What Plant Based Means to Me and How We Eat

My mom was a vegetarian while I was growing up. I was used to having tofu, tempeh, fresh veg, lots of legumes, fruits and homemade foods. Bc I grew up with it, it never occurred to me that other kids didn’t live that way. My father was always a healthy eater and great cook, but he ate meat. As I see it, I had the best of both worlds.

When I met my husband, he was vegetarian and had been on and off for most of his life. I ate meat then, but I never had any issues eating less or no meat during our meals together. Eating less meat made me realize that when I did eat meat, I didn’t feel as good as when I ate more fruits and veggies.

By the time we moved to New Jersey, we were eating fish, but little to no land meat. We wavered back and forth some (my husband even ate chicken for a while) but it was mostly ovo lacto vegetarian for us. Some events in the Summer of 2018 lead us both to come to the conclusion that we would give up all meat, from land and sea, in a serious manner.

Personally, I think humans are supposed to eat animals. We, ourselves, are animals and omnivores as far as I can tell from the evidence I know. But I think the way most people currently eat animals is unsustainable and inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary. In an attempt to lead a more sustainable and less wasteful life, eating plant based is an easy and obvious choice.

 I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

Now we eat what I like to call a vegetarian, plant based, whole food diet. That’s a mouth full and what does it even mean? We stopped eating any fish and sea creatures. We do eat dairy like cheese and butter and sour cream. We try to eat mostly fruits and veggies and eat whole foods that have not been overly processed. We eat fermented foods like miso, pickles and vinegar.

We try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Some with every meal! The term Plant Based really refers to a diet that is only plants but I use it to mean a diet that is based on plants, which we definitely do.

We also try to keep local stores, growers, producers in mind when we eat. This year was the first one where we grew our some of our own food and it was a game changer. It’s important to us to eat this way so that we are conscious of the environment, animals, our home and our health.

There are, of course, some ways we could improve our current diet. An example would be to make our own cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt, or only buy local cheese and dairy. But right now this diet works for us.

Some of our typical and most eaten meals are:

Quesadillas with black beans, corn, olives, fresh veggies, sour cream and hot sauce.

Cheese, crackers, veggies, mustard, pickles, olives, and mustard.

Miso soup with veggies and noodles.

Pasta with red sauce or pesto or cheese or garlic oil.

Sides meal with potatoes, veggies, grains, and various other “sides”.

Salads with home made croutons, veggies, sometimes we add fake chicken patties, and dressings.

Tofu, rice and broccoli with soy sauce, peanuts and chili garlic sauce.

Peanut butter and jelly (and sometimes hot sauce) sandwiches.

Bean and rice bowls.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with red onions and hot sauce.

Pierogies with onions, sour cream and veggies.

Smoothie bowls with various toppings.

Oatmeal with fruits, nuts and nut milks.

Beans on toast.

Chickpea salad sandwiches with carrots, onions, celery, and mayo.

 This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

Let me know in the comments if you also eat meals like this! Or if you would like recipes or more info on any of the meals listed above. What kind of diet do you eat? What role does your diet play in your lifestyle?

Mad Cat Capsule: Fall 2018 (Oct, Nov, Dec)

For this Fall Capsule, I did things a little differently. I still eased clothing that I wanted in the next capsule in over the last few weeks of the previous one, but this quarter I divided the items by color. I usually try to only have a few colors in each capsule, aside from certain neutrals. But for this, I didn’t hold back.

The result is that the color themes in this capsule includes cream, light blue, green, black & white, yellow, black, white, and grey.

I also paid close attention to texture, fabric and weight in this quarter’s capsule. I’ve been working my way towards a plastic free wardrobe, but this capsule has a few synthetic pieces I’ve had for a long time and want to see if they are worth keeping in my closet.

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This capsule turned out quite large. The weather has been all over the place, so partly the capsule reflects that but also I had fun putting this one together and getting out of my comfort zone.

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14 shirts - Black and white ribbed mock neck (thrifted and vintage), silk mock neck (thrifted and vintage), snake skin turtleneck (thrifted and vintage), boat neck tee (ethically made, 10+ years old), waffle long sleeve (ethically made, 10+ years old), silk blouse (thrifted), black and white flral crop (5+ years), black and white dot crop (second hand), white floral crop (thrifted), mustard silk (vintage and thrifted), denim crop (vintage and thrifted), cream silk blouse (vintage and thrifted), floral long sleeve (thrifted and vintage), mustard silk knit (thifted and vintage. Not pictured).

