De-Cluttering without Wasting — 5 Tips for Conscious Downsizing

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The topic of living a “clutter-free” lifestyle isn’t a new one around here. I’ve been through several downsizing/minimalism phases, each one varying in severity and longevity, and bits and pieces of my journey are littered throughout the online pages of this blog. Getting rid of stuff, it seems, comes and goes in trendy waves. I’ve ridden several and, I hope, crossed over into a balanced lifestyle of intentionally living with less without the guilt or restriction I once felt about the label “minimalist”. (A label I don’t subscribe to, by the way).

With the recent success of Netflix’s rendition of Marie Kondo’s not-so-new method of tidying up, it seems minimalism is on another trendy high, with folks all over the world declaring which items do and don’t spark joy in their lives. I love lots of things about Kondo’s method, especially the subjectivity, but one thing I’m hesitant to love about this “mass exodus” of ex-hoarders into minimalist territory is the sheer amount of waste that’s bound to be created, despite the KonMari warnings to dispose of things mindfully.

It’s inevitable, somewhat, creating waste initially when you begin to live a more conscious lifestyle. But I think it’s possible to Marie-Kondo your life without throwing all of your non-joy-sparking possessions into a landfill.

This blog post could go much more in depth, but, for sake of time and practicality, here is my quick two cents on how and why to de-clutter as mindfully as I think we should do anything else. Whether it’s your first bout of downsizing or you’re a veteran minimalist, living with intention requires you to be mindful in all areas of life, including where you put the things that don’t serve you anymore.


Infographic via  Trade Machines.  See the entire image  here  - it’s very eyeopening.

Infographic via Trade Machines. See the entire image here - it’s very eyeopening.

  1. Get rid of clothing responsibly

    Americans purchase one article of clothing per week and we keep our clothes for only half as long as we used to 20 years ago. It’s estimated that Americans toss about 70.5 pounds of textile waste into landfills each year, with a measly 15% ever being donated. The pictured infographic is wonderfully helpful for explaining more.

    Here are a few simple ways to be mindful with your downsized clothing:

    • Host a clothing swap

    • Sell or re-gift them

    • Send pieces to relevant charities

    • Send them to a certified textile recycling center (a full post is coming soon on textile recycling, but here’s some great info in the meantime!)

  2. Purge Heirlooms Carefully

    Sentimental clutter is one of the hardest areas for most people to purge. The memories associated often seem to attach themselves to the physical item. I’ve never ascribed to the “rule” that you can’t keep any sentimental items, but here are a few rules that I follow when getting rid of anything with sentimental value.

    • Send the most valuable to other family members

    • Keep what you love without guilt

    • Host a garage sale or “free sale” to purge the rest

  3. Declutter your Kitchen without Throwing it all in the Trash

    Things like spices, mismatched sets, and appliances that you never use all probably fall in the category of “not sparking joy”. Be careful that you don’t lump it all into the trash when, chances are, each item needs individual consideration.

    • Sell/donate appliances and supplies in good condition

    • Combine extra spices/herbs or use them up before recycling the packaging

    • Compost food waste

    • Recycle as many containers as possible

  4. Find charities/organizations that may need your miscellaneous extras

    For odds and ends that you don’t use and aren’t sure what to do with, there may be a charity or organization that will take it off your hands. Many schools will accept musical instruments, office supplies, or children’s toys. Homeless shelters often take clothes, unused food, and the like. Do some digging into local organizations and send some items their way.

  5. Carefully consider future new belongings

    The cornerstone of a mindful lifestyle with less clutter (which ultimately means creating less waste), is what you do moving forward. If you purge your belongings only to replace them shortly after with “new and improved” ones, you’ve missed the point.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t shop or buy things that do, indeed, spark joy or fill a gap. However, once the initial purge is over, being extra cautious of what you buy/accept/bring in means that you’ll have less clutter and less to worry about downsizing later.

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As you Kon-Mari your belongings, remember to do it without creating unnecessary trash. Here are a few ways to de-clutter without waste.

Of course, none of us do this perfectly. It’s impossible to exist without creating waste of some sort. However, I hope these tips inspire you to Kon-Mari your life away and dispose of the joyless items responsibly.

Did I miss anything? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat more!

