Websites and Resources List

01.10.2017

0800

website-resources

So I was asked awhile back to list some resources that I use, so here they are:

Issues dealing with everyday life and the earth:

  1. Earth 911 – http://earth911.com/
  2. Life Hack – http://www.lifehack.org/

Zero waste issue dealing with the home:

  1. The Zero Waste Home – http://www.zerowastehome.com/
  2. Trash Is For Tossers – http://www.trashisfortossers.com/
  3. Eco-Cycle- http://www.ecocycle.org/zerowaste
  4. Going Zero Waste- https://www.goingzerowaste.com/

Minimalist Articles and websites:

  1. The Minimalists – http://www.theminimalists.com/
  2. Becoming Minimalist – http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

Social Media in general:

  1. Other WordPress blogs about zero waste living and minimalist lifestyles: If you just do a simple search, then you’ll be able to find keywords regarding blogs you’ll be interested in
  2. Twitter: Simple word search
  3. Instagram: Simple word search
  4. Reddit: ZeroWaste Sub

So those are just some of my resources- Hopefully they will be able to help you out.

Zero Waste Closet- Part II

12.29.2016

0800

dsc_4897
DSC_4769

My final capsule wardrobe inventory now consists of 27 pieces of clothing. This does not include my running gear, snowboarding or surfing clothing. However, I thought I would share what those pieces are as well . I had posted an earlier version of my capsule wardrobe here My 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe but this is a more refined version of that wardrobe. In order to finalize this capsule wardrobe, I actually took pictures of each clothing item and compared them side by side on my computer screen. I know that sounds extreme, but when I looked at my color palette up close, it looked fine, like it actually matched. Yet, when I took pictures of each piece, I could see clearly on my computer screen that there were obvious pieces that were no longer fitting my style. Ironically these same pieces were the same pieces that I had not worn in a very long time.  I also selected a very neutral and minimal color palette to work with my wardrobe. The only thing left was to find the pieces that would fit into this 27 piece puzzle. So here it goes…

In my Capsule Wardrobe:

  1. Blouse- Light Blue
  2. Blouse- Blue
  3. Blouse- Wht
  4. Jacket- Casual- Tan
  5. Jacket- Dressy- Black
  6. Long Sleeve- Grey
  7. Short Sleeve- Grey
  8. Short Sleeve- White
  9. Sweater- Light Grey
  10. Tank- Casual- Grey
  11. Gown- Convertible- Blk
  12. Pants- Black
  13. Pants- Casual- Denim Dk
  14. Pants- Casual- Denim Med
  15. Shorts- Casual- Denim
  16. Skirt- Mini- Black & Leopard Print 
  17. Boots- Casual- Brown
  18. Boots- Tall- Blk
  19. Flats- Closed- Blk
  20. Heels- Ankle Boots- Black
  21. Sandals- Black
  22. Three Jewelry Sets (1 set = 1 necklace, 1 ring, 1 bracelet, 1 set of earrings)
  23. Purse- Navy Blue
  24. Sunglasses- Black
  25. Scarf- Grey

Workout Clothes:

  • BEACH- BLUE BAG
    • BEACH- Bottoms- 2
    • BEACH- Tops- 2
  • RUN- GREY BACKPACK
    • RUN- Intimates- 2
    • RUN- Bottoms- 3
    • RUN- Tops- 3
    • RUN- Sneakers- 1
  • SNOW- STAR SPANGLED BAG
    • SNOW- Boarding- Outfits- 2
    • SNOW- Intimates- 2
    • SNOW- Tops- 2
  • TRAVEL BAG- BLUE NORTHFACE HIKING BAG

My capsule wardrobe doesn’t include intimates or nightwear. This is because when it comes down to those categories, personal preference is how most decide on those items. I also don’t think counting each underwear or sock is reasonable for this system; you would run out of clothing options quickly. With this style of capsule wardrobe planning, deciding on outfits is a simple task and even deciding on outfits to go to special events are just as easy. I actually have 3 items that are nightwear items, so in total I technically have 30 pieces hanging in my closet (a few pieces hang off of the same hanger since the pieces are smaller and lighter). I don’t include them because of the fact that a capsule wardrobe is considered capsule due to its ability to interchange with one another to create a variety of outfits. Some people have more pieces in their capsule wardrobes and some have even less, it’s all in how comfortable you are with the amount of items.

