Decluttering Sentimental Possessions

 

11.22.2016

0800

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For my sentimental possessions, I own a 3″x 12″x 6″ box, which holds just about every sentimental object in my life. A couple of years ago, I scanned all of my photos, drawings from my childhood, awards I got in school, just all of the paper I held onto. I scanned them and uploaded them to my cloud and also backed it up into my external hard drive. I did this because I had the notion in my mind that wherever I was in the world, I could access all of my photos via the internet. I actually tossed out many of my photos after I scanned them, I kept the ones which I knew were important to me.

My sentimental box includes my collection of elongated pennies from different places I visited or vacationed, a few letters from relatives who have passed on, pins from different events during my lifetime, items from important people in my life, etc. Ironically, I did purge quite a bit of my sentimental items before I started writing this post. I had never purged this collection before and I kept only 1 sentimental items from certain points in my life. However, this is how I approached the situation for decluttering my sentimental items.

In the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, she guides readers through tidying up each section of their home; sentimental items are the last to be dealt with. Her method, which is called The Konmarie Method, tells readers to hold each item and decide if the item brings you joy or no longer does. Then, with the items that no longer bring joy, bid adieu to the item, thank it for being in your life for that period of time and then place it in the trash pile, donate pile or sell pile. This is a great way to approach sentimental clutter because of the dynamic relationship we each have with our items. I don’t have enough stuff to go through the Konmarie Method where there would be a significant volume difference, but I did consider why I wanted to keep each of my sentimental items as I went through and purged.

If you’re thinking of purging your sentimental items, you can check out her book or simply follow some guidelines that I listed below. There are many books on decluttering, however with the Konmaire Method, you examine what you want to keep verses what you want to donate.

Here are some helpful tips to help you declutter your sentimental items:

  1. Keepsakes
    1. The key is to keep only mementos that are meaningful for us and for future generations. I tend to keep photos (which I digitize as well), and smaller pieces of keepsakes. I will keep a single handwritten letter or card from people who I hold close to my inner circle. I digitize everything else though, even those paper items, in case anything were to happen to them.
  2. The Quick Purge: Big Stuff
    1. I will purge the bigger items first. Part of the reason why I do that is because bigger items usually give me more room to save more stuff. If I don’t have the extra space, the purge has tighter parameters for me to work within.
  3.  Why Did I Keep That?
    1. This question comes up a lot when I start going through my items. It’s the first question I ask myself. You’re likely to find some things you have no idea why you saved.
  4.  Display Your Keepsakes
    1. If you want to keep the rocks, shells or spoons you collected from vacations over the years, create a place to keep them where you’ll see them and enjoy them instead of boxed up. Or if you can upcycle some of the items you can’t let go of, at least the clothing/fabric/item will be displayed somehow and integrated into your life.
  5. Stuff Your Kids Made and Other Gifts
    1. This category is a little harder to purge. Too bad all schools don’t make all small project items out of compostable materials. This category varies greatly in how or what small items you want to keep. Personally, if you can take a picture of the item and discard the physical item, that would be the ideal situation.  Requesting no gifts is always a good start.
  6. Letters, Cards, Kids’ Paintings and Other Papers
    1. With schoolwork, paper items, awards, etc., I would scan or take a picture of these items and only keep the more important documents. You can create a small binder for each school that they go to so for instance, one binder could be for elementary school, one for middle school and one for high school. Ideally, as kids get older, paper keepsake items become less so the binders tend to be thinner. However, the binder will also give you a limitation of how much you can keep from each school as well.

We have a tendency to equate our memories with stuff, but when you carry so much stuff with you, and you never see it- how valuable is it really? Your memories will always be there; the event did happen. Although, if you have alzheimer’s or dementia- this point in my post would fall flat…

My point is that it’s really up to you.  The question is, what are you willing to keep and why. Don’t think of this process as being forced to get rid of everything all at once. Just imagine if you had to fit the most important sentimental items into a 56 quart storage container, what would you keep?

If you want, start out with two 56 quart storage containers, or whatever size container you can handle. Some people are more attached to their items and it will take some time to go through it all. As long as there’s progress, you’re headed in the right direction.

