Jitterbug Perfume

One of my goals in 2019 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, written in 1984, is probably one of my all time favorite books.

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Robbins 4th novel spans time and space, myth and reality, love and loss, gods and men, and does a jitterbug the whole way. Alobar, the immortal king, Priscilla, the genius waitress, Pan, the goat god, perfumers, shamans, monks, psychedelicists, and beekeepers are only a few of the people you’ll meet through this fantastic love story.

I’ve probably read this book a dozen times. It’s a great book to read every few years, as are all Robbins early novels. His fantastical but solid writing style reminds us to find the magic in the everyday, the whimsical in the mundane, the love in ourselves and others and in nature. The copy I read this time was pretty beat up. I can’t remember where I got it, but his books are those that I can never leave behind. If I see a one at a book sale, yard sale, or free for, I have to take it! Books like this, I love bc they are very helpful in kickstarting a good reading habit. If I’m having trouble getting in to new books reading an old favorite often help me get back in the groove.
Jitterbug Perfume is one of my favorites of Robbins novels bc it is an epic tale. It literally spans over a thousand years. But at it’s core, and the core of most of his novels, it is a love story. It’s hard to describe Robbins writing, at once flowery and brutal, mystical and visceral. I was struck this reading by how many passages were gross to me, but compelling. I think his secret lies in how his books make you feel; completely transported. When they are taking you to worlds just off from ours, our world but different, more vibrant and more magical, it’s hard not to want to stay there. Or at least take a little magic when you leave.
I highly recommend Jitterbug Perfume for anyone who enjoys fiction of any kind, books about drug culture or mysticism or perfume. I would also recommend this book for those who enjoy epic love stories.

What is your favorite book to read and reread? What book have you read the most?

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Mad Cat Garden | June

May was the first month we started working on and tracking out garden, but June was when we really got down to business. June saw us buying and plating more, making more beds, and seeing plants grow and change. The changes between the beginning and end of June were huge, but these photos and records are mainly from the beginning on the month.

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June was extremely rainy. Many of the plats loved it! Our lilies returned and grew taller then me this year. They are not strictly part of the garden but a focus of June was to bring in pollinators with many flowers. The strawberries over wintered and started blossoming. We planted herbs and they thrived in the rain.

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In out front bed, also our first bed, tomato volunteers started popping up like mad and we had to thin them out. Rather than just toss the extras, we planted them in small pots to give away, or replanted them in other areas. We made new beds in the back and planted lettuce, arugula, broccoli (one is pictured in the first photo), corn, beans, and cucumbers.

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Many flowers helped attract bugs and bees. Our blueberries got off to a good start, enjoying the rain and producing lots of little soon to be bluebs.

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Tom often helped by inspecting the catnip patches. In June we created three new beds and had a delivery of filtered soil dropped off to fill them. Although pricy, we found this to be a convenient and zero waste alternative to buying many bags of dirt. We are still contributing to our compost on a regular basis, but it’s not big enough to fill beds. We do use some compost to help enrich the soil.

By the end of June, the yard looked very different, but we’ll have to wait until July’s update to take a look!

How is your garden growing?

Bullet Journal Check In | New Book in June

I’ve started my new Bullet Journal book and I’m loving it! I love that each Bullet Journal is unique and customizable. And more that that, for me at least, each one takes on a little bit of a life of it’s own.

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For my current bullet journal, I did end up buying a new new book to start in June. I went with a dot grid which I haven’t used in a while. The grid is huge compared to my last notebook! Bc of this, my approach to pages and layout are a little different.

I kept my main pages (the index, year at a glance, my monthly trackers and such) pretty much the same, but I’ve flipped my dailies and been really good about keeping up with a little bit of journalling each day!

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My first attempts at writing out my monthly trackers went a little wonky, but now that I’m more used to this big grid, July is gonna go much smoother. Another thing I love about BuJo is that I’m never upset about making mistakes, bc the next month is a chance to improve!

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Do you prefer a big dot grid for your journal? Do you keep a diary in your dailies?

What are your favorite aspects of Bullet Journalling?

