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environmental– lifestyle

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

Secondhand Shopping: Fun, Sustainable & Stylish

I have always loved shopping. Going into the store and looking at all the brand-new beautiful clothes, jewelry and shoes. During university I would rather spend my money on clothing than buy food! I swear I would live on sweetcorn, tin tuna and bread for a week.

Honestly, I was never the stylish girl or the IT girl, I never really had a style or knew what I liked when it came to clothing. I just loved buying new clothes. I would enter a store and blindly pick up items I liked with no consideration if the quality was good, if I would wear the item more than once, if the items would go with anything else in my wardrobe. As you can imagine my wardrobe was a mess. I had lots of clothes, but nothing really went together, most of my clothes were “going out outfits” so casual clothing was minimal. I repeated this process for all my twenties.

Spending lots of money on clothing, wearing items once or twice and donating them months later as the quality, shape, fit, color, style had either gone out of fashion, didn’t go with anything in my wardrobe or didn’t look right on me in the first place.

Thankfully things began to change in my later twenties and early thirties. I think because I was a little older I was beginning to find my style. I started to realize what clothing I liked to wear, jeans, soft sweaters, silk shirts, cotton t-shirts, cozy cardigans, simple sneakers, stylish yet comfortable shoes, minimal jewelry. My style was morphing into a very simple and classic look.

This was the time I started looking into the capsule wardrobe idea. Basically, it is a system of having clothes in your wardrobe that you LOVE, you can wear all year round and have some seasonal items to add in to spice things up. I love simplicity and eliminating unnecessary time spent on making decisions like, “what should I wear this morning?”. With a simple classic wardrobe its such a breeze to decide what to wear. Everything fits, everything is comfortable and of high quality. These are the characteristics I now look for in my clothing.

Spending money on high quality clothing is money well spent in my opinion. We have spent hundreds even thousands of dollars on clothing items. These items include leather shoes & boots, leather sneakers, leather jackets and winter coats. All these items have lasted us years and are still in mint condition. Buying high quality clothing and spending large sums of money on items was our method of avoiding the fast fashion industry.

However, spending hundreds of dollars every month on clothing can get expensive. Therefore, we love to combine purchasing new items with second hand items. Each season I like to review our wardrobe and make a list of any items that need replacing, or we need to buy something that we were missing from our current wardrobe.

We love the idea of sustainable fashion. Saying that the idea of second hand shopping was so foreign to us that it took us a very long time to step into one of the many stores on our street. The stigma behind secondhand shopping and the idea that people may think we cannot afford new clothes took us a long time to get over. However now we are over it!

These days if I need a new item of clothing for my wardrobe I will go into our local secondhand stores (so many in Vancouver with amazing clothing) to see if I can source the items I am looking for. Sometimes I am successful and other times I am not. If I cannot find what I am looking for I do not mind spending money on something new that I really like. I like the combination of the new and old. I know some people may think that only committing half way to sustainable fashion, I’m ok with that. For now, this is where I am most comfortable.

For me the fun of secondhand shopping is finding beautiful quality clothing that I can match with something new from my current wardrobe. The major things I bought this year were cashmere sweaters, silk blouses, 2 dresses, a logo t-shirt and a pair of leather sneakers online from the Vestiaire collective.

I love every single one of the above items and have worm them so much. They are the items I get asked about so much and when I tell people I got them in a secondhand store they are shocked! Most people also admit they like looking in second hand stores and other smile and say “good for you” …not sure what that means but Its positive, so I’ll take it! Lol.

For me taking baby steps into the sustainable fashion area has been super positive so far. The people I meet in the stores and the bloggers I follow are so inspirational. Their fashion sense is amazing, and nothing is done in excess. Hopefully this is the route we are going down too. Personal style should be fun, unique, and comfortable. Sustainable shopping is not only great for the environment but also great for your finances and your unique style. It’s a win win.

Basics qualities I look for in second hand clothing are:

  1. What material is it made from: I like cotton/silk/wool/cashmere
  2. Is the style timeless
  3. Does it have any stains?
  4. Can I repair any light damage?

Soon I will post a blog on how to care for your clothing to make it last and how to freshen up secondhand clothing to make it feel like your own.

Hopefully this blog will make you think about your wardrobe in terms of longevity and maybe encourage you to step inside a second store to see what you can find.

Go onto Instagram and search #sustainablefashion to get inspiration from the 1000’s of uber stylish people buying secondhand clothing.

As always thank you for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa x

Going Zero Waste: The Pitfalls and How to Avoid them

Only a few months into our journey of going zero waste and we have slipped up countless times! Going zero waste is certainly not easy. Our lifestyle and our way of thinking about everyday life needs to alter and adjust. Although we have messed up far more than what we would have expected we have noticed some improvements. The biggest improvement is our awareness of when we do slip up. By noticing our errors, we make a mental note to try and avoid a situation like that in the future.

However, life happens, we get busy, I forget my travel mug sometimes, we order take -out pizza because we didn’t prepare anything for dinner, I purchase cookies in a packet because I didn’t make time to bake our own. All these small little mishaps can really add up, we can see it as clear as day when we open the recycle bin!

This weekend was a busy weekend for us and we didn’t have time at home to prepare lunch or dinner. We are not people who eat out regularly, just because I love cooking and we see eating out as more of a treat than an everyday venture. We ordered take out for dinner which came with recyclable containers, totally forgot when ordering take out about the containers! When I saw George arriving back home after picking up dinner I felt like a hypocrite. Are we not supposed to be zero waste? Why did we not think of the packaging! That right there is what I mean about our awareness. This awareness is great, however now we need to take it a step further and really think before purchasing items if we want to achieve our goal of zero waste.

One massive hurdle to get over to achieve zero waste I believe is to be organized. Plan out our meals in advance, know where to get all the ingredients we need. Shop in a waste free store like Nada, The Soap Dispensary or bulk sections in Wholefoods or Choices. Farmers markets are a great way to shop for package free produce and they are on several days a week around the city of Vancouver. In Kitsilano there is one on a Thursday evening and Sunday Morning.

Being organized also includes having our travel cup with you when we are out and about, always packing reusable shopping bags in our bag, produce bags are great too for small fruits and bulk items like nuts and seeds.

If you are someone who does order take out a lot from the same places, ask them to place your order in lunch boxes you provide the day before. My friends do this, and I think it is awesome. They drop in a stack of lunch boxes to their favorite take-out a week in advance, so they can have take-out all week with no packaging. They obviously do not like cooking and love their local take-out😉

This weekend we remembered our water bottles and travel cups when we were going for our Sunday stroll. We walked to one of our favorite cafes and ordered pastries. We were so delighted handing over our travel mugs that we totally forgot to tell the lady not to place the pastries in bags. These are the moments I am hoping we will catch and remember to say, “we don’t need a bag” or “we have our bag”. I am hoping this statement will become routine to us as we are further into our challenge of going zero waste.

 

We are moving in the right direction and we are hoping to be zero waste by this time 6 months. We are not placing major pressure on ourselves as we want to figure out a method that works. This is something we hope to carry through for the rest of our lives and not just a phase of our life. Hopefully we can then pass on what we have learned about zero waste to our future children, friends, family and peers.

Please let me know how you have avoided waste and packaging in your life?

If you have any hot tips to share, please do.

Thanks for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa x