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! 

The Multi-Use Nut Bag

In my personal zero waste lifestyle I have tried to re-use as many items as possible, so that they don’t go to waste. However, when I do purchase a new item, I make sure it’s multi-purpose. This helps keep my items down to the bare necessities and not feel like my house is cluttered with stuff. Now, I have promoted that I use an old pair of tights as my nut milk bag. This worked out well for my nut milks, but I was looking for something that was big enough to strain my veggie broth and other juices that I enjoy making. 

Recently, I have tried out Gaia Guy’s XL nut milk bag and it is revolutionary. You can use it to strain nut milk, bone broth, veggie broth, and even smoothies/juices. If you have ever thought about investing in the plastic juicers when you already have a blender, don’t hit the order button just yet. These bags are made out of 100% cotton and completely compostable! Best of all after using it, just toss it in the wash with the rest of your clothes to clean. Please air dry, as it can shrink in the dryer.

Here are some awesome nut milk, veggie broth, and juice recipes that are perfect to use with this amazing bag!

Homemade Almond Milk

Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight. Strain the water out and add them to a blender with 4 cups of fresh water. Blend it up. Strain it through the nut milk bag, and you have some awesome homemade almond milk! (Side Note: I have a recipe for some Almond Pulp Granola on my YouTube Channel HERE!!!)

You can make milk with any nut and oat that you want! Most Almond Milks at the store are filled with sugar and preservatives. This homemade recipe is also cheaper and will last up to a week in the fridge.

Homemade Veggie Broth

Add cut up leftover veggies of your choosing to a big pot. Cover the veggies in water. Add 2 Bay leaves. 4 crushed garlic cloves. And Salt and Pepper to taste. Bring it up to a boil, then simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Strain the broth through the bag and squeeze all the veggies! You can place it in a big mason jar in the fridge for a week, or ice cube trays in the freezer for a month.

The Veggie Broth is amazing for your immune system, especially when feeling under the weather. The veggie broth also gives you all of the amazing nutritionist from the veggies, without feeling like you need to eat a bunch of veggies. The homemade is also a lot less salty and healthier for you than veggie broth at the store.

Homemade Bone Broth

Follow the Veggie broth recipe, add left over bones or chicken caucus. Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low for up to 4 hours. Strain through the bag and enjoy! The broth will last for a week in the fridge, or longer in the freezer.

Like the Veggie Broth, the Bone broth is very good for colds to boost your immune system. The collagen from the bone broth is also very good for your skin, hair, and overall health.

Homemade Green Juices- No Juicer Required!

Add half a cucumber, 3 pieces of kale, half a beet, quarter piece of ginger, and a carrot or two into a blender. Optional: some celery, additional greens, replace the beet with an apple, and add some lemon. Blend it all up with 2 cups of water, strain it through the bag and enjoy your fresh juice! Save the pulp to add to smoothies or on top of oatmeal.

Green juices are a great way to get a lot of nutritionist from the greens without feeling like you have to eat a big salad everyday. This recipe is great for a single serving. Triple the batch and store it in the fridge for a week’s worth of awesome green juice.

These recipes are easy and really convenient, especially for people who are trying to eat healthier but don’t feel like they have the time or resources to do so. Visit Gaia Guy's etsy page for more awesome items like bamboo yoga mats, bamboo slippers, and much more! I also have a give-a-way running on my instagram. Visit my page for your chance to win a free milk bag of your own! 

The History of Ziploc bags & A Zero Waste Alternative!

The average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year. This seems insane, since ziploc baggies are created to hold something for a moment of time. After the person removes that item from the bag, it is discarded in the trash or recycling. Yes, many ziploc baggies can be recycled, check out to see if your city recycles them in my Recycling Guide HERE!!! Needless to say, these baggies can’t be recycled an infinite amount of times. When they do end up in the landfill, oceans, or other areas of the planet they can be detrimental to our health and the environment. In this post, I will be going through the history of the plastic baggie, and an alternative that will help you reduce your waste and save you money in the long run.

In 1951, an inventor named Borge Madsen applied for a patent for a plastic slide fastener, which was the precursor of today’s familiar zip lock bag. His original design was slightly more complex than the current version and it looked like a traditional zipper with a tab. The same year, the company Flexigrip was founded with the intention of developing and marketing a product based on Madsen’s invention. As a result, he came up with the “press and seal” type of zipper that we most commonly use today.

Currently, the Ziploc is a brand name for plastic storage bags and many other products made by SC Johnson. The baggie is made out of either a low-density polyethylene (or LDPE, which corresponds with plastic #4) or high density polyethylene (or HDPE, which corresponds with plastic #2). Most film is recycled into composite lumber, a highly durable building material that is used for decks, benches, and playground equipment. These are great items, but they can’t be recycled again. All of the recycled plastic baggies will eventually end up in the landfill.

What if I could give you an amazing option that was waterproof and does NOT contain lead, phthalates, BPA or brominates and is tested for contact with foods! The Etsy shop BeegoHandmade creates amazing food pouches out of lightweight cotton and a Food, Medical Grade and Waterproof fabric for the inside lining of the pouches!!! They come in amazing patterns, including my personal favorite below!

I take them everywhere with me, including on weekend get away trips to ensure that I always keep snacks on me at all times! They are easy to clean with some soap and water, no washer machine or dishwasher necessary!!! These pouches do start off at $10 dollars each, which can be a little pricey. When you add up the amount of money you pay per year for ziploc baggies, these bad boys pay for themselves! Best of all you are supporting a thriving small business run by a women named Adriaan who currently lives in Richmond VA, where she creates all of the baggies!!


Best of all, she has offered a Coupon Code: ZERO15 for 15% off from now until March 24th 2018!! If you are in the market to purchase some amazing, durable, and waterproof baggies, I highly recommend checking her shop out!

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/

 

 

 

 

How the Zero Waste Lifestyle Has Helped Cure My Acne

I have suffered from acne since I was 12 years old. I am currently 23 year olds and I haven't 100% cured my acne, but I definitely believe that the lifestyle has helped me improve my skin care and overall health. 

By transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle, I have stopped purchasing so much processed foods and items that aren't good for your health. I stopped experimenting with facial skin care products that seemed to only aggravate my skin, instead of curing my acne. I got rid of any oral medication that seemed to only mask the symptoms of my acne. All of these changes allowed me to simplifying my life and focus more of my energy on various issues that effect our environment, instead of those stupid little bumps on my face. 

My Glowing Skin Diet

During this time, I also began experimenting with my diet. I noticed that certain foods aggravated my skin and system. Currently my diet consist of mostly whole plant based food items, no gluten, no dairy, very little meat and eggs, no refine sugars, no processed foods, and a mix of raw and cook foods. I pretty much each the diet that everyone tells you should, but no one actually follows through on. 

Many of you may believe that this diet is impossible and to restrictive for anyone to follow. I believe that you have to find the diet and lifestyle that works best for you. Nothing starts off easy, but as you continue to find the positive outlook on the lifestyle and diet, and find that it makes you happy and healthy, then you can't imagine yourself otherwise. The only time I crave sweets and other unhealthy food items is when I am hungry and they are right in front of me. 

Conclusion:

By eating more cleanly, I don't crave chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, or brownies that much anymore. My craving for refined sugars continues to reduced the more I experiment and introduce healthy foods into my diet. I have added my video on my Zero Waste Morning Routine below to help show you all how simple your routine can be! 

 

 

Living with Non-Zero Wasters

Introduction:

(Disclaimer: We all have different experiences when it comes to living with non-zero wasters.)

About a year ago, I found the zero waste lifestyle and wanted to get rid of all of the plastic and trash in my life. The big problem was that I live with my parents who aren’t zero waste. When I first talking with them about the lifestyle, I hopped that they would be completely on-board. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. As a result, I began to argue with them about why they continued to use plastic water bottles, to go cups, paper napkins, cleaners full of chemicals, detergent, dryer sheets, and other wasteful things that I didn’t want in my living space anymore. These arguments made me annoyed, discouraged, and stressed out, because I felt like I couldn’t be zero waste as long as my family were continuing to produce a ton of trash. However, their trash isn’t my trash.

By preaching to my parents and getting into arguments, I was explaining to them that everything they do is wrong and I know how to fix it. Adults don’t tend to respond well to this type of explanations, since they believe they are suppose to teach you. As a result, these arguments just made it unpleasant to live with them and made me feel inferior. The Number 1 Most Important Thing to Remember is that Their Trash Isn’t Your Trash. As long as you are doing your part to reduce your waste, then you have to let go of some of the stuff that you can’t control. This will allow you to de-stress and not feel so anxious about living with non-zero wasters.

Support:

Support is the number one key factor when it comes to living with people. If you are living with people who don’t support who you are, then you can’t live with that person. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with that person, if they can’t be supportive then it’s not going to work. That goes for anything in life, not just the zero waste lifestyle.

Now, your probably wondering how can you tell if they are supportive? If they are constantly asking questions about the lifestyle, talking with you about the lifestyle, or even go right out and tell you that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, then they support you! This is integral to all conversations that you will have with them about the lifestyle. 

Once you understand that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, try to do as much research as possible. Ask them to watch some documentaries with you, or send them a few articles that have really interested you. Just as long as you aren’t spamming them with zero waste, they will begin to become interested in the topic and your new lifestyle without feeling pressured to start the lifestyle.  

Questions:

When they start asking questions, try to answer it to the best of your ability. If you can’t, then look it up and you two can have a discussion about it! A family member of mine asked me what are the essential items for the zero waste lifestyle, I gave them a list of my top 10, but I also explained to them that the lifestyle can’t be done with just these products, it’s an ever evolving lifestyle that becomes a part of you. This way, you provided them with an answer to your questions, while also leading them with wanting to learn more.

I have also had my fair share of “odd questions” like, well if someone gifted you a new item, would that be able to except that item? Does that item follow your lifestyle? Try to approach this question in a respectful manner by explaining that a gift is a great thing, and that you would never disrespect the other person by not accepting the gift. I also think it’s important to explain that you try to give everyone a list of gifts that you would really enjoy. This allows them to feel comfortable in still being able to buy you something, and makes you feel better by not getting mad at them for asking an odd question.

Make Changes in Your Own Life!

Start making changes in your life that wont effect the people you live with. By thrifting, purchasing package free items, and making your own you are starting your transition without making them feel like you are forcing them to change their lifestyle. This will also lead to more discussions and conversations with whomever you live with. People are naturally interested in what others are doing, and when they start asking more questions about how they can start making changes in their life to be a little less wasteful. This is your sweet spot to start asking them how you can start making changes in the common spaces.

What Changes Are They Comfortable With?

Talk with your roomies, family, or partner about what changes they would be most comfortable with doing that would help you all reduce your waste. I have heard people say that they started with getting rid of napkins and paper towels, or simply using reusable bags and water bottles. Whatever works for you, is how you need to start. Don’t feel like you aren’t doing enough because they aren’t doing enough. Everyone has to go at their own pace.

My parents have composted for years, so I started with the composting situation; since my family can be lazy and throw the compost in the garbage. This was an amazing start and allowed me to feel like I was making a difference in my zero waste lifestyle. I also began adapting a more plant-based diet. This wasn’t out of the norm as I was a vegetarian for four years in college, and my family doesn’t eat a ton of meat or dairy. About a year later, my family will still use paper napkins and towels, they don’t bring their own utensils, to go containers, or coffee mugs to places; and I am okay with that because their trash isn’t my trash.

Difference Between Roomies, Partners, and Parents

(Disclaimer: I have lived with roommates in the past, but not during my zero waste journey. This portion will explore how I have dealt with living with my sister, who is a year younger, since I believe many of the same principles can apply to a roommate.) 

For the first 5 months of my journey, I lived with just my parents. However, in May of 2017, my sister moved back home as well. This made it easier in some areas and more difficult in many ways. I believe that people who are around the same age as me are more understanding about the various changes within the zero waste guidelines then people who are a lot older than me.

