Reusable Facial Cotton Pads

11.19.2018

0600

Materials:

  • 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)

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing Kit
  • Iron
  • Ironing Mat/Board

 

DSC_0499When 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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.   

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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. 

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Quick T-Shirt Pocket

09.07.2018

0600

Materials:

  • One T-shirt (or two, but definitely at least one)

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing Kit

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Living a Zero Waste life means that I create simple solutions for simple problems since I don’t want to go buy anything new or seek  out another possession to take care of.

So I usually carry my phone around with me when I’m doing certain types of household tasks. These tasks don’t require a lot of vigorous movement, but I’m definitely moving around. A lot of the time it’s annoying to remember to carry the phone from one place to another when I’m running around the house and if my hands are dirty, I really don’t want to touch my phone. I needed a quick solution where I could carry the phone along with my keys without much hassle. I didn’t want to go out and buy a separate cell phone holder strap that would wrap around my arm. I have one for workouts, and that strap holds down my cell phone securely since I’m running. But I just needed a quick solution where I could carry around my phone and my keys easily for a few hours.

My quick solution was to see my t-shirt sleeve in half and create a pocket. my t-shirt sleeves are usually longer than I need them to be. This gave me the extra material to work with. I simply folded my sleeve in half and pinned the sleeve all the way around.

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Depending on the width of your cell phone, measure that distance out on the top of the sleeve. Just make sure you divide the width of your phone in half and center the opening on the top of the sleeve.

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For the other sleeve, I made the opening just about the same size since I knew I was going to use the other pocket for keys or my credit card.

Then just sew the sleeve from the front to the back or back to the front, making sure you still leave enough room for your cell phone. Then tie off the open thread ends.

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If you put smaller items in the short pockets, they tend to fall towards the bottom of the sleeve. This can be annoying for some but for me it gives me a sense of security knowing my items won’t fall out. I just need to go fishing for my keys at the end of the day.

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So there you have it. My quick and dirty solution to built in t-shirt pockets. I like to move the pockets towards the front of my body for easier access to my cell phone, but that’s simply more comfortable for me. I also will sometimes secure the t-shirt using a binder clip, that I’ll use to clip my t-shirt to my bra.

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What’s In My Purse?

06.12.2018

0600

DSC_9989Since I’ve written about What’s in My Makeup Bag? and What’s in My Sport Emergency Kit?, I thought I’d show you what I carry around in my purse too. These are the items I use daily and essentially, and these include my zero waste essentials.

So an overall view will reveal that I usually carry my water bottle, my eyeglasses case, purse, keys, sunglasses, my reusable utensils, my cloth napkin and my cloth handkerchief.

Sometimes I will switch out my water bottle with my tumbler, if I’m going to grab coffee. Most of the time I’ll usually carry my water bottle instead of my tumbler because water is more critical for me on a day to day basis.

In my purse, (which is a pencil bag, because pencil bags tend to have more pockets and are washable) I’ll carry my cards and cash, a small bottle of lotion, a comb, my business cards case, a barrette, extra hair ties, my lip balm, lipstick, eyeliner, my mini 3 in 1 stainless steel screwdriver key chain eyeglass repair tool, extra bobby pins (because you can never have enough), and a nail filer.

 

DSC_9999The only perishable and wasteful items I carry on a daily basis is my lip balm and my lipstick. I refill my bottle of lotion from my bulk lotion bottles. Anyone who uses hair ties knows that they tend to break and I haven’t yet found a good alternative to tie up my hair. I might lean towards going back to the scrunchie though. With the extra protective fabric around the hair tie, the life of the hair tie can last longer.

So there you have it. My purse is simple, and I don’t carry extra stuff around to the point where I can’t find anything in my bag. I tend to divide my items into smaller bags so that they’re grouped together in a more organized fashion. These are my day to day essential items, what do you carry around in your bag?