So go… go assemble your Alzheimer’s storage containers, full of memories that you chose to keep. Actually I don’t call my container my Alzheimer’s storage container, it’s just a box, but I do have an external hard drive that I call “My Ut-Oh HD”. It contains everything I ever took a picture of or scanned. It’s my life as a photographic archive. I have yet to screw up the hard drive, and if I do, and everything is erased from the hard drive AND I subsequently have some form of memory loss… maybe I’ll just be a cat. They seem happy and angry- it’s perfect.

The Simple Route To Less Trash

11.01.2016

0800

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The route to the zero waste lifestyle is quite simple. As you can see from the illustration above, this route can have nine stops along the way. Even with nine stops, some of these steps can be combined with one another being as the actions follow one another quite closely. The beginning of the journey is a little difficult because you’re still unprepared to get rid of your wasteful items and you haven’t bought items to replace the functional use. To prepare for this, I do suggest you examine what you ABSOLUTELY NEED in your daily routines and then find/purchase products that will compensate easily. Here is a simple outline of how you can get started:

  1. Simplify:
    Edit your belongings. Understand your true wants and needs. This can be in a list form or simply going through each day and examining each routine you go through.
  2. Refuse:
    Refuse single-use disposable items. That’s anything you use once and then dispose of it. This can easily be done because all you really have to do is say no.
  3. Bring your own:
    Have durables to keep single-use plastics away. Items like a reusable bag, straw, tumbler and water bottle. Always bring these items items wherever you go. I’ve been stuck a few times in situations where I did not pack all of my utensils (reusable cup, fork, spoon and metal straw) because I didn’t think I’d run into situations where I would need them.
  4. Whole Foods:
    Become resourceful with food by learning to make easy & quick meals from unprocessed and unpackaged foods. I like to make simple meals from whole produce combined with food I buy from the bulk bins. I don’t like spending a lot of time cooking, so my grocery list is pretty repetitive and simple.
  5. Compost:
    Separate your food waste! From backyard to warm composting, don’t let your food scraps go to the landfill! Composting is a great way to divert your foods waste and also create better soil for your garden.
  6. Buy Better & Repair:
    Buy less, buy better. Seek multifunctional, repairable, and lasting products.If you can learn one or two stitches with a needle and thread, you’d be surprised how much longer you can extend the life of your possessions.
  7. Recycle well:
    Recycling is good, but it’s not the solution. Reduce the amount you recycle by reducing  the amount you consume. This is a really good rule because although “recycling” seems like a solution, there’s still energy and resources being put into the recycling plants and not all “recyclable items” are 100% recyclable. Some items cannot be broken down and others have to be picked apart in order to extract the recyclable materials, which means the rest of the materials that made up the item will subsequently go to the landfill. The best solution here is to simply not rely on recycling alone.
  8. Use your voice:
    Kindly use your voice to express how you want products designed and recovered. Give companies businesses and manufacturers incentive to make the change! If you speak up, companies will listen. It may not feel like it or seem like it, but as a consumer, you have the choice to make each time you purchase any item. You’re voice speaks through your actions and that’s pretty loud.
  9. Support the community:
    Get to know your community. Shop local or start a community garden. You can walk, bike, bus, as a means of transportation too. I tend to shop at local stores because I don’t want to purchase items that are simple cookie cutter products. At times, yes, I will need a cookie cutter item such as a power strip or power cord, but majority of the time I don’t. Local businesses do need our support and voice to continue to let them thrive and flourish. Create a change- be the change.

Zero Waste Gift Options

 

10.27.2016

0800

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The gift of experiences, are, in my opinion- the best kinds. They’re my favorite gifts to give. They’re easy to wrap because no wrapping paper is needed and there’s no gift like it. See, when you give the gift of an experience, no memory can replace it and it’s not generically manufactured somewhere which somehow made it onto the store shelf that caught your attention. Everything about the gift of an experience is unique, from the sounds you hear, the smell in the air, the objects you encounter,  the people you’re surrounded by and perhaps in a split second, you’ll captured a memory that will forever live.

