Some Items You Can Probably Go Without (Part 10)
While it's great to share stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in small spaces, I think it’s just as important to discuss the things that we can happily live WITHOUT. After all, making a home of a small space isn’t mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters— it’s about experiencing more by owning less, and reducing our footprint on this strained planet.
As always, before we jump on in, here’s a lil’ disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items might be easy for easy for some folks to forego, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best. Habits shift, tastes change, lives and practices evolve. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone. The following is just a small sampling of everyday items you might want to reconsider if you’re starting to outfit a new home or apartment, or approaching a makeover of your existing space.
(View all the entires in this series here.)
Plastic Shoe Storage Boxes
I appreciate the look and feel of an organized closet as much as the next person. But while those single-pair plastic shoe storage boxes are useful, they’ll sit on our planet until the end of time once we’re done with them. If your shoes are concealed in a closet or under the bed, simply use their original packaging for continued storage. If your footwear storage is exposed in the open, upcycled wine crates are a good option for a clean, streamlined look. Or perhaps choose a multi-purpose accent piece, such as a slim concealed shoe console table or bench, reducing the number of furnishings you buy from 2 (or more) to 1.
Everyone enjoys a good laugh. But we can make each other smile without gifting single-use, custom or mass produced junk goods. Gag gifts tend to get a chuckle… and then get tucked away in a drawer. Consider saving money, reducing waste, and further eliminating clutter by curbing your impulse to order that box of bachelor(ette) party t-shirts.
Why is our knee-jerk reaction to accept anything if it’s free? SWAG bags from events are typically loaded with promotional goodies and gifts tailored to a wide audience, which means that they likely don’t contain items you need. I almost always politely decline them, unless I know they contain something I’ve been hoping to try, or unless they contain products I know will be of use to local non-profits.
We bought a round of coloring books for West before I realized how silly that was. He can create art out of endless repurposed goods around our house, such as cardboard boxes, used brown paper packaging, leaves and more. (I do not, however, regret buying his Coloring Without Borders book— that one is a keeper. All proceeds from the sale of this clever paperback, which features illustrations by over 80 professional artists from all over the globe, go to Families Belong Together.)
Dedicated “Bag Ties” + “Chip Clips”
Plastic chip clips and bag ties are certainly things we can all go without. Wooden and metal clothespins can be used in a myriad of ways around the home, including in the kitchen pantry. (Plus the wooden clips can also lead to creative art projects with your kids!)
I regretfully admit that throughout my 20s, I had one of those acrylic makeup holders to contain the sea of (toxic) products I used on my face and hair. Looking back, I can’t believe I applied all those chemicals to my skin in the name of beauty. And I shudder to think of all the money and materials I wasted in the process. I understand the appeal of organizational tools, but can we all find ways to organize with goods we already own, rather than buying new items that were designed for a single purpose only? (Perhaps a multi-tiered hanging basket, or a vintage, treated art supply case.) I reduced my makeup + skincare routine so drastically (more on that topic soon,) that I only need a little zipper pouch to hold everything. This has saved me so much time throughout the day, and frees up useful inches in our lil’ bathroom.
Thousands of items can double as a cute residential doorstop by day— why buy a plastic wedge or a novelty doorstop? Similarly, there are numerous ways to childproof doors that don’t require buying anything new. From rubber bands that prevent hardware from automatically latching to DYI door knob covers, you probably already have everything you need to apply some temporary hacks to your house while your child is in his/her toddler phase— just consult the great and powerful Pinterest. (However, I do think doors can be useful spots for touches of extra small space storage.)