I have an extra set of curtains, which I didn’t want to use anymore. I decided to create a sofa armrest organizer with both curtain pieces. Both curtain pieces were 5 foot 10 in length, and 27 inches wide.
I wanted my sofa armrest organizer to sit at a certain height off the ground, but I also wanted the top half to also tuck underneath the couch cushion. I first measured how high off the ground I wanted my couch armrest organizer. Since I needed to hang it over the sofa armrest and then wrap back over the arm to tuck underneath the cushion, that left about 47 inches to tuck underneath the cushion.
I wanted to store books in the first organizer, which would be fairly heavy, so I needed a lot of the material to tuck under the seat cushion to hold it in place. I actually wanted the top part of the organizer to tuck underneath an entire sofa cushion width, due to the weight that would be applied.
FIRST SOFA ARMREST ORGANIZER:
When I measured out my first design, I wanted the pockets for my books to be 14 inches in height. I first hemmed all of the edges and then I folded one edge to create the 14″ tall pockets. I sewed around the edge of the folded piece (yellow arrows) and then divided the pocket in half, and sewed a dividing line down the center to create two tall pockets (red arrow). These pockets will be able to hold my books and paperwork that I’m currently working on. I wanted my pockets to be a bit taller than the standard paper size (8.5″ x 11″), due to the fact that I knew the width of the pocket might eat up some of the height. I also wanted to be able to hide my books and paperwork, so my pockets wouldn’t look like they were overflowing with paper.
To attach the sofa armrest organizer, I removed the couch cushion on the side of the couch, located how high I wanted to hang the organizer, and then replaced the couch cushion. Since the top half of the fabric organizer is tucked under the couch cushion, it stayed in place.
SECOND SOFA ARMREST ORGANIZER:
I also wanted to create a second design, which would have smaller pockets for smaller items. My second design would have 10 inches in height for the books, and 6 inches for smaller objects.
Using the same sewing method as the first design, I hemmed all of the edges of the fabric material, and then measured 16″ of material at one end. I folded up the 16″ material, sewed along the outside edges of the tall pocket (yellow arrows), which created a giant 16″ tall pocket.
I then took the bottom 6″ of the pocket and folded it up, to create a shorter 6″ pocket at the bottom. This 6″ tall pocket also helped create the 10″ pocket behind the smaller pockets. I then sewed on both of the side edges of the fabric piece (red arrows) and then sewed a dividing line (blue arrow) to create a total of four pockets for this design. I sewed the edges of this design, all the way to the top of the pocket to reinforce the side edges.
Using the same method as the first sofa armrest organizer, I located where I wanted the organizer to hang on my armrest and I tucked the top half of it under the couch cushion on the end.
Since these sofa armchair organizers are made of fabric material, I can toss them into the washing machine and wash them easily. I can also fold them up and put them away if I don’t need to use them. Fabric is my favorite material to work with since it can be taken apart and reused multiple times. I love that it is a very flexible medium and I was able to put my old curtains to good use.
So I’ve written a lot about the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle, but I admit, there were adjustments during the process as well. I tend to talk about the positive benefits of minimalism, and living a minimalist lifestyle, but I never talk about the struggles that I had to go through. There are a few drawbacks when it comes to a minimalist lifestyle, especially when starting out.
A lot of The process is trying to figure out your footprint and how you want to go about living in this lifestyle. Categorizing your life from daily routines to evening routines, what is necessary and unnecessary, and then going room by room to illuminate items is a bit daunting. Sometimes, this can be a guessing game where a small pile of “maybe items” gets created. That pile did come in helpful though, and it lived in a closet for awhile.
However, if you think through the declutering process slowly and carefully, having regrets will not likely be the end result. With everything you own in this world, everything can technically be replaced. During my decluttering process, that temporary pile really helped me out. It helped me mentally and emotionally detach room the object, which made it easier to part with. Once I knew that I hadn’t pulled anything from the pile out in awhile, I would donate that pile.
Here are some Pros and Cons with transitioning to a minimalist lifestyle:
Value experiences over stuff
Cleaning is easier
More time to enjoy your life
Less stress after getting rid of toxic “friends”
You’ll spend your time better because you’ll be more organized and you’ll know what to do.
You’ll have fewer tasks simply because you’ll be fully aware of your priorities.
You’ll have more money because you’ll spend money only on the essential things;
You’ll clean your home faster simply because you’ll have fewer things;
You will know what to wear because you’ll be wearing pretty much the same clothes every day.
You’ll be more focused and more productive.
Accidentally getting rid of something you later need
You might look poor
Spouse might not be willing to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, causing arguments
If you have kids, they will always want stuff and while they can’t have everything, as a parent you don’t want to be cruel.
If you love shopping, minimalism will not come easy to you.
Not everyone will understand what you’re doing. Probably your spouse won’t be happy with your decision and you’ll have conflicts. Your kids, well, they are kids. They will want more stuff all the time.
It’s hard to resist new cool gadgets especially if you love technology.
Admittedly, I have donated items in which I did have regrets about, but those items were not meaningful items. They were items that were simply useful to specific situations. More so, my adjustment to this lifestyle was an adjustment for those closest to me. When the holidays or my birthday, rolled around, it was difficult for me to explain to my gift giving family members that I didn’t want physical gifts. If I had to choose a gift, I just wanted to spend time with them, and share a meal. Sometimes that went over well, sometimes it didn’t.
