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.
It’s interesting how we pick up habits from our parents or other figures in our lives. When the rain season comes, my mother has always wrapped an old towel across her car mats to absorb the extra water that would get dragged in by everyday use. To this day, I’ll see her break out the towels around the middle of October.
As for me, I never cared for my floor mats in my car. I honestly never liked my car. The car was bought without my input and I was stuck with it thereafter. But recently I did get new car mats, along with a new car, and since I didn’t want to drag a bunch of water into my car, I too, wrapped my car mats in towels. But I soon realized that the towels would get tugged and moved around from the daily use of them. I had to solve this issue. I didn’t want to constantly re-tuck the towels under my car mats, because sometimes they were already dirty and wet.
The front floor mats were a large size and I knew that bath towels would be a perfect fit. I decided to make some towel sleeves for my car mats. Since my carpet in my car is black, I knew I had to find black towels to create my towel sleeves. With the towels sleeves, it would be easier to catch the dirt and rocks that would be brought into my car, and the towels would be easy to clean, since all I had to do was take off the sleeves and throw them into the washing machine.
I found two bath towels that were 52″ long by 30″ wide. Since my front floor mats are about 31″ long and 21″ wide, I only needed the width of the floor mat sleeves to be about 22″ wide. the size of these bath towels would give me 26″ width. I didn’t mind if the towel wasn’t long enough to cover the length of my floor mat because the mat could stick out a little bit.
I folded the towel in half, length-wise and pinned the edges together, to prepare for the sewing process.
I wanted to leave one of the shorter edges open, so I could slide my floor mats in and out easily. In one continuous line, I sewed along the yellow arrows (in the picture below). For the corners of the towel, where the material was thicker, I angled the long sew line and continued on. I then went back and hand stitched the corners, so they would stay together better.
As you can see, the folded towel was still large enough to fit over my floor mat, and there was still extra room.
I placed each of the front floor mats into my car, and folded the edges underneath the floor mats accordingly. You don’t have to fold them under, but I chose to.
For the rear seat floor mats, I found eight hand towels to create the set in my car. My rear seat floor mats are 24″ long, by 16″ wide, so I found hand towels that were 26″ long and 16″ wide. The sewing process for these floor mat sleeves follows the previous steps for the front seat floor mat sleeves.
I stacked two hand towels on top of each other, making sure that the tag was facing inwards for both towels. I then sewed along the yellow arrows around the towels. I left one of the long edges open because I wanted to slide the floor mat in easily. For the corners of the hand towel sleeves, I angled the long, linear sew line to complete the stitch, and then I went back to each corner and stitched them together carefully. My machine doesn’t like it when the material gets too thick, because it can’t pass under the needle easily.
These rear seat floor mats had a lot of extra room around the edges, so I knew that I might have extra floor coverage.
This size hand towel seems to accommodate different car brands and the mats still fit really well within the parameters.
Now, when I need to clean my floors, I’ll just remove the floor mats from the towel sleeves and either wash them or shake them out. I might have to vacuum the edges, but that doesn’t take long at all. These towel sleeves makes my life a bit easier, by allowing me to keep my floor mats clean, and that’s always a good perk.
3-4 Cotton Handkerchiefs, pattern or color of your choice (Note: if you tend to use makeup/liquids that are oil or wax based, the substance will leave a slight film on the fabric, over time)
When I started eliminating single use products out of my life, I really had no need to replace all of the products with reusable ones. But as we all know, life changes, and we adapt to it. Years ago, I had used single use, cotton rounds to remove makeup and nail polish. When I transitioned to a minimalist zero waste lifestyle, I eliminated nail polish from my life and only used vegan makeup. My vegan makeup removal process does not require cotton pads to remove the makeup, just soap and water.
Recently, I was gifted a facial skin care kit and I had no cotton pads to use with it. So now, in order to use the gift, I needed to prepare beforehand, and sew a pack of reusable facial cotton pads.
