No Batteries Please

 

07.27.2016

0800

So, I’m not allowed to own products with batteries. It’s actually a rule I’ve laid out for myself. I’m not the most reliable person to keep track of what items need new batteries so it’s just a lot easier for me to not own items that need them. On top of that, I don’t like using a product and then realizing that the product is loosing power, and then decides to stop completely. I’m just not good at owning those types of products. I also hate keeping track of what kinds of batteries I need on hand.

On the other hand, I do own items that included a rechargeable battery when I first purchased them. These products include my Nikon DSLR camera, laptop, ipad and iphone. With those products, I know the battery will eventually give out, which is why I’m almost considering to not purchase another ipad after this one. I can imagine my life without my ipad, but we will see what the future holds. I know that with every iphone and ipad model, there will always be a newer and “more efficient” model to come, and I’m not sure how much I want to keep up with it. It’s that decision between what I need versus what I want in my life.

The reason for this rule, is because I tend to forget about the products that had batteries in them, and the batteries end up corroding through their shell, which subsequently destroys the integrity of the product. I’ve had to say goodbye to quite a few products over the years due to this lack of attention to my things. But now, I currently own three products that require alkaline or lithium batteries, which includes my television remote control, my car key FOB and my Fitbit. The Fitbit and the key FOB require Lithium button batteries and the remote control requires alkaline. I do own a DVD player but I don’t currently keep batteries in my DVD remote control and it’s used very infrequently, so I don’t really deplete my battery supply for it. When I do use it, I’ll actually install two AAA batteries as needed then remove them when I’m done. I pretty much only have to pay attention to my television remote control and replace those batteries on time. I keep four extra AAA batteries in my emergency kit but no button batteries. I do have an extra emergency radio/clock that I keep in my emergency kit but it requires two AAA batteries which I don’t keep in it. If I ever need to use it in an emergency, I’ll insert the AAA batteries when I need to. Also, if I really need another button battery, I’ll just go out to get it. I might actually stop using the Fitbit for awhile just so that I don’t have to buy button batteries for it. I’ve considered not using my key FOB, but when winter rolls around, the parking lot around my job gets really dark and I’m slightly wary about walking out to my car alone. I’d prefer to be able to hit a panic button to attract attention to myself with the tool. I have opted out of using it during the rest of the year though.

I have a wind up flashlight as well as a solar powered clock/radio in my emergency kit, which work pretty well. I use a Seiko Women’s Stainless Steel Analog watch, which has automatic self wind movement through my body movements. This means:

  1.  The watch does not contain a battery and is powered solely by the movement of your arm while you’re wearing the watch. If you don’t wear the watch for long enough every day, you won’t provide enough power to keep the watch running.
  2. An automatic watch is less precise than a quartz (battery powered) watch, therefore the time can be off as much as 10 seconds per day. So even if you keep your watch powered up, you’ll probably have to adjust the time every now and then.

I do love that my life became simpler and when I stopped buying so many batteries for so many different products, it was one errand that I could cross off my list and not worry about.

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Konmari Method

 

07.25.2016

0800

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So I heard about the Konmari Method that has been quite popular around the internet. Marie Kondo is a professional “tidier”, she specializes in tidying. She is the author of the book, The Konmari Method, and has inspired many people from around the world.  She helps people transform their homes into peaceful, inspiring spaces.When I read through the information, I actually thought the book was quite inspiring. I don’t own enough stuff for this system to work in my life but I do respect what Ms. Kondo has stated about our relationships with our items. Currently, I live a more minimal life but for those who do own more items in a few categories in their home, I think this is a great start to tidying up your home if you choose to. I think the biggest game changer in her method that I noticed was that instead of focusing on “fewer items” and therefore throwing out items in your home, she focuses on the relationship you have with each object. When you organize using the Konmarie Method, and you decide to donate or get rid of an item, you will respectfully end your relationship with your item. It’s an interesting twist and there’s no pressure to get rid of any of your items if you’re unsure about donating them. It really boils down to the question, “Does the object spark joy for you?”

