The business card. Useful but wasteful. Those tiny cards add up in piles around your home, wallet, car, and office — sometimes used, sometimes forgotten. Why don’t we move on from this somewhat antiquated (and wasteful) form of exchanging information?
I know some fancy paid apps exist where you can create/share/collect specialized digital business cards. But I prefer to keep it a bit simpler than that. I used Canva (feel free to use your editor of choice) to create a super basic image with my contact information. Then, I keep the image on my phone and backed up in my email. And that’s it. When anyone asks me for my information at a networking event, I’ll either quickly text or email them my business card image file or, (in a pinch), let them take a photo of the picture.
Similarly, I also decline other peoples’ business cards and opt to take a photo of their card instead. So. There you have it. An easy way to avoid accruing tiny pieces of papers with peoples’ emails listed.
I recently read this article on the “bad season” aka the few months every year (winter, summer, doesn’t matter) where everything just feels BLAH and self care becomes critical. For many people, THIS is the bad season. The part of winter where it’s been dark and cold and rainy/snowy for weeks. When the cheer of the holiday season has worn off. When we can’t be bothered to care about our yearly goals and resolutions. I personally have two bad seasons — one, right now, for 2 months or so and another in June-July when the heat is heavy and oppressive and I have to shower 3 times a day to feel clean. (We’ll dig in to the summer blues later this year. )
Right now, let’s discuss self care for the winter months. For me, the post-holiday-winter “bad season” manifests as lethargy, overeating, and general wallowing. But over the past few years, I’ve found ways to really lean into this time of year and make the best of it.
(First off, before we get in to the more lighthearted stuff — if you think you have depression or seasonal affective disorder, talk to your doctor or therapist. After getting diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder a few years ago and starting medication, my seasonal mood dips also drastically decreased. Ultimately, if what you feel is beyond a “bad season” thing — get help.)
Here are my tips:
Daily outdoor walks. I have 3 dogs making this a bit of non-negotiable. But even if you don’t have a furry companion, get outside every day (weather permitting). Bonus points if your walk takes you along a path with nature. Every morning, my husband and I bundle up and take our dogs on a 2 mile walk through our neighborhood and the adjacent nature preserve. I like to think of this as similar to the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” (which is supposed to do wonders for your health). If you are able, really try and get out in nature… even if it’s just walking under a few trees.
A 10 minute workout. If you’re already feeling lethargic, don’t try and get crazy and do a one hour HIIT session. Just try and do 10 minutes of activity everyday. I have a playlist with 10 minute floor workouts that I pull up every morning.
Aromatherapy. Procure a diffuser and experiment with different essential oil blends that fit in with the season. I love using blends with pine, bergamot, peppermint, and cinnamon this time of year.
Tea. Something about the process of making and drinking tea is incredibly comforting (especially when you are doing it the zero waste way with loose leaf tea). It’s a mindfulness practice in itself. Make yourself a cup, sit quietly, breathe in the steam, enjoy.
Socks. Cold feet suck. They make you not want to get up and do anything. Just wear the socks. Preferably the warmest ones you can find. I haven’t been sock-less in months now. As a whole, wear warm, cozy, and comfortable things.
Twinkle lights. These are not just for Christmas. I put up twinkle lights on my tv stand in November and don’t take them down until April. They make me happy and add a hint of magic to the everyday. So string up a strand in a visible spot in your home. Turn it on as soon as it gets dark out.
Puzzles. Find yourself some good 1,000 piece puzzles (Half Price Books usually has a bunch of pre-loved ones) and always have one going (ours is on the dining table). Any time you are feeling bored or uninspired, give yourself a goal of fitting 5 more pieces in. Whenever I do this, I inevitably end up spending at least an hour trying to get “just one more piece.” Bonus: it’s a bit of a brain workout.
I would consider myself a minimalist. I’m not extreme about it but I am pretty ruthless about what I keep in the house. But as a family that cooks a lot, the kitchen is where I break my rule on not having overly specialized/single purpose items. I relegate these little gadgets to one drawer (except for the two appliances listed). Your list might look very different than mine… but be very thoughtful about the kitchen gadgets you do keep. Don’t keep things that will only be used once a year or in a wishful/just in case scenario. Or items that you hate using because they are bulky/a pain to clean. To me, minimalism is not about having anything but about keeping the items that are used often and make life easier. Here are the items I personally keep around.
Milk Frother: I seldom buy tea/hot chocolate/etc. from a coffee shop as I prefer to make them at home. It’s cheaper, produces less waste, and I can get exactly what I want. Wins all around. However, because I don’t use a fancy machine to make these things (just a kettle or on stovetop), my drinks lack the wonderful frothiness found at the coffee shop. This tiny, inexpensive milk frother does the job.
Citrus Squeezer: We are frequently in need of freshly squeezed lemon or lime, whether for a margarita, a cake, or in hot water when sick. Frankly, I just suck at squeezing lemons… barely getting any juice out of them and then resorting to using 2- 3 times the number that a recipe calls for. A citrus squeezer makes the job easier, faster, and less wasteful.
Apple Slicer: This is one of those items that you do not need to have if you don’t eat sliced apples FREQUENTLY. However, in our household, that is not the case. Our dogs eat apples, I eat apples, my husband eat apples. Always sliced. With peanut butter. This item is a time saver for us.
Dough/Bench Scraper: Some people consider the humble dough (or bench) scraper a single use item. I disagree. I use this to, yes, scrape dough but also to transfer veggies from a cutting board, clean flour/sugar off the counters while baking, and to cut/portion out pieces of dough.
Meat Thermometer: As someone who has gotten food poisoning from chicken, I can wholeheartedly say that it is an experience I have no desire to ever repeat. Hence. The meat thermometer. I also use this while baking cakes and frittatas.
Potato Masher: I like mashed potatoes. Both sweet and regular. I have yet to find a way to mash potatoes with forks (or another household item) that lead to a consistency I enjoy. Therefore, the potato masher stays.
Now for the appliances. I don’t think either of these are must haves (even for me). However, I enjoy them and they make life a bit easier. If I didn’t have the space for them, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them away. But, for now, they stay.
Bread Maker: I don’t think making your own bread is the only zero waste way to get bread. It’s actually less wasteful to get freshly baked bread from Whole Foods (or wherever) and stick it in your own bag straight from the bakery. Making bread at home means that I have to get flour, sugar, salt (all package free) and yeast (in a glass jar). However, the resulting bread is divine. Basically, I keep the bread maker because of the sheer joy of eating warm, freshly baked, low ingredient bread at home. I think that’s a pretty good reason to keep it around.
Rice Cooker: I’m Asian and I also enjoy cooking different Asian foods. And rice is a large component of many Asian cuisines. As an Asian, having a rice cooker is a part of life. I have never lived without one! Can I make rice on the stove top? Yeah. Do I want to? Nope. My compromise is that I have a much smaller rice cooker than the one I grew up with.