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Can We Travel Zero Waste?

I have talked about travel a little bit on the blog because it is my favorite hobby. I can’t imagine not traveling around the world. I am currently working on a bucket list of places I want to see in the next five years. Whether it be a 7 hour plane ride to another country, or a short car ride to the next state over. Travel is an essential for my personal growth.

Since becoming Zero Waste, I have begun to feel guilty about all my travels. Especially my most recent trip for a week long vacation in London. Many would tell me that I should just stop traveling. Too many, travel isn’t that important and isn’t something that they are interested in. I personally believe that our planet was built to explore and there are many friends and family members that I would never be able to see if I didn’t travel. What am I supposed to do? In this blog post I am going to answer two main questions. How much is the real cost of travel? What can we do to help “offset” our travel carbon footprint on this planet? I put offset into quotation marks because I believe that we can’t really offset our Co2 emission that is created during our travels. As a result, I hope to inspire more of you to pay attention to your travel carbon footprint and find some alternative ways to book your next travel adventures!

According to an article in the New York Times titled: "Flying Is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make It Better" by Tatiana Schlossberg, “the aviation industry accounts for 11 percent of all transportation- related emissions in the United States.” 11 percent may not seem big when you think about the grand scheme of things. That number is only going to increase as the airlines continues to add more flights onto their daily schedule. What are we supposed to do?

Driving seems like the right answer as it is lower impact and doesn’t admit as much co2 into the atmosphere right? For trips from New York to San Francisco, where your averaging about a 7 hour long plane ride, driving will take longer and use more gas. If you are thinking of traveling long distance than flying is definitely the better option. That being said, if you are planning a trip that takes less than an hour to fly too, you may want to drive or take the train. The reason being that it takes more Co2 to take off and land a plane. It’s also important to note that many shorter plane trips are usually not that full and could take less than half the Co2 emission to drive or take the train. Driving or taking the train may cost you more, but your planet will thank you.

What about offsetting your carbon emission? The main issue with “offsetting” your carbon emission is that you aren’t actually getting rid of that pollution that you just admitted into the air. I still recommend that many try and donate as much as they can to organizations who are trying to make our planet a better place for future generations. To say that it will solve your pollution problems during travel is unrealistic and completely false. So, unless you plan on walking everywhere or just staying home, there’s no way around co2 being admitted into the air.

How can we make our trips more eco-friendly and pleasant on our planet. They have energy efficient cars, why not have the same for planes? “The problem is that electric motors can’t produce enough power to get a plane off the ground, so the only alternative to regular kerosene-based aviation fuels are special kinds of biofuels.” Some biofuels can be environmentally problematic as well because it would take a huge chunk of the world’s arable land to grow enough crops to fuel all the world’s planes. Despite the name, it may not seem like the perfect solution to this serious environmental problem. So what is really? How can we make our next vacation more Zero Waste?

The truth is, that you really can’t make your travel completely Zero Waste. I am sorry to burst all of your bubbles. You can make your next vacation a little bit more environmentally friendly. Over the last year and a half I have continued to research and find new ways to help make my vacations a little bit more zero waste. Below is a short guide of some tips and tricks that I continue to follow every time I travel.

  1. Don’t Fly If You Can Take the Train or Car- I know I already mentioned this in the post. I think it’s very important that people recognize that the easiest choice may not be the most environmentally friendly one. Flying takes more carbon emission than driving or the train. Your carbon footprint only increases the shorter the flight is because there are more empty seats and it takes more fuel to take off and land than it does to fly the plane itself. Try to take flights that are sold-out and/or to very far away destinations. If it can take you less than a day by car, than it isn’t long enough to take a plane.

  2. Airline Programs to Help Offset the CO2 Emission- I know that I said you can’t really “offset” your carbon emission. That being said, I do believe that people should donate more. Offsetting is still fairly new, so not many airlines have a program where you can donate to organizations that are trying to make our planet a better place for our future generations. This does require you to spend more money. It also forces you to think about your travels a little bit more and how they may impact the overall planet. More information on offsetting your carbon emission can be found here!

  3. Longer Flights= Longer Vacations- If you are thinking about traveling to somewhere that is over 7 hours away by plane, I highly recommend staying for longer than a week. Make sure that the flight is actually worth it. You wouldn’t take a weekend getaway from New York to Australia. If you are taking some time off of work to travel, see if you can go for a few weeks or even a few months to really make it worth all the co2 emission that you have created during that flight.

  4. More Layovers= More CO2- If you are planning a trip, it may be cheaper to take connecting flights, but it is worse for the planet. Like I said before, it takes more Co2 to take off and land. If you are doing that more than twice, that means you are emitting more co2 than if you had taken one flight straight to your destination. I know that it isn’t always feasible, financially or in distance. Next time you book a trip from New York to California, rethink that layover in Cincinnati and book a direct flight- you will thank yourself and the planet!

  5. Bring Your Own Food- Not only are the plane meals usually filled with nasty ingredients, they don’t usually taste that good. Pack your own or try to eat before you leave depending on the length of the flight. This will help reduce the amount of trash you make on the flight, helping to shorten your carbon footprint that much more during your travels!

  6. Sustainable or Wastefree Airlines!- According to the Green America Today, United and US airways rank worse on a sustainability scale. This scale compared 11 airlines and explained that US Airways throws away about 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours. British Airways was not far behind, in 8th place. That being said, there are many airlines that are trying to be more mindful of their waste. Alaska airlines just recently banned all plastic straws and more airlines are trying to recycle. Do some research before booking your next flight and try to find the most sustainable fight possible that will allow you to feel better about taking your next trip!

  7. Return Freebees- When you fly, you will probably find the cheap plastic headphones, a pillow, and maybe even a blanket on your seat. Once your up in the air, tell one of the flight attendances that you don’t want them and ask them if they can reuse them for the next flight. Those free items don’t last long and aren’t worth the waste. You will be happy that you brought your own headphones, blanket, and pillow onto the flight. If you can find an airline that doesn’t provide those cheap freebies, then cotose to you and write about them in the comments below :)!

  8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up- You can think of a million reasons why you should and shouldn’t travel. You just have to figure out what is more worth it to you. I have heard a ton of zero wasters explain that they have told their family that they can’t come visit them because it is too much co2 for the planet. That may work for them, but I think that my family would kill me if I didn’t actually visit them in person. Skype is amazing, but it doesn’t replace the smells, tastes, and real moments that you get during your travels. I will continue to fly, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t label myself as zero waste. I am doing the best that I can, and I don’t want to beat myself up about the small stuff.

I hope that this article helps bring some stuff into perspective for you and help you realize that you can try your hardest to reduce your carbon emission in all areas of your life, but sometimes you just have to bit the bullet and go on the trip. Hopefully in the next five years or so, someone comes up with a new more efficient way to fly that won't cost an arm and a leg to be able to purchase. We will have to wait and see.

Work Cited and Some Helpful Articles:

https://medium.com/milena-glimbovski/there-is-hardly-one-subject-in-the-zero-waste-scene-which-is-that-controversial-9f1e1f7dbdd4

http://www.theweek.co.uk/96017/best-green-travel-ideas-environmental-sustainable-holidays

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-bad-is-air-travel-for-the-environment-51166834/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/06/aviation-q-and-a

https://zerowastehome.com/2010/07/05/less-not-zero-waste-air-trave/

 

How to Start Your Zero Waste Journey for Only $10!!!

So many people think that it is expensive to be zero waste. Yes, I don’t believe that zero waste is for everyone. That being said, I believe that we can all be doing more than we think we can. I have created guides that will help people find zero waste essentials that are for every price point. I will attach the free zero waste essentials and the $20 dollar guide below. Today’s post is all about how to be zero waste for only $5 bucks! This is guide is great for the broke college students that want to make a difference, someone who is just getting started, or even kids who want to purchase something with their allowance.

  1. Reusable Tea Bags: Did you know that the majority of tea bags have plastic in them. This is so that the tea bags don’t break when they are in hot water. This also means that you are drinking plastic tea water. Want to still enjoy your cup of tea, I would say that loose leaf tea is the best way to go! However, the metal balls break all the time or get super rusty. I recommend checking out these reusable tea bags! The pack comes with 12 and they are all 100% cotton. They are easy to wash and will last you for many years to come!

  2. Shea Moisture African Black Soap With Butter: Did you know that soap bars are smaller and last longer than soap and shampoo bottles. This soap is filled with natural ingredients, including charcoal that help detoxify the body and shea butter to help keep your body moisturized. Best of all the packaging is made out of paper and you can bring it through TSA security without having to abide by the 3mL rule.

  3. Stainless Steel Straw Set: We can all refuse plastic straws at restaurants and parties! It’s not that difficult, especially since they have metal reusable straws that you can carry in your purse and use anywhere! Even better, this set comes with a straw cleaner to make sure that you clean your straw thoroughly before using it again!

  4. Bamboo Toothbrushes: One of the best and easiest switches that you can make to help make a difference in our environment. Once your done with it you can either chuck it in your compost or use them in your garden to label your plants.

  5. Spork Set: When it comes to going out to eat, traveling, and even attending parties and other activities, it can be difficult to refuse disposable plastic utensils. This spork set is small, compact, made out of bamboo, and you it’s a spork! I feel like a kid again anytime I use a spork! For anyone who is looking for cheap and well made bamboo utensils, here you go!

  6. Toothpaste: This toothpaste is effective, natural, and not toxic if you were to swallow it! Many ingredients such as SLS, Fluoride, and other toxic ingredients can lead to many long term health issues. Best of all it comes in a glass container that you can reuse once finished!