Outline: Tidy by Category, Not location

  1. Order for tidying:
    1. Clothes (know what you like/dislike)
    2. Books
    3. Papers
    4. Komono (kitchen/bathroom/ food/linen/Arts & crafts/electrical/stationary)
    5. Sentimental Items
  2. Ask yourself: What is the ideal life you want to live from now on?
  3. Think of your ideal life, this is why you are tidying your place
    1. Clothes
      1. Take all of the items out to examine each one
      2. Pick up each item- Does it spark joy?
      3. Thank each item that does not spark joy, then release it
        1. If you are unsure- Does it spark enough joy to take the extra step to care for it?
      4. Hang long and heavy items on Left side of closet –> Right side of closet which is short and thing items
      5. Fold clothes so they stand vertically in your dressers, so that they are all visible at a glance
    2. Books
      1. Separate those that spark joy verses those that do not
    3. Papers
      1. Separate total disposal papers verses total necessity
      2. Sort for each person (Keep File & Pending File for each person)
  • TIPS:
    • Store larger items vertically, it will save you room
    • All items have a functional value, instructional value and emotional value.

With the KonMari Method, you can get out from underneath your clutter once and for all. Here’s how:

  1. Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works. Things will get messy again quickly. (All at once means allotting about 6 months to the project.)
  2. Visualize your destination. Before you throw things away, visualize your ideal lifestyle. Goals such as, “I want to live clutter free” or “I want to be able to put things away,” are too broad. You must think in concrete terms, such as: “I want to live like a Goddess, surrounded by peace and beauty.”
  3. Identify why you want to live the way you envision. For every answer ask yourself “why?” again. For example, if you want to live clutter free so you get a better night’s sleep, ask yourself, “Why do I want to sleep better?” Do this 3-5 times. When you find the answer to why you want to be tidy, you are ready to move on.
  4. Determine if each item “sparks joy.” Rather than focusing solely on throwing things away, which Ms. Kondo acknowledges only brings unhappiness, be sure to cherish what you love. Do this by taking each item in your hand and asking yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If it does not spark joy, then throw it out. Note: You must touch every item so that your body can react. This is NOT an intellectual process. It’s a “felt” physical sense that you can develop over time, or the kind of intuition I discuss in depth in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. You let your BODY and emotions tell you.
  5. Tidy by category, not location. In most households, items that fall into the same category are stored in multiple places. If you are tackling your clothes, then you must get all the clothes out of every closet and drawer in every room first. Start with tops first, then bottoms, and work from there. She also instructs you in the fine art of folding, which frees up an enormous amount of closet space. My drawers are now works of art—with my folded blouses and tops arranged like envelopes so that I can see everything easily.
  6. Tidy in the right order. Ms. Kondo says that the following order is the way to tidy: Clothes, Books, Papers, and then Komono (miscellaneous.) She goes into great detail on how to separate and each category into sub-categories.
  7. Discard before you place things back. You must discard first. Don’t put anything away until everything you are going to discard is removed.

How To Organize Your Home

Once you are done discarding, Ms. Kondo then teaches you how to organize. Again, there is an order and simplicity to this and everything has its place, even the items in your handbag! The KonMari Method also teaches you how to store all items of the same type in the same place so that things don’t become scattered and lead to more accumulation. Once you learn proper storage methods you will not only be organized, but you will save money because you won’t spend it on buying special storage items and gadgets. All you will need are drawers and boxes. Ms. Kondo prefers shoe boxes!

Reusing Fabric and Thread

07.20.2016

0800

So I had leftover thread and fabric from making my homemade produce bags, I didn’t want to add them to my trash pile because I knew I could still reuse the material. At the time I didn’t know what to use the extra thread and fabric but I kept it anyway.

Then when I was adjusting my hallway mirror one day, I noticed that the mirror kept banging against the wall (which drove me nuts). I don’t like the sound of an object not secured safely or is unstable in any way. I took my extra fabric and sewed cushions over the metal hanging hooks that were attached to the back of the mirror. I’m lucky that this mirror already had staples on it and I utilized them to secure the fabric to the back.

