When Less is Really More

Living with less “stuff” scares most people. In our society, we are bombarded with messages that material goods, equates to happiness, success, and popularity through everyday media. By taking a step back and analyzing the purpose of each object that you purchase, you have the potential to take control over your own happiness. This alternative lifestyle, Minimalism, encourages people to live with less, to get more out of life. Understanding the role that each object plays in your daily life creates clarity, saves you money, and opens the opportunity for a meaningful life!

Clearing your house of material goods that don’t bring you genuine happiness, don’t serve a real purpose, or are never used is an extremely freeing experience. After going through my bedroom and realizing just how many unused  items I had accumulated over the years, I was struck with the realization that I mindlessly overbuy. The various purchases I had previously bought were merely representative of my desire to appear a certain way; intelligent, attractive, trendy, etc. Beyond the wastefulness of all my unnecessary purchases, I had also wasted a ton of money. Taking the time to think purchases through before buying can lead to personal happiness.

Detoxing your living space of senseless items is only the beginning of living minimalistic. The job that is considerably harder, that you will be faced with everyday, is determining whether or not an object will serve a real purpose in your life, enough so, that it will justify it’s purchase. Personally, I found this to be incredibly difficult the first few weeks of living minimal. I had to mentally change the way I viewed objects. Instead of seeing items as something that I wanted to have, I began forcing myself to see them as things I actually needed to have. By critically thinking what I already have, and if it’s a necessity to have more of, I dramatically limited my spendings and in turn had less junk.

Over time, I began feeling calmer in my house, as my spaces began to stay organized. Through having less objects, I began to appreciate the ones I had all the more. And, when I found myself needing to buy something, I justified buying a better quality version. Though increasing quality often means increasing price, taking the time to think through my purchases allows me to make sure that the items I do end up purchasing will stay in my life longer, saving me money in the long run.

Minimalism is not a cut and dry lifestyle, everyone lives it differently. No matter how you can apply the principles of minimalism in your life, I am positive that you will find more happiness and serenity in your life from less things. By following the path less taken and challenging yourself to become a more conscious consumer, you will find yourself having more time and money to take part in activities and make memories. With less objects filling your house, and dwindling your wallet, you will be able to focus on enjoying life based on your memories instead of your material possessions.

Spoil Into Soil

Happy International Compost Awareness Week! In honor of this week dedicated to composting, I wanted to do my part to spread awareness on the importance of composting! 72% of Americans alone do not compost, most likely out of ignorance, unwillingness, or lack of knowledge. Most people do not have an understanding of what happens when food is not composted correctly, which leads them to continue to throw food away.

In my opinion, the most important part of starting and continuing to compost is to fully understand the importance behind composting! In short, when food is sent to landfills it creates problems for the environment that are invisible to the eye. Food that sits in landfills lacks the necessary oxygen to decompose. Without oxygen, food will release greenhouse gases, which in turn contributes to climate change. Luckily, composting is incredibly easy, and can be accessible for anyone!

Firstly, collecting fruit and vegetable scraps is extremely simple and not stinky at all! Simply, put a bowl in your freezer and add any food scraps to the bowl. Over time as the bowl begins to fill, you will either dump it in your personal compost bin/pile, or put it into a container and make the trip to a local drop off location!

Don’t consider yourself unable to compost because you live in a city. Conducting a quick google search for composting bins/facilities near your location is the easiest way to begin composting! If you have no luck finding a center near you, visit a local farmer's market and ask the vendors if they know of any schools/community gardens/companies that accept compost. If you live in an apartment complex, composting is still a viable option! By purchasing a composting bin, you can collect your food scraps and turn it into fertile soil either on your roof or balcony! Eventually, others will be inspired to compost with you, which could begin a composting revolution within your complex!

Obviously rural locations will have easier access to composting since you have access to your own land. Research how to start your own compost pile or again, buy a composting bin and before you know it you will become a composting guru.

After composting, you will feel the success of turning an object you once thought of as trash into lush rich, nutrient full, composted soil, for the betterment of the planet, your plants, and you! Take initiative and begin composting today!

Sustainable Down To Your Socks

Before I took on the endeavor of living less wastefully, I bought new clothes approximately once a month. I made these purchases not out of necessity but instead on impulse, which I now understand came from media and occasional boredom. Once I adapted to a more sustainable lifestyle, I took a realistic look at my closet and donated more than half of my unused clothing. I also vowed to end my online shopping addiction by only purchasing items from second-hand or locally sourced and ethical stores. By changing the way you purchase clothing, you directly take control away from large corporations that create pollution and waste through their manufacturing process.