  7. Reusable Produce Bags and Bulk Bags: These cotton bags come in various sizes and are perfect to use for bulk items and produce from the grocery store and farmers market. They are handmade by the etsy seller and come in some amazing and fun colors! Best of all they cost less than 5 bucks for a pack of them! Next time you feel yourself going for the plastic disposable bags to hold your produce items, think again! These bags are washing machine safe and can be used for many years to come!

  8. Shampoo Bars: Shampoo Bars are the best and more natural ways to clean your hair! They will not strip your hair of their natural oils like generic shampoos full of chemicals. This shampoo bars are handmade and packaged in cardboard and paper! Like soap bars they are more convenient to fit in your bag for traveling and fit the TSA requirement because it isn’t a liquid, gel, or cream. This one in particular has tea tree oil and lavender to help clean and nourish your scalp as well as your hair!

  9. Lip Balm: Lip balms are items that not many people think about because they are so cheap and affordable at the drugstore. Since you are ingesting a little bit of it, it can’t be that toxic for you right? Wrong. Generic lip balms are filled with petroleum jelly, fragrances, and other chemicals that you don’t want to be ingesting when you put them on your lips. These lip balms are handmade with natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils! Try these out, your lips will love it!

You don’t have to purchase all of these products to be considered zero waste. However, all of these items will help you lead a more natural and eco-friendly life for very cheap! All of these products can be found on amazon and etsy, this means that you don’t have to waste a ton of gas in order to find any of these products!!! If you don’t have access to any health stores that have these products, then you are able to bring them to you!!! Yes, shipping cause a ton of carbon emission into our environment- however we aren’t perfect, we are doing the best we can do lead a more eco-friendly life!

How to Start Saving the World on Only 20 Dollars!!!!

This is a 20 dollar challenge! My last Zero Waste Beginners Guide was about how people can start this lifestyle without spending any money! Now you have started your lifestyle but, you are looking to make a bigger impact in your local community, but you don’t have a ton of money to spend on fancy safety razors, organic cotton bags, or a ton of mason jars. Here is a list of items that all cost less than 20 bucks to purchase. All of these purchases will help you to further your transition to a zero waste life.

  1. Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson- This book is revolutionary for anyone who wants to live a zero waste life. I read this book during the beginning of my transition to a more eco-friendly life. Not only did it help inspire me to make new things, try new products, and be more creative. It also helped me to

  2. J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo- I love these shampoo bars because they are filled with natural and simple ingredients. It also cleans my hair very well and is TSA approved for travel! Unlike Lush, these shampoo bars do not have SLS in them or other controversial chemicals. You don’t have to worry about harming the plant or your health!

  3. Soap Nuts and Wool Dryer Balls- Laundry is one of the first things I tackled when it came to my zero waste lifestyle because conventional detergents and dryer sheets have a ton of chemicals in them that have been linked to cancer, mental illnesses, and other health related issues. These Soap Nuts are completely organic and natural way to clean your clothes. The dryer balls help to get rid of the static cling when drying your clothes and also cut down the drying time in half. That means you are also saving electricity and money!

  4. Produce and Bulk Bags- These produce and bulk bags are cheap, easy to clean, and are 100% organic cotton. These bags are on the pricey side of other produce bags. However, the majority of produce bags are made with polyester mesh. When the polyester mesh bags start to rip and can’t be used to hold produce anymore, they have to be thrown away. However, these organic bags can be thrown into the compost to decompose back into the earth! Pay a little bit more for our planet and invest in something that will not last a lifetime in our landfill!

  5. Schmidt Cream Deodorant- I have tried at on of different brands of cream deodorants. There is a reason why I keep coming back to Schmidt. Because it works! This cream deodorant is made with natural products, no nasty chemicals. It allows you to still sweat, whilst also doing an amazing job at covering up the nasty smells of body odor. One jar also lasts me anywhere between 6-12 months, depending on the season and how much I sweat. Best of all, it is TSA approved. That’s right! You don’t have to purchase two different deodorants anymore when you travel!  

  6. Mason Jars- What would a zero waste list be without some handy mason jars! Though you can reuse your old sauce jars. For those who have just started out, I highly recommend picking up a few bigger mason jars to fill with some of your bulk items! These big mason jars are made with sturdy glass, are cheap, and easy to clean! I have also add a link to these amazing mason jars that can be used for meals on the go! Just add your salad stuff into the jar, your dressing in the cap. When you are ready to eat, add the dressing to your salad, shake it up, and your good to go!

  7. Bamboo toothbrushes- As someone with super sensitive teeth that seemed to always be filled with cavities. Everything that my dentist seemed to recommend for me didn’t work at all. When I first heard of the zero waste lifestyle, one of the first things I purchased for myself was a bamboo toothbrush. I loved how well it cleaned my teeth. I don’t think I could ever go back to normal disposable toothbrushes ever again. This more natural alternatives are super soft, yet stiff enough to actually clean your teeth. My dentist has yet to complain or advise that I switch to a new toothbrush. Better yet, my teeth aren’t super sensitive anymore!!!

  8. Emulsion blender- Why purchase a super expensive high speed blender when you can just get a simple and cheap emulsion blender for all of your high speed blending needs! I use my emulsion blender for soups, sauces, banana ice cream, smoothies, and anything else that needs to be blended super well. Best of all, it requires very little electricity and can fit into the drawer!

You don't have to purchase all of these items, but these are just a few of my cheap and trusty items that have helped me live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle! I hope that some of you find this inspiring and educational! I will have more lists like these for more type of items in the future! Please let me know in the comments if there are any items that I forgot on this list!!! 

Can You Be a Zero Waste Traveler?!

I have always loved to travel! I have been to Canada, Mexico, England, Italy, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary. I even lived in Scotland for 5 months while I was studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews. These are just the countries that I have visited. I have traveled all around the United States by plane, train, and car. Needless to say I love to travel. But, can I consider myself a zero waste traveler or am I actually the most wasteful person on this planet?!

According to an article in the New York Times, “ One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year, the average European, 10.” This is a ton of carbon dioxide that is polluting our environment. What is one to do? Stop traveling?

I can’t imagine my life without travel. I currently have dreams to visit India, Thailand, Vietnam, France, Iceland, and so many other countries that not traveling isn’t an option. So, I try my best to find other ways to help reduce my overall waste. I try to only support local farms as much as I can, even when I am traveling, I bring my own food onto the plane for meals, and I only purchase “souvenirs” that people will actually use. But, what about all the waste that you may end up producing. What if I forget or don’t have enough time to make my own food- forcing myself to eat what’s on the plane? What if I can’t find any local farms while traveling that are within my budget? All of these what if’s are terrifying for many zero wasters who want to travel.

Try To Do The Best You Can!

Just because you aren’t in your house doesn’t mean that zero waste goes out the door. But also don’t beat yourself up if you get hungry and you end up eating the airplane food. If you have any dietary restrictions- just make sure to make it clear on your ticket before you get on the plane. This trash could have been avoided, yes, but don’t beat yourself up because no one is ever perfect. Many times the waste is out of our hands. If you visit countries like India that don’t have clean tap water, your only option is to drink bottled water. This usually comes in plastic water bottles and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Even many of the high tech filters still wont extract many of the bacteria that is found in the tap water. Just be safe and drink the bottled water that many times has been imported from other countries in Europe. At the end of the day, we have to focus on trying our best and forgetting the rest.

Always Bring Food With You To The Airport!

Airport food usually sucks and is super expensive. Pack your own oatmeal that you can add hot water to when you get on the airplane. I have even packed some potatoes and veggies to eat for dinner before or during my flight. You can bring pretty much anything onto the plane- with the exception of fresh fruit to many countries- just as long as it isn’t a liquid or a gel. This means avocado, already made oatmeal, nut milks, maple syrup, honey, and other foods that have a gel and creamy like texture. This allows you to eat healthy, cheap, and plastic free whilst you are traveling!

Bring A Empty Water Bottle through TSA And Fill Up At The Gate!

I can’t not live without my empty water bottle. It is a simple and easy thing to do as soon as you pass through security. If you are going to a country with unsafe drinking water, then I would leave the water bottle at home and just grab a big one from the gate. I also keep a few tea bags with me and an empty travel mug with me to make some hot tea wherever I go. I love hot tea whilst I am flying, it really helps me to relax and sleep while I am on any red eye flight! Just make sure that there is no water in it before you go through security.

Shampoo And Soap Bars!

The Zero Waste lifestyle is the perfect Minimalist lifestyle because it allows you to pack all of your items into a small carry-on suitcase or backpack! Instead of trying to fit liquid shampoo and soap into your little plastic baggie, just opt for the shampoo and soap bars! For any liquid face oil or essential oils- I keep them in the same plastic baggie that I have been using for years. It doesn’t stay close all the time, but I just make sure that it is when I pass through security. A few times my bags have had to be checked again, but it’s not a problem.

Essential Oils!

Ever feel nauseous, get a headache, or that stubborn pimple? Essential oils are your best friends on flights. Bring some tea tree oil as an antibacterial after using the bathroom or to wipe down your seat before sitting down. Peppermint for that stubborn headache or nausea when you are on the plane. I also have some that are super helpful for I get really bad stomach aches. My current favorites are Lavender and Clary Sage for when I have to get a few hours of sleep on any red eye flights!

Bring a Disposable Razor!

Yes, I know this may sound a bit odd but if you are a women that is going somewhere warm and you want to carry on your suitcase, bring a disposable razor. I have thought about just bringing my metal one, but it is more likely to be flagged during security because it is bigger and made out of more metal than a disposable razor. I have never been caught with a disposable one, doesn’t matter what country I am going to. I have heard of quite a few people that have been forced to throw away their safety razor. Save your money and just have on disposable razor for any trips that you end up going on!

