Loving them Berries

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

I’ve got dinner plans with my own mother and grandmother later, so I’ll make this a short one.

Last summer at the farmers market I bought a good five pounds of blueberries from one of the vendors there. When I got home I froze them individually and then stored them in mason jars in my freezer. Safe to say during this past winter when berry prices skyrocketed I was quite glad I bought those berries. But besides eating them whole, I’ve recently started using them in fruit smoothies…Delicious!

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Today I finally used my last jar of frozen blueberries to make a triple berry smoothie (mostly zero-waste style). I used fresh strawberries, my blueberries, raspberry sorbet, and some almond milk (which does come in a carton, but I’m okay with that since I need the calcium boost).

But the whole 5 pounds of blueberries lasted me the whole winter, and for only $25 bucks too. In the dead of winter blueberries can go for over $5 for a 6oz package. So the five pounds, safe to say was a total steal at the farmers market. And as an added boost they came package free except for a small cardboard box, and they helped support a local farmer. So win-win!

If you don’t have a farmers market, you could always garden and then preserve your own veggies and fruit, that’s my plan for this year and whatever I don’t grow myself I’ll supplement with things from the farmers market. I already have lettuce, spinach, potato plants, squash, zucchini, peas, and green beans sprouting in the garden. I can’t wait for their first harvest.

If you haven’t tried preserving or freezing food for the winter, I’d definitely recommend it, especially for things like berries and tomatoes. Speaking of which….

I just finally used my last jar of tomato sauce I made from a big batch of 30 tomatoes from the farmers market last year. They cost like $4 and made 9 mason jars worth of sauce. Tip: Ask the vendor if they have any “ugly” tomatoes they’d sell for cheap. Since they’re going in a sauce to preserved they don’t have to be pretty 🙂

One afternoon of work and cooking, and I had a whole winter’s worth of spaghetti sauce/marinara sauce. Totally worth it in my book.

Are there any foods you preserve for the colder months, if so which are your favorites? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Xo

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.

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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

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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

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 🙂

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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

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.

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*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.

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

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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

Ten myths of Zero-Waste

Hey guys,

I’ve been noticing a few articles floating around that, in my opinion, completely misrepresent the lifestyle….hence today’s post on the myths of Zero-Waste.

Here we go…

MYTH #1

Zero-waste is a movement for only middle to upper class Caucasian women who are single and childless.

TRUTH #1

The Zero-waste movement is for ALL people to participate in. Now it does seem as though a majority of those blogging and promoting it do fall into that stereotype, but there are men and other ethnicities as well as parents living the lifestyle. There’s a comprehensive list of bloggers around the world who live it at zerowastebloggersnetwork.com

I personally fall into the stereotype, except for the middle/upper class thing…which brings me to my next myth…

MYTH #2

You need to have at least a middle class income to attempt Zero-waste.

TRUTH #2

I personally skate by each month on a very small income. Zero-waste has helped me lower my spending because I no longer need to buy things like tissues, lotions, hairspray, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.

That’s right, Zero-wasting has helped me SAVE money. Ka-ching!

MYTH #3

You need to buy fancy matching Mason jars, bamboo cutlery, and a butt-load of stuff to start your Zero-waste journey.

TRUTH #3

This one irritates me the most because it’s total bull. You can go zero-waste cheaply by saving glass pickle jars or spaghetti sauce jars and wash the label off before reusing them. Instead of buying a pack of hankies, cut up an old T-shirt and use that. Instead of getting a fancy set of glass jars for storage, check out your local dollar store or thrift store. Easily 3/4 of my containers I got really cheap from both of those places. Or if you have a friend who uses glass baby food jars, ask if you can have the jars when she’s done with them to use for bulk spices.

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jars (The one in the middle used to be a mayo jar) 😉

The order of operations: Use what you already have, ask a friend, thrift, then lastly buy new.

I think I’ve made my point 🙂

MYTH #4

It costs a lot of money upfront to start.

TRUTH #4

The only upfront costs I had were for a few jars from the dollar store, my divacup, cloth pads, and a safety razor. These were all investments that have paid for themselves in the past year since I am no longer buying their disposable counterparts. These products will last for years and years to come since they are resusable, so I expect they will pay for themselves multiple times before they finally wear out.

The other zero-waste purchases like bamboo toothbrushes, soapnuts, and alum stone deodorant are going to be repeat purchases, but their cost is similar or even less than the regular products.

MYTH #5

You are failing if your trash doesn’t fit in a Mason jar.

