so that I might recognize goodness, truth, and beauty beyond them.
Ace & Jig has offered fabric samples for their last few collections. I couldn't resist. Not only could these colorful squares work as the perfect patches...they could also become a colorful garland...a patchwork bolero-type vest...placemats...pillow...tote bag...quilt...
With three seasons worth of swatches, I'm finally committing to a happy, little, zero-waste project.
Today's kitchen cleaning involved touching everything. There's nothing better for deciding what can stay + what can go...and for reminding me what needs to be used up. Zero-waste means using things up before they go bad, and that sometimes means getting a bit creative.
We've been doing the Autoimmune Protocol diet for the past few months, so I have a few things that we don't usually buy. A few of these things were transferred into jars. I clipped a bit of information about how they can be used up + taped those scraps inside the cabinet door for future reference. I'll substitute a little coconut flour for gluten-free flour until it's gone + use some arrowroot flour as an egg substitute in baking recipes. There were some leftover probiotic capsules (that I bought to make coconut yogurt with) that I will add to my vitamin routine.
For the past month, I've been trying to use up the tea that I have...but have to admit that I'm just not enjoying a couple of them. I sent them to work with Jo + she was sure that her co-workers would appreciate them.
A few wheat stalks that I used as an autumn decoration were still hanging around + were easily composted.
Every month or so I find a couple of things that need to be used up. It's a nice little creative exercise, and I feel great letting nothing go to waste.
Living simply makes room for love + compassion.
We can work to change public policy, electing leaders who are honest + progressive.
We can show respect for love.
To save our planet we can stop thoughtless waste.
We can share resources.
All these gestures show a respect + a gratitude for life.
When we value the delaying of gratification
+ take responsibility for our actions,
we simplify our emotional universe.
Living simply makes loving simple.
The choice to live simply necessarily enhances our capacity to love.
It is the way we learn to practice compassion,
daily affirming our connection to a world community.
I was using my deodorant the other day + it hit me just how happy I am that I finally made the switch. It took me years to find the right deodorant (for me)...through trial + stinky error + fear of trying again. Now I love my deodorant...weird as that sounds. :) (I'm currently using up this one that my partner tried + abandoned.) :(
Honestly, the same feelings apply to pretty much all of my zero-waste switches. Not only do they save plastic from being produced + discarded + polluting + sticking around...but they generally are better in many other ways as well. My deodorant lasts SO long, doesn't contain harmful ingredients, doesn't discolor my clothing + really works.
Another favorite zero-waste switch is cleaning supplies. We're still using the same bottle + rags years later. I resisted switching from paper towels to cloth rags + from chemical cleaners to vinegar + baking soda. But now, I love that I don't feel like I'm inhaling toxic fumes when I clean. Nothing gets dumped "away" + everything comes out sparkly clean. Vinegar + baking soda are cheap too. I've never understood the effects of advertising more clearly than in the case of cleaning supplies. Swaying consumers away from these simple, effective solutions was pure evil genius.
Favorite zero-waste switch number three is staying out of the middle aisles at the grocery store. Pursuing zero-waste has really changed the way we eat for the better. We eat mostly whole foods that we can find without packaging...vegetables, fruits, herbs, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices, tea, dairy, + eggs. Not only are we avoiding packaging...but most junk food too. I still find it quite intriguing that the relationship between healthy eating + zero-waste is so closely linked.
I also love composting. When we stay out of the middle aisles at the grocery store, most of our waste can be turned into soil. We no longer need garbage bags, because there is nothing gooey to go in the trash. Not only does this save biodegradable matter from being entombed + preserved in the landfill...but it creates the richest dirt in which to grow our own organic fruits + vegetables. Pure magic!
Finally the most ubiquitous zero-waste switch of all (+ also one of my very tippy-top favorites) is my water bottle. I just love it so much. It's almost always with me. I love the way it feels...that it keeps things hot or cold (insulated)...that it's easy to clean (wide top)...+ that it reminds me to stay hydrated. I'm pretty sure it's saved hundreds of cups from the landfill...so far.
In writing this, I noticed that there were some fears that I had to overcome regarding each of these switches. I feared that I would smell if I wore deodorant without antiperspirant. I feared that my washing machine would be filthy if I washed cleaning rags in it + that vinegar + baking soda would not work. I didn't really know how we'd get full or how expensive it would be to stay out of the middle aisles. I didn't know if composting would work or if it would attract rats to our yard. After letting our reusable plastic water bottles go because BPA was found to be harmful, I resisted the cost of the stainless steel alternative + feared I'd have a hard time cleaning them.
It's also interesting to notice that all but the last switch don't really costs much money to try out (+ the water bottle is an extremely good investment). :) So...maybe it's worth giving one of these switches a go (if you haven't already)...just to see how it goes. It's possible that you might find that the benefits aren't limited to the decrease in waste. They just might exceed your expectations, like they did mine! The new year is a great time to make a commitment to send less to the landfill! :)
Phew! After reading a recent collection of articles concerning garment workers, I went through our list of ethical brands again with a slightly different perspective. I finally made it through the list + feel quite encouraged by this collection of ethical makers! It took me a while to get through the list, because:
a. there are SO many more ethical brands out there now than when I first began! (yay!)
b. there is so much good stuff being made by these brands that I was easily distracted!
Unfortunately, there were a few disappointments like:
-BackBeatCo moved some of their production to India
-Richer Poorer stopped using organic cotton + USA production
-Dusen Dusen moved production overseas
-Lacausa is making some of their clothing overseas
I really hate to call brands out like this, but thought I'd let you know in case one of these is a favorite of yours + you'd like to reach out to let them know what is important to you, your feelings +/or hopes.