Around the time that my sister moved back in I had also lost my job, so I wasn’t able to do the majority of the grocery shopping like I had done prior to her moving in. She also enjoys doing her own grocery shopping, As a result, there was a ton more packaged food products and other items coming into the house. Luckily, I was able to approach the situation without feeling as if I was preaching to them about my lifestyle. Instead, I focused on the fact that her garbage wasn’t mine. I also began to construct my grocery lists around what she was purchasing. This would allow me to feel better about using up what she already had, instead of it going to waste. This is one example on how you can help reduce their waste.

However, my sister also does a ton of online shopping, purchases clothes from fast fashion stores, and also buys a ton of body and face products. Yes, I can be there for her when she does ask me questions about the zero waste lifestyle, but I also can’t stop her from going shopping or doing something she enjoys. I also can’t make her feel bad about herself either. All of this would end up in the two of us having a big argument that wouldn’t go anywhere or make any sort of improvement. Instead, I go shopping with her when she asks, or I decide to do my own personal activity while she is shopping. We make it work by respecting and supporting each other’s lifestyles, instead of pushing our own point of views onto each other.

Roommates and Partners can definitely be different. Especially when roomies are friends, who aren’t completely on-board for being zero waste. At the end of the day, It’s all in the way that you approach the situations or topics, and how they seem to support you in your way of life. If they don’t support you, then this isn’t going to work; but if they do, then you will be able to make it work. You just have to start discussions and conversations, instead of arguing. Share information through a few articles and documentaries, instead of spamming their inboxes. Also, ask other zero wasters online or in person various questions that may help you get through a difficult situation that has arouse. This will make your life and others around you more stress free and enjoyable, especially when they decide to start making the transition themselves!

Focus on the Positives, Not the Negatives!

Whenever you do anything, don’t concentrate on why your family, roomies, or partner wont stop using paper towels or toxic cleaners, but focus on what they are doing to make their life a little less wasteful. This year, my parents not only followed me zero waste list, but also got me a really nice and comfortable sweater from Patagonia, a sustainable clothing brand that I continue to support. My sister bought me a nutcracker, since I collect them, and a few clothing items from Goodwill. This was an amazing win for them and me because I felt good that they took notice and made sure that they gave me presents that I would love.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, you are in control of how you speak with your fellow non-zero wasters about the lifestyle. By talking with them in a calm and more supportive matter, you are going to get someone who is supportive and wants to learn more about the lifestyle. If you speak to them in an aggressive and pushy manner, then you are going to get someone who is constantly pushing back against the lifestyle. This will allow you to feel as if you can make a difference within your own personal space and continue to want to become as zero waste as possible! Please comment below if you have any questions or comments about your own transition and living with non- zero wasters.

Articles and Other Bloggers:

Sustainability Vegan Video on Living With Non-Zero Wasters:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvtdMjpyd6Q&t=2s

Gittemary Johnson's Living with Non-Zero Waste Roommates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYe4cR-jZvs

Going Zero Waste article on Living with Non Zero Wasters: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-and-roommates

Paris To Go article on Going Zero Waste When No One Else Wants To: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2016/04/zero-waste-life-with-non-zero-waste-family-members.html

 

 

 

Jonesboro AR Recycling Policy

Jonesboro AR Recycling Center

For information on where to recycle metal and bigger pieces of material that won't fit in your curbside recycling bin, please visit: http://www.jonesbororecyclingteam.com or the Jonesboro Recycling Team at 5403 Vance Dr Jonesboro, AR 72401.

 

Recycling Policy 

It took me a while to find any sort of information about recycling in the Jonesboro area. Unfortunately, many areas like Jonesboro do not make it easy on their residents to learn how to recycle correctly. Below is more information on what you can and cannot recycle! 

You can visit their website here to purchase a blue recycling bin and look up your local recycling pick up schedule. Unfortunately, they don't have a ton of information on how to recycle properly. However, I will be continuing to update this page as the town begins making more strides in recycling. 

According to their website here is a list of what you can and cannot recycle. 

What Can You Recycle:

Plastics

  • #1 PET Plastics - Most water and soft drink bottles.  There are other items made of PET, just check the bottom of things like clear plastic drink cups.
  • #2 HDPE - Milk jugs and other liquid containers.  Just check the bottom for the number 2 in the recycling triangle.
  • Currently the the market for other plastic is depressed and we are unable to find buyers for the products so we are asking that you dispose of those.  When the market changes we will be able to accept again.

Aluminum: We accept Aluminum Beverage Containers (cans) which can be recycled over and over again.  Other aluminum like foil and pie pans are not accepted at this time but there may be opportunities for those in the near future.

Steel Cans (Tin): Tin cans and other metals can be place in a blue bag and other metal that is to large for the bag may be brought to the recyce center.

Glass: We accept clear and color glass containers.  Glass has no value but there are companies that will pick it up and recycle it.

Cardboard: We accept all cardboard that is not contained with oil or food waste.

Paper: Newspaper, magazines, junk mail and most clean paper products including shredded paper.

What You Can Not Recycle: 

The following items are not accepted

  • Tires
  • Wood
  • Mattress
  • Furniture
  • TV's
  • Computer Monitors
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic Auto Parts
  • Used Diapers (you would be surprised how many we get)

Compost Policy

I couldn't find any information on how to compost properly in this area. 

Package Free Shopping 

Since Bea Johnson's app is closed for the time being, I will update this area of the guide once it's back and running! 

All About Zero Waste Tea

I have received a lot of questions regarding the tea companies I support. Especially since I can't find an bulk tea places near me, except ones that are super expensive. Unfortunately, many in the zero waste community have explained that all tea companies in the world use plastic in their bags to make sure that they don't biodegrade. Though many do, there are some companies that don't use plastic in their tea bags. 

Instead, they use a corn starch compound that when mixed with the paper, forums a bag that wont break when put into hot water. Companies like Tea Pigs, Yogi Team, and many others found in the natural food section of your local grocery store all have corn starch instead of plastic in their tea bags. Now, it's always a better option to purchase tea package free. Unfortunately, it isn't regularly available to everyone. I enjoy supporting these companies and their efforts to try and make more sustainable products available to everyone. 

