Backpack Hacks

08.15.2017

0600

 

With all of my backpacks that I have ever owned, I hack them the exact same way as I always have. Going back as far as middle school, I always had to hack my backpacks. It was my way of customizing my carrier to my exact needs and over time I would edit it as my needs changed. Within each compartment I always created some type of hanging or attachment mechanism to hang my water bottles, extra bags within the compartments or hang something I needed access to immediately. most of the time I hung items that I needed access to so that those items weren’t at the bottom of my bag, where I had to go digging around to look for them.

 

Front of the backpack

  • I always attach extra reflectors so that in low light, vehicles or any type of light can bounce off of my backpack and I can be visible. These reflecting straps are for bikers, but I took two of the straps and weaved them through my exisitng strap set up.

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  • For all of my zippers that open to significant compartments, I always sew a section of the zipper, so it limits the access to that compartment to only one direction of movement for the zipper. I prefer to only have access in one direction for the zipper movement so it’s easier to watch over and maintain. I also attach metal rings right below the point of the sewing block (through the exposed zipper tape) so that I can use this ring to lock my carabiners from the outside but to also hang items on the inside of the bag.

 

 

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  • On the inside, I hook extra interior metal rings with carabiners to the exterior rings that are popping through the tape so I can hang items on the inside. I’ll hang my water bottle from these interior rings (when my external water bottle pocket has my coffee tumbler in it) or small bags so I can keep items separated in the same compartment. These interior rings are there for anything that needs to be hanged or utilized.

 

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Sides of the backpack

  • I also sew blocking for my smaller compartments and create a locking system for these pockets as well. For the smaller pockets, it really just depends how and where you want to secure the pocket. I chose to insert an extra ring so that I could attach an extra carabiner to it and lock the zipper with it.

 

 

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  • For my external water bottle pocket, I usually take one of the extra backpack straps (that I trimmed off)  to create a safety strap for the external water bottle pocket so that it can hold taller water bottles more securely. There have been a few incidents where my external water  bottle pocket wasn’t deep enough and due to the fact that I had so much stuff in my backpack, my water bottle managed to get squeezed out of the pocket.

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Back of the backpack

  • I usually trim the extra strap slack that comes with the backpack straps. I don’t like any loose hanging straps so I will measure how high I want to carry my backpack and trip, then hem the straps accordingly.
  • For my backpack straps, I like to keep my smaller items very close to me. So I will attach some type of pocket (large enough to fit my “wallet” items and my cell phone) to the front. This backpack didn’t come with a pocket for those types of intimate items.

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  • I also ALWAYS, ALWAYS attach an extra carabiner to the other strap, so I can hook my keys onto my strap quickly.

 

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So there you have it, those are the hacks I made for this backpack. This is my day to day back pack, so I’ll run to the store or go hiking with it. I do have another hiking backpack that’s a 65 gallon capacity for traveling and I’ve hacked that accordingly as well. Hopefully you may see a hack i described here that you would like to use on your own backpacks or carrying bags that you may want to use.

 

