Compostable shoes!

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Hey guys,

Lately I’ve been working towards a new goal of mine, to have a completely natural wardrobe….or in other words, a wardrobe where my pieces (once dead) will be completely compostable! (Another post on my progress will be coming soon)

So far I’ve converted about 85% of my wardrobe to pieces made of natural fabrics such as cotton, wool, cashmere, and hemp. All of the pieces have been thrift finds, until now.

Reasons to thrift:

  1. The clothes are already in the waste stream, and I’m giving them a second life before they become garbage. So it’s eco-friendly 🙂
  2. Less waste as opposed to normal shopping, most things only leave with a small paper tag attached, so very little in the way of new trash.
  3. It’s cheap! Easy on my budget.
  4. And I find it fun to look for new uses for old things, and thrift store shopping can be fun….like a scavenger hunt lol.

So, as a result almost 95% of my wardrobe has been thrifted over the years. I just recently started replacing my old synthetic fabric pieces with natural ones….

Why?

  1. Natural fabric is so much better for your skin. I personally don’t itch in natural fabric but can’t stop itching if I happen to sweat in a synthetic fabric shirt.
  2. Along the same lines, natural fabric is just that…Natural…no plastic weaves or nasty man-made synthetic fabrics that pollute the world not only during production and disposal, but also when you wash them (google polyester water pollution). Cotton, hemp and the like have no such problems. (as a caveat cotton is produced most of the time with pesticides, but at least the end product is compostable and nowhere near as harmful as some of the synthetics)
  3. They breathe!
  4. Do I even need another reason?

Anyway, when I was looking into switching up my wardrobe I also wanted to look into shoes and undergarments, etc. And as most of you know it is incredibly difficult to find good shoes and undergarments at a thrift store, so I knew I would have to buy new. But when buying new I have strict standards and I wanted only the best quality made in the least harmful way possible. While researching I happened upon a small company based in Canada (Rawganique) that makes and sells their own clothing, bras, etc and since I decided to order a custom made 100% organic cotton bra from them…I figured I’d try out the shoes too.

Boy am I happy I did 🙂

Check them out….made of 100% hemp fabric and a 100% natural rubber sole, these babies are cute and eco-friendly…and pretty comfy too!DSC04084DSC04082

They came with a small amount of recyclable packaging (as I requested) and the only bit of plastic is from the tape they used to seal the package, the rest will go right into recycling 🙂

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The best part is that these babies will be able to go right into my compost bin….years from now….when they finally bite the dust. Until then, I’m going to enjoy them.

It’s hard to find companies and brands that meet my ethical standards while also being within my budget and fashionable as well, but Rawganique really knocked this one out of the park. I really like the company because they are chemical-free, sweatshop-free, and make everything with sustainable fabrics. They also do a lot of products custom made (like bras), so you’re guaranteed it will fit. They even had me measure my foot to make sure they were sending me the right size 🙂

(And for those of you wondering, NO I do not get paid to sponsor them in any way, this is simply a great review from a very satisfied customer)

Have any of you tried natural shoes? Or have anything made out of hemp? As always I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Xo,

Candice

Zero-Waste, Minimalism, and technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long you keep it

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

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

Why replace something that isn’t broken?

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

How to dispose of them

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

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

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

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

So, to recap..

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

 

New uses for old things…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xo,

Candice

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!

Produce bags/spice bags tutorial

Hey guys, it’s been a very interesting week. Before we get to the tutorial I wanted to share a few updates…first off on the vegan challenge…

I failed, miserably..

I think it was more a product of #1 living with other people who eat meat and just happened to offer me some leftovers, and #2 lack of meal planning for the week. I am determined to try fresh this week and see how I do…more updates to come.

On a side note I wanted to share with you that as a family of four (three of whom are not zero-waste/minimalist) we have cumulatively decreased our amount of trash from 3-4 garbage bags per week down to 1 which isn’t even 100% full. I’m pretty excited about this 🙂 The rest of the family is finally starting to get on board remembering what is recyclable/compostable, etc. Yay for baby-steps!

Now, on to the tutorial. It all started when I noticed that most of the “reusable” bags they sell at the grocery stores and such are 1. Not very sturdy 2. Made of synthetic fabrics and 3. Kind of ugly…just sayin.

Then there is always the fact that the stores I frequent do not allow you to bring your own jars…but they don’t have any problem with you bringing bags!

So, being the thrifty person I am I did what any self-respecting eco-conscious person would do…I went shopping in my basement 🙂 As a family we always tend to have things in our home that aren’t being used that I conveniently find new uses for. For example…the extra garbage can that I DIY’d into a compost bin. And now I found a few yards or so of 100% cotton as well as a spool of 100% cotton thread and a bit of scrap crocheting string that happens to also be 100% cotton. So I whipped out my home-made sewing kit and voila, reusable cotton produce and spice bags! The best part is that they are super simple and easy to make.

