Thursday, September 26, 2013

Zero Dechet Number One!

Just a quick post to announce that am in France promoting the Zero waste lifestyle. I look forward to blogging again soon.

In the meantime, I would like to share with you that my book Zero Dechet reached number one on Amazon in France today!

I am touched by this recognition, and at the same time excited for other people to embrace the lifestyle and enjoy its benefits!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Zero Dechet est sorti!

 I am so excited to announce that the French version of my book, Zero Dechet, is finally out!

Apres des mois de travail acharne pour son adaptation, c'est avec joie et beaucoup de fierte, que je vous annonce la sortie mon livre Zero Dechet en France aujourd'hui meme! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Beauty of Zero Waste: The French Market

People often ask me what the differences are between France and the US in terms of Zero Waste.

Both countries have pros and cons, but I am of an optimistic nature, so I'll focus on the pros: Great bulk can be found in the US, at the grocery store (including liquids such as castile soap, conditioner, and cooking oil); in France, at the Farmer's market.

This summer, I had the opportunity to make a quick stop in the town of Mirepoix and visit its farmer's market: The ambiance, the colors, the smells... mmm ... were amazing and the selection dreamy. I could not resist sharing this experience with you!

Pour le plaisir des yeux...



Including marinated anchovies (my fave)

Plastic-free cheese


Dried Fruit

Vanilla beans


Alum stones

Even Khol powder!

And only a block away, a small shop selling bulk wine

Disclaimer: This series is not about making you feel bad if bulk is lacking in your town. This series simply aims to share the great alternatives that I encounter throughout my personal journey, shatter preconceptions that Zero Waste is messy and unattractive, provide visual evidence that Zero Waste is beautiful, and prove that Zero Waste is possible! Overtime, I hope to compile a fantasy photo album of a Zero Waste economy, and to inspire manufacturers and retailers to adopt waste-free alternatives... they're so much prettier!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What happened?

Hi Everyone:

I hope you had a great summer. Mine sure was not what I had envisioned.

Before I left for Europe, I was working on adapting my book into French and revising its translation...
What I did not expect was the amount (and cadence) of the work ahead.

I wanted this book to carry my voice to my country of origin, and I ended up rewriting a lot of it. I went from the glamour of wearing my skirt on the set of UK's BBC Breakfast (promoting the UK version) to consecutive weeks in PJ's battling deadlines at my mother's home in the South of France. My mom fed me, took care of the laundry, the kids... I was glued to my computer from 8am to 6am (the next morning) for days in a row, my mind fueled by coffee, my eyes irritated by too much screen time and not enough rest. Leo kissed me goodbye on his way out the door to an overnight camp; on his return a week later, he found me wearing the same PJ's sitting in the same spot... "Have you been crying?", he asked.

I did make my deadlines in the end, but I worked so hard that I was not able to enjoy this visit with my kids, my mom and my nieces. I hope that my sacrifice will pay off, that the French public will be grateful for all that I have invested in this French version of my book.

A few weeks ago, I came back to the US exhausted, in great need of not only sleep, but also screen rest. We took a road/camp trip through Oregon, and as those who follow me on social media noticed, I eventually emerged back into cyberspace. And then I read your comments...

I am sorry for the long absence, I am sorry for worrying some of you, I am sorry for the lack of consistency regarding the skirt experiment. I was forced to prioritize my time and put the experiment on the back burner - heck, I did not have time to get out of my PJ's, even less to put on a skirt! ;)

My first week back, I filmed with three different shows for five days straight (local news, French news, and a French documentary). This week is filled with interviews, the next, I will be speaking in Fremantle, Australia at 2013 Waste and Recycling Conference. Just know that even if I sometimes seem absent on the blog, I am working hard to spread the word about the lifestyle. You do not need to worry about me giving up!

Here is a recap of the 30 ways that I wore the long black skirt:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

30 Ways to wear a long skirt - Day one

Sorry for not posting in a while: I have been working overtime in translating (and adapting) my book to French and answering the demands and interest of international media (a great sign that the word of Zero Waste is spreading and the world intrigued by change!) .

