My First Week Being Eco-Conscious: A Snapshot From May 2017

Below is a diary-like snapshot of some of my first attempts at living a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

I have spent the last week, between studying for finals and preparing for an internship interview, researching Zero-Waste lifestyles, eco-friendly alternatives, and the consequences of an Eco-Unconcious lifestyle. As I mentioned before, I no longer want to live that way.

Being a college student working a part-time job, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive zero-waste lifestyle gadgets. I’m also living at home while saving up for my own house, so I don’t have plenty of space to settle in and transition new Eco-Conscious items (though some zero-wasters would say that’s no problem because minimalism is a key part of a zero-waste lifestyle). That being said, many of the transitions I am making are simple, and inexpensive- though I admit my furor got me going pretty quickly on some of these changes.

The first thing I did was repurpose one of the hundreds of mason jars my family owns (we do a lot of canning). I used one of the bigger jars so I wouldn’t have to refill it quite so often, which is useful especially on days when I have back-to-back classes.  I simply drilled a hole in one of the lids and tossed in a stainless steel straw.  I love this jar and use it every day, and it cost me nothing. Tip: invest in some stainless steel straws.  I use these for drinking from this jar, for smoothies, and they’re great for when you eat out and don’t want to use the disposable straw the waitress tries to give you.  They were a bit difficult for me to find, but Target has them in some stores for $5.  I actually used some my family got from Amazon, where prices range from $5-$15, depending on how many straws you get.  Most come with a nifty little brush to clean their insides.

Next, I went to my local Goodwill and bought a large ceramic jar with a lid.  We have a fairly large garden, so we’re pretty good about composting.  However, it was time to have an actual compost jar.  It’s a lovely blue and says “Flour”, and adds a nice touch to the decor.  It’s large enough that we can go a few days without having to trek out to the backyard to empty it.  Composting is vital to growing your own fruits and veggies, and to reducing your waste. Tip: Buy used rather than new.  Part of a zero-waste lifestyle is reducing your contribution to the waste cycle.  We often buy new instead of repurposing what we already have, or buying used.  Besides, things are so much cheaper at thrift stores (especially mason jars!)

Today was the opening day of my local Farmer’s Market!  There aren’t many fruits and veggies out yet (Tip: Buy produce from your local Farmer’s Market to reduce the number of annoying produce stickers you have to throw away, and the environmental impacts of produce transportation).  There was, however, a local small business owner who selling all-natural, handmade soap bars.  I was thrilled to support her, and to purchase her amazing smelling soaps with only a thin, recyclable paper wrapper stating the ingredients.  I also later found (miraculously) a bamboo toothbrush at my local Target for $4, which is biodegradable and will be tossed into my compost pile in a few months.  I also made the switch from disposable, unrecyclable wax-paper cups to, yes, another mason jar.  Mason jars are your friends, Eco-Conscious lovelies.

I have also started to make the transition away from paper napkins, though many are compostable, they’re not necessary and they are disposable, which degrades our appreciation for things.  I admit, I ought to have bought these used, but I picked up six cloths at a local store for cheaper than I would have gotten them at my local Goodwill.  Plus, they’re so soft!  These are 100% cotton (which is also compostable, in case you were wondering) and will last me for a very long time (until they’re ready to be tossed into the compost).  I plan to leave one in my car, wrapping up the silverware that I use when I forget to pack some in my lunch (which, unfortunately, is often) and for any time when the only option is disposable cutlery.  I’m also going to use them as napkins for my lunch.

Lastly, I found some of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap at Target (Target was surprisingly useful in my search for Zero-waste goodies).  This was $6 dollars, and it can probably be found cheaper elsewhere.  I was a little overzealous and bought it right then, partly because it smelled so good.  Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap is AMAZING.  It is extraordinarily useful and has many purposes, which is important in an Eco-Conscious lifestyle.  I plan on using this bar for shampoo, body wash, and face wash.  I’m going to pick up a bottle of the peppermint liquid pure-castile soap for a project I’ll talk more about later.  The liquid soap can be used for even more household needs.

I’m working on some more projects and transitions that I’m really excited to share with you all.  So far, this lifestyle change hasn’t been too difficult or expensive.  It’s important to buy used if possible, and remember, many of the things you are buying are meant to last, unlike disposables, so they’ll be an investment for quite some time.

If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!  We’re on a journey together, so let’s support each other.

~*~*~

I’ll be doing an update on where I currently am at with many of these changes I made two years ago, and I’ll add a link to that post soon.