There were also moments, when I wanted to buy a particular product, but I really had no need for it. I’m human, and I still have desires to own certain products because it’s technically it’s an upgrade to something I own. I always end up lecturing myself and reminding myself of the many reasons why I don’t need it. I still like cool products. I still like interesting clothing. I still have wants that I have to pull back on. This will never go away, so I just have to figure out an exit plan, each time it does come up. Most of the time, I default to the responsibility of maintaining the new item. That’s usually the ultimate reason why I won’t end up buying a product.
There are always benefits and drawbacks to every lifestyle. These lists are the items I remembered about my experience with the transition. Even though there are drawbacks to living minimally, the gains outweigh the losses. the change in my mindset also helped me transition to the lifestyle easier, because I realized that I didn’t need much to be happy to begin with. If you want to test out this lifestyle for awhile, I highly recommend it. Make use of the “maybe pile”, if you unsure about donating an item. Think through your decisions, and enjoy the process along the way. It can be a wonderful learning experience, and you may discover that you are happier, owning less items.
The principals of simple living, describe a minimalist lifestyle pretty well. Minimalism itself, is more commonly used to describe art, “A trend in sculpture and painting that arose in the 1950s and used simple, typically massive, forms.”
In the last decade, minimalism has become more mainstream, and has grown in popularity. Through social media, and the release of the documentary, “Minimalism”, it has gained quite the following.
To use the word minimalism as a lifestyle, we have to look at the definition of simple living. Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. These may include, reducing one’s possessions, or increasing self-sufficiency. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they have rather than want.
People who practice simple living, may do so for a variety of reasons. Some may live this lifestyle for personal reasons such as spirituality, health, increase in quality time for family and friends, work–life balance, personal taste, financial sustainability, frugality, or reducing stress.
Simple living or minimalist lifestyle is a conscious decision to live with less material possessions, and refrain from excessive materialism and excessive consumerism. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean that you are only allowed to live with the bare minimum to maintain your life, but to live without the excessive items that don’t add to your life.
When I started my transition to a more minimalist lifestyle, I noticed a change in my mindset as well as the time spent on my daily routine. Choosing outfits on a daily basis became easier and my life became easier to manage. I didn’t waste time on maintaining unnecessary possessions or routines. I simplified my life by only keeping possessions that are important to me, and letting go of the rest. It was a conscious decision for me to transition to this lifestyle; it just made more sense to me. I sought out happiness where my possessions did not fulfill. Granted, I still love to dress up for parties, gatherings or to go out to dinner, but I did get rid of all of the other unnecessary items.
I’ve never regretted my transition to a minimalist lifestyle. As time has passed, I have evaluated and continue to re-evaluate possessions that I might still want to donate. I always look for more methods to design my life to become ever more simplistic; it never ends.
I enjoy life more now, than I ever did before. I enjoy going to cafes and drinking my coffee on the weekend mornings. Enjoying every sunset I can take in, and being thankful to even experience it. I love having conversations during a good meal. I love going outside to spend time in nature and I love to spend time with family and friends. I love white walls, a clean floor and clean surfaces. My home brings me peace and my space is serene. Minimalism has changed my life in so many ways. Over ten years ago, my life changed for the better, and I can never go back to the way I used to live.
The psychological triggers that cause consumerism is a powerful strategy that companies use to target shoppers. As humans, sometimes we make decisions that the heart justifies. When companies know what these heart triggers are, they are in an influential position to offer something your heart will say yes to. Buying decisions are as emotional as they are logical. By understanding why we tend to buy new items, will help in understanding how to curb that need and want.
To understand consumerism, we have to take a step back to understand how we are targeted by big corporations and what tactics they use to catch our attention.
WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES OF MARKETING
There are a few strategies of marketing that are frequently used. There are many reasons why people purchase new items, but there are the Top 5 reasons why people tend to buy products.
To Belong or Be Relevant. We have an emotional need to want to feel like we belong to a bigger picture and to feel relevant. Some people buy brands when they see ‘cool’ people in the advertisements, because they want mimic them. People unconsciously associate a certain personality with the brand based upon the ads they see, and if this personality is appealing to them, they buy the brand thinking that this action will bring them closer to this personality.
To Be Right or Not Be Wrong. Some purchases are driven by pride. We want to be able to share positive recommendations with our peers that display our own wisdom in having made that choice in the first place. According to the Social Proof Theory, items become more appealing when they are desired by others. This lets people to sometimes buy products that they don’t need, just because of their perceived attractiveness.
To Fulfill One of the Four Basic Needs. These are the four states that humans are programmed to pursue, and these needs drive many of our decisions. Shopping can be a means to reach certain goals.
Health: “I want to drop 10 pounds after the holidays.”
Wealth: “I want to feel more energetic in leading our team and business.”
Relationships: “I want to feel confident and ready to date again.”
Spirituality/Happiness: “Love the skin you’re in everyday!”
To Have Security. To feel safe is an innate emotional need for us. Some people go shopping to escape from bad moods, bad days, a feeling of uneasiness, etc. Others buy brands to attract attention, such as a person who may buy expensive cars to improve their perceived status. Perhaps a person might buy certain clothes to appeal to the other sex.
For Memories and Loyalty. There’s an emotional attachment to our memories. The memories that we value the most, are the ones we will tend to draw from.
