My New Thing I Tried In April: Project Empty

On midnight April 2nd, my state went on lock down because of the Corona Virus. This meant people couldn’t leave their homes except for the essential items they needed and if they were an essential worker. People could still go out to walk their dogs, take out the trash, collect their mail, etc. But doing anything fun like going to theme parks or the beach were a no go. So with everything pretty much being closed, it made it hard to try anything new on the level of my previous months. So I had to get creative this month!

I watch a lot of YouTube as a source of inspiration and entertainment. My video choices are split up between gaming videos, makeup tutorials, lifestyle (so anything to do with cleaning, organizing, getting your life together, etc), and a variety of other genres. While watching one YouTuber do a makeup declutter, she mentioned how she couldn’t get rid of certain makeup products because they were a part of her project pan for 2020. Basically what that means is that she chose that makeup product to try and use up before 2020 was over. I’ve watched other makeup videos where other YouTubers are doing the same and all of them have different reasons for why they chose the products they did. So I got the idea to do the same thing, but not just with beauty products. I have half used candles stored in a box, a bunch of notebooks that are more than halfway used (I have this bad habit of using a new notebook before finishing an old one), makeup and other health and beauty products that are just gathering dust… and seeing all of it made me feel overwhelmed and cluttered. So I thought Hey I’m basically quarantined for a month, so why not try to use these items up in that month?

So with that in mind I started my own “Project Empty”. My goal- To use up as many of the items shown before the month of April ends. Now I know the month isn’t over for another 8 days, but I didn’t want to wait until the last day to put this post up. So I’m going to put up things as they are now and if any more items get used up by then, I will mention them in my Goals Update post.

So these were my categories and how many items I started out with in each:

10 Candles

24 Health and Beauty Products

6 Notebooks

57 tea bags (3 different teas)

3 packs of Post-Its

When I added them altogether, it came out to 100 items! It’s insane to think that just these items alone make up 100 items in my home and these are just a small fraction of what’s in our home (but we’ll go down that shame spiral some other time). My goal with using these was simple- If I wanted to light a candle, use one of the 10 I’m looking to use up. If I’m going to use a health or beauty product, use one of the 24 I’m looking to use up. And it goes on from there. If I don’t use a product up within the month, then I don’t use it up within the month. The only way I will throw out any of these products if they have expired by the end of the month or have been used up. I don’t see the point in wasting things that can still be put to use (which might be why I’ve accumulated so many half used products in the first place).

So here are the before photos of the products I want to use up within the month.

And here are the after photos!

If a product isn’t in the photo, then that means it has been used up. If any one category isn’t pictured at all, then that means the entire category was used. Admittedly, the black tea was trashed about a week into this project because it had no taste to it. My boyfriend asked me when I had bought it and when I thought about it, I realized I had it been over two years! We tried to make it work, but it just didn’t have the flavor anymore, so that was the only product thrown out for that reason. The candles ended up being the easiest category to use up because we are always burning candles! It has helped reduce our candle hoard a bit, but we do still have a lot of candles. However, we are in no hurry to burn through them because of the quarantine and not being able to really go anywhere. But it felt good to get those half used candles used up!

Makeup products ended up being the hardest category to get through this month. With being in quarantine and not leaving the house, putting on makeup was pretty much pointless. I don’t need a full face of makeup when I’m sitting in my pajamas, that’s way too much effort for me, so this category didn’t have much of a dent to it. It was easy to get through the lotions though because my hands have been very dry from all the hand washing and I don’t want my hands to get sore or cracked!

I’m not a minimalist by any stretch and I doubt I ever will be a minimalist, but doing this little project really made me become more mindful of things. I don’t need to have a bunch of different body lotions, body sprays or body washes. I don’t need to have ten or more half used candles laying around my house. I don’t need to have a bunch of different teas in my tea containers at one time. I don’t need three different types of black eyeliner. And I sure as heck don’t need a bunch of half used notebooks laying around either! This little project has taught me that I shouldn’t buy new things or start using new things (like candles and notebooks) until I’ve used up what’s already in use. If I do that, I can save myself a lot of space, make my home a less cluttered place, and save myself some money by not purchasing more than I need at any given time.

Lately I’ve been very weighed down and suffocated. I’m not sure what’s brought these feelings on. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I haven’t really left the house too much this month. Maybe living in a one bedroom apartment where I’m sharing all my spaces has me mindful of how important space is. Maybe I’m just growing up more and don’t feel the need to hoard and hold onto things like I used to. I’m not sure what’s causing these feelings, but I’m doing my best to cope with them.

Honestly, I think there’s a stigma of sorts that having more things will make you happier. I also think that some people use items to show wealth because the more stuff you have, the wealthier you are, right? I also think that for women, society still has certain standards and expectations for us. I remember someone telling me (I think it was someone in one of my college courses) that her grandmother would get up every day before her grandfather and put on a full face of makeup and do her hair so he never saw her looking less than her best. And while I agree putting our best selves forward is never a bad thing, why do we need hundreds of beauty products to do it? We don’t, but there’s this belief that we do, and in the end we end up wasting more products than we use. Makeup has expiration dates just like everything else and using old or expired makeup can make you sick. So isn’t it better to just have a few makeup and beauty products that work well for you? And if you ever decide you want to try something new, try to get a sample size from your local beauty store so you’re not wasting a lot of money or space on something you might not like. But also don’t start hoarding sample sizes because half the time those never get used either! Moderation is key and less is more!

Honestly, doing this challenge has helped me feel a lot better, so I am going to challenge myself to do this every four months. That means three times a year I am going to choose products to use up within in a month. So if I keep to this challenge that means in August and December I will be doing this again (hopefully with less products in the future). Hopefully this will become routine and lead to me eventually not needing to do it anymore because I won’t have heaps of half used things laying around my house!

I am also issuing the challenge to all of you to try this sometime this year. If you have any half used candles, half used makeup, half used notebooks, or anything else, I challenge you to see how much of it you can use up within your chosen month. It might seem overwhelming and very hard at first, but I’m sure when you see the results, you’ll feel a huge weight come off your shoulders. So give it a try and if you do, tell me how you did with it! And if I do this again in August, I will either dedicate a post to it or briefly mention in my 2020 Goal Update for August. But August is still 3-4 months away, so I have plenty of time to think about it.

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