So for this project, I took a shortcut in which, I used a few handkerchiefs I already had. I knew I only needed rectangular cotton pads about 2″ x 1″, just wide enough to hold across my three fingers when using them.
I know that the makeup industry standard is to use “cotton rounds”, but when I broke down the division of my handkerchiefs, it was easier to make cotton ‘rectangles’ instead. I took each handkerchief and divided it in half, then divided those pieces in half, and then divided those pieces in half, until I broke down my handkerchief into small squares, about 2″x 2″. These squares will be folded in half and sewed into rectangles. This way, the cotton pads with have two fabric layers.
Technically, the final size of the cotton pads is up to you, because if you end up with a larger square, that only means you get to use a larger rectangle surface to use on a day to day basis.
So I took one of my handkerchiefs and folded it in half and cut it. I then folded the rectangles in half, which resulted in large squares. I folded the large squares in half and then folded those rectangles in half to create the small squares.
Using my iron and ironing mat, I folded each small square in half, to create the crease for the cotton pads. This crease is where the rectangle shape starts to form, and to save time, I would iron the pieces four at a time.
In order for me to iron four cotton pads at the same time, I placed four cotton rectangles in a square formation, in which the edges were placed inward and then I would iron the creases across the mat.
I used my sewing machine to sew the open edges together and I chose to use the zigzag stitch and a universal needle for this project.
The most common use of a zigzag stitch is to enclose raw edges as a seam finish. As a seam finish, one edge of the stitch is sewn off the edge of the fabric so that the threads of the fabric are enclosed within the threads of the zigzag stitch and the fabric is unable to fray because of the zigzag stitch.
Be sure to sew in from the edge slightly. Then, trim away the excess beyond the zigzag, making sure not to clip into any of the stitching. You can also use two rows of zigzag for extra “fray-stopping” power.
I started my sew line from one open end of the fabric, and continued around the open edges.
I like to tie off my thread ends, but you can reverse the stitch so that it your sewing machine creates a back stitch. In other words, while you’re sewing the last leg of the fabric edge, slow down the speed of the stitch by backing off of the pedal. Slow to a speed in which you can spot each needle point going into your fabric. If you can learn to anticipate where the needle will land, then you’ll be able to get as close to the end of your sew path and create a tighter back stitch for your projects. So, as you get closer to the end of your sew path, press the Back Stitch Lever, and hold it down, so that the direction will reverse. When you’re satisfied with the length of the back stitch, let go, and the machine should continue to push your fabric back to the original direction. (Try to get as close as possible to the end of the sew path before reversing the stitch.)
Personally, I would only reverse the direction for about half an inch. Don’t go back too far, since this is such a small piece of fabric. This back stitch will lock in your stitch. Then simply trim the thread, and you’re done.
I brought home an empty coffee creamer container from work, since I liked the shape. I knew that this project was coming up, so I thought it would be a good container for my reusable facial cotton pads.
So there it is, this is how I created my reusable facial cotton pads. I hope that this post may inspire you to eliminate single use personal care accessories in your bathroom.
Zero Waste Week is almost 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 second 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!
Each day has a theme of Zero Waste which focuses on different aspects of creating less waste. For Zero Waste Week 2018, I listed the topic for each day and I linked some of my blog posts that pertain to each topic
September 3, 2018, DAY 1
We will be discussing the difference between ‘necessary’ and unnecessary plastics. The amount of plastic polluting the ocean is astounding. By 2050,plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish, predicts a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum. Herare a few past blog posts which explain how and why I became very conscientious about my purchases.
Auditing our daily personal care routine! Plastic containers in the bathroom are nothing new. However, because we use bathroom items so frequently, the amount of plastic containers we go through can be unnerving when you look at the statistics. As the zero waste movement has caught on, more stores are offering bulk bathroom items and refill stations. If you want to read about some of my zero waste bathroom blog posts, check them out below.
Plastics in the kitchen and food packaging seem to be a huge problem for those starting out on their zero waste journey. To make your kitchen zero waste, can be quite challenging. Creating a zero waste kitchen took time and trial and error in my own experience. To read more about the challenges I faced, check out the blog posts below.