I have decided to enclose a list of tea companies who are biodegradable and the prices of these teas, to ensure you that their really is a company for everyone! 

Yogi Tea-

This is my personal favorite because I can find it everywhere, including Walmart for $3. That is insanely cheap for a sustainable product. They also make all of their packaging out of paper, cardboard, and soy ink. Everything, including the box, can be put into the compost. A lot of their teas are also organic and all of their tea is fair trade! 

Tea Pigs- 

This company is another favorite, but is definitely on the more expensive side at $8 a box. I can only find it at my local health food store. The tea is organic and fair trade. They a pretty good selection of teas, but unfortunately their bags are put in a plastic bag to ensure they stay fresh instead of paper. This is the biggest reason why I have decided to stop purchasing their tea. 

Traditional Medicinals- 

This company is a great one if you are looking for some classic remedies! They are regularly available at many stores, including my main grocery store. They are usually around $5 a box. I personally love their Lavender and Chamomile Tea for at night, which is all organic and fair trade. They entire box and tea bags are compostable and the company itself runs on renewable energy!! Better yet, they explain all of their companies information on the box itself so no research necessary! 

Choice Tea- 

I haven't yet to try this company out yet, but I find that they are available at my local health food store. Like the ones above, they have remarkable values and packaging! They also have an organization that is attached to the company and make sure that their farmers are satisfied. They aren't too expensive at $5 a box and are completely compostable and organic. They also now have mushroom teas for people who are interested in mushrooms for anxiety and depression. 

Numi Tea- 

Like Tea Pigs, Numi Tea is on the expensive side at $8 a box. They do use a lot of turmeric and ginger in their tea. I personally enjoy their turmeric and black teas once in a while. The company is very similar to the ones above, and continues to work with farmers in India to bring sustainable and organic tea to the rest of the world. They also have a rooibos tea that I was obsessed with in college. Unfortunately, my local health food store stopped caring it. 

Reshi Tea- 

This is another company on the higher end, that makes a lot of interesting Tea Blends. You may have heard Catlin Shoemaker from FromMyBowl mention their Turmeric and Ginger tea. They are around $7-8 a box. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them at many of my local health food stores. 

These are just a small list of the amount of teas that come in compostable packaging. I feel like everytime I go to the grocery store, I am pleasently surprised to see more companies moving away from using plastic in their tea bags. This is an incredible strive in the zero waste lifestyle and a great way to allow more people to start transitioning their lifestyle without breaking the bank or driving hours away to purchase bulk tea. 

Zero Waste Recipes: Homemade Gluten Free Bread

This recipe is my go to Gluten Free Bread! The original recipe comes from Gluten Free Baking! I don't think I could ever try a different recipe! I have added her original recipe below the video incase you are interested in it! I have replaced Mullet flour for Brown Rice flour, since I can purchase it in brown bag packaging or make it myself by grinding up brown rice from the bulk bin! I also use flaxseed eggs instead of regular eggs, since I eat a mostly vegan diet! 

This recipe is quick, easy, and will make your house smell amazing!!! Please let me know if you try it out! 

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water, about 110° F (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 packet instant/rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons; 7 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups millet flour (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch (4 ounces; 113 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 ounce; 28 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (not Kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs , whisked (about 5 ounces; 150 grams total, out of shell)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • *if desired , replace the eggs with 3 large egg whites.

Instructions

  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a small bowl. Allow to stand for five minutes.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine millet flour, tapioca starch, granulated sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine. Fit the stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture, eggs, oil, and vinegar. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Dough will be thin.

  3. Spray an 8-1/2" by 4-1/2" by 2-3/4" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread dough evenly into the pan. Spay a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and place plastic wrap loosely on the pan. Allow dough to double in size. This takes about one hour.

  4. When dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap from the top of the pan.

  5. Bake until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 210°F, about 45 minutes. (If the crust gets too dark before the internal temperature reaches 210°F, place a piece of foil onto the bread. This prevents the crust from burning.)

  6. Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for two minutes. Transfer bread to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

  7. When cool, slice into pieces with a serrated knife.

  8. Store bread on the counter for up to three days or freeze sliced bread, wrapped in freezer wrap with waxed paper between each slice, and placed into a freezer container, for up to six weeks.

The Plastic Straw Ban

During the beginning of my transition to a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, I tried my hardest to refuse as many straws as possible. Unfortunately, it looks like waiters and waitresses will continue to put straws into people’s drinks, despite how much you try to refuse them. But, what’s the big deal?

Plastic straws have been around since the 1960’s when the TV dinners and plastic dolls, and other items entered into mainstream consumerism. According to This county is on a mission to stop straws sucking the life out of our oceans “it is estimated that by 2050, the weight of all of the plastic in the ocean will be more than the weight of all the fish”. These numbers aren’t widely talked about in mainstream media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The lack of coverage has resulted in people not refusing plastic straws and other useless disposable plastic items. Is there a way that we can get the actual employees and places themselves to stop offering these useless items?

In 2017, restaurant, diner, and cafe owners in Seattle Washington, conducted a little experiment. They got rid of all of the straws in their drinks to see if people noticed that something was missing. Guess what? Only a few people asked for the straws. As a result, the city of Seattle has decided to go through with a ban on plastic straws, with the possibility for more plastic items being banned in the future. This hasn’t officially happened as of yet, but it’s exciting to see more and more places deciding to ban or put a tax on these unnecessary plastic items. Many places are supplying a biodegradable paper straw alternative, but it’s important to note the amount of money that these restaurants, diners, and cafes will save by not constantly purchasing plastic straws.

This ban seems like a small change, but it will result in more people learning to live without these useless plastic items. Hopefully, by 2050 the numbers will explain how much mainstream consumers and business owners are trying to help save our oceans. Many may ask, why don’t we try and stop the companies who are actually manufacturing and selling these items to the restaurants, stores, diners, and cafes? By refusing these items, we as customers are creating less of a demand for them. This will result in more manufactures trying producing these paper straws that can biodegrade in the compost.

