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Environmental

environmental– lifestyle

Using Things Up: Declutter Your Life

Over the past 3 years our purchasing of consumable goods has decreased dramatically. In the past I loved buying skincare, make-up & haircare products. I was attracted to the next shiny “must have” cream, spray, lotion….. The old items would be pushed to the back of the cupboard, out of sight & would sit there for months/years. Resulting in a bathroom cabinet full of stuff, 90% of which were not being used.

Since we started reducing our waste & simplifying our lifestyle we ensure we use up every last bit of product we buy. We don’t want items sitting in our cupboards for months or even years. As you know we live in a small 1-bedroom apartment so space is limited. In addition, we don’t want all the space filled with things, empty space is so calming.

We are finally getting to a stage that we have used up most items in our bathroom cupboard & are left with the items we use regularly. We have given some of the lotions to neighbours & have used up the other products ourselves. It feels so satisfying to completely use up a lotion. We cut the bottle in half to scrape out every last bit. No wasters in our home;-)

The idea of buying something to use for a special occasion no longer is an option. I would buy an expensive lipstick or candle and only use for a special night! Life is too short for that! No more red lipsticks though….1 is enough;-)

My make-up and skincare routine have been simplified. I know the products I love & I use every last bit before I repurchase. Simplifying these areas of my life has been great, I have less decisions to make every morning as nothing changes, I’m ok with that. Too many options for me is a bad thing. Keep it simple. Id rather save my brain cells for other more important areas in my life.

Decluttering our life has made a huge impact on how much space we have in our home & has saved us lots of money. We purchase what we need. Often we purchase items which are multipurpose like castile soap & bread soda, the only cleaning agents you need. I should also mention coconut oil as we use it for cooking & for skincare.

One area that I need to address next is the box of travel size lotions & potions I have collected over the years from hotels & travelling. These need a new home & we need to start using them up. That is one of my new habits is not to take the travel size toiletries from the hotel! I never use them and they are super wasteful.

Have a look in your cupboards & see if there are items which have the same function, try using the old one up first & promise not to impulse buy again. It takes time but the money & space you will save will be worth it. Put the money towards a holiday or dinner with friends instead. The best of luck with the decluttering.

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

How to Care for Your Clothes & Extend the Life of your Wardrobe

For the past few years George & myself have been reducing the amount of clothing we purchase. We are consciously making an effort to take care of our current wardrobe so it last for years. There are several steps we are taking to help extend the life of our clothes.

  1. Read the care instructions on clothing labels

Become familiar with the fabrics your clothes are made from & how to take care of these fabrics. Look at the tags on the inside of each garment. Wash & iron accordingly. Use gentle laundry detergent, avoid all chemicals by making your own. Simply mix castile soap, borax & water. We use this for our clothes & it works perfectly.

  1. Do not put your clothes in the drier, air dry instead

We rarely use the drier to dry our clothes. The drier is harsh on clothing, it can misshape & shrink your clothes too. To extend the life of your garments avoid the drier. We like to hang our clothes on a clothes horse which we place in our bedroom. Our clothes dry within 24 hours.

  1. Iron, fold & hang your clothes

Ironing your garments according to the care label or material will keep the shape & style of your clothes. Compare a ironed shirt to an non-ironed shirt, it’s a much more polished & put together look. You will want to wear your clothes when you go to the effort of ironing them as they look brand new. After ironing make sure to hang or fold your clothes properly. Get hangers to fit your clothes & fold all knits so they wont loose their shape. Create enough of space in your wardrobe so your clothes can breathe. Donate or sell clothes you do not wear to create space. Have your closet looking like a boutique rather than a jammed packed thrift store. Not only is space good for the clothes, you will be able to see what’s in your closet too.

  1. Remove stains, mend & repair clothes & shoes

Don’t let stains sit on your clothes for days. Spot clean the stain immediately by using soap & water. If laundry day is not for a couple of days ensure to clean the stain well and maybe leave soaking overnight in soap & water. For tougher stains apply a more heavy-duty stain remover. Mend any missing buttons & tears in your clothing. Learn how to sew & repair tears. Practice is all it takes & maybe a few YouTube videos if you are like me 😉 Bring your shoes & boots to the cobbler for repair. The cobbler will extend the life of your favourite shoes & boots. Ensure to check all clothing & shoes at the end of each season before storing clothes away for any repairs that need to be done. Complete all repairs before putting your garments into storage.

