Nurses and doctors, soldiers and cops wear uniforms. But if you’re an office worker, should you also adopt a “work uniform”?Read More
Last year, I ditched my car and started taking public transport to work. Did the world collapse? Find out more!Read More
My life has changed a lot since adopting a more minimalist lifestyle - for one, I’ve cut a lot of unnecessary expenditure - here are some things I don’t miss buying.Read More
A few weeks ago, I did something I never thought I'd ever do: pay top dollar to move into an apartment to live on my own.
I've been sharing flats and houses with strangers (mostly) since 2012. My move to share apartments/houses was a deliberate move to downsize; I wanted to live more frugally to pay down my housing loan. I did live on my own for a few years before that and enjoyed it, but it was expensive to live alone. With the financial benefits I was enjoying housesharing, I didn't think I'd ever go back to living solo.Read More
I remember it well. The heavy weight on my soul as I neared the end of the month and I ran out of money for food or gas. The painful sensation of running my credit card down that slot in the machine, knowing that it'll only make the debt situation worse the next monthRead More
I have only five pairs of shoes. My clothes fit a slim wardrobe and a dresser. My bedroom interiors are sparse and zen-like, making it an oasis of calm in my two-bedroom apartment.
But if some folks have a peek at my personal library, well, they may accuse me of not being a committed minimalist.
Because I have about 100+ physical books. Perhaps 200. And 80% of these are unread.
The reason why I have such a high number of unread books is because a) I almost always give away or sell books that I have read b) Malaysia has awesome book sales, and for the life of me, I can't resist them. Most of the books in the picture above (except the James SA Corey novels) were bought for a song; they were all remainder books in pristine condition that I bought for about RM5 (about US$1.20) each. How do you resist such deals? I'm only human after all. And I often buy a goodly number of these books during sales, which is why my TBR is hardly below 30 at any time.
Recently, my shelf literally broke under the strain of my books and I had to move all of them out into the hall.
I took that opportunity to cull my books Konmari style. I ended up selling about more than a dozen, gave away that much, and gave 16 to the Subang Jaya book exchange. And it felt awesome, like a weight coming off me.
When the new book cabinet came in and I moved the slimmed down book collection in, a curious thing happened. I stepped back, admired my collection and thought: Well, aren't they lovely?
Despite the culling, I still have 100+ books. And, you know what? I didn't mind that at all. I felt that I now have the right number of books in my personal library and look forward to reading and savouring them slowly over time.
This goes to show that minimalism doesn't have to look a certain way. You don't need to have 33 clothes in your closet or only 100 things in your apartment.
Minimalism can look any way you want.
You should have the number of (insert a type of stuff) that you're comfortable with, as long as every item is needed and cherished.
And, for now, I love each one of my 100+ books on my shelf ... until I read them and pass them on to bless others. :)
I hate rubbish in general, but "wet rubbish" produced from vegetables and meat has got to be the worst.
I used to follow my Mum's method of getting rid of food waste: throw them into a plastic bag and store that in a bin in one corner of the kitchen and hope for the best.
That never worked well for me. I don't cook often enough, so by the time that bag is full, it would've been a week. By then, it would be a smelly, rotten, ghastly mess. And worse, it attracted and bred pests (found maggots in my wet waste bin more than once). Throwing it out would generally be a nasty experience.
However, last year, in a desperate bid to reduce the roach population in my apartment, I decided to stuff my food waste in the freezer. (No food sources, no roaches, so goes the theory.)
It worked. But the weirdest thing happened: I enjoyed the experience of not throwing wet garbage out so much that I thought, why not eliminate it forever?
Why not go Zero Waste, I thought.
Zero waste proponents believe that by reducing their garbage, the environment would be better for it.
But you may think that it's impossible to do it in Malaysia, where recycling is still a thing tree huggers do, and plastic is everywhere.
But I can tell you most assuredly that it is possible, and that I no longer throw out my food waste. Meaning, none of my food waste ends up in the landfill!
Here's how I do it:
1. Waste not and reuse!
Use vegetable scraps to make vegetable broth, bones to make bone broth
I got this brilliant idea from Oh my Veggies: keeps vegetable scraps such as onion skins, stalks and peels to turn into nutritious vegetable broth. I now collect them in a baggie and keep them in the freezer until I have enough.
I do the same for bones; I toss them in a stock pot to make stock. All the waste produced from that I would...
I live in an apartment, but that doesn't mean I can't compost my food. I have a bokashi bucket, which is a brilliant little Japanese invention that enables me to compost despite being garden-challenged. I keep the bokashi bucket in the yard, ready to be stocked with vegetable scraps. Ocassionally, I'd collect the liquid produced from the process and use it to water plants. Once the bokashi bucket is filled up, I'd bury the contents in the ground somewhere for it to complete composting. I also place scraps in my freezer until I have enough for the local community garden's compost heap.