 

Freebies And Give Aways

01.24.2017

0800

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

Decluttering Sentimental Possessions

 

11.22.2016

0800

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Problem With Disposable Chopsticks

11.17.2016

0800

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Asian cuisine is one of the most popular types of food in the world.  With China alone feeding a population of over 1 billion people, it’s important to consider how the utensils commonly used are impacting the environment.  Throwaway chopsticks that are commonly used in most Asian restaurants are mostly made of wood, not plastic, and the statistics behind them are staggering:

  • In China, about 57 billion (that’s “billion”!) pairs of wooden disposable chopsticks are made each year. Cottonwood, birch, spruce and bamboo are the main sources of these one-use chopsticks.
  • Half of these disposables are used within China itself. Of the other half, 77 percent are exported to Japan, with South Korea taking most of the remainder.
  • About 24 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used in Japan each year. This is equivalent to nearly 200 pairs per person per year.
  • Globally, about 1.4 billion people throw away 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year
  • In the U.S., Americans threw out 31 million tons of plastic — including plastic utensils — in 2010, making up 12.4 percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 8 percent of that plastic waste was recovered from recycling.

The impact of so many discarded chopsticks is of course unsustainable. With China now the world’s largest importer of wood, governmental organizations are aware that the nation cannot sustain the level of deforestation needed to manufacture so many throwaway products. In 2006 China imposed a 5% tax on disposable chopsticks, a move which resulted in a drop in manufacturing.

“We must change our consumption habits and encourage people to carry their own tableware,” said Bo Guangxin recently at a gathering of China’s National People’s Congress. The chairman of Jilin Forestry Industry Group noted that only 4,000 chopsticks can be created from a 20-year-old tree, 2 million of which were being cut down each year to produce them. Even more radically, Bo Guangxin suggested that restaurants might have to offer metal knives and forks instead of traditional chopsticks.

Deforestation caused by so much wood use not only harms the local environment – leading to mudslides and weakened resilience against flooding – but also affects global warming by the removal of trees which capture and store CO2.

Out of all the animal protein options available, I tend to favor fish. My friends and family are also big sushi fans. Whenever we go out we tend to chose sushi diners to indulge ourselves with. (Good thing is that sushi fills us up quickly.) Almost every sushi restaurant I’ve ever been to, uses disposable wooden chopsticks. I always felt bad for using these chopsticks because I know that all of these chopsticks will end up in the landfill. For this reason, I added a pair of chopsticks to my travel utensil bag. It is a bit odd to pull it out during diner at times, but then again, making waves is always odd in the beginning.

The Simple Route To Less Trash

11.01.2016

0800

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

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

T-Shirt Quilt Process

 

09.28.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Old Comforter you want to use as the backing for the quilt
  • Enough t-shirts to cover the back of the comforter easily
  • Sewing machine

Tools:

  • Sewing machine

Not everyone in my family is big on donating items as quickly as I do. I don’t mind that, so I wanted to come up with a solution that would satisfy the use of the items but still make more room in the closet. In this case, the clothing item were the cotton t-shirt collections my family had accumulated. My older brother has a small collection of printed shirts from years of working for different companies or they were from different social events. I have kept a small collection for my mother over the years from elementary school t-shirts, to college t-shirts. I kept these because they marked a point in my life history that was significant. It bothered me that my t-shirts were stuffed into a bag in my old closet, so I wanted to make good use of them.

For both collections, I decided to make a t-shirt quilt for each family member. My brother’s shirts filled up one quilt and by combining my t-shirts as well as some of my mom’s, I would be able to create a single quilt for her. I found my brother’s old comforter which had The Transformers print on it and used that as the backing for his. I used my old comforter which had The Wuzzles print on it, for my mom’s quilt.

A few examples of t-shirt quilts that I’ve come across, suggest to cut out perfect squares in which the logo or image is centered in the middle of the square. I didn’t want to use this method because I didn’t want to waste any t-shirt material. I didn’t see the point in having perfect squares when the images varied so much on where they were located on each shirt. Also, I knew I could overlap the rows and create a slightly thicker quilt by leaving the extra material in place.