In the midst of that, I made my annual trip to Europe. I will be here for 30 days, mixing work and pleasure, and as you guessed it, I am taking on a challenge similar to last year's: Wearing a long skirt 30 different ways.

Presenting to you:  The skirt. Long, black, slit in the back, made of a matte jersey knit (for some reason, the pictures make it look shiny) and fitted (I took it in at the seams to fit me).

To allow for maximum versatility and accommodate a variety of climates (from cold/rainy to hot/dry) and events (from hiking to TV appearances), I brought 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 5 pairs of shoes and 3 toppers (all naturally fit in my carry-on, along a jar with our year's trash (long story).

Everyday, I will post a different way of wearing the skirt through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Today is Day One: Strapless dress with a side slit.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Party Time! Zero Waste style.

This weekend, I threw a cocktail party to celebrate my becoming an author. Our house's size limited our guest list, nonetheless, forty people RSVP'd. My full time work schedule did not give me much time to get ready. On Friday, I tackled the grocery shopping armed with a shopping list and a basket full of jars; Saturday, I worked from morning till 6:45pm, just in time to take a quick shower, take a few pictures to share with you and welcome our first guests.

My book describes Zero Waste entertaining, so this post is to show how I put some of my tips into practice.

Here is how we managed to make our soiree a Zero Waste event:

Glassware and plates

As mentioned before, when we host parties bigger than our table can sit (10) we serve a buffet of finger foods with our stack of cloth napkins (I only have 32, but was not worried about running out for our 40 guests, as I have learned from previous experiences that only half the guests actually use a napkin for finger foods). Our everyday glassware (two full shelves, about 50 pieces) eliminate our need for disposables. Our everyday (white ceramic) and camping (polished stainless) plates served as platters, a handful of turkey lacers as reusable toothpicks, and jars of plant trimmings as decorative items.

Reusable Ware


To simplify my cooking, I took full advantage of items sold loose in my grocery store (one stop shop), including the salad bar, olive bar, prepared food counter, meat counter, fish counter, and cheese counter using jars; the bulk bins and bakery using cloth bags; and, the produce aisle using mesh bags. I also used home-grown and foraged (neighbor) herbs. Our menu consisted of:

  • Pistachios (bulk bin)
  • Black olives (olive bar)
  • Green olives (olive bar)
  • Leo's breadsticks: He rolled leftover dough (onion tartlets) in a beaten egg, then in grated parmesan cheese (salad bar)

A few snacks

Veggies and Cheese
  • Zucchini (produce aisle) slices topped with a chickpea mixture: Marinated chickpeas (olive bar), blended with an immersion blender and seasoned with ground cumin (bulk bin) 
  • Mini Skewers of mozzarella balls, asparagus and cherry tomatoes: The ingredients consisted of a salad (prepared food counter), which we then separated and skewered onto turkey lacers.
  • Onion tartlets: Homemade using bulk ingredients
  • Eggplant spread and blinis: Homemade using bulk ingredients
  • Marinated chili peppers (olive bar) stuffed with a mixture of feta cheese (salad bar) and cream (reusable bottle), then tipped in freshly ground pepper (bulk bin)
  • Celery sticks (produce aisle) filled with a blue cheese (salad bar) mixture and a pecan (bulk bin) 
  • Goat cheese balls: I rolled the mixture used to stuffed the chili peppers in 3 different ingredients, including chopped celery leaves (discards of previous appetizer), chopped herbs (home-grown), and chopped almonds (bulk bins). I hid a snap pea (produce aisle) for extra crunch in the first two types.
  • Veggies (produce aisle) and hummus dip (salad bar)
  • Three types of cheese (cheese counter) on a platter and toasted baguette (stale baguette)

Veggie and Cheese Appetizers

  • Pate with toasted baguette and cornichons (recipe and origin of ingredients here)
  • Chicken and Quinoa meatballs (prepared foods counter) with their honey-mustard dip (homemade using the recipe provided in the book by replacing sugar with honey).