Freebies And Give Aways

01.24.2017

0800

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I don’t like to receive freebies and giveaways. I tend to refuse small gift bags and trinkets that are included in them. When I received them from family members and friends, that’s when I came up with a plan that I implemented years ago, when I lived in San Francisco.
Years ago, when I lived in San Francisco, my studio was directly across the street from Golden Gate Park. This park is the largest park in San Francisco and it was approximately 1,017 acres and over 3 miles running West to East and  half a mile running North to South. I would visit my family on the peninsula and always ended up bringing back food. I was given Nutrigrain bars, health bars, and even packaged produce. Because I was starting my zero waste lifestyle in San Francisco, I didn’t want to open these individually packaged items. Instead, I would create care packages for the homeless population, who slept in the park after everyone left.
Let me explain, Golden Gate Park is open from 9am every morning, and closes at 5 pm each evening. Since I lived across the street from the park, I was very aware of the public presence in the park. Each night, after the park closed, the homeless population would move in and set up camp for the night. I used to run along the street that framed the park’s north edge. I would run West and head out to Ocean Beach, then turn around and run back, and I would see them heading into the park.
During that time, I worked the swing shift when I was and EMT, so my hours were strange. But I would put together care packages in which I would hand out to the homeless when I can back from work.
I know that those individually packed items still produced trash but I had a decision to make. The dilemma was, either I refuse the items and inevitably they go into the trash, or I can somehow make good use of it. Not everyone can live a zero waste life and I understood that. Not everyone cares to live a zero waste life and I understood that too.
This was my way of trying to make a positive contribution to a situation I was aware of. When the packages were made, I would hand them out. None of the individual packages were opened so the recipients knew that the food had not been tampered with. Most everyone was open to accepting the food and were thankful for the snacks.
I wrote this post because recently I received a few airline amenity kits from a relative who travels on Delta Airlines for work.  She travels a lot so she had a bunch stocked up. I decided to go out and find recipients to give these kits to.
In the day-to-day rush that we live through, it’s reasonable that not everyone is noticed or acknowledged. But if you slow down and look closely, you’ll notice a population that sits in the shadows; a population made up of many circumstances and perhaps painful past stories. Living in California, has its risks and high stakes to bet on. It takes a lot to survive here, much less start a family and establish yourself here. I accept that anyone can become homeless at anytime and it’s always an unfortunate outcome.

A Minimalist’s Short Business Trip

12.15.2016

0800

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So once in awhile, I will take business trips, usually short ones, so that makes me happy. I prefer to leave the long trips associated with personal vacations. Because it’s a short business trip, I thought I would share what I packed. Here is my list:

  1. Clothes:
    1. Day (Business):
      • Tops: 2 dress shirts, 1 jacket
      • Bottoms: 1 pair of black pants
      • Shoes: 1 pair of low heels
    2. Day (Casual):
      • Tops: 1 shirt
      • Bottoms: 1 pair of jeans
    3. Sleepwear & Intimates:
      • Tops: 1 shirt
      • Intimates: 2 changes of intimates
  2. Daily Tools:
    1. Dining:
      1. Reuseable Water bottle, Coffee tumbler
      2. Straw, bamboo fork + spoon (to get through the security check at the airport), napkin
    2. Bathroom:
      1. Travel bath bag
        1. For the sink space area, I pack my:
          • Bamboo toothbrush
          • Dental pick
          • Dental floss (packaged in a paper container)
          • 1/2 bar of soap (I cut my normal sized bars and bring it along)
          • Deodorant crystal
          • Collapsible stainless steel cup
          • 2.0 oz. bottle of lotion
          • 2.0 oz. bottle of baking soda
        2. For the shower area, I pack my:
          • 3.0 oz bottle of concentrated Shampoo/conditioner
          • Pumice stone
          • Empty stainless steel water bottle (not pictured)
        3. For the “Just In Case” situations, I pack my:
          • Diva Cup
          • Shewee With Extension
      2. Make-Up bag
    3. Entertainment:
      1. iPad, Cell phone and charger cord
      2. Workout Stuff
        • Running Shoes, shirt, sports bra
        • Armband

I tend to pack multiple tops and wear the same bottoms for most outfits. My bottoms don’t get very dirty so I don’t mind wearing them for a few days. This list is for a short trip to a warm area so I don’t have many long sleeved items. Also, since I have such a small wardrobe and very few possessions, I tend to already use what I’ll need to pack. I have to grab certain items right before I leave such as my:

  1. Make-up bag
  2. iPad and charging cord
  3. Running shoes, clothes, accessories

I keep my wet items out of my travel bag in case they dry up, or if i don’t travel often enough during time periods, the products won’t expire. I keep these item containers in my bathroom  grouped together, this way, I know where to look to find them when I do need to travel again. These items include:

  1. Body sunscreen
  2. Face Sunscreen Moisturizer
  3. Body Lotion
  4. Shampoo/Conditioner

These items are also the items that I’ll probably use on the same day as I leave so I keep them by the door so I can pack them really quick before I jet off. Also, this pile by the door also varies in items depending on the time in which I’m scheduled to leave. If I leave straight from work, I’ll usually wear at least half of my business clothes that I count in my business attire for the trip. If I leave from my home, to jet off, I’ll wear my casual clothes during the trip there.

