In our ongoing journey of simple living, Masha and I have gotten bolder and bolder when it comes to discarding. Partly it’s related to our growth and experience for recognising what’s important and what isn’t. But there is another contributing factor to reaching simplicity, and that’s multipurpose products.
Having one product that can perform multiple functions can eliminate the need for additional products. This is typically seen as “all-in-one solutions”. However it’s not always the best decision to go buy one item because it knocks out the need for three items. I’ll explain why below.
In this post, we’re going to give you a few examples of multipurpose products we use in our household. Hopefully this will give you some confidence to look for similar opportunities in your life.
Example 1 – A super sized phone
I remember about 3 years ago, my sister bought a Samsung Galaxy Note, and I looked at her in astonishment. My sister is pretty short so it looked ridiculous for her to be lugging around this ginormous phone. But she insisted, “Mikey, trust me this is the future. I can do so much on it. I rarely use my tablet or computer anymore.” I still thought it was ridiculous.
Fast forward a few years later and I’ve jumped on the “phablet” bandwagon and I’m now a proud owner of an iPhone 6 Plus. Most of the western world regardless of the generation has a growing obsession with technology. Most of us have desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones and now smart watches. If you have a big family, you probably have 3–4 iPads lying around the house.
Whilst I love technology, having so many devices starts to become a burden. You use this for this, and this for that. You end up carrying a whole bunch of charging cables with you when you travel. And you have more things to service and store in your house.
The thing I like about my phone is that it essentially knocks out the need for a tablet, for my lifestyle anyway. I can read ebooks on it, browse the internet and play games that I would normally do on my iPad. So instead of having an iPhone, and iPad and a Macbook Air, I now only have a phone and a laptop. That’s one less gadget lying around the house and one less gadget to manage.
Example 2 – Dr Bronner’s all in one soap
Thank you Sarah Wilson for recommending this magic soap. This special mixture can perform up to 18 cleaning tasks including things like shampoo, hand wash, body wash, dog wash, washing machine liquid, the list goes on.
It’s made from plants and minerals and most flavours are certified organic. I was so excited when Masha told me about this soap. I thought about all of the different cleaning products we could finally get rid of. And by get rid off, I mean use up and never need to buy 5-10 other products again. It has streamlined our lifestyle. Oh and for the record, it really works!
Example 3 – Pyrex Tupperware
Another opportunity we’ve seen is in the kitchen. We used have tupperware that we inherited from friends and family. They served us well but we found that they were taking up too much storage. We had special tupperware for packing lunch, another for freezing left overs and another for baking. Luckily with Pyrex it does all of the above.
At we’ve pared down our things, we’ve found that we can save even more space and create less clutter when Masha and I use the same things. A prime example of this is our deodorant paste and perfume/cologne. We’ve found unisex products that we both love. So we no longer have to worry about buying separate products for the two of us.
It’s simple and easy to manage. It means we can buy in bulk and it also means less decisions to make in the future.
It doesn’t always work
The multipurpose approach can be effective when simplifying, but be careful not to overdo it. You can waste countless hours trying to find all-in-one solutions that actually work. Because if I was to play devils advocate for my examples, I could turn around and say, “yes I understand that you use you phone to read books, but your tablet will do a better job at it.”
The point is, multipurpose products can compromise the quality of the individual task at hand. We see this happen all the time with phone apps. Instead of focusing solving one single problem really well, the creators try to pack to many features into the software to the point where it doesn’t do anything well.
There’s the jack-of-all-trades versus the specialist thing going on here. So whilst I encourage you to look for multipurpose products, make sure you’re not compromising jobs that need to be done. This really comes down to what’s important for your lifestyle.
What about you? Do you some multipurpose products you use that you can’t live without? Share your recommendations in the comments below.