TRUTH #5

If you are even reading this post you are already winning and one step ahead of the game. Most people simply aren’t conscious of their waste- or, more likely they don’t WANT to be conscious of their waste. So they ignore it. Even if your only step has been to bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, you are contributing to having less waste. EVERY STEP COUNTS!

My personal trash from the past two months does happen to fit in a small jar, but I don’t include pet waste in that factor because my pets do make quite a bit of litter waste and such. Which, for obvious reasons, I am not collecting in a jar lol.

But like I’ve said, I have been on this journey for over a year already, each person’s situation is unique and individual to them. Some have pets, some don’t, some have kids, some don’t, etc. As long as you are trying, you are pretty awesome in my book.

MYTH #6

You have to have special equipment to go Zero-waste. Bamboo utensils, jars, produce bags, etc.

TRUTH #6

So, okay, I have a glass water-bottle. I also have some jars for storage, and a reusable tote to take to the store. But do I have portable bamboo utensils to take with me to restaurants? No. Have I bought specific bags just for produce? No.

If I want to go out to eat, I pick a place with reusable flatware. If I want to buy produce I put it loose in my cart and loose on the cashier belt, and then loose in my big tote.

Now, that being said. There are things you will find you use and would be convenient to have for Zero-wasting. I personally like my water-bottle, and would it be nice to have bamboo utensils? yes, but I don’t need them right now.

The only things you will NEED to go zero-waste are a few containers that you can refill with bulk purchases, and a reusable tote for going to the store. End of story. Everything else can be improvised. (Except if you’re a woman who happens to PMS, then a menstrual cup or reusable pads are kind of necessary. The joys of being a woman, huh?)

MYTH #7

To go zero-waste you have to give up everything good like packaged chips and candy-bars, and the only way you’ll ever have good food again is if you become Suzy Homemaker.

TRUTH #7

Oy, where to begin. I do not buy chips, personally, since none come in packaging I find acceptable for ME. But I do cut up a potato and throw it into my little deep-fryer I have at home. Or a skillet. A few minutes later, voila, fried potatoes!

I also make things like salad dressing, because it’s easy to make. I have the skills to make my own mayo and barbecue sauce as well, but given that I use so little of them and they have enough ingredients that it is easier to buy BBQ sauce in a glass jar with a metal lid than make it myself, both materials being completely recyclable.

If I want a chocolate bar I make sure to find one that is in paper packaging that is easily recycled. (I simply won’t give up chocolate, sorry guys, I need it for that time of the month 🙂 )

MYTH #8

If you Zero-waste, you must not use contraceptives or toilet paper.

TRUTH #8

Whether you use contraceptives or not is a personal choice, I personally am a fan of not spreading diseases or getting pregnant unexpectedly. The trash that comes along with that is inevitable unless you get fixed, which isn’t an option if you want to have children.

Toilet paper is a touchy subject. I still use it since everyone in my household does. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to look into other options just yet, but I’m sure I probably will eventually. For now the best options are if you can get it wrapped in paper, or at least without the inner cardboard tube. Recycled is even better, but it depends on what your preferences are.

MYTH #9

You have to have tons of free time in order to worry about all the extra “work” that goes along with Zero-waste. I.e. grocery shopping, making products

TRUTH #9

Zero-waste grocery shopping is no harder that regular shopping once you have your system in place. I have little labels for my jars, and except for the first trip to the store where I had to get them weighed, grocery shopping takes me the exact same amount of time it did before. No big deal. You just take your jars or bags (if you are buying bulk items), fill em up, and pay for them. Easy peasy. It just takes a little big of gusto to make that first trip, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.

You don’t have to make your own products to be zero-waste. It’s easy and convenient to make them yourself mostly, but it isn’t necessary. I only make one product regularly, toothpaste. 30 seconds, some coconut oil, baking soda, and peppermint oil, and I’m done. That’s it.

Most things have a purchasable replacement. Like bars of soap free of packaging versus body-wash, an alum stone instead of deodorant, soap nuts instead of laundry detergent, etc. It just takes a little experimentation to figure out what works the best for you.

MYTH #10

There is no point to Zero-wasting because the planet is already doomed and one person can’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

TRUTH #10

One person can make a difference. It might not be a ginormous impact, but you can impact yourself and the people around you. I’m not a perfect environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but every single time I go to the store I always get asked about my jars, and those two minutes spent talking to another person may or may not end up encouraging them to try it, or it might just remind them to bring a reusable bag to the store.