I really do recommend this system, it is simple and easy to make, and keeping track of each piece of clothing is easy. You’ll love every piece of clothing you own and you still can create a lot of outfits. If minimizing your wardrobe down to 30 pieces seems too extreme, try hiding half of your wardrobe and see if you are comfortable using what you have left, on a day to day basis. Then go hide half of your spouse’s/partner’s/family members’ clothing too; you can call it “The time when you got into the shower and when you got out, half your stuff had disappeared.” AKA “Involuntary Capsule Wardrobe”. It totally works. You should try it.

What’s In My Makeup Bag?

 

12.27.2016

0800

DSC_4887DSC_4861

When I started my journey to a zero waste lifestyle, I had to purge a lot of my bathroom items and I mean just about 3/4 of my bathroom items were either donated or thrown out. My beauty products significantly dwindled down to what I considered- my bare essentials. There was trial and error in the process to find a comfortable place where I knew exactly what I wanted to buy and spend my money on, along with the challenge of trying to not produce trash. I had to break down my beauty needs to a basic level and still be happy with it.

When I became more comfortable and found my rhythm  of my make up products again, I thought I would share that with the world. Here is my list of items:

In the small pouch:

  1. Stainless steel nail file
  2. Nail clippers
  3. Small mirror
  4. Tweezers
  5. X-acto X670 Single Edge Razor Blade
  6. Clubman Styptic Pencil

Hair style tools:

  1. Comb
  2. Extra hair ties
  3. Hair barrette
  4. Hair Shaper Razor by FROMM

Make-Up Items:

  1. Make-Up Products by Gabriel:
    1. Black mascara
    2. Black eyeliner
    3. Shimmer eyeshadow
  2. ecoTools- Eyeshadow brush
  3. Burt’s Bees- Beeswax Lip Balm
  4. Pencil sharpener
  5. Eyelash curler with an extra silicone rubber pad

I also keep an S-Hook in my kit for when I open up my makeup bag to set it up at my destination. I use the S-Hook to create an extra location to hang my comb and eyelash curler for easy access.

I sewed two small covers for my nail filer and one for styptic pencil. I made one for my nail filer because I wanted to protect the surfaces from scratching other items in the small pouch and I like to keep my styptic pencil and tweezers together so I can grab it out of the dark pouch quickly.

So that’s a list of my items in my make-up bag. These are my essentials, what are yours?

Tips For Keeping Clutter Away

12.22.2016

0800

DSC_4549

I thought I would list some general tips for keeping clutter away. I use most of these techniques. I own very few items now so it’s easier for me to keep track of household items, including my own possessions. It will come to a point when you will de-clutter so much, that the majority of these tips won’t apply any longer. When you get to that point… it’s BLISS… so ready, set GO! … or you know… just start whenever you’re ready to.

General Home Rules:

  1. Remove at least 1 thing per day from your home that you can donate or sell – If you are able to complete this task, by the end of the year you will have removed 365 items from your home..
  2. Host a yard sale – Sell unwanted items faster than you would on Ebay or Craigslist.
  3. Commit to only keeping 1 or 2 special pieces of your child’s artwork per month – At the end of the year, opt to have your favorites made into a keepsake book (try Shutterfly.com).  Check out our post How to Organize School Artwork and Projects for more ideas.
  4. Put items away after use – Putting things back in their home after each use will make cleanup easier.
  5. Clean as you go – Try cleaning at the same time you are cooking and you will have less mess to cleanup afterwards.
  6. Schedule to de-clutter your home for 15 minutes every night – This is the strategy that the most organized person you know uses.  Check out our post How to De-Clutter When You Only Have 15 Minutes or Less.
  7. Adopt the “one in, one out rule” – With this rule you will never own too many things.
  8. Stop shopping when you are bored – Buying items because you are bored will create debt and unnecessary items cluttering your life. Direct your energy to another feel-good activity, hobby or project.
  9. Stop using paper coupons – If you don’t have time to clip coupons, stick with electronic ones through apps.
  10. Commit an ongoing effort to keep your life free of clutter – Don’t fall back into old habits after you worked so hard to create a simple life. Be consistent and remember why simplifying your life is important to you.

