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.
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…
Some glass cups and punch bowl we NEVER used…
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 🙂
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*
Do you garden indoors/outdoors? What are your favorites to plant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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.
*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.
The potatoes were the easiest, going straight from my reusable bag to my potato bowl.
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?
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.
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.
For me it all comes down to my priorities. When I go shopping I ask myself a few things..
How was this item made/grown?
Will consuming it benefit me or hurt my health in any way?
How is it packaged? If it is packaged, is the packaging sustainable?
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?
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…
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.
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.
time in nature
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.
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.
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?
So you’ve started your journey towards minimalism, zero-waste, or hopefully both and now you’re thinking about your health. Not only healthy eating, but maybe getting in a bit more exercise during the week.
The excuses people give for not exercising are endless, but most fall into three main categories. 1. I don’t have enough time/energy. 2. I don’t want to have to buy any special equipment. 3. I can’t afford a gym membership.
So, I’ve compiled a list. Ideas that don’t require a gym, fancy equipment, or a ton of time. They can be made easier or harder depending on your fitness level. Some use things people already have and some require nothing. I’ve got a few ideas for you and you can pick and choose which fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you start with an easy one, then a week later add another or swap out for a more difficult one…it’s all up to you.
Check them out…
Ditch the expensive gym membership you hardly ever use and instead utilize your public library. They have hundreds of workout DVD’s for every age, shape, and interest. I personally have tried everything from yoga to hip hop dancing to ballet videos. I even tried a little Thai-chi. For those of you a little more hardcore they usually have weightlifting DVD’s or ones where the workouts are uber intense. The best part of this suggestion is #1- it’s FREE, #2- there’s no excuse not to go to the gym, because your living room is now your gym, and #3- they’re fun and waste-free
Okay, so you’re not into the library or DVD’s, heck, maybe you don’t even own a television. I’ll bet you have a radio, or an Ipod, or a cell phone that can play music. Strap that baby on and bop to the beat while you do dishes or laundry, kill two birds with one stone, and make your chores a little more fun while you’re at it.
All right, so you’re a guy, and you think dancing while scrubbing your kitchen sink is a bit silly. You can always strap on the music and use it as a bit of a distraction while you go old-school and do manly push ups or sit ups. (I, unfortunately have the upper body strength of a wet noodle and can’t do push ups to save my own life lol)
If you don’t like sit-ups or dancing, try going for a walk around the block, with or without music and with or without a walking buddy, it’s still a basic but great way to get a bit of exercise, not to mention some vitamin D. 🙂
At the park
time in nature
If you have a park near you, like I do, or even a school playground, go during the off hours when no kiddos are around and use the monkeybars or the swings to get in a bit of fun exercise. Or if you have kids, or can borrow some nieces or nephews, take them out and chase after them at the park for a few hours. Never underestimate the amount of exercise you can get with a little one running around.
If you happen to own handweights or even a few heavy books you can use them to work out your arms by lifting and moving them around. You can also substitute young children for the handweights by carrying them around or doing that crazy thing dads do by throwing their children into the air before catching them…it gives me a mini heart attack every time I see it. (Disclaimer: I do not advocate things that could potentially harm the children in any way)
If you happen to have a public pool near you, or even a beach, you can go swimming. Easy, and no extra stuff required besides a bathing suit…unless it’s a nude beach, but I digress…
Sneak in exercise by doing things like parking in a spot further away from the store entrance, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Easy things that don’t seem like much, but they add up if you do them even a few times a week. (I may use the parking technique to make a few family members get a bit more exercise without their knowledge, but keep it on the DL)
If you must check emails on your phone or computer at home, stand while you do it instead of sitting. It takes more muscles to stand, and as a bonus it might motivate you to put the phone down more often 😉
Even if you’re PMSing and don’t want to move a muscle, you can stretch. In bed, lay flat and lift one leg up at a time and hold it before slowly lowering it back to the bed. Stretch your arms and your back, this isn’t the most invigorating exercise in the world, but some is better than none.
If you’re short on time, try ten squats or jumping jacks or lunges the moment you get out of bed or right before you hop into the car to head to work. While you’re driving contract your stomach muscles and hold them for thirty seconds before letting go (just remember to breathe!).
During work get up every half hour or hour and take a quick walk to the copier, or the bathroom, or just around the office.
Instead of using the grocery cart to carry your totes to the car, heft one on each arm. (If you have more than two, bring a shopping buddy or just use the cart.)
Instead of going to a car wash, get out there on a warm day and take a bit of time to wash it yourself. Just needs a little soap, a rag, and a bucket or two of water…and some elbow grease.
If you have someplace you normally go, for me it’s the library, that’s within walking distance from your place, save the gas and walk there if the weather is nice enough. My library is about two miles away, so it’s a four mile roundtrip walk for me, and the bonus is I get to rest halfway at the library while perusing books and new workout DVD’s 🙂
Grab a friend and do something fun like trying partner yoga poses or playing basketball. One I love is if you have a large group to play Ultimate-Frisbee. Check it out, it’s so much fun.
If you’re in the mood for a new look in your bedroom or living room, try rearranging the furniture. It’ll get you up and moving, chances are you’ll capture a few errant dust bunnies while you’re at it.
Go dancing with friends or your significant other, or just push the coffee table out of the way and dance there.
If you have a lawn mower, use it without the fancy automatic moving gizmo, push it instead for twice the workout.
