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Environmental

environmental– lifestyle

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

Reduce Waste This Month: Shampoo Bottle

One Easy Way We Have Reduced Waste This Month

My challenge for the next year is to find one way each month to reduce waste from our daily routine so we can try and live a more earth conscious life. Don’t get me wrong I will still need to shop but I will try to be more mindful and choose packaged free products. That’s a challenge, right? I was inspired by a blogger called Anita Van Dyke and her amazing efforts to re-use, reduce and recycle. Please see link to her blog on how to re-use jars for other purposes like storing homemade laundry detergent.

So, my first swap out is my shampoo. I have been using a brand which comes in a 350ml plastic pump bottle which is always thrown into the recycle bin when complete. Recycling is a much better alternative to throwing recyclable containers in the garbage bin however this process uses a lot of energy, chemicals and water. I feel if I can avoid it why not?

Many months ago, I watched a blog post from uselesswardrobe.dk and Signe the blogger was using a bar shampoo by LUSH to wash her hair. I remember I used to use these years ago! Well, my shampoo bottle has finally finished, and the time has come for the swap out. Hopefully that shampoo bottle will be the last shampoo bottle I will ever recycle again. (Wow dramatic statement!)

LUSH as it happens has a factory based in Vancouver and there is a store just two blocks away from my apartment. (This really isn’t a challenge at all, is it! LOL) I walked to the LUSH store and asked the lovely sales assistant to point me in the right direction to the bar shampoos. I smelt each one and decided on a lemon scented bar which is super refreshing and energizing! I love citrus smelling products so much. However, there are plenty more different scents if lemon is not your thing.

In addition, LUSH has conditioner bars too! I still have over a half a bottle of conditioner left but when it is used up I will purchase one of the conditioner bars also. I will keep you all informed when that happens😉

There was an option to purchase a round tin to hold your shampoo in, but I didn’t buy as I have a lovely soap dish at home. I was also offered a bag for my bar shampoo, but I declined as the bar could fit in my pocket.

So, in total I saved 3 items from going into the recycling bin in this shopping trip:

  1. a shampoo bottle,
  2. a round tin and
  3. a paper bag

That’s kinda cool right? I must admit I do feel good about it and it was only a matter of a small decision to say no to extra packaging in the store. Very simple and not difficult whatsoever. This is the mindset I will try and bring forward each time I go to purchase items in a store.

We have been using my bar soap for a week now and we are loving it! It lathers nicely, and my hair feels extremely clean after. Overall, I feel this was a successful swap out. I will follow up in 6 months and let you all know if I am still using this bar soap and give my honest review on bar soaps.

Thanks so much for reading😉 Any comments or suggestions you lovely peeps may have please leave in the comments section below. Peace out.

Homemade Cleaning Products

Homemade Cleaning Products: Why Use Them & How Hard Are They To Make?

The weather has finally improved in Vancouver (you will probably notice I mention the weather a lot…being from Ireland and living in Vancouver it’s impossible not to chat about the ever-changing climate) For some reason when the sun begins to shine I go into cleaning overdrive. Maybe because our apartment is brighter and I see all the dust and stains that usually hide out in the darker days. Who knows….maybe I’m nuts! Probably actually.

Recently I have been searching to find natural ways for cleaning our worktops, floors, sinks, toilet, laundry and rugs. On our quest for reducing as much waste as possible I have decided to make all our cleaning products using time old traditions. Castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, coconut oil and water are essentially all you will ever need. Simple, easy and most of us have these products in our kitchen cupboards.

From my research online, I have learned that homemade cleaning products don’t carry any extra harmful toxins, by reusing old spray bottles the number of containers going into garbage/recycle bins is reduced and no nasty chemicals are washed away into our water. Personally, I love that making my own products saves so much money on overpriced cleaning products. I would much rather spend my money elsewhere like a bar of good dark chocolate. (Although I really should be saving the money…ooh idea for another blog!)

So, this week we finally finished our store bought surface cleaner and I blocked out some time to make a nice surface cleaner. I searched online for a simple surface cleaner recipe and found this one on Anita Van Dykes blog (I love her!). Really it cannot get simpler. Castile soap and water in the ratio of 1:10. I filled one cup measure of castile soap and poured it in the old surface cleaning bottle and added 10 cups of water, I gave it a bit of a shake and that was it! Really! Why have I not done this before? It took all of 2min max. I will let you all know how well the surface cleaner works compared to the store bought brand and if I am still using it 3 months in. I’m off to buy some dark chocolate now. Chat soon and enjoy the sun!