you hate me don’t you.  When we cut everything else out I didn’t tell you that I’d come back after your clothes a second time did I.  And yet here we are.

 

Day 16 – Cut 16 items from your clothes drawers only.  You can do it.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Drop Your Drawers.

Drop 16 clothes items from your drawers.

Day 15.

Less Judgement.

We’re halfway through our #thirtydaysofless, where we have focused on creating more meaningful space, physically and mentally, by letting go of things that were not creating true value.  I hope that everyone has found moments of understanding, calm, and meaning through less.

One thing that I have learned so far on my journey, is that as I progressed further, I would occasionally find myself judging others.  When I saw material purchases and spending that seemed frivolous or unnecessary, the judgements quickly surfaced.

Of course, this is natural, and indeed to maintain our family’s goals, we had to influence others in some way.  For example, we had to be somewhat ruthless with family or friends that really wanted to give stuff to us or to our kids.  We also had to try and help them understand why we were doing this.  And it can be hard.  Try explaining to someone that lived through the depression about giving away items you don’t use, or explain to your mother why you don’t want her expensive Royal Doulton dinnerware.

As we also know too well, judgement is rampant everywhere, in particular on our social media feeds.  After all, it’s a foundational building block that the tech giants use for their most profitable algorithms.  Judge, and be rewarded with followers, likes and comments. 

So, for today’s challenge, considering what we’ve learned and what we have yet to learn, let’s let today be a day of less judgement.

So be honest with yourself today – and identify when your judgment surfaces.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Less Judgement.

How can we create a better world with less judgement?

 

Day 14

Blast the Bathroom.

 

I hope you were able to tackle your irrational fears yesterday.  Today’s challenge of fear is quite rational though.  The Bathroom.

 

If there is ever a “just in case” kind of room, the bathroom would definitely qualify.  Honestly, are you really saving that polysporin with an expiry date of 2014 for a “special day”?

 

Today’s Challenge:  Blast the Bathroom.

20 items need to be let go.

Day 13

Less Irrational Fear.

 

It’s day 13.  A perfect day to discuss fear.

 

After all, in our modern-day world, skyscrapers still skip from the 12th to the 14th floor when it comes to elevator buttons.....

OK - today's post turned into a full-fledged blog, you can read it here.

Day 12

Eliminate Endowment Effects.

 

“It’s far better to de-own than declutter.”

 

Imagine this scenario.  There’s a young man planning to ask his girlfriend to marry him.  He agonizes over buying an engagement ring; the style, colour, shape, cut, carat, etc.  He digs as deep as he reasonably can into his savings (or credit) to purchase the ring.  And it’s a beauty.

 

Then, child #1 arrives.  Mom realizes instantly that wearing a pointy rock scratches the little guy, and away goes the ring, at least for awhile.  The couple invests in a beautiful wedding ring in place of the sharp, abrasive engagement ring; after all, there’s likely to be more than one child.  This ring is a beauty, too.

 

Fast forward more than a decade, and the wedding ring remains the preferred, go-to piece of jewellery.  The engagement ring remains tucked away since the birth of the first child, now 12 years old.

 

Spoiler alert, the young man was me.

 

The question is, now what?  Do we store away this expensive item, or do we sell it and continue on with the item we actually value?  Is there some sentimental omen about selling such a thing? 

 

This is a classic example of the “Endowment Effect” and you can read about it here.  It’s an important discussion and another of the many reasons we find ourselves clinging to objects we’ve no intention of actually using to increase our true happiness.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Eliminate Endowment Effects.

Even if you may not be ready to let it go yet, identify a larger item that qualifies; and the reasons you’re still clinging to it.

Day 11

Crush the Century.

 

We are past the 1/3 mark of our #thirtydaysofless!

 

I hope everyone is feeling lighter, freer, and is gradually getting aware of the grip that our things can have on us, both physically and mentally.

 

So, an easy day to celebrate!  Lose 20 items today and you will have passed the 100 mark so far!  That wasn’t too tough was it?

