Zero-Waste, Minimalism, and technology

I hope everyone has had a great week! I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on how anyone could possibly be minimalist/zero-waste while still using technology. I guess to be truly “zero-waste”, you wouldn’t use technology except for perhaps shared computers at the library, etc. Or live off-grid in a yurt in the middle of the wilderness…

I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to go completely off-grid just yet. Mostly because certain parts of my life require access to technology, like my job, as well as for bill paying, etc. Not only that, but technology can make certain aspects of life more convenient. But I do believe there are ways to be more conscious about what technology you use, how much you own, and how long you keep it/how you dispose of it once it’s no longer usable.

Let me start by stating that in my mind technology is usually some sort of electronic gizmo, mostly made of plastic and metals….now this could cover everything from toaster ovens to cell phones, but for the sake of time I’m just going to stick with tech that falls underneath the categories of phones, televisions, computers, videogames, etc. You know, the ones that tend to be a black hole sucking up all our free-time 🙂

Anyway, the best way to keep technology minimal with as little waste as possible is to not have that much of it in the first place. I personally own a cell phone, a tablet, a digital camera, an iPod, and the accessories to go with them (power cords, headphones, etc.). I don’t own any video game consoles or devices, smart watches, fitbits, or the like, and I personally do not own a television myself, though there is one where I live currently.

What Technology you use/How much you owntechnology-1260x840

 

How much/what types of technology you need and use can vary from person to person. One person might have to have a certain type of computer set-up for their job while another only needs access to a landline. One person can live without a cell phone, while others might need it to keep in touch with family, etc.

Ideally I would love to get to the point where I’d only need one or two devices that would fit all my needs, but I’m still working on it. Until then I do my best to keep things as simple as possible.

To keep my personal devices as minimalistic as possible I have a few non-negotiables for each item:

  1. The device has to serve a useful function in my daily life. For example, my phone let’s me call, text, and check my emails on a daily basis.
  2. The device has to be small and easily portable/easily stored. This is why I bought a tablet instead of a full-sized laptop computer. Easier to put away, and easy to take with me wherever I need to go.
  3. The device should serve multiple purposes if possible. Like my phone, which calls, texts, and has the ability to connect me with my emails. (For those of you wondering, it also has a camera, but the camera takes horrible pictures, hence my actual digital camera) *another good example here would be having 1 remote for your television, dvd player, etc instead of 3 or 4*
  4. It has to be able to serve it’s purpose for a long time before breaking down, or at least be easily fixable. I try to cut down on my electronic waste by keeping each cell phone I own until it literally bites the dust and is completely unusable. The same goes for my other devices as well as their accompanying power cords, etc.
  5. When it has finished it’s life it has a way to be recycled or repurposed. Cell phones can usually be recycled at local electronics stores, while my digital camera when dead will eventually be repurposed into a decorative piece of art.

By having these guidelines in mind when shopping for a new device, or even considering purchasing a new device, I can make really responsible choices with my technology.

How long you keep it

Some people run through cell phones like used tissues, waiting hours and hours in line to get the “new” version of what they already own…..I’m not one of those people 🙂

My phone is almost 5 years old. My tablet is already 3. My camera is almost 8 years old, and my iPod is closer to 10.

Why replace something that isn’t broken?

As far as I’m concerned, I’ll be using each of these devices until there is literally no way to use them anymore. If that means having an old sliding keyboard phone for another 3-5 years then so be it. Not only do I get to keep the money I would spend on a new one, but I’m also keeping extra electronics out of the landfill. Good for my wallet and the planet 🙂

How to dispose of them

Disposal is a huge issue with electronics, because when they end up in the landfill they can cause all sorts of trouble. Right now the best option is to recycle them when they’ve outlived their usefulness. I know a lot of stores will recycle old cell phones, some stores will recycle old video game consoles, even BestBuy will recycle old cords.

At least when the device is recycled it can then be taken apart to reuse the metals inside. Did you know a lot of phones have small bits of gold inside?

*If the device is still usable, but you don’t want it anymore….try giving it away to a friend or donating it*

Any way you slice it, technology is going to create waste, and if we’re not careful it can create clutter in our homes as well.

So, to recap..

  1. Refuse random gadgets and useless gizmos that you know you won’t use.
  2. Reduce what you do need/own. Consolidate and prefer multifunctional devices over single purpose ones.
  3. Reuse old gadgets- or in my case keep using them until they kick the bucket.
  4. Recycle those sad gadgets that have finally kicked the bucket.

 

Bathroom Essentials

Hey everyone,

I feel like it’s been a long time since I last posted about what I now use/don’t use in my bathroom/morning routine. Things have changed a bit, so here’s an update on my minimalist/zero-waste bathroom essentials.

Consumable products:

The first things I ever changed over were my toothbrush and toothpaste

win_20170227_133514

They have stayed the same. The bamboo toothbrush is compostable (except for the bristles) and the toothpaste is completely natural made from only coconut oil (Bought in glass jars with metal lids that I reuse for all sorts of things) , baking soda (that I buy from the bulk bins) and peppermint oil (optional ingredient).

