Zero Waste Gifts

08.17.2016

0800

DSC_4541DSC_4539

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

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

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

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

Biking Transportation vs. Vehicle Transportation

 

08.04.2016

0700

THIS:

2016-06-13 12.05.202016-06-13 09.15.21

OR THIS?

DSC_4657

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repairing Versus Buying

 

08.01.2016

0800DSC_4386DSC_4387DSC_4388

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Batteries Please

 

07.27.2016

0800

So, I’m not allowed to own products with batteries. It’s actually a rule I’ve laid out for myself. I’m not the most reliable person to keep track of what items need new batteries so it’s just a lot easier for me to not own items that need them. On top of that, I don’t like using a product and then realizing that the product is loosing power, and then decides to stop completely. I’m just not good at owning those types of products. I also hate keeping track of what kinds of batteries I need on hand.

On the other hand, I do own items that included a rechargeable battery when I first purchased them. These products include my Nikon DSLR camera, laptop, ipad and iphone. With those products, I know the battery will eventually give out, which is why I’m almost considering to not purchase another ipad after this one. I can imagine my life without my ipad, but we will see what the future holds. I know that with every iphone and ipad model, there will always be a newer and “more efficient” model to come, and I’m not sure how much I want to keep up with it. It’s that decision between what I need versus what I want in my life.

The reason for this rule, is because I tend to forget about the products that had batteries in them, and the batteries end up corroding through their shell, which subsequently destroys the integrity of the product. I’ve had to say goodbye to quite a few products over the years due to this lack of attention to my things. But now, I currently own three products that require alkaline or lithium batteries, which includes my television remote control, my car key FOB and my Fitbit. The Fitbit and the key FOB require Lithium button batteries and the remote control requires alkaline. I do own a DVD player but I don’t currently keep batteries in my DVD remote control and it’s used very infrequently, so I don’t really deplete my battery supply for it. When I do use it, I’ll actually install two AAA batteries as needed then remove them when I’m done. I pretty much only have to pay attention to my television remote control and replace those batteries on time. I keep four extra AAA batteries in my emergency kit but no button batteries. I do have an extra emergency radio/clock that I keep in my emergency kit but it requires two AAA batteries which I don’t keep in it. If I ever need to use it in an emergency, I’ll insert the AAA batteries when I need to. Also, if I really need another button battery, I’ll just go out to get it. I might actually stop using the Fitbit for awhile just so that I don’t have to buy button batteries for it. I’ve considered not using my key FOB, but when winter rolls around, the parking lot around my job gets really dark and I’m slightly wary about walking out to my car alone. I’d prefer to be able to hit a panic button to attract attention to myself with the tool. I have opted out of using it during the rest of the year though.

I have a wind up flashlight as well as a solar powered clock/radio in my emergency kit, which work pretty well. I use a Seiko Women’s Stainless Steel Analog watch, which has automatic self wind movement through my body movements. This means:

  1.  The watch does not contain a battery and is powered solely by the movement of your arm while you’re wearing the watch. If you don’t wear the watch for long enough every day, you won’t provide enough power to keep the watch running.
  2. An automatic watch is less precise than a quartz (battery powered) watch, therefore the time can be off as much as 10 seconds per day. So even if you keep your watch powered up, you’ll probably have to adjust the time every now and then.

I do love that my life became simpler and when I stopped buying so many batteries for so many different products, it was one errand that I could cross off my list and not worry about.

DSC_4515DSC_4519

Konmari Method

 

07.25.2016

0800

125_2598

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

Outline: Tidy by Category, Not location

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

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

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

How To Organize Your Home

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

Reusing Fabric and Thread

07.20.2016

0800

So I had leftover thread and fabric from making my homemade produce bags, I didn’t want to add them to my trash pile because I knew I could still reuse the material. At the time I didn’t know what to use the extra thread and fabric but I kept it anyway.