On the other hand, there are brands realizing that their customers support ethical choices + moving toward making their offerings even more ethical! (happy, happy dance!!)
-Christy Dawn is working toward making regenerative cotton dresses in collaboration with cotton farmers in India
-Mate the Label shifted to making all of their product from organic cotton this year. They use cotton thread rather than polyester (making their garments completely biodegradable) + are working toward getting away from using even compostable product bags
-Imogene + Willie is now making all of their knits in-house in Nashville
-Industry of all Nations now offers repairs + re-dyeing
-Hackwith Design House seems to have moved to using all natural fibers
-Ecoalf is using pineapple "leather" in their footwear
Fantastically exciting, right!!? And those are just the advancements I noticed this go around. Many other brands continue their commitments to caring well for farmers, garment workers, the environment + customer!
There were a few brands that were removed from the list + a bunch that were updated. I tried to make note of the many brands manufacture within a few miles of their headquarters which means that it is much easier to keep an eye on production + to see to the well-being of the garment workers that make their clothing (exposing the reason for the prevalence of California based brands).
Brands respond to voices! Many brands extended their size range this year thanks to a number of women voicing their case for such. Bravo to speaking up + to the brands that listened + took action! Speak up! :) I think this has been the most exclamation point heavy post I've written...but this is what this whole thing is all about + it deserves celebration! Wish we could all jump up + down together! :)
Lovely images via links.
A photo of a set of wooden handled brushes will get a lot more clicks than a photo of a forest under the #zerowaste tag on social media. One could say that one is the how + one is the why. Another could say that one costs the other...or that one is necessary + one is unnecessary.
I want to say that's ok. It's human nature for whatever reason. I'm all for anyone giving zero-waste habits a go...for any reason. Each straw skipped helps + any zero-waste habit can snowball into more action + awareness. But I would like to caution against zero-waste involving a shopping list...because more often than not it will simply remain a way of consuming rather than a way of thinking.
This problem is demonstrated by the cashier checking me + my toilet paper out at the grocery store telling me that she is trying that internet toilet paper that she can't remember the name of. I supply the name + hope she realizes the irony of this whole situation. She could just walk down the aisle of the store she works in to buy paper-wrapped, recycled, toilet paper rather than having a huge box shipped across the country just for her. Ugh.
Zero-waste isn't a collection of pretty wood handled brushes or tote bag full of stuff to lug around. It's a way of thinking that inspires a thoughtful way of life.
I did not play sports growing up. I am terrible at anything involving round, bouncy things. I don't like to sweat. But...I've been consistently exercising for the past few years. I'm still not buff or fit...but I am stronger than I was + I have learned a few things about making a lasting habit from the realization that I've kept this habit going.
-knowing myself + making manageable commitments ::
---three days per week :: Though I'd like to say that I exercise every day, I know that it's better to say that I exercise three times per week than...well...less. I decided that three times per week would be floor. I'd like to make a fourth day's walk outdoors more consistent this year.
---no more than two days between workouts :: This allows for being sick + bad weather + holidays. It keeps up the momentum + muscle.
---setting reasonable expectations :: When we started I told myself that I would not berate myself for being weak or slow. I was a beginner + I would celebrate the fact that I got moving that day. I did + I do...and I'm stronger + faster than I was. If I overdid every time I went, I might resist going or hurt myself + need to recover. Consistency is the goal.
-having partners helps a lot :: Knowing that my girls are depending on me to keep my promises, provides so much motivation to get out the door. We can laugh at how tired we are together afterward + high five the fact that we did it.
-being flexible :: Yes, increasing bodily flexibility is key...stretch. But mental flexibility is also helpful. If I can't do down dogs, because of an excessively runny nose or our teacher cancels class...I don't skip...I walk, ride bikes, row, do weights, etc. instead.
-location :: I still think that walking outside is a great way to get exercise + we do that often. It's a cheap way to exercise + offers time in nature...which I think is essential. But I have to admit that a temperature controlled space is great. When our city announced that they were building a more-cost-effective, city-run fitness center within two miles of our home, I committed to joining. I heard recently that the closer one's gym is to one's home, the more likely one is to go. I know it's helpful for us.
-choosing the best time :: I like working out in the morning, so that it's not hanging over my head all day...and I can't have the excuse of being too tired by the end of the day. On the other hand, one of my girls feels she has more energy in the evenings.
-scheduling ahead :: Every time the girls' work + school schedules change, we address when we'll go to the gym. Set times that we can depend on throughout the week help us keep to our commitment. We don't have to scramble to figure it out day by day, and we keep those times clear of other commitments.
Last week, I had a terrible cold, and I knew that my girls didn't want to miss another gym day. I decided that I'd just do what I could + not feel bad about setting the level lower on the bike or just walking instead. I felt so happy afterward + realized that I don't even dislike going to the gym anymore. I mean...I actually sort of like it. :)
Often, by the time a book I put on hold arrives at my library, I've forgotten how I came across it. All About Love by Bell Hooks stands out as the book Brene Brown referenced in the piece I mentioned yesterday. It does not disappoint.
A very good use of my time.
Don't buy it if you don't need it.
A simple wardrobe.
Use what you have. :)
Yesterday we wished we could send our rain to Australia. Today snowflakes are falling outside our windows. Wherever you find yourself this weekend, take good care of the world.
lots of love,
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time