What if we actually knew this was paradise?
It would be very hard to control us.
This last week of March has brought a couple of days with temperatures that touched the 70s F! As I write this I'm feeling resistant to thinking back on the rest of this cold + cloudy month. I just want to look forward to sun-kissed shoulders + bare feet. It's coming.
New collections came out this month which fueled those dreams. Dreaming made it a little easier to tolerate the still present leggings + sweaters...as did trading long-sleeved tees for short-sleeved ones, wool socks for cotton, and fur-lined boots for trainers. Little switches really did make things feel a bit fresher.
My closet received a mini clean out + a few things were put up for sale on ebay. The usefulness of my pieces has come into acute focus over the past few years. I like the concept of objects maintaining their value through use. If I'm not using a piece to its full potential, it can feel good to pass it on to someone else who will use it well. I'm not looking to replace things with newer, shinier or more exciting versions. Less is liberating + often brings more value to the things that remain.
I'd been keeping an eye out for a restock of Aliya Wanek's beautiful sweatshirts all winter. A longer sweatshirt would be useful year-round in my simple wardrobe. This month I was able to purchase one in just the color I'd been waiting for. The rewards of patience have been evident lately. Now if I can just internalize + apply the lesson going forward!
This month it felt good to wear what is in my closet, to try on a few versatile pieces that I'm looking forward to wearing over + over in the warmer months to come, and to let a few things expand their stories with another wearer. Tiny moves have been made toward a truer alignment with function + beauty in my life + in my wardrobe.
For accountability's sake: (March)
bought fair :: sweatshirt
sold :: sweatshirt, pants, shoes
Last year China stopped buying recycling from the USA. It's been about a year, and solutions seem slim. Countries like Thailand, India + Vietnam (some of the same ones taking on the cheapest garment making) took our recycling for a few months, but were then at capacity. The American municipalities that have storage space may be bailing + storing their sorted recycling for later...but some have taken to burning it or dumping it in the landfill + some are even stopping recycling programs altogether.
This is sobering motivation to recycle less...not more. I don't mean that we can just chuck our plastic tubs in the trash, but that we need to reconsider buying things in tubs to begin with. Major manufacturers are not yet seeing any of this as their problem. They are not rushing to find ways to stop the use of plastic (though there are some tiny glimmers of hope). This country needs to take responsibility for its own waste + so do we, as individuals. There really is no "away", when we throw things away...especially when it comes to plastic.
A great way to address our personal recycling habits is to take inventory of what ends up in our own recycling bins each week. This tribe used to recycle a lot of milk jugs + yogurt tubs. I was able to find milk in reusable glass jugs in our area. We return these durable jugs each week + receive our deposit money back. The jugs are sterilized + used over + over again. I decided to try making my own yogurt from this milk. Now we've swapped two habits + cut a large volume out of our recycling. Instead of buying cans of chickpeas + beans, I now buy them dry in bulk. A quart at a time, they get cooked + frozen in portion size jars. We grow tomatoes in our backyard, cook them down into sauce + freeze them to use year round...instead of buying cans of tomato sauce or mealy tomatoes in February. (Buying a box of tomatoes at the farmer's market could accomplish the same ends.) Lots of cans have now been saved from being made + needing to be recycled. (yay!)
A few more of our favorites that used to involve recycling + how we eliminate the recycling ::
-plastic or paper grocery bags: bring reusable bags or skip the bag
-canned or frozen fruits, vegetables: buy fresh loose fruits + vegetables, putting them together in reusable bags (I use two baby Baggus)...freeze some seasonal produce for later
-strawberries: grow our own + freeze some for later
-blueberries: go to a pick-your-own spot, pick + freeze some
-hummus: make our own from bulk chickpeas + spices
-cottage cheese: skip it
-sour cream: homemade yogurt usually works well as a swap
-bread, rolls + bagels in plastic bags: bulk placed in cloth bags
-peanut butter: buy in bulk or make it with bulk nuts or seeds
-cream cheese in tubs: top bagels with butter, nut butter +/or jam
-feta + olives: put some from the salad bar in my own container
-tortillas: skip or make our own
-frozen french fries: make our own
-shampoo bottles: buy it in bulk or as a package-free bar
-cosmetics: choose cosmetics packaged in glass, make at home or skip altogether
A few more tips for avoiding recyclables:
-Lots of things can be bought in bulk. In our area we can find rice, quinoa, flours, sugars, spices, nuts, seeds, kombucha, chocolate chips, dried fruit, oats, candy, legumes, feta, granola, honey, oil, tea, bar soap + more at a grocery store.
-A farmer's market is a great place to shop for package-free items as well...but I need to be quick to refuse a plastic bag in many cases.
-Skip the middle aisles at the grocery store (where most of the packaged items reside).
-Choose glass over plastic when necessary, as glass jars can be reused or recycled more locally.
-Organize a number of tasty recipes that are as zero-waste as possible
-There might be a few things without ready solutions that just don't fit our lifestyle or values anymore...or they might become occasional indulgences rather than weekly staples.
-Bring reusable cups to the coffee shop.