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10 tee shirts - grey crew (ethically made, 10+years), cream crew (ethically made, 10+years), green v neck (ethically made, 10+years), dark grey v neck (ethically made, 10+years), team sandwiches cat crew (thrifted), forgotten boardwalk (local biz), pizza and bee (local biz), MLB crop, yellow attendance (vintage and thrifted. Not pictured).

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4 skirts - wool grey (thrifted and vintage), black suede (vintage and thrifted), black and white stripe (10+ years), long black.

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6 pants - black skinny (thrifted), everlane (ethically made), light grey (thrifted), black mom (thrifted and vintage), green silk (thrifted and vintage), blue sailor (thrifted, not pictured).

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6 sweaters - Grey kimono (thrifted), dark grey, cream crop (thrifted), yellow cardigan (second hand), green confetti (hand made, vintage, and thrifted), black holey.

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4 over shirts - yellow cowl neck sweatshirt (10+), grey crop (thrifted), denim (found, not pictured), linen (vintage and thrifted, not pictured).

Edit: Light has not been my friend lately. While creating this post, I was only able to get limited photos. I’ll add more as soon as I can capture them.

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6 dresses/jumpsuits - Long hippy (vintage, handmade, thrifted), black and white pineapple, black and white rabbit, cream cats, blue denim, grey jumpsuit (thrifted).

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4 tanks - Black strappy tank (10+ years), black ribbed (10+), grey ribbed (10+), yellow.

7 shoes - bright vans, cat vans, velcro vans, zip booties (thrifted), emily booties, brown suede booties (vintage and thrifted), high tops.

In total this capsule has 61 pieces. 46 of them are slow fashion. I have also been trying to remove micro fibers/plastics from my wardrobe. It’s not easy, and I worry that I will never be able to fully eliminate them. I have to count exactly how many non synthetics.

Who else is starting out a capsule around now? Share your posts, or closets below!

Zero Waste vs. Low Impact Movement

I use the terms Zero Waste, Low/No Waste, and Low Impact Movement a lot these days.

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

I wanted to take some time and explain these terms. I have done some research on them, but these definitions are mostly what I understand them as and how I use them.

Zero Waste
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance the definition of zero waste goes like this:

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

This definition is geared towards big business as well as every day life. The idea is to create systems so that all aspects of industry that are circular, both in production and product, and do not end in landfills or the ocean. For individuals this means changing day to day life before the corporations come around. Living a Zero Waste lifestyle does not mean that one will not generate a single piece of trash, which is of course, impossible, but it means to strive to create as little trash as possible, to seek alternatives avenues that might not generate waste. Zero Wasters consider all sorts of waste when trying to reduce; plastic, water, food, fuel, and all sorts of more traditional trash.

In short, being Zero Waste means trying to live up to the impossible task of generating zero waste of any kind by making mindful decisions in everyday life.

Low/No/Less Waste
This is a more gentle term, a less harsh way to state the above lifestyle but follows the same principles. Whatever they call themselves, one of the tenants that most Low Wasters follow a Low Waste Inverted Pyramid. Remembering to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot, can help to keep Low Waste.

 In more recent times, as we see that recycling is not a sustainable solution, recycle and rot would be in the opposite spots on the inverted pyramid.

In more recent times, as we see that recycling is not a sustainable solution, recycle and rot would be in the opposite spots on the inverted pyramid.

Low Impact Movement
This term was recently created by a Zero Waste Youtuber Sustainably Vegan. She felt that the term Zero Waste was confining bc it is technically unachievable, zero wasters had become judgmental and that it only explored a small portion of all the ways to reduce ones impact on the environment and global community. By creating the Low Impact Movement, she created a lifestyle movement to incorporate low impact mindfulness in all aspects of daily life from reducing your trash, going no plastic, ditching disposables, reducing your carbon footprint, vaganism, activism, etc…. The Low Impact Movement also emphesizes social action and activism. Their motto is “We strive for a LOW environmental impact through a HIGH social impact.”.