Kitchen:

  1. Create a Sunday basket and place all incoming and outgoing papers in the basket– Refer to this post to see what a Sunday Basket is all about and how to create one of your own.
  2. Keep your dining surfaces clear – Use this 15-minute de-clutter strategy to make sure your dining spaces are always ready for eating or entertaining.
  3. Get rid of extra sets in the kitchen – If you have double measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc., now is the time to get rid of the extras.

Bedroom

  1. Limit toys to 7 per child – If you have 3 kids, that’s still 28 toys in the house! Most kids only need their favorite 1-5 items that they play with daily.
  2. De-clutter your closet – Many people have more clothes than they need. Refer to this post for tips to de-clutter your closet.

Living Room:

  1. Keep home décor minimal – Less clutter around the house makes it easier to clean.
  2. Organize your junk drawer or get rid of it– The junk drawer is often forgotten about until it’s so packed full that it will no longer close. De-clutter your junk drawer regularly. Only place items in it that you use every day.
  3. Get rid of old electronics, cords, cell phones, etc. – Still have that mobile phone from 8+ years ago? Now is the time to donate it.
  4. Use the back side of printed paper – Recycle paper that has a blank backside by placing it in a clipboard and using as a scrap notepad. Once the backside has been used completely, place in a recycling bin.
  5. Delete old files from your computer – Schedule a de-clutter session on your devices. Keep an external hard drive of of files you may want to keep, but don’t clog up your computer’s hard drive. 
  6. Declutter your social media accounts – Unfollow people with annoying status updates or FB groups that no longer interest you.
  7. Declutter your mobile apps – Delete apps from your phone that you don’t use regularly.
  8. Ditch junk files on your computer – Try piriform.com/ccleaner to purge useless items.

A Minimalist’s Short Business Trip

12.15.2016

0800

DSC_4849

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out these post from some other bloggers about traveling:

Aloe Vera For Your Skin

 

12.13.2016

0800

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

1. It treats sunburn. 

Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.

2. It acts as a moisturizer. 

Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it’s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion. For women who use mineral-based makeup, aloe vera acts as a moisturizer and is great for the face prior to the application to prevents skin drying. For men: Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.

3. It treats acne. 

Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.

Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.

4. It fights aging. 

As we age, everyone begins to worry about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in their skin. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.

5. It lessens the visibility of stretch marks. 

The skin is like one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss) the elasticity of the skin can be damaged. That’s what leaves those unsightly stretch marks. These marks appear due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching. Aloe vera gel can help hide these stretch marks by healing these wounds.

What I usually do…

I first cut off the leaves of the aloe vera plant and sliced off of the thorns on each side of one of the leaves. I cut the leaf down the centerline through the meat so I could scrap the aloe vera off of each skin section. I gathered the aloe vera I scraped off into a mason jar and then went ahead and scraped the other leaf in the same manner. I composted everything that was left over.

I usually use the aloe vera gel immediately in which I’ll apply it to my skin on my face and body for about an hour and then rinse it off. This is a simple and natural way to moisturize your skin with an organic substance. This plant in addition to my Golden Pothos Ivy air filtering plant are my two favorites that I own. The Golden Pothos filters my indoor air for me and this one provides me with natural moisturizer, win-win.

DSC_4818DSC_4819DSC_4820DSC_4824

Simplify Your Life With These Product Tips

12.08.2016

0800

DSC_4834

Part of the reason why I know my day to day life has a simplistic routine, is that I’ve set it up that way due to my investments in specific products. I keep my rooms simple and clean and the one rule I follow, is that items must be off of the floor, including any storage bins. I thought I’d list a few tips of how I organize the living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Living Room

  1. Invest in a thermostat – Thermostats are components of which sense the temperature of a system so that the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint. They are useful in that they will sense the temperature of the space and turn on or turn off when the desired temperature is met.  
  2. Purchase multi-functional furniture – Try an ottoman that doubles as storage, etc. Be sure to check out our post for 10 Items You Need to Organize Your Home Like a RockStar with more multi-functional furniture ideas.
  3. Less items to display – If you have more items to display out in the open, the likelihood is that you have to dust them more often or  worry about those items falling over or being damaged somehow. I’m not telling you to get rid of everything out in the open, but the amount of items will correlate with the level of maintenance of them.
  4. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Bathroom

