Let’s talk about gift giving…

found in holidays | 4

book gift with red ribbon

What do you do if you’re trying to live sustainably or minimally but your family or friends love giving presents? This can be a difficult topic and conversation to have. Gift giving a certain way can become a tradition for families and people generally aren’t happy with change – especially with traditions.

I’ve been very fortunate where gift-giving isn’t a big deal in my family, as a kid we never had mountains of presents (it’s crazy how that’s advertised as the “perfect” Christmas) and my family has generally been very practical with gifts – giving things the person has asked for or they know will get used, gift cards to favourite places, consumables, or experiences like a meal out. Instead of gifts to each other my husband and I plan a little weekend away together, since we live away from our families they usually also get involved and will treat us to a nice dinner out on our trip, it’s a lovely time and so much more meaningful than some stuff we don’t want.

If you are trying to reduce unwanted gifts, here’s some of my tips:

 

Keep the conversation positive

I think this is the most important. Telling someone you don’t want “junk” or their sweatshop-made gifts is hurtful and will make them upset and defensive. Instead focus on how other gift ideas make you happy or bring you joy. For example you could explain that you really care about a certain cause so it would mean a lot if instead of gifts they made a donation to a charity/organization, or how you feel so much happier having worked hard on decluttering and instead of physical gifts you’d love to spend some quality time together. If there’s something specific that you’d like, instead of talking about how other similar items might be unsustainable or unethical, focus on how that item would work really well for you and you would use it all the time.

You want them to see how this is something that would make you happy, not feel bad about their gifts or like they are unappreciated.

 

Make alternative suggestions

Maybe your family or friends are feeling the same way about all the gift-giving but no one else has expressed it. They might be very open to other ideas:

  • Instead of getting individual gifts you could suggest that everyone draws names and buys 1 gift for 1 person. This way you can spend a little more on the gift and get something the person truly wants.
  • You could agree to gift experiences – dinners, movie tickets, coffee dates, or any activity they enjoy. Instead of giving gifts why not spend time together doing something you all enjoy?
  • If you’re all into food and cooking you could decide to gift consumables like homemade cookies, coffee/tea, favorite liquors, etc.
  • Or another option if you’re all crafty is to give handmade gifts
  • You could all use a wishlist. There are apps like Giftster where everyone lists things they’d like, you can share it with a group and mark things that are purchased so there won’t be duplicates. This way people can ask for things they actually want and it makes shopping easier for everyone.

Cookies and presents

Show extra appreciation when people respect your wishes

Remember that it can be a big deal for some people to change their habits and if your relative who loves giving knick-knacks gave you a charitable donation like you asked, they might be worried that it’s not “enough” or you won’t be happy when everyone else get their gifts. Make an extra effort to thank them and explain that it’s a wonderful gift and really means a lot to you. Of course you should show gratitude, but taking extra time to explain how meaningful it is will help the person know they made the right choice and they’ll also likely remember for the next time how special that gift was to you.

 

Finally, what about when you receive an unwanted gift?

I think it’s important to be gracious receiving the gift and then try to find that item a home where it will actually be used. I really like how Courtney Carver explains gift giving, that the “gift” isn’t the physical object, the gift is meant to be an expression of love or appreciation so you can keep the intention of the gift but still let go of the object, the person who gave you the gift likely wouldn’t want it to cause you stress or negative feelings.

If you know someone who would use and appreciate the gift, re-gifting can be a great option. Also look for charities you might be able to donate it to, for example if you received skincare products that you won’t use try to find a local shelter that takes care and hygiene products.

 

I would really love to hear your thoughts and tips on this topic! Are unwanted gifts an issue for your conscious lifestyle? Have you tried talking to others about it or suggesting alternatives?