Then when I was adjusting my hallway mirror one day, I noticed that the mirror kept banging against the wall (which drove me nuts). I don’t like the sound of an object not secured safely or is unstable in any way. I took my extra fabric and sewed cushions over the metal hanging hooks that were attached to the back of the mirror. I’m lucky that this mirror already had staples on it and I utilized them to secure the fabric to the back.

The first image is leftover fabric that I pulled from my pile of fabric and thread scraps. I took a close up image of the attached hanging hooks and what the hanging hooks looked like afterwards. The last image is what the back of the mirror looks like now. I’ve never tried this before but it worked pretty well. I may just go around the house to look for more items to cushion against hard surfaces.

If you have extra fabric around, I suggest to keep it and find a way to reuse it. It’ll keep the fabric out of the landfill and you get to reuse the material for something useful.

DSC_4690DSC_4688DSC_4694DSC_4697

Hand Powered Kitchen Tools

 

07.18.2016

0800

DSC_4445

DSC_4456

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.

Zero Waste Shopping And Why

07.11.2016

0800

2016-04-08 13.05.09

There are a few reasons as to why I chose to live a zero waste life and why I continue my efforts in doing so. Here are a few reasons of why I continue to live this way and have found happiness in it:

  •  Facing the reality of the packaging convenience
    • Everything I’ve ever known since I was young was that groceries came pre- packaged. I never lived in an area where packaged free foods were readily available and promoted as so. Once I started using cloth bags that I sewed and bulk bins became more prevalent in my neighborhood grocery stores and surrounding cities, I started changing my lifestyle and really understanding how conditioned I was to accepting that producing trash was normal. Yes, pre-packaged items are convenient. Yes it would be so much easier to simply accept it, but the damage I know I’m creating for the environment is not something I can accept so easily. If I can make a change and give up a few items, I will.
  • Life becomes simpler (cleaning, routines, eating)
    • I have to admit, becoming zero waste has changed the way I clean and approach cleaning completely. It takes me less than five minutes to wipe down my bathroom counter and clean the bathroom sink. It also takes me less than  three minutes to clean the toilet too. Granted, scrubbing the bathtub takes slightly longer, but really it’s still a very simple process.  I just apply some Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint soap or my vinegar and water cleaning combination, then scrub, then rinse off.
    • Cleaning the kitchen is just as simple too. Wiping down counters that are clutter free and rinsing the sink out, are basically all I do. I don’t think cleaning could take fewer steps than what I currently do now. For cleaning the floor, I just run around with my microfiber broom and pick up all the dust and just dump it outside. When I wash dishes, because I don’t really use oil and I’m a vegetarian, cleaning up is pretty quick. All of my food is pretty much water based so it doesn’t really create a sticky mess.
  • Spend less money
    • I do spend less money now that I’ve simplified my life. It was a bit odd in the beginning, because I was used to spending a certain amount of time in certain stores, and I had a route when I was in each. Like when you go to specific stores and pick up certain weekly or monthly items, you have that path you take from the beginning of your trip around the store, to the very last stop at the check out stand. Sometimes I’d spend hours inside a store, not realizing how much time had passed or would window shop (for no reason at all) and time simply slipped away. Not having that route and creating shorter routes with less time spent “shopping”, actually freed up time in my schedule. I never wander the grocery isles anymore.Now I go straight to the bulk bins and then stop off at the vegetables and fruit, and then I’m done. Sometimes I’ll stop off at the hot foods area, grab a coffee or some lunch (maybe some cookies) too- but then I’ll leave, because shopping while hungry is never good. Still, my time spent in a grocery store is significantly short, even with my stops.
