My friend Axelle, super minimalist and organizer extraordinaire, sent me an email a few days ago that was so funny I would have snorted milk out my nose if I’d been drinking milk in the first place. Axelle doesn’t have a blog–or, she does, but she hasn’t written anything in it since 2010. So I asked if I could share it here, since it’s related to my favorite way to reduce plastic use: reducing consumption of everything.
Secrets of Celebrities
by Axelle Fortier
How do Bill and Melinda Gates, two busy bees, keep overwhelm from knocking at their kitchen door?
How do Brad ‘n’ Angie keep it together with their 6 or 7 kids and the dish washing that’s generated by this big, happy family?
How do Donald Trump and the missus maintain their serene bedroom closet and kitchen home-style?
The Obamas: What’s the secret to their success in keeping a tidy White House?
“Two changes of bedding and two bath towels and washcloths allowed for each household member!” they all shout.
“One dinner plate, one salad plate, one dessert plate, one bowl, one cup, one spoon, one knife, one fork, and one drinking glass per person per household! Wash your dish after every use and put it in the dish drainer. When you need a dish again, just pull it out of the dish drainer and use it, then wash it, put it in the dish drainer, and on and on you go until you die,” says Axelle Fortier, creator of Do it My Way Home Organization in Richmond, CA.
The Obamas are big entertainers. “It comes with the job,” Michelle laughs. Michelle and hubby Barack have no need for fancy, old-fashioned White House dinnerware that’s been out of style for over a hundred years. “We followed the advice of Axelle, who recently became our Home Organization Dictator, and got rid of all that stuff. You wouldn’t believe the space that opened up in the kitchen cupboards!”
Fortier advised the Obamas to add at the bottom of invitations to White House dinners a request to BYO table-and-flatware, including wine/beer/water glass and coffee/tea mug. “We have a lot of guests who live out of town, not to mention who live out of the country altogether. A lot of those people aren’t always able to bring their own eating utensils. We used to tell them to get some disposables at a supermarket or a Walmart. When Axelle found out, she put a stop to that. Now, we’re green and we tell our guests to get used dinner things at a secondhand store.”
If you’re single, solitary, and sad about it, Fortier reminds you that your life is easier than that of these happy married folks because you can keep a smaller dish drainer on your counter top.
“Of course, no excess dishes means no dishes ever piling up on the counter, waiting to be washed,” snaps Fortier.” Three changes of underwear, two pairs of jeans, 3 changes of sox and a couple of t-shirts is all anyone needs,” says Fortier. “If you can get truly minimalist about your clothing, you can eliminate a dirty-clothes hamper, thereby opening up more space in your home.” A sweatshirt or two takes the place of “all those sweaters that hog valuable drawer space,” and, she continues, “A heavy-gauge, black plastic trash bag with a couple of slits makes a great California-style raincoat. When you’re not using it, you fold it up and stick it in a drawer that was once stuffed with sweaters.”
The Trumps, used to a glittering lifestyle, find the simplicity of a home with just a few dishes and a few articles of clothing a refreshing change. “We love to come here to this apartment Axelle organized for us and inhale the unused space,” says Donald Trump. His wife agrees. “We come over at least once every year to see how we could be living. We’re not quite ready to live up to Axelle Fortier’s standards, and we know this causes her a great deal of frustration,” says the former neonatal brain and toe surgeon who is busy with her own budding interior design business. “It’s not easy to live up to the perfection of this fabulously talented dictator of organization who wants only for everyone to live her way. “