Next up is deodorant

win_20170227_133627

I rotate between using an Alum stone and my homemade deodorant, I like the alum stone for lighter days when I know I won’t be sweating a lot, but I break out the homemade stuff for the crazier days. Made from coconut oil, baking soda, corn starch, and tea tree oil (again, optional). This bad boy can handle just about any amount of stinky sweaty pits you can throw at it.

For moisturizing and such I only use olive oil or coconut oil, but I only find I need to moisturize slightly during the dryer winter months.

Bar soap is my favorite thing, it comes without packaging at my local health store (except for one particularly pesky barcode sticker), and when it’s done, it’s done. No muss no fuss, no empty container to dispose of 🙂 I use this baby for hand washing as well as washing in the shower. Double duty, two for the price of one!

win_20170227_133706

Shampoo/Conditioner…..

faucet-running-water-shutterstock_153406115

Yes I only use water, which sounded crazy to me at first too….but it totally works! The only time I use anything but water is in the rare case when my ends are crazy dry and need a bit of olive oil. I’ve been using the water only method for about six months now and absolutely love it. No stinkyness, no artificial fragrance, and bonus is I only have to “wash” my hair once or twice a week. Easy peasy.

On the days when I look a bit greasy and need to run I brush on some corn starch as a dry shampoo and comb it through.

Cleaning….win_20170227_133554

Baking soda, vinegar, a wash cloth or scrub brush (even an old toothbrush) and a little elbow grease will get just about anything out. I use it to clean everything from the bathroom sink to the tub and toilet. It also gets a lot of use in the kitchen, but that’s another post…

*For those of you wondering, Yes I still use toilet paper, and unfortunately it comes in plastic packaging. I live with other people and this is the only area I have not transferred to a zero-waste alternative as of yet…but stay tuned, I plan to try out my options sooner rather than later 🙂 *

Tools:

Essential to the water-only washing for my hair is these babies right here…win_20170227_132932

The first is a Boar bristle brush with 100% boar hair bristles, no plastic in sight. The second is a wooden comb, and the third a wood brush. I use the BB brush to push all those lovely natural oils from my scalp to the tips of my hair, keeping it naturally beautiful and conditioned. The comb and brush simply help with detangling. One hand mirror, a few homemade hair-ties out of old socks, a bit of cornstarch(a.k.a. dry shampoo) and a brush for it.

Then we have the basic tools of the trade…tweezers, nail clippers, a nail file, etc. Followed by my safety razor and razor blades. (If you haven’t tried out a safety razor yet, I would definitely recommend it!)WIN_20170227_133319.JPG

For my towels I made sure to buy 100% cotton towels and wash cloths. I’m a firm believer WIN_20170227_132621.JPGin keeping the synthetic fabrics to a minimum, especially ones that are going to be touching my face.

 

 

 

And of course, no post about  bathroom essentials would be complete without mention of reusable menstrual products for us ladies. Namely 100% organic cotton pads, and a menstrual cup. And a glass basal thermometer for tracking your cyclewin_20170227_133015

 

All of these products have saved not only the planet, but also my wallet and my sanity as well. There aren’t anymore midnight trips to the store to buy pads for this girl, it’s all ready to go whenever I need it.

win_20170227_133729There are a few products I bought a long time ago that I’m finishing and then finding replacements for….such as lip balm and a herbal salve for burns and such.

The salve I already have a replacement for….say hello to my new Aloe Vera plant! 🙂

WIN_20170227_133426.JPG

I plan to try and make my own lip balm once this one runs out. The last two things are ear WIN_20170227_133752.JPGwax remover and eye drops. I haven’t completely figured these guys out yet, but if you have any good ideas I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

This all may sound like a lot, especially if you’re just starting to change up your routine to be more eco-friendly. Don’t worry, take it one baby step at a time, I’ll still be here. Take a look around and check out all the links for more information on each product and for answers to any questions you may have.

As always, I’d love to hear about your minimalist/zero-waste bathroom essentials in the comments!

Much love,

Candice

 

My guide to a minimal Zero-waste Christmas: Part 1

Hi everyone, it’s that time of year again. The crazy last minute mad dash between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or as I like to call it “the month I avoid malls and shopping centers” 🙂

We’re finally past Black Friday and the whole weekend of mindless consumerism and right about now you’re probably wondering how in the world you’re going to mesh your minimalist/and or/ Zero-waste lifestyle with the holiday season. I’ll admit, it can be quite the challenge to try and mesh the most consumer driven holiday of the year with a lifestyle that isn’t so dependent on having tons of stuff…but I assure you it CAN be done…with a bit of planning and preparation, of course.

thQN8F9RIS

So over the next few weeks in my Christmas guide series I’m going to give you all my pointers tips and tricks to make your holidays as simple and waste-free as possible.

Let’s start with the most obvious subject…..Gifts. We’ll separate this into two parts, the first being gifts YOU buy for other people, and the second being the gifts you are likely to receive.