The first image is leftover fabric that I pulled from my pile of fabric and thread scraps. I took a close up image of the attached hanging hooks and what the hanging hooks looked like afterwards. The last image is what the back of the mirror looks like now. I’ve never tried this before but it worked pretty well. I may just go around the house to look for more items to cushion against hard surfaces.

If you have extra fabric around, I suggest to keep it and find a way to reuse it. It’ll keep the fabric out of the landfill and you get to reuse the material for something useful.

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Hand Powered Kitchen Tools

 

07.18.2016

0800

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I personally dislike using a lot of appliances in my kitchen. The less appliances I have, the more kitchen counter space I tend to save. I’m also not one for buying appliances that very specific uses. I prefer appliances that vary in uses such as a toaster oven, which can toast bread, bake small dishes and grill small amounts of food at a time. I also prefer appliances that are hand powered or are designed in a way that the kitchen tool can sustain its use if I walk away. For instance, my French Press is one of my favorite kitchen tools because it will keep my coffee hot for up four hours. I can take my time and sip and enjoy my coffee knowing that there’s more in my pot that’s still hot.

Part of the reason why I prefer kitchen tools that are powered by hand is due to the fact that I usually know how to fix them easily. If it’s an electrical appliance, I’m not sure how to approach fixing it. If the appliance needs a wire re-attached, I can fix that- but if it malfunctions on any other level, I doubt I’d be able to fix it.

Living a zero waste life also means that when I need to use a certain kitchen tool, and I don’t own it- I have to improvise. Granted, sometimes the improvised version of the kitchen tool takes longer to get the task done, but it WILL get the job done. Honestly, sometimes I only need to use the kitchen tool once, so that’s why I don’t go out to buy it. I use a stove, toaster oven and an electrical hand blender; those are the appliances I own. I don’t use a microwave because I heat items up in my toaster oven. Owning a total of two appliances helps in the fact that I only need to maintain those two.

A few of my non electrical kitchen tools are:

  1. French Press
  2. Pepper grinder
  3. Lemon Juicer
  4. Can Opener
  5. Wine Bottle Opener
  6. Scissors
  7. Vegetable Peeler
  8. Knife Sharpener

A few of my substitute kitchen tools include:

  1. Wine Bottle, used as a rolling-pin
  2. Pyrex bowls, used as a nut grinder
  3. Colander , used as a flour sifter

I’m simply not a fan of using multiple appliances that will end up using a lot of electricity. As long as I have the basic essentials, then I’m more content with my kitchen. It also boils down to the fact that I don’t want the responsibility to have to maintain multiple appliances yearly.

Composting

07.13.2016

0800

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I have a compost at home and I love adding to it. It’s a great way of how I get rid of my food scraps without adding it to the landfill. Currently I use the Lifetime 65 gallon tumbler, which is large enough to add multiple layers of dry leaves and moist food scraps. The design allows me to rotate the pile so I won’t have to run the pile using a hand tool.

Composting is the process of breaking down or decomposing organic materials for use as an excellent soil amendment. Beneficial bacteria and fungi do their part to return this waste into a form usable once again by plants. These microbes need air, water, food, and heat to thrive. Keeping the microbes “happy” will speed up the process.

There are a few benefits of composting such as:

  • Saves landfill space, as well as, time and gas transporting yard waste.
  • Improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture, reducing watering costs.
  • Provides needed humus and nutrients for healthy plants.

With the Lifetime Compost Tumbler, it:

  1. Hides the messy appearance of a compost pile, and takes less space.
  2. Easily rotates saving time and effort of turning a pile.
  3. Reduces smell by enclosing composting material and providing adequate air supply to maintain desired aerobic microbiological activity.
  4. Helps to maintain proper moisture by shedding rain and shielding compost from drying winds.

