I have a confession to make: I’m a sucker for pretty packaging. (I’m also a sucker for soap, as previously discussed. cough) If you show me a pretty lotion or potion on a pretty little shelf, all wrapped up in a pretty little label or ribbon – or both a label and a ribbon! – then I am going to fork over whatever amount of cash you declare such lotion or potion is worth. Because that’s just who I am.
To justify this expenditure I tell myself it’s a practical purchase. Unlike, say, a twelfth pair of Prada shoes*, my family will actually use a body care product – heck, we even need these items, to stay clean and stuff.
Additionally, a purchase such as this (in the grand scheme of things) only sets us back a nominal fee, just a cheap little “luxury”, am I right? It’s (again) not like I’m forking over hundreds for a pair of pretty shoes … I mean, a pair of good sneakers I could even justify, if I needed a pair …. (but I digress). Buying a bottle of this or that, it’s just $5 here or there. It’s not at all an expensive weakness … until it is.
I have very likely (and this is just a conservative guesstimate) spent in the neighborhood of $650 on toiletries, in the past year. That’s “only” $54.17 per month, but let’s be honest and admit that number doesn’t include necessary staples and basics (such as toilet paper). That number reflects what happens only in those moments when I’ve been walking down the shampoo aisle in search of a bottle of cheap conditioner when –
Ohhhhh! Preeeeetty! And oh my, that smells good too!
Plop! Into the shopping buggy!
I mean, honestly. I roll my eyes in my general direction. I’m ridiculous, I know.
Which is why last week my bathroom looked liked this:
total insanity in both side drawers of my bathroom sink
And that doesn’t even begin to showcase the sheer chaos that was under my sink. I’m pretty sure there were things living down there. Good Lord Almighty, it needed an exorcism.
So that’s basically what I did.
I went in with both barrels. I pulled everything out into the open, then proceeded to plow through with the idea of eliminating from our home of anything and everything that I didn’t use or that my kids wouldn’t use. If it was something I was hanging onto “because I might use it some day”, I wouldn’t. If I was gonna use it, I would have already. So if it was an expired or otherwise unusable cream or lotion it was squeezed out into the trash, and if it was a gel or liquid, it was rinsed down the sink or flushed. All empty and rinsed containers were put into a used grocery bag for recycling. I threw away dried up nail polishes, tossed years-old nail files that might-maybe-possibly-doubtfully have one more use left (they didn’t), and chucked anything and everything that served no practical and legitimate purpose in the here and now.
I was merciless.
work in progress (left) and finished product (right)
It took me all day, y’all. I’m not making this up. I started just after breakfast on Saturday morning (thinking it would only take an hour or two) and didn’t finish until nearly three o’clock in the afternoon, just in time to shower and get ready for a friend’s birthday party that evening.
Now, it may seem like I did very little and made hardly a dent, but you’d be wrong. I even created a beautiful system to continue purging items over the coming weeks and months. In an effort to eventually be as bare minimum and zero waste as possible, I wanted to keep only the items my family would use on a daily, consistent basis – but I didn’t wish to be unnecessarily wasteful.
On my actual sink counter I have perfumes (on the left) and hair and makeup items (on the right). These are things that I literally use every day, every potion used on my hair, every lotion and cream used on my skin from morning to bedtime. For now, let’s you and I overlook just exactly how much product I currently use – more on that on another day, as I learn to cut back …
Under my sink (not pictured) are items that I use over the course of a month: hair color for my daughter (who likes to maintain a lovely head of mauve-pink hair in the summer, burgundy in the winter); assorted nail polishes (also for my daughters); a bottle of shampoo and conditioner that I’ll be using once my current bottles (in the shower) are all used up; sunscreens (because we plan to visit the beach this year); a lovely jar of bath soaps; and about 4-5 bottles of vitamins (biotin, pro-biotics, etc.)
Lastly, my drawers:
You saw what a mess they were before. Well, they’re not a ton better now – but, I do at least have a system worked out to continue purging over the coming months. In the left side drawer I have items that I or my family currently use on a weekly basis: essential oils, dental floss, OTC pain meds, band-aids, etc. On the right I have what I am calling my “shopping drawer”; these are excess toiletries and such that will replace items we are consuming. I’ve told my kiddos when we’re out of a necessary item (like deodorant, hand sanitizer, or body lotion), we should “shop” from this drawer first, before buying anything new. In this way we will use up what we’ve already got in stock, thus saving money in addition to working toward a more low-key living environment. Any empty bottles and/or tins will either be sent off for community recycling or I’ll re-purpose them when it comes time to make my own lotions and potions.
Finally – and this is The Most Important Thing: no more frivolous buying of pretty products! This will take discipline, I’m sure, but we – erm … I can do this! When I see the shiny new packages of creamy, dreamy wonder, all I have to do is tell myself, “No, Lauren! This is not for you! It’s not in the budget, and it’s not in the plan for Living The Dream!”
* This was just an example. I don’t actually own a twelfth pair of Prada shoes. I don’t even own a first pair. Please.