 

Photos from Unsplash
Beautiful Toys for Kids

Beautiful Toys for Kids

found in Community, holidays | 0

 

To supplement the green gift guide, my wonderful sister-in-law Gabrielle Beauchamp wrote this guest post for you sharing some of her favourite quality toys for children:

 

Traditionally, Christmas is a time of year where consumption is high- lots of meals, parties- and presents. So. Many. Presents. Especially if there are children in your life, you may be asking yourself how you can make smarter purchasing decisions that make a smaller impact on your environment, while still giving beautiful gifts to those you love.

My husband and I have made a commitment to purchase presents for our daughter this year that hold true to our core values- we only want to introduce objects into our house that will last, that are environmentally conscious, and/or ethically or ideally, locally produced.

I hope these toy ideas will help you if you’re looking to do the same!

recycled plastic cupcake toy from Green Toys

Green Toys

These little cupcakes come in a tray, and have three different coloured stackable bits so that you can mix and match them. They are made of recycled plastic (from milk jugs!), and are a great addition to any play kitchen. Who doesn’t like playing with cupcakes? I haven’t found a child yet who doesn’t love to serve these little cakes up when they come over for a visit- the only challenge is keeping all the parts together. These are made in the USA- and there are many other products that would make great Christmas gifts- stackable blocks, kitchen sets, cars, trucks, ferries and more. They’ve got a ton of options for the children on your list.

 

Ouistine vegetable toys

Ouistitine

Do you know what kids like to do when they are playing with pretend food? They like to put it in their mouth and pretend to eat it. I am so confident in the quality of Ouistitine’s products that I wouldn’t hesitate to allow my daughter to ‘eat’ these veggies to her hearts delight! Ouistitine is a Canadian brand of toy and home goods, and also make dolls, toys, puppets, and more. My daughter and I (along with her friends) tested out their vegetable basket this summer, which are each handmade with pure, reused wool, and stuffed with carded wool.

They are made in Montreal Canada, and are wonderful toys made with attention to detail by designers with exceptional style- if you are looking for something made with care that is mindful of the environment, Ouistitine’s beautiful selections will more than fit the bill. Because I especially love to keep my gift purchasing local, I will be picking up one of their stunning little hedgehogs for the smallest child in my family, and some hand puppets for creative playtime. They also carry a line of beautiful cards for any occasion, so make sure to stock up before the holidays!

 

hedgehog and mouse toys from Maileg

Maileg

These little cuties are designed in Denmark and made using natural materials- linen and cotton. My daughter loves putting her little mouse, ‘Flower Flour’ to bed in her cardboard matchbox, and tucking her into the beautiful sheets. The little hedgehog ‘Holly’ gets to sleep wrapped tightly in her adorable leaf bed. They are also great travel companions- small enough to fit easily into a toddler backpack, and not too annoying to carry in your pocket when your little one gets tired of carrying them! Maileg’s toys are simple, clean, beautiful, and crafted with exceptional attention to detail.

 

Djeco wooden ox block

Djeco

Djeco is a French company that makes all sorts of wooden toys and games for children. This ox guy is part of the ZeTribu stacking blocks collection, which has a bunch of different stackable animal body parts- not only are these fun to play with, they also look beautiful no matter which way you stack them- these are one of the few toys I don’t mind keeping out after playtime is done. They also have a huge selection of games and puzzles for your little ones.

 

Thanks so much to Gabrielle for sharing her children’s toy picks! For more gift ideas for the rest of your family and friends check out My Green Gift Guide. Gabrielle also was a guest on the channel and made a couple videos reviewing natural sunscreen and care products for kids and also sustainable kids clothing!

 

My Green Gift Guide

My Green Gift Guide

It’s getting into the holiday season, and if you’re shopping for gifts this year, why not buy from conscious brands? This list contains both North American and EU based companies, but most ship internationally.

$ = 20 $/€ or under            $$ = 21-50 $/€           $$$ = 51-100 $/€

(note: this post is possible through partnerships and affiliate links, you can support great brands and also My Green Closet!)

 

 

For the one who needs more Hygge in their life

December is the time to get cozy – dim the lights and snuggle into soft fabrics.