TL:DR
Zero Waste - Controversial term used for and by companies and individuals who are trying to reduce waste in all aspects of production and life.
Low/No/Less Waste - Similar to Zero Waste but less rigid and more practical.
Low Impact Movement - A more inclusive, all incompassing term for reducing ones environmental impact.
Zero/Low/No/Less Waster - Someone who practices a Zero/Low/No/Less Waste lifestyle.
Low Impacter - Someone who takes part in the Low Waste Movement.

I hope these definitions are helpful! Please let me know any questions or comments you might have in the comments!

Everlane Undies Review

Disclaimer: My product reviews are completely unsponsored and unsolicited. The opinions are my own from my own experiences.

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I've been waiting to make another Everlane purchase for quite a while. I look thru the website every month or so, put things in the cart, take them out, leave, come back and do it all again. I've only ever bought from Everlane once before. 

There’s been a lot of debate on the internet and in the world of the low impact movement about Everlane. Once touted as the greatest and most assessable sustainable fashion makers around, Everlane has come under a lot of distain lately. Many people believe that it has out grown it’s title as Slow Fashion.

I’m on the fence. Everlane still says it upholds it’s sustainable standards, but it has been producing at a faster and faster rate. Is it possible that the level of care is being taken for each and every piece? Ultimately, I decided that at least they must be a better choice than regular fast fashion brands. Although I mostly buy everything second hand, there are some items that have to be bought new.

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Which brings me to underwear!! From the first moment that Everlane announced their underwear and bras, I knew I wanted to try them. Undies are really hard to buy sustainably without breaking the bank. But I have a lot of undies so it was almost a year before I actually made a purchase. I waited until some of my old panties literally fell apart and I had to get rid of them before I decided it was ok to buy some new items.

I bought three matching pieces; the Tank Bra, the Hipster, and the High Rise Hipster all in grey. Having matching undies still give me a thrill. I waited until Everlane offered free two day shipping so these items came really fast. The last Everlane purchase I made, I was disappointed that the pants and top I bought came wrapped in plastic and in a plastic mailer bag. I was happy when all the underwear came in recyclable cardboard boxes with paper info cards. They came in a plastic mailer which I recycled at a local drop off location.

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I like how simple, soft and easy these panties and bra are. The bra has a wide, tight lower band and straps that are about an inch wide. The straps sit far out on the shoulders which I wasn’t expecting, but I really like bc I do have quite a few tops that have wide or boat necks. The high rise panties are my favorite and sit right at or just below my belly button. The seat is a bit cheeky, which again, I wasn’t expecting. I’d love to get a full coverage bottom set of these, which they don’t make yet, but fingers crossed. I will definitely get more pairs of these undies when more of my current pairs wear out.

Overall, I’m still skeptical about how Everlane works and it’s impact. But as a middle ground of affordable, well made, and better than fast fashion, I’ll continue to use them for purchasing some items.

Have you tried buying the Everlane underwear line? What are your thoughts?

Mad Cat Capsule: Thinking About Fall

I’ve actually been thinking about my next capsule for some time. I have my inspiration piece and I’m excited to get started. I’m trying to pace myself this season, though. Usually at this point in the month before changing over my capsule, I’d already be wearing new items of the next capsule.

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But I’m taking a different tactic this quarter. I’ve gathered quite a few pieces but I’m pointedly putting them aside and savoring thinking bout what my Fall Capsule will look like.

What I am doing is paring down what’s in my current capsule. I have already started to take out all the items from Summer (July, August Sept) that I haven’t been wearing as much, or that I’m ready to stop wearing.

It’s a nice time in the capsule process to work with an even smaller closet of clothes. The excitement of the clothes I can revisit in my new capsule is always so fun! I love knowing that I’ll get rid of even more clothing when I go thru everything in storage.

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The anticipation for the next capsule isn’t always my favorite part, but this quarter it is! What’s your favorite part of building a new capsule? Does your favorite part change?

Mad Cat Market

Since I have renewed my love of thrifting, I wanted to have an avenue to pass on some of my favorite finds. A great thing about thifting is that I find a lot of amazing peices of clothing, homewares, and unique items, but the downside is that I can't keep them all. So, welcome to the official launch of Mad Cat Market, an online shop to share my thrifting finds with everyone!

