i like to check-in with my zero-waste efforts periodically. i've gotten to the point where a lot of these efforts are just habit and don't really take any extra thought. this can also be the point at which things could start to slip, if i don't remain vigilant. i definitely haven't arrived as a zero-waste warrior (i can't fit all of my trash for the year into a jar), so there is always room to up my commitment as well.
this check-in doesn't have to take long. really i could just look into the trash can as my report card. i like to look a little deeper, so i think in terms of rooms and consult bea's book to remind me of all the areas in which i need to look. in the kitchen, i look in all the cupboards to see each and every item i'm keeping and to reassess its necessity. the less i have the easier this is. i look around the room to see each thing on the walls and in the fridge with new eyes. a clean slate is zero-waste at work.
as i move from room to room, i see my space again. i create space and tidy and edit and remove. it makes me feel fresh and at peace and ready to move into this next season of school and a little faster pace.
this week i'll let you in on my process and progress in zero-waste. i'll be honest and open about my failures and allowances too. i'm not about perfection... but i am about progress. it's fun and i'm learning more about my relationship to material things, the nature of creation and my created being. i'm ready to dive deeper and do better.
if you are new to this zero-waste thing or open to a refresher, this ted talk = zero-waste in 14 minutes flat... a more in depth hour long talk here. refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. bam.
"And it's still deeply believed that you have to have five pair of pants, a wardrobe that says 'Good Living and Affluence.' It's been pounded into your head that because of America's overproduction ethic it's unthinkable for someone to have just one pair of pants. Perhaps that's all you need." ~Rudi Gernreich in 1975, "a wizard at sensing social trends and designing one step ahead of them"
(sort of funny + pathetic that now five pairs of pants sounds like a minimalist-ish goal)
With five perfect T-shirts and three pair of perfectly fitting pants, you ought to stay happily clothed for quite a while." ~Caterine Milinaire + Carol Troy in 1975, authors of Cheap Chic
(sounds amazing to me... but there is that 'perfect' part to deal with... hmmm)
Cheap Chic by Catarine Milinaire + Carol Troy :: check it out from your local library! :)
Girlfriend Collective may have the most thorough ethical statement I've ever seen. This is an activewear company just starting up with very high standards. Here's just a taste of what they have to say for themselves:
~"Our factories, certified SA8000, use zero forced or child labor, and always provide living wages and safe conditions."
~"Our polyester yarn is made from 100% recycled post-consumer water bottles."
Currently Girlfriend Collective's single offering is a pair of leggings, but those leggings reveal the amount conviction these designers are willing to pour into the production of their products still to come. Girlfriend Collective is using a SA8000 certified factory (whose standards are thoroughly explained on the website) and fabric certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex and also by Bluesign®.
This article provides a little more insight into the brand's origins and future as well.
AND... right now Girlfriend Collective is offering their leggings free with the cost of shipping, so if you are in need... :)
Image via Girlfriend Collective.
There are lots of prescriptions out there for finding your personal style, and there is nothing wrong with all the worksheets and checklists. It might just be me, but while I think i've pretty much honed in on what I like to wear, I still have a hard time answering some of their questions. This just leaves me feeling indecisive and lost. I like to keep things simple...and from my personal experience this can be quite simple.
Here's what has worked for me: I keep a collection of images that I really like and that are realistic for my life and the way I like to dress. When I was young, I collected magazine pictures and catalog pages. Now I collect internet images on Pinterest. I also liked (and like) to draw my own ideas for outfits and silhouettes. Any of these collection methods (or combination of them) work. If drawing or collecting aren't appealing, try listing some favored silhouettes. Think about outfits that you already own that make you feel like you... or a silhouette you admired on a coworker or stranger on the street.
It's easy enough to organize images according to autumn/winter outfits and spring/summer outfits so that I'm dealing with one season at a time. Periodically I look through those pins and think about what elements I really like in each image. It quite naturally (for me) comes down to a few items/silhouettes. Maybe for autumn, I find that I am drawn to oversized sweaters and faded jeans. I also like loose shift dresses and clogs. There are big, cozy coats and short, flat boots as well. When I look at all of the images collectively, I can see that I'm gravitating toward faded denim, cream, oatmeal, black, and natural leather.
When I look at an image of an oversized sweater and jeans, I think to myself, "Yes, that's similar to my thrifted black cashmere sweater...and my thrifted, faded Levis." Maybe my pieces are different colors, but the silhouette will be similar. I will realize that another 7 or 8 pictures are really just that same silhouette and feel like I've got them covered. Another picture reminds me of my handmade indigo dress that I can wear with tights and my low boots. Maybe my dress is a slightly different shape, but the effect is similar. Most of the time, I've already been buying what I'm drawn to...and my pinned images confirm that I have what I need... already in my closet.