The reason why I own a limited number of possessions is due to the fact that I would rather spend my money on experiences and good  food. I’d rather keep my home clear of clutter and walk down to my downtown area and go out to dinner. I’d rather sit on the beach with friends after a day of surfing and then enjoying a hearty meal with great company. I’d rather go to the movies or go to a sporting event with family and friends. I’ve chosen to live my life by filling it with more experiences and with less stuff in the past 6 years. Although my “living with less” lifestyle became more refined with each passing year, this year, it has finally dwindled down to its most polished version.

I’ve used numerous websites to give gifts and to test out the gift of experiences method and they all seem to work quite smoothly. So  far I’ve used Groupon , Living Social as well as Ticketmaster. These are just the ones I’ve used and I’m sure there are many out on the internet that I’m not familiar with.

I really think the secret to this life is creating memories with one another. I don’t think humans were meant to be isolated or alone. We were always meant to talk and be stimulated my our experiences. We all laugh, love, care, express empathy and even cry. I encourage everyone to invest in giving the gift of experiences, you never know the value of the memories you’re going to create.

You can gift tickets to:

  • Sporting events ( football, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, baseball, etc.)
  • Theme parks (Great America, Raging Waters, Six Flags, Disneyland, etc.)
  • Outdoor experiences (pedle boating, wind sailing, kayaking, rowboats, canoes, skydiving, zip lining, rock climbing, trampoline time, golfing)
  • Gift card/money for food / drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinners, coffee / tea, desserts, wine bar, wine/beer tour)
  • Gift card/money for activities (cooking classes, yoga, spin class, kickboxing, zip lining)
  • Gift card/money for events (museums, concerts, festivals, fairs, movies)
  • Gift card/money to treat yourself (spa, massage, facial)

Here are some other Zero Waste Gift Options from other Zero Waste bloggers:

My Cat Is Not Zero Waste

09.21.2016

0800

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Trying to create zero trash for my cat is almost impossible. I’ve tried, but due to some medical conditions, it’s virtually impossible. I have a male cat and he was neutered when he was younger. Unfortunately, male cats who are neutered, are more prone to urinary tract infections and therefore, require special diet food that has a low sodium content. Also, in order for him to not develop another urinary tract infection, he needed fresh water constantly. We bought him a small drinking fountain which he helped himself to. These two requirements produced empty tin cans of cat UTI management food as well as charcoal filters.

As he aged, he developed Diabetes and requires insulin shots twice a day. This required insulin medication as well as insulin needles. He’s a large cat, but he’s always been a large cat so weight gain was his genetic default. Lucky for us, he’s always been an indoor and outdoor cat, so he always used the backyard as his giant toilet. But with him being an indoor and outdoor cat, he required flea medication. I’ve been asked “Why don’t you just make him an indoor cat? It would cut back on the flea medication trash that you produce.” But forcing an animal to stay inside when we clearly have outdoor roaming space for him seemed unnatural to me. I wanted him to roam free and go play outside when we weren’t home. So the diabetes and flea medication produced tin cans of glucose management food, insulin needles, insulin medication and the flea applicators.

Over the years, he also got into a few fights with other cats or raccoons that roamed the neighborhood. For those special occasions, he required medication and sometimes even surgery which produced trash as well. I usually return the pill bottles and jars to the veterinarian so they can dispose of it. I’m lucky that I live in an area that allows free medical waste dumping, and even if I didn’t, I know my veterinarian will collect the medical waste from his patients for a small fee.

As for toys, he never loved to play with a lot of toys. In fact, he really only likes his catnip pillow, shoelaces and metal chain necklaces . I had a catnip plant that I grew for him awhile back and once in awhile, I would dry the catnip leaves and compost the old catnip. I would then refill his pillow with new dry catnip. Unfortunately he liked it so much that he would lay on it and eventually crushed the life out of it. That too went into the compost bin. I’m lucky that he’s easily entertained. He also never wanted his own bed, he always just adopted any place in the house to sleep.

