Zero-Waste/Minimalist New Year’s resolutions

Hi everyone,

Happy holidays!

New Years is just around the corner and I thought I would share a few of my own New Year’s Resolutions with you.

So here we go,

  1. No Unnecessary Spending in 2016– I am really challenging myself this year to not spend any unnecessary money, which means no new clothes, no going out for food, no extra knick-knacks, etc. The only money I plan to spend is on the basics such as food, gas, insurance, etc….hopefully I’ll save some extra money and learn to be even more grateful for what I already own, which should be enough clothes and such to last me the entire year.
  2. Living as simply as possible and learning to make more things at home- I’m going to try my hand at a bit of everything this year from fermenting to making my own apple-cider vinegar. I’ll share all of the successes and failures here with you guys.
  3. Reducing my paper waste-This is a big one for me, I tend to get a lot of mail and such so I am going to go paperless with my bank statements and use every bit of a piece of paper before I ultimately recycle it.
  4. Finish writing another book…or two– I have been writing a fiction novel for the past few months, and I should be finished with it in the next week or so. This was my first novel ever, and I am hoping that I will be able to find an agent and publisher who will want to buy it, fingers crossed! 🙂
  5. Less stress and more nature-I have plans to spend more time in nature, walks at the park, etc. (once the weather warms up a bit). In the summer I love walking the 2 miles to our local library to check out books. Being outdoors helps me manage my stress levels and be more at peace with everything.

Alrighty that is my list. I will definitely do update posts on how each of these resolutions are going throughout the new year. 2015 was great, and I am sure that 2016 will be even better 🙂

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?

 

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A question for the ladies ;)

Hi everyone.

I hope your holidays are going well 🙂

I have a specific question for the women out there, especially those who are trying to achieve zero-waste…

How do you stick to Zero-waste when you PMS?

Let me clarify.

I am not talking about pads, etc. I have that covered. Reusable cloth pads and a Divacup are my go-to waste-free alternatives.

I’m talking about food.

I don’t know about you, but when my first day hits and I feel like I am dying, everything goes out the window. I could honestly care less about the fact that chip bags aren’t recyclable when my insides are ripping apart.

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Bags of chips, and copious amounts of junk food are consumed for one day out of every month.

I am also one of those women whose stomach is quite the monster that time of the month…I’m talking about it growling constantly through the night, making me get up multiple times to feed it. And quite frankly when I am interrupted from sleep I want snack foods, I don’t want to have to warm anything up.

And before you say it, no. Fruit doesn’t cut it.

So the first day tends to be me, in the store, clearing out the chips and chocolate, and walking out of the store with a bunch of waste.

After the first day, my mind and conscious return with a vengeance.

But by then I have consumed all of the food anyway.

My question to you, is do you indulge that time of the month? Or do you have any zero-waste snack foods you make ahead of time?

Minimalist/Zero-waste Grocery shopping

Okay guys, Zero-waste shopping is almost impossible where I live. Ninety-nine percent of the stores prohibit the use of your own jars and fabric bulk bags.

It can be frustrating at times.

Where I live, I still get strange looks when I bring my own reusable bag to put my groceries in.

I am determined though to minimize my harmful impact on the environment, as well as minimize my living in general.

So I proudly bring my bags to the store that I shop at every week, and even the butcher now knows me by name and knows that even though he doesn’t accept jars, he only puts my meat in paper (no little plastic lining papers, etc.)

The cashier knows me as well. I find that once people get over the initial strangeness of your bags and the fact that you refuse to use plastic produce bags, they are rather friendly.

When asked, I just say that I don’t like having plastic wrapped around my food. That’s it. I don’t go into all the zero-waste/minimalist stuff unless they ask why I don’t like plastic.

Anyways…here is the picture of my grocery haul from this week.

WIN_20151216_114334.JPG

Okay, so even though the store doesn’t allow jars, I did a pretty good job avoiding plastic in general.

