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

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

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!

10 Motivations for becomining a Minimalist

I’ve been thinking  a lot about how minimalism has changed my entire perspective on life and I’ve met people who ask me…

Well, why did you become a minimalist? What’s the big deal?

So I thought it would be a great question to answer on today’s post.

Here are 10 motivations to become a minimalist:

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Less Stuff=Less STRESS. Simply because there’s less to think about. I’m not spending my time wondering if I have a dress to wear to a certain occasion or if I’ll have enough clean clothes for the rest of the week, I already know exactly what’s in my closet (because there’s less and everything is visible and worn multiple times) and when I’ll need to do laundry, mainly because I don’t have as much of it to do or worry about.DSC03866
  2. Speaking of laundry and chores…Less stuff =Less chores to be done! Can I get a hell yeah for not spending your Saturdays cleaning out the garage-again. Or laundry, I went from 5-6 loads a week to 3…maybe 4 if I’m doing all my blankets off my bed in the winter. That’s it! When surfaces are clear it takes all of thirty seconds to dust them too.
  3. Consumerism, ah the beast that is consumerism. Ads on television, ads online, ads at the grocery store and even at gas stations now. They all tell you that you couldn’t possibly be satisfied with what you already own. Why use your perfectly functional grill when you could buy this new fancier version!………😒 Yeah, anywho, once you minimize your stuff you learn pretty quickly that you don’t need to buy 3/4 of what they’re selling. This, in turn, saves you money and useless time spent perusing the malls. 🙂
  4. More time= more time! Once you free up all the time from shopping trips and cleaning, you’ll have more time to do whatever you want. You could spend time reading a book or going to the park with your kids or just taking a nice long relaxing bubble bath….ahhh relaxation…
  5. Less stuff is less to worry about and pack when you move. (This is a big one for me since I’ve easily moved over ten times in my lifetime already, gotta make it as easy as possible)
  6. I’m going to be a bit morbid here, but when you die…and all of us will at some point….do you really want to leave a huge pile of stuff for your loved ones and kids to have to go through and sort and trash afterwards? I already know I’m going to have tons of junk to go through when some of my family members eventually kick the bucket, and frankly I’m not looking forward to having to do it. I’d rather leave future generations a wad of cash or a vacation instead of a pile of crap I’ve been hoarding “just in case they want it”. Just sayin.
  7. On a happier note, minimalism makes it so easy come holiday times, I tell family and friends I don’t want any STUFF, if they want to do something for me they can take me somewhere out to eat or ice skating, or to the park. Experiences trump gifts every time. 🙂 I’d rather spend time at a concert with my mother than have another useless tchotchke sitting on my dresser. Yay for bonding time.
  8. Have you seen pictures in magazines of open airy rooms and nice neat counters without a thing on them…I don’t know about you but I think they are so nice and inviting….psssttt, your place can look like that, all you got to do is get rid of everything that clutters your place up. My bedroom is my pride and joy, it went from cluttered and stressful to calm and relaxing, all by removing unnecessary things!
  9. Another thing that motivated me to start this minimalist journey was my beginning into zero-waste, I am a big believer that each and every single one of us impacts the planet with our daily choices whether they be good or bad. I buy my food loose or in glass jars, not only does this satisfy my environmentalist side, but it satisfies my minimalist side too because zero-waste pantries aren’t cluttered with brand names and tons of packaging.
  10. And last but certainly not least I always wanted to have a deeper connection with nature, and minimalism has allowed me to do that. I now have extra time in the day that I used to spend watching television or trolling on the internet that I use to get my hands dirty in my garden or just to go for a walk around my neighborhood. Its almost spiritual when you get to the place where you have just what you need and not much else, it almost feels like you’re harmonizing with nature. Taking only what you need to survive and respecting the planet.

Some of these may be relevant to you, others not. These were what inspired me to become a minimalist and it is by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you have any other motivations that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Minimalist Equilibrium

 

Hello lovelies, it’s a beautiful Monday afternoon. The sun’s shining, my garden is starting to produce little harvests of lettuce, herbs, and the like. And I’m sitting here thinking about how much minimalism has changed my life, but most of all- my stress levels.

I started this journey a little over a year ago as most of you already know. Back then I was stressed-out, big time, all the time. It was like this giant cloud hovering over me whispering about all the things I needed to get done and what I wouldn’t have time to accomplish that day. It was exhausting.

These days things are much better. I hardly have any stress, and I’ve found my minimalist equilibrium.

That’s right my equilibrium. I’ve finally hit the magical minimalist sweet spot in my life, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Now there isn’t a set number of things that makes up the “perfect minimalist feel”, it’s all personal and varies by individual. For me, I have finally found that I am happy with the number of things I own. I have my needs and a few wants, and that’s about it.

