Two months ago I declared a less stuff, less waste challenge. This mindful spending experiment is an effort to not only keep our spending in check – something we’ve done well at the last couple of years – but to also consciously think about the waste we are creating with any spending we do. And to actively work to reduce this waste.
“…I’m going to be more mindful of every purchase from not only a ‘less stuff’ point of view, but also from a ‘less waste’ perspective this year.”
It’s going well thus far.
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Less Waste Challenge
We cook over 90% of our meals at home and use mostly fresh, sometimes frozen food items. Thus, we do not have a lot of waste from food packing, i.e., cans or cardboard. Most of the waste comes from meat packaging, produce bags, and frozen food bags. We’ve attempted to use less produce bags, and I just ordered these cotton reusable produce bags to help with that.
One big change in the kitchen was ditching the plastic coffee K-cups for our Keurig Coffee Maker. While the machine works great for us, the waste it created didn’t. Enter the reusable coffee filter.
The filter cleans out easily, and the used coffee grounds are added to our composting pile. No more plastic cups being added to our waste. Win!
So while I did spend a bit to create less waste, it is money well spent in my book.
We continue to gradually weed out existing stuff – clothing, knickknacks, kitchen gadgets, etc. – by donating or passing it on to other family members. New stuff brought in includes the products mentioned above, some new undershirts for my husband – the old ones became rags – and a few items for a DIY project detailed below.
My husband mentioned needing to purchase a stud finder for our project, but I convinced him to ask a co-worker if he had one – which he did – so we were able to borrow that instead. Borrowing (and lending) has its perks.
We’ve been repurposing items for a while now – check out our kitchen redo – as I love to imagine elements used in different or unique ways. This helps us not add items to the trash pile or buy new things. Since purchasing our home 3 1/2 years ago, we’ve had lots of opportunities to reimagine.
An idea we’ve had from the beginning we finally brought to fruition. Sliding ‘barn doors’ to cover our sliding glass door and windows in the dining room. When we purchased the home all the windows and doors were covered with long flowery curtains. We took them all down the first day we owned the house.
Since our home sits off the road a bit in the middle of 3 acres, we don’t worry much about people seeing into the house. We did cover all the bedroom windows and most of the living room windows but left the dining room wall uncovered. The only time I wished we had it covered was at night when interior lights were on or when we were away from the house over an extended period as you can see into not only the dining room but the kitchen and living room as well if you are close to the home.
A Little DIY
I wanted something besides curtains or blinds on the door wall though. We’ve always liked the look of barn doors but hesitated over them due to the purchase price. We finally decided to pull the trigger and create some ourselves. We could have built some from lumber, but I wanted something more unique, so we used 4 old solid wood interior doors instead. The barn door hardware – rail and rollers we purchased new.
We found one old door for $15 at a Habitat Restore, paid $20 for one at another construction reuse store, and found two more at an antique store. The two from the antique store were priced at $60 and $75, but they were having a sale, and we got them each 30% off. One is from the 1880’s and the other the 1920’s.
Because we had a lot of space to cover we purchased 20 feet of steel rail and the hardware for 2 doors at the cost of $354 with free shipping. Our sliding door and side windows are 9 feet long in total, and we wanted the barn doors to open entirely past them. We also purchased one 10 foot 2 x 6 which was cut in 1/2 and two 10 foot 1 x 4’s for less than $20. We already had the grey paint and polyurethane that we also used for the project.
After trimming the old doors down to all be the same size, John lightly scrapped their peeling paint, thoroughly cleaned them, and then covered them with two coats of polyurethane. He then connected two doors together using a 10 foot 2 x 6 painted light grey. Finally, he attached two wheels to each door set and two additional steel straps for extra support.
For the railing, he mounted the two 10 foot 1 x 4’s (also painted light grey) to the wall and then secured the rail to it. We then hung the doors and attached old door knobs we already had onto the doors for more uniqueness. Now I just need to decide what to cover the single small window with. We chose the one door with a window so we could still see out when the doors are closed. I’d like to cover it with some type of curtain.
They are different, but we like them.
So again, we did spend some money, but for us, it’s money well spent.
The Challenge Continues
I don’t anticipate any ‘new stuff’ purchases in the coming months just further purging. We’ll be looking to make more progress in the create less waste challenge though. How about you, any purging, decluttering, or DIY projects occurring in your home this year?
Check out these other Bloggers participating in a no spend challenge this year:
- Happy Philosopher and his update
- Dads Dollars Debts and update
- Countdown To Tranquility and latest update
- Dr. McFrugal and latest update
- Buy Nothing 2018 and latest post
- Smart FI
- Kiwi and Keweenaw and latest update