Facts:

  1. Urinary Tract Infection Medical History = Prescription Diet c/d canned food & Filtered water with charcoal filters
  2. Diabetes II Medical History= Glucose Management m/d canned food, insulin needles, insulin medication
  3. Indoor & Outdoor cat = Advantage Flea Medication BUT no litter box
  4. Entertainment = Catnip pillow, but I refill the catnip pillow with fresh catnip. He just likes to play with shoelaces and metal chain necklaces.

So the recyclable items that I do produce are the tin cans of UTI food and diabetic food. His insulin medication, insulin needles and other medications are also recycleable, but considered medical waste recycling. The charcoal filters and advantage flea medication are the items that do end up in the landfill. I actually have a separate jar of trash that comes from owning a cat. He also no longer uses the water fountain that used the charcoal filters, he requests fresh water from the faucet when he’s thirsty with a drawn out meow.

Trying to own a pet and not produce trash from them is quite difficult. I know this much, to take on a pet is a great amount of responsibility and it is not a simple responsibility to ignore. I am not a veterinarian and I do not know what nutrients he needs and the sufficient amount of each nutrient and vitamin, therefore I do not attempt to make cat food on my own. He has very few toys, only wants his catnip pillow, which I will stuff with fresh catnip and compost the old catnip.

I started this journey almost five years ago, so I’ve compiled a nice amount of Advantage Flea Medication applicators for cats as well as charcoal filters. He stopped using the water fountain about three years ago, so he hasn’t produced anymore trash from that. He probably won’t last through the end of this year, but it’s amazing to see how much owning a pet can add to your trash collection. Once you lay it all out and calculate the amount of trash that’s produced, it’s an eye opening realization of what you’re contributing to the landfill.

Zero Waste Coffee Routine

 

09.05.2016

0800

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I have a morning routine of drinking coffee and I enjoy it even more knowing that I buy my items in bulk without producing trash. I buy bulk coffee from Sprout’s Farmers Market, Whole Foods or Philz Coffee. I also buy bulk cane sugar from either Sprouts Market or Whole Foods as well. I then will purchase Organic Half & Half from Straus Family Creamery from Whole Foods Market, which I clean out and return to receive a voucher.

It’s a simple routine, but I do enjoy the simplicity of it. It’s also an easy clean up job which afterwards, I add the coffee grounds to my compost pile.

Sometimes You’ll Produce Trash

08.31.2016

0800

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There are times when producing trash is inevitable. Living a zero waste life and the steps leading up to an efficient zero waste lifestyle will produce at least some trash. One way or another, it’s not necessarily a crushing result. If you can find a way to get an efficient zero waste lifestyle routine without producing trash, then that’s great, but for those who are attempting it, and may get frustrated with the goal of ‘no trash’ in mind and yet that is the result; don’t be too hard on yourself.

When I started this journey, there were a lot of blog posts talking about how those people and households were living efficient zero waste lifestyles, but no one talked about the journey and mistakes it took to get there. I even wrote a blog post about what to do first if you want to start this lifestyle, Seven Tips To Begin A Zero Waste Life. I made mistakes as I started this journey as well. My mistakes included testing out products that were recommended, which I discovered to be inefficient, as well as starting out using one product and finding new, package-free versions of the product later on. I still haven’t found solutions for certain products such as my hair ties and am still on the hunt for certain ingredients in bulk to make certain condiments.

The whole point of this journey is to find that happy medium where you can live that efficient zero waste lifestyle and that you’re content with it. Moving forward and making progress is always good. Even if you don’t make great strides everyday. The desire is to at least take positive and productive steps towards this lifestyle. There will be critics, there will be naysayers, but progress is key. Keep growing and evolving as you venture further along this zero waste journey.

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.