  1. Wash your clothing less

We tend to wash our clothes too much. Items like jeans and knits don’t need to be washed after each time you wear them. Freshen them up by hanging them outside in the fresh air or in the bathroom after a hot bath or shower. You will see that the jeans & knits will last so much longer.

  1. Store your seasonal clothes away at the end of each season

Find yourself some large vacuum zip lock bags or under the bed storage boxes from Ikea to store seasonal clothes away. Fold all the clothes nicely, ensure they are all clean & repairs mended before storing. Wipe down all shoes and store them in shoe bags with your seasonal garments. Before I store away large knits that I wore for a couple of seasons I will bring them to the dry cleaners so they are fresh for the following year. For large coats I will also dry clean but leave hanging in the coat closet with a protector cover over them. Removing seasonal clothes from your closet will create space & keep your closet current with fresh new styles. #shopyourcloset.

  1. Buy quality garments made from natural fibres

When purchasing clothes pre-loved or new ensure the quality is there before buying. Ask yourself if this garment will look good after 3 washes? What material is it made from? Does it have to be dry cleaned? (personally, I stay away from these) The materials we like to buy are cotton, wool, silk, hemp & leather. We find these materials last the best and are easiest to take care of.

These are our top tips for extending the life of your wardrobe. Remember quality over quantity, look for pre-loved clothing made from natural fibres & avoid trends so that we will have a timeless wardrobe that will last a life time. For more insights into clothing care & the capsule wardrobe check out uselessdk.com, Signe has loads of great tips;-)

Thanks so much for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

 

 

 

Life with No Television: Our Reasons Why & What has Changed

Over the past couple of years, the amount of time we spend each evening watching TV has reduced. We both love watching TV, George loves a good TV series & movie, I love any reality TV show that exposes talent like American Idol, Britain’s got Talent, Dancing with the Stars & The Voice. TV can be a great distraction after a stressful day, it can fill in time when you are bored & can be used to switch off the mind and just veg out. However, watching it every day and using it as a form of procrastination and avoidance is where it turns into a health issue.

There were days we would both come home from work, eat dinner and put on a good show and watch about 3 episodes and go to bed. Our evenings were spent watching TV. We were both with each other but not really connecting. There was very little conversation and we were falling into a routine of our evenings been taken over by the TV screen.

When I look back now, I cannot believe we were like that because we are the total opposite now. How did this change come about? I don’t believe it was one incident but many different things happening over a period of about 2-3 years.

A couple of years ago we watched a really cool documentary called “No Impact Man” about a couple in New York who made major live changes for 1 year to drastically reduce the amount of waste they produced & energy they consumed. This show had such a huge effect on us & is definitely one of the major reasons we decided to reduce our waste.

They recommended that we all should have at least 1 night a week with no electricity which would have a drastic effect on the amount of energy we would waste, they called it Eco night. We adopted Eco night and every Wednesday we do not use any power for the evening. We light candles, read books, play boardgames, have long baths and go to bed super early (Winter). We love them. As a result, no TV watching can happen on this night and this routine of not watching TV gradually extended over time.

Eco night in action

The above couple were very inspiring but we needed to figure out why we wanted to reduce the amount of TV we were watching. We had a conversation regarding where we wanted our lives to go over the next 5-10 years and it was pretty obvious; we needed all the time we could get to work on the areas that needed work.

I decided to go back to school & complete a project management course with UBC part-time in the evenings and weekends for 3 months, George wanted to write a book. Studying and writing need a lot of time & both of us had full time jobs. We got up earlier in the mornings to work on our projects but we also needed all the time we had in the evenings too. This was the first real eye opener for us as to how much time we were wasting in the evenings watching TV. We got so much accomplished with our projects because we had no time for television. We wanted to carry this insight forward and apply it to other personal projects that we always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do them.

For example, I started a cooking blog and challenged myself for 1 year to see if I could keep it up, could I commit to something for that long and would I be consistent. The blog itself was very basic and I had 2 followers (my sisters), I don’t even think I made it public it was a personal challenge to see if I could do it. Anyone who writes or blogs knows that a lot of time and effort needs to go into keeping a blog going. This is what I started doing in the evenings instead of watching TV. Of course, there were times I was not in the mood at all for any of my projects and I watched TV but I always felt bad after it.

