Way before it became a trend across Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest, bullet journaling was created as a minimalistic way to track to-do lists, be used as a notebook/diary/sketchbook/ calendar. The original idea of Bullet Journaling was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer and author. The original design required nothing more than a dotted journal, a black or blue pen, a ruler (to keep things neat), and a key to help keep things organized and on track while scheduling.
I happened to get into bullet journaling as a way of combining my desire for some artistic expression as well as finding that typical calendars were not quite fitting my needs while in school and working multiple jobs at a time. I watched videos on Youtube of the general concept of how bullet journals worked, found pretty spreads on Pinterest, and then decided to pick up some cheap and simple supplies to get my own journal started. I enjoyed the ability to choose my own materials (I stuck to basics like Crayola markers, stickers, and washi tape), picked up a clearance journal that cost around $5, and set to work on practicing different layouts to see which would work best for me.
It took some trial an error before I realized that I really did not benefit from habit trackers. Aside from tracking my period every month, tracking how many migraines I have a month, and my monthly bills spread, I really could not keep up with monthly mood/sleep/water intake etc spreads that I had seen on so many fancy Pinterest layouts. This eventually showed me how pairing down my journal and cutting out spreads that were not benefiting me or bringing me a sense of calm, were not worth pursuing and helped show me what I really valued and enjoyed focusing my time on.
Just like with bullet journaling, Marie Kondo’s practice of decluttering from her book “The Magical Art of Tidying Up” found its way into my home after seeing the hype on social media. While I appreciated the practice of de-cluttering anything that did not “spark joy”, I also found some of the practices just not practical for my personal goals. Just like with bullet journaling I was able to keep what I found useful and apply it to my life while disregarding methods that would just stress me out and be more of a hindrance to my overall goal. Putting this into practice also allowed me to see areas that I could replace single use items and instead invest in reusable/sustainable options for my every day used items.
For example, the easiest fix I could make was in using reusable shopping bags instead of constantly bringing home plastic bags. I also found that using a reusable water bottle was just as easy if not easier than purchasing bottled water. I purchased glass straws (while not everyone may find them to be useful or beneficial, I use straws quite often so felt they would be a practical investment). I switched to using a period Diva cup instead of using disposable pads every month. I started doing research and experimenting with shampoo bars from Lush cosmetics to see if that would be a viable option for my hair type (so far, I found that the bar shampoo works well and lasts quite a while on my short hair) and while I have not completely used up my bottled shampoo, it is something to consider in the future. I invested in reusable/washable cloth pads for removing make up. These are all examples of little changes that I have been implementing over time to help limit my waste, organize my space, and eventually have an impact in my carbon foot print.
Bullet journaling and/or living a more sustainable minimalistic lifestyle does not have to cost a lot of money. I did not try to immediately throw away or buy something to replace the plastic or non-reusable items in my home because I knew that that would not be practical nor save me any time or money in the long run. It is a good practice to use up what you have and then invest in better alternatives when possible. The goal is to make small changes over time that will have a lasting effect. I may never get to the point where I can keep all of my trash from the year in a tiny mason jar to proudly display on my kitchen counter. However I will be able to say that I de-cluttered my surroundings, I changed my eating habits, and I implemented organizational tools through bullet journaling that will have lasting effects on my overall health and well being.