6 Months to Zero Waste: No Bottled Water

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.

Since January, we’ve been taking some time each month for small ways we can reduce our waste and move towards a more zero waste lifestyle. Here are some things that we have tried in the last six month:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
This month we moved to paper to get one step closer to reusables.
April - Compost
Composting is an easy way to reduce food waste and prevent it from reaching the landfill.
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

Next month is Plastic Free July, so the last of our six months is a great time to start gearing up for a more drastic anti plastic challenge.
The perfect way to start is to give up some item of disposable plastic. Find one items that you use and stop using it. Hopefully in March we were able to give up plastic bag, so this month choose some other convenience, like bottled water, plastic straws, yogurt cups, plastic cutlery, or something else you use on a daily basis but might not think about.

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By giving up one seemingly small item we can tangibly see how we can reduce our waste little by little. An important part of moving towards zero waste is moving away from the constant convenience of modern life. It doesn’t mean your life will get harder, but it hopefully will mean that your life becomes more mindful. This does take a mindset shift, a habit shift, and a being more prepared in daily life. Once we see how easy it is to live without our bottled water, it’s easy to start giving up other such items.

But how do you actually give up bottled water? Once you set your mind to it, it’s not so hard. A great thing to do is use a reusable water bottle. You can get in almost any grocery store, or better yet buy one second hand. But if you don’t have one yet, try refilling a disposable plastic bottle you already have, use a water fountain, instead of taking water to go stay where you are and use a cup or glass, bring a cup to work to use. Or simply go without until you get to a place where you can drink from non-disposables.

Next month we’ll take part in Plastic Free July and gain even more insights into what we can give up or change to be even more zero waste.

What disposable plastic item will you give up in June?

June Life Admin Day 6/5/19

In March I started incorporating a Life Admin Day into my monthly routines. A Life Admin day is a day that you schedule to get life things done, usually those which you’ve been avoiding, putting off, or might need some extra care, things that are more complex or annoying than a regular daily to do list. It’s like your “to do list extra”.

For me, these days have varied in task and execution, as well as results, but I really like the idea of making my own work, to dos, and tasks as much a priority as I would similar things at my job. A method that I find is working for me goes something like this:

Schedule the day before the month starts.
I usually do this when I’m migrating my monthly bullet journal calendar. Since I’m putting in other dates to be mindful about at this time, other appointments or obligations, it works well for me to also schedule the upcoming month’s life admin day.

Have my LAD early in the month.
I’ve found that I have had to push my life admin day back at times, like I might do with a oil change appointment, or work meeting. If I schedule this day early in them month then I feel like I have time to still get it done if it gets pushed back. Also, it feels nice to accomplish something early, instead of waiting until the last minute.

Make a list several days before.
If I make a list too early, I forget about it. If I make it the day of, it feels like a regular days to do list. By making my list a few days in advance, I can really think about the tasks I want to achieve. Ideally, this would also give me time to prioritize them, but I haven’t really gotten that good at it, yet.

Give myself a time limit to get things done.
On my life admin days, I try to keep it brief. I usually have these days on my only day off and I don’t want to spend the whole time doing work. I also tend to flit about and giving myself a time constraint is most productive for me.

Following these basic guidelines have helped me keep a LAD in my monthly routine.

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June’s LAD was a little spotty for me. I ended up doing my tasks over two or three days. And of course, I didn’t get everything done. I still felt satisfied with what I got done. As usual with life admin days, I ended up with almost as many new tasks to get done as I got done.

Do you use a LAD? If so, share some tips! If not, can you suggest other methods to use to make life tasks a priority?

Intermittent Fasting Thoughts and Update

In February, I started an experiment to reset my health by following an intermittent fasting diet.

Intermittent fasting isn’t about what you eat, but how you eat and more specifically when you eat. With this diet, you restrict your eating to a set number of hours a day. Most people eat all their meals in only about 8 hours a day; intermittently fasting for the other 16 hours. Some people eat for less hours a day and some for more.