Pate and Baguette

  • Smoked Salmon (fish counter) and lemon rind (produce aisle) on Blinis (homemade using bulk ingredients)
  • Salmon Sushi: Homemade using fresh salmon (fish counter) on sushi rice (bulk bin, using a mixture of bulk apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to season the cooked rice), and a drop of homemade horseradish (recipe in the book).
  • Baked cheesy (grated, salad bar) shrimp (fish counter) toasts (stale baguette): This appetizer was my only hot item; once guests arrive I want to join the party and give them my full attention!

Smoked Salmon on blinis, topped with lemon  rind.

  • Five types of cookies (bakery self serve)
  • Malt balls (bulk bin)
  • Sugar coated peanuts: Homemade using salted peanuts (bulk bin)
  • Fresh strawberries (produce aisle)


  • Revive Kombucha, sold in reusable growlers at our grocery store (the bottles are returned to customer service to be reused by the company)
  • Two types of beer, the growlers of which we get refilled at our local brewery
  • Red and White wine, the bottles of which we get refilled at a local winery
  • House Cocktail: Vodka (360 brand, available in flip-top bottles which we reuse for wine refills), French pomegranate lemonade (the bottles of which we also reuse for wine refills) and orange juice (I reuse and fill our milk bottles from the squeezing machine in my grocery store)
  • Flavored water: Rosemary and Lemon, simply squeezed into flip top bottles and then filled with water.

Cocktail and Flavored Waters

These accompanied with beautiful weather, great music and our favorite people, made for a successful and memorable event. And even a couple of days worth of leftovers!

Have a party scheduled? Questions? Ask away!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Wardrobe Inventory in Pictures

After a month dedicated to our new Bulk app, back to our regular blog schedule...

First off, let me thank those of you who thought of posting a review for my book on Amazon! I am humbled by your response and excited about your positive feedback enticing new readers to embark on this incredible lifestyle! Your time is well appreciated; its ripple effect will change the world (literally), and I feel motivated to share more of the lifestyle with you...

As many of you already know, I have vouched to only buying secondhand clothing and my bi-annual clothes thrifting was a month ago. Many of you have asked for a post about it, so here are the highlights of my inventory changes:
  • Exchanging my white button down shirt for my girlfriend's chambray one (for extra color), my grey shorts for sparkly black ones (for extra texture), and my pink skorts for a gold skirt (for extra fun)
  • Introducing a tube type piece in each of these three categories: Tops, dresses, and bottoms for maximum versatility (they can all be worn as tops or bottoms)
  • Swapping my nude pumps for black pointy toe heels, large sunglasses for a funkier style, and all my jewelry pieces for fresh ones - including a locket ring which now keeps my lip balm handy. 
I bought a few "extras" for me to test the first couple of weeks and to then narrow my inventory down to my set number of pieces by choosing those that fit me best and are most versatile. By now, the not-so-good options that did not make the cut have already have been donated -so have the extra pieces that I purchased for the boys to allow them to chose their favorite styles from a selection (they were not able to come with me to the store  this time).  I wish I had a bit more color in my inventory, but I am pretty happy with what I found in the thrift stores within the limited time I had, and I sure scored on deals... I even found a $10 bill in one of the kids' jeans that I purchased for $2!

I am now set for the next 6 months and ready to REUSE and explore my minimalist secondhand wardrobe as much as possible... and here it is in pictures! - pardon the white on white items;).

Questions? Ask away in the comments!

Tops and Sweaters






Note: I purchased an "extra" piece that I will unveil before my annual trip to France;). Can you sense a new summer challenge coming on? ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bulk App Update

A post by my husband, Scott, who has spent way more time on this app than I have (and still does): He is the technical brain in our home and I love him for it! 

Thank you everyone for trying out our Bulk locator app!

So far we have had over 1400 people sign up, almost 600 locations added to the app, with over 600 reviews of those locations. 

Also, thank you for your patience as we work out some of the bugs in version 1.0 of this app...there is nothing like having 1400 people use the app, in order to find out what works and what does not work! And we greatly appreciate your suggestions.

Clearly this first release was targeted at just the US & Canada - but in fact, people were able to successfully add locations in Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.