Bring tooth powders and facial powders!

Try to bring as many powders as you can to help limit the amount of liquids and creams that end up having to go into a plastic bag if you are carrying-on your bag. It is also just way more convenient to carry around with you wherever you go. I have some recipes for my tooth powders and facial powders on my blog.

Refuse What You Can On The Plane

Refuse the single use plastic cups, the headphones, the pillows, and even the blanket by bringing your own! This doesn’t always happen, especially if your carry-on isn’t that big. But, your own pillow and blanket will be a lifesaver for red eyes, since the blankets aren’t usually that comfortable. By refusing all the disposable items, the food that is packaged in a ton of plastic and non-recyclable materials. This will do a ton more than not flying to a different state or country on our planet. Even though carbon dioxide is very harmful to our environment. By continuing to use disposable items that pollute our environment by creating more greenhouse gases and filling our land with a ton of trash that will never decompose. By following these steps, we can help limit our carbon footprint on our planet more than just refusing to fly the world! However, at the end of the day, we need to focus on what we can and can’t do. We can’t stress ourselves out for the mistakes that we make!

For more tips and tricks I highly recommend checking out Emilia from The Girl Gone Green who traveled around Asia for a few months. Emilia is a well known zero waste activist who gave a Ted Talk on how to live a more eco-friendly, sustainable, and zero waste life. However, during her trips to Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and various other countries- she found that she couldn’t live the “perfect” zero waste life that her audience had presumed she lived all the time. Instead of forcing herself to only show the “perfect” aspects of her travels, she revealed the hard issues and the amount of trash that she produced whilst traveling. This allowed for many to realize that the majority of the world can’t be zero waste because of the amount of health issues that occur if you eat and drink any of the fresh food and water in that country.

At the end of the day, no one is perfect all the time. If you believe that I shouldn’t be traveling than that is fine. I try to limit my travels by car. Instead, I opt to take the plane or the train when I can, because those two modes of transportation are always running. If I didn’t take that seat, then someone else would. When it comes to a car, you are the one who has decided to do the traveling to a different state, city, or even down the street to visit someone, go to the grocery store, or to your job.  

 

Free Zero Waste Staples!!!

According to Instagram- Zero Wasters have to have a ton of mason jars, bamboo bowls and utensils, glass containers, cotton handkerchiefs and napkins, and a bunch of other zero waste products that are really expensive. You don’t have to own anything of these things to actually be zero waste. Zero waste is a mindset and a lifestyle. If all you do is carry around a reusable water bottle or pick up plastic at the beach, you are still just as zero waste as the person who has the perfect instagram zero waste feed. So, why spend money on items that you already own?

When many find the zero waste lifestyle, they want to live the perfect instagram worthy lifestyle. But, they already own a ton of plastic containers, old rags, old produce bags, bowls, plates, utensils, old rags, cloth napkins, and towels. Not to mention that you can reuse many of the old tomato sauce and spice jars. Why get rid of these items just because they don’t fit the “perfect mold”? Even if these items may not be the most Instagram worthy, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful. The first rule of the zero waste lifestyle is not to throw anything away that you can use!

These items are all free and things that you probably have around the house that will help you take the first steps to your zero waste journey!

Old Sauce and Spice Jars

Whenever we go shopping and grab some tomato sauce or spices we usually will chuck the glass jar into the recycling- or worse the garbage. I have decided to clean them up and start storing my bulk items, granola, plant based milks, and even leftovers from restaurants into them. Why toss something away when you technically paid for it to just to end up purchasing mason jars from the store. Save your time, money, and resources and just reuse what you already have! I also give these to other people who are looking for more glass jars but don’t purchase tomato sauce and other items that come in glass jars that often.

Use the Bags that You Are Given at Parties and Events

So many zero waste bloggers talk about these amazing white organic cotton produce bags. Guess what, I don’t own any white organic cotton produce bags. They are expensive and I already own bags that I use on a regular basis. Yes, some of them are plastic, but hey I helping them from ending up in our oceans and the landfill. I may end up purchasing some of those organic cotton bags when my current ones ripe, tear, or just can’t hold anything anymore. For now, I have continued to use what I already own and save my money on more important things!

Plastic Containers

Unless you are just moving out of your parents house and don’t have any plastic containers, I find it hard to believe that people don’t have perfectly good plastic containers that they can hold take out food and leftovers in. Many zero wasters tell their followers to donate their old containers and then replace them with more sustainable options like glass and rubber. The majority of those containers will probably never get purchased from Goodwill, so unless you're dropping them off at a homeless shelter- which many don’t accept plastic containers. I think it’s better to just use those containers until they break and then begin replacing them with more natural alternatives! If you are worried about the plastic chemicals leaching into your food, just heat it up on the stove or oven before eating it.

Old Rags and Towels Make Perfect Natural Alternatives to Paper Towels!

Forget about purchasing organic cotton napkins and handkerchiefs- use what you already own! I have a bunch of old towels and rags that I have specially for cleaning up messes. They work just as well as paper towels and I just chuck them into the laundry to be washed and used again! I am not sure what nutshell invented paper towels and why they are such a large part of our society today. When you stop using them, you release that they aren’t necessary at all. Our grandparents and our parents all grew up using old rags to clean the counter and floor with. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! I have also turned a few of my old tee shirts into rags to clean messes with so I can give them a new life!

Bring Your Metal Utensils With You Wherever You Go

Many zero waste bloggers, like myself, constantly carry around bamboo utensils that are lightweight and great for travel- especially when you are going on a plane. As your metal utensils may send off a red flag at TSA. If you are going to the office, out to eat, a friends house, or anywhere else where the TSA won't be, take your metal utensils wrapped around a cloth napkin! This will help you reduce your waste whilst on the go, stop you from having to use single use plastic utensils, and better yet, will make you feel better about investing a little extra money on a special meal for yourself. You already own a bunch of metal utensils in your house- so why not take a few with you on the go!

The Main Street Zero Waster

I have just finished the book Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran. Moran is a long time vegan who has helped coach and educate others about the various ethical and health issues concerning the meat, dairy, and egg industry. The book is filled with amazing chapters and easy recipes such as Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Mac and Cheese, and even Chocolate Cake. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too on a vegan diet. This helps others understand that this “extreme lifestyle” is easy, convenient, and better for us in the long term.

In this article I will be taking many of her main principles to the next level. Both the Zero Waste and Vegan lifestyle are focused on trying to live a compassionate and healthy lifestyle. We cannot live a compassionate zero waste lifestyle while continuing to eat meat, dairy, and eggs that come from factory farms. The reason being that factory farms are detrimental to our environment, the health of animals, and do play are large part in the issue of climate change. We can’t live a compassionate vegan lifestyle while continuing to purchase processed food that come in plastic packaging that will end up hurting millions of animals in our oceans. Unfortunately, Moran doesn’t talk a ton about the zero waste lifestyle and doesn’t refer to the lifestyle when it comes to the issue of plastic packaging.

In one of her chapters Moran does touch on the issue of plastic packaging in our oceans. Especially since millions of sea animals are hurt or killed by the plastic in our oceans. This is very important to understand when it comes to learning about the Vegan lifestyle. Especially since millions of people on Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms continue to advice many of their followers to purchase products that come in disposable packaging that could cause more harm to our animals and planet. However, I don’t believe it should stop with this chapter. I have decided to divide this article into various sections that I hope will inspire and educate more to look at both lifestyles when they are trying to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. That being said, in this article I will be focusing on the zero waste lifestyle. Read The Main Street Vegan, if you want to learn more about how to live a more compassionate vegan lifestyle.

(Side Note: I am not explaining that to be Vegan you must be Zero Waste or vise versa. You can do whatever you want. However, I believe it’s important to research both lifestyles when it comes to living a more compassionate and health lifestyle).

Who Is The Main Street Zero Waster?!

When you Google the term Zero Waste it looks like the lifestyle is only for those who are under 30, single, and live in their own apartment or house that they have 100% control over. That is not the reality for many around the US. It can be tough to live a perfect zero waste lifestyle, especially if you live with others who don’t want to reduce their waste. It can also be a sore spot for people because they believe that their family won't understand or respect their decision. Many people will actually “quite” the zero waste lifestyle because they can’t dedicate enough time to being the perfect zero waste. These are some of the main issues that the majority of people encounter when it comes to living a zero waste life. That being said, I believe that like the vegan lifestyle, the zero waste lifestyle isn’t as complicated as many believe. There are also a ton of sub sections to the lifestyle that many don’t understand or realize when they label themselves zero waste.

Many, like myself, probably came to the lifestyle from women like Bea Johnson or Lauren Singer who have successfully made the term zero waste trendy. But, I want you to think about how our ancestors grew up. Even take some suggestions from your grandparents, who probably still do many of the “trendy” zero waste tricks. When I first started my journey, I took some notes from my grandparents and parents who have been raised on cooking dried beans, making pasta from scratch, and even using vinegar, lemon, and water as their multi-purpose cleaner. It’s important to note that I do live with 3 non-vegans and non-zero wasters. Needless to say, I can’t control everything in my house. I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that I do have control over the choices I make.

I make all my own meals, except when my mom cooks dinner or the rare occasions that I am forced to get take-out. I make my own cleaning products that I use in my room and bathroom. I also use bar soaps to wash my hands, face, and body, essential oils to help cure my acne, scars, and bug bites, and even old rags as tissues. These are all things that I can control and also help reduce the amount of waste that I produce on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. These changes have also helped inspire more people in my life to start looking at their waste with a more critical eye. I would also to point out that I still produce trash and I am okay with that.