What you’ll need:

  1. Fabric, natural and eco-friendly is a plus such as cotton, hemp, etc. You can also get really crafty and use old towels or sheets to make your bags…even an old t-shirt will work.
  2. Needle
  3. Thread, again I used 100% cotton, none of that synthetic stuff.
  4. A string of some sort for the drawstring, I used crocheting string.
  5. Pins
  6. Scissors
  7. Sewing machine * optional, Patience is definitely needed if you are sewing by hand 🙂

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First things first I cut strips of the cotton to the size I wanted and folded them over to look like little rectangles. Then I pinned the sides together to hold them while I sewed a semi-straight line down the sides. You can use a machine if you like really straight lines, but I found it easier to hand sew them (that and my sewing machine hates me, it never works when I need it to) WIN_20160224_161903WIN_20160224_164847

Once this part is done there should be three closed sides and one that is still open. There are now a few different ways you can make closures for the opening, firstly you could simply fold over the top edge on both sides and sew it to look like a small pillow case (if you don’t need a closure) I would use this type of finishing for a bread bag or for bags that are going to be larger and hold bigger produce like potatoes, etc. The second way is to do what you would do with the first, but to add a button on one side and a opening on the other for the button to go through. I use these types of bags for lettuce or green onions, etc. Things that won’t easily fall out. 🙂

The third way, which I will show you today, is to take the final edge and make a drawstring closure. It sounds complicated, but all it takes is a little string and a hole. Take a look…WIN_20160224_170136WIN_20160224_170235WIN_20160224_170740WIN_20160224_172436

Once you finish sewing underneath the thread, make sure that both ends of the string are threaded through the little hole and then flip it right side out. You now have a snazzy produce or spice bag depending on the size you made.

Notice that I did not use a ruler or even a straight edge for that matter, I simply eyeballed it, and it turned out semi-symmetrical. It doesn’t have to be perfect since it is just a tool to hold spices and such at the store. If you want you can always be super precise and make them fancier if you like. But for me I enjoy my plain white cotton bags with cotton thread and string. Simple and easy 🙂

The best part? When they finally rip and die I can compost them and return them back to the earth!

Minimalist Wardrobe inventory…

The sun is out for the first time this week, I’m sitting in my comfy pajamas, and eating a yummy paleo pizza that I made yesterday…life is good 🙂

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Before I really dive into the topic of my wardrobe I wanted to give a few brief updates. The first is that, as promised, I started up a batch of apple cider vinegar…this picture was from day 1, and today is day 8. Its looking a lot more like ACV now 🙂

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I also have been doing pretty well about not spending on unnecessary items. For the month of January I have spent a total of twelve dollars besides my regular bills. $2 was on a lotto ticket that I said yes to before I remembered that I wasn’t buying anything, the other $10 were on a pair of fuzzy slippers. (mainly because I am wearing holes in my socks walking around in them all day).

Besides that, everything has been going really well.

Now, onto the wardrobe…

Let me start by saying that my original wardrobe took up my entire closet as well as every square inch of dresser space…it was overwhelming to say the least. In the past year I have downsized my wardrobe to probably 25% of what it used to be.

I am loving the extra space that I have now, everything has space to breathe. WIN_20160121_125829

Now I’ll admit it, there is still a bit more than I am comfortable with. This is my closet currently, I also have a dresser with the smaller things like Tank-tops, underwear, leggings etc. But as of January first I hung all of my clothing backwards. (the hangars are facing the opposite way) as I wear the pieces, I am putting them back the regular way, this way by the end of summer I should have a pretty good idea of what I actually wear and what I don’t. Anything that hasn’t been worn will be donated. I’m pretty sure I already know a few of the pieces that will go, but I’m going to give it until the end of summer to find out.

I wanted to give you a quick inventory of my current wardrobe, it isn’t extremely minimalist, but it is minimalist for ME. Here we go…

  • 7 Dresses
  • 7 skirts (I think that 2-3 will be gone at the end of summer)
  • 8 Cardigans
  • 2 Hoodies
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 2 Dress pants
  • 1 pair of Capris
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 3 pairs of workout shorts
  • 1 workout capris
  • 1 pair of sweat pants
  • 5 long PJ pants
  • 1 Capri PJ pant
  • 4 PJ shorts
  • 3 Pj tops
  • 4 T-shirts
  • 8 Tank tops
  • 1 workout top
  • 2 leggings
  • 1 long underwear
  • 4 gowns
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair of panty hose
  • More underwear than I am willing to count (my one minimalist weakness)
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • 16 shirts/sweaters
  • 4 scarves
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 3 hats
  • 8 pairs of shoes
  • 2 coats

Now I do live in a place with 4 very distinct seasons, so this might seem like a lot. I am still in the process to minimizing to what I use/need and nothing more. It may not seem possible, but I can fit my entire wardrobe in my luggage that consists of 1 suitcase, 4 duffle and 1 small carry-on bag…before that used to only fit my winter clothes. 🙂

Baby steps.

What does your wardrobe look like? Do you have an area that you would like to minimize further?

Zero-Waste/Minimalist New Year’s resolutions

Hi everyone,

Happy holidays!

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

So here we go,

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

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

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions?

 

A special Thanks

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

But I wasn’t always this way.

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

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

And perhaps I have a bit.

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

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

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

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

That’s when I started paying attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Waste Week-Reuse

This week is Zero-Waste week, and the theme is Reuse. Reusing any item extends its usefulness an life. This week I have been helping my brother finish up his last math exams for homeschooling, and with math comes a lot of use of scrap paper. Normally I would use lined paper, or blank sheets of printer paper to do the work on.

In the spirit of Zero-Waste week, we found an old book of graph paper in with his school supplies, and we realized that the graph paper had a few graphs in it, but other than that it was mostly empty. Normally I would have given it to someone else that I know would use it, or if it wasn’t wanted I would have recycled it, given that we are never going to have any use for graph paper. But since we were finishing math problems, we used the graph paper as our scratch paper, instead of using new sheets of printer paper, etc.

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Remember to always use the 6 R’s in order to maximize the usefulness of your things!

  1. Refuse- anything that isn’t needed.
  2. Reduce- what you need to the basics
  3. Reuse- the items you do purchase
  4. Repair-anything that is broken/mendable
  5. Recycle- anything that cannot be reduced, reused, or repaired.
  6. Rot- what is left over: food scraps, etc.