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 method in the link 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. As long as the effort and awareness of product consumption is considered on a day to day basis, reducing trash is inevitable. 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 if you want to read about my journey and how I got started, you can read that here in, How I Got Started. 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 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.
Growing up Halloween has always been representative of dressing up and going out at night to trick-or-treat. As a kid, Halloween was a fun holiday for me because if all the free candy we would receive as we went out at night to go trick-or-treating. I didn’t grow up with much candy in my household so Halloween also meant that I would get to stock up on a large amount but I also had to ration my favorite candy pieces to last for awhile.
When I moved towards a zero waste lifestyle this holiday became slightly tricky. A lot of the joy I experienced came with the inevitable result of producing trash. All of the small wrappers of the individually wrapped candy pieces added up to a lot of trash. I wanted to figure out how to celebrate this holiday but still practice my zero waste lifestyle.
There are three areas of each holiday I like to tackle: decorations, food and entertainment. For Halloween, you can decorate your spaces using
Reusable fall and Halloween decorations which you can pull out each year
Use dried leaves from trees in a bowl or a jar. I usually string rope across areas of rooms and I’ll hang up the leaves using clothespins.
Use fresh fruit or vegetables as edible decor such as pumpkins and then once the holiday is over, you can even make delicious dishes using thm
You can arrange twigs and fall leaves in a vase
You can tie pieces of sticks together and create a wreath to decorate with colorful leaves
Any decoration that is compostable or reusable is a great option
Food options can vary due to location, seasonal fruits and vegetables available.
Look for seasonal fruits and vegetable to make dishes with
Some seasonal vegetables to keep an eye out for: pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, sweet potatoes
Some seasonal fruit to look for: cranberries, apples, pomegranates, and grapes
Bulk candy is also a great way to sneak in sweets during this holiday. A lot of bulk candy locations have a variety of options from chocolates to sour candies. The grocery stores I frequent have these options but my local movie theater has the name brand candy in bulk, that I love to eat as well.
For Trick-Or-Treaters, consider handing out non-candy options. I’m still a big believer in feeding a child’s creativity so some of these items on the list are geared more towards art than just toys. During this season, children are usually in school, so if you hand out items they can use during school, it’ll also benefit the children. Here are some options other than candy, that you can hand out:
I hope this list is helpful in creating a zero waste Halloween. If you choose to adopt only one of these ideas, you’re still helping the environment by creating less waste. It’s a step away from the standard Halloween traditions but it’s a more environmentally friendly outline for this holiday. Have a great Halloween!
This hack has been published before, but I made these years ago and I thought I would share it. Depending on the type of material the tank tops are made out of, the bags may be better used for carrying smaller and lighter items. These tank top bags stretch well, so a lot of items can fit into these bags.
First I turned the tank tops inside out and hemmed the bottom of the tank tops. I pinned the hemmed edge using sewing pins and tied off the thread ends.
I turned the tank tops inside out and that’s about it. Using the straps of the tank tops as the handles, the tank tops become small bags.
These are really simple and quick solutions if you have extra tank tops or shirts that you may not want to get rid of. For t-shirts, just remove the sleeves, and hem the existing openings of the shirts and you can use the collar opening to fill up the t-shirt bags. You can always repurpose items into useful items. Living a zero waste life doesn’t necessarily mean to live with only glass or aluminum items, it also means to repurpose items so that you won’t purchase unnecessary items as well. Considering where materials are foraged for the products we use, and how much clothing is donated each year, sometimes repurposing clothing just seems to fit better for some memorable pieces. It’s the reason why I tend to repurpose clothing items when I can.
For the clothing items that mean more to you than others, consider making it part of a quilt or a bag or even a pillow cover. You’ll be able to hold onto the items, and they will also serve another purpose as its initial purpose may have expired.
In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. The EPA estimates that diverting all of those often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road. Trashing the clothes is also a huge waste of money. Nationwide, a municipality pays $45 per ton of waste sent to a landfill.