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I view thrifting as a way of saving items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  Things I love to "save" are made of natural materials, are vintage, hand made, or unique. My favorite clothes to thrift are made from cotton, linen, silk, tencel, or other natural fibers. Sometimes I have to pick up a synthetic fiber bc the item is so awesome! For homewares I like porcelain, wood, stoneware, embroidery, wicker, etc... 

One of my goals is to pass along these saved treasures at a reasonable rate. I want these items to be loved as much as I might love them if I could keep them all. I'm using an existing Big Cartel shop and keeping it at the lowest plan, which dictates that my collections are kept pretty small but means I can pass the savings on to the buyers! Each is hand picked and curated and I hope that the shoppers like them!

I also invite everyone to visit the Mad Cat Market instagram. I plan on posting sneak peaks, sales, and inspiration there!

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The current collection is a mix of Summer and Fall transition pieces in a range of sizes and styles. 

I'd love to hear what people like or want to see or see more of! I'd love this space to also become a place where people can let me know what items them might be seeking and a conversation about thrifting and sustainable shopping. This is a new experience for me, so I'm thankful for people bearing with me while I work out the kinks and the mission of this shop! Thanks for checking out the new shop!!

Off Season: gARTen, Asbury Park

On the main street (but not Main Street) of our town, tucked in a lot, beyond a fence, besides an ice cream shop, it the gARTen. Truth be told, I don't know too much about it but I think it's an amazing thing to have in one's town!! I'm not sure who is behind this amazing open air junk art gallery display but I salute them! 

This garden isn't open all the time, I don't know the hours, but that almost makes it more magical. You'll be walking along and see that it's open and pop in as an unexpected treat! The garden is always different, pieces added, pieces missing, and constantly in a state of entropy. At night, it's illuminated by blacklight!

I love that someone (or several someone) is creating these objects and I love that they are made from trash that might otherwise end up in the landfill or even worse in the ocean and on the beach, just a few blocks away. 

The other day my husband mentioned that he read that this art project was in danger so we decided to head over and check it out. Hopefully it won't be for the last time. 

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This art project reminds me a lot of my childhood and early education. Being homeschooled and then going to an alternative education school, we were always making the most of the supplies we had and making things out of "junk".  

We are so lucky to have a an art space like this in our town. These unique spaces should thrive in young cities like ours. We should work to preserve them!

Do you have a unique place like this in your town or city?

Plastic Free July Wrap Up: Plastic Audit

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

Now that I have gone all the way through my second Plastic Free July, let's take a look back at what my goals were and how I carried them out!

- Audit my trash for the month of July. I have done this before while I was starting out along my ZW journey, and I do it every once in a while to see where I'm at. This month, I plan to mostly audit our recycling. 
I kept all my plastic trash separate this month, even items that can be recycled. I also brought plastic waste that was generated outside the house, home with me. It came out to one full paper grocery bag for the whole month. 
The biggest plastic waste I had this month were items that I already had but cleaned up and had to throw away or recycle. This contained several recyclable plastic containers, like berry boxes and a flax milk box. There were also a few reusable containers that cracked or broke and I could recycle. We ate out in July and even if we asked we sometimes got condiment containers. We also had a food in a paper boat, but it had a plastic lining. We choose to get milkshake from a place with paper cups, but they changed from waxed to plastic lined so those were waste. 
The items I had the most of when I went back through the bag were plastic bags!! Not grocery bags, of course, but some berry bags, cat litter bags, chip bags, bird seed bags, cheese plastic, etc ... These will all get recycled at a local drop off point. 

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 I HATE fruit stickers.

I HATE fruit stickers.

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 We also had a few pens, we are working through allllll the pens we have so we don't buy new. And we went through a weedwacker wire. Is there a none plastic alternative for this?

We also had a few pens, we are working through allllll the pens we have so we don't buy new. And we went through a weedwacker wire. Is there a none plastic alternative for this?