3. Bring a glass jar or container everywhere
It bothered me that I had to throw plastic and paper cups each time I bought my cha time fix or green juice. So, I bought an RM5.30, 900ml jar from Daiso. I love the jar so much - it has a screw on cover which doubles up as a handle, and that makes it really easy to carry it around, and it's large enough to store my favourite drinks. I do get a weird look from the servers, however. Malaysians are still not used to zero waste folks like me! This, of course, applies to takeout meals as well. For that, I use a glass container.
With these three simple methods, I have reduced my trash to such an extent that I only throw out a bag of rubbish every week. And it's dry, non-smelly rubbish!
My trash situation is still not where I want it to be, however. Ideally, I only want to throw a bag of rubbish once a month, but the most pervasive trash I can't seem to get rid of are the plastic bags my organic vegetables come in with.
Malaysia does have some vegetable subscription box services, where they deliver boxes of veges to your doorstep, but they are eye-wateringly expensive, and the quantity too much for a single person.
I could also make my way to Bangsar's The Hive, where you can collect your vegetable deliveries from local farms in baggies, but I have to be realistic - it isn't convenient for me to drive all the way to Bangsar and struggle to find parking just to avoid getting 'bagged'.
So until then, I'd have to tolerate the crazy amount of plastic bags my groceries generate. Any ideas?
I used to collect movie posters, DVDs, books.
I now no longer take pride in my collections.
In fact, I now try not to keep physical books; I sell or give them away when I finish them.
I get a lot of joy in giving my things away, especially books!
I also have no interest in getting on the “buy property for investment” treadmill.
Now, I prefer to rent than buy property. The idea of being able to move around so easily makes me smile.
Also, a 1,000sqf place is now massive to me. I would prefer a 500 sq feet studio now.
I send notices to friends and family not to buy me things on my birthday and on Christmas.
Instead, I ask them to give me a hug or if they really want to spend money, buy me a cup of coffee while we have a chat at the cafe.
I am in love with plain, minimalist interiors. They give me such peace and joy.
I enjoy tidying.
I hate messes. Mum would barely recognise me now.
“Does this spark joy?” has become a mantra for me when I buy anything.
Yes, I’m a Marie Kondo devotee.
Another mantra is Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
So, I no longer throw out my organic trash but recycle them. I'm now working on being a zero trash girl.
Still, I’m a minimalist work in progress. I still have a tendency to buy things impulsively - especially when it comes to books! And I love clothes far too much to have a capsule wardrobe.
But the fact that this journey on having a simpler life will never end fills me with all kinds of happiness.
Will you join me on my journey?
My journey began with a sense of disquiet in my soul. I took one instinctive step after another, and there I was: A minimalist.
I only realised that there was a word for what I was when, yes, I stumbled on a blog about minimalism. It was an, “Ah-ha, so that’s what this is!” moment. Totally validating to discover that you’re not the only person who thought that shucking off your worldly possessions is the most liberating act in the universe.
Still, like most minimalists, my story began somewhere. And that somewhere was a four-letter word: Debt.
More than a decade ago, I had a RM12,000 credit card debt. When I added that amount to my car debt, it became an amazing RM25,000. When I added that amount to my house loan, well, my brain exploded.
One day, I just snapped. I was tired of this weight on my psyche, this fear that if lost my job, I’d be f***ed, this struggle of living paycheck to paycheck. I want it all gone.
I worked double time to do get rid of the debt and refused to listen to popular financial advice. (For example, people said it was a bad financial move to get rid of my car loan fast because of the low interest rates).
How I did this is a subject for another post, but after a year, I managed to get rid of that icky RM25,000 debt.
All that money that would’ve gone to minimal credit card payments now went to my savings account.
It felt like I could breathe again.
By then I had changed.
Stuff, I realised, got me into debt. Stuff that I didn’t use.
I felt that keenly when I had to move to Australia. Emptying my 1,000sq feet apartment turned out to be an arduous, insanely difficult process.
I had nearly 2,000 books, possibly 1,000 DVDs. The tragic thing about it all is that I have not read nor watched 50% of that collection.
I got into debt for this?
Fortunately, a church was looking for someone to donate things for a charity sale. My library went to them.
After that I was allergic to stuff. That switch in my head that said, “let’s shop for fun” was flipped off.
I realised then that I had been using stuff to feel happy, but stuff didn’t make me happy. It cluttered up my life, making it hard to move easily. I couldn’t just pick up and move to another state if I wanted to - I had all my stuff to think about.
As the years went by, I refined my approach to minimalism. I’m now a KonMari devotee, and why not - she makes my life so much easier!
I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve come so far from where I was ten years ago.
I no longer live paycheck to paycheck, for one, and that massive, six-figure house loan debt?
My friend once asked me how in the world I got so much things done.
Besides having an organising system that you can take to like a duck to water, minimalism was also a factor.
With minimalism, the world is now full of possibilities. The space taken up by stuff before I now spend on my interests, passion and on self-actualisation.
All that white, neutral empty space formerly cluttered up by knick knacks and trophies allow me to go into a calm state that allows me to think deeply about my life and about where I want to go.
That’s why I’m a minimalist. It makes me happy.