  1. Use dry shampoo – Try dry shampoo (for your entire family) and spend less time getting ready. Try this version or a homemade version here.
  2. Stop using shaving cream – Organic soap bars works for both men and women as a replacement.
  3. Use multipurpose beauty products – Try a lip stain that doubles as blush and eye-shadow.
  4. Stop coloring your hair – Coloring at a salon is pricey and time consuming. Your natural color is probably gorgeous. Embrace it!

Bedroom

  1. Start a wardrobe capsule – Creating a wardrobe capsule will change your life. Check out this post to download the template to start yours Capsule Wardrobe Planner by Un-fancy.
  2. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Kitchen

  1. Invest in and use a crockpot – Use your crockpot as often as possible to cook ready-made meals.
  2. Invest in and use a pressure cooker – Use your pressure cooker as often as possible to cut down on cooking time.
  3. Make your breakfast the night before – Try overnight oats with fresh fruit for a grab-and-run healthy breakfast.
  4. Make your lunches for the week at the beginning of the week- I think most of the working class has a busy schedule no matter what job  you hold. Making your lunches at the beginning of the week saves time and energy during the week so you can spend that time doing something you prefer.
  5. Keep healthy snacks at your desk – Keeping healthy snacks at arm’s length will ensure that you reach for them rather than the vending machine goodies.
  6. Stop using kitchen paper products – Try using cloth towels to dry hands, dishes, or wipe up spills/spots. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Stop using paper plates. You will simplify the items in your home and reduce waste and costs.
  7. Invest in a coffee/tea French Press – A basic coffee maker with a timer (like this one) will ensure your pot is brewed before you wake up. Try this one to reduce waste if you rarely drink coffee/tea.

Zero Waste Christmas

12.01.2016
0800

dsc_5160

My family has used a fake Christmas tree for the month of December  since I was brought into this world. I’m not sure if we simply did not want to go get a fresh chopped down tree or if it was more that when my family came to the United States, buying a fake Christmas tree was just more convenient. Either way, I’ve never had a real Christmas tree, and as I got older, I understood the extra steps needed to take to keep a real tree in your home for a whole month.

After the Christmas, the sidewalks around my neighborhood had dead Christmas trees laying out on the sidewalks or street curbs for pickup. However, this was not always the proper way of discarding Christmas trees in accordance with each city’s municipal recycling center. (Check with your local city’s municipal recycling center for holiday recycling items) After seeing all of the trees laying out on the street curbs, I was thankful that my family used a fake tree after all these years. In fact, we never seemed to buy new holiday decorations either.

We use the same holiday decorations and the same tree that we’ve used for years. Unfortunately, there was a time when we had family staying with us (let’s just say that they’re not the brightest bulb in the family) who had decided to take it upon themselves to throw away all of my family’s Christmas ornaments and replace them with brand new ornaments. They didn’t comprehend the concept that ornaments hold sentimental value and also mark a point in time when it was brought into the home. They saw our nineteen years of old ornaments as ugly and had no value, so why show it off. All of my brother’s and my childhood ornaments were tossed out, that included ornaments from when my parents first came to the United States too. For years after that, we slowly built up our ornament collection again.

This was when I started making ornaments from my family’s sentimental items that included small memorabilia we had collected over the years. (My next post will give you instructions on how I make key chains into ornaments- it’s actually very simple). Our tree is now covered in memories of  vacation trips, landmark life events, graduations, jobs and companies we were once a part of, and so much more.