I decided to make this process in bullet form since a formal post would be too long to read, so here it goes:

  1. Cut off all of the sleeves and collars from each shirt. Put aside the shirt sleeves which have logos printed on them because you will include them in the quilt later on as gap fillers. Keep your scraps when you make this project because you never know when you may need the extra material to fill in gaps.
  2. Lay out the rows to see how you want the over all tile pattern to sit on the quilt and move them around if necessary. (I wanted each color shirt to create a checkered pattern with their base color)
  3. Gather the sets of t-shirt rows and placed them on the blanket in the order from the top of the quilt, to bottom of the quilt. (You can take a picture before you move the tiles from the final layout on the blanket too) dsc_4946
  4. Start pinning the t-shirts together with the shirts all facing upright and face to face. During this time, you may notice that come of the “t-shirt trimming” might be crooked, but that’s fine because that’s why you have the filler pieces. dsc_4950
  5. Sew the tiles together in each row of shirts so that the rows become one piece. dsc_4951
  6. Lay each row on the blanket as you want them to look and start pinning the rows to the blanket. Use as many sewing pins as necessary and be careful, because you may get pricked by those. Keep in mind that these pins may come apart once you move the blanket to the sewing machine, so you may want to pin the fabric together and give extra room on the pin for movement error. dsc_4982
  7. For the areas that I saw were lacking in t-shirt fabric, I added in the t-shirt fillers. This usually happed around the edge of the blanket. dsc_5002dsc_5001
  8. In order for me to fit the comforter into the sewing machine, I rolled it up on one side and sewed it through like this: (you my want to unravel it due to the weight of the blanket and that it may pull against the sewing machine as you feed it through) dsc_4982dsc_4987dsc_4993
  9. Keep sewing, patient and you’ll finish. I sewed these tiles across the blanket. I have seen some people sew in a grid pattern along the tile edges. Since my tiles don’t line up exactly to the row above, I decided to only sew my tiles across the blanket. dsc_4995

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This is a process and it takes time. There were a number of times when my sewing machine stitching backed up and I ended with a clump of thread on the backside of my quilt or when my needle broke twice. Just keep going and you’ll end  up with the final product in no time. It’s an interesting project and you can put a spin on it however you like. This is a completely customized project which makes the intent that much more meaningful. I really am happy about how the blankets turned out and I know that my family is too.

Upcycling Sleeves Into Reusable Gift Bags

09.19.2016

0800

Materials:

  • Leftover t-shirt sleeves from the shirts you planned to make into a t-shirt quilt
  • Sewing kit

Tools:

  • Sewing machine

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.

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Bags:

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.

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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.

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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.

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(sorry for the blurry picture, but you get the idea)

Final Product:

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.

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If you want to check out some other options for eco-friendly gift wrapping, check out these gift wrapping ideas from these other bloggers:

 

Zero Waste Cleaning

09.12.2016

0800

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My cleaning routine is fairly simple. I use a mixture of water and vinegar to wipe down surfaces (in the water bottle) and I use Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint soap for washing dishes and even cleaning my sink and bathtub (in the wide mouthed Ball Mason Jar). I use baking soda if I want to exfoliate a surface if necessary. I’ve even used the soap to wash my cat when he needed a bath. This soap is so useful in my life and Dr. Bronner’s soap has a long legacy of producing quality soaps.

