The Joy of Using Things Up

In January 2018, I decided that I was going to go at least 3 months without buying any new clothes (the exceptions: underwear, shoes, leggings, and anything needed for bridesmaid duties). I ended up going until October and found it shockingly easy. I fell in love with thrifting, Poshmark, and shopping my own closet. This January, I decided to re-start my “no new clothes” challenge. We’re in the middle of April and, so far, so good. The challenge got me thinking — what else could I stand to stop buying this year? Like clothes, other personal and household items can accumulate. Think… candles, skincare, makeup, even food items … generally smaller, consumable items that are OH SO EASY to impulse purchase (especially when traveling!).

Anyone else feel a sense of joy (or even accomplishment) when you get through an entire skincare product or hit pan in a makeup palette or burn through a candle in it’s entirety? I want to feel more of that. So here are some items I am adding to my “do not buy” list until there are no “backups” left.

  • Candles. Yeah, I’m one of those people. I make candles in old candle jars. I also buy candles because I’m a total sucker. I am given candles because everyone knows how much I love candles. A candle is lit daily so they do get used up… but, right now, I have an overwhelming amount to go through.
  • Bath Bombs. I was given a lot of bath bombs over Christmas which piled up on top of my impulse bath bomb purchases at Lush. I am making a habit of taking more baths and making sure to use a bath bomb each time.
  • Bar Soaps. I blame my husband. He’s a soap fiend. At Whole Foods? Buy soap. Traveling and see a small business owner selling soap? Buy it. Obviously, these get used up. But, right now, I have a small shoe box full of soap.
  • Body Moisturizers. Don’t know how this happened but between gifts and half empty lotion bottles — I probably have 2 years worth of the stuff.
  • Face Masks. Not the sheet ones but jars and tubes of them. They come as part of skincare kits, as gifts, etc. I also find that I take forever to get through them as I’m not super consistent about masking. Goal: Mask twice a week and get through all these jars! In the future, maybe DIY masks to save self from collecting (somewhat unused) masks.
  • Lipstick and lip balms. I have too many, plain and simple. I also have every color and forumation I could possibly need so I just need to stop picking these up.
  • OTC Medications. Somehow we end up with multiple bottles of Ibuprofen, allergy medications, and Pepto. Usually while traveling or out and about, someone ends up with a headache or sniffles and we end up buying meds that come home with us. Goal: Make sure to pack medications in travel bag to prevent purchases. Thoroughly check medicine cabinet before buying any medications.
  • Tea. Another impulse travel purchase. Wherever I am in the world, I end up buying local tea. Yeah, the loose leaf stuff is great and compostable but how much tea do I really need?! So. No more until I’m through the majority of my stash.

What items could you stand to stop buying for the next few months?

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Zero Waste + Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions

Last year was a great zero waste/low waste/eco-friendly year for me. I started this blog, reduced our household trash production by A LOT, and became a Recycling Ambassador with my city. But we (I) can always do better so here are some goals/resolutions/whatever you want to call it for the coming year. And, also, comment and tell me what your green goals are for this year! 

  1. Become a Master Composter. My classes/training starts later this month!
  2. Find a facial bar soap I like. Makeup and skincare products are my “luxury items” — and while I try to buy in glass as much as possible, and recycle everything else with TerraCycle/Origins/L’Occitane… I can do better. So my goal this year is to go totally zero waste when it comes to face wash. I’m thinking this or this.
  3. Re-start my “buy no new clothes” resolution from last year. Last year, I went 10 months (after initially shooting for one month, then three) without buying any new clothing items (except underwear). And by “no new” — I mean, every clothing item I buy must be thrifted (whether at a physical store or from eBay/Poshmark/ThredUp). I’m hoping to go at least 6 months this year. 
  4. Save excess shower/bath water, pasta water, tea pot water, etc. in a bucket to use to water plants during the summer. It gets incredibly hot here in Dallas during the summer and my roses drink a lot of water during this time. So I’m going to make an effort to save water that would otherwise go down the drain at home to water the outdoor plants. 
  5. Repair clothes before replacing them. Darn socks with holes in them. De-pill sweaters, leggings, and t-shirts. Remove stains ASAP. 
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Eco-Friendly or Zero Waste School Supplies

This Wednesday… July turns into August. And many of us start looking forward to the crispness of fall (my favorite season) and new beginnings. As a kid though, August meant one thing. Back-to-school school supply shopping. Walking around OfficeMax… buying the perfect matching notebooks and folders. Ah. Bliss.