Let’s start with the bad news first…

Waste:

  1. Paper produce stickers on all potatoes
  2. Plastic stickers on onions, spaghetti squash, shallots and oranges.
  3. Paper wrapper for meat- will be recycled
  4. Box from tea-which is actually my mothers lol
  5. Can from tuna- will be recycled
  6. Glass jars from juice, oil, and BBQ sauce- all will be recycled.
  7. Metal lids from juice and BBQ sauce- will be recycled.
  8. 1 plastic lid on the oil…I tried to avoid it, really I did. but all of the oils have plastic lids since they do not have a liquid bulk section. I use the oil for salad dressings and mayonnaise. I don’t think it can be recycled 😦

Now for the good news…

  • All the produce that I bought was loose, without being wrapped in those plastic mesh bag thingies.
  • The lettuce had no stickers of any kind.
  • They forgot to label all the garlic too, so I got by without any packaging at all on those.
  • All of the food is healthy, organic, and more sustainably produced than it’s conventional counterparts 🙂

Why? Why bother tallying up trash and limiting my shopping to pretty much package less food?

  1. I don’t like plastic. Period. I really think that having your food wrapped in a sheet of oil is kind of gross. Don’t even get me started on how the giant grocery store near me individually wraps all of the organic produce in plastic, even the peppers and zucchini, really? Is that necessary?
  2. I don’t like having to deal with trash.
  3. I really enjoy having my cupboards filled with glass jars that do not have tons of product names and labels on them, it is so pretty without all of the visual garbage. 🙂
  4. I eat healthier. What can you get without packages? Whole foods. Healthy foods. Fruits, veggies, meats, etc.
  5. My life is easier in general, I know exactly what I am getting at the store before I go, I can be in and out in less than twenty minutes. Twice a week at most and I end up spending a max of forty minutes in the store.
  6. Less food waste, because I buy less food. It is really easy to see what you have when it is in Wicker baskets sitting by the table or in glass jars in the fridge and pantry.
  7. Last but certainly not least…I know exactly what I am buying, because there is no confusing packaging or mile long ingredients list, it is just real food. A banana is a banana, the end.

A special Thanks

I am aspiring to have a minimalist and Zero-waste lifestyle.

But I wasn’t always this way.

A couple of years ago if someone has told me that I would give up buying potato chips because the bags aren’t eco-friendly, I would have laughed right in their face.

If I could have seen a snippet of how I am living now, back then I would have thought that I had gone over the ben. Cuckoo for cocoa puffs. Absolutely bonkers.

And perhaps I have a bit.

It all started back in college. There was this professor, you see.

One who I thought at the time was slightly off her rocker (but now I am rather thankful for)

She did things like make us dance to “Happy” in class, and do social experiments where we had to carry water in and out of the classroom in jugs to fill up other jugs. It was all rather strange at the time…and I know that I truly didn’t “get” most of what she was going on about.

Then she showed us the video about “the story of stuff”.

That’s when I started paying attention.

She followed that up with videos on the pacific gyre, the destruction that palm oil is causing, and images of what other children have around the world. The plight of bees, and how a lot of our waste is ending up in other countries, and devastating environments.

You know, back then I didn’t even know that organic produce here in the U.S. has a produce sticker that starts with a number 9…that is until she casually mentioned it in class one day. Afterwards everyone who had a piece of produce immediately checked the sticker to see if what they were consuming had pesticides.

At that point I had already made the switch to a glass waterbottle, mainly because I was cheap and didn’t want to have to pay for a plastic water bottle whenever I was thirsty. I also had started to bring a reusable bag to stores, but that was about it.

Towards the end of the semester we had to do a presentation on any issue we could find. Sitting through those presentations was an eye-opener for me.

It would still take another year or so after that class for me to really start making any noticeable changes to my lifestyle.

Then of course, I found Bea Johnsons book “Zero Waste Home”, which prompted me to really put things into practice.

But it all started with an environmentally conscious professor, who opened my eyes when I had them completely shut.

So, Thank you Professor Kraniak, you helped give me the kick in the butt I needed to change my life 🙂

Who inspired you to change your lifestyle, become minimalist or zero-waste? 🙂

Zero-Waste/Minimalist changes in the bathroom

Hey everyone, since starting this journey I have made quite a few baby steps in the right direction. Since it has officially been a little bit over since months since I started this blog, I thought I would give you all an update on my bathroom progress.