If you don’t live in Seattle Washington, or one of the many places that are making strides to pan plastic straws. You can still make a difference by refusing plastic straws when going out to eat. I also highly recommend talking with your local diners, restaurants, and cafes about the dangers that plastic straws have on our oceans and planet. I also highly recommend signing the Last Straw Petition to help encourage more and more places to see the dangers that these useless plastic items have on our planet.

For more information on the plastic ban please visit these websites:

http://blueplanetsociety.org/2017/12/turning-tide-ocean-plastics/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/movement-under-way-to-rid-outer-banks-of-plastic-straws/

https://pebblemag.com/news/plastic-straws-communities-getting-rid-of-waste

 

 

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!

A Broke College Student's Guide to the Zero Waste Lifestyle

Recently, I have received a lot of questions from students in college, or recent college graduates about how to stay zero waste when you have LITTLE MONEY. The life of a college student is also a life where you totally lack expendable income. Zero-waste living may seem expensive, thanks to Instagram and advertisements. But, honestly, it's not as difficult as you may think. I graduated from college 18 months ago and I believe that the zero waste lifestyle has allowed me to be more financially free.

Here are my tips on how you too can live a life of more freedom and possibilities with less worry and stress:

1. Don't Let Anyone Intimidate You! You Are Doing Your Best!

I am starting off with this one because this is something that I tell myself every morning. Recently, on a Facebook group, someone asked if they should continue purchasing tea in compostable packaging, or if it was worth a 2 hour drive to their local bulk store to purchase bulk tea. Many people jumped on how they should have a bulk tea place near them because they are "EVERYWHERE". I immediately replied with, "my local health food stores has a very limited section of bulk items, and I have never been able to find bulk tea near me. I also swear by compostable tea because they are going right back into the earth.”

At the end of the day don't let anyone make you feel like your impact isn't good enough. Not everyone can find all of their items package free and put them in aesthetically pleasing mason jars. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND THAT IS ENOUGH!

2. Try to Find as Much as You Can in BULK!

Now, I understand that you can't find everything in the bulk section, but that doesn't mean you should always rely on plastic packaging. My local health food store has a huge area full of package free fruits and produce that I can put in my own bags! They also sell package free rice, beans, dried fruit, and granola that I eat on a regular basis! By purchasing these times in bulk, I am letting them know that I prefer these items to those that have a ton of plastic packaging. My choice to “vote with my dollars” influences their decision to expand their bulk section.

That being said, it's also completely okay if you can't afford some of the bulk items. Think about buying items with a decent shelf-life in larger quantities. It’s better to get one plastic bag for 4lbs than 4 plastic bags of 1lb quantities. This, of course, doesn’t help if the food expires/goes stale before you can eat it. Think about this in terms of foods you can freeze, or items that are shelf-stable.

3. There are a TON of Items that Come in Compostable Packaging!!!

Just last month, I purchased some coffee in paper packaging! This is the most ideal kind of packaging because I am able to put it right back into the earth. I understand that many of you may not have a composting system in your dorm room or house. I know that it may seem as if plastic packaging is everywhere, but just look around and read some labels, you will be surprised to see what you can find!

4. Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle!

For many of you who live in a dorm or at home, where you may not be able to compost, there are other ways to reduce your trash! By reducing, refusing, and reusing your packaging, you are also limiting a ton of plastic and other types of packaging from ending up in the landfill.

However, recycling is one of the most controversial topics within the zero waste lifestyle.

Many believe that sending things to the recycling center is just as bad, since it take a lot of energy to repurpose the items into new products. While, others believe that recycling is a great option for those who don't have a ton of bulk or package free items available to them. That being said, no one really shares how much they are actually sending to the recycling center. Until now: go check out Jane_and_Simple, an awesome zero waste blog run by a women named Jane. Every month she explains every item that she will be sending to recycle and landfill and why. These posts are informative and allow you to think about your own personal choices a lot more.

Try to find items you can reuse over recycling, if there’s an option.

5. Bring your Own Containers and Bags When You Are Eating Out or Getting Take Away!

I have found that many still feel a bit weird about doing this, but I have never been treated negatively for doing so. As a matter of fact, every restaurant that I have been to compliments me for bringing my own containers and some even reduce a certain percentage of my bill. You are saving them money by refusing their plastic to-go containers and plastic bags.

Whenever, I go to a coffee shop to do some work, I always bring a cup in case they don't have normal coffee mugs available. I have also been able to put bagels, donuts, and other items in my own bags as well. It's awesome what people will do when you ask!

6. You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself!

When I first started my zero waste journey and a person asked me if I wanted a plastic to go container, I would try to reply with "I am allergic to plastic and can't use your containers." This is a trick that many have used from Bea Johnson's book the Zero Waste Home and it may never fail, however it is lying. Do you want to go through life lying to others. Over the past 2 years, I have learned that it is better to just say “No, I have my own container.” You may get some weird looks, but don't worry about it as long as you get what you want! As far as I know, using your own containers doesn't violate any health codes or violations because you aren't asking them to clean or store your containers, just put your items into them.

7. STOP THE FAST FASHION MADNESS!

You may or may not have a full time job that probably pays you $40,000 a year at the most. You are probably paying off loans, rent, bills, and other important items that your money should go towards. Fast fashion items aren't manufactured or constructed well and are marketed for people who always want to be fashionable. Those items have a closet lifespan of about 4 months before they’re tossed to a thrift store or worse, a landfill. By purchasing items from thrift stores you are giving them a second life and promoting a circular economy. You are also not placing your dollars into the hands of corporations that are promoting unethical practices, and lack of environmental responsibility.

8. SPEND Your Money on Adventures and Memories, Instead of Items!

This has been a weird subject on Facebook. Many have begun asking, how do I talk my family into not getting me any gifts when they are so materialistic?