-Eat out where they offer real plates, cups + silverware.
-Carry a scarf or bandana to use as a napkin or to wrap a bagel in.
-Take lunches in reusable containers (jars or metal box).
-Take water in a reusable water bottle.
-Clean with water, vinegar, rags + an old spray bottle.
-Just opt out of using as many packaged products as possible. :)
A few more resources ::
-The Story of Stuff's campaign to get companies to take responsibility for the packaging they put their products in.
-Bea Johnson's talk on recycling less.
-A little more on zero-waste.
Now I'm off to rifle through the recycling bin!
A couple of Saturdays ago, I found myself sucked into a van life rabbit hole. One video turned into another...partially because I found this couple just so likable. :) I haven't been totally attracted to long-term van life, because it doesn't fit our stage of life right now...but I am attracted to a life filled with exploration + adventure + not being hindered by stuff.
When I'm trying to keep perspective on how much I do have + that I don't need more, I often think of people far less fortunate than my family. I'm so lucky to have all that I do have. I have everything that I need. This week I found myself thinking of van lifers as well...having all they need in that vehicle...especially in terms of clothing. When I'm on vacation I'm happy to wear the one sweatshirt I have, when it's sweatshirt weather. I'm happy to wear the one pair of pants or shorts or jacket or trainers or sandals that I have. I wash things less often, but enough. It doesn't matter if I wear the same sweatshirt for parts of every day for two weeks. I'm not really thinking about my clothing, because I'm looking outward ...experiencing every moment of every day. My clothing is quite important. (I've had to buy an extra layer when I misjudged things on camping trips.) Clothing enables the adventure. It's a tool. It keeps the mosquitos off, enables swimming, hikes well, keeps me cozy or cool or dry.
I'd like to be able to keep this perspective in mind in my daily life as well. I don't have to keep all of my clothes in a cubby, but there is no reason that I (+ the planet) can't benefit from this mindset.
I think I've linked this video here before, but it combines what to me is the best of van life + mindful living. My thoughts revisit this concept often. Intentional living comes in an endless number of forms + can be just so incredibly creatively constructed.
Sarah Corbett's How to be a Craftivist :: The art of gentle protest asks + answers the question: "If we want our world to be a more beautiful, kind + fair place, then shouldn't our activism be more beautiful, kind + fair?" This gently inspiring book resonates deeply with me. There have been quite a few issues lately that make me angry enough to carry a sign + shout. These gatherings, however, often (not always) feel like more of a way for the picketer to feel less alone + like they have "done something" rather than actually influencing any noticeable or satisfactory change. Corbett offers an alternative.
A better relationship with pants.
Fair-trade, organic cotton sheets + towels.
No new clothes.
Off-grid sustainable living.
Have a beautiful weekend, friends!
Spring weather + spring collections are rolling in. Seeds are on my mind, rainbows play peek-a-boo (I received one of these little rainbow makers for my birthday) + new scents are in the air. A few of the things on my dreamy wishlist include fair-trade, organic cotton basics from Outerknown's new women's collection + a candle that transforms into a little plant pot (or whatever container) when the scent runs out. It's clear to see that I'm attracted to earthy tones + comfy, easy shapes this spring. Bring on the sunshine!
All lovely images via links.
"Acceptance of limitation, as a framework rather than as a hindrance,
is always proof of a productive mind." ~Anni Albers
Vegetarianism, minimalism, zero-waste + the fair dare are achieved by accepting some limitations. Working within the framework of each of these categories leads to choices which have amazingly positive outcomes.
The food we eat
The stuff we make a home out of
The packaging that contains stuff we want
The clothing we wear
...all of this offers the taste, smell, sound, sight, feel...of happiness.
Changing the framework to include less in each case...
less choice of foods (meatless, package-free)
less stuff in our house
less choice of stuff (package-free, fair)
less choice of clothing (fair to farmers, garment workers + the planet)
...requires a bit more creativity.
The positive outcomes of less rainforest being clearcut for cattle, less resources being used making stuff we don't need, less landfill waste, less plastic that will never leave this earth, less abuse of garment workers + farmers, and less pollution + degradation from the textile industry...create a deeper happiness...a happiness that lasts + extends to others.
I'd say this logic is proof of a productive mind...in action. ;)
Today I started a little bit of a wardrobe transition from winter toward spring. This involved a good closet cleaning + the consideration of each piece that went back in. I have a carry-on suitcase that goes in that space between the shelf + the wall that holds my out-of-season pieces (+ keeps my woolies air-tight in the summer). In went the gloves, hat + scarf. Out came the short sleeved tees. (It's optimistic, but I'm wanting to try the lighter layer under my pullovers.) In the closet go the parka + boots. Fingers crossed.
This is a really great time to think about what I wore this winter + what I didn't wear. I'm going to set aside the pieces that didn't earn their keep + see how my wardrobe functions without them...while it is still cold. I'm excited about this little learning experience...even if it involves only the tiniest of shake-ups. I'll reevaluate the set aside pieces' usefulness in a few weeks.
The sun is out + we're ready for spring! :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time