Is there anything more hygge than a candle? On ethical.market you can find this vegan soy candle with a cozy, crackling wooden wick. It’s scented with essential oils and the cinnamon and orange would be perfect for the holidays. $
Also, ethical.market carries a ton of products from different makers and small designers, all ethically made! It’s a great place for gift shopping and with the code greencloset17 you can get 15% off until Nov. 30th.

Hygge gifts - soy candle, sock pack, alpaca scarves

Getting socks may have been boring when I was a kid, but now I think it’s a great gift! Especially cute patterned socks like in Thought’s bamboo sock gift boxes. $$
Plus you can use code GREEN15 for 15% off Thought’s website until Dec. 17th.

Give a snuggly warm gift with Fair Indigo’s baby alpaca scarf. Alpaca is a luxuriously soft fibre and the scarves come in a variety of colours including un-dyed neutrals. They’re fairly made in Peru from traditionally and sustainably-farmed alpaca wool. $$ (US only)
Use code GCloset15 for 15% off Fair Indigo products.*

 

 

For the one who deserves pampering

I think gifts that help foster relaxation and self-care are especially lovely during the holidays.

Give a classic and cozy robe like this striped organic cotton one from People Tree. It’s fairly made in India, from the cotton-farming to sewing. $$$

Pampering gifts - natural bath salts, organic robe, body oil

A great gift for someone who loves to relax in the bath- The Choosy Chick’s dreamy mineral soak from MOA contains purifying Himalayan pink salt and relaxing essential oils. $$
You can use code MYGREENCLOSET for 10% off The Choosy Chick website.

I love Akamuti’s oils and balms; their products are natural and consciously-sourced, and full of beneficial ingredients. My current favorite for the colder months is their spicy frankincense and myrrh body oil. $

 

 

For the Adventurer

Perfect for packing light, Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi can be worn in different dress styles, as a poncho, cardigan, or scarf. $$$+

Travel gifts - versatile dress/cardi and natural, vegan travel toiletries

Meow Meow Tweet’s Migrator Kit has travel sizes of 5 of their natural and cruelty-free cleansing/care products, including their baking soda-free deodorant. $$

Give a unique travel experience from Canopy & Stars. They have tree house, cabin, yurt, and other glamping getaways around the UK and Europe, plus if you spend £150 on gift cards you can get £50 for your own trip!
– For something similar outside of Europe (mostly in North America) check out Glamping Hub. $$$+

 

 

For the Food Lover

My go-to place for plant-based recipes is Minimalist Baker, she has so many easy and delicious recipes and a cookbook available in hardcover or for the Kindle! $

For a beautiful serving piece and useful cutting board, Accompany has this lovely marble and acacia wood board made by artisans from ecologically forested trees. Use code MYGREENCLOSET for 15% off the board. $$

Foodie gifts - Minimalist Baker cookbook, artisan cutting board, organic beer box, and re-useable food wraps

Give the beer enthusiast Planet Organic’s organic beer and snack box. $$ (UK + EU) This is also a great idea which you could put together yourself with the person’s favourites!

Bee’s Wrap’s reusable food wraps are wonderful to have in the kitchen. They cut down on plastic waste and are completely natural. The assorted pack comes with 3 different sizes. $

 

 

For the Sustainably Stylish One

This geometric arm cuff from Chic Made Consciously is an amazing statement piece. Their accessories are all made from recycled tire inner tubes, fairly made in Bali by artisans who hand-cut the tattoo-like designs. $$ (US only)
Plus use code MYGREEN15 for 15% off any of CMC’s accessories until Dec. 31st.

fashion gifts - recycled cuff, cork clutch, and upcycled lingerie

Corkor’s minimal clutch purse includes a removable cross-body chain – it’s a versatile style for running errands or a night out. Made from sustainable cork material, it comes in natural or 4 other colours. $$$
You can use code MGC10 for 10% off their cork bags.