Gifts you buy:

As a rule, I tend to always get consumable gifts, i.e. something they can eat or use up (in other words, no tchotchkes). My two go-to gifts are 1. Candy/goodies from the bulk bins, hugs-and-kisses-mason-jar-2_thumband 2. Some sort of scrub/body wash/lotion I make my self that requires only a few ingredients (Google easy home-made salt scrubs and you’re bound to find something you’ll like).

To keep the gift minimal as well as zero-waste, I will save old glass jelly jars or mustard jars (anything you still don’t make yourself but buy in glass jars). I then wash them out, peel the labels off, and it makes for an easy and cute container to store your gift. If I’m getting something from the bulk bins I’ll usually take one or two  of my own larger jars that are already tared to the store and fill them up with a couple of treats I know everyone will love. Then when I get home I separate it into the smaller jars.

Packaging: once you have the jars filled with your consumable gift, I personally like to leave the jars plain and simply set them under our tree…no muss, no fuss. But for those of you who love to wrap gifts I’d recommend either reusing newspaper that was headed for the recycling bin….or….like I like to do, save wrapping and bows/ribbons from gifts people get for my birthday, etc. and simply reuse them.

More gift ideas…

~Experience gift like concert tickets, movie tickets, etc.

~Put together a Zero-Waste starter kit with extra jars, bamboo toothbrush, etc. you have lying around the house.

~Hot chocolate mix in a jar- just need some cocoa, maybe mini marshmallows….you get the idea 🙂

~Really, any sort of mix in a jar.

~Home-made goodies of any kind

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When in doubt about a gift….cash is always acceptable…at least for me it is lol

Gifts they buy for you:

The simplest way to avoid unnecessary packaging/junk you don’t want in your home is to ask for something specific ahead of time. It could be something tangible that you need/want or you could ask family and friends to donate to your favorite charity.

For some family members I can tell them not to get me anything and they’ll totally understand and not get me anything. But if your family is anything like mine, there are always a few people who are determined to give gifts, legitimate hold them in your hand and unwrap them sort of gifts….the type of family member who isn’t swayed by anything you say about not needing anything, blah, blah blah. You could get pissy with them and fight about it, or you could circumvent it. My strategy is pretty simple… in order to avoid any item I might mot like/use, I ask for a specific budget-friendly gift from that person/people.

For example, for my birthday I specifically requested socks….yep, you read that right, SOCKS. My ten year old self would pout at a gift like that, but my adult self loved not having to buy my own socks. And for Christmas I have asked for an adult coloring book, because coloring is relaxing, and the book will be made of paper, and they don’t have any extra packaging to them except whatever my relative wraps it in. (which I will take and reuse to wrap a future gift…I might even use the colored pages to wrap future gifts when I’m finished with them 😉 )

Side-note: for those of you with kids, the holidays can be tough. But you can always make a specific list for people to choose from, or even open a college savings account for each kid that people can gift to, or even ask for experience gifts (like a trip to the zoo) in lieu of a physical toy 🙂

So overall, it’s pretty simple with a bit of planning. The only thing you have to do ahead of time is scoop out a few eco-friendly, package -free gift options beforehand and be ready when you get asked what you want for Christmas. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have this….

Than this…1-corinthians-12-4

Anyways 🙂

 

Hope you liked part 1 of my Christmas Guide series. Stayed tuned for part 2: Christmas Cards

What kinds of gifts do you give for Christmas? Do you reuse wrapping and bags? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

This one’s for the ladies…

Alright ladies here’s a question for you…it’s a bit personal, and perhaps slightly taboo to discuss openly…but how much do you really know about your monthly cycle?

Yep, I’m talking about the monthly (or thereabouts) reminder of the empty status of our uterus. Mother nature, our monthly bout of crazy, Aunt flow…You got it, I’m talking about periods.

Right about now I’ll bet you’re wearing a stank face and grimacing at the thought of your period. Or better yet, like I was a few months back, simply shaking your head and wondering how any female on the planet could possibly have a “normal” cycle when yours is so completely out of whack.

But what constitutes “normal”? A 28 day cycle with ovulation on day 14? A 3 day period, or a 7 day period? What about fertility, when are we supposedly fertile? When our handy dandy period app tells us, or is it wrong?

I don’t know about you, but I had lots of questions just like those running through my mind, especially when I happened to talk to my doctor about how I can skip up to three months in a row each year and not have a period for 90 days or so….her response? “As long as you’re having a period once every 4 months or so, you’re fine”…. you can imagine my reaction to that one, it was somewhere along the lines of WTF are you talking about?

But let’s go back and give you a bit of background information…
I was an early bloomer, with my first period happening in the sixth grade. I still vividly remember when I got it, and my reaction (which I’m not going to detail) but the gist is I knew it would be coming soon (thanks to a bit of prep from my mother and a very uninformative sex-ed class in the fifth grade where they skimmed over everything) and so wasn’t particularly surprised by it’s arrival except for the sheer amount of discomfort and pain that came with it. That “Oh dear lord I must be dying” sort of pain, that was me every month without fail. It was miserable. I despised my periods.