Although it is quite tempting to buy new clothes from well known stores like Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo, etc. considering their cheap prices, you are in turn supporting their morals. The reason that clothes at these stores can be dirt cheap is because they are manufactured with synthetic materials at low wage sweatshops found in foreign countries. Large amounts of energy are required to make synthetic materials such as polyester, spandex, and kevlar. Additionally, this process creates toxic gases and chemicals. These pollutants are then released into the air, negatively affecting our environment, wildlife, and people. By not buying these pieces of clothing, you are proactively taking a stand against unnecessary pollution and unethical textile production.

Thankfully, there are other options for buying clothes that coincide with your morals of living sustainably and ethically! My first choice when shopping is to visit a local thrift store, and buy clothes that are preworn. Not only do thrift stores cut back on the devastating environmental impact, they also provide cheaper prices! As a bonus, most stores donate a portion of their profits to a charity or communities in need. For some people, thrift store shopping can be time consuming and after previously shopping online, sometimes it can feel like you never want to step foot in a store again! But the excitement that comes with finding a hidden gem can not be explained!

If this speaks true to you, there are plenty of great companies that sell recycled clothing, vintage clothing, or clothing made from sustainable fabric! Check out some of the great companies I have listed below that align with the ethics behind your sustainable lifestyle! Happy shopping!

 

-Brarnolds Vintage

-A small business that sells recycled vintage clothing through Instagram

-@brarnoldsvintage

-Zero Waste Daniel

-Transforms disregarded scraps of textile waste into trendy unisex clothing

-zerowastedaniel.com

-Jungmaven

-Uses hemp textiles and natural dyes to make clothing, in hopes to reduce climate change all the while revolutionizing the clothing industry

-jungmaven.com

-Tonle

-Takes textile waste and turns it into yarn, fabric, and tags for their creation of women’s clothing and accessories

-tonle.com

Wasted Food Is More Than Wasted Money

Approximately 31% of the food harvested in this world ends up being wasted, instead of getting consumed. This staggering statistic is even more mind-numbing when the cost of labor, fuel, water, and time, that is put into growing the food is considered. Beyond our valuable resources being misused, when food is thrown away, it directly contributes to world hunger. Sadly, World hunger is still a growing problem currently in 2017. 1 out of 9 people go hungry because they do not have enough food to eat. Bearing this distressing information in mind, it only seems ethical to put all food you have to use, just as the 795 million hungry people would. When all these consequences behind food waste are put into context, that rotting carrot in your fridge means more than just wasted money.

Food waste happens for many reasons, one being that consumers are encouraged by media and other outputs to unconsciously reach for the freshest and most attractive product available. The desire that consumers have to eat only the most appealing food, leads to older food rotting and eventually getting disposed of. Although one could make the argument that the wasted food can be composted and given a new purpose,  the expenditures and environmental resources still go to waste, as the product was not consumed and eaten.

Ironically enough, the food that is looked upon as not being alluring enough to eat, may be more nutritionally beneficial to consume. Evidence points towards the possibility of misshapen, marked, scabbed, or blistered produce containing more antioxidants and tasting sweeter than ‘normal’ looking produce. Think of these fruits and veggies with odd appearances as strong fighters against various disease and pests. So, the ‘stronger’ the produce, the more nutrients it possesses to overcome those stressors through their growth. Sadly, food waste cannot be solved by simply ending food discrimination, as wasted food will still materialize.

The other major factor that leads to food waste is forgetting to put purchased food to use before rotting occurs. Under planning and overbuying are the main reasons that most households continuously find molding food in the back of their fridge. Ending this senseless waste is incredibly easy, as all it entails is preparation. Take the time to plan and write out every meal for the week, and the ingredients involved. Then, when grocery shopping, purchases will be limited to necessity only, versus overcompensating for the unknown.

As is true for most of living sustainably, taking the time to slow down and think each purchase through will be the saving grace to not only your wallet, but more importantly, the environment. For most, food is taken for granted when it really should be looked upon as sacred, for without it we all cease to exist. Do your part to make a change by putting an end to food waste by taking these small simple steps. Because, it really is bigger than just one carrot going to waste.