 

Today’s Challenge:  Crush the Century.

Jettison any 20 items from your home and you’ll be over 100 total.

Day 10

Be Less Busy.

Remember when Saturdays were for relaxing and not for chores and catch-up and maintenance? 

 

Perhaps the pandemic and lockdowns have given you a glimpse into just being still?  Not having a schedule?  Not having to run all over the place?  Not having a long list of things to get done?

 

I wrote a little while ago about The Futile Search for Normal, in which I touched on the concept of how rarely we have (or make) time for the really important things.  Like picking up on a whim and heading out to see a friend.  Or when someone calls, telling them they’re welcome to come visit regardless of what you had on your to-do list.

 

Where I live in southern Ontario today, we’re getting a 23 degree-Celsius, sun-filled stunner of a day.  And you know what I’m going to do?  Whatever I want.  Whatever my kids want to do.  Just sit.

 

But it feels weird.  Feels like I “should” be “accomplishing” something.  As if sitting, doing nothing, getting rest, and just admiring how lucky I am to be alive isn’t worth anything.

 

Even in a pandemic, I have trouble nailing down my very best friends to sit and talk and just do nothing.

 

Of course, one of the biggest problems we face today is accumulation of things and to-do’s.  They rob our attention from the most important of things – simple human to human or human to earth connections.

 

So today’s challenge isn’t about getting rid of stuff; rather it’s about understanding the liberty of mind and soul that freeing ourselves of possessions and schedules requiring constant maintenance provides us.

 

That way, when next we decide to purge our lives of more “stuff”, we’ll truly understand just why it’s so valuable.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Be Less Busy.

Tear up the lists, sit and acknowledge the people and the earth around you.

 

www.kevingreenwood.ca/30days

 

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Day 9

Pass on Plastic.

 

“This mindless consumption, this same thing that is not making us happy, is also causing the degradation of our habitat. ~ Colin Beavan

 

The key is, it’s not just consumption, it’s how we consume.

 

For example, let’s take cereal.  I can buy cereal individual portion-size mini- boxes; each box containing its own plastic bag, each set of boxes wrapped in a package of 8 or 12, again in another plastic wrap.  Somewhat obscene.  Next, I can buy a family size box, still with cardboard to be recycled, but at least just the one larger plastic bag.  Or, I can take my large re-usable container to the bulk store and purchase what I’d like, no plastic.  Sure, the argument is that it’s less convenient, but big business and waste is built on convenience.

 

When I mentioned an experiment to my family the other day, about a plastic-free food day, everyone said “Sure!  That shouldn’t be too hard.”.  The idea was that we don’t consume (eat) anything that included plastic packaging, or was carried home from the store in anything plastic.

 

When you look deeper, it’s harder than you think.  The chicken you bought at the butcher either inside or out, has plastic.  Most of the juices, condiments, sauces, milk; all plastic containers.  Then there’s vegetables – and this was pretty shocking – almost all came wrapped in bags, clamshell containers, or some other form of plastic.  And even if they didn’t many of us default to voluntarily putting them in a plastic bag from the store (e.g., onions, tomatoes).

 

I challenge you:  For one day, do not consume anything that had any association with plastic when you either purchased it or carried it home.  It’s harder than you think.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Pass on Plastic.  Report back on changes you’ll make in the future to use less plastic.

 

www.kevingreenwood.ca/30days

 

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Day 8

Cut the Couture.

 

“Rice and beans cost more than used apparel.  In historical terms, that’s the world upside-down.” ~ Juliet Schor

 

If there is one area of our lives where we have all likely been guilty at one time or another, that’s the manner in which we purchase, use, value, de-value, and dispose of clothing.

 

The evolution of “fast fashion” in today’s world has reached epidemic proportions.  How clothing is produced, sold, and discarded means that we aren’t even close to paying the true costs; the true labour costs and the true ecological costs of the apparel we purchase.