Some of the ideas behind IF is letting your body reset and fully digest between eating periods, putting your body into a small fasting time to burn off fat for weight loss and improved health, improving sleep cycles by eating at more set times, lowering your risks for certain diseases and age related ailments… plus more. Many people swear by this method of eating for all it’s potential benefits.

I tried intermittent fasting for about a month and I didn’t follow a strict number of hours a day to eat. I ate anywhere from 8-12 hours a day. I had wanted to try this diet bc I had found myself eating very unhealthily, eating right before sleep, not eating as much as I should or eating more than I should, and generally being uninspired about food and eating.

After researching intermittent fasting, it seemed that it might be a good, low restriction diet to make me more mindful about the way that I eat. IF is also credited to work for those trying to improve gut health which in turn improves metal health.

This meal was eaten out in a food hall not too far from my house. A challenge o eating out is finding out what plastic I will consume by doing so. This was a middle ground compormise after looking at 3 different food stalls.

This meal was eaten out in a food hall not too far from my house. A challenge o eating out is finding out what plastic I will consume by doing so. This was a middle ground compormise after looking at 3 different food stalls.

I really liked my experience with intermittent fasting. You can check out the observations of my first week in this post. Over the month, I felt a lot of benefit from IF such as improved inspiration for eating, mindfulness, some gut benefits, some mental benefits, plus I just really enjoyed this style of eating.

Although I wanted to continue intermittent fasting to see how my body and mind reacted to it, after a month, I had to stop eating in this manner.

Unfortunately my day to day routines and how they changed over the month made IF very difficult. I found it very hard to keep an eating schedule for days that I worked longer hours or late hours. I was unable to maintain healthy eating for more than the month and still maintain intermittent fasting.

My favorite part of trying IF was the inspiration and joy I found in eating in this time balanced with the long periods of not having to think about eating at all. I think I would have gotten into a vey nice rhythm eventually. I was also keen to see if I lost any weight with this method. I’m not one for calorie restriction or targeted exercise, so I would like to see if this worked for me to improve my weight health.

For this meal, I asked to have my iced coffee in a reusable cup. This cafe didn’t have a glass so they put it in a large mug.

For this meal, I asked to have my iced coffee in a reusable cup. This cafe didn’t have a glass so they put it in a large mug.

One side effect of intermittent fasting that was surprising was that once I had stopped this diet, even for several months, I found myself slipping back into not eating in the morning. When I was intermittent fasting, this was fine, bc I was concious of eating well in the afternoon and evening. When I’m not mindful of this I have found that there have been several days when I have not eaten enough, or very much at all. This has made me feel terrible and is unhealthy.

Although I have to be careful not to slip into this bad habit, it let’s me know that my body craves to eat more like an intermittent fasting lifestyle. I hope to be able to revisit this eating method soon and see if I can incorporate it into my life in a more sustainable way.

Have your tried intermittent fasting or a similar method of eating? Share your thoughts here!

Mad Cat Garden | May

Each month I like to share my plant observations. This can be our yard, our garden, the neighborhood, parks, beach, and more. This year we are really trying to pick up our garden game and I think it’s progress is going to require it’s own feature each month.

Although we had high hopes to start our garden super early, May came and went with little activity. We did prep the garden, started verbally planning, moved a few items around and let Tom visit as garden foreman.

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Our first garden bed, which is our front yard and last year housed tomatoes, started popping up with plants. We had to discern what each plant was and either leave them or transplant them. We had a lot of tomatoes come up from seeds that dropped off the plants last year.

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This strange plant popped up and grew like crazy. We did some research and discovered that it was an invasive plant called Japanese hops. It’s so pretty and we interested in seeing if it was going to grow hop like cones. Unfortunately it was growing like nuts and we had to re-home it so it did not choke out our new tomatoes. We were sad to find that the hops couldn’t handle the move and died pretty quickly. We think the hop seeds were dropped by visiting birds!

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The kale that we planted last year also over wintered. We had to clear it out of our back yard bed, but put it in a pot to see what it would do. In May, it flowered and started making seed pods. Kale flowers are lovely! We have collected the seed pods and plan to replant from last years growth!