    • When I go buy clothes, because I have a capsule wardrobe with a specific color scheme, I am looking for specific pieces to complete my collection. I don’t get distracted by new trends or “the color of the year”, I simply look for what I need and if I can’t find it, then I’ll leave. For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping too much, having a capsule wardrobe solved a lot of my issues with shopping. I used to like shopping because I would receive new items, but I always felt exhausted afterwards. The exhaustion was spent combing the racks, which half of the time- never fit my style anyhow. Yet, I did constantly look for bargains and deals. The “what if” factor always kept me looking at more clothes. “What if there’s something good on the next rack?” “What if I missed a good bargain?” With my capsule wardrobe, I know exactly what I need and nothing more is necessary.
  • Support local businesses
    • I really do enjoy supporting local businesses. My city has a high turn over for restaurants and stores in my city’s downtown area, and it’s disappointing to see restaurants leave. For many reasons, they may leave, but a lot of what I hear is that there simply wasn’t enough traffic for them to stay in business. I do feel bad for these businesses because I can’t imagine how hard and costly it must be to start a business and try to sustain it.
  • Eat healthier
    • With only stopping off at the bulk foods sections and the vegetables and fruits, my eating habits definitely improved. I don’t buy cheese and I rarely buy eggs now so I’ve noticed a change in how I feel when I sleep and workout. I still love burritos, sandwiches and french fries but for the most part, my grocery haul is much healthier.
  • Preserving the planet for the future
    • I know that by giving up meat, I’m helping the plant (even if it’s just a little bit) and I hope that this planet can withstand the damage that’s been done to it. I try to be conscious of what I use and how I spend my money and time. I pay attention to convenience over effort in every aspect of my life. I may not be on this earth for long, but I hope that I’m doing my part in trying to preserve it for future generations.
  • Keep local nature beautiful
    • I like my city, in fact, I really love my city.  I’m very blessed to be able to live where I do and have all the luxury of eating a variety of foods and meeting people from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. I want my city to stay beautiful and maintain its character and natue, so I’ll do my part to try to keep it that way.
  • Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals
    • With the advancement of technology and new discoveries drummed up in labs. I’m slightly weary of what toxic chemicals are around me. I know that I can’t control everything, but I can pay attention to what I consume and use in beauty products or cleaning products.
  • Become more self-sufficient
    • This point follows along with the point I made earlier that I enjoy simplifying my life and routines. With my newly discovered routines, there’s a pride that goes along with the outcome I’ve designed for my life. It does take effort and the first try of a routine or product may not work, but if you sit down and step back, and analyze the outcome you want- you’d be surprised that you’ll be able to find that comfortable and happy place in your zero waste life.
  • Cherish what you own and your time spent on taking care of them
    • My capsule wardrobe has created a valuable lesson for me in that I cherish each piece of clothing I own; all 30 pieces to be exact. I never looked at my clothes that way before, but now that’s all I see. Each piece has a place and purpose in my wardrobe. Even with my digital books and photos, I really do enjoy not owning a lot of physical items. I still value the digital photos because they still capture a moment in time, but if they were to disappear, I’m not sure how much I’d miss them.  The moments captured still happened, there’s just no physical recorded of it happening. I love that I own a surfboard and snowboard and the memories I create with those are far more valuable than any of my sports gear. I love that my bathroom and kitchen cleaning routines are so simple and fast, that I can be rushing to get out of the house to get to work and still be able to clean my bathroom in less than five minutes. I think I like the fluidity of not owning items in my life. I really enjoy streaming Netflix or movies from different internet forums. Owning an item is a commitment and by streaming movies, television shows or even music,  it connects me with the world more.  With streaming, I can watch and listen to a piece of entertainment, enjoy it, and then let it go. I’m okay with that. I really like that experience each time I go through it.

