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!

            Friday, March 1, 2013

            Fashion Friday: Wearing PJ's out!

            Happy Fashion Friday!

            A minimalist wardrobe sometimes requires you to think outside the box in order to maximize the use of the few pieces you own. My only pair of PJ's is black and silky but completely opaque, making it descent to wear out. So this week I thought "why not?".

            Wearing the top with flare pants

            Wearing the bottom with white tee and blazer

            How Zero Waste is my outfit?
            All (PJ's, sunglasses, bracelet, necklace, blazer, white tee, black flares, nude heels and purse) were purchased used. The sandals were a gift from my mom four years ago -I could not refuse them;)