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On the last day of May was when we really started planting and reseting the garden. In only a few weeks we’ve transformed the garden quite a bit. We look forward to seeing where June takes us.

May Plant Update

Ahhhhhhh, May. What a month for plant and animal observations! Here in Asbury Park, it was a very green month, mild, rainy and fresh. We didn’t travel too much this month, we didn’t get to the beach, or local parks often. Most of our observations were around our neighborhood and our own back yard.

I didn’t see too many dandelions this month, but I did see some dandy fluffs.

I didn’t see too many dandelions this month, but I did see some dandy fluffs.

One of the most common flowers we have in our yard are chive flowers.

One of the most common flowers we have in our yard are chive flowers.

All our rose bushes died over the Winter, but we’ve seen a lot out and about.

All our rose bushes died over the Winter, but we’ve seen a lot out and about.

Nothing better than #watchercats + flowers.

Nothing better than #watchercats + flowers.

This sweet grass eater had a wonky eye.

This sweet grass eater had a wonky eye.

Mama and baby playing in the grass.

Mama and baby playing in the grass.

In the beginning of the month, the leaves were just budding out. By the end of the month, these trees were full!

In the beginning of the month, the leaves were just budding out. By the end of the month, these trees were full!

The only thing better than a fresh rose is one with rain droplets.

The only thing better than a fresh rose is one with rain droplets.

What are the plants like where you live this month? Is it warm, hot, or cold where you are?

What is your favorite flower to observe?

6 Months to Zero Waste: Meatless Mondays in May

Last month we figured out how to compost to reduce our food waste. Another food related waste that we can start to combat is the to understand the huge impact the modern industrial meat has on the waste we create.

Some great ways to combat this kind of waste is to go totally vegan, only buy local meat from small farms, only grow your own food, fish for your sea food, etc… But a simple and good first step is to be more mindful of what meat, fish and dairy, you do consume.

It can be Monday, Wednesday, or whenever, but making sure to take one day a week to consciously be aware of what you’re eating and where it’s coming from. If you eat a lot of meat, take one day to be vegetarian, if your veg, take a day to be vegan. Eat local one day, eat raw, eat no processed foods, eat only from your garden, eat only foods not packaged in plastic… there are so many ways to be mindful of what you are eating and change you habits.

By simply changing how we think about what we eat, we can become more mindful of the waste our food creates, and become more mindful of how that waste effects our environment and planet.

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Since January, we’ve been taking some time each month for small ways we can reduce our waste and move towards a more zero waste lifestyle.

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.

Here’s what we have done each month, so far. Feel free to follow a long, do everything all at once, or come up with your own monthly challenge.

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
This month we moved to paper to get one step closer to reusables.
April - Compost
Composting is an easy way to reduce food waste and prevent it from reaching the landfill.
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

Where are you in your zero waste journey?

Bullet Journal Check In: May 2019 - New Book Needed

My current Bullet Journal has lasted quite a few months - November 2018 to May 2019. But now our time together is coming to an end. This current journal will only last until the end of the month. I loved this last journal bc it was thrifted, reused and pretty darn cute. For my next book, I have no idea what I’ll get. Ideally, I’d love to find a used book again, but I’m in a little bit of a time crunch.

Here are a few books I might like to try:

The last few books I’ve gotten were grid books and I really like to bullet journal with grids. But I’m ready to try a dot notebook again. All three of the above are interesting choices.

Do you have a go to notebook?

Last Seen Wearing

One of my goals in 2019 is to read more. See other books I've read or listened to here.

I’m happily working my way thru all the Inspector Morse series. Last Seen Wearing, An Inspector Morse Novel by Colin Dexter is book two. This was also read by Kevin Whately, who played the character Sargent Lewis in the BBC version.

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Cantancerous Morse would rather not deal with the living. Only the dead and the reason for their deaths make sense to him. So when he land the cold case of a missing girl, he’s less than pleased. But maybe she’s not missing, maybe it’s murder after all?