 

And so, it may seem counter-intuitive for me to suggest cutting out clothing.  However, the objective is to understand a wardrobe of what we NEED, of only our most FAVORITE items.  This way, when we are once again tempted by the extraordinary allure of fast fashion, we will be more equipped to understand what we DON’T NEED, what are NOT OUR FAVORITES.  We will better understand before we purchase, what is likely to end up in a future collection of unwanted, unused clothing.

 

We can then also understand the devastating impact on the individuals tasked with producing our apparel, and the industry’s enormous contribution to the ongoing destruction of our habitat.

 

Today’s Challenge:  Remove any 20 articles of clothing.  But, socks don’t count.

Day 7

Pilfer the Pantry.  10 items (at least).

 

Does anyone have a pantry with a deep, dark side?  Those items that sit in there for years, maybe to be used “one day”?

 

Seeing a cluttered, overloaded pantry can be just as stressful as a cluttered home.

 

Today’s challenge is an easy one with a bright side.  Remove 10 (at least) items from your pantry that, be honest, you probably have no plans on using any time soon.

 

Then, donate those to a food bank that can desperately use them.

 

Win-Win!

Day 6

Gut the Garage.  20 items.

 

I’m amazed the number of times I see double car garages – packed to the brim with “stuff” and the homeowner going to work in the morning, frustrated at having to clean off snow or scrape off ice off their vehicles before they can go anywhere.

Then I’ll look at the house, a good-sized house, likely with some kind of basement, and wonder, why?

Garages were invented for vehicles. But they have slowly become domain for overflow of excess from inside the home. And for some, it doesn’t end there – many will have storage facilities or lockers to house what wouldn’t fit in the home or in the garage.

This is ludicrous.

Check out these stats from the U.S. (January 2021):

Annual industry revenue: $39.5 billion
Number of storage facilities: 49,000+
Total rentable storage space: $1.9 billion square feet

Today Challenge: Gut the Garage. If it’s not your garage, but your cold cellar or basement, let’s lose 20 more items that you don’t need.

 

Day 5

Less alcohol.

OK, this challenge may not apply to everyone, but it’s message is still worth reading.  Also key point – I didn’t say no alcohol, I said “less”.

 

I’m sure many of us, with our consumption either pandemically exaggerated or not, have had moments where we’ve thought we could re-examine our relationship with alcohol.  I’m not exempt.

 

Yes, we are stuck at home.  Yes, sometimes the days are hard and we would like a glass of wine to mellow.  Yes, there are small moments of victory and celebration amidst the challenges that we’d like to cheers.  And yes, the impending warm weather often calls out for a cold beer on a Sunday afternoon.

 

ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE FINE.  But maybe, just maybe, we can take a harder look at when a little “less” might be a reasonable thing.

 

Post your stories!

 

A friend (and writer) wrote a great piece on this concept called “Alcohol:  Reward or Saboteur”, which you can read here: https://jamieknowlton.medium.com/alcohol-reward-or-saboteur-5097335ceea3

 

Courtney Carver of “Be More With Less” also wrote a good one here:  https://www.becomingminimalist.com/alcohol/

Day 4

Kut the kitchen krap.

 

OK.  Day 3 was a sentimental one.

Day 4 is just a common sense one.   Just ditch the doubles.  Drop the duplicates.  Trash the twos.  Kut the kitchen krap.

 

In our fist big declutter - our kitchen was a disaster of doubles.  Not just doubles either - a massive excess of kitchenware that was almost obscene.

We're a relatively uncomplicated family of four - my wife and I along with our two boys age 12 and 9.  And yet somehow - here's where we were:

6 corkscrews?

21 mugs?

4 sets of mixing bowls?

121 glasses?  (Um - yeah - that was a true thing)

14 platters?

3 full sets of dinner plates?

16 shot glasses?

34 bowls?

Honestly, how much is too much?

DAY 4 CHALLENGE:   Kut the kitchen krap.  Lose 20 items from your kitchen from all those doubles or triples.