Design is ever changing. It evolves, grows up, mutates and sometimes dies. As someone who consistently designs functions for different objects, and re-designs those function issues, I’ll come across methods that are better for the product itself. It never stops. As people grow in the sense of mentally, physically, emotionally, we will change our habits and routines. Sometimes it’s based on a simple scheduling issue, sometimes it’s a physical disability that we all the sudden need to integrate into our routines. Maybe our routines change due to new people coming into our lives and that includes children and adults.
For these many reasons, I re-visit many of my design ideas. I re-visit them as often as I can. know that I’m designing from my own perspective and from what I know, but I also know that there’s a whole different world out there who may not have the same resources or the same materials readily available.
So let us take a walk down memory lane… and we’ll re-visit some of my old blog posts and some updates I have for this one.
In addition to my Car Hacks blog post, I had to add one small change. I actually learned this from my mom, but since it made sense, I started doing this as well. It’s very simple. IF you have the room, it’s easy to organize you’re items using boxes in your truck. I have two different sized boxes so that when I go grocery shopping, I can place my bulk liquid items in the smaller box and I know that they won’t spill on the drive home. I use the bigger box for larger bulk items and even for my take out food containers. It’s nice that the smaller box fits well inside of the larger box and I can limit the movement of the objects when in motion.
For the front of the car, I actually looped an S-Hook through the rope that I exists from that original Car Hacks post. The S-Hook allows me to hang my purse when I need to as well as smaller bags that may roll around. When I brought my lunch to work, I would hang my bag from this hook, and (thank goodness for the consistency of gravity) my food never spilled or toppled over. I really like this hack.
At my work desk, which I wrote here, Work Desk Essentials, I now changed items out and the final setup is a jar of bulk green tea, and a jar of raw almonds and dried cranberries. I have one extra jar in case I run to a grocery store to grab some hot food from the hot foods bar. My coffee tumbler is by Contigo and it has a 20 oz capacity.
On my desk… I now keep a set of utensils, tea infuser, lip balm and hair bracket in a bag. In the other bag I keep my earphones and phone charger together too. I carry a handkerchief now and store it along with my napkin. I use my leftover Aquaphor to help me moisturize my skin during the winter.
In my shoulder bag, I now carry a pair of chopsticks and a handkerchief along with my set of utensils and cloth napkin. Although when I air travel, I will replace the metal utensils for my bamboo set (knife, fork, spoon). My coffee tumbler is also by Contigo who has an excellent spill proof lock.
These are only a few design hacks that I keep revisiting. As a designer, your perception of a good design always changes and it take a few trial designs to settle one final design. also, as life moves on and time marches on, your routines and needs will change- so your designs will have to adapt.
Leftover t-shirt sleeves from the shirts you planned to make into a t-shirt quilt
So I started making a T-shirt quilt for my brother and one for my mother. For my brother, I used his old t-shirts and for my mother, I took a few of my childhood t-shirts as well as some of hers, and combined them into her quilt.
After trimming the shirts for the quilts, I had leftover fabric which I sewed into gift bags, however, I ran out of shoelace to use as the drawstrings. These gift bags are for giving away to those who may want them, and I don’t suggest to use these bags for bulk grocery shopping due to the elasticity of the way t-shirts are sewn together. I usually use bedsheets to make the reusable bulk shopping bags because their thread count is higher and it’s a denser assembly. The left over fabric included the t-shirt collars, the sleeves of the shirts and extra fabric from certain shirts which only had print on one side.
I hadn’t figured out what to do with the collar portions, so I set them aside. However, with the pile of sleeves, I thought I would make odd shaped reusable gift bags out of them. I knew that even if I sewed the pairs of sleeves together, the gift bags would be lopsided. Then again, with the odd shape to the gift bags, maybe it would be easier to hide the shape of the gift inside. So I basically paired up the sleeves and sewed the wide ends together, and closed off one of the open ends.