Morse might be one of the best cops on the beat, but he also needs his sargent to bounce ideas off of. Once he meets Sargent Lewis, he finds his foil. Lewis has seen a lot of Morse’s crazy ideas. Lewis is straight forward, diligent, and pretty unimaginative. He doesn’t understand Morse’s methods, but Morse gets results. In this case, Lewis and Morse couldn’t be more at odds, holding opposing ideas the entire time.
All great detectives are flawed and Morse may be more so than most. He drinks too much, he lusts too much, he jumps to conclusions. He thinks very highly of himself and very little of everyone else. But he sees balance in Lewis. If only Lewis would loosen up!
I’ve really been enjoying these novels! I would recommend this book and this book series for those who like British novels, complex lead characters, or small town murder mysteries.

Do you have a favorite detective series?

Mad Cat Capsule | Spring 2019 (April, May, June)

Spring of 2019 sees the two year mark of my capsule wardrobes. Two full years of culling my clothes, dividing them into more manageable capsules, grouped by season. Two years of trying not to buy fast fashion and close to that of buying barely any new clothes at all. two years of being aware of the impact fast fashion has on our environment and economy. Two years of choosing to still buy certain things knowing they are fast fashion (the shoes that are most comfortable to me for instance) but also seeking out alternatives. Two years of getting back into thrifting, and enjoying the challenge of finding what I need that way, two years of researching sustainable fashion.

I feel like I have used the same method for picking my capsules more or less the entire time I’ve made them. I take all my clothes out, go thru them, put anything and everything I might want into a pile. I then cull that pile down to around 40 to 50 items.

Over the last few seasons I tracked how often I wore each item over the 3 month. It wasn’t many time for each piece. This got me thinking about how I can better utilize my capsule. I’ve forgone going thru all my clothes this time and used my last capsule and a few key pieces I picked up to start a more fluid Spring Capsule.

I waited to create this post to see if this spring would eventually be a complete capsule. So far that hasn’t happened. I’m only sharing what I’ve worn until now. I’m planning on making this capsule more like a long trial for my Summer Capsule.

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I didn’t choose a color scheme, an inspiration item, or have any clear plan for the clothing I pulled for this capsule. But I like how the colors do come together and combine to make it a coherent capsule.

Looks like now, I’m at around 35 pieces. At least 30 of those are slow fashion. This doesn’t count shoes. I’m still picking pieces and adding them, and I’ve been taking items I don’t use away as well. I don’t have an exact goal with this capsule experiment, except the larger goal of always moving towards a more sustainable, more useful wardrobe.

What methods and experiments have you tried with your capsule wardrobe?

2019 Goals | April Recap and May Goals

Goals are funny things. Sometimes they make you feel great, sometimes they make you frustrated and sad. Goals and what the results are when we meet them have the power that we give them. The goals I set here are for myself, to improve my life and my state of mind. Sometimes they are about work, life, or more creative endeavors. But not achieving them in the time frame I’ve put out for myself shouldn’t mean I feel bad or like I’m failing. How do we meet our goals, or not meet them, and feel good about the progress we’ve made, no matter what?

Here are some goals I set for April:

Make and post 1 youtube video
I’ve made several in the past, but tis is really something I want to get into and incorporate into my creative life.
I can’t quite seem to make this goal a reality. I wonder what is holding me back or if it’s just that the right focus hasn’t been placed on it.

Plan our next 2 trips
I want to make sure to get away a little in April and May before the Summer season really sets in.
We have talked a lot about this but not actually done it yet. Let’s roll it over.

Get out into the yard 3-4 times
There’s a lot of yard work and garden work to do and we are running up against the planting clock.
I was able to get out in the yard and, as a bonus, in the community garden in April. We haven’t done much planting yet. I want to modify this goal to keep me getting outside and in the yard.

Get back to blogging 4-5 times per week
Gotta get back in the habit!
This was a big N O for April, let’s try it again for May.

Better health 15 days of the month
I want have some breadless days, some vegan days, some exercise and stretching days, etc…. Overall be more mindful of my body and health. (I’ve eaten totally vegan 1 day of the month so far!)
Yeep, shall we try again?