For gifts, we actually don’t give gifts to one another as much anymore. Counting the birthdays, mother’s day and Tet (Vietnamese New Years) celebrations, Christmas is just a time for our family to get together, watch movies and indulge in delicious holiday food. During the year, the items that each family member may need usually gets purchased throughout the year. We don’t really ever save up a wish list and make it known for the holiday. So here are some of the gift ideas as well as some gift wrapping ideas that I’ll go through to give as gifts…

  1. Gift ideas- Zero waste ideas
    1. Experience ideas
      1. Sporting events ( football, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, baseball, etc.)
      2. Theme parks (Great America, Raging Waters, Six Flags, Disneyland, etc.)
      3. Outdoor experiences (pedle boating, wind sailing, kayaking, rowboats, canoes, skydiving, zip lining, rock climbing, trampoline time, golfing)
      4. Gift card/money for food / drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinners, coffee / tea, desserts, wine bar, wine/beer tour)
      5. Gift card/money for activities (cooking classes, yoga, spin class, kickboxing, zip lining)
      6. Gift card/money for events (museums, concerts, festivals, fairs, movies)
      7. Gift card/money to treat yourself (spa, massage, facial)
    2. Food gift ideas
      1. Main dishes, side dishes, trade food/drink recipes
    3. Fruit gift ideas
      1. Seasonal fruit, fruit basket gift
    4. Zero waste shopping starter kits
      1. Cloth produce bags, shopping bags, reusable jars, water soluble crayons to write PLU codes onto the bags and jars
      2. Help tare the weight on all of the reusable items
    5. Bulk bathroom gifts
      1. Soap bars, bulk soap, bulk bath salts, recipes for homemade makeup
    6. Bulk kitchen gifts
      1. Bulk staple foods, bulk spices, combination of some bulk spices, create a meal kit from bulk items for  a loved one
  2. Wrapping Ideas
    1. Reusable cloth gift bags with string to tie bows (if wanted)
    2. Fabric sheets/bandanas to wrap and tuck around gifts
  3. Service Ideas (This will differ based on location, so check your local listings)
    1. Volunteer for a charity or organization that will help hand out food during the holidays
    2. Donate toys, clothes, coats, shoes to an organization that will help distribute them this season
    3. Volunteer your time in a hospital, care home, nursing home to those who may not have family near or at all

Here are links to some more Zero Waste Christmas ideas from other bloggers:

Keep Life Simple

11.29.2016

0800

DSC_4779

So we’ve officially moved into the season between ‘fighting over products while shopping’ and ‘opening said products in one swift move’. I usually don’t go buy physical objects for this season, I tend to buy gifts in the form of experiences, however, I do understand that not everyone approaches this season the same way. 

The holiday season tends to bring on another level of stress, with the year rounding out and the pressures from the holidays added to the pressures from work and family, it can be an overall anxiety driven few months. With these additional stresses, I wanted to post some tips to help everyone to remind them to take care of themselves first and foremost. and perhaps to help keep the home front a little more simplified.

Life will always get more chaotic and complicated, but as long as we recognize it, we can counter it with with a well thought out defense.  I practice a lot of these tips, so even if you can try just one tip and simplify your life, you might be pleasantly surprised. So here it goes, I hope you guys enjoy it!

For Your Mental Health:

  1. Stop multitasking – Give your attention and focus to one thing at a time to complete a long list of to-do items.
  2. Stop driving aggressively – Take the steps to stop aggressive driving habits by getting enough sleep, planning ahead and using etiquette and kindness to other drivers. Remember that if children are in the car, they learn from watching you.
  3. Stop going crazy for holidays – Stop stressing to bake/cook a huge holiday meal. If you host during the holidays, ask everyone to bring a dish for a potluck style dinner and there will be less work for you. Stop over-shopping for the holidays. Try the 4-gift rule for Christmas: something you want, something you need, something to play with, something to read.
  4. Accept that change is in order – Acceptance is the first step to changing bad habits. Once you have accepted that you need to change your life, take the next step toward a simplified life.
  5. Program your mobile photos/videos to auto-upload to a cloud account – Never worry about uploading photos again – Try Google, Amazon, Picasa, YouTube.
  6. Use a combined social media app (Instagram)– Try Hootsuite – it combines your social media accounts and shares a post on all sites at the same time.