Once I finished sewing the gift bags made from the sleeves, I ended up with pentagon shaped gift bags. These bags were not expected but they didn’t turn out too bad, I actually like the odd shape that they ended up becoming. I’ve never used this type of fabric for this kind of use, so this was all a new journey for me. However, if you don’t have shoelaces available or have extra t-shirts lying around, you can make your own drawstrings to use.
Drawstring for the bags:
Since I ran out of the shoelace that I usually use, I had to figure out a way to still create a drawstring for these bags. So I took a sleeve piece and started creating a cut line that spiraled around the sleeve. I started at the seam edge of the sleeve (which usually is located on the bottom of the sleeve), and started cutting upwards. I started here because as I spiraled around the sleeve, I knew I would cut through the thread that held the shirt sleeve together and by starting at the seam, it would look like a cleaner cut. I wanted the width of each string to be about 1/2″ so I just continued to cut around around the sleeve, keeping in mind the width of the fabric until I ran out of sleeve to cut . With t-shirt fabric, when the fabric is cut, it tends to curl in on itself so that was the goal behind choosing the 1/2″ width. The fabric piece would curl in just enough to fit through the sleeve cuff to create a drawstring.
(sorry for the blurry picture, but you get the idea)
So with the different parts of the t-shirts and long sleeve shirt I had used to create the t-shirt quilts. I ended up with a few long and tall gift bags, a bunch of square/rectangular bags and a handful of pentagon shaped gift bags. I actually really like the pentagon shaped bags, I didn’t know they’d turn out like that. It was a nice surprise after all the work was done. I hope this post might inspire or help those who might embark on the same journey.
If you want to check out some other options for eco-friendly gift wrapping, check out these gift wrapping ideas from these other bloggers:
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?”
Ask yourself: What is the ideal life you want to live from now on?
Think of your ideal life, this is why you are tidying your place
Take all of the items out to examine each one
Pick up each item- Does it spark joy?
Thank each item that does not spark joy, then release it
If you are unsure- Does it spark enough joy to take the extra step to care for it?
Hang long and heavy items on Left side of closet –> Right side of closet which is short and thing items
Fold clothes so they stand vertically in your dressers, so that they are all visible at a glance
Separate those that spark joy verses those that do not
Separate total disposal papers verses total necessity
Sort for each person (Keep File & Pending File for each person)
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:
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.)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I personally dislike using a lot of appliances in my kitchen. The less appliances I have, the more kitchen counter space I tend to save. I’m also not one for buying appliances that very specific uses. I prefer appliances that vary in uses such as a toaster oven, which can toast bread, bake small dishes and grill small amounts of food at a time. I also prefer appliances that are hand powered or are designed in a way that the kitchen tool can sustain its use if I walk away. For instance, my French Press is one of my favorite kitchen tools because it will keep my coffee hot for up four hours. I can take my time and sip and enjoy my coffee knowing that there’s more in my pot that’s still hot.
Part of the reason why I prefer kitchen tools that are powered by hand is due to the fact that I usually know how to fix them easily. If it’s an electrical appliance, I’m not sure how to approach fixing it. If the appliance needs a wire re-attached, I can fix that- but if it malfunctions on any other level, I doubt I’d be able to fix it.
Living a zero waste life also means that when I need to use a certain kitchen tool, and I don’t own it- I have to improvise. Granted, sometimes the improvised version of the kitchen tool takes longer to get the task done, but it WILL get the job done. Honestly, sometimes I only need to use the kitchen tool once, so that’s why I don’t go out to buy it. I use a stove, toaster oven and an electrical hand blender; those are the appliances I own. I don’t use a microwave because I heat items up in my toaster oven. Owning a total of two appliances helps in the fact that I only need to maintain those two.
A few of my non electrical kitchen tools are:
Wine Bottle Opener
A few of my substitute kitchen tools include:
Wine Bottle, used as a rolling-pin
Pyrex bowls, used as a nut grinder
Colander , used as a flour sifter
I’m simply not a fan of using multiple appliances that will end up using a lot of electricity. As long as I have the basic essentials, then I’m more content with my kitchen. It also boils down to the fact that I don’t want the responsibility to have to maintain multiple appliances yearly.