Or why not something lovely to go underneath? Anekdot has sweet and sexy lingerie sets, made in Germany from reclaimed and recycled materials. $$$+

 

 

For the Mover

Everyone needs a water bottle, especially those who are always active. Soul Bottle’s glass water bottles feature unique prints from artists and designers. They’re a stylish and sustainable way to stay hydrated. $$

Athletic Gifts - glass water bottle, organic hoodie, natural muscle rub

For working out or lounging, PACT’s organic cotton and recycled poly hoodie helps you stay warm.  $$$

Know someone who always has sore muscles? Get them Badger’s muscle rub from The Choosy Chick. It contains cayenne and ginger to warm and soothe muscles. They also have one for sore joints. $
Use code MYGREENCLOSET for 10% off The Choosy Chick website.

 

 

For the Maker

Get a new winter project for a knitter or crocheter. Wool and the Gang offers some sustainable yarns and kits like baskets and plant hangers from their jersey fabric scrap yarn, or sweaters and tops from their recycled denim yarn. $$ – $$$

Microcosm Publishing is a really cool publishing house and distributor. Their superpack “The Life-Changing Magic of Fixing Shit Up” contains zines about mending clothes, soap making, herbs and herbal first aid, bike maintenance, and more. $
You can also find books there on a ton of different topics, mostly focusing on social and self-empowerment topics. Use code DIYLIFE for 15% off their books and zines.

Microcosm Publishing DIY superpack

 

 

For the Shaker

I can’t stand fast-fashion t-shirts with slogans about empowering women, likely made by women paid and treated unfairly (WTF right?). With slogan tees from My Sister you can wear your message on an ethically-made product that supports survivors of sex-trafficking. $$

Slogan tees from My Sister and A Beautiful Refuge

Another great option is A Beautiful Refuge‘s tees, I especially like their “Do what is right, not what is easy” one. $$

Or a great idea is to give a donation to their favourite organization or charity in their name. Supporting causes they care about is a wonderful way to have a greater impact. $ – $$$+

 

 

For the Gamer

Anyone into puzzles and strategy games will appreciate a handmade wooden game from ethical.market. This tactical building game is made in the UK from sustainably sourced hardwoods in partnership with a prisoner rehabilitation charity. $$
Be sure to use code greencloset17 for 15% off anything from ethical.market until Nov. 30th.

Gifts for gamers - wooden strategy game and Humble bundle video games

For those who love video games, Humble bundles give you a package of computer games which usually have a mix of popular and indie games (they also have comic, book, or mobile game bundles). It’s a pay-what-you-can tier model and you get to decide how much goes to the game developers or their charity partners. The bundles typically change every 1-2 weeks, so check back! $

 

 

For the Green Beauty

Lily Lolo’s Iconic Eye Collection includes their highly recommended mascara (I just got one and am really liking it!), a neutral eye shadow palette with 8 matte and shimmer shades, and a black eyeliner pencil. $$

For those who love trying out different beauty products, Love Goodly has a subscription box with 4-5 full-size, cruelty and toxin free products. $$

Natural Beauty Gifts - Lily Lolo, Love Goodly, 100% Pure and Ecco Verde

A cute stocking stuffer is 100% Pure’s avocado, shea, and cocoa lip butter. Coloured with fruit pigments in 4 different shades. $

Perfect for the holidays is Uoga Uoga’s sparkly silver gift set from Ecco Verde with 3 eyeshadows and a lipgloss. $$

 

 

For the Minimalist

Experiences make the best gifts. Take them out for coffee, dinner, to a movie, or any activity they enjoy and spend some quality time together.

Minimalist gifts: experiences- go for coffee, or a capsule wardrobe course

Know someone who’s interested in trying out a capsule wardrobe? Get them Project 333 creator Courtney Carver’s Dress with Less microcourse. This digital course guides you through decluttering and building your capsule wardrobe, but what I really love about it is that it also focuses on your “why” and how the benefits of a capsule go far beyond a simplified closet! $

Get them… nothing! If someone has expressed they don’t want any gifts then that’s what they want. If you still want to “give” something I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t appreciate a kind message that you love and care about them. 🙂

 

 

For the Festivities

One tradition my family has had since I was little is that my brother and I get an ornament every year, usually representing something that we were into that year.