WHO THEY ARE TARGETING
People who make purchasing decisions rooted as much in emotional impulses as logical facts.
Purchasing anything, is as emotional as it is logical.
Buyers who have egos.
When making purchase decisions for themselves, buyers will naturally think about themselves and what they stand to gain by buying the product
Buyers who have a greater commitment to fleeting losses than to seek gains.
Pointing out what a buyer stands to potentially gain from buying their product, and what they might miss out on, if they don’t.
Buyers who are naturally suspicious
Selling experts always preach the importance of establishing a relationship of trust and credibility. If they can gain your trust, the sale is almost complete.
Buyers who respond psychologically to visual elements and stories.
The logical side of buyers craves facts and figures, that’s why numbers (price, technical specifications, etc.) are featured so prominently in brochures.
Buyers who crave value
Buyers are perked up by the prospect of somehow ‘winning’ the battle against the seller. By gaining as much value from the sale as much as possible, the buyer will feel that they walked away from the sale gaining more than what was presented.
Buyers who travel in packs
Buyers have a herd mentality, when opting to move together in large groups. They will naturally be swayed by what a great number of their peers have done, as opposed to standing alone.
By understanding what triggers us as consumers into purchasing new items, it helps us recognize where we might be weak when it comes to buying anything. Self reflection is always a process, and it’s an ongoing journey to understand ourselves better. I have had to reflect on my own purchasing habits and tendencies, so I am no different than anyone else.
When I started to declutter my life, I really examined the products and items I no longer used, but I had not let go of. I don’t like to waste my money, and I doubt anyone else does either. As long as you understand what triggers you as a consumer, you can gain more control over your purchasing power and your spending habits.
TerraCycle offers a range of free programs that are funded by conscientious companies, as well as recycling solutions available for purchase for almost every form of waste.
TerraCycle offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programs you’d like to join; start collecting in your home, school, or office; download free shipping labels; and send us your waste to be recycled. You can even earn rewards for your school or favorite non-profit!
TerraCycle reuses, upcycles, and recycles waste instead of incinerating or land filling it. This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy.
You can collect points, by collecting trash for your specific program and then redeeming your points. You can redeem your points by either receiving a cash value, or you can donate the points to charity. There’s a list of charities that team up with TerraCycle, in which you can choose to donate your points to.
I always donate my points, since I think this program is a great way for charities and companies to get involved with creating less waste, and I really don’t value the cash redemption as much.
Some of the charity organizations I was looking at to donate my points were:
100 points = Help safeguard 1 acre of rain forest for 1 year in the Northwest Gaia Amazon.
300 points = Have a tree planted in an American forest through Arbor Day Foundation
300 points = You can provide one year’s supply of clean drinking water to a person who otherwise would lack access to this most essential element.
625 points = You can help the D’Addario Music Foundation give one child a free music lesson.
2500 points = You can help the D’addario Music Foundation provide a child with 4 music lessons for a week. Kids who study music are 5x more likely to stay in school, graduate on time and apply to college.
100 points = For every 100 points, TerraCycle will send $1 to the American Red Cross to provide aid to those affected by natural disasters.
For this round, I decided to split my points between a couple of different charities. I decided to redeem my points with:
Providing one year’s supply of clean drinking water to a person who otherwise would lack access to this most essential element
If you want to participate in the TerraCycle programs, check them out at https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/select-country to see which programs you can join. The participating companies change often, so check back with the website to see updates. There are a lot of programs to choose from and supporting the partnership between TerraCycle and the participating companies creates more awareness to how much trash we produce, and how companies take responsibility for the trash they pass onto us consumers.
So I’m a simple girl which means I have simple ways of organizing my life as well. Since I am a minimalist, I actually don’t own a lot of jewelry. So, I thought I would show you how I organize my jewelry.
When I was a kid, my necklace always became tangled, no matter how I seemed to store it. I didn’t really figure out how I wanted to organize my jewelry until later on. Parts of my jewelry organization was due to the fact that I didn’t have that much jewelry to organize when I get older. It actually really helps my life to organize less stuff than more stuff.
I thought I would show you how I organize my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings
For my necklaces I like to use a Velcro strap, in which all I have to do is grab the Velcro loop and my necklaces fall naturally in an organized fashion, due to gravity. I also use a Velcro strap to organize my bracelets. For some of my necklaces I like to use a binder ring, because the design gets caught on the Velcro, when I lift it up. But for the most part, I’ll use Velcro straps. I also like using the Velcro straps due to the flexibility that it allows. If I need more space, to organize my jewelry, it allows that need.
I use a Velcro strap to organize my bracelets. One of my bracelets is fairly wide in shape so I needed something that was flexible to it.
My earrings are organized a fairly special way. I never really had a clear way of organizing my earrings up until I just thought, “Why not just attach them to a piece of fabric?”. So that’s exactly what I did. I sewed a piece of extra fabric to the inside of my jewelry pouch, and I just attach my earrings to the fabric. I actually pre-punch holes using a pushpin something generic and I just attach my earrings to those pre-made holes. I like this design because of the fact that the earrings don’t get lost and the backing of the earrings are still protected by the extra piece of fabric.
The fabric piece flips out, to access the earrings easier. I also keep my extra earring backings on a small safety pin that’s attached to a ring. I have quite a few extra earring backings, so, I have quite a few safety pins on the ring.