I call myself a Main Street Zero Waster because I talk more about the waste I do produce, instead of limiting myself to the waste I don’t produce. I share my “mistakes” and explain how you can be a zero waster, a vegan, and any other label that helps define who you are, even if you live with people who may have different beliefs to you. I believe that this is important for people to recognize when they are first starting their zero waste journey. I will always be a zero waster, even if people bash me for purchasing products in plastic packaging, because it’s impossible for me to be the perfect zero waste.

The Different Subsections of the Zero Waste Lifestyle

Just like the vegan lifestyle. There are many different subsections of the zero waste lifestyle. In the vegan community, there are junk food vegans, raw vegans, high carb low fat vegans, high fat vegans, high protein vegans, paleo vegans, keto vegans, vegans who only eat local food, vegans who don’t believe in having pets, and even vegans who don’t believe we should have children. Within the zero waste movement there are people who label themselves as less waste, low waste, waste free, no waste, and most recently low impact. All of these labels are different and also very similar. It’s interesting to find that people within all these circles have embraced and inspired more to help create less pollution, water waste, and more education around the various environmental issues and how we can help save our planet!

In the zero waste movement, I believe I am a Zero Waster who does the best they can. I will continue to travel, purchase food that has traveled by trains, planes, and ships to come to my local grocery store, drive a car even if it takes a bunch of gas to bring me to and from work, and other areas of my life that people deem to be too wasteful to live a zero waste life. I am doing the best that I can. If I could purchase a hybrid or fully electric car, I would. If I could only purchase my food from local farmers or farmers markets, I would. Just because I don’t have these items, doesn’t make me any less of a zero waster.

Sure, there are many people you will see out there that say if you still purchase items in plastic packaging that you aren’t a zero waster. If you don’t boycott this company then you aren’t zero waste because they still use palm oil in their products. Some people even say if you aren’t vegan than you aren’t zero waste. It’s a crazy world that we live in. However, no one can label you. If you identify as a zero waster, then you are a zero waster. Many people who identify as vegan may accidentally eat meat, dairy, or even eggs if they didn’t know that the item had meat, dairy, or even egg in it. There is no such thing as perfection.

Are we Perfect?

I would like to go back to the theme of Main Street Vegan, which is living a life full of compassion for our planet. Factory farms is the largest contributing factor to climate change and greenhouse gases. By becoming a vegan, many are fighting against various factory farms and explaining how detrimental they are to the animals, our society, and our planet. HOwever, they continue purchase items that come in non-recyclable packaging and could end up in our oceans killing various animals, or in the landfill that takes away a ton of land from our animals. They may even continue to support companies that use palm oil in their ingredients. Palm oil is one of the largest contributing factors to forest fires and deforestation. Just because they are vegan, doesn’t mean they don’t kill any animals on our planet or purchase items that will contributing to the killing of animals. They are doing the best that they can by not eating any of the animals that come from factory farms. Now, I am not demoralizing the vegan movement, but rather humanizing it for many who continue to try and live a “perfect” life. Sorry guys, but it just can’t happen.

Even Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, two of the main pioneers of the zero waste movement still eat, dairy, meat, eggs, and seafood that could be coming from various factory farms around the United States and the world. Even if they are able to fit their trash into a mason jar, they could still be contributing to factory farming and other aspects of our culture that are detrimental to our environment. However, these aren’t areas that many talk about. When it comes to zero waste, like veganism, people focus on whether or not that they fit within the set guidelines that the media has set up for everyone. Well, how come they are better than me, just because they don’t produce any trash. The truth is that they aren’t.

No matter how difficult it may seem to be, there is no such thing as perfection. Even the people who are deemed to live the most "perfect" lives all over social media have their struggles and issues. To say that all zero wasters live a perfect life of zero trash is completely 100% false. It's also important to note that. no one but your can label yourself as a zero waster. So no one can tell you that you aren’t a zero waster. I love that I am able to continue make more changes within my own life that help reduce my overall footprint. I hope you all decide to read The Main Street Vegan, especially if you want to live a healthier and more compassionate life!

 

 

Confessions of a Zero Waste Mama

By Laura from The Mindful Mama Blographer

“MAMA!”

I hear my name being called as I’m doing dishes in the kitchen.

My 2.5-year-old is sitting on the potty, and needs my help doing, well 2.5-year-old potty things.

I go in and do my mama thing, help him wash his hands, then say:

“Go into your room and get a new pull-up”.

I take the old pull-up and throw it in the trash.

Yes, you read that right.

The trash.

Yes, you are reading a zero waste article.

Yes, I consider myself a ‘zero-waster’.

Before I get any judgy comments or emails, let me explain.

When my family and I first started our zero waste journey, my son was a couple months shy of turning two. We had tried using cloth diapers when he was a newborn. For three months, every single diaper style we tried leaked and he was going through 5-8 outfits a day. After three months, I threw in the towel (pun intended), and we switched to disposables. As a new mom (and dad) with a newborn, leaky diapers were just one extra thing we felt we didn’t have the energy to allocate. Despite how wasteful we both know disposable diapers are, it just made our lives a whole lot less stressful and easier. When it comes to having a newborn less stress definitely trumps zero waste.


Once we started adopting more zero waste ways, the thought of making the switch to reusable diapers when we (hopefully) would be starting the potty-training process in the very near future seemed more trouble than it’s worth. Do I feel guilty? Yes, a little bit. But I’ll admit, it feels good to confess and get it off my chest.

While I’m at it, here are other things we DON’T do as ‘zero wasters’:

  • We don’t buy groceries in bulk. For budgetary reasons, we shop at Aldi almost exclusively. For those who are unfamiliar with Aldi, they do not offer any type of bulk section, and most of their produce comes in some sort of packaging.

  • We have pets. Pet waste contributes to a lot of our trash. Does that mean we’re going to give up our pets? No. And while there are some sustainable pet waste supplies, they are super expensive and not in our budget right now.

  • We sometimes buy take-out, it is a rare occurrence, but we do. Have you ever noticed just how much trash is produced with takeout? Sure, there are restaurants in our area that serve items in compostable packaging, but we don’t always choose them.

So why has this article turned into a zero waste confessional?

While my family and I have made MANY changes to our daily lives to reduce waste (in the last nine months we have reduced our trash by 25-30 lbs a week), there are still certain areas that we are working on. And, there are areas that we won’t be working on. At least not right now. The zero waste movement (as it is named) is not always appropriate for people in their current season of life, and that’s OK. I am a firm believer in doing what you can, with the resources you have right now. We are making changes wherever we can. It isn’t any one’s business how little or slowly we make these changes because it is still leaps ahead of those who aren’t doing anything!

So while I may not be able to fit my trash into a mason jar this month (maybe someday!). I will continue to throw my son’s disposable pull-up in the trash knowing that my family and I are always working towards reducing as much waste as we can.

Bio:

Laura loves all things Harry Potter, edible cookie dough, and musicals. Additionally, she is a mom, wife, nature photographer, proud Minnesotan, outdoor enthusiast, self-care advocate, and so much more. Laura blogs over at The Mindful Mom Blographer and helps others REDUCE mental clutter through mindful and intentional living, minimalism, and zero waste living.  

I Went Off The Pill and Got Clear Skin

Yes. What is even more controversial is that I was first put on the pill to help clear up my skin. When I entered college, my once clear skin was ruined with a ton of cystic acne that covered my face from the top of my forehead, down my neck, and even on my shoulders and back. My sister had gone on the pill and her skin had cleared up. I had decided to visit a dermatologist and go on the pill. Now I do want to let you all know that I did receive some positive results with going on the pill. However, it didn’t clear it up completely.

For 5 years I continued to take the pill every single day. I would like to let you all know that I have never gotten my hormones tested, and was put on other harsh medications to help clear up my skin. In the end, I had just seen my acne as stress from college that would clear up when I graduated. Well I graduated, and I didn’t get clear skin. Yes, my cystic acne did diminish a ton, but I still got a ton of pimples. This started to drive me crazy. I tried various diets and cleanses, and had even debated on going back on a very harsh drug for the rest of my life. Fast forward 2 years after graduating from college and I finally decided to see a naturopath.

My naturopath was very open about getting me off the pill. I had thought about getting off of it for a couple of years, but the first time I had tried, I had gotten really bad migraines that wouldn’t go away. This scared me to ever go off the pill again. Well at the beginning of this month, April 1st 2018, I had decided to off the pill. (Side note: this time I had decided to off the pill during the middle of my pack.) I didn’t get any headaches, and my period had actually just come a week earlier. Now, I haven’t received my next period completely off the pill yet, so I am not sure if my period is going to be more painful or last longer. However, I would like to mention that my skin began clearing up almost immediately after going off the pill. 

About three or four days after I went off the pill, I only had three active pimples on my face. I have always had about 20 big cystic pimples at all times. 3 weeks later, my skin is still clearing up more every day, My scars are finally starting to diminish. I can’t believe that a medication that I was originally put on to clear my skin was actually causing me to have breakouts.

Now looking back at my acne story, I do believe that my cystic acne in college was the outcome of bad college food, stress, and possibly the water. If I hadn’t gone on the pill my skin probably would have cleared up after I graduated. The reason I have written my story is to let people know that it is okay to question your doctors and the medications that you have been put on. Yes, birth control isn't all bad, and if my skin had gotten worse I probably would still be on it. But it’s important to play around with your medications when it comes to curing various issues that you may be dealing with.

Before getting off the pill, I was told that my acne was the result of high testosterone levels that aligned with a disease called PCOS that many of the women, including my mom. Now I believe that the birth control pill actually made my hormones go crazy and made it seem like I had PCOS. This hasn’t been confirmed, and won't be until I receive a hormonal test. But, it’s crazy to think that my acne has cleared up only a couple of days after going off the pill. I would also like to mention that I have been put on some supplement and a new diet that have definitely helped clear up my skin as well.