Fair Indigo has beautiful fair trade ornaments made by artisans in Thailand. They have a huge variety of designs, so there’s something for everyone. $ – $$ (US only)
You can also use code GCloset15 for 15% off anything on their site.*

fair trade ornaments from Fair Indigo

Send your holiday party invites and cards digitally with Greenvelope. They have beautiful designs and it’s a great way to save paper, plastic, and energy, plus they donate to protect forests and parks. $ – $$

I already mentioned Thought’s socks, but they have holiday themed ones as well! $$
(and don’t forget to use code GREEN15 before Dec. 17th for 15% off!)

Xmas gifts - digital cards and e-vites, from Greenvelope, & eco Christmas socks

 

 

For the Little Ones

Ouistitine makes gorgeous toys from natural and eco friendly materials, like recycled sweaters! $$
For a review of Ouistitine and other kids toys check out this post!

kids gifts - hand puppet, kids gift basket, Frida doll

Our Green House’s make-your-own-basket lets you create a lovely basket with natural baby clothes, toys, and products. $$

This adorable Frida doll from Accompany is handmade and handpainted by artisans in Mexico. Use code MYGREENCLOSET for 15% off the doll. $$

 

 

I hope you find this guide helpful for your conscious gift shopping! xx

*Fair Indigo coupon code expires 12/31/2017 and is not valid in conjunction with other gift or promo codes, also not valid Nov 27-28.
Photos are from the brands, Anekdot photo by Colette Pomerleau

Green Barcelona

found in travel | 5

Barcelona was at the top of the list of places that I wanted to visit while we are living in Europe, so I was thrilled when we were finally able to go last month. It’s not only a gorgeous city with beautiful parks, little streets, and interesting architecture (Gaudi!) but the city has so much to offer in terms of sustainable shopping and food.

 

What to Do

I really wanted to see the Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s still-in-progress church. It’s truly stunning and there are so many amazing details. Travelling through Europ,e you visit a lot of churches but this is unlike any of them. I found the museum underneath really interesting where it explains how his designs and elements of the building were very influenced by nature (see how in the photo, it looks like trees in a forest?).
We generally try to avoid very touristy places but this is definitely worth it – although be sure to book your tickets in advance, they sell out!

Roof of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Whenever they’re available, we like to do Detour audio tours in a city. These are GPS guided walking tours that really immerse you in a neighborhood or story, and so far every one we’ve gone on has been really interesting and well done. You can download them for $5 each and they can be shared and synced with up to 3 other people so our group was able to do a detour together.

In Barcelona we did the Summer of Anarchy tour which brought us along the harbour and through the Gothic Quarter to places relevant to the 1936 anarchist revolution. We also did a more current tour El Raval: Women in the World Skate Mecca which is narrated by two sisters talking about their experience as immigrants and how they found a home in the skateboarding culture of Barcelona. Ben especially liked this tour because it takes you to some different spots to watch skaters, and I really enjoyed listening to their story – even if you’re not into skateboarding I think it’s still really interesting. Unfortunately we weren’t able to finish this one, though, because we were caught in a rain storm.

Finally, Barcelona is great for just wandering around; the tiny winding streets of the Gothic Quarter are amazing to explore, and you can take a long walk along the beach, or explore the parks – check out Parc Güell for more Gaudi. We also liked Parc de la Ciutadella (we didn’t get to go there but Parc del Laberint sounds fun and has a maze!).

Barcelona view from Park Guell

 

Where to Eat (vegetarian & vegan)

For a fancy and fresh veg dinner visit Teresa Carles. They have beautiful dishes with healthy ingredients and we all really enjoyed our meals. It is on the pricier side and the portions are satisfying but not large, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a big meal, but I definitely would if you want a lovely candlelit dinner out.

