Baby Steps: How to Opt for the “Less Waste Home” before “Zero Waste Home”

30 Dec
Image: Sfgate.com

Image: Sfgate.com

When Jess Chamberlain came out with her story in Sunset Magazine about the Zero Waste Home I was fixated! How could this family of four + 1 dog manage to go through an entire year with just one small jar full of trash? It boggled my mind that this family was able to do just that. It’s hard enough just keeping a home clutter-free, but garbage free – wow.

Image: theepochtimes.com

Image: theepochtimes.com

On the one hand, it would be ideal to go cold turkey and follow every single one of the tips suggested on the Zero Waste Home blog. Seeing the long list, it would be impossible to implement all these at once.

It’s certainly a huge commitment and takes dedication to get to that place of no waste.

Rather than see the glass half empty, I decided I’d rather start small, see what works, what doesn’t and adjust as I go along.

The Zero Waste Concept involves 5R’s:

  1. Refuse what you do not need
  2. Reduce what you do need
  3. Reuse what you consume
  4. Recycle what you cannot
  5. Rot (Compost) the rest

Thus, here was the challenge, here’s what I did, what worked, what didn’t and what I intend to do.

Challenge: An almost impossible dream – create a Zero Waste Home.

Small Steps
Here’s a couple tips I tackled:

1. Swap paper towels for reusable rags.

Use rags and less paper towels.
Pros:
Spend less money on paper towels.
Cons: Small towels have to be washed. Although we still use the occasional paper towel, it’s made a difference in the overall waste we produce.

Use cloth napkins as opposed to paper napkins.
Pros:
Don’t have to buy napkins, napkin bill went down.
Cons: Cloth napkins also need to be washed and that adds to your laundry bill.

Rethink the recycling bin
Ironically only a small percentage of recyclables actually get reused and the rest ends up in the landfill anyway, so recycling should be a last resort. What I did was use clementine crates for gardening tool organizing, donate glass jar containers to my son’s schools for paints, reuse christmas cards for craft projects for son’s school and reuse aluminum foil, take out containers and sandwich baggies before recycling.

2. Curb Holiday Consumption

Every year we typically buy presents for family and friends. We curbed overspending this year by bailing out of exchanging presents for everyone and offering 1 big present where needed. Example, my family and sibling’s family pitched in for an outdoor grill for my parents. Throughout the year, some potential gifts were purchased either on sale or second hand. Example, for my son, we got a good amount of outdoor toys and kids consignment store and Craigslist finds that were his presents.

What I plan to continue to do and follow up on:

  • composting
  • junk mail
  • add more indoor houseplants (to absorb toxins and clean the air)

What baby steps have you taken for reducing household waste?

Why DARLING magazine is great for women’s personal growth

29 Dec
DARLING mission statement

DARLING mission statement

I picked up DARLING magazine in the Sale section of Anthropologie expecting it to have your typical aspirational lifestyle photographs and content you could only use in everyday life if you had the money. I mean, I love reading shelter and women’s magazines but my biggest complaint would be that there are too many ads that distract from the stories, too many product placements in pricepoints way beyond what I’m willing to spend and tips I probably wouldn’t use- in essence most women’s magazines are ironically not for the average, everyday woman.

Plus, there are too many impossible standards to live by. How can you not be made to feel inadequate if there’s a bunch of airbrushed size two models in hyperpriced wardrobe in most of the glossy pages.

I was pleasantly surprised that DARLING magazine was not your typical women’s magazine. Don’t get me wrong, the photographs were near perfect and yes slim models were used for some photoshoots. At least they had their clothes on and weren’t super airbrushed and overly provocative like the women portrayed in Cosmo. Well DARLING magazine’s tagline is The Art of Being a Woman. Maybe this is the first real woman’s magazine of it’s kind. How progressive. It makes me want to read more and forget ad sponsored magazines trying to sell me something. This is the first magazine with a real mission statement and authentic voice I’ve found in a long while.