- Take the time to recycle the items that are difficult to recycle. We are donating clothes, dropping off our electronics, bringing our plastic bags to drop off centers, and other annoying tasks this month. We still accumulate some of these items, so disposing of them properly is super important. 
We did so well with this goal! We recycled plastic bags, electronics, dropped off clothes for donation and books to the library! It felt great to send these items to their proper places and get them out of our house!

- Focus on building our garden for this year and years to come! We recently (finally) planted our front bed and now we are hooked! We cannot wait to create more avenues for us to grow our own food and rely less on conventional, and often plastic packed, fruit and veg. 
Our garden is going nuts! One of our favorite things to eat in the summer is cherry and grape tomatoes but we don't eat them often bc they are hard to find without plastic. This Summer, bc or our garden, we are tomato rich!! It's felt amazing to grow our own food this July and we can't wait to garden more and more! 

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- Utilize local farmer's markets! Summer is the best time for fresh fruits and veggies and I want to eat them all! The farmer's market is a great to get them, plastic free!
Partly bc we have grown our own food, we didn't got to the farmers markets too much in July. But we did have a few great visit to get corn and other Summer goodies. 

- Continue to refuse disposable plastics like straws, plastic bags, plastic cups and coffee cups, single use plastic containers, etc... and get better at it!! The more you practice, the easier it becomes!
We did a great job with this in July! Re refused like crazy and made strides to not accept plastic that sometimes slips thru the cracks. We also went out of our comfort zone and got many items in our own containers!

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- Preach! Mostly, I try not to be too preachy about my Zero Waste journey, but PFJ is the perfect time to let people know about the horrors of disposable plastics, give them some insight into my lifestyle and ideals, and to hopefully spark them to think to these ideas!
I think I did more of this this month. And it was good!! We have a few restaurants who know us and ask us questions and help us out. I also talked about my drive for a plastic free lifestyle with family and friends. I posted stories and instas and talked to a lot of people on social media!

Overall, I'm sure happy with Plastic Free July. It wasn't entirely plastic free, but it was a great eye opener and a great step forward!

How was your Plastic Free July? Share your triumphs and fails in the comments!

So You Forgot Your Plastic Free Kit...

What do you do?!

First off, don't panic. You can still minimize your waste and the most important step is to just be mindful. Because I still often forget my kit, I have some experience in figuring out what to do with out it. 

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Go Without!
First and foremost if I forget my kit, I'll often just not do things that would generate plastic. Sometimes this means not using/eating/drinking/buying whatever it is, but more often, it's just setting aside the idea of the most convenient method. 
Example: If I'm thirsty but don't have my cup, I might choose to get water from a water fountain or coffee in a "for here" cup.

Eat In
Take away is convenient, but if I don't have the plastic free means to take it with me, I might choose to eat in so I don't have to use disposables.  

Eat it All
If I know I don't have a container to bring home my left overs, or compost, I try to think about it before I eat. I'll choose to eat a little less so as not to need a to-go container or doggy bag. 

Foil and Paper
When my eyes are still bigger than my stomach and I do end up having left overs, or when I need something at the store, but don't have my bags, I choose paper or aluminum foil instead of plastic or styrofoam. Choosing a more sustainable, recyclable, or compostable option is better than nothing. 
Example: If I choose to shop but don't have a reusable bag for bulk items, most grocery shops have a paper bag you can use. If you can't find one in the bakery section, ask someone at check out. Same goes for packing up my groceries for transport. At the diner, I'll ask for just a piece of foil rather than getting the bigger more wasteful option. Foil can be cleaned, reused and recycled, paper bags can be reused or put in the compost.  

Choose No Bag
More often than not, I'll just go without a bag if I forget one. We've carried entire grocery orders home in our hands if we forget our bags. You can't do this all the time, but if it's an option, I'll consider it!!

And sometimes, there's nothing you can do, you have to use a plastic cup, fork, portion container, etc... so if all else fails:

Bring it Home
If I have to get a disposable plastic item, even though I tried my hardest not to, I bring it home and reuse or recycle it. I have often been out and been served a plastic fork, despite having brought my own reusable one. I will save that fork, leave it in my bag, car or jacket pocket and reuse it another time. This has come in handy more times than I can count. I still feel bad about having to dispose of it eventually, but at least I know that it got a little more use. 
Example: Reuse plastic cups, flatware, etc... Recycle portion cups, and other disposables at home so you know where they end up, compost napkins, wooden chopsticks, and other single use non plastic items, too!