Our initial release was constrained by available time and funds - but we would like to build on the functionality to include:
  • International mapping support
  • Additional platforms besides the iPhone and Android (e.g., PC, Windows mobile)
  • Ability to check for duplicate locations (right now, unless users check if a location has already been entered prior to adding it, I have to "delete" duplicates sorry about that!)
  • Ability to add comments
  • and more...
We have exhausted our funding from the Green Awards for this project - so we are now looking into raising funds possibly through Kickstarter to be able to enhance and support the Bulk app further.

For us, the best part of releasing this app was finding a new Bulk location on a weekend visit to Santa Rosa, 50 miles north of our home, and discovering a great store (the Community Market), with an incredible bulk selection. You should have seen the sparkle in Bea's eye;)

This location also happens to be one of several locations that have received the most ratings:
  • Whole Foods in Pasadena, CA
  • Sacramento Natural Foods Coop in Sacramento, CA
  • Community Market in Santa Rosa, CA
  • The Refill Shoppe in Ventura, CA
  • Refyll Home and Body at the Mar Vista Farmers Market in Los Angeles, CA
  • MOM's Organic Market  in Alexandria, VA
  • Town and Country Market in Bainbridge Island, WA
So thank you for continuing to share and rate your local bulk suppliers! You are the force behind this app, the locations that YOU add (and rate) make it a great resource for the entire Zero Waste community.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Bulk Locator App is out!

Tired of fiddling with packaging? Want to help the environment? Shopping the package-free aisles can 
also save you time and money, but only if you know where to find them! 

When I started my Zero Waste journey, I had no idea that bulk bins even existed in my town. Then when I found them and realized that I could eliminate all food packaging by solely relying on them, I came to dream of a smartphone "app" that could locate nearby bulk suppliers. The prize money that I received for winning The Green Awards (thanks to your support) allowed me to realize my dream and provide Zero Waste enthusiasts a valuable resource. After a long year of design, development and testing, it is my pleasure to finally present you with BULK, Zero Waste Home's app, designed to help you eliminate packaging from your life, by pointing to bulk food bins and liquid refills near you - and letting you share the locations that you find with others!

The app is available in the iTunes App Store and Android Market and itfeatures include:
  • Search, add and rate bulk locations (US and Canada), including selection available and whether or not reusable containers are permitted
  • Locate businesses closest to you or a specific address
  • Narrow your search by bulk type (are you looking to refill on body care, dog food, wine?)
  • Build a bulk-shopping kit through Zero Waste Home's store
  • Consult a bulk food guide to learn how to prepare bulk food items
  • Read Community Updates from
As of yesterday some 175 Users were already using it and have entered 120 Places. But we need YOU, the entire Zero Waste Community to populate it, to share those locations that you have found along your journey. Here is what to do:  
  • Download the app
  • Add your locations
  • Rate existing locations
  • Report an issue if you find a problem with a location ("Report Issue" at the bottom of the location page)
  • Rate the app...positively of course;) so that others will be inspired to add and rate locations!
    Where have you found bulk bins? (Answer this question by entering locations in the app!)

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Zero Waste Home Book is out!

    My book, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Wasteis out and I couldn't be more ecstatic about its release! 

    This book is a personal achievement; a dream that I would have never thought possible - when I came to America at the age of 18, my English skills were so poor that I couldn't even order a hamburger at a restaurant! But the reason behind this book - spreading the word about Zero Waste is what will bring me the most lasting contentment. I am honored to be messenger of the Zero Waste lifestyle.  It has done wonders for our family, providing us financial stability, health improvements and efficiency, and resulting in a richer, healthier and happier life. And I can only imagine what it would do for a society if all its people embraced it as a whole - yes, I dream big;). How grateful our planet, our health, our budget, and our children would be! 

    Imagine if we all de-cluttered our homes, and donated and shared those items that sit unused in our closets: Strains on our natural resources would be relieved and the secondhand market boosted (Imagine the great selection at your local thrift store!); Cleaning our homes would be a breeze and we'd have more time to spend with our loved ones.

    Imagine if we all took steps to fight junk mail instead of just throwing it into the recycling bin: Marketers would choose other means of advertisement; Forests would grow, our tax dollars could be spent on education, and our time used doing something important.