I created an extra detachable fabric earring piece for traveling as well. This travel earring organizer is used when I need to use different backpacks or bags while traveling. It’s used for trips when I don’t want to bring my entire jewelry pouch.
I organize my rings in a similar manner, where I keep them organized on a small necklace chain. The necklace chain for my rings is kept with my other necklaces. It’s easy to lift up the necklace chain and have the rings fall naturally. When I travel, I will keep my rings organized on a carbiner, but most of the time, they stay on a necklace chain. They don’t get tangled, and they stay organized, due to the sequence I arranged them in.
So, that’s how I organize my jewelry. If I ever acquire more jewelry, or a bigger bag, I’ll likely use the same techniques and system that I have for this bag. Hopefully, some of the methods I’ve shown you here, might spark and idea for your organization system.
Zero Waste Week is here! This year we have more participants and the event is hoping to reach a larger audience. Rachelle Strauss is the creator and director behind Zero Waste Week, an annual awareness campaign since 2008. It takes place in the first full week in September each year, and promotes awareness in producing rash and the disposal of trash. Zero Waste Week encourages the public to be more aware of how much trash they produce as well has encouraging people and businesses to live and work more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. She has been featured in The Guardian, National Geographic and The Sun for her efforts in promoting awareness for a more sustainable future.
This is my third year participating in Zero Waste Week as an ambassador. I’m so grateful and proud to be a part of this movement. There are many others who are and have been a part of this movement long before I came along, you can meet them atZero Waste Week Ambassadors. You can also read all about this week and get involved at Zero Waste Week- About. Use the hashtag #ZeroWasteWeek to show us your progress!
This year, the theme is Climate Change, and our decisions that effect climate change.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases always have been present in the atmosphere, keeping the earth hospitable to life by trapping heat. Yet, since the industrial revolution, emissions of these gases from human activity have accumulated steadily, trapping more heat and exacerbating the natural greenhouse effect.
As a result, global average temperatures have risen both on land and in the oceans, with observable impacts already occurring that foretell increasingly severe changes in the future. Polar ice is melting. Glaciers around the globe are in retreat. Storms are increasing in intensity. Ecosystems around the world already are reacting, as plant and animal species struggle to adapt to a shifting climate, and new climate-related threats emerge.
September 2, 2019, DAY 1:
This year’s topic is climate change.
An overwhelming body of scientific evidence paints a clear picture: climate change is happening, it is caused in large part by human activity, and it will have many serious and potentially damaging effects in the decades ahead. Scientists have confirmed that the earth is warming, and that greenhouse gas emissions from cars, power plants and other man made sources are the primary cause.
September 3, 2019, DAY 2
Reducing food waste and food packaging in the kitchen.
An estimated one third of all food produced in the world, goes to waste; that’s equivalent to 1.3 billion tons of food. This loss of food could be for a number of reasons, such as the fact that the foods never leave their farms, get lost or spoiled during transportation or are simply thrown away. When we waste food, we waste all of the energy and water used to used to produce the foods as well. Here are a few blog posts on my methods to deal with food waste and how purchase my food.
Choosing slow fashion has been a hot topic in the past few years. The textile industry. is one of the most polluting industries, producing 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent ( CO2e ) per year, which is more emissions than international flights and maritime shipping. Over 60% of textiles are used in the clothing industry and a large proportions of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, countries which rely on coal-fueled power plants, increasing the footprint of each garment. It has been stated that around 5% of total global emissions come from the fashion industry.
Fast fashion is produced on shorter time frames with new designs appearing every few weeks to satisfy demand for the latest trends, but with this comes increased consumption and more waste. It has been estimated that there are 20 new garments manufactured per person each year and we are buying 60% more than we were in 2000.
By choosing to shop at thrift shops, or swapping with friends and neighbors, helps reduce the amount of newly manufactured clothing brought into the home, and it helps reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in the landfill.
Below are a few blog posts related to fast fashion, and how I deal with that issue. I love every piece of my wardrobe and I try to repair my clothes as often as I can, to lengthen the life of my garments. I buy new clothes very seldom, because thrift shops offer so much more variety to chose form.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency names phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and chemicals grouped under the term “Volatile Organic Compounds” as the worst environmental hazards in household cleaners.
Ammonia is a multipurpose household cleaner that is found in many cleaning products that do everything from degreasing to sanitizing and removing allergens.
Household cleaning seems to be a sensitive subject for many. There are a variety of sanitary concerns and medical concerns. As for me, I use a vinegar and water mix, baking soda and a bristle brush to clean.
You can read more about my approach to household cleaning in the links below.
Zero Waste is for life, not just a week! Plastic pollution, trash pollution, water and soil pollution is an ongoing battle. A zero waste lifestyle does require an awareness of oneself and decisions. There are parameters that some of us deal with, and that others don’t, such as medical conditions, personal health and financial constraints.
The proliferation of single-use plastic around the world is accelerating climate change. Plastic production is expanding worldwide, fueled in part by the fracking boom in the US. Plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its life cycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product
By reducing your plastic waste, plastic purchases, and opting for more environmentally friendly alternatives, can help alleviate the amount of plastic waste you produce. Also, by choosing slow fashion, and more sustainable garment materials, will also help lengthen the life of your wardrobe pieces and not contribute to the fast fashion industry. Additionally, using non-toxic alternative household cleaners, will also help your indoor air quality. Using non- toxic chemicals also will help keep Nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia out of the rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways.
