Hello, friends. As we move towards sustainable living, we are realizing that reducing our meaningless, fleeting consumption is a very large part of this lifestyle. And part of reducing consumption is realizing how much we already have, halting our purchases on anything we already have enough of, and removing any clutter causing stress of frustration. We are not minimalists and likely never will be true minimalists, however I like to call myself a minimalism enthusiast. I love the simplicity of minimal design and the idea that minimalism can help direct our focus towards things we like, instead of just having a bunch of things around causing frustration.
One of our worst sources of frustration is the kitchen. I cook a lot from scratch due to my food allergies and intolerances, which means that for only having two people, I create a lot of dishes. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, Luke usually ends up washing all these dishes, which inevitably pile up over a couple days as I cook more food.
For the last while, we have been trying to think of ways to interrupt this pattern of cook food > create dishes > see the full sink > get stressed > avoid the sink > grab a different mixing bowl instead of washing the one in the sink > create more dishes > feel more stressed > spend 2 hours doing ALL the dishes > cook all the food for next week > and so on.
Of course, the simplest way to disrupt this dysfunctional pattern would be to simply do the dishes immediately after cooking. However, when you have two humans living together who both share the flaw of avoiding mess because it causes stress, it’s unlikely that, unless one of you musters an enormous amount of will-power, anything meaningful will be able to change.
So, we started brainstorming. We considered starting a new, strict routine. We tried Luke doing 20 minutes of dishes and me doing 20 minutes of some other chore before bed. I tried using fewer dishes, washing as I went along cooking, etc etc etc. None of this worked.
Why was none of this working? We couldn’t figure it out. We had genuinely tried everything we could think of… until we had an embarrassingly revealing conversation with my little brother.
Leave it to brothers to show you just how stupid you’re being.
We were discussing the Netflix show, The Minimalists. I mentioned how the show toured kitchens of some people who had only what they needed to survive, and absolutely nothing more. We’re talking like 1 spatula, 2 forks, 1 plate, that kind of thing. My brother, ever practical, said “well, yeah. Why would anyone have more than 1 spatula?”
To which Luke replied, “we have about 7 spatulas.”
And then we realized what our problem was. We had 7 spatulas. And 12 plates. And 14 mugs. And 6 mixing bowls. And 3 sets of measuring cups.
For two people.
There is not a human on this planet who needs that much kitchen ware.
A few days later while we were talking about our dishes problem, Luke suggested we pare down our kitchenware to only 1-2 items per person. So we would be left with 4 mugs, 4 forks, 2 spatulas, etc. We could put the rest of our items away in an under-bed storage drawer for when friends or family came over, or donate anything we didn’t want to occasionally use.
So, we did it. We removed all but the necessities and the regularly used non-necessities. And let me tell you, the difference is quite surprising. Not only is it far easier to keep the kitchen clean, but because we only kept out the matching tableware set (which we got for our wedding from Luke’s family!), our kitchen now has this beautiful, calming minimalistic feel. I love cooking in there.
Because the kitchen no longer causes stress due to clutter, I feel so much more empowered to cook healthy food and create dishes that Luke and I will both love to eat.
We gave a couple items to family members, and donated anything that we wouldn’t need to keep for guests, or wouldn’t get used at least occasionally. Since we both have big families who we love having over once in a while, we couldn’t get rid of all the extra kitchen and dining ware. What we did is put it in our under bed storage unless it’s absolutely needed. Eliminating these dishes from always being in the way was also really helpful.
So, maybe this will inspire you to declutter that one room that’s always caused you frustration. Maybe you don’t feel minimalism is right for you, but can offer some direction on where to start a journey towards sustainability (because of buying less).
Either way, I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share in the comments below!
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