For Your Home:

  1. Create a command center in your home – a command center is the ultimate hub to keep your family organized. For tips to create your own, see this post.  My favorite command center item is this dry erase calendar.
  2. Create a cleaning routine and schedule it on your calendar – Schedule laundry day’s, trash days, housecleaning days, etc.
  3. Downsize – Get rid of items you don’t need or move into a smaller home.
  4. Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions – Read articles for free online instead.
  5. Stop buying trending clothes – Purchase classic, high-quality items in neutral colors and you will rarely need to update your wardrobe.
  6. Eat simple meals – Less thinking means faster, easier meals. Keep it simple with simple ingredients and meals that are fail-proof. Be sure to check out our post Clean Eating for Less Than $70 a Week for a family of 4 (Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks included with a shopping list!).
  7. Make freezer meals – Double your dinner recipe and freeze the rest for later. If you do this every night, then you will have 7 additional dinners in the freezer for next month.  Here are 365 days of freezer meals for more ideas.
  8. Use your leftovers – Pack them for lunch the next day or use them to make another meal – many leftovers can easily be made into a soup.
  9. Use simple recipe ingredients – Stop buying spices/ingredients for one meal. Purchase basic spices and ingredients to minimize items in your pantry.
  10. Make one-pot meals – Reduce clean up by making an entire meal in one pot.  Here are 120 one pot meals for some ideas.
  11. Unsubscribe from junk emails – Try unroll.me for bulk removal.  I did this and was able to unsubscribe from 110 subscriptions in just a few minutes!
  12. Cancel cable – Try on-demand options like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Video.
  13. Print as little as possible – Read documents, books and recipes online. Save these items online or as a document to your computer. Less paper lying around means less to organize later.

For Your Organization:

  1. Consider signing up for an Elfster account or create an Amazon Wish List feature or giving Groupon experience gifts  
  2. Keep reusable bags in your car – These bags always come in handy for stores that give you money back for bringing your own bag (like Target) or those that charge for their plastic bags (like Aldi).
  3. Telecommute, carpool, bike, jog or walk to work instead of driving – take the stress of commuting with one of these options.
  4. Stop using credit cards and pay cash for everything – Get rid of the stress of paying interest for that T-shirt. Freeze your credit cards, pay them off and start using cash only – unless you are able to pay off credit cards in full every month.
  5. If you need a credit card, consider one with rewards benefits – If you absolutely need a credit card, choose one with big rewards. Pay the balance in full every month to reap the full reward benefits – otherwise the reward is not beneficial if you are paying interest.
  6. Upload/Download DVDs/digital copies to the cloud – Try Vudo/Ultraviolet to upload DVDs, digital copies to access movies on-the-go. Download/purchase movies online and store them in your cloud account, try Amazon Video.
  7. Share cloud files with family – Share your budget spreadsheet or contact list with your spouse.
  8. Write canned emails – Try the canned email feature in Gmail and save emails that you regularly send out with the same verbiage.

Take Time For Yourself

11.24.2016

0800

100_4536

As the holidays have come upon us here in the United States of America, this time of the year can be quite stressful. I thought I would make a list of ways I think everyone can or should try to take care of themselves, this includes physical and mental health. 

Since I already posted this as you are reading it now, I plan on spending the day in my stretchy pants. Stretchy pants are great for all occasions, today just happen to be a day where I eat when I’m starving and end up too full.

Have a great holiday everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! You should do the first seven items on the Physical Health list, except for #4, today may not be the best day to start on #4. (Unless you like food burps while working out) And if you do #1, you can knock off #3- see… multitasking—> Boom.

Physical Health:

  1. Take a nap – Schedule a power nap (or longer) when you can. A 15-minute nap will provide you with increased alertness and energy. Longer napping provides the same benefits but can make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
  2. Plan a R & R day at least once a month – Try to schedule at least 1 day every month for rest and relaxation. Try a Saturday all-day movie day at home or take off work on a Monday or Friday and have an extra-long weekend.
  3. Watch less TV – The average American watches 34 hours of TV a week – almost the same amount of time as a full time job! Try reading a book, going outside for a walk or playing a card/board game.
  4. Schedule your workouts – If you don’t add fitness to your daily routine, then you won’t be inclined to workout. Add working out to your calendar and set a reminder. Check out our post with 5 Easy Ways to Schedule Fitness into your Daily Routine for more help.
  5. Meditate – Meditating reduces aging, helps you feel more connected, improves brain function, increases immunity and metabolism and helps you sleep better.
  6. Do yoga or stretch throughout the day – Yoga provides increased flexibility, improved energy and vitality while assisting with cardio and circulatory health.
  7. Go for a walk – walking prevents high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes while improving your mood.
  8. Watch the sunset or sunrise – Watching the sun rise or set will slow down time. It gets you away from digital devices, helps you appreciate life’s gifts and will inspire you.
  9. Carry a water bottle everywhere – Drinking plenty of water has many benefits including keeping you alert and energetic. Try these bottles and never worry about going thirsty again.
  10. Turn off your phone – Sometimes a break from the blinking light on your phone will serve well. If you want to focus on an important task, turn your phone off for less distraction.
  11. Unplug all devices – Unplug your TV, radio, computer, phones, etc. for a while to minimize distractions.
  12. Breathe – Remember to breathe.