If you want to read about my moments and lessons throughout my zero waste journey, you can check out the links to my previous blog posts below.
I hope you will want to take the pledge and reduce the amount of trash you consume, and reduce your carbon footprint. If you want to read about my journey and how I got started, you can read that here in, How I Got Started.
September 2- September 6, is #ZeroWasteWeek – Sign up here! goo.gl/oqHvRk. Isn’t it time to ReThink Waste? We think so! Join @myzerowaste for this year’s #ZeroWasteWeek goo.gl/oqHvRk. Come participate with all of us!
At the end of the week’s festivities, it’s time to take all you’ve learned during the week and start/continue your own plastic free and climate change journey. There are a lot of Pinterest boards, Facebook Groups and forums that offer tips to start a zero waste lifestyle or tips for different experiences with the zero waste lifestyle. You can check out my own social media boards and follow me, or you can follow the Zero waste Week community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
Some facts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations:
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes.
Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.
Global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish.
Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year.
Food waste is an issue I pay very much attention to. I don’t like wasting food or my money. Before my city decided to implement a city wide composting program, I used a Lifetime 65 Gallon Tumbler compost. It was really helpful since I always wanted to create my own compost and not add it to my trash.
I also tried a trench compost as well, and honestly, I really enjoyed the trench compost method. I settled on the tumbler compost method because it was easier to roll and turn the compost every other day.
A successful compost will have a ratio of 20 parts brown : 1 part green. The compost pile will need at least 4-12 weeks to create a good batch. I’ll rotate the Lifetime 65 Gallon Tumbler several revolutions weekly and if the composter is mostly filled with grass, it may need to be rotated more frequently to keep the grass from matting together. The compost is done when it becomes dark brown and has an earthy smell. It can be added directly to plants as mulch or worked into soil.
WHAT TO COMPOST:
KITCHEN SCRAPS like fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, egg shells, and coffee grounds.
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.
LEAVES can be mowed to reduce their size which will speed up decomposition and
increase the amount which will ft in the composter.
WOOD such as branches must be chipped or shredded in pieces smaller than1 inch.
Saw dust must be resin free i.e. no particle board.
PLANTS discarded from the garden, straw and hay.
MANURES from herbivores e.g. cows, rabbits, or chickens. Excessive amounts will also increase the salt content of the compost.
WHAT NOT TO COMPOST:
Meat, bones, greases, dairy products, or bread which attract pests. Anything treated with pesticides or herbicides.
Black Walnut leaves which inhibit plant growth.
Oak leaves and pine needles which decompose slowly.
Diseased plants or weeds with seeds.
Pet or human waste.
Plastic, foil, etc.
I usually meal prep throughout the week, so I know how much I want to buy and consume. I rarely buy snacks anymore since I’ve noticed that I tend not to snack. If I’m really hungry, I might have a few nuts, to satisfy my hunger. I prefer to simply eat whole meals, when the time is right.
My weekday meals don’t vary too much, but I’ve also reduced the amount I eat, so I don’t create any extra food waste. There’s usually a day during the week, where I’ll go through my fridge and eat up all the foods that may be expiring soon as well. Most of those foods are perishable, so it’ll end up to be some sort of salad, with a bunch of different vegetables. For the fresh produce that does expire, they go into the compost bucket.
Americans waste about a pound of food per person each day, with people who have healthier diets rich in fruit and vegetables the most wasteful, research has found. The healthiest Americans are the most wasteful, because of their high consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are frequently thrown out. Fruit and vegetables require less land to grow than than other foods, such as meat, but require a large amount of water and pesticides. Because of this sad fact, I pay more attention to what I buy and the quantity I buy. This waste has an environmental toll, with the volume of discarded food equivalent to the yearly use of 30m acres of land, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water. Rotting food also clogs up landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Composting is a great way to dump the compostable items, and if you don’t have a yard, there are smaller composts, that are also designed for apartment living as well. Composting is a more sustainable way to discard your foods scraps and it’ll will alleviate the amount of trash, taken to the landfill. If your city, or county hasn’t implemented a city wide composting system, maybe it could be an idea that could be brought to your city.
Committing to a Zero Waste lifestyle, does take a good amount of preparation. If you look around your kitchen, bathroom and even your bedroom, a lot of our world is made of plastic.
BEFORE TRANSITIONING TO A ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE:
The easiest way I can instruct someone to go about transitioning to a Zero Waste Lifestyle, is to go room by room, and I would start with the kitchen. It’s not quick, since you have to go through every drawer, cabinet, closet, shelf, and the storage container. I would technically audit each room in this order:
Kitchen – We tend to buy the most items for this room, and food items frequently circulate in and out of this room
Bathroom(s)- We use quite a bit of personal care items, which have expiration dates, so I think this room also has a slew of products being brought in and thrown out
Storage closet(s)- Some households store extra supplies in closets, so I would go through and make a list of items I frequently stock up on.
Bedroom(s)- Specifically, clothing and other disposable items that are bought, used and kept here
Living Room & Dining Room- Check cabinets or drawers where you may keep extra supplies of items, and list them
Garage- This might be a big audit, since people use their garages for a variety of things. But I would go through and find all of the single use, disposable items and then find other bottles/jars/canisters that will create waste once the product is used up.