Fast forward a few years, many periods, ridiculous amounts of cramping and other unmentionable yuckiness, and lots of skipped months and I had simply determined that my cycle wasn’t and would never be “normal” because I was never able to predict when the next one would happen. The unpredictable nature of my period was a huge stressor for me because once you’re about 50-60 days past your last period you start to get paranoid about when the next will show up and surprise you. My cycles were anywhere between 19 and 94 days, and it was driving me insane.

Periods were not only stressful, but completely debilitating for the first two days. I was literally beside myself with pain to the point where I ALWAYS took a sick day from school if my period started anywhere from Monday through Friday.

Now I knew that certain foods and exercising before my period would help with the pain, but I never knew when my period was going to show up so I was never prepared for it besides always having feminine products on hand.

I’m very aware that my problem was lack of knowledge about my own body and it’s internal processes, but I was quite ignorant beyond the fact that those parts of the female body were useful for sex and babymaking and a period was the shedding of your lining when you didn’t get pregnant.

Thirteen years of miserable cycles and I finally now know a lot more about my body, and I’m quite thankful that I do.

I’ve gone from never being able to predict my periods to knowing exactly when they’re going to show up within a 24 hour margin. I also know why I get a random day of cramps halfway through my cycle (hello ovulation), and know what a basal body temperature is and how it has the ability to save my sanity. I also know what estrogen and progesterone are and their roles in my body. Safe to say I’ve learned a LOT.

Where’d I find this wealth of knowledge? This lovely gem of a book, I randomly picked it up at the library 13920478_10153992047306725_339519138044329955_oon a whim and it’s been the most informative book I’ve ever read. I learned more about my lady bits in a hour of reading this than in the first 23 years of my life combined.

*Fun Fact- did you know as a woman you’re only fertile 1 day of your cycle, the day you ovulate. It’s the combination of a man’s swimmers that makes your fertile stretch longer because they can last 4-5 days before they die!

The book has sections of information on how to track periods, fertility, a whole part on pregnancy, menopause, and even advice on how to use your tracking to prevent pregnancy (or ensure it) naturally and effectively. (Which is pretty handy information of you would like to apply Zero-waste principles not only to your period, but birth control as well)

It has completely changed my views of my cycle and I no longer dread my periods. The biggest part of knowing when your not only fertile but when your next period will be is charting your cycle. It’s a fancy way of saying you take your temperature first thing every morning before you get out of bed, and you keep track of it.  Your temperature alone can tell you if you’ve ovulated, if you’re pregnant, if your body is trying to ovulate but is having problems with it, etc. The rest is just listening to your body, like when you cramp and where, a little friend called cervical fluid (sounds gross, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds), and the changes in your body during your cycle (like bloating, tenderness, etc.).

I know, it sounds like a lot of work, but it is very easy to do and takes less than 5 minutes a day. It actually can help simplify your periods, believe it or not.

I’m three cycles into charting (where each cycle has varied in length by 10-20 days) , and I have predicted my last three periods down to the day. Since I know WHEN to expect it, I can now prepare for it by increasing my intake of vegetables and garlic beforehand (look it up, garlic does wonders for your time of the month), I also make sure to fit in a bit of extra stretching and exercise right before I start to lessen my cramps. Not to mention, I know when I should carry my menstrual cup and cloth pads with me to be prepared for it 🙂

The difference is like night and day. Granted the first day still sucks, but I can actually function like a normal human being during it now, no more sick days.

So if you think your period is as elusive as the wind, or that your body is out of your control, I would highly recommend checking out Taking Charge of your Fertility, even if you don’t read the entire book, copy the charting pages in the back and read the section on how to use them…it’ll make your life, and your cycles, so much easier to predict and handle. Plus I totally feel like a badass now that I understand the functions of my body. I am no longer ignorant, and believe me, when it comes to periods, ignorance isn’t bliss.

If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Xo

Candice

Saving seeds, Zero-waste style

Hey guys,
It’s been a crazy few weeks and it’s officially fall here. I’m a devout fan of spring and summer and usually don’t care for fall, but the colors on the trees have been quite beautiful lately as the tops of the trees are red, melding into orange and finally green still at the bottom.

Considering the declining weather, I’m pleasantly surprised that I still have things alive and growing in the garden. I have onions, potatoes, parsley, catnip, mint, green onions, and chives still alive and kicking. My poor watermelon died before maturing fully, and the gopher devoured my squash, but the rest is still good.

As you all know I’ve started an indoor garden for the winter. I planted green beans, parsley, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and a green onion. So far the beans have taken off really well, and the rest have sprouted and are getting bigger by the day.

I even took one of the green onions from the garden, used the top of it and replanted the bottom bulb, which is now regrowing (pic on the bottom right).