Move my 50+ plants
Rolling this goal over, too.
This was the one goal that I totally finished this month. I like to do this every few months so that my plants continue to be healthy and happy. Next move will prob see many of them go outside!

Inbox to 500 and maintain
Another goal from last month. I’m ready to get back on track with this in April.
Why is this last 500 emails so hard? Anyone have any tips for this?

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OK, here are some goals for May:

Make and post 1 youtube video
Let’s try this one again. What are some videos you would like to see?

Plan our next 2 trips
I want to get this done this month so we can take the time off we will need to.

Plant 6 or more garden beds.
Now that the weather is nicer, getting out in the yard and garden shouldn’t be too hard. I want to make sure we have our beds planted, so that’s the new goal.

Better health 15 days of the month
Ok, getting out into nature will help, eating better will help, morning walks will help, stretching and exercising will help. Now I’ve got to actually do those things.

Inbox to 1000 and and decrease
My inbox has crept back up to well over 1000. I even had to buy more storage, so this task should be easier.

Blog as many times as I can for the month.
I want to eventually have a steady 5 days per week blog schedule, but posting as many as I can will help me settle in.

I feel like I could add a bunch more goals, like getting a new car, trying to find a therapist, or loosing 10 lbs, but I’m going to cap them there.

What are your goals for May?

6 Months of Zero Waste: March Switch Review

If you’re looking to reduce your waste or your plastic consumption, you might already know that giving up plastic bags is an easy first step.

Whether a this is a first step or a fiftieth, giving up plastic bags just make sense. Every time we go to the grocery, big box store, etc… we are given a plastic bag out of hand. When we pick up some rolls at the grocery, some lemons, or a head of lettuce, etc… we put them in or they come in a plastic bag. The best solution for this is to simply bring your own reusable bags, made from mesh, clothe, recycled materials, and old tee shirt, whatever!

If remembering to bring a reusable bag is still a hard step for you, consider switching to paper.

Granted, this is a lateral move, bc it’s still creating waste, but asking for paper is a good way to be mindful of your plastic intake. In stead of taking a plastic bag for your self serve rolls, cookies, or produce look around the grocery for a paper bag, or ask at the check out for a small paper bag. A lot of times these live by the bakery section.

Many groceries now have a bulk section which usually have a plastic bag to store your items in. You can use a paper bag! Ideally, you’ll graduate to bringing a cloth bag or reusable jar for this, but for now using paper is a great first step!

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By choosing paper over plastic at every opportunity in the grocery, your reducing your plastic waste but you can also reuse the paper bags in many ways! We get our groceries in paper and then use those bags for all our trash and recycling. In our area, we can’t put our recycling out in plastic bags, by putting it in paper, it allows us to store it and toss it, with out unnecessary plastic. You can reuse your paper bags by returning them to the store and using them again, you can pack your lunch on them, use them to donate clothes to the thrift, use them for book covers or wrapping paper, shelf liners, or litter box liners. When your bags are too crinkled to reuse, toss them in your compost pile and they will turn into soil for your garden.

A few tips for switching to paper:
Go for brown bags - they aren’t bleached and therefore better to eventually compost or dispose of.
Don’t use bags if you don’t have to - If you can go with out a bag, that’s ever better than switching to paper! Potatoes, apples, and other veggies or larger items that come in their own containers don’t need to be in a bag at all.
Make sure to reuse your paper bags - An issue with switching to paper is that your house can be overwhelmed with paper bags. Using them to hold trash, or in any number of ways, make sure that they aren’t cluttering up your home.
Try to bring them back to the store when you can - Remembering to put your used paper bags in the car or in your purse/backpack to bring back to the grocery is a good way to get the hang of bringing your own bag.

At Mad Cat Quilts, we’re still catching up with our 6 month of Zero Waste Challenge. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
We went thru what we have to declutter and reduce.
March - Switch to Paper
April - Compost
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

How are you doing with your 6 month of zero waste? Are you following along or are you challenging your self in other ways?

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