These are the reasons why I chose to start a zero waste lifestyle and why I continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I still will produce trash once in a while, but majority of the time, I don’t. A simple life takes time to get used to (as strange as that sounds). I had to be comfortable in how simple my life was becoming but not stay stagnant. With all the free time I had created, I didn’t really know what to do in the beginning of this journey. When you’re used to cleaning your home for three hours and then it cuts down to thirty minutes, it takes some getting used to. I think that’s why I love designing, my mind is always moving textures, shapes, functions and systems around in my head. I still try to be a better participant with this lifestyle each day, and I’ll continue to try new experiences and somehow do it without producing waste. I hope this blog post helped for those who are curious about the benefits fo living a zero waste lifestyle. I really do highly recommend trying it.

Spreading The Zero Waste Word

 

07.04.2016

0800

DSC_4217

As the Zero Waste movement as started to gain momentum in the past few years, it’s important for those who currently practice living a zero waste lifestyle to continue to spread the zero waste word. I’ve been approached a few times in grocery stores and in my work place of how and why I transfer food in cloth bags and Ball Mason jars. I usually take this time to simply explain the zero waste movement, not in-depth but a simple explanation; “To eliminate my trash output into the environment”. In the beginning of my journey, I noticed that I received awkward stares from strangers at grocery stores and very few people asked why I carried around cloth bags. I noticed confused looks as I would fill up my bags or jars at the grocery store though, I tink they might have thought I was stealing the bulk foods as I filled up my bags. The cashiers noticed but they had to by the time it was my turn to pay for my items. A few people have told me that they wanted to start “going zero waste” but it seemed overwhelming and they didn’t know where to begin. That made perfect sense since I felt the same way when I first started. For that reason, I carry around extra produce bags that I’ve sewn to give out to people who want to get started. I’ve already recorded the tare weights on them, so it’s a matter of the customer filling up the bag and relaying the PLU number to the cashier. I made it a point to sew extra bags to give away because I want those who want to start this lifestyle to be able to physically hold an example of how to get started. Granted, anyone could look up on YouTube or Pintrest of how to sew cloth bags, but this is my way of encouraging people with a some small starter cloth produce bags.

Also, when you lead by example, you might be surprised who will follow suite. Sometimes speaking about the zero waste movement won’t fit every environment. There will be environments which everything that is wasted will not be salvaged and easing thi=ose in that environment into the zero waste movement will take time. It takes a lot of effort to start living a zero waste life because there are sacrifices that each person must make and not all will be onboard. For instance my work place uses quite a bit of paper and they don’t compost. I would be great if we could start to compost, but that proposal also involves our building landlord to agree to it and so far he won’t. One of the smaller steps I have taken at work is introducing my Office Manager to the Grounds To Grow On Program by Keurig.

It’s still very important that we continue to talk about this issue due to the fact that we continue to produce and use plastic trash which is doing more damage to the environment than we can recover.

2016-04-14 07.40.402016-04-14 14.39.06

Replacing Items to Become More Minimal

06.29.2016

0800

DSC_4244

There are times when I purge my possessions and I’ll tend to donate my smaller items that are contained within larger ones. I know that I do not need certain items any longer and that will bring me to the question of ‘Should I replace it with a more convenient and logical container?’. There are a few reasons why I tend to trade out items for others. Sometimes the function of my possession will not benefit me any longer or simply that it takes up to much room.  As someone who tries to continually downsize and minimize my life, I’m in a constant battle with this issue.

When I look at what I’ve accumulated over the years, I can pinpoint each moment in my life when I bought all of my possessions. Each of those memories mark a certain age, stage of life and mindset I was in at the time. As I’ve grown older and my dreams changed as well as my goals, certain items in my life no longer fit. It used to take lot for me to let go of items. I never owned a lot of items to begin with, but the notion of letting certain items go was still not easy for me to get used to. I tend to look at my items and wonder “What if I need it someday?” and that question has always created hesitation.

As our society has changed, one of the newest discoveries was that services such as tool rentals or car rentals or lending  and trading services have become more accessible. I really do enjoy the fact that I can let go of certain items now because there is a service out there that can fulfil my  need for household chores or auto service and even more. The fact was, I used to want to hold onto items because I wanted to depend on me and only me to have the tool ready whenever I needed it. However that came with the burden of the items taking up room and the maintenance of the item. If I can find a service that can fulfil certain items I’m purging from my collection, then I will donate it and never look back. That decision in itself changes the way I look at everything I own.

