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Environmental

environmental– lifestyle

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

Reduce Waste This Month: Tea Bags & Wrapping

Hello everyone!

It’s time to figure out another way to reduce waste in our household. Already this process of eliminating waste it is making us more mindful of what items we are placing in recycling and waste. We had the idea to empty the recycle bin onto our table and divide all the recyclable things into similar groups to give us an overall ideas of what we recycle (Paper, cartons, glass etc.) This was a great visual. For me the one thing that really stood out was the amount of paper wrappers from all the tea bags. To say I am a lover of tea is an understatement! I like to drink different teas throughout the day. I could use up to 6 tea bags a day and all tea bags are wrapped in paper sachets.

Why am I using tea bags that have wrappers? There are multiple loose-leaf tea stores in my community. Why was I not going there to purchase my tea? The main reason is out of convenience. I know our Whole Foods store like the back of my hand. We can get our weekly shopping done in about 20min max. Shopping is not a chore I like to spend too much time on. I like to plan our meals before going to the store and I bring a list with me every time, so the shopping can be done efficiently, and we don’t start buying items we don’t need.

However, I can start adding more fun to my shopping routine by going into more local specialized stores in our community like the tea shops. I am going to make a commitment to trying the different tea stores on our street. I will bring my own tea tins, which I can fill and buy enough tea for the month so it’s not taking up too much time each week. Teas we love to drink are black tea, green tea, chamomile, ginger & lemon, turmeric and rooibos.

The tea store we decided to visit first was Silk Road Tea. The store is beautifully laid out with lots of light. The staff were super helpful, friendly and explained how the self-serve process works in their store. I brought all my own tins to fill however Silk Road Tea requires you to use their tins. There is no extra charge for the tins and you can refill these tins each time you come back. They don’t weigh the tea, they charge by the tin size hence why you need to use their tins😉

Going into the store knowing what tea we already needed really helped as there is a huge selection, decision fatigue could happen very fast. The teas we needed were a black, green and chamomile. Of course, there were different selections of back and green teas but not too much that it took a very long time to decide. After smelling the teas, we decided on an Assam black tea called Jewel of India and a green tea called Sour Cherry which smells of cherries…..delicious. There was only one choice for chamomile tea which was called Lullaby so that was super easy.

In total we purchased 3 large tins of tea which came to a grand total of about $150, expensive for tea but I’m hoping the tea will last for about 6 weeks. I was regularly spending up to $8 dollars a week on each tea so that works out cheaper for us.

The new experience of going into Silk Road Tea, the process of filling our tins and having a lovely chat with the girls working there was all great. We liked it so much that we will regularly go to this store for our tea.



We have been using our tea for a few weeks now and we are really enjoying them, the green tea is especially delicious in the morning. The chamomile we love to drink before bed, it is a lovely routine of calming us before bed and it smells like flowers.

Who knew tea shopping could be so much fun, next time round we will add a new tea to our collection. I believe the 3 mentioned teas will be our core everyday tea and we will have an occasional different flavor tea assortment too. I just love tea! Lol! FYI the best Birthday and Christmas gifts ever!

Overall, we feel better that we are throwing away less paper into our recycling and we have added a new experience of connecting with more people in our community through getting to know our local stores and the people working in them.

I hope this is helpful and please feel free to let me know any ideas you have for reducing and eliminating waste in your home or at work.

Have a great week,

Chat soon,

Theresa x