We both started reading more books on productivity, both for work & personal use. Basically, all of these books advised against watching TV and outlined how much time is wasted watching TV when you could be using your time much more wisely to achieve something you always wanted to achieve.  We started listing the important daily activities that made us feel good. Examples we listed were; exercise, getting outdoors, cooking, reading, writing & self-care. We incorporated these feel good activities into our days and gradually overtime the TV melted into the background.

We basically banned watching TV from Monday to Thursday. Eventually we really didn’t see the point to having a 36” flat screen smart TV in our small apartment. It was the focal point of our living area but it no longer was the focal point of our lives. We set a date for when we would put the TV up for sale, after the last episode of Game of Thrones in June 2019. We posted the sale that evening on Facebook and the TV was picked up the next day.

What our dresser looks like now without the TV

I have to say I panicked a little bit when I came back up to the apartment and there was a huge empty gap on the TV stand. Doubts went through my head if we had made the right decision. We have a baby on the way, would we not need a TV to relax after a hard day or will the child miss out with not having a TV? By the next day I was over my fears and was determined more than ever that this was the best decision for our family. In truth we don’t want to go back to our old ways of mindlessly watching TV…. especially when we have a child. We don’t want to be watching TV when we should be in bed resting and catching up on lost sleep. If we want to see a movie, we will go to the theatre to see it. If we want to see a TV really badly, we have a Netflix account that we can use on our laptop. We don’t need a HUGE TV taking up space and tempting us to turn it on.

We have no TV for almost 2 months now, it’s been great. The best thing for me is that the huge black screen is not facing me when I sit on our couch, instead it has been replaced with plants which are so much nicer. I feel the atmosphere has changed in our living space, it seems brighter and more spacious.

In addition, when we watch a TV show (Ozark) or movie at the weekend it’s a treat & we really enjoy it. We don’t feel bad or guilty about it because we have worked on all our other projects during the week and this is like a reward for getting our shit done.

We would not be able to write blogs, write books, read, cook, exercise, draw, paint, connect with friends if we still were the TV watchers we once were. We are so much happier without the TV. I believe the root to why we got rid of the TV was the fact we decided we wanted more with our lives. We wanted to achieve more in our personal time, we wanted to work on dreams & goals of our own. With the advice & guidance from productivity books it was clear if we wanted to achieve our goals while working in full time jobs, we needed our free time after work & the weekends.

Sit and think about what you want to achieve in your life, how can you break that down into daily tasks. How many hours would you need to spend on those tasks? Where in your life can you make up that time? Look at your TV and ask yourself how much time I spend watching it…….is it time to make the change?

Thanks for reading everyone,

I hope you found this helpful.

As always, we would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have.

Have a great week,

Theresa xxx

How We Reduced Our Waste in 2018: What’s Next?

Over the past year, especially the last 8 months we have become more aware of how much waste we create. This awareness was aided by many external influences like, Netflix documentaries, books & Instagram feeds.

It slowly became apparent that we spent money without thinking.

We didn’t think beyond the reward itself; for example, a plastic carton of tomatoes, the tomatoes were the reward, no thought was given to the life cycle of the plastic carton. The thought ended with getting really nice tomatoes, not where is that recyclable plastic carton going to end up? Or was it necessary to purchase tomatoes in a plastic carton in the first place?

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We have become people who question each purchase, is it worth it? will it have a negative effect on the environment?, can we buy it second hand?, how long do we want it to last to get value for money?, will this make me happy next year?, will I wear this in 5 years’ time?, could I resell this?, would someone else like to use this when we are finished with it? Can I purchase this package free in this store or another store?

Shopping now is a lot more meaningful and true value is associated with each purchase we make. For the majority of time we like to buy consciously, however there are always moments where a purchase just has to be made for convenience. Like when the store doesn’t have your toilet roll that comes wrapped in paper instead of plastic, you have to buy the plastic wrapped paper. Sometime these things happen.

