Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Unsubscribed


This last year I had a stack 2 feet high of 6 months of unread magazines. Magazines that I proceeded to flip through quickly and donate to my library because I really wasn't interested in their content anymore.

Quitting magazines is a big deal. I love print. Beyond print I love layout and design, straight lines and color. I've worked in print since I was laying out my high school yearbook, and today I still design and layout print. I love flipping and earmarking pages, even the smell of freshly printed pages.

My love of print goes back even further. I remember flipping through Disney Adventure magazines in long grocery lines as a kid. As a tween, waiting for my mom to finish shopping for produce while I flipped through Bop magazine. As a teen I would pour over the pages of Seventeen, ripping out pages and pasting them back together to make collages I hung on my bedroom walls. Early in college I tried the distasteful Cosmo, and then moved onto Glamour. I've had subscriptions to Runners Magazine, Latina and Self. My most recent subscriptions to Martha Stewart, Eating Well and Better Homes and Garden, now cancelled.

I am officially unsubscribed.

If I have learned anything through my relationship with magazines it is that my interests change, sometimes quickly, not even surviving a year’s subscription. The earth, the landfill, and the recycling center don’t have to be impacted by my wavering interests. In this digital age there are many alternatives. Instead I subscribe (and unsubscribe) to blogs. I follow Pinterest boards and sign up for newsletters. I am better at finding time to read these medias. The best part? Most are free, don’t take up space and are zero waste.

Even though many say print is dead, I’ll continue to love it. While the world has been digitizing for many years, I've finally caught up. I’m still reading the information I want, without the clutter and waste.

* This post is part of the 30 day XOXOrganizing Challenge: Day 14 Donate Unused Books and Magazines

Monday, January 5, 2015

January Waste Less Challenge



As another consumer season comes to an end, I feel it only fitting that the January Waste Less Challenge be to not buy anything. That's right, you heard me. Nothing. If that scares the you-know-what out of you, you aren't alone. I've been mentally preparing (aka freaking out) by wondering if I have enough socks and underwear. I haven't actually bought into my freak out, but at least they've been practical items. As long as you've been nice all year, there shouldn't be much that you need to start the New Year.


But let's get serious. The fact is that in the US, waste increases 25% between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency that is an extra 1 million ton of waste generated during the holiday season alone.

I came across a quote by Pope John Paul II that states, "Modern Society will find no solution to the ecological problems unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyles." The January Waste Less Challenge isn't just about not buying anything for one month, but taking a good look at our lifestyles and seeing how we can change to be more environmentally friendly. Start the New Year by keeping the amount of waste you create low, and see how we can work to reduce our waste all year long. Download the Waste Less Challenge calendar here


Don't buy anything.

Okay, we need to eat, and I know I cannot possibly grow all of my food. The exception I am giving myself is I can purchase unpackaged food. This will include fruits and veggies, dried goods from the bulk bin and any other food I can purchase while bringing my own containers. 

Remember these guidelines are there to help you. Feel free to move and stretch them as much as you need to for you to be successful in your Waste Less Challenge.


Reflect on your wants and needs: Each time you find yourself wanting something think about why. How will it impact your life? Will it contribute to your happiness? How does it bring kindness into your life? Maybe you will wait until February to make the purchase, or you'll make it at that moment. By giving yourself the time to think about each item you purchase gives you consumer awareness to what you bring into your life.

Experiences over things: My sister's birthday falls at the beginning of January. I could have bought her a gift in December, but lucky for me she asked for an experience over something material. Delivering an experience can be just as, or even more thoughtful than a wrapped gift. It is also a way of giving that person a little of you.

If you receive discounts and promotions via email, re-direct them to a folder so you aren't tempted in your daily inbox.

Do you have a shopping habit like stopping by the mall after a bad day, or browsing the racks of you favorite store during lunch? Focus on you instead by taking a walk or reading a book.

When all else fails, create a virtual shopping experience. Make a vision board or two, but remember to consider the needs and wants.


