Tuesday was the day that my shampoo bar ran out. My feeling is that one bar would last me approximately two months. I started this bar on January 1...and cut the bar in half to share it with Julia about two weeks ago.
If one bar would work for two months for one person, I would need to buy six bars per year for myself. My bar cost $16 per bar, so would cost $96 per year for one person. For Julia + I that would be $192 spent on shampoo per year. Another concern with this bar is that reviewers say it melts quicker in warmer months.
The bulk jug of shampoo that I was using cost $45 and lasted a year with three of us using it. That means that one year's worth of shampoo for one person cost $15 (versus $96 for bars).
As far as waste goes, the shampoo in the jug is made in the USA. It ships in a cardboard box that I can reuse + can eventually be recycled. The jug itself gets recycled + is part of buying shampoo in bulk in a store as well. The shampoo bar was made in New Zealand. It came (from within the USA) in a paper box in a big plastic bubble wrap envelope. (The conditioner bar I ordered at the same time came in a second plastic bubble wrap envelope....ugh!) I could order a year's worth of shampoo bars all at once to cut down on the number of envelopes used, but that would be a large expense all at once. The envelope can be reused, but will eventually become waste.
I'm glad that I did this experiment. It is somehow satisfying to know that I found a shampoo bar that works for my hair. Neither of these shampoo options is perfectly zero-waste, but my simple budget tells me which choice makes more sense for me (the jug). Sometimes it is worth it to pay more for a zero-waste option + sometimes it just doesn't make sense in my simple budget.
It started with a very tempting email about the pending release of a new jumpsuit. The cost of that gorgeous jumpsuit was beyond my budget + I already had a sewing pattern capable of yielding a similar shape. The temptation + the existence of that pattern reveal that I have an attraction to this shape...so going ahead with making seemed smart enough. I like that this shape is loose + comfortable...that I could potentially wear it over a long-sleeved tee +/or under a cardigan now...and on its own later. A fabric that I liked + had been waiting for just the right project to purchase...seemed just right. This jumpsuit took shape quickly with all those pieces in place.
I'm not quite sure about the results being flattering on my body. The extremely cold weather hasn't really allowed me to wear it yet either...so we'll see. This uncertainty always makes me wonder if it would have just been better to spend the money on the original...with the option to return the whole thing, if it didn't suit. My version cost a whole lot less, but now the materials have been spent + I'm tasked with getting them worn one way or another. More imperfection.
Sewing pattern :: Butterick 6312
Fabric :: hemp/organic cotton
Alterations :: Added 1 inch to the length at waist (because I've sewn this pattern before). Button opening at back instead of zipper. Added 4 inches to hem. Rounded neckline. Bias binding at neck + reverse bias binding at sleeves. Drawstring at waist.
In order to keep myself motivated + to recognize the projects + growth I've tackled...I try to do a monthly check-in with myself + my notebook. I like to list some goals at the beginning of the month + check in with them periodically. At the end of the month, I go back + make notes...and set some intentions for the month ahead. I'm not always great at doing this right at the turn of the month + I'm ok with that.
Month by month I like to list:
-zero-waste/simple living exploration
-wardrobe goals + projects
-books I read
-things I create
-what I'm wearing + thoughts
-seasonal pleasures I'm enjoying
-teaching goals + projects
-a to-do list
I'm also working through Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline for the second year in a row + recording notes + thoughts.
And I like to do the Moon List questions as they come out...for personal reflection + self knowledge.
Sitting down with a cup of tea, a favorite playlist + a lit candle...getting off-line...and using my handwriting...takes me into a different state of mind. This slow introspection almost always has me coming away with spirits lifted. My actions haven't necessarily changed, but my recognition of all that has been accomplished + explored brings me a bit of a sense of value that I may not have felt before. It also gives me a sense of direction going forward.
What is your monthly practice?
I might be the perfect specimen of just one thing...imperfection.
A few thoughts ::
1. The journey toward zero-waste (and a lot of other compassionate, values-driven living) is rocky. There is a lot of choice...but few perfect choices. If there was a perfect zero-waste shampoo option for everyone, all zero-wasters would be using it...and it would be so much easier to convert everyone else. As it stands, some use water only + look like disney princesses. (Others would look like they'd just stepped out of the rain.) Some are happy to mail bottles back + forth over the miles as their "waste-free" alternative. Some have access to bulk shampoo + some purchase the whole bulk jug. All are reducing waste + have found what works for them...for now.
2. Our choices are not one-size-fits-all, because our priorities are not one-size-fits-all...though we find our common ground in the desire to decrease our waste production. Our priorities may be similar overall, but their order may shift according (partially) to how we came to zero-waste in the first place. Some of us found our ways to zero-waste through the DIY community + love using five products to concoct one product. Some of us stumbled upon zero-waste through the frugal community + like the idea of spending less by creating buying groups + splitting real bulk quantities periodically. Some crossed paths with zero-wasters via the desire to remove unwanted chemicals from the things they use. Some found it via minimalism or an affinity to organization or a love of the outdoors or travel or the desire to exist outside the influence of big corporations or the objective of greening up a company's image or a corporate design perspective or catching the next market wave or concern about climate change or making one's own clothing or trend hopping or personal aesthetics or growing food, herbs or plant-based dyes. What's most important to each individual might be understandably, slightly different. It's amazingly exciting thing to think about the fact that all of these interests can come together under the umbrella of a desire to move toward zero-waste!