Pros:

  •     There are no ads or product placement stories so content was coming from an authentic place
  •     There are actually useful tips that you could implement today – like building a capsule wardrobe
  •     Lots of eye candy and beautiful photography that’s inspirational
  •     Stories are positive, empowering and inspirational
  •     Advice comes from people who followed their own advice and show how it worked for them
  •     Great mission statement, sends positive messages to women – read their mission statement
  •     Digital issue ($5) is cheaper than the print issue ($20) – there’s also free content on their site

Cons:

  •     Print magazine is expensive
  •     Not enough time to read all the content – there’s SO much information
  •     Print magazine is not readily available – could only get it at Anthro or online

Check it out and see for yourself here!

New sale items in Fresh Cuts

21 Aug

Anthropologie’s Fresh Cuts section has merchandise marked down to about 50% off.  Check out these cute sale items!

Spirited Peasant Top, $40

Gem Chroma T-Straps, $80

Hue-Piped Ballerinas, $50

Silk Road Mosaic Tee, $40

Novella Strapless Dress, $80

How Anthropologie and the Drought Got Me into Gardening

19 Aug

My jalapeno pepper plant

I’ve never had a green thumb. Most of my house plants tend to die. The ones that did survive were the Ikea ZZ plant and miraculously this hand-me-down jalapeno pepper I received from a lady at my puppy‘s playgroup. Since I’ve started simplifying and decluttering my wardrobe through the Glam Save Style Challenge, I’ve found the time to learn how to garden.

Alys Fowler‘s Garden Anywhere

Alys Fowler‘s Garden Anywhere from Anthropologie‘s clearance section in Boston has become my nighttime reading. (It sat on my bookshelf for awhile though.) I always wanted to start a garden but never knew where to begin. Anthropologie always had some gardening books and garden-inspired displays which piqued my mild interest in gardening.

Lauren Santo Domingo’s garden, Vogue (Sept. 2012)

I was also inspired by Lauren Santo Domingo’s garden in Paris featured in this month’s Vogue. Those large terracotta pots of lavender along with the purple salvia, bay, jasmine and roses reminded me of my mental note to start a garden (more for herbs and veggies, although flowers would be nice too). Seeing those pots made me think how container gardens seem like a good way to start since they’re smaller than traditional gardens and seem easier to manage.

Image from Alys Fowler’s Garden Anywhere

Nowadays with the drought affecting food prices, now may be a good time to learn how to grow some of our own herbs and vegetables. I remember after reading Barbara Kingsolver‘s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan‘s In Defense of Food  how I’d wanted to try to find some small way to go back to the land. This is one way to start.

How to buy just the things on your shopping list

15 Aug

Lately I’ve not only tried using the 80/20 Rule for paring down the clothing clutter in my wardrobe via Glam Save Style Challenge but also in other areas of my life, including errand shopping. Whether it’s the grocery, farmer’s market, Target or Walmart, I often find myself distracted by attractive aisle displays, sale items or food or products I think I might need later and not what’s actually written on the shopping list on my iPhone Notes app.

Well, today actually felt like a mini-victory as I was able to get just the four things on my list and that’s it! That almost never happens as I always find excuses to put other things in my cart.

What helped were three things.

1. I made it a point to pay cash for this purchase. If I paid credit, I knew I’d be tempted to put more things in my cart.

2. When tempted to put a non-list item in the shopping cart (like a magazine or candy at checkout), I asked myself the following questions:

  • Do I need this item?
  • Will I use this purchase at least 80% of the time?
  • Will this help me on my way to a simpler, minimalist lifestyle?
  • Will this actually help or just add to the clutter?

3. Fortunately Walmart’s setup is more utilitarian than Target’s cool designed layout. Had I been at Target where they have more attractive stuff to put in your cart, I probably would have had to take out the non-list items out of the pushcart once at check out.