Zero Waste Picnic

 

08.24.2016

0800

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The weather had been nice lately so I thought a picnic was in order before the summer ended. I didn’t pack too much, just enough to fill us up for a bit, but here is what I packed:

  1. Dish: Bean Salad
  2. Side Dish: Boiled potatoes with Nutritional Yeast
  3. Snacks: Wasabi Peas, Smoked Almonds, Olives
  4. Dessert: Peaches
  5. Drinks: Water

Whenever I go out on an outing, I like to pack some snacks so I won’t get hungry later on. Picnics are always a fun way to spend with family, friends, or new friends. Picnics are great when the weather is sunny and cool in temperature and there’s a clean area to set up camp. On this day, I packed a bean salad and boiled potatoes sprinkled with nutritional yeast as the main dishes. I also had some olives from the olive bar from Whole Foods. For snacks we had wasabi peas and smoked almonds and for dessert, we had some peaches.

All of the foods were purchased from the bulk section of the grocery store or in the non-packaged vegetables and fruit area. We used beach towels to sit on and to use the picnic blanket and because I forgot the plates, we ate off of the lids. Of course we ate all of the food so the ‘no plate’ rule wasn’t so bad.

Clutter Free Spaces

08.22.2016

0800

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It’s simple to keep clutter free spaces, but it means more than simply owning less. There’s a strategy and rules to live within to keep your spaces clutter free. It always looks easy, but even for veteran minimalists/zero wasters/tiny living folks, once in awhile- extra stuff creeps into your home. This may come during seasonal sales at stores, birthdays, holidays or maybe after coming home from a vacation. If you give yourself a set of rules, the decision to buy or not buy becomes easier and more clear. There can be even rules to consistently keep areas of your home clean and tidy. Here is my set of rules that I follow:

  1. Live within your means
    1. Let the size of your home dictate how much stuff you have, and not the other way around. If your closet is bursting at the seams, instead of dreaming of a bigger closet, why not try paring down your clothes to fit the space you have?
  2. Purge Often
    1. So set aside a time, a few times a year, to go through your things and get rid of the ones you don’t use anymore. You can even do this once a month or once every few months.
  3. Have a place and a purpose for everything
    1. ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place.’ Almost a cliche, but still some of the best organizing advice out there. If you have lots of things in limbo on tables or countertops or the floor and still haven’t been able to find a place for them, then maybe the answer is to purge it.
  4. Become a habitual putter-awayer
    1. I think the easiest way to make sure you put things away is just to do it, and then keep on doing it until it’s so habitual that you wouldn’t ever think of not doing it. When I accumulate items from around the house to use for a project, and I’m not done with the project yet, I’ll place the items next to the door. I do this so that on my way out to grab another tool/material, I pick up an item I know I can put away on the way to the room I’m headed towards. I do this or I gather all of the items that need to be put away by the door and then walk room to each room to put away each item to its rightful spot. It’s like ‘reverse shopping’, I’m just returning everything.
  5. Store items where you use them
    1. Be smart about where you store things. Store items by function and necessity. Not having to walk halfway across your home to put things away will make #4 that much easier.
  6. Stop clutter before it enters your home with a landing strip
    1. A landing strip consists of hooks and a small side table where you can place items immediately after walking in the door. Setting up a landing strip by the front door is useful because clutter has to come into your home somewhere, and you can stop it right at the source. This location can also be the location where you may place items you are thinking about returning, so that they may never find a place in your home.
  7. Go paper free
    1. Scanning all the documents you’ve been hanging onto may seem like a daunting task, but once you’re done, they’ll be easily searchable (plenty of apps, like Evernote, allow you to search scanned documents for certain words) and you’ll have that much less stuff to manage.
  8. Realize that life is about experiences, not things
    1. We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements that try to convince us that a happy life is all about having the latest stuff: a new car, an outdoor kitchen, an ice cream maker. But studies have shown, over and over that it isn’t the things in our lives that make us happy: it’s our experiences that we treasure most. So the next time you’re tempted to buy more stuff, ask yourself if the money wouldn’t be better spent on a vacation or a nice night out.
  9. Forgive yourself and try again
    1. Remember that nobody is perfect, and nobody’s home is perfect. Even the homes you see in the magazines aren’t perfect — it took a whole team of stylists to make them that way. Try to stick to these rules each day and before you know it, these rules will become habits and part of your day-to-day life.