Many respond with, "Don't get them anything because people who are materialistic are shit heads" or my personal favorite, "Why would anyone ask that question?" As a result of years and years of marketing and influencing, our society has become largely materialistic.

Now, we all agree that this does have to stop; but that also doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't agree with this idea are "shit heads who don't deserve anything.” Instead I recommend writing them a list of activities that you would like to do with them as presents!

This allows them to still think that they are purchasing you something, while also spending time with you! The adventures and memories that I make with family and friends are more important to me than any items that I have been given. When I was in college, I enjoyed taking trips, hosting parties, and having fun with my friend's far more than getting lots of presents on my birthday and other holidays.

9. Forget about the TRASH Jar!

I know that everyone wants to be like Lauren Singer, who claims that she hasn't produced any trash in the last 4 years or so. That idea isn't exactly realistic for everyone (or anyone)! Especially when it comes to college students and recent grads who are concentrating too much on trying to find a job, a place to live, paying off their loans, and a bunch of more important things.

However, that shouldn't be a reason for someone to give up on trying to be zero waste! Even Lauren Singer withholds items from her trash jar, that are trash. Many people who promote a trash jar don’t put in items they are accidentally given (they say no straw, the waiter brings a straw), medicine, moving materials, etc. More so, a trash jar doesn’t show that there is plastic behind the scenes. In our beloved bulk bins, those package free items we joyously buy most likely arrived at the store in a large plastic bag.

10. NO ONE IS PERFECT!

If Lauren Singer was the perfect zero waster, than she wouldn't have a single item of trash or carbon footprint. She wouldn’t fly or drive. She wouldn’t use non-renewable energy sources like electricity. Her store would be 100% clean energy powered, etc. There is still a ton of waste that goes on behind the scenes, especially in New York City.

You shouldn't stress out about not being perfect either! It's amazing when you join a community full of people who believe in what you are trying to do and want to make the world a better place. I love that this lifestyle brings people together, instead of dividing them! It makes people want to do more and be better. It creates conversation and helps us all think about our actions!

You aren't perfect, but you are doing the best you can for now. Maybe in a few years, you can do more. Maybe not. Don’t freak out about it! We are all in this together, and together we can bring about positive change.


Let's Talk About....Anxiety!

Mental Health and Wellness is a huge part of my personal zero waste lifestyle. Now, I have been struggling with anxiety since my First Year in College. It seems that the most popular way to deal with anxiety is to scramble around until you figure out what's "wrong" with you and try to find simple medications that will "fix your anxiety". Now for many, I do recommend that they take some forum of medication. However, I have such a mild forum of anxiety, that even the lowest doses of medications actually creates more problems than solutions. That's when I started conducting some research and trying to figure out where my anxiety was coming from, and if their were any natural supplements that I could take to help control my supplements. (Side Note: I did see a counselor from my first year to my senior year of college who helped tremendously with my anxiety.)

I have talk about this before on my Instagram, but I don't drink coffee anymore. Back in college I use to drink a Medium size latte every morning. Unfortunately, the caffeine would still be running in my body at 3am. As a result, my body would go into ultra panic mode, making me feel like I had to run a marathon. During my junior year of college, I decided to quite drinking coffee. To this day, I have decided to only drink green tea to help me wake up! Green Tea has a ton of great antioxidants, vitamins, and other amazing properties for your health and well being! It has just enough caffeine that it helps wake me up, without also waking up my anxiety! (Side Note: I also have to be careful about Black Tea as well, since 2 cups of black tea equals one cup of regular coffee, whereas 4 cups of Green Tea equals 1 cup of coffee.) 

During all four years of college I had bad cystic acne. I have struggled with acne since I was 12 years old. Once I entered college, it got even worse. I hated it so much. I tried everything to make it clear up. That's when I first found out about my hormone imbalance and decided to go on birth control. Now, this didn't change my anxiety and actually made my skin clear up a little bit, but wasn't the solution to my problems. (Side note: I will go more in-depth in another post about why I have decided to stay on the pill.) During my senior year in college, I decided to go on a hormone supplement that would change my life. The name is Spirolactone, and it's a hormone supplement that helps regulate the testosterone in your body. It sounds great right?! Just to let you know, I don't take the medication anymore.

The medication helped to drastically clear up my skin! (Side Note: the water at my college was also very hard, which was problematic for my skin.) As a result, I thought that I should go off of the medication. It went really well for about 5 months off of the medication, until I go laid off from my job. I wont go into to much detail since I have talked a lot about my personal job search. I will say that this caused my anxiety to spike, causing my skin to flare up.

The majority of people would just go back on the medication RIGHT? Well, I didn't want to because I thought that I needed to start taking care of my anxiety and my skin by myself. I am still on birth control pills, because it has helped a lot with my hormone imbalance. It definitely took some time getting use, but now I feel AMAZING!!!!! It was around this time that I also stopped wearing makeup everyday as well.  I realized that makeup, or no makeup, acne, or no acne, nothing changed. My bosses still respected me, I felt empowered to speak up and with others, and I have lead a social platform with people that couldn't be more awesome!!!! I did it all with acne!!!! 

Makeup has always been a creative outlook for me, which is why I do wear it occasionally. I love DARK LIPS!!!! I also feel like I use to wear it as a shield to hide my anxiety and skin problems!!! Last night, I went to dinner in New York City with my parents without any makeup on, which is something I would have never done a year or two ago. 

I know that many of you have been waiting for a video all about my essential oils. However, instead of doing one long video; I am going to break them up into a seires of videos! Here is the first one all about the oils I use to help combat my acne and anxiety!!! Enjoy!!! 

 

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 Life in the Fast Fashion Industry

“If it doesn’t matter, get rid of it.”- Anonymous

Seems simple enough, right?! For the first 20 years of my life, I loved going shopping. I believed that clothes were an important part of my creativity and self-expression! My entire life, my parents would purchase clothes from Forever21, H&M, Zara, Gap, JCrew, and other Fast-fashion stores that allow them to purchase a bunch of clothes at a cheap price. I didn't see any issues with shopping this way because I had grown up thinking that cheaper was better.