What's the Big Deal with Cleanses and Detoxes

When people hear the words Detox, Cleanse, De-Stress, Amazing, Passionate, they will immediately jump on board right?! Why not, all of these words sound amazing to us. However, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to go through at “detox” or a “cleanse” because our bodies cleanse and detox naturally. Our kidneys and liver are amazing body parts that actually cleanse themselves on a daily basis. Many doctors advice that by simply drinking plenty of water you are able to flesh out all of the “toxins” from your body.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I put toxins, detox, and cleanse in quotation marks. Well, it’s because I don’t see these words as necessary in our everyday life. Just because you ate a donut, doesn’t mean you need to “detox” and get rid of the bad “toxins” in your body. It’s normal for us to indulge every once in awhile and our bodies are equipped to handle getting rid of the bad sugars and other crap that are in that donut. Side Note: I will also be talking about juice cleanses and other trendy detox and cleanses in future articles. Today’s article will be sticking to the topic of cleansing and detoxing, along with my current month long “cleanse” diet.

If you have been following me for a while, you will know that I have recently gone to see a naturopath about my acne. During this time, she has advised me on a strict and odd diet, along with some supplements to take. For the next month, I will not be allowed to eat dairy, eggs, gluten, sugar (including honey, agave, and maple syrup), oats, yeast (this includes nutritional yeast), and even limiting my consumption of nuts and seeds, along with garlic, onions, and kale. The reason being that my gut was not feeling its best, as a result my skin was breaking out in very bad harsh cystic acne. This diet is suppose to help me figure out what kind of food sensitivities I have, without having to take a very expensive food sensitivity test. After the month is over, I can start to re-introduce many of the foods back into my diet!

In short, I am not doing this new diet to cleanse my body of “toxins”, but instead to figure out if I have any kind of food sensitivities/allergies. It is vital for us all to know if we have any food allergies, as they can cause us to experience bloating, gut issues, anxiety, weight, depression, and other health related issues. And, FYI I haven’t had a single green juice this entire time. Online, I found tons of lists on various cleanses and detoxes and why a person should go on these cleanses or detoxes. However, it was difficult to find explanations as to what exactly cleanses and detoxes do to our body, how long we should be on them for, and why they are beneficial for us. I find this is the reason that the majority of people just feel like cleanses are used to get rid of toxins in our body. I also believe that you shouldn’t do anything too restrictive of our self without consulting a doctor, naturopath, or even a nutritionist, as you may not be doing it correctly.

I know when I first started my journey to a plant based vegan diet, I didn’t know that B-12 was something I needed to supplement. I just thought that I got everything I needed from plants. Boy was I wrong. The same goes for a detox or a cleanse. You can read a bunch of trendy articles, but if you aren’t following up with a professional, you could do something that is actually harmful to your overall health. That being said, I don’t see it a problem if you want to give up dairy, eggs, gluten, or any other foods for a while to see if you have some sensitivities to them. You don’t need a medical degree to know what doesn’t make you feel good. I just believe that people are sometimes too quick to jump on the cleanse and detox bandwagon before doing their research. Throughout this process, my naturopath has also told me that I have to do what’s right for me. Sure, she has told me to avoid these foods because they are foods that many people have allergies/sensitive too. She provide an exact meal plan to me, as she doesn’t know what foods work best for my body, only I know that. Whereas, many popular cleanses and detoxes have very strict programs that you are told to follow in order to help “cure” your health problems. She has even advised me to eat between the hours of 9am-6pm, but has told me that I need to eat when I am hungry.

In conclusion, don’t do something because it’s trendy, do it because you want to feel better! We are the only ones that can know if our bodies are okay with certain types of foods or not. And the whole “cleansing our toxins out of our body” is complete BS. Our kidneys and liver do this naturally, without the added help of special juices and other meals that deem to do so. 

My Acne Story- Why I am seeing a Naturopath!

Recently, I have become frustrated with how people hold zero wasters to be the most perfect people on the planet. They must not have any health, mental or physical, because you can solve everything if you just eliminate toxic chemicals, processed foods, and the worse culprit plastic. That isn’t true. Thought, I do feel like my long term health will benefit from the zero waste lifestyle. I am not perfectly healthy. For the past 4 years I have dealt with severe cystic acne, anxiety, gut issues, and allergies. All of these issues make it difficult to refuse plastic packaging. I believe that zero waste doesn’t matter when it comes to your health. That being said, I have never been a believer in antibiotics or medication. I have only taken them when I didn’t feel like I had any other option.

As a result, I have decided to dedicate the next month to blog posts and videos that are all about zeroing in on your health and well-being. I have always taken the researchers approach when it comes to my personal health and well-being. Today’s article is all going to be about the medications that I have taken in the past for my acne. I will have more in-depth article at some point that talk more about the various issues and side effects that go along with these medications.

I have suffered from acne since I was 12 years old and have never found a cure. I have had moments of clarity but, it has always come back. As a result, I have tried a bunch of drug store and prescription topical creams, facial washes, toners, and even oral medications. Yes, I have taken oral medications such as birth control, spironolactone, and tetracycline. None of these medications have worked. I have decided to not go on Accutane because none of the other medications worked and I believe it is too harsh of drug for me to take.

I was given tetracycline because my dermatologist thought that my acne was the result of bad bacteria in my body that was making me break out. Once I took it for several months then I would be cured. Well, not only was I not cured of my acne, but I also became allergic to the medication. My dermatologist actually denied that my symptoms were real. This made my parents and myself so pissed that I stopped seeing that dermatologist and decided to just continue researching and finding more ways to deal with my acne.

I did have clear skin for about a year or two when I was 16 years old. However, when I was in college my acne came back like a horrific skin condition. It covered my entire face from my hairline to my neck, my arms, and even my back. My acne was a big trigger for my anxiety and I tried my best to figure out what exactly was going on in my body. When I was 18 I decided to see a different dermatologist. They put me on birth control, hoping that my hormones would “stabilize” and clear up my acne. This does help many women, but I also believe that I was put on it without receiving any tests to see what exactly was going on with my hormones. I also didn’t know any of the long- term side effects like brain tumors and cancer. I also didn’t know exactly how birth control works- this is something that I will be covering in a separate article.

The birth control pills did seem to help limit some of the big cysts, but it didn’t cure anything. Again, I felt hopeless and a great need for some answers. I became obsessed, constantly researching various products and possible answers for my acne. When I was 20 years old, my dermatologist told me that my acne must be the result of high testosterone and that a harsh medication called spironolactone would help limit my testosterone levels and cure my acne. Well, it did clear up my skin. I was so happy and thought that I had finally said Goodbye to Acne! However, I didn’t want to be on the medication for the rest of my life. I decided to get off of it. Unfortunately, my acne came back. I initially thought that it was due to bad stress and anxiety from being laid off from my job. It has been 8 months since I was laid off, and I still have acne.

I had thought about going back on the medication, but I really wanted to know if I had high testosterone. I wanted to get tests done to figure out what exactly was going on in my body. I also, wanted to see if there were any other natural supplements that would help cure my acne. As a result, I have decided to see a naturopath. I will have a full series on my channel all about my experience with a naturopath and the different answers that I receive from them. I believe that people should do more research on their personal health and be okay with questioning what their doctors want to put them on. I have also decided to stop seeing my dermatologist and have even decided to go off of birth control to see what exactly is going on in my body.

I will also be leaving some more amazing links that I hope will inspire you to do more research and find answers! You have control over your personal health and well-being. If you don’t want to be put on medications that is your choice. I have nothing against any of these medications and believe that people should have the choice to be on these medications. However, I believe that doctors are too quick to prescribe medications, instead of looking into other avenues.

Please comment below any questions or future posts you would like me to write about when it comes to health, nutrition, and diet! I want to help everyone be able to Zero In on their health! 

Do You Feel Comfortable Eating Your Skin and Body Care Products?

I have decided to dedicate the next month to talking about my personal health and well-being. When we think about Zero Waste, we don’t think about physical health and mental health. However, our state of mind and health is the most important aspects of our personal life. We can’t do anything without making sure that our mental and physical health are in check. My health is important inside and out. Why would you eat only organic food that is unprocessed and nutritionist, if you continue to put chemicals all over your body in the forums of facial creams, body lotions, hair gel, etc. I make sure that my body and facial care items are good enough to eat! Yep, you heard that right! I mean, they probably wouldn’t taste very good, but they wouldn’t kill me!

When I transitioned to a more zero waste life, I decided to start making some of my own products. This included facial toners, makeup setting powder, mascara, etc. However, I also love supporting small businesses and encouraging more to use natural and organic skin, body, and hair care products! NATURAWL BODY is an amazing company that is compassionate about making sure that more people fill their home with natural, organic, plant based, raw, and vegan items! The shop is run by a women named Kelly, a certified raw nutritionist, nature lover, gardener, and health food enthusiast. As a mother, she believes that everyone should have access to the best ingredients for their family.

Today, I will be reviewing her Peppermint and Green Tea Body and Hand Lotion. This items is completely raw vegan and is filled with the best ingredients. Kelly only includes USDA Certified Organic Ingredients. The ingredients include Green Tea extract, Jojoba oil, Peppermint oil, Vitamin E oil, Vanilla oil, Rosemary extract, Grapefruit Seed extract, and emulsifying wax glycerin. The mix of vitamin e oil and jojoba oil kept my dry skin moisturized throughout the winter season, despite the negative temperatures, without making it feel really greasy like coconut oil does. All the oils and extracts make me feel amazing. My guinea pig Jelly Pig loves the smell of it as well. I will continue to use this body lotion throughout the summer season as I get out in the sun more.