This is how the Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One soap company explains their quality: Other Ways Dr. Bronner’s Makes Higher-Quality Soaps

  • Unlike most commercial soapmakers, who distill the glycerin out of their soaps to sell separately, we retain it in our soaps for its superb moisturizing qualities.
  • We super-fat our bar soaps for a milder, smoother lather.
  • We use natural vitamin E from sunflower seeds and citric acid from fermented tapioca to protect freshness.
  • We do not add any chelating agents, dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances.
  • We use pure and powerful high-quality certified organic essential oils.
  • Our liquid soaps are three times more concentrated than most so-called “liquid soaps” on the market, and they are only a few percent away from being a solid, which saves on packaging materials.
  • Our soaps are a superb value, costing less than less-concentrated, inferior detergent body-wash “liquid soaps.”
  • Our soaps are most popular for at-home washing, but they are also the soap of choice for many campers and hikers, as they are biodegradable and nature-friendly.
  • We also use better packaging; our plastic cylinder bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

You can check out the rest of their story and legacy here,Dr. Bronner’s Legacy , and you can check out their website here: Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One .

I haven’t used store bought chemical cleaners for the past five years, and as I discovered alternative ways to clean, I was much happier knowing I wasn’t inhaling the fumes from my cleaning products. Although cleaning can be a touchy subject, due to how people view “dirty” or “clean”, I think it boils down to what you’re willing to sacrifice and risk. Some people are more comfortable with the chemicals, but I am not.

My soap is environmentally friendly and because it’s such a good soap, even when I dilute it with water, it still lathers really well! Due to the fact that I’m constantly diluting this soap, I never have to stock up each week. I make a bathroom bulk grocery run probably once every three months. Honestly, my lotions and soaps last me a long time.

It’s not a bad idea to eliminate the more harmful chemicals from your home. In fact, I’m an advocate for natural and organic cleaning products. Some people have commented that perhaps my way of cleaning isn’t sanitary, but unless I put my home through an autoclave, I don’t’ think it could ever be 100% clean. We as humans do retain a certain amount of bacteria in our bodies and if you’re THAT afraid of what comes out of your bodies, shouldn’t you be more concerned with what goes into it?

*UPDATE- 06.16.2017- I no longer use Olive Oil Dispenser – Square Tall Glass Oil Bottle and Stainless Steel Pourer Spout to contain my bulk liquid soap, but instead I now I refill my  32 oz, Dr. Bronner’s Organic Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap container. These containers are easier to clean and they have a much more durable design. I use a water bottle that was gifted to me, for my vinegar and water mix for cleaning.

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Zero Waste Gifts

08.17.2016

0800

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

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

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

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

Keeping Clutter Away

08.10.2016

0800

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So I stick to a few rules to keep clutter from piling up. Although I do live a simple life with a limited amount of possessions, clutter can still find its way into my living areas. So here are some rules that I use to keep my spaces and surfaces clear of clutter:

  • Wash dishes when you’re done with them. Obvious, I know, but too often we leave dishes to pile in the sink. When you’re done with dinner, everyone should pitch in to put away leftover food, wash dishes, and clean the table, stove and counters.
  • Keep counters and sink clean. If you cook or prepare food, wipe down the counters real quick when you’re done. When you do anything in the sink, rinse and wipe it down.
  • Keep floor clean. I find that most of the house needs sweeping or vacuuming only once a week, so that in itself is a bonus. I don’t wear shoes in the house so once a week floor sweeping is all it takes to keep it clean. I also keep items of of the floor so that running around with my microfiber cloth is a quick task.
  • Put away clothes when you take them off. If clothes are dirty, put them in the hamper. If they’re still clean, put them away or at least hang them up on a designated side of your closet so you know that you’re going to plan to wear it again later. With a capsule wardrobe, I tend to repeat pieces of clothes during the week.
  • Put other items where they belong. Instead of laying something on a counter, table, or floor, take a few seconds to put it where it belongs. This is a simple habit that will save tons of time.
  • Pick up before you go to bed. I like to do a quick pick-up before bedtime, of stuff that has been left around. This leaves the house beautifully clean when I wake up in the morning.

These are the main rules I stick to, it’s not a complicated system being that I also have a limited amount of possessions, but it does help. As life changes these rules may have a few others added on to adjust to everyone in the household. What are your rules you stick to?