It wasn’t until I studied abroad that I started learning how to live with less. I had to fit everything that I needed, including clothes, shoes, books, computer, and other important items into one big and small suitcase on a plane to Scotland U.K. Before leaving, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be possible. However, this experience opened my eyes to how many clothes I actually need in my life. When I came back to the states, I did a big deep cleaning of my closet and got rid of a bunch of clothes. That summer, I also bought a bunch of new clothes to replace those old clothes. I ended up right back where I started. Ugh.

With the help of the documentary The True Cost, I realized that Fast Fashion stores were manipulating me into thinking that to stay on trend, I had to go shopping every weekend. In actuality, I was filling my closet with crappy plastic materials that wouldn’t last more than a year before falling apart. In order to stop this cycle, I decided to stop shopping for an entire year. Unfortunately, during that time I purchased 5 brand new items, a suit jacket, pants, two shirts all for interviews, and a dress. In the end, this experience taught me how to restrain myself from indulging in many unnecessary purchases.

Since starting the zero waste lifestyle, I have decided to not purchase any clothing items that are made out of plastic/polypropylene. This also includes shoes, as they are most commonly made out of some sort of plastic material. Clothes made out of polypropylene aren’t made to last. In a couple of years I will end up having to try and dispose of this items without it ending up in landfill. During this time I have only purchase two items. A pair of Adidas sneakers made out of sustainable and recycled materials. For more information on Adidas and the companies mission, check out my article here! And a denim dress I purchased from a thrift shop that will last me for the rest of my life.

I will have a full blog post all about my Capsule Wardrobes, including all the items in my current fall Capsule Wardrobe. For now, I have started posting items on Poshmark to sell. 

Top 5 Best Sustainable, Vegan, and Minimalistic Documentaries!

There are a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. It’s difficult to find great documentaries on sustainability, veganism, and minimalism that are actually trying to educate people on the lifestyle, instead of explaining it as a forum of entertainment. It’s also important that documentaries explore important issues in today's society, and explain how you can enter the lifestyle and bring more positivity into your life. The reason I have chosen veganism, minimalism, and sustainable documentaries is because there is a ton of overlap between the three lifestyles. Many who are sustainable are also vegan and minimalistic. Here are my top 5 documentaries that I believe more people should watch to gain more knowledge and information into these three lifestyles.

 

5) Food Inc.

Food Inc. is the documentary that forced me to think critically about the vegan lifestyle. Especially when it comes to the lack of regulations in the meat and dairy industry.  The documentary follows the lives of farmers, parents, and many people who have seen the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry. Especially one parent who had to see her son die because of salmonella poisoning from uncooked chicken. This documentary shocked me into the vegan lifestyle, but it didn’t tell me how to go about the lifestyle. It just told me to stop eating meat. However, since I didn’t know a lot about the vegan lifestyle, I ended up eating a lot of salads and actually losing weight very quickly because I wasn’t gaining the right nutrients that I needed.  For those reasons, I have decided to put this at the bottom.

 

4) What the Health

This is another veganism documentary that concentrates more so on how one can be part of the vegan lifestyle. This in conjunction with Food Inc, allows for people to understand the dangers of the meat industry, as well as how they begin eating a more vegan diet. This documentary also digs a bit deeper into the marketing and lobbying of the meat and dairy industry. One example, is the American Cancer Society explains that one should eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This can be accomplished with a vegan diet. However, the website tells it’s audience to drink protein shakes with powdered non-fat dry milk, instant breakfast mix, and other dietary supplements. During the documentary, when asked to talk about these options on their website, that decline to comment. This is just one example of how lobbyists have a huge influence on the types of food we eat and the information we are given about our diet.

 

3) The Minimalists

Once I began eating a more plant-based diet, I began to understand the issues with consumerism. I decided to take my research a step further and take a look at the documentary, The Minimalists. This documentary explains positives and negatives of the lifestyle, and how one can become more minimalistic. Instead of explaining the minimalistic lifestyle as a trend, it reveals the various issues within the consumerist culture. The film is filled with footage of people kicking and screaming into their way through stores on Black Friday. The two founders/The Minimalistic, who created there website to spread the positive aspects of the minimalistic lifestyle also explain the unsatisfactory life that many consumers live. The reason being that stuff can buy happiness for that moment. Unfortunately, when the moment passes one feels that they need to purchase something else to get that feeling back. This especially comes when people use coupons or only purchase things on sale. In the end, they end up with a whole bunch of stuff that they hate. By thinking critically about our purchases and really asking ourselves, can we live without them? When we as a society slowly began to realize that what we thought we needed isn’t actually a need, we began to find ourselves spending less and less money.

 

2) A Plastic Ocean

We have finally reached the top two of the list! It was a difficult decision, but I have put this documentary at number 2 for many reasons. One in particular is that it ties the other three documentaries, whilst also looking at plastic in a new way. I found, the issues with trying to stay vegan and minimalistic, is that I still continued to purchase things that were plastic. Plastic is an oil based compound that can be made cheaply and into pretty much anything. However, it’s endangering our wild life, especially those who live in the ocean. One of the most important facts about our world that no one can deny is that our planet is mostly blue. Unfortunately, scientists have predicted that because of the amount of plastic, including micro plastics that are in the ocean. Every single underwater animal has some forum of plastic in its body. When we eat these animals, we ingest this plastic material. This is a horrifyingly realistic point that not many have considered when taking about the plastic industry and veganism. The documentary also follows a family as they try to reduce the amount of plastic they use on a daily basis. Please check it out if you haven’t already, or don’t think you can give up some food items that are wrapped in plastic. This documentary will definitely have you thinking otherwise.