Mental Health:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal – Writing in a gratitude journal lowers stress, gives you new perspectives and opens your eyes to what is most important in your life. Try this gratitude journal to get started.
  2. Try adult coloring books/pages – Print adult coloring pages for free online and take a break to color. You will be brought back to childhood memories and the activity is stress relieving. Don’t worry about staying in the lines.
  3. Learn to say “no” to events, get-togethers, hand-me-downs, etc. – It’s okay to say no in our already over-scheduled and busy lives.
  4. Set monthly goals – Start a monthly/yearly goal planning worksheet and refer back to it often.
  5. Listen to audio-books – Try Audible for Free for 30-days and refer to this post for how audible books can simplify your life.
  6. Turn off notifications from social media – Ever post a comment to a friend and then get notified with every comment thereafter? Remove notification on social media.
  7. Take a social media vacation – Unplugging from the Internet overload will simplify your life. Try a 1-week or longer social media vacation.
  8. Stop trying to impress people that you don’t like – Stop buying unnecessary items to show off and stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  9. Stop holding grudges – You will feel happier if you just let things go.
  10. Determine your definition of success – Success is defined in many different ways – how do you define success? Is it your “stuff” or is it your happiness?
  11. Stop trying to do it all – Don’t try to do everything on this list right away and stop trying to get everything done all at once. Take baby steps and you will reach your goals.
  12. Stop over-scheduling your life – Make sure you schedule time for yourself every day – whether it’s a relaxing activity like massage, bath, watching a movie or a fun activity like working out or hanging out with friends – stop over scheduling your life with a long to-do list.

Decluttering Sentimental Possessions

 

11.22.2016

0800

DSC_4886

DSC_4883

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.

Also, check out these printable checklists from MintLife Blog to help the decuttering process, “How to Get Rid of Sentimental Clutter and Spend More Intentionally“.

Alternative Dish Scrub

11.15.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Two Laundry Mesh Bags
  • Sewing Kit

There are a few things that I struggled with replacing in the zero waste lifestyle realm. The dreaded dish scrub was always one that I consistently tried to tackle with different alternative solutions. So breaking away from the traditional dish sponge was an issue I constantly had to re-visit.

At first, I tried to use cotton dishrags, but I wasn’t a fan of the oil and stains that would show up, even after throwing it into the washing machine. I then moved to the stainless steel sponge, but at times, this material was unnecessary and a little harsh on my dishes.  I needed something that fell between these two materials. I needed a zero waste solution that was durable, breathable, washable and readily accessible.

So I finally decided to tackle this issue once and for all, and I came up with a solution. I made my own dish washing srubs from laundry mesh bags. So this is what I did…

  1. I took a delicates, laundry mesh bag with small holes and one with large holes, and took them apart. I separated all the pieces that assembled it. I choose the two different sized holes so there would be more grit during scrubbing and more variety in the uses.
  2. I unstitched the bags to remove zippers and separate the individual pieces.
  3. I then folded the large pieces of material so it would end up as a rectangle shape and sewed the edges of the rectangle to keep its shape. I then sewed the two shorter edges together but left the center of the rectangle to form a loop . (You can shape your scrubs however you like, mine just happen to fold into square shapes.) I used a dark thread on the heavier grit scrubbers so that if the thread stained or became discolored, you wouldn’t see it as easily. I also used lighter thread just to see how much it would stain. I did this because I wanted to hang the scrubbing pads on the neck of my sink spout. This way, it can air dry and it has a place to be hung up when not in use. It will also drip into the sink when it is air drying. I know that this part of the design concept may not apply to everyone, but you can still hang it up wherever you want or hang it off of whatever you want in your sink area.
  4. These can be hand washed and rinsed or thrown into the washing machine.