Minimalist Lifestyle Tips

As minimalism continues to be a popular movement, I thought I would put together a nowhere-near-comprehensive list of tips for living a minimalist lifestyle.  Keep in mind that minimalism means something different for each person, so remember why you are choosing to live this type of lifestyle and what is plausible for you.  These are only suggested tips, and some tips may work better for you than other tips.  Also, always remember to recycle, sell, and donate what you can.

MEDIA

  1. Borrow books, movies, and CDs from your local Library.
  2. Get rid of books, movies, and CDs you don’t totally love. Donate them to your local Library.
  3. Read newspapers online. (Usually, you can donate some money, if you would like, and subscriptions are fairly cheap, NYTimes being only $4 per month)
  4. Clean out your email inbox(es).
  5. Unfriend/unfollow people, boards, and pages you don’t really love on your social media.
  6. Clean out your bookmarked internet pages
  7. Unsubscribe from junk emails or emails from people you don’t love or are no longer interested in anymore
  8. Digitize your files (CDs/music, ebooks, photographs, etc.)

CLOTHING

  1. Reduce your wardrobe to things that actually fit and that you love and wear more than once a year—if ever.
  2. Repair your clothes and take good care of them.  Also, only buy quality items when you do buy clothing so that they last longer.
  3. Get rid of your sentimental items and only keep the things you can display or fit in a small box.  Keep only the things that really give you joy (I, for example, got rid of a ton of old cards and ticket stubs that don’t really give me joy anymore).

BATHROOM

  1. Get rid of cosmetics you don’t really use or that are old.
  2. Don’t buy more than you need
  3. Donate things you don’t use (Like curling irons, headbands, perfume, etc.)
  4. Try to simplify your hygiene routines (if you don’t really need five different products to put in your hair, don’t use five different products in your hair)

KITCHEN

  1. Get rid of expired food and donate food you don’t really eat.
  2. Donate or sells dishes you don’t use
  3. Get rid of duplicates (do you really need 5 whisks? 10 coffee mugs? 3 can openers? 2 toasters?)
  4. Get rid of broken items (too chipped glasses, bent beyond repair forks, broken hand mixer, etc.)
  5. Make a list before going shopping, and buy only foods that you will use

Office

  1. Digitize your statements and pay online
  2. Unsubscribe from junk mail lists
  3. Try to refrain from buying more office stationery supplies than you need—and use what you already have (journals and notebooks are so alluring, but fight the temptation and use the twelve notebooks you already own)

Again, this is not a comprehensive list.  It’s also important to note that living a minimalist life can save you money.  You do not need to go out and buy incredibly expensive, high-quality clothing (thrifting is incredible, folks) or repaint your home interior white and buy a bunch of plants.  Live a minimalist lifestyle that fits you and where you are at.  The focus is often on breaking with addictive consumerist habits and a throw-away mentality.

If you’re interested in learning more there are plenty of blogs and Youtube channels out there.  I recommend Madeleine Olivia on Youtube, Janell Kristina on Youtube, and Exploring Alternatives on Youtube.  These are fairly strong minimalists, but you don’t need to give away all your belongings and move into a tiny home to be minimalist.  Make the little changes that work for you and enjoy living a simpler life.

The Beginning of an Eco-Friendly Journey

Spring has finally sprung where I live and Earth Day 2019 is happening in just two days.  With these realizations comes a new consciousness of my environment.  I have always been somewhat aware of environmental problems, and I generally do my part to conserve water and electricity.  But I realize now that isn’t enough.

In January, I celebrated my second anniversary of becoming a vegetarian (though, in full disclosure, I do sometimes eat a more pescatarian diet, though I try very hard to avoid eating seafood).  I chose to transition to this lifestyle for a wealth of reasons that are easily researchable (ethical, environmental, etc.)  With that transition came my goal for 2017—and my goal in 2018 and this year: to live consciously and authentically.  I will no longer pretend unawareness of problems surrounding me, and I will no longer shy away from living in accordance with my beliefs.  I will be fully conscious of my surroundings and world, and I will live as authentically as I can manage.  Of course, this is no easy thing.  I can’t simply flip a switch and life changes for me.  I can’t transition easily into new habits and a new lifestyle overnight.  Change is hard, but anything worth doing won’t always be easy.

This is all to say, I have begun to make changes in my life.  I am embarking on a journey that started in January 2017 and is continuing with new awakenings and authentic changes now in 2019.  I’d like to give you snapshots of this journey, and invite you to join however you can.  Our Earth is our home, and it is not here (just as animals are not here) for us to use and abuse to our fullest desire.  Earth does not need us, but we need it.  If we want to continue to be able to enjoy our stay here and allow generations to come to enjoy their stay here, we need to stop living with our eyes half-closed and afraid to live how we believe we ought to live.

I’m inviting you to wake up fully to the beauty, and yes the sordidness, and to live boldly.