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As we continue on our journey of reducing our waste and living with the items that we truly love, we pause for a moment to reflect on how well we have done to reduce our waste. We are hoping this reflection will inspire us for 2019.

See the list below on the items we no longer buy and what we use instead to reduce our waste:

Things we no longer buy Replacements
Dry goods that come wrapped in plastic Dry goods from bulk using reusable bags
Shower gels, hand soaps, Shampoo’s, Conditioners in bottles Refills at bulk store with castile soap, shampoo & conditioner bars
Toilet roll wrapped in plastic Toilet roll wrapped in paper
Laundry detergent in plastic containers Borax refilled in glass jar at bulk store
Produce wrapped in plastic or plastic produce bags Produce not wrapped in plastic and use reusable produce bags
Plastic or paper shopping bags Reusable shopping bags
Paper cups from coffee/tea stores Ceramic or glass reusable cups/mugs
Paper towel Reusable cloth dark napkins
Paper napkins Reusable cloth napkins
Plastic toothbrush (Theresa) Bamboo toothbrush
Plastic dental floss Silk refillable floss in a glass container
Boxes of tea bags Loose leaf tea in reusable tin
Cartons of plant-based milk Homemade hemp milk in glass bottles
Yogurt in plastic containers No longer eat yogurt as we cannot find affordable plant-based yogurt in glass jars
Brand new clothes Shop second hand first

Looking at the above list we are so happy with all these very simple changes we made, nothing has been a sacrifice or difficult to do. Trust me if it was too difficult, we would not have done so well! Lol!

There are still so many other simple changes we can make for example this year we would like to replace:

Our plastic toothpaste with a regular supply of toothpaste in glass jars (one store in Vancouver has it, just takes effort to go there….my aim to buy a few jars at a time)

Our cotton cleaning pads with cotton reusable cleansing pads (need to buy online)

Overall, we are happy with our progress, we hope we can inspire others just to make one small change this year. Reusable bags and reusable take-out mugs are a great way to start, these small changes make a huge difference.

Have a great week,

As always, we would love to hear your feedback.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Reduce Waste This Month: Laundry Detergent

This month we reduced our waste significantly.  There are so many items we replaced with zero-waste alternatives. One of which was our laundry detergent. We were waiting to finish up with our existent plastic filled containers to replace with our homemade brew😉

We googled several different homemade detergents and settled on a liquid detergent. It was more effort than the powder, but we said we would give it a go.

We didn’t measure any of the ingredients and completely eyeballed everything, but we think we made a fine detergent…. time will tell! Lol!

Our detergent contains:

  1. Castile soap (we went for liquid over solid…. if you choose solid bar you need to grate it and melt in water in a hot pan)
  2. Washing Soda (Not bread soda)
  3. Borax
  4. Essential oils (blood orange and citrus)

We placed a cup of borax and washing soda into a 2.5litre jar and poured in a little bit less of a cup of castile soap.

We poured in water and added a few drops of essential oils.

We stirred all ingredients together.

The solution is nice and goopy but does need stirring before using.

Place 1 cup into the washing machine for a full load. Your clothes will come out fresh and clean.

We will use this for the next few months and see how things go. We are also interested in trying the powder detergent too to see if there is any difference.

We would like to try a few different options before settling on one.

This month has been awesome regarding our commitment to reducing our waste and cutting out unnecessary items completely.

Making our own cleaning products is very rewarding. Its quick, easy, cheap and looks so much better than large brightly colored plastic containers. We get to choose the size and look of each jar or bottle we store our solutions in and they look so cool.

Saving money on these items is a major advantage of making our own products. Instead of handing over cash for products which are harmful to our environment we can save that money to put towards a date night, savings or a holiday. Now that’s money well spent😉

So far, the zero-waste experience has been great, we are always on the look out for new ways to reduce and avoid waste. We are only a couple of months doing this and already we see big changes in our garbage bin. Our bin is still not full by the end of the week. George used to have to empty it twice a week.

What changes have you made in your home to make your life less wasteful?

Feel overwhelmed with where to start? Bring a reusable bag with you in your backpack & handbag, get yourself a to-go mug and a reusable straw, put these in your bag too…. there we have an excellent start to moving towards zero waste. Small baby steps at a time.

We hope you enjoy your week,

Chat soon,

Theresa x