First I  chose a location on level grass or dirt where drainage won’t affect pavement and a location where it will be convenient to access for loading. This location also has direct sunlight will help heat up the compost, and then I started adding to create my compost pile. I added:

  1. KITCHEN SCRAPS: like fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, eggshells, and coffee grounds.
  2. LAWN CLIPPINGS: can be returned directly to the lawn with a mulching blade or composted as desired, especially if the grass clippings are too long to be left on the lawn.
  3. LEAVES: can be mowed to reduce their size which will speed up decomposition and increase the amount which will fit in the composter.
  4. WOOD: such as branches must be chipped or shredded in pieces smaller than 1 inch. Saw dust must be resin free i.e. no particle board.
  5. PLANTS: discarded from the garden, straw and hay.
  6. MANURES: from herbivores e.g. cows, rabbits, or chickens. Excessive amounts will also increase the salt content of the compost.

But I don’t add:

  1. Meat, bones, greases, dairy products, or bread which attract pests.
  2. Anything treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  3. Black Walnut leaves which inhibit plant growth.
  4. Oak leaves and pine needles which decompose slowly.
  5. Diseased plants or weeds with seeds.
  6. Pet or human waste.
  7. Plastic, foil, etc.

Usually the compost is done when it becomes dark brown and has an earthy smell. I then add the compost directly to ornamental plants as mulch or work into soil. The composter can easily be dragged after dumping to make room for another pile. I usually dump the compost directly onto the soil underneath it and then move it around accordingly. I hope more people will consider composting as a means to get rid of your foods scraps as opposed to dumping them in the trash. Check with your local trash collection agency or recycling center, some have donation stations or pick up services for compost and/or foods scraps . Some areas will also pay you for your compost as well.

Zero Waste Shopping And Why

07.11.2016

0800

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There are a few reasons as to why I chose to live a zero waste life and why I continue my efforts in doing so. Here are a few reasons of why I continue to live this way and have found happiness in it:

