All photos via Harvest + Mill.
Harvest + Mill is one of those brands that makes me so happy. They make their clothing in San Francisco from organic cotton that was grown, milled + spun in the USA. Just a few well thought out pieces make up a collection of versatile basics. Unisex tees + pants are simple, uniform worthy pieces. The women's tee tucked into pants of the same color would make a cute, comfy, faux jumpsuit...as well as offering separates that would serve an existing wardrobe well. From traceable, organic beginning to compostable end...there is just so much to love about these special pieces!
All photos via Harvest + Mill.
When I watched those first zero-waste videos of Bea Johnson with her bulk ingredients in her lovely Le Parfait jars...a question I remember having was how she bought the exact the amount that would fit into the jar. I imagined having enough left over that it would have to go into a second smaller jar...which would be ok, but not ideal.
Over time I've learned a few things that have helped in my efforts to buy what fits:
1. Don't decant...just fill the jars at the store. This is a great option, if preferred.
But here are a few reasons why I don't use this method: All those large jars would be heavy to transport (a mason jar full just isn't enough for our family of 4 in most cases). Sometimes the tare weight gets overlooked at checkout, which is expensive for glass. (I don't ask for tares, because my containers/bags are very lightweight.) We get rid of all outside "contact" on the jars by decanting...less germs (especially helpful during flu season).
2. Have certain containers/bags that align with certain jars.
My original bulk buying plan was to use the containers offered in the bulk section the first time (like the one shown above with the rubber band around it) + then just wash them out + use them again + again. I've been using those same containers for years + years...and they are the exact right size for decanting into my medium sized Le Parfait jars. I also made a few cloth bags + quickly found which bags partner with which jars in my collection. I know that those bins won't last forever, so I've been practicing using bags more often lately.
3. Have a variety of sizes of jars.
Spaghetti sauce jars, jam jars, bouillon jars, + mason jars offer great variety. Since I cook for a family (instead of just for myself or a couple), I need some larger jars as well. I have a few gallon sized jars for mixing flours + for holding enough granola to last the week. A few different sizes of Le Parfait jars hold family-sized quantities of brown rice, quinoa, oats, dried beans, nuts, etc.
4. Lean toward larger jars.
Perfectly pairing bags with jars is great, but a bag is a flexible thing that can end up a bit overstuffed...so bigger jars leave a little room for a little extra. A not quite full jar is always better than having to use 2 jars in my book...less water used for dishwashing (but 2 jars is a great solution too).
5. It's hard to have too many jars.
And there is always another use for spare jars. ;)
It's totally possible that no one else deals with this problem, since I don't think I've ever heard it mentioned. And yep...this is all just common sense...as are most of my "discoveries". It's mostly just about taking note! :)
I don't know if it's just me, but sometimes I feel like I have to wake up to seeing things again. I can get to a place where I just don't see a few things on the counter...or the build up in the junk drawer. So I'm trying to shake myself awake + seeing again in a few areas...starting with my linen closet.
A linen closet is a luxury. I've lived in enough houses to know. :) This house has a narrow closet in the hallway that I have luxuriously claimed as a linen closet. In the only previous home where we had a linen closet, Mr. Tribe required it as overflow for his half of the closet for t-shirts + athletic wear. In this house he has our coat closet for such. Not everyone around here has gone full-on minimalist. :) These concessions require shuffling of the things that are meant to be housed in these designated spots...but that's a story for another day.
The thing that woke me up to seeing my linen closet again was the fact that I was moving our light blanket back and forth from chair to bed every morning + night...folded all the while (never in use). I needed to make space for it in the linen closet. The process didn't take long or require much from me. I just needed to remove the excess.
Here is what I removed:
-3 feather pillow forms
-a spare hand towel
-a twin sized duvet cover
-a few textiles
-an underbed storage bag
-The pillow forms took up a lot of space + I can imagine uses for them...but these imagined scenarios have not happened yet. Use it or lose it.
-The hand towel has replaced the embarrassing one downstairs...which joined the rags.
-The twin sized duvet cover can be replaced by using her summer blanket in its place. She doesn't like constantly adjusting it (+ didn't use it last winter) anyway.
-The textiles are under consideration for projects + were moved in with my craft supplies.
-The storage bag was kept because we have tended to move often + I might need it in a different home. It's being donated.
This process took me about ten minutes. That blanket found its place in the linen closet + I'm left wondering what took me so long. :)
Locally grown okra showed up in our CSA box last week + my heart did a little dance. Okra is not a vegetable that we saw in Michigan where I grew up...so I associate it (fondly) with my family's yearly trips to Tennessee (when I was a girl).