3. Looks can be deceiving. There are those who post pictures of items they use, but admit later that they only chose to include the aesthetically pleasing items. There are those who dump out all of their half-used, non-zero-waste items in one fell swoop + stock up on all the latest recommended zero-waste swag. Do all of these zero-wasters stick with their switches forever? Do they never find a caveat or that performance is less than optimal?
When I started writing in this space, I decided that I was going to be honest about the journey...our entirely imperfect journey...the mess, the struggle + the stumbles. I have a family + I want my choices to have an impact on their thinking as well as on the earth. If I make their lives an exercise in suffering, I would not blame my girls for wanting to get as far away from the zero-waste movement as they could in the future. As it is, they know the reasoning + they also know that there is grace in the big picture.
Sometimes we learn things as we go along...and we still have to make choices. A product I use has synthetic fragrance in it, but an alternative gives me a choice between natural juniper or lavender fragrance...to both of which I'm allergic. My soap contains fair-trade palm oil + some of the profits go to reforestation. The alternative soap is half the size, melts quickly, costs three times as much, and needs to be mailed to me in packaging. I will keep searching for better alternatives, but in the meantime choices must be made.
One of my priorities is to make as little waste as possible. One of my priorities is clean hair. One of my priorities is living within our means. We balance many priorities at once...like spending more on organic produce + spending more on a good cello teacher. I personally can't spend more on both of these while also spending more on clothing with traceable origins + more on...everything else too.
This space is about choices + compassion + encouragement + options + gratitude + simplicity. I want my choices to come ultimately from a place of joy...not guilt. I want that for those who visit this space as well.
Let's keep learning. Let's do the best we can. Let's encourage one another...cheer each other on. Each piece of trash kept out of a landfill is a victory.
My fairdare goal for the year is to forget about clothes for long stretches of time...and to make/buy fewer pieces of clothing. I want to add clothes seldomly + purposefully. Ultimately, I am working toward building a beautiful, functional, simple, well-curated, small, fair collection of clothing.
This last statement makes me think about if I already have all of that. To some extent I know that I do. There are enough clothes to cover my body in my closet...but the goal is to motivate myself to stick with this challenge all year. I like thinking about style + keeping an eye on what ethical designers are doing. If I tried to tell myself not to look at clothes or that I couldn't buy anything...the challenge would feel like drudgery + deprivation. I think that all of this is very personal. It helps to know ourselves. The frenzy of want can cloud our knowledge of ourselves...so taking steps to remove that is definitely helpful in the pursuit of said knowledge. There is so much value in taking "buy nothing" months or even a full year.
In January, I worked toward this goal, by committing to adding nothing to my wardrobe other than the quilted jacket I already had in progress. I tried to think about why I liked the clothes that I wore (especially when I felt tired of them). We are deep into the cold months here...which means lots of leggings + layers for me. What do I like about them? I like the comfort + warmth + ease of movement that my clothes offered me this month.
The fun thing I did this month was to take a look at my simple wardrobe as a whole, to see all that is good in it + to dream of what I'd like to add in the year to come. What pieces would complement what is already there...what would be versatile...what do I know I will love wearing until it falls apart (there are those pieces that I just know)...what will be comfortable on the body + in the world...what would feel like "me"?
I wrote down a piece or two that I would like to add for each of the four seasons. There may also be an occasional replacement needed or treasure found...but I will not be on a constant search for an ambiguous "something". I will be free to live in a state of contentment. It's funny how happy it made me to see just a handful of pieces that I can look forward to choosing or making. The list makes me feel like I'm in control of the situation + my budget. It feels manageable, and I can see how my wardrobe will move closer to that beautiful, functional, simple, well-curated, small, fair collection of clothing I envision.
For accountability's sake: (January)
-wardrobe additions: a handmade, scrappy jacket
P.S. A few more sparks for personal fairdare challenges.
Sometimes just knowing they are there is like a little wink to ourselves...even though they are buried under layer after layer on these cold days. A few comfy, beautiful, fair intimates today:
Arq :: organic stretch cotton :: made in the USA :: environmentally friendly dyes
State :: organic cotton/spandex blend :: made in thomson, georgia :: hand-painted
The Nude Label :: organic cotton/elastane :: made locally in valencia, spain :: back closure bra
Pansy :: organic cotton grown in texas + milled in north carolina :: rubber/cotton elastic made in south carolina :: sewn in san leandro, california :: non-toxic dyes
Lots more fair intimates here (in varying degrees). All beautiful photos via links.
These amazing pictures of these amazing quilts made out of Ace + Jig's off-cuts were just too amazing not to repost here. Wow!
The year of the scrap (+ amazing inspiration).
Life kit. I especially appreciated this one on investing.
A new year's habit with impact great enough to keep.
"I don't fear missing out. I fear not giving enough attention to the things that I already know for sure are important."
"The tribe recognizes that the correction of antisocial behaviour does not pass through punishment, it is by love + reminder of identity."
The cure for depression is action.
Hope you are staying warm wherever this weekend finds you, friend!
When done right, owning clothes does involve a great deal of emotion.
"What does is mean to create a functioning wardrobe you can get a lot of use out of?" Elizabeth Cline asks. This is a vastly important question for the future of sustainable fashion. Rather than focusing solely on buying clothes made ethically or with less waste, we should focus on transforming what we have into things that we actually want to wear for years into the future.
~Veronique Greenwood via
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time