  •  Facing the reality of the packaging convenience
    • Everything I’ve ever known since I was young was that groceries came pre- packaged. I never lived in an area where packaged free foods were readily available and promoted as so. Once I started using cloth bags that I sewed and bulk bins became more prevalent in my neighborhood grocery stores and surrounding cities, I started changing my lifestyle and really understanding how conditioned I was to accepting that producing trash was normal. Yes, pre-packaged items are convenient. Yes it would be so much easier to simply accept it, but the damage I know I’m creating for the environment is not something I can accept so easily. If I can make a change and give up a few items, I will.
  • Life becomes simpler (cleaning, routines, eating)
    • I have to admit, becoming zero waste has changed the way I clean and approach cleaning completely. It takes me less than five minutes to wipe down my bathroom counter and clean the bathroom sink. It also takes me less than  three minutes to clean the toilet too. Granted, scrubbing the bathtub takes slightly longer, but really it’s still a very simple process.  I just apply some Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint soap or my vinegar and water cleaning combination, then scrub, then rinse off.
    • Cleaning the kitchen is just as simple too. Wiping down counters that are clutter free and rinsing the sink out, are basically all I do. I don’t think cleaning could take fewer steps than what I currently do now. For cleaning the floor, I just run around with my microfiber broom and pick up all the dust and just dump it outside. When I wash dishes, because I don’t really use oil and I’m a vegetarian, cleaning up is pretty quick. All of my food is pretty much water based so it doesn’t really create a sticky mess.
  • Spend less money
    • I do spend less money now that I’ve simplified my life. It was a bit odd in the beginning, because I was used to spending a certain amount of time in certain stores, and I had a route when I was in each. Like when you go to specific stores and pick up certain weekly or monthly items, you have that path you take from the beginning of your trip around the store, to the very last stop at the check out stand. Sometimes I’d spend hours inside a store, not realizing how much time had passed or would window shop (for no reason at all) and time simply slipped away. Not having that route and creating shorter routes with less time spent “shopping”, actually freed up time in my schedule. I never wander the grocery isles anymore.Now I go straight to the bulk bins and then stop off at the vegetables and fruit, and then I’m done. Sometimes I’ll stop off at the hot foods area, grab a coffee or some lunch (maybe some cookies) too- but then I’ll leave, because shopping while hungry is never good. Still, my time spent in a grocery store is significantly short, even with my stops.
    • When I go buy clothes, because I have a capsule wardrobe with a specific color scheme, I am looking for specific pieces to complete my collection. I don’t get distracted by new trends or “the color of the year”, I simply look for what I need and if I can’t find it, then I’ll leave. For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping too much, having a capsule wardrobe solved a lot of my issues with shopping. I used to like shopping because I would receive new items, but I always felt exhausted afterwards. The exhaustion was spent combing the racks, which half of the time- never fit my style anyhow. Yet, I did constantly look for bargains and deals. The “what if” factor always kept me looking at more clothes. “What if there’s something good on the next rack?” “What if I missed a good bargain?” With my capsule wardrobe, I know exactly what I need and nothing more is necessary.
  • Support local businesses
    • I really do enjoy supporting local businesses. My city has a high turn over for restaurants and stores in my city’s downtown area, and it’s disappointing to see restaurants leave. For many reasons, they may leave, but a lot of what I hear is that there simply wasn’t enough traffic for them to stay in business. I do feel bad for these businesses because I can’t imagine how hard and costly it must be to start a business and try to sustain it.
  • Eat healthier
    • With only stopping off at the bulk foods sections and the vegetables and fruits, my eating habits definitely improved. I don’t buy cheese and I rarely buy eggs now so I’ve noticed a change in how I feel when I sleep and workout. I still love burritos, sandwiches and french fries but for the most part, my grocery haul is much healthier.
  • Preserving the planet for the future
    • I know that by giving up meat, I’m helping the plant (even if it’s just a little bit) and I hope that this planet can withstand the damage that’s been done to it. I try to be conscious of what I use and how I spend my money and time. I pay attention to convenience over effort in every aspect of my life. I may not be on this earth for long, but I hope that I’m doing my part in trying to preserve it for future generations.
  • Keep local nature beautiful
    • I like my city, in fact, I really love my city.  I’m very blessed to be able to live where I do and have all the luxury of eating a variety of foods and meeting people from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. I want my city to stay beautiful and maintain its character and natue, so I’ll do my part to try to keep it that way.
  • Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals
    • With the advancement of technology and new discoveries drummed up in labs. I’m slightly weary of what toxic chemicals are around me. I know that I can’t control everything, but I can pay attention to what I consume and use in beauty products or cleaning products.
  • Become more self-sufficient
    • This point follows along with the point I made earlier that I enjoy simplifying my life and routines. With my newly discovered routines, there’s a pride that goes along with the outcome I’ve designed for my life. It does take effort and the first try of a routine or product may not work, but if you sit down and step back, and analyze the outcome you want- you’d be surprised that you’ll be able to find that comfortable and happy place in your zero waste life.
  • Cherish what you own and your time spent on taking care of them
    • My capsule wardrobe has created a valuable lesson for me in that I cherish each piece of clothing I own; all 30 pieces to be exact. I never looked at my clothes that way before, but now that’s all I see. Each piece has a place and purpose in my wardrobe. Even with my digital books and photos, I really do enjoy not owning a lot of physical items. I still value the digital photos because they still capture a moment in time, but if they were to disappear, I’m not sure how much I’d miss them.  The moments captured still happened, there’s just no physical recorded of it happening. I love that I own a surfboard and snowboard and the memories I create with those are far more valuable than any of my sports gear. I love that my bathroom and kitchen cleaning routines are so simple and fast, that I can be rushing to get out of the house to get to work and still be able to clean my bathroom in less than five minutes. I think I like the fluidity of not owning items in my life. I really enjoy streaming Netflix or movies from different internet forums. Owning an item is a commitment and by streaming movies, television shows or even music,  it connects me with the world more.  With streaming, I can watch and listen to a piece of entertainment, enjoy it, and then let it go. I’m okay with that. I really like that experience each time I go through it.