Downsizing will usually result in the purging of items and I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. My life is still divided into functions and routines and even different areas of my home are separated, so by downsizing into smaller and more reasonable possessions- well it makes sense.

For instance, recently I donated my large toolbox for a smaller and more reasonably sized tool carrier. The length is shorter and the width is smaller but it still contained all of my tools perfectly. Also, I donated my old purse for my shoulderbag. I simply needed an a shoulder bag that could carry more items due to my current lifestyle.

Replacing items isn’t exactly living minimally but it is living zero waste. When I donate my items, I know that I do not need them any longer and they do not serve a purpose in my life anymore. Trying to make my life as compact as possible tends to be the reason for the tradeouts. Also, the smaller my containers are for different areas of my life, simply reminds me of the minimalist lifestyle I’ve committed myself to.

DSC_4245

DSC_4247

Trash Update

06.27.2016

0800

DSC_4674DSC_4673

So here is an update of my trash I’ve  produced since the beginning of this year:

  1. Gillette Disposable razor
  2. Clothing tags
  3. Plastic packaging and plumbing tape from a towel rack shelf I installed in the bathroom
  4. A plastic bag from a gift I received from a friend who traveled to Taiwan and brought back Oolong Tea.
  5. Hair ties after the rubber structure broke (I’m still trying to figure out how to contain my hair during workouts so I don’t have to use these)
  6. Fruit Stickers, which was my lack of paying attention to the fruit I bought and brought home.
  7. Dental floss due to the fact that I have round shaped teeth and I have to use dental floss in order to get to the food between the crevasses of my teeth. I wish I didn’t have to, but I have no choice.
  8. Elastic trim sewn into fabric, from making produce bags out of old linen sheets. These pieces are the elastic edges from the fitted sheets, which started to crumbled due to the age of the elastic. These elastic edges were so dry that the interior rubber material started to crumble and became a powder.
  9. Plastic seal, from a Vitamin E facial serum that I used.
  10. Plastic electrical prong covers from two power strips I had purchased.

I should be doing better but I was making a lot of small projects earlier on this year. I kept all of my extra fabric and thread from when I made a bunch of my cloth produce bags so I plan to reuse those materials in the future. Hopefully I’ll be able to produce less trash next year at this time. I’ll have an update of my trash collection in a few months and we’ll see where this pile ends up.

Bathroom Update

06.22.2016

0800

DSC_4546DSC_4644So I decided to write-up a bathroom update for this post. My ‘bathroom items’ layout has changed over the years due to the products I use and purchase but it seems that I’ve stumbled upon my final layout of my bathroom.

As you can see, I keep very few items in my medicine cabinet. On the top shelf, I keep sunblock for my face as well as my sport sunblock. I also keep my retainer on the top-level as well. After all these years since my days of wearing braces, I still wear my retainer once a week.

On my middle self, I keep my bulk face lotion and another mason jar that holds my dental floss, Diva cup, extra soap suction holders, a bathtub plug, a dental pick, and a small bottle of citrus essential oil.

On my bottom shelf is where I keep my bamboo toothbrush and baking soda. I keep a separate bar of soap to wash my face with and my deodorant crystal on this shelf as well. I have one towel bar alongside the left side of my vanity where I hang my makeup bag.

As you can see, I keep almost nothing on my vanity counter except of a cup and a bar of soap for the sink. I like to keep surfaces clean in the bathroom because it makes wiping down the counter a quick task.

In my bathtub/shower area, I have one container that holds my shampoo and conditioner, one bar of soap, a pumice stone and a wash rag. I keep a bucket in the bathtub to catch the cold water when I run the shower to warm up before I use it. I usually move that water to my toilet tank when it’s necessary, or water my plants with it. This is just my way of wasting less water and until I install  a new toilet and more efficient toilet, this method will do.