Teresa Carles in Barcelona

Food at Teresa Carles - lasagna, mushrooms, lotus chips
7 layer lasagna, portobello mushroom dish, and lotus root chips

If you’re more in the mood for burgers and beer and a totally different vibe, head to Cat Bar CAT (unfortunately without cats). They have delicious burgers, and I love when vegan burger places have different kinds of patties; Car Bar CAT has bean, hemp, seed/nut (this is the one I had, it was really good!), and a veggie burger, as well as 9 beers on tap and bottles of local and Spanish beers.

Another great meal we had was near the harbour at The Green Spot. The restaurant is really modern with an interesting selection of dishes. The pizzas had really nice toppings and I had the sweet potato “noodles” with a macadamia nut sauce and black truffles (basically my favorite things in one dish), it was rich and delicious. The only con for me was the portion size but our group all really enjoyed our meals.

I’d also recommend having a juice and snack or breakfast at Hammock and if you’re wandering around the Gràcia neighborhood (which you should check out for shopping ↓ ), pick up a baked treat from La Besnéta.

Baking at La Besnéta vegan bakery

 

Where to Shop

Gràcia is a wonderful part of the city for sustainable fashion stores. I went there to check out GreenLifeStyle a lovely shop with a good selection of sustainable European brands. They have a cute little dressing room area and also carry jewellery and underwear.

GreenLifeStyle eco fashion shop in Barcelona

Also in Gràcia by chance we found Sunsais – think a small Anthropologie full of sustainable, and locally made treasures. They have clothes, homegoods, jewellery, and gifts, and the store has beautifully eclectic decor.

Sunsais slow fashion shop in Barcelona

Olokuti is another store to check out (I believe they also have a store in the Gothic Quarter). Olokuti has a large selection of clothes including a pretty good men’s selection, as well as a lot of books, and home/lifestyle products (yoga mats, water bottles, etc.). If you’re looking for kids clothes and toys they have a kids store just down the street.

Finally Gràcia also has a vegan and natural spa called Vegere where you can get massages, facials, non-toxic mani/pedis, or have your makeup done.

Vegere vegan spa pedicure station

In the Gothic Quarter check out Humus. They have a pretty large selection of one of my favourite brands ArmedAngels, as well as other organic brands.

A few blocks up the street you can find Coshop (I think they also have a location in Gràcia as well). They carry a lot of small designers and also have their own collection of infinity dresses in tons of different colours.

Coshop eco fashion in Barcelona

 

Where to Sleep

We were travelling with some friends, so we rented an Airbnb together, but Barcelona also has some green-friendly places to stay!

Hostal Grau is an eco boutique hotel, and for a more budget-friendly option there’s Sleep Green eco youth hostel, both in nice central locations.

 

Find everything mentioned:

 

I loved Barcelona and hope to go back sometime. If you’ve been or are from there, please let me know what your favourite places are!

 

 

Simple, Safe & Eco Friendly Cleaning

My home cleaning products are super simple – these are the few ingredients I use:

I usually use the vinegar at a 50/50 ratio for both my yoga mat cleaner and cleaning around the house. The soap I typically use at a concentration of 1:10 – 1:15 with water. For the baking soda, I create a paste with water, and scrub it into the area I want to clean with a cloth.

For cleaning cloths, I use both rags from old clothes and biodegradable cellulose cloths and sponges.

 

Do you have any simple and natural cleaning recipes?

 

I will never be Zero Waste

found in low waste | 14

I’m all for reducing waste, and I think that lowering your impact and waste is an important part of living sustainably. I also make a habit of sharing low/zero waste products and solutions. However, I can’t see myself adopting a zero waste/plastic-free lifestyle with the way things currently are. Here’s why:

 

Garbage is not my top priority

Focusing on “zero waste” means prioritizing waste, but for me, other things are more important. I try my best to find products and brands that have a sustainable and ethical focus throughout their supply chain, production and use. Things like sustainable materials, quality/longevity, ethical manufacturing, low impact production, versatile styles, and supporting small, conscious businesses all come before waste for me.