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Plastic is everywhere and it's really hard to try not to use it. The most important thing is to be mindful of the choices you make and put aside your own convenience. Start where you are and do what you can. Maybe your Plastic Free Kit is just getting started, so you have to use a plastic fork. If you choose to carry that fork in your kit for a while, hooray! Maybe your kit is extensive, but you left it at home, it happens! Maybe you asked for a glass but your drink still came in plastic, oh well, you tried! It's important to remember to learn from these incidents and try for better next time. 

Hopefully these tips will help and inspire those starting on a plastic free journey!
Do you have tips for getting started? Share them below!

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

My Plastic Free Kit

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

One way I'm participating in Plastic Free July is to be better about bringing my Plastic Free Kit with me where ever I go. Since starting my zero waste, low impact journey, always having my kit with me has been a struggle but I find when I do bring it it makes my life so much easier.

Creating and carrying a plastic free kit is a great way to start your own plastic free or low waste journey. You don't have to buy anything new to create one, you can use items you already have! The hardest part of having a kit is remembering to bring it with you! 

So, what is a plastic free kit? For me, the kit is simply a few items I try to bring with me to help me avoid waste and disposable items. What you have in your kit depends on what you will use most and what will help you avoid using plastic disposables. Your kit can be one or two items, or a whole bunch. Your kit can always be the same items, or can change depending on what you're doing or where you are going. Here is what I usually carry in my kit:

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1. A Reusable Cup - Usually insulated to keep hot or cold drinks. Sometimes glass or metal. The one pictured is one I found at my work's lost and found but I have several that I have accumulated over the years. I like reusable cups that have a clear size printed on them. 

2. A Small Container. I use this for leftovers or salad bars mostly. But it can also hold bulk items, snacks, or compost I want to bring back home. The one seen here I got last year from the Mighty Nest website. But you don't need to buy anything new!! I also use old tupperware, glass jars, or reused take-out containers for this purpose. 

3. A Cloth Napkin. Here I have just a tea towel, but I also have a few thrifted napkin sets, so I'll also bring one of those. This is useful for wiping one's mouth but also for wrapping leftovers and  tying into a bag for fruit and veg among many other uses. 

4. Produce Bag. I like to keep an extra bag on hand. Cloth bags take up barely any space and are so useful. Use for fruit and veg, carrying groceries or other purchases, loan to a friend, etc... The one pictured was gifted from my BFF; it was her grandmothers!!

5. A Flatware Set: 

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My set has a a bamboo spoon, fork, and chopsticks. I bought these and the little carrying case last year. It came with a knife, but I find I never use that, so don't carry it. I love the chopsticks tho (highly recommend carrying some chops!). I also carry several metal straws. I don't use straws for most drinks but love milkshakes and smoothies so want to be prepared! You never know when a friend might need one, too. 
My advice here would to NOT buy any new forks, knives, spoons, etc!! We all have flatware hanging around that can make a set, or spend a few pennies to get some flatware at a local thrift or charity shop. I like using these bamboo items, but regret buying new when I already had plenty. The carrying case is also not needed.
I would advice investing in some reusable straws. 

6. A Carry All Canvas Bag. Once I have all my items I need a bag to carry them in! I prefer a canvas bag bc it's pretty sturdy, can get wet, can take some ware and can be used for a shopping bag, or in other ways as well. I've been using the one seen here, which was a gift, bc it's pretty small but tucks under my arm, and still holds a lot.

I switch out items, this cup for that one, etc... when one needs washed or I left one at work or what have you. If I know I want to get smoothie bowl, I'll bring a bigger container. If I know I'm eating with friend or family, I'll bulk up some items. If I'm going shopping, I'll bring more bags. My kit is fluid and that makes it easy for me. Over all the kit is small and light and easy to carry. 

I tend to leave my kit in the car, where I can easily grab it if we are out and about. If we're home and walking around I might grab it to carry with us. My biggest challenge is remembering to bring it with me when I leave the car. I tend to forget until I've gotten far enough away that I don't want to go back. For Plastic Free July I've been more mindful about it and it makes a big difference!!