It’s also important to note that all of her products arrive in sustainable packaging, including a cardboard box and paper packaging. The bottles are glass, and the pumps are the only items that are made out of plastic. However, I plan to reuse the bottle with the pump once I have finished the lotion. All of her items are either fair trade, recycled, or biodegradable. This is to ensure that she is creating amazing products for herself, her family, and the planet. At the end of the day, what is the point of using organic and natural products if they come in wasteful packaging that is extremely detrimental to our planet.

Kelly also sells various other items for your body and home. This includes some awesome baby and kid friendly products that you don’t have to worry about putting on your child. Please go check out her website here! Currently she is offering 20% off of all baby essentials with code: KTJBABY20!!! Please go check out everything before this sale runs out!

 

Why I Have Decided to Stop Donating to Goodwill

I know that I have been creating videos for the majority of this challenge, but as I was thinking about today’s topic, I felt that a blog post would be the best way to explain my issues with Goodwill. In Heidi’s article in this month’s issue of #ZeroWasteStoryTime she explores other organizations and opportunities that you could donate to, instead of just dropping off all of your items at your local Goodwill. She also explains Goodwill’s system and how long your items last until they eventually end up in the landfill.

Now, you can argue that all of our items will eventually end up in the landfill. However, are your items actually going to people in need when you donate to Goodwill? Now, it is great for people who are less fortunate to be able to receive items at a discounted price, but what about those who are living in shelters who can’t afford to go to their local Goodwill for clothes. Shouldn’t we give these items to the people in the shelters and other homeless people who can’t afford the items at even Goodwill prices? With a little bit of research, I have found half a dozen shelters in my area that will take used clothes and shoes that are in good condition. I know that if they believe that my items aren’t good enough for the shelter than it may end up in the landfill. At least these clothing items are going to people who really need them.

The money that Goodwill makes is suppose to go towards the staff members and the organization itself. On their website, Goodwill claims to “meet the needs of all job seekers, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people who disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs. In 2016, Goodwill helped more than 313,000 people train for careers in services they needed to be successful- such as English language training, additional education, or access to transportation and child care.” Unfortunately, there have been many claims of underpaying staff members with disabilities and giving more to the higher ups in the foundation. Here is a link to a petition that was created to help bring this issue forward into the media. It is currently closed, but that doesn’t mean the problem has been solved.

As a result, I have decided to stop donating my clothes to Goodwill. Instead, as Heidi explains in her article, I will be bringing my clothes to one of the local shelters in my area. Instead of going towards a mismanaged company and then eventually into the landfill, I hope that I will be able to give my clothes to people who really need them. This is just a small snippet of the issues that I have will Goodwill and their policies, but I hope that this inspires more of you to do your research and like Heidi says, Donate Good Vibes Only!

Why I am Vegan for the Environment~ My Diet History!

When I tell someone that I eat a mostly plant based diet, I get a lot of mix reactions. Some people think that it is a great idea but explain that they could never give up cheese. Others ask me how I get my protein, calories, etc. There are even people who think I am some sort of weird hippie that is going to get into an argument with them about their personal diet. The last on is a little bit less popular, but does still happens. 

Now, many people are vegan or plant based for ethical reasons. However, people are very shocked when I explain to them that the main reason I don’t eat a ton of meat, dairy, and eggs are for health and environmental reasons. For years I have been flexatarian, vegetarian, dairy-free, and even completely vegan before. I honestly believe that eating a mostly whole foods plant based diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies is best! I do also eat a ton of whole grains like steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and legumes. Not to say that I don't eat processed food, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It's most important to note that I am doing this completely for my health and environment.

In the video below, I talk a lot about why I have decided to start eating some animal products to help save them from going into the landfill. However, in this article I will be focusing on my personal diet history. This will hopefully help motivate some of you to start researching various kinds of diets, the destruction factory farms have on our planet and health, and most importantly that no one is perfect. 

When I was in high school, I took an environmental science class that really opened my eyes to the issue of factory farms and animal products in general. At first I wanted to get rid of all the animal products in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to go vegan correctly, so I decided to only eat meat, dairy, and eggs from my house, since I knew they were organic. When I went out to eat, I wouldn't order any sort of meat, dairy, or egg product. This is something that I was ok with doing, but was also somewhat difficult when going out to certain restaurants that didn't have may vegan friendly options. Eventually I went back to eating the normal Western Diet. 

When I was in college however, I decided that I would become a Flexatarain. This meant that I wouldn't eat meat products unless I knew they were organic. As a result I never got sick from the mystery meat that was found in the dining hall. It was also during this time that I realized that dairy played a significant part in my cystic acne, especially on my chin and jawline. So, I decided to cut that out as well. This was the best, considering that I didn't eat many eggs that often. However, I found that I would still cheat occasionally when I was home with my parents.

While, I was in college I also started binge watching a ton of amazing vegan documentaries, like Cowspiracy, What the Health, Food Inc (the documentary that first opened up eyes to the dangers of the meat and dairy industry), and a few other ones. As a result, I decided I would try veganism for my last year of college. This was amazing! My anxiety began to lessen, despite having a harder work load than in previous years, and I even saw a reduction in my acne.

For a while after graduating from college, I stuck to a mostly vegan diet. However, after learning about the zero waste lifestyle, I absolutely hated seeing perfectly good food going into our landfill just because it had meat, dairy, and eggs in it. I believe that we can all do our best to help save our plant. I have decided to do what is best for my health and the environment by only eating meat and eggs to help them from going into our landfill. That means I eat animal products about 2-4 times a week. Which, according to many health nutritionists, is around the recommended amount for most people. Above that, these products can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, clogged arteries, and a bunch of other health issues. I know that this isn't a very popular topic to explore, especially since many Zero Wasters are also Vegan. However, I believe this shows that we all have to do what is best for ourselves. Hopefully, when I move out of my parents house, I will be able to go fully vegan. For now, this is what makes me happy! 

 

 

 

My Personal Trash Story- Zero Waste or Low Impact

About a year ago when I joined the Zero Waste movement, I focused all of my energy on creating zero trash because that’s what I thought you had to do. As I have talked about before, this made me stressed, aggravated, and full of anxiety. However, over time my family has made me realize that I can’t create Zero Trash. WHAT?! This was soul crushing to me, but also a big wake up call. If I wanted to embark on this lifestyle and movement, then I should do my research and explore ALL aspects of what it means to be an environmental activist.

Recently, Emmi from Sustainably Vegan released a video talking about how discouraging and limiting the term “Zero Waste” can be for many who are trying to reduce their waste. She also explored how a person shouldn’t concentrate on just their trash, but rather EVERYTHING that has to deal with the environment. This includes limiting your water and energy waste, carbon footprint, volunteering, and various other areas that will continue to help us make our planet a better place.

I polled my followers on Instagram and I was excited and shocked to see the amount of people who have decided to label themselves as low waste! However, I was also saddened by the amount of people who felt discouraged by the zero waste movement. I had a talk with Kaycee from @holistichue, once known as TheZeroWasteGirl. She explained how she was constantly receiving negative comments for not being zero waste enough to call her the zero waste girl. This made her feel discouraged and ultimately change her name. During this time she lost a ton of followers. However, she also felt more true to herself. She explained that the followers who did stick around were their because they loved her, not because they were looking for the someone who doesn’t produce any trash. 

This helped me realize that we need to step away from looking at the zero waste lifestyle as perfection and zero trash. The reason being that no one can actually produce zero trash. Better yet, many people who don’t have access to bulk stores, live with non-zero wasters, or who don’t have the financial capabilities to purchase a ton of the “zero waste” items, shouldn’t be pressured to do more than they feel comfortable with. We should also be concentrating on volunteering and advocating more for the environment. 

It’s important to note that if you have been following me for a while, you will know that the first 5 months of my transition I did try the trash jar. At first I got frustrated that I couldn’t start a jar right away. But a few months later, I had decided to try it again to see how much of a impact I was making in the amount of trash I was producing.  FYI I wasn’t able to fit more than a month’s worth of trash into a mason jar. The mason jar didn’t include any of the trash that I accidentally threw into my families trash can. It also didn’t include any of the waste that was created at the grocery store and restaurants I visited, and the amount of gas, water, and pollution I admitted into the air with having 2 part time jobs that forced me to drive everywhere. I am not sure many people take those into consideration when they hold up their fancy trash jar. Take a look at Sabrina from @sustainablesabs and her article on the trash jar! It will allow you to understand that despite how interesting the jar may be, it isn’t the “goal” of the zero waste/ low impact movements. 

Yes, even though I will be labeling myself as a zero waster, I am part of both movements. The zero waste movement is amazing to help encourage more companies to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the production of an item. However, it isn’t exactly ideal for many who want to reduce their waste at home. The low impact movement/ lifestyle allows and encourages people to do the best they can. The word itself is more inclusive for it’s members, and encapsulates many areas that the zero waste movement doesn’t. The zero waste movement has mainly focused on reducing trash; whereas the low impact movement focuses on how to reduce your water and energy consumption/waste, carbon footprint, and helps people want to get more involved in their local community! 

This zero waste/ low impact community has forced me to want to do more. I have a dream to create my own programs, co-ops, campaigns, and so many other big projects that will help make others become environmental activists and do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, waste, and help save our planet! Please check out my video below that talks more in-depth about the two movements and the type of content that will be featured on this blog and Youtube channel! 