(For more information on how to properly store, cook, and revive food visit Save The Food)

A How-To Guide For A Sustainable Kitchen

Living sustainability is built around making mindful purchases that are ensured to serve a long-term purpose in your life. Sustainable alternatives are likely to be more expensive than disposable products, but fear not, over time the product will reap its benefits through its outstanding quality and strength to withstand time. Making conscious decisions about the quality of the products you buy, will lend itself to smarter purchases that will essentially last forever, are healthier to use, and are sure to genuinely benefit your life! My favorite room to begin the process of replacing expendable products for worthwhile, is the kitchen!

Consider the material that the utensils you possess are made of; plastic, silicone, aluminium, teflon, etc. When using cookware that is made from any of these materials, you run the risk of having toxic chemicals leach out of the product and into your food and your body. There are potential side effects from using these materials including an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, organ dysfunction, and mental health conditions. It seems counterintuitive to be concerned about eating chemical free food, but not about using chemical free cookware. Avoid these health risks from synthetically made products and instead try to incorporate where you can ceramic, cast iron, stoneware, glass, and stainless steel for your cookware needs!

Below is a list of daily utensils and a sustainable option which can replace the disposable that you may currently be using. My suggestion for replacing your cookware is not to throw everything out and start from new, instead donate a few items that are old or broken, and replace those. Then, over time when you feel ready to replace more, either when they break or when they no longer serve the purpose you wish them to, then invest in a cleaner alternative to that product! You and those you cook for will benefit in the long run!

-Coffee & Tea

-French Press Coffee Machine

-A french press coffee machine eliminates the need for a filter, while delivering a great tasting cup of joe without any plastic involved.

-Frieling French Press

-Theo French Press

-Chemex Coffee Maker

-Another waste free alternative to electric coffee makers. Use this chemex coffee maker in conjunction with reusable fabric filters to have a sustainable cup of bold coffee!

-Chemex Coffee Maker

-Etsy Fabric Filters

-Kitchen Garden Series Filters

-Utensils

-Bamboo

-Bamboo is a great material to cook with, not only does it not scratch your pots and pans, it doesn’t absorb any flavor, AND it can be biodegradable and compostable!  

-Bambu

-Etsy Bamboo Utensils

-Cookware

-Ceramic

-Ceramic is an organic material that has a naturally non-stick surface, and has been safely used since ancient times.

-Le Creuset

-Xtrema

-Search for local handmade options!

-Cast Iron

-Cast iron pans essentially last forever, and ensure delicious, and well cooked food! They require little cleaning, just rinse with water and towel dry after every use!

-Lodge

-Search on Ebay or visit a thrift store for used options

-Food Storage

-Glass Mason Jars

-Store food, snacks, or bulk items in a mason jar with a fitted lid, or a cuppow lid to take food with you on the go!

-Cuppow

-Stainless Steel Food Containers

-Take food with you wherever you go, without using plastic tupperware! These will be sure to last you years on end, due to their outstanding quality!

-Stainless Steel Tin

-Cleaning Tools

-Compostable Cleaning Brush

-Redecker sells replacements for their dish brushes, so when the brush is used, compost it or burn it and purchase a replacement head, keeping the old handle! 

-Redecker Brush

-Redecker Bottle Brush

Make a dent in your daily waste

Beginning to live waste free should be a gradual transition and with small everyday changes you can begin to live more sustainably. Living waste free starts by recognizing your trash omitting habits on a daily basis, and switching these habits out for waste-free alternatives. You’ll notice how much less waste you produce by simply being prepared with your own reusable products to counteract waste.

Think about your daily routine and the products you dispose of in a normal day. It may go something like this; coffee cup on the way to work, plastic water bottle or plastic cup of water at work, plastic sandwich bag along with plastic cutlery for lunch and/or dinner, etc. To combat against this senseless waste, set an attainable goal for yourself that will limit the number of products which can only be used once. For example; make it a goal to bring a reusable coffee mug with you instead of buying a cup from your usual coffee shop. This simple goal will not only be easy to achieve, it will also help you get in the routine of being prepared with reusable products, which is key to living waste free!

Reusable coffee cups are an easy way to eliminate senseless waste, as 58 billion paper cups are being thrown away every year in the US alone! This saddening statistic stems from cups similar to those at Starbucks, that are unrecyclable since they are lined with a thin wax. Even if you only treat yourself to a coffee shop drink once a week, you are still attributing to the amount of waste ending up in landfills.

Limiting or discontinuing the use of disposable products can be a simple task. All it entails is choosing reusable products instead of products we usually dispose of and creating the habit of bringing it along with you through your day. Overtime, the action of carrying reusable mugs, bottles, and cutlery becomes second nature, and your daily waste will be greatly reduced!

Before jumping to buy a new product, first I suggest checking out what your local thrift store has in stock. Not only is buying at second hand stores a cheaper option, it also aligns with the ideology of sustainability, to reuse products to directly limit your waste. When shopping at thrift stores, don’t stay focused on finding the perfect product, instead open your mind and find inventive uses for a simple product.

If you cannot find your desired product at a secondhand store, the next best option would be buying from local coffee shops, gift stores, natural food markets, etc, that could have your product there. Finding local stores that support small business and have good morals are ideal to buy from. Spending money at a store is directly supporting their mission, so be sure that the store is one you can stand behind!  Ask around to find these stores that supply eco friendly products, if you don’t know of any already.

For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live in an area with stores like these, buying online is the next best option! Again, finding a brand that shares the same waste free mission as you, is not only very important, but at times difficult. After searching various sites, I found a few companies that have tons of great products that are designed to limit your waste!

  • Klean Kanteen

    • Klean Kanteen “gives people a better option than plastic and lined aluminum bottles: a safe, healthy, lightweight, reusable bottle free of Bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxic substances”.

    • Large selection of stainless steel, insulated travel cups and bottles.

    • https://www.kleankanteen.com/

  • KeepCup

    • “KeepCups mission is to encourage the use of reusable cups.  We do this by delivering sustainably made products that are fit for purpose in the context of a positive global campaign that strives to make a difference to how we think about convenience culture”.

    • Branded as the world’s first barista standard reusable cup. Design your own or choose from their pre designed coffee cups and water bottles!

    • https://us.keepcup.com/?country=United%20States#

  • Cuppow!

    • “Our products are designed so we can have a lower impact on the world around us. We develop products that can be used everyday as alternatives to disposables. We want these things to be go-tos, the items you don’t leave home without. Take them everywhere you go, every day, and enjoy using them every single time you do”.

    • Various lids made of recycled material to attach to mason jars for drinking, eating, or storing

    • https://www.cuppow.com/

  • To-Go Ware

    • “To-Go Ware brings common sense to the convenience of our “to-go” culture. By providing people with sustainable solutions and healthful alternatives to plastic waste, we hope to make the “throw-away” mentality a thing of the past. We ask you to participate in the process of positive change. Choose to reuse”.

    • Bamboo utensils for home and on the go and stainless steel food containers for storage or to go meals.

    • http://to-goware.com/

  • Life Without Plastic

    • “We are activists for a plastic-free planet working hard to bring you safe, high quality, ethically-sourced, Earth friendly alternatives to plastic products. We are also committed to raising awareness about plastics issues by providing solid science- and experience-based information and showing people, one person at a time, the beauty and simplicity of a life without plastic”.

    • One-Stop shop for any sustainable product you could possibly want along your waste free journey!

    • https://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/store/

Find simplicity in living waste free

The world that we live in revolves around consuming products and creating waste. The products we use on a daily basis have been constructed to align with our quick, busy, and noncommittal lifestyle. Whether these products are food, drinks, health/beauty products, or clothing, it is usually packaged in plastic, and is meant to be discarded after a short time, then bought for a newer version.

It is possible to omit zero waste and live waste free, which means sending nothing to landfills. By making small adjustments in your lifestyle and becoming a more conscious consumer, we can begin to counteract the unnecessary waste we create. Everyday, each American solely creates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, and two thirds of that waste is being thrown away in the trash when it should be composted or recycled. Our ignorance and lack of knowledge has created this problem and it is quickly leading to the destruction of our personal well being, and more importantly, the planets.

Producing zero waste, may seem like a radical way to live, when in reality it brings each individual back to a more natural way of living. Mom & Pop encourages individuals to live simply, purely, and slowly, as people did before the era of industrialization. Living consciously poses no negative side effects compared to the mainstream way of life, which decays all aspects of life. 

Not only will living a waste free lifestyle better the environment and our personal health, it will create financial stability through lack of spendings on inessential products. Typically there’s a preconceived notion that living sustainably costs more money than living a traditionally wasteful lifestyle, but in actuality you will be cutting costs through sustainable living. You will find, that by becoming a more thoughtful consumer, you end up spending less money on your groceries, clothing, personal products, and household furnishings. This frees you to take more time to enjoy life in the ways that matter. Living more consciously creates opportunities for travel, exploration, and relaxation with the people you love. Mom and Pop lifestyle gives you the ability to make small or big changes in your life, by cutting out waste and living a conscious lifestyle. Each step taken to live a sustainable life adds up to make a big difference in the planet we all inhabit.