 

1)   The Human Experiment

We have finally made it to number 1! This documentary is one of the most eye opening documentaries that I have ever watched. Especially as someone whose family members have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This documentary may cross the fine line between educational and horrifying. However, it speaks to a larger audience, which I think needs to be done more. Most documentaries are speaking to either a younger or older generation. This one takes stories from young people, older people, minorities, and people of all kinds to really explain how terrifying plastic, chemicals, and harmful toxins are to our bodies. For those reasons I have decided to put it as number 1. This is definitely not for people who have just started the zero waste lifestyle. Instead for those who sometimes think it’s too difficult and need a bit of a push of encouragement to continue going. This documentary follows the lives of people whose health has been directly infused by chemicals that are mass marketed to everyone as safe and effective. It ties in elements from all the four other documentaries, while also touching on subjects that people usually turn away from wanting to learn about, since “everyone dies at some point in their life, right?” What if we could stop using plastic and chemicals, thus living longer?

Luckily for you, all of these documentaries can be found on Netflix, as of September 2017. I am always up for watching and hearing more about amazing documentaries. Let me know in the comments if I forgot any!!

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! 

Getting Ready for Back to School Zero Waste Style!!!

It’s that time of year again!! For many of you that means going away to college! I graduated from college last year, and miss it more everyday. If I could go back, I would definitely be more conscious of my waste. I can’t believe the amount of coffee to go cups, plastic utensils, and to go containers that I used whilst in college. What’s even crazier is that my school was against plastic water bottles. And yet they still used plastic utensils, straws, and plastic cups for parties and other college events. In this guide, I will explore how you can go zero waste whilst in college! 

(Side Note) Whilst in college, I was vegan and a minimalist. By avoiding the meat, I didn’t get sick as often as my friends. The minimalist lifestyle helped me get ready in 10 minutes. This allowed me to get more sleep, stay organized, and get all of my work done and go out with my friends on the weekends.

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Books:

After the first day of classes, you will see a whole bunch of people swarm into the local book store to find all their necessary books for class. Once they grab their books and go to the register to check out, their eyes will go from happy to anger. "How did I spend around 1,000 dollars on books alone?" What if I told you that I only spent 100 dollars on books each year? As an anthropology major, who also took way to many English classes, I had to purchase at least 30 books each semester. Instead of purchasing them brand new from the bookstore, I used sites like abebooks.com, to find cheap second hand books. A couple of times I was also able to find free pdf’s online of the books, but I recommend checking with your professor to make sure it’s the correct version.

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Tote Bag:

This one is easy, but not everyone thinks about it. Fun Fact: No one cares what you use as a backpack in college. It’s crazy when people feel the need to spend all of this money on an expensive backpack because they are going off to college. For my freshman and sophomore year I used the same bag from high school. After it fell apart, I decided to buy a new one. Why did I purchase a new bag, when I had a ton of good bags laying around the house?! Instead of investing in something that you are only going to use for the next two years, use a tote bag that you already own as a backpack.

Reusable Water Bottle:

My school would allow us to re-fill your reusable water bottles for free! Why did I buy bottles of water?! Seriously, I am kicking myself right now for all the plastic bottles I wasted. My school even provided everyone with a reusable water bottle, but I wouldn't use it because it made the water taste like metal. The more I drank from the bottle, the less the water taste like metal. Always bring your reusable water bottle.

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Shower Items:

I bought a plastic caddy, that definitely came in handy all four years. Once I graduated from college, I threw it away. Looking back at my four years, I definitely think that I could have gone without it. You can use metal containers to put your shampoo and soap bars into when you go into the shower.

(Side Note) I would invest in a nice pair of flip flops or water shoes for the shower. By purchasing items that will last, you will also be able to use these flip flops or water shoes for the beach or pool.

To Go Items:

I had back to back classes with only a few minutes to woof down some food that was supposed to last me for the next five hours until dinner. Class schedules are tough, and I understand that it’s more convenient to grab some take out. I would recommend grabbing some food at the dinning hall during breakfast for later. I know my school was completely against bringing in your own containers because of “germs”, but I knew tons of people who did it without any problem. You just need to know how to work within the system.

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Clothes:

I am guilty of purchasing a whole bunch of new clothes from H&M, Forever 21, and Zara for my freshman year of college. I also brought all of my clothes to school with me. I only wore about half of the clothes that were in my room. I realized that by having a capsule wardrobe in college, I was more productive and it only took me 10 minutes to get ready in the morning. I would recommend looking at your wardrobe before getting rid of anything that you think makes you look like a high schooler, because no one cares in college. Everyone is too concerned with their own problems. Also, my school had a free bin that people who throw clothes into when they didn’t want them anymore. Anyone could go into the free bin at any point throughout the year and take some clothes. Just make sure to wash them before you wear them.

Cleaners:

I know that everyone in your school probably uses clorax wipes and other chemicals to clean their spaces. For your daily cleaning needs, I highly recommend using white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, to clean your dresser and floor, vodka and water in a spray bottle to help freshen up your bed and pillows, and soap bar, washing soda, and baking soda for laundry detergent. These are all easy to make and you will feel better using on a daily basis. 

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Makeup and other non-necessity items:

For many, makeup isn’t a necessity but I love wearing it. I love it more now that I am can make it myself. I use arrowroot powder and cacao powder as a face powder. For my mascara I will burn a tablespoon of almonds, crush or grind them until they forum a powder, add a tablespoon or two of melted coconut oil and beeswax. Put it into the fridge to solidify over night. Both of these recipes are fun, easy, and don’t break the bank, which is an essential in college. 

For other items like bed risers, storage containers, and other items that seem useless after graduation, I would recommend purchasing them second hand from previous students. Each year, seniors are constantly trying to pawn off their stuff for super cheap, fridges, hot plates, microwaves, and other items that they can’t take home with them.

Get Involved:

Why stop your impact with just yourself. Start a club and get others involved in making your school a little bit more waste free. During my time in college, there was a big initiative for the campus to go plastic bottle free. Why stop there. Why not try to help your school go entirely plastic free. By standing up for your belifs, you are inspiring others to make a difference and spread positive reinforcement. I wish that someone had inspired me to join their club and help make my life a little bit more package free whilst in college.

Remember that these next four years will be the best four years of your life, but it will also be the most stressful, anxiety inducing four years of your life.  By using this guide, you will make your next four years a little less expensive and package free! Zero in on Your Impact and make sure that you leave your college better than you found it.