    Imagine if we all realized that shopping is voting and thought hard before buying: Products that are harmful to our health and the environment would disappear. And if we all avoided buying plastics, our oil dependence would subside (gas prices would drop) and so would the wars and conflicts to obtain it. We would not have to research its adverse effects on our health or dwell on the "plastic soup" that floats in our oceans, but focus our energy on fixing the problems that we have created.

    Imagine if we all stopped sending our hard-earned money to landfills (which is ultimately what we do when we discard of disposables), if we all embraced the reusable alternatives proposed in my book and eliminated disposable trash liners, paper towels, paper napkins, flatware, plates, foil, wax paper, food wrap, food storage bags, toothpicks, razors, feminine products, band aids, tissue paper, gift wrap, sponges, wipes, staples, markers, etc. (to name a few)We could spend our dollar on experiences instead. We could focus on living rather than discarding.

    Just imagine if we all aimed at Being rather than Having! 

    Maybe I am a dreamer, I dream of a peaceful and a brighter future for my children. Or maybe I am a believer. I believe in the power of community and I believe in the power of individual action. Or maybe I am a clairvoyant. I can see the key to a better world in your hand, I can see the Zero Waste community waiting for you to join, I can see YOU transforming your life.

    And it starts here, today!

    Note: If you're local... I have donated my copy to the Mill Valley Library for your enjoyment;)

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    The Beauty of a Zero Waste essential: The Refillable Fountain Pen

    "My pens are my babies and they drink from their bottles" Shangas - on the Fountain Pen Network Forum

    My blog series The beauty of Zero Waste and Zero Waste Essential respectively point to the beauty that Zero Waste has brought into my life and the objects (or skills) that I have deemed necessary to achieve as close to Zero Waste as possible. The Refillable Fountain Pen applies to both.

    Fountain pen fitted with a converter
    In our digital and (increasingly) paperless age, handwriting is slowly losing ground. Elementary grades are substituting penmanship for keyboard skills. Teachers use the computer as an educational tool and note taking apps are replacing even the most spontaneous form of writing.  In an effort to save paper, I do not use handwriting much either. Apart from filling a homemade notebook with ideas and drawing my own illustrations (time constraints and consideration for my publisher's sense of smell put an end to my feather and squid ink dreams), my book was completely done digitally.  I touched my paperback for the first time on The Jeff Probst Show, scheduled to air on May 14th. So much of my work is done on the computer (typing about the Zero Waste lifestyle), over the phone (interviews, suggestions), or in person (speeches, media participation, consultations), that I now consider handwriting a treat...

    The Zero Waste lifestyle inspires us to revisit nostalgic basics, and readopt practices that we shouldn't have dropped in the first place. Growing up in France, the use of the fountain pen was an integral part of my education (as it still is for French pupils today), yet I eventually dropped it for cheap ballpoint duplicates. Then when I embarked on Zero Waste, I opted for a ballpoint refillable model. But given the wasteful packaging that refills come in, I eventually realized that a refillable fountain pen was the most waste-free alternative for ink writing. And, boy do I love using mine: Writing with a fountain pen is as enjoyable as using a cloth napkin, or a ceramic plate. The reusable, durable alternatives, heighten the user's experience and respect for the item: You do not treat a fountain pen, a cloth napkin, or a ceramic plate as you would their disposable counterparts. Each use is a pleasure!