#InspiringZeroWaste || January Goal

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As promised, the first installment of my #InspiringZeroWaste goals. I’m so excited about the reaction to this challenge and can’t wait to hear how your months go and which areas you choose to work on. I sat down with my planner today to map out each of my goals (I got halfway through the year and will reevaluate what I need to focus on as the year progresses) and was surprised by how tricky it was choosing what to focus on.

I’m not new to the “Zero Waste” lifestyle — I’ve been slowly working on reducing the waste my family and I produce for three or four years now. However, despite the progress I’ve made, I still found myself getting discouraged and overwhelmed by the amount I still had left to tackle. All of the little conveniences that we don’t even pay attention to until we realize how wasteful they are, all of the road trip stops at gas stations for a quick (plastic wrapped) snack, all of the in-flight plastic cups, or waste created while on vacation. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?

This challenge, as I mentioned in my introduction post, is meant to aid you in cultivating an overall awareness of what you’re consuming and where your lifestyle is headed while making tangible progress towards your goals. How is it going for you so far? Let’s support each other along the way and watch as our goals become habits over the year.

So, my first goal of the year is to “zero waste-ify” my shower routine. I’ve been using clean, organic and healthy beauty products for a while, but of course, each of them usually comes in (recyclable) plastic. There are a few other options I’ve found, like Plaine Products’ amazing refillable aluminum containers, or Seed Phytonutrient’s biodegradable recycled packaging. But I would ultimately prefer to skip the “packaging” step all together and use a product that was truly waste-less.

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For Shampoo: I trying my hand at shampoo bars (gasp! I know). I’ve wanted to for a while, but have either been testing other brands or waiting for my old shampoos to run out. The timing was perfect for this month, so I decided to jump right in. I’ve been using the bar shampoo from Natural Vegan Club for a week or so now (washing my hair usually twice per week) and am pleasantly surprised. I’m still using up an old conditioner, but plan to buy a conditioner bar from Unwrapped Life.

For Bodywash: Similarly, I’m waiting for a bottle to finish (that I’ll recycle) and then I’ll use bar soap for shaving and washing. I have quite a collection built up from several brands, so I don’t suspect I’ll be buying any new soap for a while.

For Shaving: This is the area I’ve struggled with the most. I use my razor a lot — daily in some way or another, so I’ve tried just about everything. Except a safety razor. So this month, I’ll be buying one (I’m debating between Leaf Shave or Oui Shave — I’d love your recommendations!) Safety razors are zero waste in that there isn’t a plastic cartridge or handle that you throw out (because, as far as I know, they can’t be recycled) every few weeks. Their blades can be saved and sent to centers that specifically recycle razor blades. I’m nervously excited to order mine (they’re a bit of an investment) and will definitely be sharing about how I like it.

My favorite part about this routine is how versatile it is. My kids can use the same products I do (except the razor, of course) and each of them travels extremely well without needing to waste travel-sized products or cram giant shampoo bottles into my carry-ons.

I’ll plan to write an update on how each month goes (maybe as a “quarterly update” if monthly updates don’t work out), but for now, I’d love to hear what your goal for January is and/or if you’ve ever tried zero waste-ing your shower routine.


Don’t forget to use the tag #InspiringZeroWaste to share your posts with me and others in the community!


#InspiringZeroWaste for 2019 || Tackling Low Waste Living One Month at a Time (+ free downloadable calendar)

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Is it cliche if I ask how it’s nearly 2019 already? Or say “where did 2018 go?!” Or ask you to “start the New Year off with a bang?” Probably. So I’ll save you the cliche’s and jump right in to my goal for this post.

If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of living a minimal, slow lifestyle that has minimal impact on the planet and community around you. However, (if you’re like me), you might be equally overwhelmed by the sheer intimidating magnitude of implementing this kind of lifestyle into your day to day.

Living low or zero waste in today’s world isn’t simple or convenient most of the time.

A few statistics to put it into perspective:

I could go on, but then you’d all probably get too discouraged to keep reading this post and join me in my little challenge.

What is the #InspiringZeroWaste Challenge?

True to my usual form, I love challenges and need to feel like my actions are making a difference. But, I’m also a creature of habit and convenience. Tackling the waste of my lifestyle in an all encompassing way seemed too overwhelming and impossible to stick with, so my efforts have been half-ditch at best. I carry a reusable water bottle and coffee mug everywhere, but often forget to bring reusable shopping bags. I shop for secondhand clothing, but send my fair share of textile waste to landfill through over-consumption and donation. I’m not perfect, nor am I trying to be, but I wanted to create a way for a more sustainable and earth-friendly lifestyle to actually STICK, without guilt trips or failed new years resolutions.