Tying that into today’s topic….saving seeds Zero-waste style….is super easy. Here’s what you do:

  1. Take whatever fruit/veggie you want to save the seeds from and cut the seeds out. This pic is a bunch of green and red bell pepper seeds I’m saving…and a few spinach seeds in the upper left part 🙂
  2.  Dry said seeds on a napkin/cotton cloth in a sunny window until they are completely dry. I mean, literally, 100% dry. If you put them away before they’re completely dry, they’ll mold and get yucky (believe me, you don’t want to clean that up).

3. The last step is to put them away in storage until you plan to use them. I repurposed this handy dandy old pill organizer for the job. (Of course I happened to have more seeds than pill compartments, so I put the rest in the black box.)

 

Now why should you go through all the trouble to dry your own seeds? First, because it reduces your overall waste, and saves them from randomly growing in your compost bin. Second, you won’t have to buy those little seed packets at the store if you save your own which not only saves the packaging but also saves you money. 🙂 and third, because it’s fun to start your own garden without spending a ton of cash to make it happen.

Did I also mention how fulfilling it is to be self-sufficient with growing your own food? It’s a literal representation of the “circle of life” (cue Lion King music).

If you’re just starting to venture into the idea of gardening, you can always experiment with pepper seeds, green beans (which you dry inside their shell then peel the outer green bean away to get to the seed inside), garlic (the clove is the seed), potatoes (let ’em sprout and then plant), watermelons, etc. Any seeds easy to get to are best.

So be adventurous and give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you can do with that green thumb.

Psst…the giant green bean plant I have growing, along with all of my other indoor garden plants were grown with seeds I harvested from my garden this year. 🙂

Do you save your own seeds? How about gardening? If you do, or have any questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

xo,

Candice

New uses for old things…

A lot of people use minimalism and Zero-waste as an easy excuse to get rid of things. Things that don’t fit their lifestyles anymore, things that aren’t useful or aesthetically pleasing, etc. They donate or sell the unwanted items, or even give them to family and friends, which is great. But what do you do with the things that can’t be donated/recycled/ or given away? I’m not against downsizing by any means, I’ve done it myself. But now that I’m at a happy equilibrium with my things, when something loses it’s usefulness I have to ask myself if it’s really “dead” or if I can save it somehow so it isn’t wasted.

A big part of my new minimalist/zero-waste approach to life is finding new uses for old things before they find their way to the trash. Making as little trash as possible necessitates getting a little creative.

For example, I found a few of my socks have gotten new holes in them. I’ve patched the holes before, but the poor things have finally bit the dust. Now, normally I would’ve thrown them straight into the trash….but, I found myself thinking if there was anything else I could use them for to extend their life.

I thought about turning them into rags, but the holes were in the way, so I came up with something else. I cut the stretchy parts off the tops and am going to save the soft fabric of the foot of the socks to stuff a pillow later. But for the stretchy parts (which would be quite uncomfortable inside of a pillow), I had to do something else.

 

For the long socks, I decided to fold the stretchy part down and turn it into wrist sweat-bands.

And for the shorter one, I folded it over on itself and did a quick hand stitch to hold it in place. Now it is a stretchy hairband/scrunchie 🙂

So, I now have new sweat bands, a hair tie, and some fabric to save for a future pillow. Not bad for a few old socks, if I do say so myself. 🙂

It might not seem like much, but it’s a small change in a way of thinking that not only helps give things a second or third life, but it also saves simple things like old socks from ending up in the waste stream before their time.

This isn’t the first time I’ve repurposed/upcycled old items. I’ve turned an old pair of shorts and an old t-shirt into handkerchiefs. I’ve turned an old t-shirt into a reusable bag. Repurposed old worn out sheets into soft cat bedding for my kitties. Used an old coffee pot, punch bowl, and baking dishes to create an indoor garden. I’ve even used old trash cans as catchers for rain water from our porch, which I then use to water my garden.

Now I know some of you are thinking “Candice, don’t you thinking you’re taking this a bit too far? I mean, socks, really? Just toss them.”

But that’s the thing, they are socks, but their not JUST socks. They are a purchase I made that I am now responsible for disposing of when they have ended their usefulness. So, instead of simply tossing them, I found a creative new way to use them. This might seem crazy, but it is how I apply my values to the way I live. I want to produce as little trash as possible, and take into account the amount of resources I’m using to minimize my harmful impact on the planet.

I’ve been called a “hippy” before, but it’s a title I wear with pride.

Have you done any upcycling lately? Reinvented an old appliance/piece of clothing, etc? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Xo,

Candice

When things don’t go as planned…

This summer has been quite the lesson in how well-laid plans can go awry. I had a great plan for our garden and how I was going to get a ton of peas and squash and potatoes, etc.

Then the gopher happened…

He’s such a boob. Bigger than my fat cat and easily twice as fast, he currently lives in our neighbors yard and will crawl under the fence to trapeze through ours. He’s cute, don’t get me wrong…just a pest of the worst kind.