I always liked it fried, so I set out to replicate the dish I remembered minus the frying.
Okra, sliced...tips + tops removed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/8 besan (chickpea flour)
1 tsp. salt
cayenne to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F + set skillet over medium heat. Add oil to skillet. In a bowl, toss the rest of the ingredients until well coated + add to a hot skillet. Cook until lightly browned...about 3 minutes on each side. Put skillet in oven for 10 minutes.
I added some chickpeas + onions to the mix as well for this meal. Next time, I think I would make a yogurt/herb dressing to drizzle over the top. Add some watermelon for desert + it's dinner! :) (A big, big thank you to our favorite farmers for planting, tending, harvesting, assembling + transporting the okra, corn, onion, cornmeal + watermelon that made us smile, filled our bellies + nourished our bodies! Our gratitude runs deep!)
Zero-waste of course is a misnomer. There is (probably) no such thing as living on this planet today + creating no waste at all. The movement regardless of its name is focused on creating less waste....and that includes recycling.
Recycling takes energy to clean, grind, melt, + remold. New plastic almost always has to be added to recycled plastic in order to form plastic capable of use. Plastic can only be recycled so many times. And all plastic will be on the planet for centuries, at least. Recycled paper + glass go through the same sort of energy consuming process with new materials added into the mix.
Less recycling can feel like just another hurdle to jump through on the way to getting some nourishment into our bodies. Remember though...there is no such thing as "zero"-waste. We're doing our best...and just maybe tomorrow we will do even better. We gather skills + we build on that.
A few of the ways we've tackled making less recycling:
-buying milk from a dairy that reuses their glass jugs :: no plastic jugs
-eating fruit instead of fruit juice :: no plastic jugs
-making our own yogurt weekly :: no plastic tubs
-not buying cottage cheese, cream cheese, or other tubbed items :: no plastic tubs
-buying from the bulk bins :: no boxes or cans or plastic bags or paper
-buying dried beans, chickpeas, etc. + cooking them in bulk + freezing for later :: no cans
-not buying soft drinks :: no plastic bottles or cans
-buying toilet paper wrapped in paper :: no plastic film
-bringing our own bags everywhere :: no plastic grocery bags or paper shopping bags
-putting produce together in reusable bags :: no plastic produce bags
-putting bakery bread into a cloth bag :: no plastic bread bags
-buying rolls or buns or tortillas only very occasionally :: much fewer plastic bags
-buying grocery store berries only very occasionally :: much fewer plastic boxes
-purchasing frozen food only very occasionally :: much less plastic
-getting off of mailing lists :: much less paper
-buying second hand clothing locally :: no shipping materials
-getting food from the farmers market or CSA :: no packaging + they reuse jars + cartons
-not buying dry clean only clothes :: no dry cleaner bags
-using paper with writing on one side for grocery lists, etc. :: less paper
-reusing shipping materials :: no paper + plastic mailers or boxes
-listing large packing materials on craigslist for free :: no packing materials
None of this is meant to induce guilt...but it is to inspire action. :) A little personal sacrifice can move us a little closer to our vision of the world we'd like to live in. If we aren't feeling a pinch, maybe we can do a little bit more? ;)
Much more articulate words on this topic:
Bea Johnson's TEDx Talk
It's been a while (maybe not?) since I've revealed just how weird I am...you know...since writing about how I cut all the hairs in this house...or...well...showed a picture of my cell phone. (I'll link that later, or I just might lose everyone right there.) :)
Cell phones are nonnegotiables for a lot of us these days. (Understatement.) :) Even if we're making a focused effort to pay down debt...or trying to keep our budget under control (because we've got more important ways to put our money to work), cell phone coverage may seem like a line item without wiggle room. But...it just might actually be a place to consider making some changes worth quite a bit of savings.
Cell phones + children is a whole issue of its own. I don't really want to discuss the feelings + values + fears that are involved with that...but I thought I would share a little of what I've discovered while looking into budget conscious cell phone coverage (in order to stay connected with my daughter) lately...in case anyone is interested. I only spent a little while looking, so this is no comprehensive list...and it is USA specific. The point is...there are some surprising options to be found!
Before we move on to the list...we need to really get honest about exactly what is "enough" when it comes to cell phone coverage. Do I need unlimited data, or could I actually stand to feel the sun on my face...to take some deep breaths + enjoy the wait? Do I need to make phone calls all the way to work, or could I just listen to the radio + call them when I get to work or home? (Cheaper home phone coverage.) In this particular case I'm looking for a way to be connected to my daughter when she is at her activities away from home. I would like to be able to text with her + I'd like her to have access to making calls in case of an emergency. If she needs access to data, she will be able to use wifi. This phone will not live in her room + she won't need it every day of the week.