This is a simple overview of what I pack based on my 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe. Admittedly, having a capsule wardrobe makes packing for trips much easier as well. There is a select handful of options for me to wear business attire and casual attire and even what I’ll wear to go workout. I hope this post helps in giving you ideas of how you may pack if you have a capsule wardrobe or want to pack lightly as well.

Aloe Vera For Your Skin

 

12.13.2016

0800

Of all of the plants I recommend owning, the aloe vera plant is one of them. However, aloe vera plants can grow up to 39 inches in height but grow outwards as well with their offsets.  There are many benefits to using aloe vera as a topical treatment as well as consuming the plant in a daily diet. Here is a list of benefits of Aloe Vera as a topical treatment:

1. It treats sunburn. 
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.
2. It acts as a moisturizer. 
Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it`s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion. For women who use mineral-based make-up, aloe vera acts as a moisturizer and is great for the face prior to the application to prevents skin drying. For men: Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.
3. It treats acne. 
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.
Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.
4. It fights aging. 
 
As we age, everyone begins to worry about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in their skin. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.
5. It lessens the visibility of stretch marks. 
 
The skin is like one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss) the elasticity of the skin can be damaged. That’s what leaves those unsightly stretch marks. These marks appear due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching. Aloe vera gel can help hide these stretch marks by healing these wounds.

What I usually do…

I first cut off the leaves of the aloe vera plant and sliced off of the thorns on each side of one of the leaves. I cut the leaf down the centerline through the meat so I could scrap the aloe vera off of each skin section. I gathered the aloe vera I scraped off into a mason jar and then went ahead and scraped the other leaf in the same manner. I composted everything that was left over.
I usually use the aloe vera gel immediately in which I’ll apply it to my skin on my face and body for about an hour and then rinse it off. This is a simple and natural way to moisturize your skin with an organic substance. This plant in addition to my Golden Pothos Ivy air filtering plant are my two favorites that I own. The Golden Pothos filters my indoor air for me and this one provides me with natural moisturizer, win-win.

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Dining Out- Zero Waste Leftovers

08.29.2016

0800

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When I go out to eat, I will bring along a 3-tier Tiffin Carrier or a 2-tier Tiffin Carrier, depending on the type of restaurant I’m going to. If the dishes at the restaurant tend to contain large portions or give a variety in the meal, I’ll take the larger carrier. If the restaurant serves very simple and small dishes, or if I know that there will be a small amount to take home, due to habits, then I’ll bring along the smaller carrier. These carriers are very useful for separating different flavors of foods when desired and it also helps if you’re bringing home leftovers from different people, that way, no one gets their dishes mixed up and there’s no need for separate boxes.

When I first started using the tiffin carrier, I would hide it in my large shoulder bag, and at the end of the meal, I’d basically bust it out. There was a level of awkwardness to this action, but my family understood my intentions. It’s not necessary to use a box JUST for transport from the restaurant to home. I think that’s a waste, because you don’t need that extra box in the first place. You can always move the food from the carrier tray, onto tupperware and heat up later to eat. That extra disposable box from the restaurant to our home is only use for transportation. Granted, you may find a use for the disposable box later, but overall, trash is still being produced and manufactured for this simple step.

I do have two small separate sauce containers that came with the tiffin carriers, but I rarely use them. They’re also made of metal and the lid doesn’t have a tight seal, but I don’t really “bring home sauces”. I usually just pour whatever sauce from my meal right onto the food I’m bringing home. It’s one extra piece of the carrier set that I’d rather use for containing spices or other items at home.

I think these tiffin carriers are a great way of transporting leftover dishes anywhere. You can even pack lunches or small sets of meals in these if you wanted to. You can technically use these carriers for just about everything that involves a lot of smaller pieces. I actually use one as my sewing kit, which I’ll give you the link to right here, My Sewing Kit.
You may feel awkward in the beginning when using these, I certainly did. But it’s all for a good cause and you won’t produce that extra piece of trash (which can’t be recycled due to the oils and food particles stuck to it). You’ll save one less item to throw away which will end up in the landfill.