Here’s the problem with him. He ate ALL my peas…over 3/4 of my squash plants…the cucumber sprouts…and is now nibbling on my squash bulbs and watermelons…see those bite marks? Those were from him.win_20160925_152801

And last year he ate all my mom’s cabbage.

Thankfully he didn’t touch the potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, herbs, green beans, or the radishes or I really would’ve hated him.

So, long story short, my plans for an overly abundant garden fell through…mainly because he ate it. But it did inspire me to try something new…indoor gardening for the winter.

I wanted a way to have some fresh produce here in the colder months, which is pretty much half of the year here. So I improvised.

I went through our current donation box and repurposed a few things…

Like an old glass coffee pot missing the coffee maker…win_20160925_152627

Some glass cups and punch bowl we NEVER used…win_20160925_152632

And a few old surplus baking dishes…

Add a bit of potting soil, a few saved seeds from this year’s garden, and voilà! A cute indoor garden 🙂

Since these babies have been in a consistent temperature, have gotten plenty of sunlight in the window, and are watered on a regular basis, they’ve taken off beautifully. I planted the seeds a week ago and they’re already getting big 🙂

win_20160925_154723

So now I’ll have fresh leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, green beans, carrots, parsley, and onions through the winter. And when this batch runs it’s course, I’ll simply throw in a bit of compost and start again with new seeds.

It goes to show that you don’t have to have a huge backyard to garden. All you need is a box/jars of some sort, dirt, seeds, sunlight and water.

So my nice plans took a turn, but if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have come up with the idea to try indoor gardening. Wherever one door shuts, a window is opened. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is starting a watermelon plant indoors… haha here’s how big ours is outside…poor guy’s a bit wilted from the heat but it’s supposed to rain tonight, so he should perk up by tomorrow, fingers crossed*win_20160925_152817

Do you garden indoors/outdoors? What are your favorites to plant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

XO,

Candice

Everyday sexism

This week’s post veers away from the regulars on minimalism and zero-waste to a more controversial topic: sexism.

To those who think sexism is dead, think again.

Even in this day and age, where modern countries are spouted as being more equal than ever, sexism prevails.

It’s there everyday, whether you actively see it or not.

I just read the book “Everyday Sexism” by Laura Bates, and I honestly could relate to over half of the stories told there. (If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it is a culmination from thousands of stories she’s collected from women of all ages on the blatant sexism they encounter every day. Www.everydaysexism.com )

I won’t bog you down with all the statistics about the gender pay gap, or the enormous lack of equality in politics and jobs in general. But I will tell a few stories and ask a few questions.

I personally have been cat-called, yelled at, leered at, groped, and been put down multiple times by men who think because I have a vagina it somehow makes me less than a person.

I’ve been stalked while walking to the local library by a guy in a sports car. (No, I’m not paranoid, he literally drove back and forth down the same street and honked at me each time he passed)

I’ve been sitting in my car at a red light and had semi truck drivers yell “hey sexy” through the window while simultaneously gesturing to their crotch.

As a teenager I would go for walks around the neighborhood and once had a group of men in a car pull over on the side of a main road to leer and offer me donuts….as though I wouldn’t feel threatened by it.

I’ve been groped by strangers and acquaintances. Once in middle school a guy in my class pinched my ass, I turned around and kicked him in the shins.

Other gropings happen while in crowded hallways or even in line at the bank, where they had ample room to walk around me but instead chose to brush up against my behind instead and then proceed to grin and smile smugly about it.

I stopped feeling comfortable going out to eat when I got “hit on” by a thirty something year old guy…I was only 11 at the time.

Then there are the more subtle daily bits of sexism…

If you wear shorts, you’re “asking for it”….and considering the fact that I’m almost 6ft tall, ALL shorts are short-shorts, but I can’t really help it when it’s like ninety degrees outside.

But then again if you wear a long-sleeved dress down to your knees, you’re a prude.

If you wear flats or tennis shoes on a date, you’re not trying hard enough. But wearing heels and make-up can be construed as slutty or trying too hard.

My daily musings before getting dressed involve things like…Should I wear a skirt and be whistled at and cat called, or should I wear sweat pants and have the same thing happen but a bit less frequently? At least with the sweats I’ll be comfortable.

(I guarantee you men’s daily wardrobe decisions aren’t this difficult)

Then there’s the work place, the “professional world” where women, believe it or not, have been reprimanded for not wearing enough makeup, or for not wearing heels. I don’t see them telling men to cover up their puffy eyes or blemishes or wear ridiculously uncomfortable shoes all day.

Then of course there’s the whole assumption that if I’m of child-bearing age…you know like between the ages of 11 and 50, that you’ll inevitably get pregnant and become incompetent in your work, which makes employers less likely to hire you in the first place.

Not to mention the lovely bits of sexism many women experience within the workplace, like being asked for sexual favors or getting groped, etc.

Alas there are always a litany of little things, subtle or not so subtle, that have become an inherent part of our lives and experiences…

I’d totally bang that.

Nice rack.