Have you started your Plastic Free Kit? What was your first item?

 

Plastic Free July

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

Happy Plastic Free July!

2017 was the first year that I even knew what PFJ was, and it came right at the right time of my life. I was just learning about Zero Waste and the Low Impact Movement. I was thinking about it a lot at that time. But I wasn't ready to really paricipate in PFJ. I was a little at a loss as to how to even do that.  But July 2017 was, if I can pin point it, the time where I really started my Zero Waste, Low Impact, journey. That was the month I first tried to refuse straws on the regular, I bought a water bottle and tried to use it, and that was when Low Impact became a serious undercurrent in my life. 

So here we are a year later, and this year, I was ready for Plastic Free July! This year, refusing straws is second nature, bringing my water bottle is becoming the norm, I try to always get items in my own containers instead of a disposable container, we no longer use plastic wrap or garbage bags! Continuing these practices is part of my PFJ2018. I also created a list for my self for things to work on this year:

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- Audit my trash for the month of July. I have done this before while I was starting out along my ZW journey, and I do it every once in a while to see where I'm at. This month, I plan to mostly audit our recycling. 

- Take the time to recycle the items that are difficult to recycle. We are donating clothes, dropping off our electronics, bringing our plastic bags to drop off centers, and other annoying tasks this month. We still accumulate some of these items, so disposing of them properly is super important. 

- Focus on building our garden for this year and years to come! We recently (finally) planted our front bed and now we are hooked! We cannot wait to create more avenues for us to grow our own food and rely less on conventional, and often plastic packed, fruit and veg. 

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- Utilize local farmer's markets! Summer is the best time for fresh fruits and veggies and I want to eat them all! The farmer's market is a great to get them, plastic free!

- Continue to refuse disposable plastics like straws, plastic bags, plastic cups and coffee cups, single use plastic containers, etc... and get better at it!! The more you practice, the easier it becomes!

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- Preach! Mostly, I try not to be too preachy about my Zero Waste journey, but PFJ is the perfect time to let people know about the horrors of disposable plastics, give them some insight into my lifestyle and ideals, and to hopefully spark them to think to these ideas!

So far, I'm happy with how my Plastic Free July is going. How are you celebrating PFJ?

 

Zero Waste - Foraging for Firewood

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste and Low Impact would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle. 

You may remember that when we moved to NJ we got a fire pit. It's one of the first household things we really wanted! I can't say it's our most used house hold item but when we do use it, we love it! 

One reason that we werren't using it too often was bc I hated buying firewood at the store. We mostly found it at big box stores, wrapped in plastic (!!) and who knows where it came from! We had seen many places where wood was for sale on the side of the road, but the idea of having to walk up and knock on a stranger's door always stopped us from getting it that way. Buying it locally online would mean buying a cord, which is way too much for our little fire pit.  

 Right now we just have piles of firewood in various places in the yard, as it gets to be fire season, we will chop and organize our stash. 

Right now we just have piles of firewood in various places in the yard, as it gets to be fire season, we will chop and organize our stash. 

Then one day we started picking up sticks, and logs and fallen branches. And as our stick pile grew and grew and as we started oooohing and ahhing when we saw a pile of discarded tree limbs on the side of the road, we realized that this was a viable way to gather wood for our fire. Now where ever we go we usually come home with a large stick or two. That person walking around the neighborhood dragging a large dead tree branch? That's me. We stick wood in our car, in our bags, carry it on our shoulders. Now that we have a large stick collection, we are just waiting for the weather to be nice enough to have a fire!

We realized that we like the mindful act of seeking out something useful when we are out, without buying anything. There have been some big wind storms lately, many trees lost limbs. It was a field day for us, and we liked the idea that instead of going to the local dump (and then who knows where? We don't have a compost or mulch pick program in our town), this debris would be used for something. We are happy to put to use something that most consider solely waste.

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Right now, we are only collecting fire wood casually but it got us thinking that this might be an affordable, zero waste, way to cut down on the none renewable resources we consume. If we were to install a wood stove to offset gas-heat usage, could we gather enough sticks to help heat our house?     

We're still in the research phase of this possible new plan but we are kind of excited to see where it might lead. Does anyone out there have any advice on wood stoves, firewood or foraging? Do you forage for anything in your neighborhood?