StrawSleeves Review

Side Note: I have written a blog post about the Plastic Straws and the Ocean, which was featured on Straw Sleeve website HERE!!!

When I started my transition to a zero waste lifestyle, one of my first reusable options that I fell in love with was a metal straw! There is nothing better than drinking your morning smoothie or juice out of a plastic free straw. Currently, I have 5 metal straws and one bamboo one that come with me everywhere. So, why do people use billions and billions of straws everyday? 

Drinking straws is one of the oldest food utensils in the world. It gained popularity in the 1800's, being made out of rye grass. But, the original straw came out over 500 years ago! "In the ruins of the Sumerian cities and tombs, archeologist managed to find straws made from gold and the precious stone lapis lazuli. These expensive 3000 BC artifacts can give us the proof that the more simple designs were used far earlier than that, most probably created from carved wood or natural hollow plants." It is said that they use to drink beer out of their straws. 

 In 1888, American inventor Marvin C. Stone created first model of modern drinking straw. The straw was made out of paper that was wrapped around a pencil and then glued to stay closed. Around the 1950's, when plastic items came into popularity, the plastic straw was born. Now plastic straws are made out of Plastic #7. This plastic isn't usually recyclable. When it is recycled, it can only be turned into plastic furniture, or semi-recycled bags. As a result, plastic straws are usually thrown into the garbage and many times end up in the oceans. Once in the oceans, they can be eaten, stuck in turtles noses, and even stuck in octopuses tentacles. How can we continue to use this item, when it is so dangerous to the rest of our world? 

Many cities and towns have begun to ban plastic straws, bags, and other plastic items that aren’t usually considered recyclable. Guess what?! People didn't even notice that the ban had been put into place. They also didn’t mind the more environmental friendly alternatives, like paper bags, paper straws, reusable cloth bags, and even reusable metal and bamboo straws. In time, I hope that this will help inspire more cities and towns to ban more unnecessary plastic items. Until then, it's important to find companies that are working hard to provide more sustainable options to the masses. 

StrawSleeves, is a small online shop that has started to make big changes in the way of reusable straws, reusable utensil sets, and even reusable bags. All made of out reclaimed cotton, hemp, and denim. I own a reusable utensil set and one of StrawSleeves straws in the carrier case. The carrier case may not seem like a necessity, but it is definitely a nice thing to help keep your utensils and straws organized and clean while in your bag. I keep mine in my bag with me at all times, just in case.

The company is owned by Cheri Newcomb, a women who has dedicated her life to making reusable items more readily available to people who want to reduce the amount of plastic in their life. Their Instagram and Facebook pages are filled with information on their products, healthy recipes, and other resources that help you understand how beneficial living a plastic free life can be to our oceans and the environment.

I personally find these items to also make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for friends and family members who are travel a lot or are looking to help reduce their waste!!!

For more information visit the links below: 

http://www.eatingutensils.net/history-of-other-eating-utensils/drinking-straws-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/14/world/plastic-straws-ban-campaigns/index.html

https://www.tv3.ie/xpose/article/lifestyle/260549/The-end-of-singleuse-straws-is-nigh-here-are-6-ecofriendly-alternatives

https://earth911.com/home/food-beverage/recycling-mystery-plastic-straws/

 

 

 

 

No Spending In 2018!

Yes, you heard that right. I am not spending any money on unnecessary items during 2018. No clothes, accessories, books, haircuts, online programs, and even gifts. I have wanted to do this challenge for a while, but I didn’t think it was possible. Well, last year I embarked on the zero waste lifestyle, where I decided to limit my trash to a single garbage can for the entire year. Guess what, I did it! If I was able to limit my waste, then why can’t I stop spending money on unnecessary items?

This idea started when I realized that I spent 500 to 600 dollars on extra expenses outside of gas, loan payments and groceries, during the month of November and December. Where did this money go? Presents, train tickets, and nights out with my cousins, that’s where all my money had gone. I couldn’t believe that I spent that much money in just two months.

My list will not include groceries, medical bills, loan payment, blog related items and subscriptions, gas for my car, and 2 restaurant visits per month. By the end of the year, I am hopping to save enough money that I am able to pay off a huge chunk of my loans and take a few trips to visit some friends. This will allow me to start 2019 feeling empowered, financially free, and allow me to realize that the money I use to spend on necessary items, wasn’t actually necessary.

Thankfully I do live with my parents, so I don’t have to pay rent and additional bills from my health insurance and loan payments. You’re probably wondering how exactly I am going to embark on this challenge.

1.     NO MORE SHOPPING FOR THE SAKE OF SHOPPING!

No you don’t need that new shirt, dress, pair of shoes, or necklace. These items aren’t and wont ever be a necessity. They are items that you like at the moment, but will probably get lost in your closet in the next couple of months. Go to the library and get a book, or have some friends over for a dinner party. Shopping is an unnecessary “hobby” that will lead to more clutter in your life.

2.     Start making your own products!

Before going zero waste, I use to purchase a ton of different makeup items, facial serums, acne treatments, and hair care products. This resulted in me spending 50 dollars a month on things that I really didn't need. When I decided to go zero waste, I tried to find homemade alternatives to these products. Currently, I now make my own mascara, lip balms, facial powder, dry shampoo, body scrub, toothpaste, facial masks, and many other products. This has helped me save a lot of money and really evaluate what products are actually necessities. 

3.     Use up your old products

We all have stockpiles of soaps, shampoos, skin care, and other products that we need to go through, but just haven’t. I personally have way too many soap bars and old shampoo bottles. Once you go through your items, then try and making those products. The big rule of thumb is that if you can't make it or go with out it, then you should repurchase it. Currently, I one item that isn't zero waste that I will continue to repurchase is a facial spot treatment from my dermatologist, because it's the only thing that helps to get rid of my acne and prevent scarring. 

4.     Keep track of what you can do for free!

I love going to the library to look for new books and movies, volunteering at a local shelter, and going to my cousin’s house for a small dinner party/ movie night. These are both free activities that only cost a little bit of gas every couple of weeks. Don’t feel like you have to go shopping, sign up for a work out class, or go to a restaurant to distress and relax. There are way more free activities that you can do with the same results!

5.     How to stop feeling discouraged!

During your no spend year, don't let others suck you into making plans or feeling ridiculous for not wanting to spend money. Whenever someone tells you, “come on, let's just go out.” “You got the money, why not spending it on something you enjoy.” My response is always, "sorry guys but I am trying to limit my spending in order to save up for (whatever you are saving up for), but I would be completely okay with (eating in,going for a hike, or any other free or very low cost activity)". You will be amazed on how understanding true friends can be. If they aren't understanding, then you may not actually want to be friends with those people. SAVE SAVE SAVE!

6.     NO MORE IMPLUS PURCHASES

I have made too many impulse purchases because I had the money in my checking account. Once 2018 hits, I am only going to allow $2,000 dollars into checking account every month. This is just enough money to pay off my loans and other necessary items. All the rest of my money will be going into my savings account. This will force me to not spend relentlessly on unnecessary purchases.

7.     Get rid of your credit card

I don’t have a credit card, so this isn’t a problem for me. But, credit cards force you to spend more money than you have. Cancel your card, and cut it up. If you need one for emergencies, just put that money into your checking account and use a debt card for emergencies. You will thank me when you don’t have a big anxiety attack every month from your credit card statement.

8.     Think strategically

The holidays and birthdays will definitely be a challenge. Think about what you own that you can gift to someone else. Is there a dress or a skirt that your friend has been eyeing in your close that you rarely wear, gift it to them! This is a great way to purge items and not have to go out and spend money on something new. At the end of the day, the thought matters more than the gift itself!

9.     But, I can’t re-gift old items to friends and family, that’s an insult.

Than make them something! Homemade body products like scrubs, lotions, and other products are great things to gift to others! Best of all, you can make them from every day items. No unnecessary purchases needed for these items!

10. You Got This!

I am not saying that you have to be a hermit in your own house to save up money. I am just telling you that they should re-evaluate what is necessary in your life. Is that trip to the local café 5 times a week really necessary, or can you make coffee at home for way cheaper? You don’t need to be a hermit to not spend money; you just need to be a little bit more cautious with your spending. You don’t need to spend 500 dollars a month on clothes, coffee, restaurant bills, and other items that aren’t necessitates!

I will be doing monthly check in videos on YouTube about how my no spending challenge is going! Also check out Jane And Simple and SustainablyVegan No Spend Challenge. Let’s Do This Together!

Do You Know What You're Smelling? The Haunting Effects of Candles on Your Health and the Environment

 

During the fall season, I love lighting a candle to help bring a sweet smell of cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves into the air. Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle are two of the most popular candle companies, especially around the holiday season. Are there candles actually safe? What are you actually smelling/inhaling when you light those candles? Can they be harmful to your long term health? 

Underneath the amazing smell, are toxic chemicals that are just as dangerous as second hand smoke. According to Wellness Mama, most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned (both are known carcinogens). In combination with the possible heavy metals like led in the wicks, even a few hours of burning them can create levels of airborne heavy metals and toxic fumes that are much higher than the acceptable limits.

According to Green America, other toxic chemicals may be present in the paraffin mixture and released in during the burning. These ingredients include Acetone, Trichlorofluromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Cyclopentene, Stryene, Synthetic Fragrances, and other ingredients that can found in paint, laquer, and varnish removers. Do you really want to be inhaling all of these ingredients? As a result, I have started looking into alternative products. 

Thanks to Etsy, there are a ton of small businesses committed to making natural, sometimes vegan, and amazing candles. Instead of using paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances among the other toxic chemicals; these candles are only made out the simple ingredients of soy or beeswax and essential oils for smell, health, and mood.