And so I decided to take it a month at a time.

For the #InspiringZeroWaste challenge, I will tackle one “project” each month of 2019 to reduce my (and my family’s) waste. Instead of trying to get rid of all waste at once, I’ll take smaller steps, all working toward a mindset of overall sustainability and ethical living.

Statistically speaking, smaller more manageable goals “stick” better over time. The truth of failed “New Years Resolutions” is all too staggering and is the opposite of what I’m going for this year. Don’t think of this challenge as yet another resolution to stick to (and fail mid-February). Think of it as a gradual lifestyle change, using proven techniques to make sure it sticks.

What the Challenge Isn’t

Of course, this monthly challenge isn’t meant to downplay the hugeness of our deeply ingrained issues with single-use plastics and “disposable culture”. I don’t think tackling one goal per month will save the world.

The challenge isn’t meant to give you permission to waste in other areas that you’re not focusing on each month. (ie. you’re not using plastic bags this month, but you didn’t say anything about tossing your disposable coffee cup in the trash). It’s meant to be cumulative — building healthy habits on top of one another one at a time, instead of fighting overwhelm every time you buy something wasteful.

Who is #InspiringZeroWaste for?

Simply put, anyone and everyone.

I’ve purposefully left the challenge as customize-able as possible to make it achievable. You will set your own goals for each month depending on what areas you’re hoping to reduce waste in the soonest. In my planner (free and downloadable below!) I’ve given examples of “sample goals” you can set, but really it’s completely up to you and where you think your lifestyle needs the most improvement.

Maybe you want to stop eating out and reduce “to-go” trash. Maybe you want to invest in a nice reusable water bottle or KeepCup. Maybe you want to learn more about composting or cooking seasonally. Maybe you want to stop buying new clothing or learn more about textile recycling. There are so many ways to reduce waste, so don’t get overwhelmed and tackle the challenges that seem most important to you one at a time.

How to join in

Again, it’s simple. You can do the challenge all on your own, or you can use the resources I’ve created to make it a little more organized and do-able. My free planner has space for each month of the year for brainstorming and implementing your goal, as well as accountability and reflection.

You can also join in with me and the ZW community by sharing your progress and monthly goals using the hashtag #InspiringZeroWaste on Instagram.

Be sure to check back here each month and follow along on Instagram for updates on my monthly goals, my inevitable failures, and progress reports. A few of my personal goals for the year are to learn more about cloth diapering (and start doing it) before baby arrives in May, start composting officially, completely cut out my plastic shopping bags, and learn more about textile recycling.

Finally, please reach out to me, tag me, email me, comment here, etc., if you decide to join in. The more the merrier and I’d love to see how your goals are going as the year progresses.

Living a low-waste lifestyle is intimidating. Join me in tackling one goal per month during #InspiringZeroWaste 2019!

Are you in?

Click here to download my free planner (or click the giant button below) for the full year and decide on your goal for January. Remember to take it slow and don’t get overwhelmed by the scope of the challenge. Take it a day, a week, a month at a time and watch as your habits and awareness grow.

Here’s to a beautiful (and less wasteful) 2019!

A Simplified Look at 2019 || My Plan for the New Year

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I don’t usually share my “behind the scenes” plans for this space. However polished or unpolished as it may seem, I usually feel like I’m winging it and, even three or four years later, struggle to stick to a consistent plan or schedule. So sharing that plan feels scary.

Although this blog has slowly become my job, I try really hard to keep it as relaxed and fun for me as possible because I know the second it gets too structured and full of “have to’s” I’ll resent it. That said, since it is a job, I’ve been treating it as such for the past few years and know that it will flop and I’ll end up compromising on quality and turn into a puddle of stress if I don’t have goals and structure.

So I’m sharing my 2019 goals to both give you sweet readers a heads up for what to expect AND to keep myself accountable.

Last year, I used my Pace and Pattern planner religiously and, of course, I’m so excited to use the 2019 version this year. I’ll be using it in conjunction with an Ink & Volt planner which is a bit more streamlined and minimalistic than the P&P. I love Pace and Pattern because they’re AMAZING at forcing you to sit down and create goals that will actually happen. It’s an all encompassing planning that allows you to focus on your life as a whole, with space to plan, schedule, dream, make mistakes, and reevaluate. (Side note* this post isn’t sponsored by either company, but I did receive both planners to share my authentic experience with you throughout the year.)