The types of plans listed here could work just as well for someone who wants or needs the savings...is just willing to adjust priorities + be disciplined. It may just require us to use our phones as a tools rather than as entertainment.
I've listed the plan specifics that fit our needs, but there are different combinations available in most cases that will still yield major savings in comparison to a lot of plans out there. For example, I like to have access to maps...but I don't use them very often...so maybe a very small amount of data added to one of these plans might be enough. Discernment + discipline are where it's at! :)
Relay :: This is a tool that might be just right for children :: $7 per month to be able to talk to them + GPS locate them
Republic Wireless :: Wireless Unlimited Talk + Text plan :: (uses Sprint/T-Mobile networks) $15 per month for unlimited minutes + texts + no data
Tello :: Build Your Own plan :: (uses Sprint network) $5 per month for 100 minutes + unlimited texts + no data
Ting :: Pay for What You Use :: $12 per month for 100 minutes + 100 texts + no data :: if nothing is used in a month, $6
T-Mobile :: Prepaid Pay as You Go plan :: $3 for any combination of 30 minutes or texts, 10 cents per minute or text over that
AT+T :: Gophone Daily plan :: $2 per day of use for unlimited minutes + texts :: data costs 1 cent per 5KB :: only pay for the days the phone is used
Up until 2 years ago, this is how we cell phoned it. Up until now, that little phone was going strong for keeping Julia + I connected...until it just stopped working. The phone itself still works...we just can't load it anymore + no one seems to be able to help us rectify that. So here we are.
Because cell phones involve values + priorities (they do!), we can apply discipline. A budget is a discipline. Putting our priorities first is it's own reward!
Whimsy + Row takes sustainability seriously. They utilize deadstock, biodegradable fabric + Los Angeles sewing. Unnecessary plastic + waste are avoided. Their shapes are simple + straightforward. This is the type of clothing that would mix well into an existing collection + will get worn over + over again for all kinds of occasions.
Whimsy + Row will join our growing list of ethical brands, so that when a need strikes...we have a few places to start the search. :)
All photos via Whimsy + Row.
Last year's commitment to buying only replacements as a way of decreasing spending proved to be an eye-opening focus worthy of carrying forward. Now I'm working on a sort of master list of "necessities", which can be used as a list of things to keep in good working order...and to stick to in terms of replacements, as necessary.
As I've worked on this post, I've thought about how it can feel like I spend more time thinking + writing about "things" now that I'm intentionally thinking about simplicity than before. More thought, however, leads me to the conclusion that that is not really the case. :) Intentionally thinking about "things" is different from being dissatisfied with or wanting different things.
I'm hoping that this master list will enhance my sense of "enough". I can use it to see that we already have everything we need...and do not need more.
As I'm going room by room in the everyday zero-waste department noting the things we don't need, I thought this might be a good time to make note of what we do "need" + enjoy. I put "necessities" + "need" in quotation marks, because we could surely get by without many of these items...but life is so much for comfortable with them. :)
Living room master list:
Seating :: Enough for the people who live here. (Extras can be brought from other rooms.)
Place for feet :: For comfort + also to perch a computer on for collective watching.
Lighting :: Enough to read by.
Curtains :: Only for privacy, because...sunlight!
Blankets :: During cold weather, we keep the heat lowered in order to save gas + money.
Clock :: A small one helps me stay on schedule.
A few things that lend themselves toward style :: A little goes a long way. Currently I have about ten small things spaced out on shelves + hung above the mantle that communicate a vibe I love.
Candle :: The flicker + scent add so much joy + coziness in the colder months.
Ceiling fan :: An essential (if possible) for me. It cools so much in the summer allowing us to keep the air conditioning lower (saving both electricity + money).
Books :: A few of my favorites + a spot for a few library books = enough for me. Mr. Tribe + Jo each have a shelf full of books here.
Rug :: I sold our Craigslist, wool rug six months ago + am still considering whether we want to replacement it.
It may seem like I'd add a bookshelf to our master list, but I don't think it's a necessity. In our last home, we stacked our books on the floor in a nonfunctioning fireplace. We had a small mantle for candles + small objects. Since I don't have a lot of books anymore, I would think creatively before purchasing bookshelves.
Honorable mention: versatility...the pictures above were taken last month (on a good library day!). Here is what our living room looks like today. :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time