DURING THE TRANSITION TO A ZERO WASTE LIFE STYLE:
During the process of transitioning to a more zero waste lifestyle, there will be a slew of products or foods, you will end up using up and finishing up. A big part of this section of the process, is a countdown to the day you finish using up that shampoo bottle, bag of rice, toothpaste tube, nail polish, nail polish remover, etc. Although, waiting until the end of the life of a product can feel frustrating, it buys you time to research on products you plan on replacing the action with.
Keep in mind that investing in products made from sustainable materials and have been proven to last a long time, are better investments for your wallet. When I was going through my transition, I came to realize that I don’t really care what zero waste looks like in my home. I’m more concerned about the function of the products I invested in. Some people do care about style and that’s perfectly fine; I am simply the type of person that does not. I don’t have a glass cup for every type of occasion, or have very specific dishes to use for certain occasions, but that’s just how I like to live. I like living a minimalist life and my zero waste lifestyle reflects on it as well.
I like investing in products that I can clean easily, durable and can be used for a multitude of uses. I don’t have glass bottles of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and liquid amnios, but I do have refillable glass mason jars for olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, honey and liquid amnios.
If I can’t clean and reuse the new product easily, it’s a no buy in my opinion.
AFTER THE TRANSITION TO A ZERO WASTE LIFE STYLE:
Remember the FIVE Rs: from Bea Johnson, author of The Zero Waste Home, “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot”. Refuse what you don’t need, reduce what you do need, reuse what you can, recycle what you can and rot (compost) the rest.
Maintaining a zero waste lifestyle takes a great sense of self awareness. Refusing to buy food, products and items you normally purchase, takes restraint and intent. You’re changing the way you live, by altering what you purchase and how you purchase products. To this day, when I walk into new restaurants and drink shops, I will ask if they will accept my water bottle to contain the drink, and sometimes I get turned down. But I respect their policy and simply take my business elsewhere. I still want to know if other restaurants will accept my reusable utensils and Tupperware, because than I know I can return to the establishment.
I also drive around with a “To Go Carry Out Kit“. The kit helps when I stop by a restaurant to pick up food, before I get home. It also comes in handy for impromptu picnics and dropping by family and friends homes to join in on a potluck.
In my day to day routine, I carry around a reusable utensils kit and reuseable water bottle. I tend to buy more vegetables and fruit, than I do with bulk grains and dry food. I occasionally will snack on almonds or pecans, but it’s rare. The majority of how I set up my weekday meal plans, are simply green salads and salmon. I don’t eat much grains anymore, except a bit of brown rice.
So basically the main steps are:
Use up everything you purchase that comes in plastic or non recyclable packaging.
Find alternatives for the “absolute must need items” you use.
Refuse any items you don’t need, such as single use disposable items, freebies, etc.
Set up a bulk buying system for your kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc. needs.
Carry around a reuseable utensils kit with a reuseable water bottle.
SPREAD THE WORD.
Don’t worry about the naysayers. I started this lifestyle back in 2010, when it wasn’t popular at all. I got the weird looks, comments, jabs from friends, family, co-workers and on social media. Doing something different and starting something new, will always bring more questions. Just stay on the road, and steer straight ahead, you’ll get there.
Reducing the amount of trash that comes into your home is not as hard as it sounds. It might sound like a daunting task because we as consumers, buy a lot of packaged items that we bring into our home. However, it’s a simple process of elimination.
For instance, if you evaluate your kitchen items and everything you buy weekly, monthly, and yearly- that’s pretty much your entire list. For the yearly items, if you can find reusable alternatives, you can essentially eliminate your yearly inventory shopping.
Then, list all your weekly items that you tend to buy, and find reusable, non-toxic alternatives for those items. Your weekly and daily items are most likely the trash culprits. Half of the time, we don’t realize how many coffee cups we buy every day or even plastic packaged lunch items that we purchase daily. Eliminating the daily trash will help greatly reduce the amount of trash that enters your home. There are a lot of reasonable alternatives when it comes to kitchen items. Using cloth napkins in lieu of paper napkins, and using real dishware instead of paper plates can help eliminate the disposable trash output. You can also use real utensils instead of disposable utensils. You can bring a reusable coffee Tumbler when you go to get tea or coffee, so you don’t end up with a disposable cup.
A lot of people don’t know that the paper containers provided for us at grocery stores, and food establishments are lined with plastic, and those containers do not compost or bio degrade. The plastic layer, prevents it from composting completely. It’s a little bit like green washing because you may think your container is completely made of cardboard but it really isn’t. Using reusable items is a much better alternative, because you are in control of how much trash you are producing.
For your bathroom items, it’s the same process as evaluating your kitchen items. Go through your items and figure out which products you use and purchase, yearly, weekly and daily. Slowly replace the yearly items with reusable and sustainable options, as well as a weekly and daily items.
When it comes to medications or anything medical, I suggest that you consult with a doctor before you decide to eliminate certain products. I purchase sunscreen consistently. I live in California, where the sun is strong, and skin cancer is a real concern. I’m very aware that I am producing plastic trash with my sunscreen bottles. However, I would never want to put my health at risk just so I can proclaim that “My lifestyle is absolutely zero waste!”, and I wouldn’t want you to do that either.
