By Tabitha Caplinger
I had the opportunity to talk with one of our Faith Community volunteers about some changes she has recently made to her life. Since we’ll all be in spring-cleaning mode soon, I thought it would be fun to hear her ideas on how to create a peaceful and clutter-free home. Laura Drilingas recently started a journey toward minimalism and zero waste that goes beyond spring cleaning toward a lifestyle of stewardship and peace. While this may not be for everyone, we can all be encouraged through what Laura has learned, because, at the end of the day, it’s really about gaining a perspective that keeps our possessions from possessing us.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21
Laura, what made you want to start going minimal and zero waste?
Well, I believe my whole life has led me to this point. Since I have gotten older, I have come to realize what’s really important in life, and for me, that does not include stuff. There have been times I have gotten very aggravated with some of the clutter in my home because to me it’s not even worth it anymore. That being said, I started decluttering, that’s when it really hit me, exactly how much stuff I had, and I decided to become a minimalist, or at least as minimal-ish, as my family will allow me. I mean we can’t take it with us anyway.
What realizations have you had as you’ve started this journey?
The first is how much money I have wasted on things that I didn’t really need. I guess we all try to keep up with the Joneses at some point, even though I’ve never really thought of myself as doing that, but I am certainly guilty of it. We all see someone who has something that we want and then we go get it, just to realize later that it wasn’t really even that important, and it didn’t fulfill us. But that money is gone either way.
Another big one for me has been the amount of waste our family produces. It was really an eye-opener to see how in trying to save time in our lives by buying things such as paper plates, plasticware, paper napkins, and disposable items, things we don’t truly need and that create lots of waste. I feel I am being a better steward of our planet and resources by being more intentional with what we use and reuse. Not to mention, those disposable things that seem cheaper at the moment, can all be more expensive over time and I am looking forward to saving money by not buying them. That’s a happy side-effect of moving toward a zero or low waste lifestyle. The money adds up, money that can go toward things like giving, traveling, creating memories through experiences over things.
But I guess the biggest realization I’ve had is, not just the money, but time and aggravation I could’ve saved myself if I had done this years ago. The peace I missed out on because of stuff. Oh well, I guess better late than never. (That’s so true.)
Has there been a spiritual component for you?
I can definitely say there has been more peace, not worrying about stuff. I’m still a ways off from finishing up all of my organizing and purging, but the more I do the more peace I have. I can’t wait until I’m finally finished, and where I want to be with it all, because I think that sense of peace will grow. Just thinking of all the things that I’m going to have time for now; reading the Word more, spending more time on some of my hobbies, less cleaning and less chores and just being able to spend time with my family and enjoying my life. We have also been able to give to others out of the things we are purging, to bless them in their place of need. For example, I was able to give a young man moving into his first apartment a lot of items for his kitchen.
I feel like this is all bringing me to a new level of stewardship. I’ve decided that I am going to buy second hand as much as possible, which in turn supports local charities and outreaches, on top of what I’ve donated. I am planning on giving more money to our church to help support ministries. In addition, My family and I are also trying to produce less waste, as we are supposed to be taking care of what God has given us and I believe that part of that is taking care of our environment well.
There is so much more to be gained in living a godly life, and in being content and at peace than anything money can buy. I am so looking forward to the day when I am completely free of the bondage of stuff and consumerism. I think that is something God wants for me, for all of us.
How has it been going so far?
The decluttering has been slow, but I’m learning as I go. I wish I had time to do more, but I do have to work. I usually try to do at least one thing every day, even if it’s just a drawer. I’m at the point, where I feel like I need to go back through and declutter my closet again, along with my jewelry box and make up. Once I declutter something and give it some time and think about it, I usually end up going back and getting rid of even more that I know in my mind, I don’t need or don’t want. I’m learning that if it doesn’t have a purpose or bring me joy, I don’t need it.
What’s been the easiest part?
I think the easiest part for me was making the decision to do it. Clearing out my closet was probably the best thing, now it’s a whole lot less chaotic when deciding what to wear and getting to that item. Before, I had to fight just to find something because it was so stuffed full. It’s easier to make choices when you don’t have so many options.
What has been the hardest part?
Deciding what to keep, especially if it’s sentimental. I have gotten rid of some of the sentimental items if there’s no purpose for them. It’s not like I sit and look at them, they’re sitting in a drawer or a jewelry box or a closet being hidden and I don’t even think about them unless I’m seeing them. And getting my family on board has taken some work, especially for my husband. There are certain things he is unwilling to give up such as Kleenex, LOL.
Has anything surprised you through this process?
Actually, the thing that has been most surprising to me, is each time I get rid of stuff and clean something out or declutter, I have the urge to do even more. There is just such a peace and accomplishment that goes along with it. I don’t miss the things.
Do you have any tips for beginners?
Start small. The best place would be your pantry. Start by getting rid of all expired food or anything you know you are not going to use. That’s an easy step. The closet is another one. Take everything out and lay it on your bed and only keep what you know you’re gonna wear. At this point it’s going to seem a bit overwhelming because it’s going to look like a mess but don’t give up, keep going. Little by little do the work, it is worth it. It has been for me.
You may think of zero waste or minimalism as too extreme. But you can boil it down to just living a simpler life with less stuff and less stress. If you are interested in more information or tips and tricks to declutter, reduce waste, and more, contact Laura to learn more or join her Facebook group. There are even some great resources posted that share the Biblical aspect of minimalism like this message from Joshua Becker. It’s worth the watch.