Why don’t you come sit on my lap?

Men don’t like it when you voice opinions too loudly, you’ll catch more guys if you go along with what they say.

No matter what, always laugh at a man’s jokes, it makes them feel valued.

She’s such a bitch/prude/slut/whore/(insert rude remark here).

You don’t want kids? That’s so selfish. You’re a woman, you’re supposed to have kids.

Every single comment ever made about how keeping a house is “women’s work”.

If you’re going to get married and have kids do it before you turn thirty, it’s all downhill for women after that.

Every single movie and advertisement where women are specifically shown to only want love/pretty things/fashion, while the ones geared to men are much more diverse.

All of the cleaning advertisements that are specifically geared to women, (though recently I did see an add with a father and sons doing the cleaning, which was quite refreshing, kudos to them).

Video games where the women characters are only shown with ridiculously unrealistic proportions, mainly in the breasts and backside…and of course they always are wearing little to no clothing.

Telling any female child that the boy who is throwing rocks at her, teasing her, etc. actually “likes her”.

“boys will be boys”

Every single time a girl is singled out in school or work for her outfit and told she shouldn’t wear it because it will “distract the boys/men”

Kids aisles in the stores, girls are pink and marketed princesses and “home-making” items, while the boys get action figures and building materials, etc.

Why do we let this all go unchallenged? Probably because it’s normalized, because it “isn’t that big of a deal”.

But it is. It’s a very big deal. That “innocent” catcall can later turn into physical touching, and can escalate into assault really quickly.

Instead of victim blaming girls or telling them they should cover up more/don’t drink/don’t walk down the street in broad daylight by themselves, why don’t we simply teach our young men how to control themselves? Or teach them that those sorts of comments are inappropriate? The phrase “boys will be boys” is simply an excuse for bad behavior, and we need to wipe it from our vocabulary.

We need to teach girls and boys that no one should be able to touch them without consent. No one should have the right, or feel they have the right, to physically intimidate someone or continue to give them unwanted advances.

Nor should anyone feel that it’s okay to make lewd comments in public. No woman wants to go to the grocery store and have to endure comments about her breasts or ass. Or have some random creep follow her around the store. Or in my case around the block and down the street, but this day and age it isn’t old guys in white stalker vans, it’s young guys in convertibles.

Women and men are both human beings, the only difference being in our chromosomes of XX or XY, and our genitalia. One is not better than the other, nor should one feel superior to the other. Both men and women are needed to procreate and keep the species alive, one cannot do it alone without the other.

Both deserve dignity and respect.

Both genders should feel safe when walking down a street alone.

I can only hope we acknowledge our shortcomings and teach the next generation to do better.

If you have any stories you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments 🙂

 

 

Farmer’s Market love :)

Last year a farmer’s market finally opened close enough to make it convenient to visit every week during the summer when it’s open. Safe to say I was exceptionally excited about it 🙂 They continued this year and even have a few new vendors.

This past week I went and checked out the different stands with everything from fruits, veggies, honey, and other home-made goodies. I made out like a bandit!

Normally at the regular grocery stores or even the health stores tomatoes are easily 50 cents or more per tomato. At the farmers market I spent about $10 on tomatoes and ended up with more than 25 tomatoes of various shapes and sizes. I also got five pounds of fresh blueberries and a bucket of potatoes.

With the tomatoes I made some home-made spaghetti sauce. Tomatoes, onions from the garden, oregano from the bulk section, salt, and almost a whole head of garlic and voilà, a whole pot of sauce. With all the tomatoes combined I ended up with 8 jars of sauce (there are 9 in the picture because I still have one left over from a smaller test batch I made a few weeks ago), easily enough to last the whole winter 🙂 The best part is they’re delicious and I made them for about a dollar a jar, which is less than store bought jars.

WIN_20160828_155704

*helpful hint- tell the vendor/farmer that you’re canning the tomatoes, and they might just have a bucket to the side of “uglier” tomatoes they’ll sell you for cheap. Usually they’re just a bit riper and have a few discolored skin spots, but if you’re canning the skins come off anyway, so win-win!

Now with the blueberries I went ahead and rinsed them before letting them dry off a bit. I then laid them out in a single layer on a glass baking dish in batches and froze them just enough they wouldn’t stick when I switched them to the mason jars. Once I knew they wouldn’t stick to each other I scooped them out and put them in the jars and back into the freezer. Five pounds ended up giving me a bit over 10 jars of berries which I can defrost as I need/want them and add them to smoothies or even just eat them plain as a tasty snack.

WIN_20160828_155749

The potatoes were the easiest, going straight from my reusable bag to my potato bowl.

WIN_20160828_155727

All in all I now have enough blueberries and tomato sauce to last most if not all of the winter, and it took only a few hours of prep and cooking the sauce to make it happen.

If you haven’t checked out your local farmer’s market I recommend you go, you never know you might find a hidden gem or two. Bonus- you get to meet local farmers and support their business in your own community. (It always tastes better when your food has travelled a shorter distance and has been picked within only a day or two of getting to you)

Extra bonus- no produce stickers 🙂

P.s. Don’t forget your reusable bags!