Health concerns are very personal, so you know your own limit. If you can eliminate a plastic contained product and opt for a reusable version, than I think that’s great. Right now, I buy my conditioner, body lotion, bar soap, liquid soap, and tooth powder, in bulk. When it comes to sunscreen, face moisturizer and dental floss, those come in packaging.
You can use this evaluation process for the other rooms in your home. The biggest trash producers are the kitchen and the bathrooms. Some people have other rooms where they tend to buy a lot of items for, and those can be also evaluated in the same fashion.
This process takes time, and it takes self awareness to be consistent. Start slow and just work on an area or room in a certain amount of time. If you give yourself a time limit, staying consistent and motivated, becomes easier.
Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion.
There are seven different routes to sustainable fashion. There’s more than one answer to be fashionably responsible. Not all of the methods to approaching sustainable fashion, suits all people equally, because we all have different needs and preferences.
There are seven different moving sections to sustainable fashion.
Sustainable Fashion can be broken down into seven categories:
On Demand & Custom Made
Made to order
Green & Clean
Keeping a green and clean production process throughout the products life cycle
High Quality & Timeless Design
Fair & Ethical Fashion
Fair Trade: According to Fair Trade USA, products that get to bear the “Fair Trade” logo “come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.”
Ethical: The Ethical Fashion Forum says that “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”
Repair, Redesign & Upcycle
Repair clothing so that you can give it a longer life
You can redesign clothes to customize it into a unique piece
If you don’t plan on wearing or using the clothing item, you can upcycle it into another use
Rent, Lease & Swap
Rent or lease formal wear, so you can keep your wardrobe quantity under control, and you’ll get to choose from more options
Swap clothes with your neighbors, friends and family
Secondhand & Vintage
Shop at second hand stores or swap with neighbors, friends and and family.
These multiple methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry, and can be adopted by everyone. There really isn’t one “correct” method to the sustainable fashion route. I wanted to mention these seven methods, because I know I’ve written about creating my own DIY clothing from existing pieces, as well as shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve never listed all of the different methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry.
Under the accordance of sustainability, recycled clothing upholds the principle of the “Three R’s of the Environment”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the “Three Legs of Sustainability”: Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity. To change the existing fashion industry into a more sustainable system, we need to practice reducing waste, reusing textile materials, and recycling old textiles. The balance between the social, economic and environmental responsibilities needs to be taken into account as well.
Sustainable fashion takes a lot of self awareness from the entire fashion industry. It means actively working with the countries and farmers who take care of the materials we source, to create our textiles. We also need to make responsible decisions that won’t damage our resources or harm our environment. I buy a lot of clothing from thrift stores because I like the variety of options I can choose from. Walking into a thrift store, is like walking into a time capsule, and it’s a fun experience for me. I also upcycle a lot of my clothing pieces that have reached the end of their life. For clothes and textiles I want to keep, but I don’t want to wear, I will upcycle the items into something more useful for my life.
If you want to support a more sustainable fashion industry, consider adopting and practicing at least one of the seven methods that support the sustainable fashion industry. You can choose more than one method to support this much needed system. If possible, try to implement all seven methods into your wardrobe collection.
If you read about my Fast Fashion post, it relates to this one. If not, please go check it out. Even though I do by thrift store items, I will still mend an item to save it from a donation. Sometimes I will mend my items and then I donate the item. For instance, I found an old shirt at my aunts house. It had a few holes in it but overall, I liked the color and I didn’t mind the cut of the shirt. The color went perfectly with my color palette for my capsule wardrobe, so I really wanted to save it from being donated. I just needed to mend the shirt, so it would be decent to wear.
Now I have an almost new shirt.
Whenever I upcycle clothing, I always keep scraps of the leftover clothing item. In my Reusing Fabric and Thread blog post, I wrote about keeping my fabric scraps in a small bag. I literally have a bag of scraps. I love fabric, and the use of fabric in different products, (depending on the thread count, material, and the way fabric is sewn together,) can be a very durable material.
Some shirts have higher thread counts, which lends them to become excellent candidates to upcycle into grocery bags, or other heavy duty bags. The smaller scraps that I keep, I always try to find a use for them. Whether it’s going to be upcycled into a small project or large project, the one thing I can count on is that I can throw it in the washing machine to clean it.
If I had a choice to make, with picking and choosing reusable products, I prefer to choose items that I can wash easily. I don’t like to buy items which require a special cleaning method or liquid to clean. I like to sew and mend items, because the product that I’m usually mending, only needs to be washed with soap and water.
If you reflect on the products that you use daily, the majority of them are probably sewn together: your clothes, handbags, wallets, car seats, bedding, upholstery, etc. Knowing how to sew and understanding how to repair fabric products has been a life saver for me. I actually learned how to sew by hand, and didn’t learn how to use a machine until years later.
Learning how to mend items can save you money, time and stress. Even the simple act of sewing on a button is helpful. You can save a simple dress shirt, like I did, from sending it to a donation station.