For example, given the choice between an ethically-made garment from organic, fair-trade cotton shipped in a polybag or a regular cotton garment from a non-transparent brand that I can buy without the bag, I will always choose the first option. This is because I feel that supporting the first company has a much greater impact on the people throughout they supply chain and the impact that product has, than saving a plastic bag would. Also it’s important to note that most clothes are shipped in plastic bags; even if you buy the item in store, it still likely came to the store in a bag, and therefore generated the same waste. Of course; sustainable brands should be trying to reduce their waste and use sustainable packaging, and most do a very good job. However, as People Tree explains in their post, things like the use of polybags can be very difficult, and brands often have to weigh the importance of a lot of different areas to decide on the best packaging to use.

Beauty products are another example. For me, supporting a cruelty-free brand that uses high-quality, natural, non-toxic ingredients, and makes effective products is the most important. There aren’t a lot of plastic-free options with makeup; even glass containers almost always have plastic lids. If there are comparable products, I will choose the one with less packaging, but I prioritize ingredients over less plastic.

 

The guilt is real

I don’t think sustainability movements should be motivated by guilt, and I talked about this in my video on guilt and judgement. When I tried out Plastic Free July, my motivation shifted from wanting to do something positive to trying to avoid the guilt. A garment with plastic on the tag; forgetting to ask for no straw; having to buy certain groceries that aren’t available package free; the plastic packaging for medication; these things all made me feel bad. And this was only something I had to consider for a short time; I didn’t have to replace my makeup or beauty products during that month.

What keeps me motivated to live greener is knowing that I’m trying to work towards positive change, and that I’m learning, growing and improving. While I did learn a lot from trying a month of plastic-free living, instead of feeling like I was doing something good, I always felt like I was messing up, having to weigh difficult decisions, or being reminded of my “failures” by holding onto a jar of my plastic trash. Maybe over a longer period of time living this lifestyle, the feelings would’ve changed, but I definitely didn’t feel very good or motivated.

I believe in a “do good” approach instead of a “do no harm” approach; I find this positive perspective to be more effective. Usually when I talk with people who are struggling, or feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, they’re focusing on all the negative and harmful aspects of their lifestyle instead of looking at where they can make changes and have a positive impact.

 

Zero waste is very dependent on access/specialty stores and also time

Some cities are amazing and have lots of bulk options and easy access to zero waste products. We were lucky enough to have a package free store (now two!) open up in our city about a year ago, but before, there was no way to buy things like rice, dried beans/lentils, pasta, and other staple foods without plastic. Now, even though the zero waste stores are pretty great, they still have a limited selection of items and we can’t find everything. Also, while traveling, we’ll often try to save money and cook where we’re staying, but unfortunately at most grocery stories you can’t find foods plastic-free. If you don’t have access to stores that sell bulk, it’s just not a realistic lifestyle.

Additionally it often requires more time. A lot of things need to be DIY’d and it basically means the majority of pre-made, packaged foods are off the table. I really enjoy making things myself and cooking, and things like my DIY deodorant are definitely doable for me, but the reality is that making everything can take a lot of time that I don’t always have.

It can conflict with eating vegan

I have been vegetarian for over 10 years now and eating vegan/plant-based is important to me. Now that we have a package-free store we’ve been able to reduce the amount of plastic that comes with our groceries, but for some items, this is still unavoidable. For example, plant and nut milks are a staple in our fridge and we have no plastic-free options or time to DIY them. Another big one for me is vegan faux meats. Especially in the summer, when we’re barbecuing with friends, I want eating vegan to seem “normal” – i.e., I want to show that you can eat the same foods and they can be really delicious! For a lot of meat-eaters, realizing that they can still eat the foods they like and are used to, is a big part of being open to and incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet. Introducing my friends and family to meat-free options is much more important to me than avoiding plastic and giving the impression that plant-based diets are very difficult and restrictive when they don’t have to be.

 

So while zero waste is not where I choose to primarily focus my attention, I’d love to hear if you live zero waste or have tried it!  Have you encountered similar issues or conflicts?