These are the reasons why I chose to start a zero waste lifestyle and why I continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I still will produce trash once in a while, but majority of the time, I don’t. A simple life takes time to get used to (as strange as that sounds). I had to be comfortable in how simple my life was becoming but not stay stagnant. With all the free time I had created, I didn’t really know what to do in the beginning of this journey. When you’re used to cleaning your home for three hours and then it cuts down to thirty minutes, it takes some getting used to. I think that’s why I love designing, my mind is always moving textures, shapes, functions and systems around in my head. I still try to be a better participant with this lifestyle each day, and I’ll continue to try new experiences and somehow do it without producing waste. I hope this blog post helped for those who are curious about the benefits fo living a zero waste lifestyle. I really do highly recommend trying it.

Hanging Boots

 

07.06.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Velcro straps
  • Metals rings
  • Binder clips
  • Carabiners

So there are a few ways I organize my boots. Over the years, I’ve played around with different set ups of how to hang boots. If you’ve read my blog, you might have read that I hate having items on the floor, I just don’t like clutter on my floor.

For those who own tall boots, you’ll know the issue of your boots folding over when they’re standing upright. I deal with this issue by hanging them up.Using my current pant rack in my closet system, I clip large binder clips to join the sets of boots together and then I’ll attach a metal ring to the binder clip. With this method, I attached the rings to a carabiner that hangs from one of the pant racks. I also tried splitting up the pairs of boots to hang from separate carabiners too.

The metal carabiners were slipping easily from the pant racks so I switched out the carabiners with velcro straps. The velcro straps created more friction so the boots stayed in place easier.

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Another method I tried to use was to hang the boots from my existing shelf. I screwed a few screws to the interior of the lip of the shelf and hung the boots from there. If you own a metal over-the-door-shoe rack, the boots can also be hung from there with this technique.

With the idea of hanging boots using adjustable Velcro, you can pretty much hang sets of boots anywhere. the idea is to keep them organized and not loose their shape so that you can continue to extend their lives. This is how I organize my boots, maybe it’ll help you as well.

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Spreading The Zero Waste Word

 

07.04.2016

0800

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As the Zero Waste movement as started to gain momentum in the past few years, it’s important for those who currently practice living a zero waste lifestyle to continue to spread the zero waste word. I’ve been approached a few times in grocery stores and in my work place of how and why I transfer food in cloth bags and Ball Mason jars. I usually take this time to simply explain the zero waste movement, not in-depth but a simple explanation; “To eliminate my trash output into the environment”. In the beginning of my journey, I noticed that I received awkward stares from strangers at grocery stores and very few people asked why I carried around cloth bags. I noticed confused looks as I would fill up my bags or jars at the grocery store though, I tink they might have thought I was stealing the bulk foods as I filled up my bags. The cashiers noticed but they had to by the time it was my turn to pay for my items. A few people have told me that they wanted to start “going zero waste” but it seemed overwhelming and they didn’t know where to begin. That made perfect sense since I felt the same way when I first started. For that reason, I carry around extra produce bags that I’ve sewn to give out to people who want to get started. I’ve already recorded the tare weights on them, so it’s a matter of the customer filling up the bag and relaying the PLU number to the cashier. I made it a point to sew extra bags to give away because I want those who want to start this lifestyle to be able to physically hold an example of how to get started. Granted, anyone could look up on YouTube or Pintrest of how to sew cloth bags, but this is my way of encouraging people with a some small starter cloth produce bags.

Also, when you lead by example, you might be surprised who will follow suite. Sometimes speaking about the zero waste movement won’t fit every environment. There will be environments which everything that is wasted will not be salvaged and easing thi=ose in that environment into the zero waste movement will take time. It takes a lot of effort to start living a zero waste life because there are sacrifices that each person must make and not all will be onboard. For instance my work place uses quite a bit of paper and they don’t compost. I would be great if we could start to compost, but that proposal also involves our building landlord to agree to it and so far he won’t. One of the smaller steps I have taken at work is introducing my Office Manager to the Grounds To Grow On Program by Keurig.

It’s still very important that we continue to talk about this issue due to the fact that we continue to produce and use plastic trash which is doing more damage to the environment than we can recover.

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