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2019, both for SL&Co. and for my personal life. This year will be a big one — I’m having baby #3 in May, we’re hoping for me to work enough hours on my blog and freelance work that I can take over a lot of our income, providing us with freedom to travel and live “tiny”, and both my girls will be in school part-time this Fall, freeing me up to (hopefully) work even more on this space. I’m so excited for what this new year holds.


Goals for the SL&Co.

  • Focus on long term partnerships between fewer brands

    • This is so beneficial for so many reasons. Mostly, it allows me to dedicate my time and energy to promoting fewer brands who I really, really believe in and can develop a relationship with. Furthermore, it helps you all, my readers, to make more informed choices by watching how a brand interacts with my real life over a period of time, instead of in a single blog post. My collabs will run for 3 months or 6 months. I’ll likely still have “one-time” partnerships interspersed throughout each month, but I’m really hoping to focusing mostly on long term relationships.

    • You can always keep track of who my “Ambassador” brands are by looking at the footer of my homepage.

  • Collaborate with brands who aren’t strictly fashion related

    • As my lifestyle becomes more “conscious” I hope to incorporate more posts on living an all around “slow and conscious” lifestyle, from downsizing, to lessening waste, to tackling newborn life as slowly and intentionally as possible. As always, I LOVE suggestions for what would be most helpful for you to read about, so please, email me or message me.

  • Write more “authentically”/real life inspired posts/updates

    • Although sponsored posts take a lot of time, I’m hoping to mix more unsponsored content in this year as well as tailor my sponsored posts to feel less “review-y” and more “here’s how a piece fits into my day to day life”. My latest post with Encircled is an example of one way I can do this.

  • Work only (as far as it’s possible) with brands who prioritize extended sizing and inclusivity in their marketing and production

    • This issue of exclusion and sizeism has been on my heart for months and although I don’t quite know yet where my voice fits in the narrative, I’m hoping to consciously shed light on brands who create clothes for women of all sizes/budgets/backgrounds. It’s hard when I’ll be the one “modeling” them for my site, but I’m hoping textual review will be enough for now. If you have ideas of how I can do more, please let me know!

  • Host raw conversations and listen

    • This will primarily happen via Instagram, because I love the community there and feel it’s a great platform for hosting true discussions, instead of me “preaching” from my blog.

  • Start up a semi-regular (monthly?) newletter to share happenings, discount codes, thoughts from my heart that don’t make it on the blog, and more. (Sign up below!)

    • Bonus points for letting me know what would be most meaningful to you in a newsletter!

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Personal Goals

  • Tackle one zero-waste goal each month

    • Join me! Emily from A Day Pack and a few others have already expressed their interested in joining me each month with a new zero waste challenge. The goal can be personal to your own life, but I’ll be sharing my monthly “schedule” and my progress with the hashtag #InspiringZeroWaste

  • Journal through my pregnancy

    • I’m terrible at regular journaling, but I love to do it. Journaling during pregnancy has been therapeutic while I carried each of my babies.

  • Have regular “vulnerability dates” with my husband

    • I’ve realized that although when I write it seems to come naturally, in personal relationships, especially my marriage, vulnerability is really hard for me. These dates might be weekly or monthly, but I want to force myself to share something raw each time.

  • Practice more self-care that isn’t blog or work related

    • I’m hoping that making this a goal ahead of time will ingrain it in my mind when I’m deep in the haze of the newborn phase. Even now, I usually feel like work is my alone time and self-care (because I love my job!) but to be my healthiest and happiest I need more outlets than just blogging.


There you have it! I’m sure these goals will ebb and flow like they always do, but I hope laying them out here is encouraging and exciting to you too. I’d love to hear a few of your goals for 2019 in the comments and, as always, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and this little slice of the internet.

A Sustainable Denver Staycation

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I’ve never lived in Denver, but for most of my life, I’ve lived a few hours outside of it, tucked away in a cozy mountain town that truly is my happy place. The proximity to the “Mile High City”, however, isn’t something I take for granted though. As one of the quickest growing cities in the country, Denver has no shortage of things to do and places to see. But, since I’ll likely never get around to seeing them all or doing them all, I’ve recently begun looking for businesses, restaurants, cafes, and shops that prioritize sustainability.