Anthropologie Duckie Rainboots found on Zappos, Not as Expected Though

11 Aug

So I finally found those Anthropologie Chooka rain flats I coveted back in March! (See previous post here.) They’re on Zappos for only $48! Alas, the size 7 was too big and I know size 6 would be too small :(. I’m a true 6 1/2 and never do well with full sizes. Also, the quality wasn’t as expected. I planned to use them for gardening and walking the dog in the rain. I was hoping for sturdy L.L. Bean quality but these are more for fashion and just look cute. I wanted to love these but didn’t work out that way. They had to be returned, otherwise I know in my heart I’d only use them maybe 20% of the time. Right now, I’m doing the Glam Save Style challenge where I purge my dated, unused clothing clutter, keep what gets the most wear and only buy quality items I plan to use 80% of the time. Anything not used at least 80% of the time gets the boot (no pun intended).

It doesn’t help too – the pictures really exaggerate what you want to believe in an online product. My fault though for not trying them on first. They didn’t have this product in the Anthro store near me to try on though. And the quality looked really good, but shame on me for not looking at advertising with a jaundiced eye and falling for the whole “Only 1 left in stock” in red caps for my size further enticing to buy the product. Lesson learned!

Eye Candy: Spring Shoes

28 Mar

These shoes are so not on sale yet. I couldn’t resist getting a pic of this display from the store at Rockefeller Center in NYC. I looked on their website for the rainboot flat. Couldn’t find it :(.

When Things Go on Sale

28 Mar

There’s nothing like a good sale. Especially when you’ve eyed something out on the floor and it slowly makes its way to the clearance section. This Rideau Sweater Dress dropped from about $138 to $69.95. Not a bad price.

City vs. Suburbs

28 Mar

I just got back from NYC where I used to live and work when I was still single. It feels great to go back. I almost feel like an alumna that graduated from living in the big city to the next stage in my life – getting married and starting a family.

What’s great about the city is easy access to everything – the shops, restaurants, museums, cultural events, etc. You could walk everywhere and get good exercise or just hop on a bus or subway. The only problem is it’s inconvenient if you have a large purchase or need to lug a bunch of groceries. That’s where suburban living is a plus – you don’t have to hail a taxi (especially in cold, snowy, rainy weather). You could hop in the car and put your heavy purchase in your trunk.

People watching is more interesting in the metropolitan area. You don’t need to look to fashion magazines since the streets are practically a runway. Since many people from around the world tend to flock to urban centers, one gets to see how people dress and present themselves. I notice details from a bold accessory or handbag here to a new shade of spring flats to a colorful trench. In the suburbs, it’s pretty casual. Too casual sometimes. Then again, it’s nice to let the hair down and just be yourself and not get too caught up in vanity and pretentiousness. Baggy sweats and T-shirts rule here.

I’d say the biggest difference is cost of living and living space. Apartment living doesn’t allow for much space for stuff, which could be a plus and a minus. If you’re single, space isn’t a priority since you’re out and about anyway and can hang out at bars, clubs, coffee shops or whatever. You’re not likely to be stuck in an apartment (unless you need to save money for that weekend). If you have a family, it may pose a challenge and you’d need to be creative with your space. Cost of living is muy expensivo but that’s a given.

In the suburbs you’ve got more bang for your buck with housing – more square footage and an actual yard which is ideal if you have active pets or kids. Plus you can garden, plant more trees and be more in touch with nature. The cost of living is lower as well. The only problem is, if you have a lot of space, you may end up becoming a hoarder and bringing more stuff than needed just to fill a space whereas if you live in the city, you’re likely to declutter and get rid of what you don’t need so you could fit everything you need in tiny spaces.

50% off Friday only!

24 Nov

A Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I’m looking forward to the Black Friday Sale.  I’m not one to wake up early for any retailer but I may make an exception for the Anthro store and check out their goods at 6am.  Better yet I’ll check out the Anthro site at 12AM and see what they’ve got!  Happy Shopping!