Fast forward 20 years and I still get somewhat nostalgic for those beautiful school supplies. I get a little giddy seeing all the new adorable stuff available at Target. BUT — man. The whole thing is super wasteful. The packaging surrounding the supplies and then the ultimate toss to the landfill. Or even just the mass of school supplies that end up dragged to Goodwill when you are 25 and stuck cleaning your childhood closet…

But there is a way to be somewhat mindful of the supplies your kiddos buy while also teaching them about the environment. Win-win. The goal is to find as many supplies as possible that can a. be re-used year over year b. get used up or composted c. get recycled d. at least made of recycled materials to begin with. Also, if you can find something secondhand. That’s great too.

Anything linked below are just examples of the stuff out there (with good reviews). Price points can be across the board but with a little hunting (or thrifting), I’m sure a deal can be had.

Backpacks
Thrift/find secondhand if possible. Or find one made out of 100% cotton. Or at the very least, pick one with a lifetime warranty.

Lunchboxes
Thrift/find secondhand if possible. Or find one made out of stainless steel or 100% cotton. Better yet, thrift a stainless steel lunch box.

Pencil Pouch
Thrift/find secondhand if possible. Or find one made out of 100% cotton.

Notebooks
Find ones made out of recycled material without any weird binding. Like this. Recycle the whole thing when no longer needed. (If it just HAS to have the spiral, try this one. Or this one. And at least recycle all the paper.)

Notebook Paper
Eco-friendly filler paper. Recycle when done.

Construction Paper
100% recycled construction paper. Recycle when done.

Folders
100% recycled folders. Recycle when done.

Crayons
Beeswax crayons! Use it up.

Colored Pencils
Pencils from environmentally well-managed forests.

Markers
Not ideal BUT Crayola will recycle any brand markers (and highlighters).

Highlighters
If your kids’ school is flexible — they now sell eco-friendly highlighter pencils!

Pens
I don’t think many kids want to carry around a fountain pen so best bet… just use up all those random pens given to you over the years at events. Once those are used up, find pens that are made out of recycled materials. And don’t toss your old pens away — send them to Pen Guy Art!

Pencils
There’s a lot of debate over whether regular pencils or mechanical ones are more eco-friendly. I think if you aren’t losing mechanical pencils all the time and find one made out of recycled materials, it’s a great choice. Otherwise, regular pencils without any frills are a good choice. These pencils are neat because they can be planted after they are too small to use to grow plants!

Eraser
Recycled rubber eraser stick. Use up.

Glue
Elmer’s has a natural glue stick. Recycle the packaging when used up.

Scissors
Find one with stainless steel blades and recyclable or biodegradable plastic handles. Maybe like this one.

Ruler
Get the stainless steel one.

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Q1 Thrift Finds

I don’t think zero waste/minimalism and loving fashion and beautiful homes have to be mutually exclusive. I think it just means being mindful of purchases. With that in mind… I only recently got into the whole thrifting thing. I know, I know. What was I doing? But I made a resolution this year to ONLY buy thrifted clothing items. Nothing new. Actually, initially — my idea was to not buy any new clothes until March. But once I started thrifting, I realized I could do it the rest of the year — no problem. My husband even got in on it too. I feel good about buying clothes that are already out in the “clothing stream” and I’m happy to give new life to clothes that could otherwise end up unworn, thrown away, or sent to another country (to then ultimately end up in that country’s waste stream). I also learned that thrifting doesn’t mean my only option is to go to the thrift store and sift through unorganized racks for hours on end. If I’m looking for a particular item or something a little higher end, Poshmark and ThredUp have been fabulous. For those of you scared of thrifting, don’t be. There are finds to be had! So if you need a little encouragement, here are the items I’ve picked up (for quite a steal) over the past 3 months. (And of course — I follow the one in-one out rule in my closet!)