This is simply an update and living a zero waste life style has helped me in designing my morning and evening bathroom routines. I do enjoy how simple my bathroom looks and cleaning it is a very quick task.

My Clutch Hacks

 

06.20.2016

0800

So it seems that regardless of how I go about wanting to own a cute clutch or a simple clutch, it never seems to pan out for me. I always seemed to struggle between the super compact concept of a thin wallet and a clutch large enough to hold the rest of the items I need to carry around to make my life “convenient” (ie. my eyeglasses, lotion, charging cords, nail filer, lip balm, etc.). As a teenager, I always obsessed over different wallet and purse designs. As time moved on the trendy style of a large clutch and even larger purses became more popular and I couldn’t adapt. At one point I gave up, I figured that I would have a wallet and the rest of my crap would be thrown into my bag and I’d spend a good part of my day-to-day life digging around in it to find items I needed.

About two years ago, I persisted once more to find the perfect clutch for myself, and it came in the form.. of a fabric pencil case. Now as a designer I am supposed to be trained to look beyond what’s presented in front of me to see the potential in the object, and with this pencil case, I knew I had found my answer. But in order to make this pencil case work as a clutch, it needed my personal touch.

I utilized the walls of the pencil case due to the fact that once you add in a layer of fabric, you can create built-in pockets into the walls of your pencil case easily. When I created the pocket on one of the walls, I used a piece of fabric that I had already divided into smaller compartments. The reason why I used a wall of compartments as a wall pocket creator was because of the fact that I knew I’d carry around small “intimate” items and I needed a place for these. This compartment was going to help me separate my intimate items versus my practical items.

So on one side of my clutch, holds my coin purse, and credit cards and within the other wall holds my ear buds (not pictured- I leave them at work now) and my phone charger. And if you’re looking that the images, yes, I wrap my cards with an elastic band with a ring attached to it. I’ve tried so many different wallets and I’ve been unhappy with all of them, so it has come down to a simple piece of elastic and a metal ring. I’m quite picky about what holds my cards, and if it feels too bulky or is inconvenient to pull my cards out quickly and put them away quickly, most likely I won’t be happy with it.

Within the center divide where I had created tiny compartments, I keep my makeup. Where the pencil case widens and you can see the entire bottom of the case, I keep my eyeglasses there along with a small container of lotion. This seems like a horrible idea to keep my eyeglasses in that location, but the width of the lotion jar keeps the glasses from getting crushed as well as my comb that I keep along the other wall. I also keep my eyeliner pencil alongside my comb because it’s too big for the compartments.

To make this object even more convenient for myself, I attached an elastic band along one side of the clutch. If when I’m gripping my clutch and I happen to almost drop it, I can always catch it easily with the band still wrapped around my hand. I don’t like to hold objects, and this elastic band is also a way I reassure myself that if I’m not paying attention, I won’t accidentally leave it in a public place. And as always, I attached a ring and carabiner to it, so that it can hang on the inside of my shoulder bag. This pencil case/clutch always hangs vertically wherever I go so it seems that my eye glasses never get crushed.

So there it is, my pencil case/clutch/bag of everything.  I honestly really am finally happy that I found an answer for myself and no clutch seemed to satisfy my lengthy checklist of needs. I also chose this pencil case due to its material- it’s easily washable.

Sometimes re-defining what you need versus what you see is all it takes to find the answer that you’ve been looking for. In my case, I know it’s not the most attractive clutch, but what I was looking for was not just a clutch, but one that was so convenient to my lifestyle- I’m not sure it exists. If I find a better pencil case that has a more attractive exterior, perhaps I’ll work on re-designing that one.