So there are a few ways I organize my boots. Over the years, I’ve played around with different set ups of how to hang boots. If you’ve read my blog, you might have read that I hate having items on the floor, I just don’t like clutter on my floor.
For those who own tall boots, you’ll know the issue of your boots folding over when they’re standing upright. I deal with this issue by hanging them up.Using my current pant rack in my closet system, I clip large binder clips to join the sets of boots together and then I’ll attach a metal ring to the binder clip. With this method, I attached the rings to a carabiner that hangs from one of the pant racks. I also tried splitting up the pairs of boots to hang from separate carabiners too.
The metal carabiners were slipping easily from the pant racks so I switched out the carabiners with velcro straps. The velcro straps created more friction so the boots stayed in place easier.
Another method I tried to use was to hang the boots from my existing shelf. I screwed a few screws to the interior of the lip of the shelf and hung the boots from there. If you own a metal over-the-door-shoe rack, the boots can also be hung from there with this technique.
With the idea of hanging boots using adjustable Velcro, you can pretty much hang sets of boots anywhere. the idea is to keep them organized and not loose their shape so that you can continue to extend their lives. This is how I organize my boots, maybe it’ll help you as well.
So it seems that regardless of how I go about wanting to own a cute clutch or a simple clutch, it never seems to pan out for me. I always seemed to struggle between the super compact concept of a thin wallet and a clutch large enough to hold the rest of the items I need to carry around to make my life “convenient” (ie. my eyeglasses, lotion, charging cords, nail filer, lip balm, etc.). As a teenager, I always obsessed over different wallet and purse designs. As time moved on the trendy style of a large clutch and even larger purses became more popular and I couldn’t adapt. At one point I gave up, I figured that I would have a wallet and the rest of my crap would be thrown into my bag and I’d spend a good part of my day-to-day life digging around in it to find items I needed.
About two years ago, I persisted once more to find the perfect clutch for myself, and it came in the form.. of a fabric pencil case. Now as a designer I am supposed to be trained to look beyond what’s presented in front of me to see the potential in the object, and with this pencil case, I knew I had found my answer. But in order to make this pencil case work as a clutch, it needed my personal touch.
I utilized the walls of the pencil case due to the fact that once you add in a layer of fabric, you can create built-in pockets into the walls of your pencil case easily. When I created the pocket on one of the walls, I used a piece of fabric that I had already divided into smaller compartments. The reason why I used a wall of compartments as a wall pocket creator was because of the fact that I knew I’d carry around small “intimate” items and I needed a place for these. This compartment was going to help me separate my intimate items versus my practical items.
So on one side of my clutch, holds my coin purse, and credit cards and within the other wall holds my ear buds (not pictured- I leave them at work now) and my phone charger. And if you’re looking that the images, yes, I wrap my cards with an elastic band with a ring attached to it. I’ve tried so many different wallets and I’ve been unhappy with all of them, so it has come down to a simple piece of elastic and a metal ring. I’m quite picky about what holds my cards, and if it feels too bulky or is inconvenient to pull my cards out quickly and put them away quickly, most likely I won’t be happy with it.
Within the center divide where I had created tiny compartments, I keep my makeup. Where the pencil case widens and you can see the entire bottom of the case, I keep my eyeglasses there along with a small container of lotion. This seems like a horrible idea to keep my eyeglasses in that location, but the width of the lotion jar keeps the glasses from getting crushed as well as my comb that I keep along the other wall. I also keep my eyeliner pencil alongside my comb because it’s too big for the compartments.
To make this object even more convenient for myself, I attached an elastic band along one side of the clutch. If when I’m gripping my clutch and I happen to almost drop it, I can always catch it easily with the band still wrapped around my hand. I don’t like to hold objects, and this elastic band is also a way I reassure myself that if I’m not paying attention, I won’t accidentally leave it in a public place. And as always, I attached a ring and carabiner to it, so that it can hang on the inside of my shoulder bag. This pencil case/clutch always hangs vertically wherever I go so it seems that my eye glasses never get crushed.