Sometimes I will notice that I'm pinning a lovely color over and over...and when I need a replacement scarf or top, I may seek out a fair one in a similar color. Sometimes I will find a new way to wear something already in my closet...and, yay, that's fun. And then sometimes, there is a new silhouette cropping up that I don't already have in my closet. This past autumn, wide leg crops a la Jesse Kamm were catching my eye, so I decided to cut off a pair of thrifted wide leg jeans to try the style out.
It is my guess that those of us who enjoy clothing already have pieces in our closets that would allow us to dress in our desired style. Maybe we're dabbling with a few different styles and that's OK. If we realize, however, that flares bug us or heels are not our favorites, then this is the time to focus the personal style and let them go (and remember not to buy them again). Keeping the number of pieces in our wardrobes limited allows us to have the pieces we want to wear at the ready. We don't have to wade through extra filler.
And if those Kamm pants are truly in the budget and a pair of pants would be useful, then buy a pair in a color that can be worn every day of the week... don't buy a pair for every day of the week. I promise that feeling more in control will be the result. Who's most stylish anyway? The one who can make those pants look great any day of the week!
OK...so, bullet points:
1. Look at collected images of admired styles or list/sketch some admired silhouettes that fit with your lifestyle and the way you like to dress.
2. Decide on 2-3 preferred silhouettes.. or more, if that's your jive. :) (My examples were: big sweater + faded jeans... loose shift dresses + clogs or short boots... cocoon coat)
3. Think about color palette. Remember what just feels right in the mirror. (I know that soft oatmeal and white look nice with my skin + hair. Solids make me feel like me + calm + modern.)
4. Make outfits out of the clothes in your closet.
5. Wear them.
Box other pieces up and set them aside (to reassess at a later date) or let them go.
Yes, there may be a hole or two, where we find an item that we might like to buy. Since we are focusing on less, it is advisable to substitute something already in the closet for this item. Wearing and appreciating what we have is extremely informative and shopping palette cleansing. Keep a little list of what might be nice to buy, but don't rush out for it yet. If it is really necessary, thrift first. Consider making it next. Then consider buying fair.
i've written a bit about the life changing mind shift that comes from being a participant in the miracle of growing food. this short film came out recently and resounded with those feelings on a whole new level. these are a few of the quotes i loved the most:
"soil is more important than oil." ~wes jackson, the land institute founder
"i've always thought that it's too bad that soil is sometimes thought of as synonymous with dirt... because it's not. it's is really more like gold. the fact [is] that this stuff is pumping carbon from [pointing up to the sky] where it's doing bad stuff to where it's doing good stuff." ~dan o'brien, cheyenne river ranch farmer
"we have to take a lesson as a human civilization... to begin recognizing with humility that these plants are far better than anything we've ever conceived of. they sequester. they build organic matter. they create soil health."
"nature loves diversity."
july was a month full of hot + humid days, so the pieces i chose for the month worked well. i found a perfect black linen tank top at a new shop in town. it was secondhand and the perfect size and shape. i know i'll get a lot of use out of it as i'm already snatching it right away from the clean laundry every time. it's part of my current favorite outfit. i decided to let one of my black crane jumpsuits go this month. i felt like four jumpsuits was too many and had two in the same style...so i sold the tan one on ebay.
august will bring more of the same hot, humid weather. we are starting school and will be busier than we've been during the slow summer months past. a few little switches should make me feel like i have some new choices in my wardrobe, but not so many that it will be difficult to decide what to wear. i love that i like all of my pieces enough that i'm never disappointed with the clean selection my closet offers... even with so few pieces. and yet, i'm working on a couple new pieces to switch in at some point this month. :)
but for now, here are my august pieces:
black linen tank
white linen tank
total pieces: 12
cast iron pans have been popular again for a while now. i remember my mom using one when i was growing up. i also remember my dad scrubbing it afterward. non-stick pans were all the rage when i was ready for my own set. and then... we heard that that non-stick surface wasn't so good for us after all.
i've been noticing this phenomenon in so many ways lately... when we try to make something better than the way nature made it, it ends up being bad for us in entirely new (and usually worse) ways.
so, it's back to the cast iron. this american made beauty serves me well for all sorts of uses. there is of course the humble over easy egg (our favorite)...and there is the slightly more substantial frittata that goes easily from stovetop to oven. pancakes cook up nicely... as do salmon burgers. with the addition of a spare lid, i can fry up potatoes quicker... adding kale for the last few minutes until it turns just a bit darker, but doesn't wilt completely. i also treat this pan like a wok to stir fry vegetables.
one cast iron skillet is all we need.
others in this series :: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08
"the idle mind is awake but unconstrained, free to slip untethered from idea to idea or meander from potential theory to potential truth. the time we spend idle makes for a healthier state of mind. simpler things bring us joy. we want less and are more at peace when we get it. we sleep better and work harder. when we observe our immediate surroundings, we are more grounded in our context and are more attuned to the rhythms of whatever season or home we are in." ~nikeala marie peters
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time