Thanks to Kate from the Etsy shop DecorbyAdorned, her candles are natural soy candles are handmade in Minnesota, and are made with the best essential oils. Kate uses essential oils from Plant Therapy, to ensure that her candles are 100% pure. The awesome doesn’t stop there. She goes as far as to package everything in paper, using packing paper to ensure that the glass jar doesn’t break during travel. I am currently trying the Clove, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg candle, I have to say that it smells like Fall in a little jar and will definitely be repurchasing!!!! 

Kate hopes to expand her shop to include natural fabrics, blankets, and even maybe some pottery. She is committed to everything being eco-friendly, and shares her passion for the environment. 

Check back each week for more posts on small etsy shops and how committed to the zero waste lifestyle!!!! Don't forget to continue Zeroing In On Your Impact!!! 

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe!

There are a lot of different types of capsule wardrobes. The most popular Capsule Wardrobe is Project 333. In this capsule wardrobe, you are supposed to have only 33 items, including shoes,  that are changed every 3 months. I have always enjoyed fashion, and believe that this strict limit doesn’t allow me enough creative freedom. With the help of some awesome minimalist fashion bloggers, I have curated the best capsule wardrobe for any season. I love my current fall wardrobe the most because it’s me. The best part of all is that I have found ways to ensure that it stays me!!!

1.     What are your Fashion Words and Colors!

This little tip is from fashion blogger Budget Bohemian, and is the best start to any wardrobe. Before you start purging, find the three words that you want your wardrobe to capture. This season mine are Comfort, Vintage, and Adventurous! These are the two pieces that I believe best exemplify my words. My colors are burgundy, brown, and black! Even thought I have ventured out of these three colors a little bit, I believe that these words and colors allow you to be critical of every piece you currently own or will at some point in the future. Live by these words and colors, and your wardrobe will make itself!!!

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2.     Take everything out and lay it in one spot!

I take everything that I own it put it on my bed. It’s a ton of clothes, but it really shows me how much I actually own. It may seem overwhelming, but I swear this will help you see that you may be hoarding some unnecessary items that you have to get rid of. Make sure that you leave enough room to make three piles. One for keep, another for maybe, and another for donate or to reuse. (side note: I always take EVERYTHING I own out onto my bed. I know that many wont have enough time, so you can just do your fall clothing items if you want to).

3.     One at a time

Take each one of your items and look at it critically. Does it fit in your color and words palette? Can you wear it with more than just one other item? Do you truly love the item? If the item answers all of it with a yes, then keep it! If it answers most of the questions with a maybe, then put it in the maybe. If it answers all of the questions with a no, then get rid of it by donating or turning it into something new! This section of decluttering takes a while, sometimes the whole day, and can be emotionally and physically draining. You will love yourself after your done!

4.     Take another look!

Put all of your Yes clothing items into your closet. You can start with just the fall items and move your way through your closet. Once you have done this, then you can start looking at your maybe pile more critically, do you already own a bunch of the same items? Do you really need it? Does it fit? If you believe so, then add it back in, but switch the hanger. That way when you reach for the item and put the hanger back, you will actually know that you wear that item. However, if the item answers all the questions a second time with a no instead of a yes, then put it in the donate pile.  

5.     Arranging your Capsule Wardrobe!

I have a big walk in closet with shelves and hangers. This means that I am not able to hide all of my clothes that I don’t wear the rest of the year, and only leave out those that are in my capsule wardrobe. Instead, I divide my wardrobe into seasons. The first part of my wardrobe is for my current capsule, and the rest are for the other seasons. This way, my other clothes do not distract me when I enter my closet and get ready for the day.

6.     Poshmark or Donate!!!

I would recommend trying to sell your clothing items to see if you can make some money on the side! If you donate your clothes, that item may go to someone in need, or it may go straight to landfill because they have too many clothing items. If you really want to donate your clothes, look up your local shelters and foundations, and find ones that aren’t as popular as the others. I wouldn’t donate to GoodWill, since they have been under a lot of fire for not paying their employees fair wages.

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7.     Make the week’s so much easier!

Don’t you wish that a fairy godmother would come down in the morning and pick out your clothes for the day and lay them out neatly on the bed. I am not sure if this is going to happen anytime soon, but I do have a fashion hack that will make your life a little bit easier. When you are putting your clothes away, find some outfits, take a picture and store it in your phone. That way, when you are scrolling through your phone in the morning, you already have a couple of outfits to choose from that are in your closet!  

7.     Should I buy this?

Now that your done decluttering and formulating your capsule wardrobe, you may want to go shopping! What should you buy? Make sure that anything you purchase is made of high quality materials, I am currently not purchasing any polyester items, and that it will go with the majority of your wardrobe. If you need to some help, I would recommend taking pictures of a couple of items in your closet to ensure that your new items fit in your current wardrobe!

These tips will help you continue to downsize and curate a wardrobe that you love! I am currently working on hopefully downsizing my closet to be 20 items per season. I am far way from that goal, and I am okay with that because I love everything in my wardrobe. Whenever I step into my closet in the morning I am overwhelmed with the amount of clothes I want to wear!!! 

My Zero Waste Birthday!

Staying zero waste on your birthday can be difficult, especially when you don’t want to sound ungrateful. I also believe that most people put too much pressure around birthdays. Social media is scattered with big blow out birthday celebrations. Instead, I decided to try and see if I could make my birthday the most zero waste day of my life. It sounded daunting at first, but I believe that as long as you are open with your family and friends, I would able to fine. I also think it’s important to not let the little waste that you do end up producing effect you. Especially when it is out of your control.

In order to make sure I got presents that I actually wanted, I always sent my sister and parents some links to specific experiences and items. This year I really wanted a camera bag. Thanks to Looptworks, I received an awesome waterproof camera bag that is made entirely out of recycled materials!!!! My sister got me an essential oils necklace that I love, and a utensil carrier case with wooden utensils that I can’t wait to travel with! By showing how important this lifestyle was to me and by providing them with items that I was looking for, I was able to receive zero waste items that I love!!!

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Now let talk zero waste gatherings/parities. I had three dinners during my birthday week. One took place at my grandmother’s house where she made homemade cookies for me to take home. (I love when people give you food instead of random stuff for your birthday).  One was out with my family, where I brought my containers to bring food home with me. And the last was a surprise birthday celebration, where I again was able to bring home leftovers in my own containers! The only waste came from cupcake wrappers, one paper plate, candles, and some awesome balloons that my cousins had purchased for me, which I will definitely deflate to use again for someone else’s birthday!

As long as you are upfront with people and a little creative, I don’t understand why your birthday celebration can’t be zero waste! That being said, if people were to have thrown me this big celebration that did end in a lot of waste; I wouldn’t be “pissed” at them for not following my rules, because it’s the thought that counts.

 I love milar

 

 

 

The Issue with "Sustainable" Clothing Items

Second hand items are cheap and amazing for the environment. It's can be difficult to find the diamond in the ruff of cheap polyester. Many have decided to purchase new items that are made out of organic cotton and bamboo. Are those sustainable options? Is it really organic? These type of questions have made me skeptical about purchasing items made out of organic cotton and bamboo. However, it's also very difficult sometimes to find items from thrift shops and second hand stores that aren't made out of polyester. What should we do? 

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At the beginning of the summer I purchased a white tee shirt made out of organic cotton and bamboo. I thought this was the best purchase I had ever made. It was soft, comfortable, and sustainable right?! I even posted a picture of me wearing it on my Instagram! What did I actually purchase? Bamboo grows everywhere and is one of the most sustainable products right? That is not completely false. It is a very sustainable product because it can grow anywhere and very quickly. It takes a ton of labor to make a sustainable product that isn't very soft, and a ton of chemicals to turn the planet into a soft piece of clothing. 

In a pieces featured on The Guardian, it explains the ins and outs of the two different types of production. The first method involves crushing the plants into a mush, using natural enzymes to break it down and then combing out the fibers and spinning them into a yarn. This process is very labor intensive, expensive, and as I said, doesn't make that soft of a fabric. The second method, involves the plants being cooked into a cocktail of chemical solvents- primarily sodium hydroxide (lye, or caustic soda, as it's more commonly known) and carbon disulfide. Both are known to be harmful to human health, and sodium hydroxide can harm aquatic life when released into the water supply. After hearing both of these options, it seems impossible to get a pieces of clothing made out of bamboo without it being very expensive or full of chemicals. Is organic cotton any better? 

Organic cotton is grown just as wide spread as bamboo, but isn't as sustainable. In a pieces featured on the Fashion Hedge, explores the production of organic cotton and GMO cotton. Though the crop has been used for centuries, it takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans. 73% of global cotton harvest comes from irrigated land. 4% of the world's crop land is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively. The use of genetically-modified cotton varieties has increased in recent years. Organic cotton does seem like the better choice than cotton full of pesticides and other synthetic materials. It also isn't the most sustainable in the long term, because of the amount of water it takes to produce it. 

I have decided to go to option three, only purchasing items from thrift shops that are made out of sustainable products. As a result, I wear every item that I own. I use to donate 3 big garbage bags filled with clothes every season. Now, I only donate a small bag of clothes once a year! In doing so, I have been able to save up money and feel good about the purchases I do make. I have also been able to pay off a significant amount of my loans off and find new hobbies and activities to do, instead of going to the mall every weekend. 

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P.S- I will purchase "new" items that are made out of recycled materials, since I believe that they are a better and more sustainable option, similar to second hand shopping. Also, I have heard that GoodWill isn't the best company, in regards for wages and labor. I have invested the majority of my money in small business thrift shops and flea markets! Please let me know if you would like me to share my secrets in finding the best items at thrift shops!