Before I became a minimalist, I had collections of lotions, nail polish, tea, stationery, and candles. As a minimalist, I still do. Let me explain.
While cleaning and purging my belongings that no longer served a purpose in my life, I saw that my stuff falls into two categories: consumables and permanents. The easy part of downsizing and simplifying my life was to deal with the items that fell in the “permanents” category because they were items that were created for a unique purpose that would stick around as long as I kept them, such as books, seasonal clothing, office supplies (pencil holder, file cabinet, stapler, etc.), and staples of my capsule wardrobe. Consumables, on the other hand, were items that contained some sort of interaction and would not last long. Some things that fell into this category were thoughtful gifts that enhance my living space (candles) and beauty products (nail polish, leave-in conditioner, body spray).
I consider myself pretty practical, so I wasn’t going to let this dilemma become a hold up in my minimalism process. Why get rid of something that you can enjoy (and know it will eventually run out)? It would be like throwing away a pack of unused batteries because you don’t want them to take up space in a drawer. Sure, your alarm clock is battery operated, but you can always just buy more. That’s a little crazy, isn’t it?
My solution to handle consumable items was not to throw them away but to make a small “consumable” box to house these items that I or a loved one purchased. All the extra items I have accumulated and haven’t used up yet have a place in a box under my bed. Before making another purchase of an item, I check the box to see if I already have the item “in stock” or an alternative option. For example, I have a few extra perfume sprays, so if I run out of the current spray, I will open my box to circulate a new one into use. If I run out of sprays altogether, perhaps there is a lotion that can do the trick.
My battle with consumables was an easy battle to win because I constructed a system to enjoy my supply of items and appease my practical personality. I cut down on wasting money on purchasing even more products and I enjoy the gifts of these products.
If you have a collection of consumable items taking up too much space, consider making a small box to house them in. I still have my body sprays (until they run out), but they no longer crowd my bathroom cabinet and they are still easily accessible. The less you have out in the open or frequently used space, the tidier the space will become. When the collection runs out, be disciplined to consider each consumable purchase, buying only what you need and avoiding creating a collection again. Pass it on!