The benefits of finding your equilibrium are many, but I figured I’d list a few here for you:

Every single thing I own has a specific place, and there is extra room around everything for it to breathe. This has lightened my mental load by tons, I don’t feel surrounded by stuff or like I’m trying to cram things into tight spaces anymore. No more claustrophobia in my own home!

Cleaning- no minimalist list can be complete without mentioning how little I now have to clean. I’m not a big fan of cleaning in the first place, so this was a very attractive motivation for me to have less stuff. It used to take at least a half hour just to clean my bedroom! Now 30 seconds with a dust cloth, a minute with the broom, a swish to clean my mirror, and a bit of laundry and I’m done! (Think about it- less clothes=less folding=less loads of laundry)

I have more free time then I’ve ever had. I gained a good half hour a day that I would’ve spent cleaning, another 20 minutes from how easy it is to get ready in the morning, 2 hours I would’ve spent watching television (minimalism isn’t just about the stuff, it’s about time too), 5 minutes looking for missing objects…you get the idea 🙂

By minimizing my shopping and errands during the week, I’ve prioritized my time, so I can now spend time in the garden, cooking, reading, writing, etc.

Less stress! Less to clean, less to do, less to worry about, less to go searching for when it goes missing…

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Things that used to be extravagant luxuries (like taking a bath and sitting on the porch in the rocker doing nothing) are now things I have time for.

And finally, since I’ve also minimized my waste (both food and actual trash) I now no longer need a giant trash can but only have a small metal bucket for trash and a compost bin for food scraps.

This has also led to minimalist grocery shopping that is also zero-waste, as well as making my own condiments and just eating healthier in general 🙂

Now, my equilibrium is not going to look like your equilibrium, or the next persons. Each of us have different needs and wants, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s human. But I thought, just for fun I’d show you a bit of my equilibrium in pictures…enjoy!

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1 Month of trash

 

I’ve seen a lot of posts on facebook and other social media platforms where people feel bad about themselves if all of their trash can’t fit into a mason jar. I, for one, am not such a fan of keeping trash around sitting in a jar, specifically because it tends to clash with my minimalist tendencies and look like clutter 🙂

However, that being said, I do like having a visual of how much trash I’m producing. So I decided to keep all of my trash for one month just to see how much I made.

Now, this is not meant to shame anyone, everyone is on their own step in the journey towards zero-waste. It’s merely meant to show everyone, that even after a YEAR of going zero-waste, I still am not at the point where my trash fits into a mason jar for the entire year (mainly because I’m still purging pre-zero-waste purchases and getting rid of unnecessary storage packaging that I held onto).

So I held onto all of my trash for an entire month, and at the end I will say that I had more than I thought I would, but it was WAY less then I made a year ago. (I also recycle, so there were newspapers and a few juice jars that were recycled, but I’m not counting those as trash)

Here we go:

For the entire month of may I filled one small bucket with trash…

The first things were two plastic trays that were nestled in with my art supplies, one from paint and another from pastels. I felt the packaging unnecessary when I went through my things, so I let them go. (I also have a bunch of plastic paint tubes that will eventually hit the landfill, but I intend to use the paint first)

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The next is a plastic bag filled with tiny plastic bags and other bits of plastic…these were from things like the million and one buttons that are attached to new shirts that happened to have made their way to my sewing kit. It finally hit me that the packaging was unnecessary as I could just have the buttons sit in the jar by themselves (Don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner lol)

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This is a rubber band that I’ve had for almost a decade. It was used for knee exercises, and it finally broke into four different pieces…since I now do dancing exercises, I don’t need it anymore anyway.

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The rest of the bucket has things like old command strips off my walls, rubber bands from bunches of carrots, produce stickers (the bane of my existence), 1 bandaid, and a plastic ring from a lemonade I bought (the jar and lid were returnable to the store for them to reuse, but it had one of those thingies on it like milk jugs do, a part which isn’t recyclable 😦 )

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That’s it, one month of trash. I figure once I have purged all the bits and pieces of plastic from my things all that’s left for the trash bucket will be produce stickers and the occasional tag from a bunch of carrots (though I will have a bunch from my own garden this year, sticker free!).

Mind you, I didn’t include cat waste here, mainly because their waste is litter and the bags their special vet food comes in. But technically, that I suppose would count as a part of my trash as well since they are my cats and I’m responsible for them.

In the end though I went from filling a giant kitchen garbage every week by myself, to now only filling a small grocery bag or two in a month (most of it being dirty cat litter)

I feel like goldilocks some times, trying to find the right amount of minimalism and zero-waste that feels “just right” for me. I’m not there just yet, but I’m definitely getting close!