I might not save the planet, but I’m saving one plastic bag for each jar I use. One plastic bag every time I use my reusable tote. One plastic water-bottle every time I bring my own reusable one. One disposable toothbrush for every bamboo toothbrush. One more bit of empty space in my drawers for every cheap freebie I turn down.

It adds up.

I’d also like to think I help out by spreading the word through this blog, for those of you who read it.

So, if any of you have any comments or any other myths you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

XO

Candice

Lessons from going one year makeup free!

For those of you who’ve been following me for a while you might remember a little blog post I did towards the last week of July last year about giving up makeup. Check it out here if you haven’t read it yet.

Anywho, it has officially been 1 whole year without makeup for me and I wanted to talk about a few things I learned along the way.

But first let’s talk about the reasons I gave it up in the first place.

  1. First and foremost I’m pretty lazy when it comes to my morning routine. I get up brush my teeth run a brush through my hair and that’s the gist of it. Maybe I’ll do a ponytail or braid if I’m feeling particularly adventurous. But having makeup in the routine was taking up too much time in my opinion, and quite honestly I was only using it to cover up blemishes anyway, not to turn myself into the next Victoria’s Secret model lol
  2. That stuff is expensive, and there’s so many brands to choose from. I’d walk into the store and it was time-consuming enough to find something that matched my skin tone, let alone wondering what the heck the different between a bb cream and a cc cream was.
  3. Most of the time I only managed to put on eyeliner and a bit of concealer and that was it.
  4. And quite frankly I was irritated that men could go out with a fresh face every stinking day without anyone making a peep but if I went out without eyeliner everyone asked me if I was “tired” and “doing okay”. As though my fresh face looked like one of an ill person. Oy.

So I decided to do a little experiment. I got rid of it all. Every last bit. GONE.

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Quite honestly, I’m glad I did it.

Now I’ll tell you, for someone with acne scars and nice discolored bits on my face it was definitely an adjustment to go out without any “war paint” as it were. But you know what? Eventually I got used to it, and so did everyone else. I no longer bet any comments about my appearance except for those who say “oh, you look great today, where’d you get that skirt?” etc.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this experiment…

  1. Most people aren’t scrutinizing your face to see if you’re wearing makeup every single day. As a matter of fact, most people simply don’t care. So don’t base your choices on what others might think of your fresh makeup-free face.
  2. Makeup can be used for two purposes, the first being to hide imperfections, the second to enhance your favorite features. I prefer the second reason to the first. Everyone has some sort of imperfection and most are quite interesting and beautiful, like freckles. Now acne scars aren’t what I’d personally consider beautiful, but I can deal with others seeing them. If anyone asks, I simply explain I have food intolerances that caused a lot of acne growing up and these are the battle scars, so to speak.
  3. Don’t be embarrassed by your face. Everyone breaks out occasionally, just like a lot of people get weird sunglasses tanlines in the summer, its inevitable. Its HUMAN. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  4. If you are insecure about breakouts or blemishes, try not looking into the mirror for a week. Soon enough you’ll realize it isn’t that big of a deal and there are much more interesting ways to spend your time.
  5. Guys go out without makeup, and it’s perfectly acceptable for us women to as well. End of story. (I’d also add here that we can go out with hairy legs and braless as well, but I’ll save those bits for another post:) )
  6. Nixing makeup saves both time and money. And energy. If I don’t put anything on in the morning, I don’t have to spend copious amounts of time scraping it off at night.
  7. My last point is that society can be pretty demanding, always trying to sell you the next beauty treatment or wrinkle remover, but quite honestly we don’t need them. If you’re young you’ll probably have some breakouts, if your older you’ll be betting wrinkles and smile lines, but its all a normal part of growing up and growing older. So embrace your age as well as your face, they are stunningly unique after all (unless you’re an identical twin, but I digress) and they’re all yours.

I’ll admit I had a few times the past year when I was tempted to get some concealer to cover up a few things, but now that the year’s over I can now say that I don’t really miss the makeup…except on Halloween. Then, yeah I’ll probably make a bit of DIY makeup just for the hell of it. But the rest of the year I will enjoy going makeup free and embracing me, scars and all.

Have any of you tried going makeup free? Do you enjoy it or did you regret it? Have any zero-waste/minimalist makeup recipes for me? I’d love to hear about it all in the comments!

Plastic free july!

It’s that time of year again, Plastic Free July, a time when individuals are encouraged to forgo single use plastics like straws, cups, bags, etc. in favor of reusable.

Now, honestly, I never really did the whole plastic free July thing when I started transitioning towards zero-waste. But I think its a great place for people to start learning about the impact they can have on their environment.