Have any of you scored at the Farmer’s market? What’s your favorite thing to get fresh from the market? What’s your favorite thing about the farmer’s markets near you?

 

Defining your Green priorities (a.k.a. making shopping easier!)

Choices. They’re something we make every single day of our lives. What to wear, what to buy, what to eat, and what to do…

Sometimes those decisions are tougher than others, for instance when you go grocery shopping and are trying to both be healthy (by purchasing organic foods) and reduce plastic packaging. In a perfect world I’d be able to do both without a problem, but this isn’t a perfect world and sometimes a choice has to be made between purchasing organic potatoes in a plastic bag vs. conventional (read: pesticide infused) potatoes loose.WIN_20150609_173707

Decisions, decisions.

I’ve encountered these conundrums so many times that I’ve had to take a hard look at my priorities when it comes to food as well as other purchases.

What do you put first, the health of your body, or the health of the planet? The organic potatoes aren’t covered in pesticides, thereby better tasting and much better for my health…but they came wrapped in a plastic bag which isn’t so good for the planet. On the other hand I had conventional potatoes, loose, without plastic, but not as great for my health. Then there’s always the problems the pesticides and herbicides have had on the planet through runoff and poisoning the ground. Organic ones are produced sustainably and so don’t have that effect. But sometimes the miles they’ve traveled to get to my local store are more than conventional potatoes….can you see my dilemma?

Which would you choose?

I went with the organic ones even though they were wrapped in plastic.

Why?

For me it all comes down to my priorities. When I go shopping I ask myself a few things..

  1. How was this item made/grown?
  2. Will consuming it benefit me or hurt my health in any way?
  3. How is it packaged? If it is packaged, is the packaging sustainable?
  4. If it’s not the best packaging (which would be no packaging at all) and I still want to buy it, is the packaging easily reusable/recyclable?
  5. Considering all of the above, do I feel comfortable spending money (which is essentially casting a vote telling the producer to make more of said item) on the item in question?

Now from this list you can see a few things.

Firstly, my health and the health of the planet are my top priorities, but when I have to choose between the two of them, MY health comes first. I’m not saying the health of the planet is a secondary consideration, or unimportant, but when I have to make tough decisions my personal health tends to come first in my own priorities.

So, when I bought the potatoes I was mainly looking at my own health, but I also thought about how them being grown organically, thereby having a much better impact on the planet as opposed to conventionally grown potatoes, was probably enough to offset the environmental cost of one plastic bag and twist tie.

Honestly, when I looked at the bags I figured I could at least reuse it for dipping cat litter, but alas all of the bags had holes in them. So, unfortunately said bag went straight from the store into my measly trash can after removing the potatoes.

Was this the right decision?

Some may say no, that I should’ve avoided the plastic at all costs, and others may say I could’ve found a way around it by buying from a farmers market, etc. (unfortunately 1. Potatoes are not in season at the market, and 2. Most of the vendors at said market spray pesticides on their produce as well)

Anyway, for me it was the right decision, because I have defined my priorities when it comes to consuming and purchasing goods. Take a peek at the top 5…

  1. My health ALWAYS comes first. Period. Simply because I’m a firm believer that we are what we eat, and I would rather avoid the doctor’s office it at all possible. A healthy body is less prone to sickness and disease.
  2. Next is the planet. Now this and number one usually align pretty well, and sometimes it isn’t as black and white as it seems between thinking about shipping miles and packaging and ethical sourcing, etc. But I try my best to put the health and well-being of our lovely planet next on the list. Ex: No packaging is best, but Glass and metal are better than plastic, which is slightly better than Styrofoam, etc.
  3. Budget. Quite honestly some would argue this should be first, but I put it third. Not to say I ever go outside of my budget, but more wiggle things around WITHIN it. For example, I might forgo getting a jar of juice one week in lieu of purchasing the organic apples over the conventional ones, etc. An easy way to stay within your budget is to evaluate every purchase and decide if you really need said item.
  4. Supporting local stores/farmers. It’s best to try and buy locally for many reasons, but sometimes they don’t meet the three above priorities and that’s why they are number four on the list.
  5. When in doubt, make your own. Grow your own food if possible, make beauty products, etc.

This is my list, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a bit different from your own. Each one of us has to make the decisions about what is most important to us. It’s not a bad thing if your list is different from my own, just different 🙂

So when I do go shopping, either online or in a market or brick and mortar store, this is the list I go by to make my purchases. I always feel extra lucky if I can at least fulfill the first 3 priorities at the same time, but sometimes sacrifices will be made.

But having defined my list makes shopping much easier, as I now have a definitive ranking system to weigh my options with. So the next time I’m wavering between buying different soaps or pieces of fruit, I will be at ease with my decisions.

I’d love to hear about your lists of priorities when it comes to shopping! Are they similar? Different? What’s your number one priority?

XO

Candice