So there it is, my pencil case/clutch/bag of everything. I honestly really am finally happy that I found an answer for myself and no clutch seemed to satisfy my lengthy checklist of needs. I also chose this pencil case due to its material- it’s easily washable.
Sometimes re-defining what you need versus what you see is all it takes to find the answer that you’ve been looking for. In my case, I know it’s not the most attractive clutch, but what I was looking for was not just a clutch, but one that was so convenient to my lifestyle- I’m not sure it exists. If I find a better pencil case that has a more attractive exterior, perhaps I’ll work on re-designing that one.
I love making my life convenient. “Convenient” can be defined by individuals in different ways and it really comes down to how much energy are you willing to put forth in any task. I like the convenience of pushing a button and the task I desire has started and is running on it’s own.
One of the conveniences I’ve created in my life are my power strip locations. I really dislike plugging in a charger into a wall. Perhaps it’s the height of the outlet or the fact that I have to shove the prongs into the outlet in order for it to take, but either way- I’ve never been a fan. I also don’t like to leave my items plugged in all day, so a power strip makes sense for me.
The act of pushing one button to run my life is a dream come true for me, the less work it takes to run my life- the better. Also, the convenience of having a few power strip locations helps me divide the items I charge up during different tasks. And it’s convenient for my friends and family when they come over and need to charge their phones or laptops.
I charge my phone next to a shelf, which is near my bed. I don’t like to place items on surfaces in my home because the surfaces tend to gather dust quickly. But due to the location of the closest available outlet, I was forced to lay my phone on the floor, which is something I prefer not to do. One reason for that is that I like to keep my floor clear and free of any clutter and I don’t like to reach all the way to my floor in the early morning to turn off my alarm (I’d probably be searching for it for a good 10 minutes).
This brought me to my solution of hanging a power strip underneath the shelf and a small bag to hold my cell phone while it’s plugged in. I also thread the power cord through the handle that makes up the hanging bag so that the cord will stay in place. I made the bag from an old pair of denim jeans and shoelace. I simply plug in my phone and push a button to activate the power strip. In the morning, I just turn off the power strip. Essentially this is an elaborate extension cord, but there’s no struggle with pulling my charger out of the outlet or otherwise. I simple push a button now.
I know this hack has been advertised before, but I also attach a power strip to my bookshelf. I actually attach this power strip to the back of one of my shelves. I’ve seen power strips attached to the outside of bookshelfs, but I try to limit the amount of items poking out of the sides of bookshelves due to the fact that bookshelves are great space savers if you can place it up against a flat surface. If I had the choice and was trying to place a vertical power strip, I’d try to move it to the interior of the shelf structure. This book shelf power strip is usually used for my camera gear, laptop and other various electronics.
In an earlier post, titled Always Consider Gravity, I wrote about my consideration of gravity when it came to organizing my spaces. This consideration also applies to individual items and each system that’s working within it.
Consider my purse/shoulder bag. I carry a few items in my shoulder bag that needs to be organized easily. I specifically choose this bag due to it’s height and the materials it was made with. However, the reason why I needed a tall shoulder bag was for the fact that I would be carrying around items that were tall in height, and if I used a bag that sat horizontally- I would be constantly digging through my bag to find items. With this bag, I can eliminate the digging around part and not waste time.
I always attach rings to the interior framework of my bags. I always have carabiners attached to everything I carry around so it makes sense that I create a spot for them to be attached to. For this reason, I usually will have at least two rings attached inside the frame of my bag.