    The few writing opportunities that still present themselves should follow Zero Waste principles. If you are in the market for a fountain pen, here are some pointers for choosing the right model:
    Piston Fountain Pen with ink window
    • Look for a vintage model. For secondhand purchases involving specific criteria, I like eBay. Make sure to select the "used" box in the options on the left hand side of the page before launching a search and request "paper or cardboard only" for shipping at check out. You can also visit a pawn shop or a consignment store for this particular item, but they tend to be "hit or miss".
    • Look for a fountain pen model that will accept (or come with) a converter, which is a removable and refillable cartridge, or choose a piston model (my preference) which is refilled by turning a knob at the end of the pen (called a blind cap). The piston is a fixed filling mechanism, an integral part of the pen (the barrel is the reservoir) so it will hold more ink, and it's faster and less messy to fill. Both are pictured above. If you already have a fountain pen, the manufacturer might carry a converter for your model!
    • Look for quality: I purchased the converter model above for Léo, but the quality turned out to be poor and the ink delivery inconsistent. I purchased a Mont Blanc for myself (a childhood dream), and I have found the quality to be unsurpassed, a real difference in the writing experience: Smooth and enjoyable. As with anything else, quality is worth the cost.
    Bottled ink
    • Look for a model with an ink window so you know when to refill your pen. You don't want to run out when you're about to sign a million dollar contract or your first book;)
    • Purchase a bottle of ink. Choose glass (with a metal cap if possible). For the Quink brand pictured, you'll have a choice between permanent and washable. I chose the former so it cannot be erased. Honestly, I did not research inks, when I bought my jar, I just wanted to support my local stationary store; Parker Quink is the only option they offered.
    My pen will be busy signing books at Book Passage in Corte Madera on April 13th (4pm). I hope to meet some of you there (whether or not you have a physical book for me to sign)!

    Thursday, March 28, 2013

    Zero Waste Essential: Positivity

    Someone recently asked me how I stay upbeat: "How do you not let the weight of our environmental situation get you down?" 

    Every year, Earth Month (April) hits our lives and disturbs our mindsets with a surge of ecological facts... so much information being shared about the sad state of the environment, it's easy to feel saddened by the situation. And of course, when Earth day is everyday with the Zero Waste lifestyle, it's natural to feel frustrated along the way (as I have described here). You even come to wish you did not know as much as you do. It's a common feeling that we all share on our road to Zero. It certainly affected me at one point, but rest assured that with commitment, these frustrations subside.

    Here are 5 ways that I found to remedy depression caused by environmental awareness:

    1. Retrain your eye. When I started paying attention to waste, I started noticing all the trashy practices around me (the negative). Today, I have learned to focus on the bright side; to pay attention to the solutions (positive). I don't look for disposable cups in people hands, I look for the reusable ones being carried. I don't look at the plastic bag of potatoes in the produce aisle (ugh), I look at the beautiful pile of loose ones (ahh). 
    2. Have a good sense of humor. I was recently invited to a sustainable event.  They served wine in disposable plastic cups and after a long day of work, I was dying for that drink. Five years ago, I would have whined about the plastic cup. Today, I enjoy the challenge of finding a solution on the spot. Ironically, I noticed that flowers were drinking out of glass jars (vases), people out of plastic ones. I took a vase and someone's used plastic cup,  and after a little hand-washing at the bathroom sink, my problem was solved - and I was a happy camper with a glass of wine in hand...
    3. Live by example/Walk the talk. I felt angry at the world when I considered the environmental problems to be irreversible and my actions to be too small to make a difference. But once I had a system in place to tackle our waste as much as possible, we became part of the solution and frustrations slowly went away to make room for peace. I stopped worrying about what other people do, and started only worrying about my own actions. Not only is the Zero Waste lifestyle good for the environment, it makes you feel good about what you do, knowing that every purchase, every decision is thought out and every time you shop with reusables your actions are noticed by others and may inspire change. 
    4. Let your voice be heard. I can't say it loud and clear enough: Accepting is condoning. When we partake in an unsustainable practice without taking action against it, we not only get frustrated but we also perpetuate the wasteful method and silently ask for more, which then leads to more frustration! And with the frustration locked up inside us, negativity inevitably starts eating us up (I found this to be particularly true of relationships, but to also be true in this case). Today, I speak up and effectively address these issues on the spot. Taking action (see active discards) and demanding change turns the problem back at its originators, clearing my head of negative thoughts and making room for positive ones! 
    5. Get out more and hug someone (or as a default, hug a tree). There is nothing better for me to de-stress, renew my energy (get rid of the negative one), than to take a walk outside (which I have permanently scheduled into my weekly planner) or hug my family. Can't get enough of either. It's as simple as that.

    What helps you beat the depression that comes from environmental awareness?

    Note:  I am no longer posting Fashion Friday on the blog- but I will be  and posting it on Facebook and Tweeting it @ZeroWasteHome.