For my own use, this dish scrub has helped me solve my dish sponge/stainless steel wool pad/dish washing rag issue. My scrubs dry pretty fast so this design had worked out well for me. They seem to lather well and rinse off even faster. I actually enjoy hanging them on my sink’s spout neck because I know it’s the last step in the design of this product. I hope this post helps for those of you who would like an alternative to the dish scrubbing sponge issue.

dsc_5074dsc_5075dsc_5077

The Simple Route To Less Trash

11.01.2016

0800

1

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

Notebook

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:

Toilet Paper is Not Zero Waste

 

10.24.2016

0800

DSC_4720

Toilet paper: The average U.S. consumer uses more than 20,805 sheets annually, contributing to a $5.7 billion industry for bathroom tissue. Unfortunately, I do use toilet paper, but I use toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper. It’s the one product that I consistently try to adjust and use less of. I did purchase a bidet that attached to my toilet, so that eases up my use of toilet paper- but I still use it.

When you think of producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and resource depletion, toilet paper probably doesn’t join the list of products and industries that come to mind. But the natural resources that go into toilet paper should be taken into account. According to some estimates, approximately 7 million trees are used each year to make up the U.S.’s toilet paper supply.

The Forest

THE NATIONAL RESOURCE DEFENSE COUNCIL (NRDC) ESTIMATES THAT IF EVERY HOUSEHOLD REPLACED JUST ONE 500-SHEET ROLL OF VIRGIN FIBER TOILET PAPER WITH A 100 PERCENT RECYCLED FIBER ROLL, 423,900 TREES WOULD BE SAVED ANNUALLY. IMAGE COURTESY OF ALIAS 0591

Tiny Roll, Big Impact

The idea of using virgin wood for throwaway paper products seems silly, but it happens nearly 99 percent of the time. Toilet paper made of 100 percent recycled paper fiber makes up less than 2 percent of the market in the U.S.

However, toilet paper made of 100 percent recycled paper content, including high percentages of post-consumer recycled fibers, is becoming easier to find as national chain stores now carry major brands like Seventh Generation and Marcal.

It Doesn’t Stop at Toilet Paper

According to the American Forest and Paper Association, tissue-grade papers are generally categorized into three major categories:

  1. At-home (consumer)
    1. Found in the forms of toilet and facial tissue, paper towels, napkins and other sanitary items
  2. Away-from-home (commercial and industry)
  3. Specialty
    1. Decorative and specialty papers such as wrapping tissue, dry cleaning paper and crepe paper

Tissue-grade papers are typically made from virgin fiber rather than recycled fibers and are bleached with chlorine to make them look whiter and brighter. Like toilet paper, these tissue grades are widely available with recycled fiber content and chlorine-free bleach.

The Soiled Paper Dilemma

While tissue-grade paper is made from, well, paper, this particular material is actually not recyclable due to the nature of its usage. When we add grease to a paper towel, food residue to napkins and you-know-what to toilet and facial tissue, these items are typically rendered non-recyclable.

When paper products are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Grease, oils and other soiling materials form at the top of the slurry and paper fibers cannot separate from the oils during the pulping process, rendering the batch useless.

“The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers,” said Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. “It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes.”

Other products typically found on paper products, like ink, tend to break down fast as they are usually non-petroleum based.

Helpful Guides

Greenpeace’s Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide – Greenpeace has created a guide as well as an iPhone application to help consumers find recycled and responsible paper products. The pocket guide ranks 18 popular toilet paper, paper towel, facial tissue and napkin brands on their use of recycled content, post-consumer recycled content and non-toxic chlorine compounds in the bleaching process.

Some Facts

  • Replaced one 175-sheet box of virgin fiber facial tissues with 100 percent recycled tissues, we’d save 163,000 trees annually.
  • Used 100 percent recycled paper towels rather than one 70-sheet roll of virgin fiber paper towels, we’d save 544,000 trees each year.
  • Replaced one 250-count package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled, we’d save 1 million trees annually.