Konmari Method

 

07.25.2016

0800

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So I heard about the Konmari Method that has been quite popular around the internet. Marie Kondo is a professional “tidier”, she specializes in tidying. She is the author of the book, The Konmari Method, and has inspired many people from around the world.  She helps people transform their homes into peaceful, inspiring spaces.When I read through the information, I actually thought the book was quite inspiring. I don’t own enough stuff for this system to work in my life but I do respect what Ms. Kondo has stated about our relationships with our items. Currently, I live a more minimal life but for those who do own more items in a few categories in their home, I think this is a great start to tidying up your home if you choose to. I think the biggest game changer in her method that I noticed was that instead of focusing on “fewer items” and therefore throwing out items in your home, she focuses on the relationship you have with each object. When you organize using the Konmarie Method, and you decide to donate or get rid of an item, you will respectfully end your relationship with your item. It’s an interesting twist and there’s no pressure to get rid of any of your items if you’re unsure about donating them. It really boils down to the question, “Does the object spark joy for you?”

Outline: Tidy by Category, Not location

  1. Order for tidying:
    1. Clothes (know what you like/dislike)
    2. Books
    3. Papers
    4. Komono (kitchen/bathroom/ food/linen/Arts & crafts/electrical/stationary)
    5. Sentimental Items
  2. Ask yourself: What is the ideal life you want to live from now on?
  3. Think of your ideal life, this is why you are tidying your place
    1. Clothes
      1. Take all of the items out to examine each one
      2. Pick up each item- Does it spark joy?
      3. Thank each item that does not spark joy, then release it
        1. If you are unsure- Does it spark enough joy to take the extra step to care for it?
      4. Hang long and heavy items on Left side of closet –> Right side of closet which is short and thing items
      5. Fold clothes so they stand vertically in your dressers, so that they are all visible at a glance
    2. Books
      1. Separate those that spark joy verses those that do not
    3. Papers
      1. Separate total disposal papers verses total necessity
      2. Sort for each person (Keep File & Pending File for each person)
  • TIPS:
    • Store larger items vertically, it will save you room
    • All items have a functional value, instructional value and emotional value.

With the KonMari Method, you can get out from underneath your clutter once and for all. Here’s how:

  1. Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works. Things will get messy again quickly. (All at once means allotting about 6 months to the project.)
  2. Visualize your destination. Before you throw things away, visualize your ideal lifestyle. Goals such as, “I want to live clutter free” or “I want to be able to put things away,” are too broad. You must think in concrete terms, such as: “I want to live like a Goddess, surrounded by peace and beauty.”
  3. Identify why you want to live the way you envision. For every answer ask yourself “why?” again. For example, if you want to live clutter free so you get a better night’s sleep, ask yourself, “Why do I want to sleep better?” Do this 3-5 times. When you find the answer to why you want to be tidy, you are ready to move on.
  4. Determine if each item “sparks joy.” Rather than focusing solely on throwing things away, which Ms. Kondo acknowledges only brings unhappiness, be sure to cherish what you love. Do this by taking each item in your hand and asking yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If it does not spark joy, then throw it out. Note: You must touch every item so that your body can react. This is NOT an intellectual process. It’s a “felt” physical sense that you can develop over time, or the kind of intuition I discuss in depth in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. You let your BODY and emotions tell you.
  5. Tidy by category, not location. In most households, items that fall into the same category are stored in multiple places. If you are tackling your clothes, then you must get all the clothes out of every closet and drawer in every room first. Start with tops first, then bottoms, and work from there. She also instructs you in the fine art of folding, which frees up an enormous amount of closet space. My drawers are now works of art—with my folded blouses and tops arranged like envelopes so that I can see everything easily.
  6. Tidy in the right order. Ms. Kondo says that the following order is the way to tidy: Clothes, Books, Papers, and then Komono (miscellaneous.) She goes into great detail on how to separate and each category into sub-categories.
  7. Discard before you place things back. You must discard first. Don’t put anything away until everything you are going to discard is removed.