It amazes me how many people are simply ignorant of their waste, or on the other hand those who ignore it purposely. I was told at the checkout today of my favorite bulk store that I am the ONLY person who brings in their own jars…yep, the only one. Little ol’ me. Everyone else uses the provided Plastic bags. (insert facepalm here)

It made me sad.

Why? Because its so EASY to cut down on your plastic waste and consumption. It just takes a few easy steps to cut out the junk. Here are a few easy beginner tips:

  1. Ditch the plastic bags…they’re ridiculous and entirely unnecessary. I bet if you go look right now you have that one giant plastic bag FULL of other smaller plastic bags. Go take a look at how ugly that thing is, don’t worry I’ll still be here when you get back……………You can’t tell me that horde of plastic looks pretty. Reusable bags are the way to go. I have a big old sturdy canvas tote myself. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, keep some in your car, by your shopping list, fold one and stuff it in your purse. Personally, I write my list and get my bags ready right before I leave for the store so I don’t forget anything.WIN_20150724_120334
  2. Get rid of those plastic disposable water bottles, it is easier and cheaper to get water from the tap. There are different things you can replace them with like metal canteens or water bottles, I personally prefer glass (mine is pictured below during a trip to the park)
  3. Next, let go of your love for disposable straws, stainless steel and glass options are WIN_20160706_114101better for the environment, but they also look better and you kids love them, they even have colored options if that’s more your style.
  4. Here’s another crazy idea for you beginners, leave your fruits and veggies loose at the store, don’t put them in little plastic baggies, let them breathe. I promise, they’ll be just fine. I buy my potatoes loose and put them on the conveyer belt loose, the simple solution is to simply wash them when you get home, easy peasy.

 

All right, some of you are reading this like “I already know this, how bout some tips for those of us a little further along in the journey.”

Here’s some mid-grade tips:

  1. Buy in bulk. Not in giant bulk packages like costco, but from bulk BINS. Big difference. Bins let you get exactly how much or how little you need, no muss no fuss. You may think there are no bulk stores near you, but I guarantee there probably is one and you don’t even know it. I found 2 near me when I was convinced there were none.
  2. Better yet, when you buy in bulk…..bring your own jars or bags! Tare them when empty, write the tare (aka weight) of the empty jar on a sticker or tag. Fill em up, and then they’ll take off the weight of the jar at checkout. (Be warned though that just because they have bulk doesn’t mean all the cashiers will be trained on how to deduct tare weight, if in doubt have them ask a manager)WIN_20160510_162025
  3. For those fruits and veg scraps you have left over, regrow them! Once potatoes sprout you can plant them in a pot of dirt and they’ll regrow into many potatoes. Green onions will regrow if you keep the bulbs in a jar with a bit of water, same goes for leaf lettuce bottoms and celery. Sprouted onions and garlic can be planted to go to seed then you have free seeds to plant for next year 🙂

Now, there are some of you who scoff at those tips above. Those of you that are on another plane of zero-wasting entirely. Here are a few tips for you…

  1. Plant a garden. Window box, potters, or a good sized backyard…it doesn’t matter. You can make space to plant food. Best part, is it’s automatically organic if you keep it clean and don’t use any pesticides or fertilizers. Cheap organic produce is the bomb. I am lucky enough to have a yard where I’ve planted potatoes, onions, green beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, spaghetti squash, carrots, and watermelon. I also have chives, thyme, peppermint, and spearmint that grow back every year on their own. If you don’t want to go gung ho on the veg, try out a small herb garden first. Fresh herbs are the best anyway, and bonus because they don’t sprout out of the ground wrapped in plastic.WIN_20160706_105933
  2. Make your own stuff, whether it be deodorant, apple cider vinegar, salad dressings, or homemade mayo and ketchup. Try out new recipes. I guarantee the first one will probably be a failure if your luck is anything like mine, but don’t give up. I made 7 different BBQ sauce batches before finding ratios I liked.

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    home-made ACV
  3. Ditch the plastic from the rest of your house, I got rid of unnecessary plastic tupperware and opted for glass jars instead. I also ditched plastic storage containers and utensils. If you can’t let all the plastic go, please at least try to keep it away from your food. Nasty leaching chemicals are not good to ingest. Glass and metal are much better for food storage. 🙂

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    jars
  4. Ditch the harsh cleaners. Opt for soap nuts, castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, and bars of soap. Better for you, better for the planet. Cheaper too, which is just an extra bonus.

 

Are you participating in plastic free July? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!