Before we had kids, my husband and I spent a year living out of backpacks. Everything we needed fit into 4,800 cubic inches of space. Many years and three kids later, we have a houseful of stuff. I spend my days shuffling stuff: toys to bins, laundry to baskets, dishes to dishwasher, clothes to closets, books and games and movies to shelves; boxes and cans and containers to the recycling, blah, blah, blah, blah. And the next day, I do it all over again.
“Stuff” is practically an epidemic in many U.S. households. Hence the popularity of shows like A&E’s Hoarders and the Style Network’s Clean House. American families are looking for ways to control the clutter. And today, USA Today featured one family who’s doing just that. They’ve found a way to clear the decks: no packaging, no packaged goods, no paper towels, no Q-tips, no cotton balls or tissue… the list goes on… toilet paper?
Only if it’s wrapped in paper, not plastic. The Johnson Family, of Mill Valley, California, throws away only a few handfuls of non-recyclable waste each year, and their house is free of unnecessary stuff. Here’s how they do it:
1. They downsized their living space from a 3,000-square-foot home to their current 1,400 square feet.
2. They bring their own glass jars, fabric bags and canvas totes to the grocery store and return any containers for a deposit.
3. They buy their food in bulk and store it in the glass jars. (Bea Johnson says that her kids’ friends came over and said: “You have no food here. They didn’t recognize this as food since there weren’t any boxes.”)
4. Microfiber cloths are used for cleanup.
5. The kids’ toys are limited to four bins. If they want something new, they have to figure out a way for it to fit into the four bins.
6. Every family member has a limited number of clothes. (For example, Béa has 6 pairs of shoes, 7 tops, 7 pants and 2 skirts (1 also wearable as a top).
Sounds like the Johnson family would have no trouble living out of backpacks. Now if I could only get my own family back to that place.
How do you lighten your family’s load? Share your tips below.