Last month, for my birthday week, AJ and I had a full weekend away to visit some of the places I’d been researching for our little “Sustainable Denver Staycation” and although we barely scratched the surface of all that Denver has to offer, these recommendations are based on our trip there and a few other gems we’ve discovered over the years.


To Stay:

Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Downtown Denver

When we go to Denver, we typically just drive home after a full day or, when needed, stay with friends. But this time, I decided to go all out and research hotels with high ratings for sustainability and treat the trip like a true tourist. Hotel Monaco, one of Kimpton’s two Denver locations, was sweet enough to accommodate us for a night and it truly made the "Staycation” a dream.

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A little bit about the hotel and their sustainability endeavors:

  • Single-use goods like coffee cups, napkins, paper bags, key cards, and the like are all made using recycled materials

  • Waste from the hotel is recycled/composted via commercial centers and in-room recycling bins

  • Reusable mugs/cups/flatware all provided for staff

  • The first hotel brand to become 100% certified by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program

  • Kimpton sources only organic and sustainably made wines from vintners with shared values (we can attest to how tasty their complimentary wine hour is).

  • They don’t offer “to-go” toiletries, instead, have re-fillable containers with organic shampoos, conditioners, and body washes.

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We felt so welcomed and, yes, at home, there. And to sweeten the deal, all of their rooms were recently renovated, giving a very modern sophisticated, yet art deco feel that I couldn’t get enough of.

Thanks so much, Hotel Monaco. We’ll be back soon!


To Eat:

Not surprisingly, when we weren’t at the hotel, we were eating. This little list barely scratches the surface of everything that Denver has to offer in the way of sustainable, farm-to-table eating, but oh my gosh, my belly was happy for two full days.

Rootdown: A forerunner in the farm-to-table movement in Denver, Rootdown (and their several sister locations - even one in DIA for all you passersby) has an incredible, seasonal selection at an approachable price point. The majority of their dishes are made with food grown either in house or locally, their business is entirely wind-powered, and the restaurant as a whole composts or recycles 80% of their waste. Read more about their sustainability efforts here.

Panzano: Located in the first level of Hotel Monaco, Panzano is considered one of “the” happy hour spots in Denver, as well as one of the best sustainable Italian restaurants. Their ingredients are nearly 100% organic and, when possible, locally sourced. They recycle and compost everything that they can and, of course, refrain from using straws and other single use plastics.

The Family Jones: Right next door to Rootdown and, conveniently, partnered with Hotel Monaco to offer guests buy-one-get-one cocktails, The Family Jones was a spontaneous stop before dinner but I’m so glad we tried it out. All of their spirits are made in house and the atmosphere was unique and modern, but so cozy and welcoming.

Mercantile: On my list for a while, Mercantile is located inside Union Station in the heart of Downtown. Mercantile hopes to bridge the “information gap between farmer and consumer” by promoting transparency in each step of the farm to table process. Their breakfast was amazing and they serve locally roasted coffee from Commonwealth.

Little Man Ice Cream: Little Man is designed to pay homage to the whimsy of the 1950’s and it’s a must-stop almost every time we come to town. In every relationship, Little Man seeks to develop long lasting relationships that support local farmers and businesses as well as the 9 countries they donate supplies to as part of their “Scoop for Scoop” model.


To Do:

Again, I can barely scratch the surface of all of the things to do in the Mile High City. These things are just a few of the places I’ve been that support my values.

Jalan Facial Spa: Last year, Aj and I were treated to an afternoon at this spa and it was mind blowing. If you’re looking for a sustainable spa that values organic products and will truly let you relax, book a facial or other service at Jalan Spa.

Denver Botanical Gardens: Supporting conservation all across Denver, the Botanic Gardens have two locations with gardens, tours, art exhibits, and more. There are scheduled free days as well throughout the year, if you plan your trip well.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts: I’ve seen many plays at the Denver Center over the years and they’ve never disappointed. Most recently, Les Miserables made me sob more than anything else ever has.

Cafe Crawl: I could chat Denver coffee with anyone for hours. A growing craft coffee scene with quality coffee and great vibes all over the city, I always hit at least two or three cafes each time I’m in the city. Here are a few stand-by favorites: Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, Jubilee Roasting Co., Amethyst Coffee Co., Little Owl Coffee, Huckleberry Roasters, Middle State Coffee…I could go on, but I won’t. Feel free to message me if you run out of options ;)


Where are your go-to spots in Denver? My list is always growing.