Nowadays, I seem to always carry around a set of utensils, a coffee tumbler, water bottle, cell phone, keys and my wallet. There are days when I may leave the coffee tumbler and utensils at home, depending on my activity for the day. For the most part, I will always have my wallet, cell phone, keys and water bottle with me. I usually hook my wallet and keys together on one ring and on the other ring will be my water bottle and utensils. Because the water bottle is heavy compared to the combined weight of my other items, it usually gets it’s own ring. The extra bag that’s attached to the same ring as my water bottle is the bag I carry my utensils in. It’s also the bag I will carry my lunch in during the workweek. I don’t like to carry an external bag for lunches because I don’t like to carry items in my hand. If there is no other choice, I’ll carry items by hand, but I prefer my hands to be free. So during the work week, I’ll pack my breakfast, lunch and a smoothie into that bag for each day I go to work. On the weekends, that bag tends to be less utilized.
In a way I’ve divided my bag up into the “food” end or “all the other stuff” end. I’ve always organized the inside of my purses and bags this way and it seems to work. I organized my backpack similar to this method during graduate school and also during undergrad; partly because I like my bags organized and partly because as an art & design student, you carry a lot of stuff to class and organization is necessary.
I don’t like searching for my keys or wallet because that wastes time, which irritates me. I like my items convenient and in place ready to be used. These are some of my hacks, I hope they may come in handy for you as well.
As someone who frequently uses a purse, I find it very annoying that there never seems to be a place in my car to hang it. When I used to own a smaller purse, I was able to place it on my console area because it was small enough to sit there. Since I’ve upgraded to my shoulderbag, and needed to hang it up so that the contents inside stay organized, I still didn’t have a place in my car to hang it. Although cars do come with a multitude of amenities, sometimes when you have an older car, like mine, you have to design it yourself.
For my shoulder bag hanger, I use shoelaces, an S-Hook, a carabiner and rings to reach the rings attached to my bag. There are rings were left over from my purse hack and I would hook those rings to the S-Hook for quick access.
I looped the shoelace extension to one of the poles of the passenger headrest. I wanted a soft material in the beginning of this line, in case the passenger needed to lower the headrest to its lowest point. An S-Hook was then attached to the shoelace at the end, which could be height adjusted by moving the S-Hook to different knots on the shoelace line. Because I knew my bag needed different types of height extensions depending on what I carried in my bag for each day, I wanted to make a few knots in the shoelace so I could choose the tension that would be needed. This way, my bag rings would be taught while hanging, but not floating off of the center console. The carabiner is there in case I have items that really needed a secure anchor, the S-Hook is used for items that will only need temporary security when in motion.
My second car hack is my phone holder. It’s a simple rectangular case that came with my external hard drive. But since I keep my external hard drive in another case, I didn’t think it was necessary. So I repurposed it as my car phone holder. I’m sure that any rectangular case could be used for this purpose, as long as it’s large enough to place the phone in and take it out without a struggle. I cut two rectangular holes in the hard case itself, one to view the screen and one for the charger location.
Since my car is so old, I don’t have a auxiliary connection but I do have a cassette tape adapter. So my cable for my cassette tape adapter is hanging on the right side of my phone holder. Although it covers my car climate temperature control as well as my car climate mode control, I don’t usually need to access those often. I can also flip up the phone holder and peer underneath if I need to.
In my car I tend to use the Hitch Knot in order to secure my rope. I keep an extra rope tied with a Hitch Knot, attached to one of the bars to my front vents. I do this in case I need to hang anything in the front area of the car. Although the item can’t be heavy, it’s still handy in dire situations when I need to attach a bag quickly.
For my trunk area, I’m not a big fan of simple placing my groceries in the back of my car. I’ve had more than a few incidences when I took a turn in my car and my items from my grocery bags slipped out of the bags. As a precaution, I now hook my bags to the interior of my car. There are a number of ways to keep your groceries contained while in your trunk, this is just the way I do it since I don’t have a lot of trunk space. I use carabonders for the heavier items and velcro straps for the lighter items.
I’ve seen some people use cardboard boxes to contain their loose items in their trucks or even laundry baskets. I pretty much don’t have a separate trunk so my method can’t take up too much room. Also, my carabiners are pretty good at keeping bottles upright.