Day 3

Let go of objects as memories.

This is a tough one – and everyone is different – but we need to think about how we try to keep memories alive.  And as you may have guessed – it’s not through stuff.

 

You may disagree, but hear me out.

 

I’m sure many of us have things we’ve kept for sentimental reasons.  Perhaps, every few years we find a box while we’re cleaning; we go through some old yearbooks, ticket stubs, baby clothes, grandma’s tea cups; or whatever else we’ve hung on to as though it will somehow keep alive a period of our life, a memory of a loved one passed, or our fountain of youth.

 

As time goes on though, we must realize the memories are actually inside us, not inside the objects we cling to.

 

“Our memories are not in our things.  Our memories are inside us.”  - Joshua Fields Millburn

 

One of the best ways to detach from all of our material possessions is to remove our financial or emotional attachment to them.  Last year, during our huge de-cluttering where 1,860 items left our home – we were faced with many of these difficult decisions.

 

For example, my grandfather was one of the most influential people in my life outside my parents.  He meant everything to me – even today I can picture his face and feel his memory.  Every time I would visit him as a kid, he would gift me a very special model car from his huge collection.  I saved all these cars until just last summer, when during our huge de-cluttering, I finally let those cars go.  I realized that I had been saving them because after he passed in 2005, I believed they would somehow preserve his memory.

 

My wife also let some meaningful items from her childhood go.  Her wedding dress, too.

 

We all have our exceptions, and we all must realize what those are in time.

 

For me, when I’m gone one day, I hope my kids won’t burden themselves with the material things from my life.  I hope they will just live theirs.

 

DAY 3 CHALLENGE:  What sentimental “things” are you clinging to that could finally be let go?

 

P.S.  Here’s another great article on the subject:  https://www.theminimalists.com/sentimental/

Day 2
Less Television.

 

Maybe the pandemic has increased the amount of television you’ve watched, or maybe you’ve gotten sick of it.  But I know that many (most?) of us consume far too much of the idiot box (as my mom used to say).

 

They suggest that television only has us watching life, not living life.  That may be true, and not only that, it’s certain that television remains among one of the biggest means of encouraging consumption.  As we journey this month towards less, one of the biggest things we can reduce, or remove, from our lives are these marketing machines, all of whom are desperate for every morsel of our attention.  Eager to encourage us to add more material possessions to our life.

 

As Joey Tribbiani from “Friends” once said:  “What do you mean you don’t have a TV?  What’s all your furniture pointed at?”.  Funny, but true.  Many of us have allowed the television to be the focal point of our homes, and our lives.

 

In my family, we are guilty as charged.  Too often we allow the screen to just remain on, in the background, as we go about our daily lives.  Too often we search for something to watch, and sometimes even watch something knowing full well that we’re not really interested in it at all.  In fact, if (when) I propose 100% television free days, I will probably have to duck.

 

Still, let’s just turn it off.

 

Your DAY 2 challenge is:

 

First, decide for the rest of our #thirtydaysofless, how and how much you will “turn it off”.

Second, let us know what part of life you will add in, now that you’ve made room for less.

Day 1
Remove 10 items from your home.

 

OK, not everything is going to be about less “stuff”.  But DAY ONE is!  Today’s challenge is to remove ten items from your home.

Any 10, and anything goes:

 

Decorations.  Collectibles.  Kitchenware.

Electronics.  Furniture.  Bedding.

Clothes.  Towels.  Tools.

 

Whether you donate, sell, or trash, it must be out of your house, and out of your life—by midnight.

 

Do you have 5 corkscrews?

8 pairs of socks you don’t wear?

13 hoodies when you only wear 4?

26 coffee mugs for a family of 4?

 

What did you get rid of?

*******

“All of these things I brought into my life without questioning.  But, when I started letting go, I started feeling freer and happier and lighter.  And now...every possession serves a purpose or brings me joy."

 

- Joshua Fields Millburn, The Minimalists

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