If you or your kids are addicted to videogames, check some out from the library like Just Dance or Wii fitness.
Build a snowman.
All right, there are plenty more ways to get in a bit of exercise, but hopefully one of these might give you some inspiration for starting off.
Remember, it’s not about how many miles you run or how many calories you burn, it’s about making exercise fun and an easy part of your regular routine.
Have any other suggestions for minimalist/zero-waste exercise ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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…
Zero-waste is a movement for only middle to upper class Caucasian women who are single and childless.
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…
You need to have at least a middle class income to attempt Zero-waste.
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!
You need to buy fancy matching Mason jars, bamboo cutlery, and a butt-load of stuff to start your Zero-waste journey.
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.
The order of operations: Use what you already have, ask a friend, thrift, then lastly buy new.
I think I’ve made my point 🙂
It costs a lot of money upfront to start.
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.
You are failing if your trash doesn’t fit in a Mason jar.
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.
You have to have special equipment to go Zero-waste. Bamboo utensils, jars, produce bags, etc.
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?)
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.
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 🙂 )
If you Zero-waste, you must not use contraceptives or toilet paper.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
Most of the time I only managed to put on eyeliner and a bit of concealer and that was it.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:) )
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.
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!
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:
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.
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)
At the park
Next, let go of your love for disposable straws, stainless steel and glass options are better for the environment, but they also look better and you kids love them, they even have colored options if that’s more your style.
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:
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.
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)
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…
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
As I’m writing this I’m sitting at my little desk in my room, my cats dozing away on the bed behind me, and I’m watching the twenty or so birds having fun in my garden searching for some bugs to munch on.
Life is good.
I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who stresses….a lot. I tend to hoard anxiety and responsibility like most people hoard clothes. I tend to find myself stressing out about money, and my family, and other people’s problems…when the fact of the matter is that I don’t need to waste my time on it.
Worrying and stressing doesn’t make me happy, and it sure as hell doesn’t help my disposition around others. My family has absolutely no problem calling me out when I’m extra crabby, and lately I’ve realized a few things….
First, a lot of my stress comes from trying to control everything. (I’ve been called a perfectionist and control-freak on multiple occasions) I have this need for my environment to be peaceful and relaxing, with most of the things crossed off my to do list in order for me to feel at peace.
Second, I worry about the future. Everything from finances to the health and well being of the people I care about. It is draining, to say the least.
Third, and most important… I am in controlof both of the above. I choose to try and control my surroundings, I choose to worry about the future, I choose to always think about tomorrow instead of living for today.
I plan to change that.
I’m working towards living exclusively in the present moment. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and yesterday is already over. The only thing I can control is what I do right now. And right now I want to be happy and take advantage of the great moments I have with family, friends, pets, and even the ones I have all by myself.
In order to do this, I have to do a few things….
First, I need to let go. Let go of other people’s responsibilities, and only deal with my own. Let go of the unnecessary weight of other’s decisions. Let go of my insatiable need for perfection.
Second, I need to stop worrying about tomorrow, or ten years from now. I need to realize when I’m worrying, and stop my own train of thought before it runs right off the tracks.
There are a few things that I’ve found to help me live in the present…
Minimalism has helped me cut down on unnecessary things, which used to lead to unnecessary worries about those things.
Taking time every day to water my garden by hand has given me a good ten minutes a day immersed in nature. I even take the time to touch each plant and make sure they’re doing well. (I would sing to the plants if my voice didn’t sound like a dying cat lol) this specific time each day helps me settle my mind and reconnect with everything around me. I tend to go outside barefoot when I do this, just to feel the grass under my feet as well.
Letting go of my worry for other people. It’s taken a lot of self-determination on my part, but I’m trying to stop micromanaging things and people. I’m busy myself with my own responsibilities and leave them to theirs. Sure, I still give out the occasional reminder when it’s helpful and needed, but I’m no longer busying my mind wondering if someone took out the trash on trash day.
My pets are wonderful little buggers. Where before I used to pay attention to them when I wanted to, I now deliberately take the time to give them love and attention when they need it. For example, this morning instead of getting out of bed right away I spent a good five or six minutes rubbing both my cats since they decided to come and sit right next to my face while purring. When they were done, they went back to the end of the bed to sleep.
Even with all of this there are still times when I get stressed and I find those are the times I NEED to force myself to take a break and either read a bit, or do some exercising, something to reconnect my mind with my body and spirit.
Living in the present is hard when there are jobs and chores to be done, bills to pay, kids to take care of, a house and yard to keep….but we need to MAKE time to just be. Take a breath of fresh air and watch the squirrels chase each other through the yard. Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of a sleeping child, or play fetch with your dog.
Its the little things that add up, and sooner or later your mind will catch up and put two and two together, living in the present will make us the happiest. Why? Because it’s here, right now! Not off in tomorrowland or years down the road, it’s now.
So, stop thinking “I’ll take the time and be happy when ____ happens.” instead try something like this “Wow, I’m living in the moment and ____ is something I don’t want to miss out on.”
As always, I hope you liked my topic for the day, if you have any comments or stories to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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:
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.
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.
Vinegar and lemon cleaner
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. 🙂
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…
time in nature
At the park
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)
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.
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.
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!
My relaxing room
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.
This is the old bucket on the left, I have now upgraded to a larger bucket under the sink.
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!
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 🙂
time in nature
At the park
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…
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 is the old bucket on the left, I have now upgraded to a larger bucket under the sink.
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!