 

 

Foundation of a Sustainable Wardrobe

 

The 4 areas I consider to be the basics of building a sustainable wardrobe are:

 

Wear – make sure you’ll actually wear and get a lot of use out of your clothes. When buying something new, commit to at least #30Wears and ask yourself questions before buying it like, ‘How often will I wear this?’. I get a lot of wear from my clothes by keeping it minimal with a capsule wardrobe.

 

Quality – buy clothes that will last, and definitely avoid anything that looks like it’s likely to fall apart or wear out after a few washes. Check the stitching and material for quality issues. More about how to identify good quality clothes.

 

Care – looking after your clothes increases their lifespan, and using low temperatures and less water lowers the environmental impact of your wardrobe. How to care for your clothes so they last.

 

Next Life – what happens to your clothes when they can’t be worn anymore or when you’re done with them? They shouldn’t be thrown away! Many textiles can be recycled or reused, and clothing in good condition should be donated or go to someone else. Watch my video about what to do with your old clothes.

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Apartment Tour

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My most requested video is finally here! I hope you enjoy this tour of our home in Germany.

My husband Ben and I try to live minimally but still have a functional space that meets our needs and feels comfortable. Even though this apartment is not the ideal place for us, I think we’ve managed to create a nice space with it that works well for our lives.

 

 

 

Fall 10×10 Challenge Recap

Fall 10×10 Challenge Recap

This year I again took part in the fall 10×10 challenge. Created by Lee Vosburgh from Style Bee, the challenge involves selecting 10 items and styling them in 10 outfits over 10 days.

What I love about this challenge is that it’s not only a great way to try out a mini capsule wardrobe, but I find it also helps you get creative with your wardrobe and try new combinations. Both times I’ve tried it I came up with new looks I really liked.

 

The 10 items I chose

From my capsule wardrobe I selected a grey cotton jumper, long shirt/dress, velvet bodysuit, black knit trousers, mustard/navy knit jumper, black hat, grey tee dress, linen skirt, heeled ankle boots, and an over-sized denim jacket. I tried to avoid items that were in my last fall 10×10, and there were two new items I specifically wanted to in my capsule (the long shirt and bodysuit) in order to use the challenge to figure out some different ways of wearing these pieces. Day 2 I actually wore them both together and even though I wasn’t sure about it at first at first, I now really love that outfit and will be repeating it often.

 

looks 1-4

This challenge confirmed that the long tencel shirt was a good choice as a new addition to my capsule wardrobe: I love it as a dress, top, or layering piece; It’s really versatile and can be styled a lot of different ways.

 

looks 5-8

I also realized I don’t wear skirts enough. I love this linen skirt but my go-to outfit is usually pants and a top, so this season I’m going to try to wear the skirt more often.

 

looks 9 & 10

 

This challenge was a lot of fun and I’m a little sad that it’s now over, although I am happy not having to take outfit photos everyday (posing for these photos was so awkward – look 8 is me just flailing around because I have no idea what to do with my limbs :P).

I highly recommend trying it, or some version of it (e.g. 6×6 or even 20×20) if you’re interested in testing out a “mini capsule” and especially if you’re feeling in a bit of a rut wearing the same outfits and want to play around with different combinations.

 

 

Have you done the 10×10 challenge, or if not, are you interested in trying it?

See the other pieces in my fall capsule wardrobe.

Shopping for Ethical Running Shoes

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Recently I needed to replace my running shoes and decided to film the process of researching and finding a new pair. This is an example of how I approach shopping for an item and dealing with not being able to find exactly what I’d like. With specialty items like this it’s often much harder to find what you’re looking for or something that “checks all the boxes” so it’s important to know your priorities and where you’re willing to compromise.

I ended up getting the Neo Run shoe from Lunge because they’re vegan, made in Germany, the company uses Oeko-Tex certified materials, and I was able to easily order them. I haven’t had them long enough to give a performance/durability review but so far I’m happy with them and they seem very comfortable.

 

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