How To Organize Your Home

Once you are done discarding, Ms. Kondo then teaches you how to organize. Again, there is an order and simplicity to this and everything has its place, even the items in your handbag! The KonMari Method also teaches you how to store all items of the same type in the same place so that things don’t become scattered and lead to more accumulation. Once you learn proper storage methods you will not only be organized, but you will save money because you won’t spend it on buying special storage items and gadgets. All you will need are drawers and boxes. Ms. Kondo prefers shoe boxes!

Hand Powered Kitchen Tools

 

07.18.2016

0800

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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:

  1. French Press
  2. Pepper grinder
  3. Lemon Juicer
  4. Can Opener
  5. Wine Bottle Opener
  6. Scissors
  7. Vegetable Peeler
  8. Knife Sharpener

A few of my substitute kitchen tools include:

  1. Wine Bottle, used as a rolling-pin
  2. Pyrex bowls, used as a nut grinder
  3. 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.

Composting

07.13.2016

0800

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I have a compost at home and I love adding to it. It’s a great way of how I get rid of my food scraps without adding it to the landfill. Currently I use the Lifetime 65 gallon tumbler, which is large enough to add multiple layers of dry leaves and moist food scraps. The design allows me to rotate the pile so I won’t have to run the pile using a hand tool.

Composting is the process of breaking down or decomposing organic materials for use as an excellent soil amendment. Beneficial bacteria and fungi do their part to return this waste into a form usable once again by plants. These microbes need air, water, food, and heat to thrive. Keeping the microbes “happy” will speed up the process.

There are a few benefits of composting such as:

  • Saves landfill space, as well as, time and gas transporting yard waste.
  • Improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture, reducing watering costs.
  • Provides needed humus and nutrients for healthy plants.

With the Lifetime Compost Tumbler, it:

  1. Hides the messy appearance of a compost pile, and takes less space.
  2. Easily rotates saving time and effort of turning a pile.
  3. Reduces smell by enclosing composting material and providing adequate air supply to maintain desired aerobic microbiological activity.
  4. Helps to maintain proper moisture by shedding rain and shielding compost from drying winds.

First I  chose a location on level grass or dirt where drainage won’t affect pavement and a location where it will be convenient to access for loading. This location also has direct sunlight will help heat up the compost, and then I started adding to create my compost pile. I added:

  1. KITCHEN SCRAPS: like fruit and vegetable peelings, cores, eggshells, and coffee grounds.
  2. LAWN CLIPPINGS: can be returned directly to the lawn with a mulching blade or composted as desired, especially if the grass clippings are too long to be left on the lawn.
  3. LEAVES: can be mowed to reduce their size which will speed up decomposition and increase the amount which will fit in the composter.
  4. WOOD: such as branches must be chipped or shredded in pieces smaller than 1 inch. Saw dust must be resin free i.e. no particle board.
  5. PLANTS: discarded from the garden, straw and hay.
  6. MANURES: from herbivores e.g. cows, rabbits, or chickens. Excessive amounts will also increase the salt content of the compost.

But I don’t add:

  1. Meat, bones, greases, dairy products, or bread which attract pests.
  2. Anything treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  3. Black Walnut leaves which inhibit plant growth.
  4. Oak leaves and pine needles which decompose slowly.
  5. Diseased plants or weeds with seeds.
  6. Pet or human waste.
  7. Plastic, foil, etc.

Usually the compost is done when it becomes dark brown and has an earthy smell. I then add the compost directly to ornamental plants as mulch or work into soil. The composter can easily be dragged after dumping to make room for another pile. I usually dump the compost directly onto the soil underneath it and then move it around accordingly. I hope more people will consider composting as a means to get rid of your foods scraps as opposed to dumping them in the trash. Check with your local trash collection agency or recycling center, some have donation stations or pick up services for compost and/or foods scraps . Some areas will also pay you for your compost as well.