The zero waste lifestyle is a 24 hour a day commitment. I’m not gonna lie, but you do have to be conscious of it. I’ve slipped up a few times, because I wasn’t aware of how a restaurant packaged their food, or that the restaurant automatically gave me disposable utensils (even after I asked them to not include it). I’ve walked away from restaurants, with a plastic drink container, because I forgot that my water bottle at home. (I hang onto the cups to contain my smaller trash items.) but it is so easy to slip up and make a mistake, so don’t feel bad if you do. There are disposable utensils, cutlery, napkins, sauces, wrapping, etc. at every restaurant in the United States; usually comes in the form of take out. Some of the disposable items do serve a purpose such as, sanitary situations, but more than likely they are used for a very short amount time and then tossed into the landfill.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably carrying around one of these reuseable utensils kits. This kit will likely include a reuseable spoon, fork, knife, chopsticks, a metal straw, a cloth napkin, and perhaps a cloth handkerchief. I will also carry around a water bottle and sometimes my coffee tumbler too. Most of the time, my water bottle is empty in case I want to go get coffee, and then I just use my water bottle to contain my coffee.
Being aware that the zero waste lifestyle is a constant commitment, means that it influences where you decide to eat, what you decide to eat and even where you decide to go to spend your time. Even though it is a conscious effort, and a lifestyle commitment, it does become easier over time.
I have my favorite restaurants that I go to, and even coffee places that I go to. I also have “go to” food choices that I will pick at certain restaurants, because I know that the food item doesn’t come with packaging. One of the easiest places to go look for zero waste packaged food, is the grocery store; specifically, the deli section. Your menu is the entire deli.
At my local grocery store, I have a variety of different pre-mixed salad options, a variety of meal solutions, sandwiches, sushi rolls and wraps, soups, meat choices and cheese choices. There is also a section for fresh baked bread and fresh donuts, that’s also freshly made each morning. It’s a great place to search for a quick solution for dinner.
The good thing is, as long as you’re aware of this zero waste commitment, and you try to stick to making small changes, you are making a difference. The zero waste community is vast and continues to grow. Around the world, we are presenting our methods and solutions to our every day issues of plastic packaging, wasting resources, and the growing plastic pollution problem.
As long as we are conscious about what we choose, and how we choose to spend every dollar, we are telling our story of our commitment. We are telling our neighbors, our friends, or family that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.
I don’t like using a lot of harsh chemicals to clean my house, because of the dangers that chemicals can cause to our physical well being . So I tend to use a combination of natural products. For scrubbing, I like to use a combination of Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap, as well as baking soda as an abrasive. I like to use a simple brush to scrub services, because those are easy to rinse off.
I’ll use a combination of water and apple cider vinegar to wipe down surfaces as well. I will use old cotton wash clothes and cotton rags to wipe down surfaces.
For cleaning my toilet, I will usually use apple cider vinegar, and a simple toilet brush to scrub the surface. If I need to use an abrasive to scrub my toilet, I’ll use baking soda to do so. I do get nervous about harsh chemicals be in the home because I don’t like the idea of inhaling toxic fumes. I think that now that we know more about toxic chemicals and how harmful they can be, we have the power to make better choices about what we use in our homes.
When it comes to cleaning the hardwood floors, I have a dust mop and also a floor broom and dust pan set. I do have a vacuum that I use, but it’s only once a while that’ll pull that out.
If I need to clean the surface of the floors, I’ll first use a combination of Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap and water to dilute the concentration of the soap formula. I’ll first wipe down the floors with the soapy liquid, than, I’ll go over the cleaned floors with a clean wet rag, to pick up the soap residue. I just wipe down the surface with rags. I do it by hand because the floor seems to be cleaner with this method.
For the rest of the surfaces, dust is really the only issue when it comes to cleaning my other furniture services. I can wipe down the surfaces easily with a simple rag.
I have a fairly simple cleaning routine, and it really doesn’t take much time to get through it on a weekly basis. It also helps to not own many items and keeping my surfaces clean, also speeds up the process. But I’ve been fairly happy with my cleaning routine, and by using non toxic chemicals, I can sleep better knowing that I’m not creating a toxic indoor air environment for my family.
Even when I buy items in glass jars because I can’t find a refillable version of it, I always end up with these plastic shrink bands. It seems that zero waste is never an absolute. Sometimes when I do buy produce that is free plastic packaging, I’ll still end up with rubber bands or twist ties. The good thing is I can actually reuse those items, but it’s preferred that I don’t have to.
Most of my dry goods are sold in bulk bins, so I am lucky that I have the privilege to buy package free dry goods from bulk items.
During the process of transitioning over to a zero waste lifestyle, I knew that I would end up giving up a lot of foods that I enjoyed. I personally love potato chips to snack on, but it was one thing I knew I had to give up, since the packaging wouldn’t fit my zero waste lifestyle. I gave up a lot of snacks such as packaged cookies, packaged crackers and packaged candy. There were alternatives to these packaged items, such as certain bulk options.
When I realized I had to give up certain foods, I also sought out alternative food substitutes. There are good substitutes out there, but sometimes, seeking out the alternatives require more work than expected. Once in awhile I will indulge in a packaged food, and then that packaging will get added to my pile of trash for that year. During my journey, I did come across a company called TerraCycle. They team up with certain companies who participate in different recycling programs with TerraCycle. These companies offer recycling programs through TerraCycle, in which customers who purchase their products, can join their recycling program, and send back the packaging to the company for free. It’s an option, and the program change frequently, so checking their website updates is helpful.
I’m extremely lucky to have local bulk grocery stores, who provide the option of bulk shopping, so I can continue this lifestyle. Only once in awhile, I’ll need an item and the glass jar will have the plastic shrink band on it. If I can, I try to only need and use items that are only sold in bulk.