Zero Waste Gifts

08.17.2016

0800

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I enjoy talking to people about the benefits of living a zero waste life. I enjoy it even more when they are also interested in transitioning to a zero waste life. When I do talk about this change, I like to help people jump-start their momentum into the routine of zero waste grocery shopping, so I usually gift jars with handmade produce bags. This is the reason why I sew so many, so I can give them away.

Talking about the lifestyle and the transition is a lot for one conversation. There a lot of areas in life to tackle and to hope that a stranger will pick up on all of the details in one conversation is unreasonable.  This is why my gift of the handmade produce bags and jars specifically pertain to the grocery shopping task. It’s much easier to help them jump start their zero waste life with examples of what I use than to list a bunch of tasks to do- all at once. Tackling each area and room is going to be a big enough task, this is my way of easing them into the bulk grocery shopping.

And some people will not transition completely for a long time. Some may only be able to bulk grocery shop with certain items and may have to produce trash. This maybe due to medical reasons, physical location or perhaps resources aren’t available. Either way, a small change is still a change. As long as each person continues to move forward with their transition, it’s a point for the win column.

If you want some other Zero Waste Gift Options to get conversations started, check these out:

Biking Transportation vs. Vehicle Transportation

 

08.04.2016

0700

THIS:

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OR THIS?

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Commuting has always been off and on during certain increments throughout my life.  In the past year, it has become more integrated and I’ve adapted to it on a daily basis. I don’t have to commute very far, nor do I stay in traffic for very long. I actually enjoy the drive in the mornings and evenings. I drive against the main flow of traffic, so I’m very lucky that I don’t get stuck in traffic a lot. However, I prefer to not drive on my days off. There comes a point when I like to limit my driving so I’m forced to use my bicycle instead. When I was in high school, I biked everywhere as transportation. I only started borrowing my mom’s car when I was a senior in high school. Driving never appealed to me the way it may to some others. There was a level of freedom that vehicles do give us, but there’s an entirely new  kind of freedom when you set forth on a bicycle.

With a bike, there are trails and paths you’re allowed to explore where cars cannot go and with bikes, you can go down the back roads a lot and explore your city. Plus, the cost of maintaining a bike is so much less than a vehicle, that part of my love for biking comes from that wallet breaker. There are no yearly costs to maintain your bike or gas to pay for when using a bike. Once in a while there may be maintenance or upgrades you may want to add you your bike, but overall, it’s a simple for of transportation.

There are always risks to transportation, as well as everything else in life. Bikes are not as easily visible by larger vehicles, and not everyone catches the glimpse of a biker in their side mirror when they’re about to make that turn down a side street. However, if you are aware of your surroundings and the habits of drivers, just know that they may not see you. Bikes are also easier to steal it seems and some can be a hot commodity in certain cities. If I could, I’d bike to work, but it’s a bit of a route and I haven’t attempted it yet. I still vote for biking overall.

So here’s a simple list of why I do prefer biking over vehicles:

1) It’s easier to finance a new bicycle than a new car. Thanks to the recession, auto loans are hard to find these days — even if you have good credit. But for the price of a single car payment, you can buy a well-made bicycle that should outlast most cars. Add a few hundred dollars more for rain gear, lights and accessories, and you have all-weather, anytime transportation.

2) A bicycle has a tiny manufacturing footprint when compared to a car. All manufactured goods have environmental impact, but bicycles can be produced for a fraction of the materials, energy and shipping costs of a car.

3) Bicycles produce no meaningful pollution when in operation. Bikes don’t have tailpipes belching poisonous fumes into the atmosphere. They also eliminate the oil, fuel and hydraulic fluids dropped by automobiles onto the road surface — which means less toxic runoff into local waterways.

4) Bikes save taxpayers money by reducing road wear. A 20-pound bicycle is a lot less rough on the pavement than a two-ton sedan. Every bicycle on the road amounts to money saved patching potholes and resurfacing city streets.

5) Bicycles are an effective alternative to a second car. Perhaps you’re not in a position to adopt a bicycle as primary transportation. But bikes make great second vehicles. You can literally save thousands of dollars a year using a bicycle for workday commuting and weekend errands in households which might otherwise be forced to maintain two cars.