Simple Swap: Shampoo Bar

My journey towards Zero Waste has been a series of simple swaps. This seems like the easiest and lowest impact way to move towards less waste and a new lifestyle. If you are thinking of moving to a more low impact life, I highly suggest starting small with easy simple swaps. 

One swap I knew I wanted to make was to stop getting shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles. There are many ways one can do this but I opted for the simplest, a shampoo bar! 

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Luckily I have a awesome local soap shop, Big Spoon Little Spoon Soaps, and they make a shampoo bar. I had never used one before, and it took a little getting used to. The first few times I washed my hair with the bar it was quite dry and stiff. But after a few washes, my hair got used to it and it was soft and supple after washing. The soap does lathers up nicely but I had to learn how much to put on my hair and how to work it in, which takes a little more work than regular shampoo. 

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I only was my hair 2 - 3 times per week, partly to let the natural oils in my hair do their thing and partly bc that;s just how I roll. In between washes, I will sometimes use a dry shampoo which I make myself. Currently we still use conditioner that comes in plastic. After the bottles we have runs out I want to switch. I have not found a conditioner bar yet, but I'm always on the look out! 

This was the shampoo swap I settled on, but you can also get shampoo in metal refillable containers, use home made shampoo, or go no poo and natural. What shampoo method do you use?

Simple Swap: Cloth Coffee Filters

One easy simple swap I've made on my Zero Waste Journey is to get reusable, cloth coffee filters. This hasn't changed my coffee routine at all, except to eliminate paper filters.

I used to buy recycled, compostable disposable filters to use in my pour over coffee maker. I still don't think this is a terrible choice, as every part is recyclable or compostable. But the cloth filters cut down waste even further. The particular ones I bought (Coffee Sock) did come packaged in a plastic bag with a cardboard card. I recycled both.

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I use the filters 4-6 times before washing them, first in the sink with warm water to get most of the coffee out, then in the washer (careful to put them in with dark colors as coffee does stain). Between uses, I dust out the grounds into the compost or a jar to save for soups, face washes, or cleaning scrubs.

Water runs thru the cloth filters faster than the paper ones, so I adjusted my Burr grinder to be a little finer. I buy my beans locally, usually from Asbury Park Roastery. They have many organic roasts, are so nice, and only 3 blocks from my house!

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These cloth filters are made from cotton, and seem very easy to make. But I think that these ones will last me a long time. I've been using them for a few months now, and besides staining from the coffee, they're holding up very well. I wouldn't want to wash these filters between every brew, but that's just me. It certainly wouldn't be difficult. 

What method do you all use to make your daily coffee or tea?

Zero Waste : The Joy of Using Up

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

 Old hotel shampoos and conditioners and huge, horrifying plastic razor that we are in the process of using up. 

Old hotel shampoos and conditioners and huge, horrifying plastic razor that we are in the process of using up. 

The other day, I scraped the last little bit of mayo from a large plastic Hellman's container and I thought happily "this is the last plastic jar of mayo I will ever buy!". I have had a lot of these moments since I have started my Zero Waste Journey.

There's something so simple, but still challenging and satisfying about swapping out the mindlessly acquired items in plastic packaging that we used to buy for things in recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging. I went out several days later and decided to try a really fancy mayo in a glass jar! Why not?! It was way more expensive than that huge plastic jar, but I know it'll be more satisfying and exciting to try a little bit of something new and more sustainable. I get to try something cool that isn't going to generate a ton of waste after I use it up.  

Not only do I love using up something in plastic and buying something new NOT in plastic, I love to NOT buy a replacement at all. It's exciting to realize that I don't need that Item any more and feel good about that. This goes for freebies, too! 

Recently we used the last of our of shampoo and conditioner from big plastic bottles. We plan on buying bars to replace these, but in the meantime, we brought out all those little hotel shampoos and conditioners. You know you have them! Every time we use up a baby hotel bottle I get excited about recycling it and vowing to never bring them home again!

The joy and excitement that comes with using up and getting rid of things that no longer fit my lifestyle is an unexpected pleasure of going zero waste and plastic free. What do you love using up? What surprising pleasure have you gained from a new lifestyle choice?