              Friday, March 22, 2013

              Fashion Friday: Another Way to Wear the LBD

              What a busy last two weeks! They went so fast that I failed to post last week's Fashion Friday.
              This is my pick for this week. I wore this from an interview to the grocery store to a girl's night out, and my whole (secondhand) outfit cost $14...

              Wednesday, March 13, 2013

              Zero Waste Home Essential: Commitment

              Filling pockets with beach litter
              And being an embarrassment to my teenage boys.

              In a recent interview, I was asked to quantify Zero Waste. "For example, if someone refuses junkmail, is he/she 10% or maybe 40% of the way to Zero Waste?"

              I went home shuffling numbers in my head and a couple of headaches later, asked for Scott's input (he is the left side of our household's brain) . We sat down, and for two hours tried to come up with percentages to define one's progress towards Zero Waste. But we soon realized that our assignment was pointless. In conjunction with following the 5R's in order, getting as close to Zero Waste as possible boils down to one fundamental element: Commitment.

              If we keep putting Zero Waste (or voluntary simplicity) on the back burner for various reasons ("I don't have time for this" being the most common), change does not happen, routine sets back in. I found that a zero-tolerance policy was the best way for our household to tackle its waste issues head-on and to adopt Zero Waste practices as quickly as possible. Commitment can feel torturous or simply inconvenient at times, especially at first, when you train yourself to change bad habits. For example, I hated going back to my car when I forgot to bring my tote into the store, but commitment forced me to adopt a system and in five years, I've only had to accept one (paper) grocery bag (that was three years ago, on a weekend getaway). Commitment is the best way to make big strides. When we started, it catapulted our progress; today it keeps our yearly trash tally from growing again.

              Here are 10 examples when Zero Waste is a pain, but where commitment makes a real difference on how fast and how close you get to Zero:
              1. Going back to your car (or home), if you forgot to bring your reusable bags (you can also carry things in your arms or simply transfer them loose from your cart into your car trunk). 
              2. Bringing jars to the grocery store or a plate to the pizza parlor knowing you'll get weird looks.
              3. Making do with the available bulk, even when you get tired of its selection.
              4. Taking time to stop a piece of junkmail, and spending money to mail an active discard.
              5. Paying more for a used item or a repair, knowing you can buy new for cheaper.
              6. Not settling for an inferior product at the store (i.e., not buying a plastic item, because the store is out of the glass version) and going home empty-handed (Shopping is voting!)
              7. Leaving a place better than you found it, even if it embarrasses your teenage boys ;)
              8. Saying no to the straw even if it makes a milkshake or a glass filled with ice harder to drink.
              9. Using Zero Waste deodorant, knowing that it does not block sweat in stressful situations.
              10. Forcing yourself to finish your plate when your ordered too much at a restaurant because you do not want to use a disposable container (you forgot yours).
              Once you're motivated to reduce your waste, there is no other way to getting as close to Zero as possible than being fully committed and commitment is the fastest way there too. How committed are you?

              Friday, March 8, 2013

              Mini Wardrobe Fave: The LBD

              It's already Friday! Sorry for not being very present on the blog this week. Things have been quite busy on the Zero Waste Home Facebook page -Thank you FB fans for your overwhelming response to the pictures that I posted. I have very much enjoyed sharing my simple lifestyle with you and getting to know you better!

              Today, I am sharing an obvious, yet important element of a capsule wardrobe: the Little Black Dress. I bought mine off a $2 rack at the thrift store three years ago, and if you've followed my media coverage, you've probably noticed that this dress is my go-to-outfit when I do not know what to wear ;). This dress is super versatile; it can easily be dressed up for a party, or down for the beach. I have had so much fun playing around for these photos, I hope they inspire you to play around with your LBD too!

              Worn alone

              With a white blouse underneath

              On top of jeans

              Topped with a striped long sleeve (Max's hat on my head)

              Worn as a top, under a leather skirt

              Belted at the hips 

              Paired with flares

              Topped with a nude tank

              Under an overcoat

              Topped with a white blazer 

              Worn as a top, under a colorful skirt

              Belted at the waist

              Happy Friday!