DSC_4528DSC_4536DSC_4532DSC_4535DSC_4534

Donating Even More Stuff

 

05.25.2016

0800

DSC_4331

It takes awhile to really clean out your life. It takes a tremendous amount of time to go through every single part of your life, to go through every single room and then analyze every single routine that you go through with these items. These routines don’t just focus on the day to day routines such as your morning routine or evening routine, but seasonal as well as special events (ie. birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc.).

DSC_4441

I’ve been living this zero waste life for the past six years and I still find ways I can improve and reduce my green footprint. (I’m also donating a large amount of clothes due to my recent capsule wardrobe creation.) Only recently did I start to combine my zero waste lifestyle with a minimalistic approach to my lifestyle. Not producing waste is simple once you can refine your system, but my newest challenge was to figure out how to live with the least amount of stuff in each area of my life. With that challenge, I had to continually purge my life and re-evaluate everything I owned.

Regardless, donating items is a great way to repurpose the item to another person and it’s a great way to save the item from ending up in the landfill. I’ve donated to several charities over the years. I’ve donated to Goodwill Industries and  The Salvation Army International. Both of those charities have their own missions and visions and some may favor one over another. I personally donated to both for different reasons. Most recently, I discovered a program called the Homeless Prenatal Program, located in San Francisco. Their mission is “In partnership with our families, break the cycle of childhood poverty”. It’s a great program that I encourage people to donate to, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When I purged my closet, I also came across two gowns that I’m planning to donate to the The Princess Project Silicon Valley. This organization ‘…promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who cannot otherwise afford them. Our effort is made possible through invaluable volunteer, donor, and community support.”. I previously donated my own prom dress shortly after I went to college, but these other gowns now need new owners. There are actually quite a few organizations in the Bay Area that collect prom dresses, but there is a small window of time to donate the dresses, so please check the donation date ranges.

Also, there are a few websites that also allow for donating or exchanging items between neighbors such as CraigslistFreecycle and  Second Harvest Food Bank. I’ve actually used all of these organizations for donations in the past. With Craigslist and Freecycle, it’s pretty straight forward with donating items. You usually list your item on the website and offer it to whoever you choose. You can xhose, “first come, first serve” or perhaps there is a direct agreement of time and place of item-pick-up with the other person. Please be careful when using these types of sites and take extra precautions when making your exchange. If at all possible, make the exchange in a busy and public area.

I volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank when I was in college, and it was a pretty busy place. It was very organized, but busy nonetheless- especially on the weekends. It was a great experience and I wish I could have spent more time with the organization, but I wasn’t able to.

If you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area, please seek out any local charities, donation centers or even churches in your area, that might need your donations. You never know who might need your items or your time.

Clothing Edits

05.16.2016

0800

Sometimes after I purchase a clothing item from the thrift store, I’ll come home to find out that some adjustments are needed. If the item is not exactly what I need, I’ll add design edits to the product with my own creative touch to get to the specific use that I was really looking for in the store.

For my light blue blouse, the button holes of the blouse were stretched larger than the buttons, so I had to shrink the size down. The buttons were able to unhinge without much effort. With a little bit of thread and hemming, my button holes were sewn smaller and fitted accordingly.

DSC_4422
DSC_4423

For my shoulderbag, the bag was designed with double straps but I’m a single strap kinda gal. I  also hate trying to grab both straps, of any purse or handbag, each time I need to pick up the bag. This is what the bag looked like when I first bought it with both shoulder straps intact.

DSC_4250

With a little bit of cutting and resewing, this is what my strap for my shoulderbag looks like now. I left the other two rings on the bag because I use them to hang my bag up in my car (that’s for an upcoming post about how I hack my car). I’ve done this with another bags, one of which is actually my camera bag. I use the extra rings to hook carabiners when I go on impromptu photo shoots. Idealy I want the top to be closed, and once I figure out a way to design it, I’ll add that in too.

DSC_4437
DSC_4440
DSC_4438