6) Using a bike for transportation can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. The health benefits of regular aerobic exercise are well-known. Depending on your riding style and local road conditions, you could easily burn 600 calories an hour through brisk cycling. Most bike commuters report losing 15 to 20 pounds during their first year in the saddle without changing their eating habits.

7) You can store a dozen bicycles in a single automobile-sized parking place.Parking lots have enormous environmental and financial impact, particularly in urbanized areas. The more bikes you can get on the road, the fewer parking spaces you need to build.

8) Bicycles don’t burn gasoline. Fuel is cheap compared to last year, and the economic downturn is likely to keep a lid on petroleum demand for a while. But we’re not producing any more oil today than we were when it was more than $100 a barrel. A healthy bike culture will help ease pressure on supply once demand returns.

9) Bicycling may be faster and more efficient than taking a car. We’re not talking about the crazy — and illegal — antics of New York bicycle messengers. But bikes are often faster than cars in urban areas, especially when city designers have set aside proper bike lanes. There’s nothing more satisfying as a bicycle commuter than breezing past a long line of gridlocked traffic.

10) Bikes cost much less to maintain and operate than automobiles. You’ll never throw a rod on a bicycle, and dropping a transmission on a bike usually means replacing a bent derailleur hanger or worn-out chain. Bicycles do require service, but you can learn to perform most of it yourself. Even if you have a shop do things for you, costs will be trivial compared to a car.

11) Bicycles provide mobility for those who may not qualify or afford to drive.Not everyone can get a driver’s license (or wants one), and the cost of purchasing, insuring and maintaining a car is out of reach for a lot of people. Almost everyone can afford some sort of bike. Other than walking, bicycles are the most cost-effective transportation on the planet.

12) Studies show that bicycle commuters are healthier, more productive, and require less time off at work. This is why most enlightened employers are eager to accommodate commuting cyclists. Healthy workers are better workers — and that’s good for the bottom line. Bikes are smart business.

Repairing Versus Buying

 

08.01.2016

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Taking my items to a shop to have it repaired was not a common task in my household when I was younger. As I moved further and further into this zero waste lifestyle, it was inevitable that I would go to one eventually.

My decision to own less, meant that I did not own all of the tools necessary to fix every issue I had in my life, this included, auto, clothing, electronics and household items. I started exploring repair shops around my town so at least I had some knowledge of what was available to me.

When I was cleaning one day, one of my new thrift shop purchases, my black heels, fell and the heel tip shattered. I was disappointed because I really had not owned them for very long. I took it to a repair shop and it was a quick and cheap fix! I told a few friends about my visit and they all came up with the same question: Why didn’t you just go buy a new one if the heel tip was that easy to break off?

That was  a great question and I’ve realized that owning a capsule wardrobe meant that each piece I owned was very valuable now. Each piece played a critical role in my overall wardrobe and I knew that it was my fault that the heel tip shattered due to my carelessness. I think when it comes to smaller items, it might be worth the effort to get the item repaired at a small shop, but for the bigger items, there’s more at stake.

For instance, I was hypothetically challenged to a situation where I had a broken residential washer and dryer, would I still repair costly items such as those, or dump them and purchase a new set?

My answer was simple. I will repair a product unless the repair would essentially cost as much as a new version of that same product. Although dumping a product is not something I like to do, in certain situations, it’s the most logical answer. If I truly love the product, and let’s say the repair costs at least 50% of the original price, I still would repair it. I’ve encountered this situation with my current car that I own. It’s a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser and although the repairs to this thing can be costly, it has at least 79,000 miles left on it before I’m willing to throw in the towel. I’m still willing to pay the price for this car because logically, there’s really nothing wrong with it other than wear and tear maintenance. Now, if a car repair costs $12,000 in one bill, then yea I’ll probably scrap it and call it a day.

I still stand by the option of repairing items before buying a new version in most cases. I think the repair shops are happy with new customers and overall I enjoy exploring new repair shops and understanding the specialties of what these shops can do.

No Batteries Please

 

07.27.2016

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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

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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

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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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