UASHMAMA: Many people want to de-clutter and live with less, but generally don’t know where to start and what to let go of. Do you have any tips for those who are just beginning the process of a living with less lifestyle or mindset?
How to Succeed At Living With Less With Expert The Tiny Canal Cottage (Whitney Morris)
Take the stress out of living with less
It feels fitting that Whitney's advice is as inspiring and thoughtful as the small space lifestyle she creates. Nestled under the moss covered Florida trees she spends her days in the tiny greenhouse, the space she shares with her husband and young children. Known for her approach to mindful, small space living, she shares tips on how "individuals and families can live comfortably and contentedly in — and with— a smaller footprint".
Whitney: It’s understandable to be overwhelmed with the concept of where to start when it comes to decluttering and approaching a life with less stuff. But it’s actually a fantastic opportunity to start this new lifestyle in a more sustainable manner.
First and foremost, I think it’s important to find a dedicated home for everything with which you part ways, as 80+% of donations end up in landfills.
Secondly, before you declutter, I’d recommend pledging to stop the influx of new, unnecessary goods after doing so. Otherwise, the cycle repeats itself, which is no good for your space, wallet, the planet, and the disenfranchised populations who statistically live closer to landfills and toxic manufacturing and waste facilities.
Finally, if an item no longer works for you and can be put to better use with someone else, then letting go is a gift for both parties! I’d suggest asking yourself what purpose(s) each piece serves if any, and then take it from there (responsibly).
Start small, tackling projects within projects. In other words, don’t try to transform your kitchen at once— instead, start with, say, the junk drawer. The mail pile. The toolbox or sewing kit. The desk drawer.
Once you’ve chipped away at the little bits, you’ll be able to see and experience the results, presenting you with a clearer and more manageable path forward throughout your entire home.
UASHMAMA: When thinking about designing in a small space, should you prioritize design or function? Or can you have both?
Whitney: Oh you can most certainly have both! Consider the items you leave our on a daily basis per your own lifestyle habits, family members, work, and environment. Coats? Art supplies? Electronics? Toys? While the things you don’t use daily can be tucked away, the things you use most will be out and visible, so select those pieces with particular care. By curating your essentials, they will not only be usable, but also enhance the character of your space. If you can’t do much about how they look (an orange basketball is an orange basketball) and they disrupt the feeling you’re seeking in your home, then turn to easy-to-access storage.
UASHMAMA: What are your go-to items for organizing and storing items that you don’t use on a daily basis?
Whitney: One of my favorite ways to organize a space is by (re)using vintage, handmade, or hand-me-down items in unexpected ways. It’s a wonderful approach, because it uniquely decorates a home while tackling storage issues and putting sentimental items to use— no need for bulky, unsightly, and environmentally-costly plastic bins.
I also rely on resources that are malleable in both shape and purpose. Instead of searching for a tool by its intended use (ie “lipstick holder,” which will likely only produce results that can be used in a singular manner,) search for a unique vessel with a more flexible form and style that appeals to your current needs, while simultaneously remaining versatile for alternative uses in the future.
UASHMAMA: Regarding single use items, what are a few that require minimal effort to do away with starting today?
Whitney: I’d recommend starting with un-paper towels. Whether you buy new cloths or simply repurpose old scraps and towels from around your home, you can instantly cut out disposable paper towels, saving you space, money, and time running to the store and back. Just pop used rags into a designated UASHMAMA laundry bag (a small space dream, as it folds up when not in use) and wash them when needed. And remember— even though it requires water to launder reusables, it’s still less than the amount of water it takes to create supplies anew or recycle used materials.
Another easy place to start is with hand soaps. Why buy plastic pumps when we can simply use much longer-lasting, package-free bar soaps? And there are bar/stone alternatives for everything from shampoo to moisturizer to dish soap! Just find a great soap dish first— it’ll make all the difference in your experience.
UASHMAMA: We know you are a fan of UASHMAMA. What items do you use daily that maximize daily function?
Whitney: I am usually a less-is-more kind of person, but I don’t think I can ever have too many of UASHMAMA’s simple washable bags, which we use in every space. They hold reusable wipes, baby books and toys, socks, gardening tools, masks, office supplies, and so much more.
We also use the laundry backpack constantly. It’s so helpful to have the option of having our hands free while carrying the wash when we’re headed to/from the washing machine or drying line (so we can also hold our baby, gently scoot the dogs a few inches this way or that so we can squeeze by, hold our much-needed coffees, etc).
My husband and business partner, Adam, uses his UASHMAMA wallet daily, because it’s soft and flexible while still being protective. Plus, it ages well, with slight character and a patina forming over time. And I use the tech backpack as a portable office. It keeps all my workspace essentials safely and neatly together, ready to be carried off to our greenhouse-office and back at a moment’s notice.