I live with other people, so instead of starting with changes in the kitchen, I originally started changing things in the bathroom first. The first ever change I made was switching from store bought toothpaste to making my own, and I haven’t looked back since.

Here is a comprehensive list of my minimalist/zero-waste bathroom changes:

  1. Toothpaste– instead of buying plastic tubes filled with chemical goo, I now use baking soda mixed with coconut oil and peppermint oil. Very easy and simple to do. Six months in and my teeth look and feel great. 🙂
  2. Deodorant– I switched from deodorant in a plastic tube, to crystal deodorant that comes sold loose in a cardboard box. It is not an antiperspirant (so you will still sweat occasionally) but it prevents the stink. The only time I notice any stinkiness is if I do an intense workout, then I shower right after anyways.
  3. Soap– no more plastic pumps or wraps for me, I swapped out the plastic wrapped version for loose bars that I buy at the health store. Easy swap, and they are cheaper too since I don’t pay for packaging.
  4. Shaving– I swapped out disposable razors for a safety razor, and the cans of shaving cream for shave soap from chagrin valley. I absolutely love this switch, the safety razor blade has lasted over two months now without needing to be replaced, and I get a much better shave.
  5. Waxing– Instead of waxing in the summer, I sugar. It is completely edible and much gentler on your skin. Check out my post here.
  6. Lotion– swapped for coconut oil and avocado oil when it is extra dry outside.
  7. Face scrubs, etc.- I can’t believe that a few years ago I flushed plastic beads down the drain with the face-wash I used to use. I’m ashamed that I ever bought the stuff. I now just use water or a gentle fragrance free bar of the loose soap for washing. I also use castor and argon oil and rose oil for any moisturizing that needs to be done.
  8. Nail file-swapped out the cheapo one with a metal one.
  9. Shampoo/Conditioner– I originally used shampoo bars, but it wasn’t working with my hair type. They cleaned very well, but I found that my already oily hair ended up feeling waxy. Now I am using the no-poo method, but I am still playing around with the measurements of baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
  10. Make-up -I stopped using it. See why here.
  11. Nail polishnixed it too.
  12. Brush/comb– swapped out the rundown plastic brush with a bamboo brush.
  13. Tooth brushes– swapped the plastic ones for bamboo.
  14. Hair– I always keep my hair long, it just is easier for me… that and I hate short hair. The problem was that when I emptied my hairbrush I used to just throw the pieces away into the trash. Now I stick them in the compost. I do the same thing when I trim the ends too, hair is biodegradable after all. Same thing goes for nail trimmings.
  15. Tools– all of my tools are now metal or bamboo. Ex: nail clippers, tweezers, brushes, etc.
  16. TissuesHankies are the cure!
  17. PMS– swapped out disposable pads for reusable cotton ones, and tampons are gone and I now use the DivaCup.
  18. Cleaning Supplies– I ditched the harsh chemicals and now clean with lemon, vinegar, and baking soda.

Quite the list! The only things I haven’t found switches for  yet are toilet paper, ear wax remover drops, and floss. I also need to buy a bamboo toilet brush.

Are there any other changes you have made to your bathroom?

Composting like a boss

Hey guys,

This summer I decided that I wanted to try out my hand at composting, I figured that if I composted I could divert a lot of my family’s waste from ending up in the landfill. There was only one problem…

Pre-made compost bins are freaking expensive.

Even the ones with worms in them are above my budget range.

Sooo being the inventive person I am I decided that I was going to DIY it. A.K.A. winging it.

I wanted something easy, low maintenance, and just plain simple. Something that could easily fit into our garden, and that would work relatively quickly to break things down.

I did a little research and found out that the best way for things to break down would be to let bugs have access to it.

That’s right. BUGS. Creepy crawly things. Yuck.

I’m not a big fan of bugs in general. Especially when I can see them, so a big concern for me with the compost was how to make one where I wouldn’t have to come into contact with them.

I’m not one of those girls that shrieks when I see a spider in my home. I just sick my cat on it and voila, the bug is gone. He eats them, which is gross, but I don’t have to squish any bugs, so it is a win-win situation.

Anywho, back to the compost. I went out into the garage to see what sort of materials I had to work with. I had my options open, there was wood, metal, etc. All of those involved actually building something though. I wanted it to be easy.

Off in the corner I found an old garbage can that we hadn’t used in ages. It’s a dark green color, so I figured if I could outfit it, it would blend in perfectly with the scenery…sort of 🙂WIN_20151204_145217

I dragged it out of the corner so I could get a good look at it. It was sturdy, a bit ugly, but it would work.

Taking an electric drill I got to work, I drilled about 50 holes in the bottom of the can and about 1/3 of the way up the sides. It was pretty funny, I was on the back porch, straddling a garbage can, and using this enormous drill to murder the poor thing. Safe to say I got some weird looks from the neighbors that day.

After making the holes, I turned it right side up and made my way out to the garden. I picked out the spot where I wanted to put it, and dug a hole that was big enough and deep enough to cover up the holes. Then I put the can in the hole, and packed the dirt in around it.

DIY compost bin. WIN_20151204_145229 (2)

Its the green thing in the middle. Everything looks kind of dead since it is the middle of winter. it blended in during the summer when all the plants were up covering it.

My compost bin also has a locking lid to keep the small critters out.

I have been dumping kitchen scraps into the bin for about four months now and it is still only about halfway full.

The holes keep the pile airated, and they also let the bugs in and out. (I made sure the holes were big enough to let worms through)

I absolutely love the simplicity of my bin. It doesn’t need to be tended or rotated. I just let nature do all the work for me. The best part is that the worms and bugs eat everything, and all the work I will have to do is scoop some of the stuff out of the bottom to feed the rest of my garden.

Now, if you aren’t a fan of DIY then you can always go and buy your own compost bin, they have a variety of different types from ones that use a crank to turn them, to worm bins.

Either way compost bins serve double duty, they keep food scraps out of the landfill, and they make free fertilizer that you can use to feed your flowers or garden.

Have you tried composting? What is your favorite way to do it?

 

Cutting the cord of consumerism

Hi everyone,

So, now that the mad dash of the holiday weekend and Black Friday is over I have finally ventured out of my home and into a store. I had a few errands to do, and one of them took me to the dollar store.

I used to absolutely adore the dollar store…mainly because it was so cheap! But now, after becoming a minimalist and Zero-waster, my eyes are open where they weren’t before.

What I now see when I enter a dollar store:

Plastic….plastic…more plastic. Small cheap stuff that is excessively breakable. Junk…junk, and more junk. Unrecyclable stuff. Lots of chemicals and questionable products.

It just isn’t the same anymore.

I have finally cut the cord on my “consumerist” tendencies.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still buy food, pay my bills, etc. So I am consuming…I do need gas for my car, you know.

But the incessant shopping simply to shop and buying things because “oh, it’s cute. It’s on sale, I have a coupon. I could use it.” is over.

I used to go into stores (both brick and online) and just shop because I was bored, or because I needed more “bins” to organize my “stuff”.

Now I go in and see it for what it is. A large waste of time for most people.

I do buy things occasionally now, like second hand clothes from the salvation army. Or glass mason jars, bamboo toothbrushes, etc. But everything I buy now has to meet certain standards.

The Standards:

  1. The item must be without packaging, or in minimal plastic-free packaging.
  2. The item must not be made out of plastic itself.
  3. The item must be made of sustainable materials.
  4. The item must be made of natural materials, such as wool, cotton, glass, bamboo, etc. No blends or synthetic materials.
  5. It must be a good quality item that will last for years, not weeks.
  6. I have to know where the item came from, I try to make sure my purchases are Fair trade, and made in good conditions.
  7. The closer the item is made to home the better, cutting back on the fuels it takes to reach me or the store.
  8. The item has to serve a specific purpose that is useful to me.
  9. The item must be something that I will actually use.
  10. The item must be easy to recycle, up-cycle, etc when it has ended it’s life.
  11. The item has to bring me a significant amount of joy or convenience, preferably both.

Do you have any other standards for shopping?