The goal of the consumer cleanse isn't only to be happier with less, but to add less material things in the world. In the long run you will save money for the purchases that do matter, you won't be contributing to the cycle of stuff as explained by The Story of Stuff Project and there will be less waste by avoiding packaging. So let's reevaluate our lifestyles and see what we can pass on. 

Be sure to share your story in the comments and by social media with #wastelesschallenge

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Could 2015 Be Your Lightbulb Moment?


There are so many crunchy, sustainable, eco-friendly blogs out there – and let’s face it – the majority of them are mommy blogs. Sure they have some great information, but many of them write with the conviction that it was their pregnancy and caring for a new life that started them on their chemical free journey, which segmented into sustainable and eco-friendly choices. Well, I’m not a mom, nor do I plan to be one (you know, except to my dogs).

I am here to tell you that pregnancy and children are not needed for your light bulb moment and shouldn't be considered a requirement. There I said it. Professional, modern, child free women (and men) can have a healthy, chemical and plastic free, low waste life. I’ll go so far as to say that they deserve it. After all, hasn't eating organic, clean food been on trend for years? So why wait to have children for the added benefits of dumping chemicals and plastics? The answer is you shouldn't, and if you plan on children in the future, why not start improving your environment now?

The truth is anyone’s light bulb moment can come at any time, and really for whatever reason. My moment came when I was having a minor, yet irritating dermatological issue. Doctors couldn't tell me why, and even worse, they couldn't tell me what I could do to prevent it. I decided it wasn't okay to just deal with it, so I started by eliminating the conventional cosmetics I was applying to my skin. Yes, I’m telling you I went without deodorant. In the middle of summer. It was gross, I was stinky. But it also started healing my skin. While these days this is called an arm pit cleanse, it was my first real eye opener to a world filled with low to no chemicals that would 4 years later lead to ditching plastics and resolving to be as low waste as possible.

I was a modern, albeit vintage lover, professional twenty something year old who decided to treat myself and the earth with the same kindness.

So if you decide to start off the year stinky because of your arm pit cleanse, or greasy because you are transitioning to low ‘poo, congratulations. You’ll find no judgment here.


Happy New Year. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Year, A New Waste Less Challenge


Have you noticed that by the end of the year, or sometimes even by the end of January, no one is chatting about their resolutions anymore? This year I am dumping resolutions and instead working to build better habits all year long.

The 2015 Waste Less Challenge will strengthen habits that inspire treating our body and earth with the same kindness. Each month will feature a new challenge that will encourage decreasing the use of synthetic chemicals, using less plastic and creating less waste. Guest bloggers will share tips so you can develop similar habit to fit your own life.

Follow along on the blog at www.thesunshinegrove.net and on social media #wastelesschallenge and #sustainablyvintage.

Download your monthly Waste Less challenge calendars:

January

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Tips for Low Waste Gift Wrapping


I used to have a wrapping paper problem. Every year I would find the cutest holiday wrapping paper, which usually involved a furry animal and snowflakes, bring it home and wrap away without much thought. As Christmas gifts were opened my family would fill at least an entire garbage bag with wrapping paper, ribbons and bows.

This year I've been giving plenty of thought to how I can reduce waste during this gracious time of giving. Unwrapping a gift is fun for both the recipient and the person giving, so we won’t scrooge around and ditch wrapping all together, although that would be the most green solution.

Reusable bag is an easy solution to low waste gift wrapping via The Sunshine Grove
Make the wrapping part of the gift with a reusable bag.

1. When the wrapping is part of the gift, it is 100% waste free and a time saver. No need to wrap a bag in a bag, just add a tag and you are done. Think canvas bags or home sewn zipper bags that can be used as make up bags or pencil cases. If you have more than one gift for the recipient, fit it inside the bag and tie it off with a tag.

Kraft paper is a blank canvas - personalize the wrapping with a topper or get creative via The Sunshine Grove
Kraft paper is a blank canvas - personalize the wrapping with a topper or get creative

2. The clean and classic look of kraft paper or even reused paper bags is one of my favorites. If it is too plain for your style you can easily dress it up with a nature inspired topper or stamps. Dots with the back end of a pencil is an easy at home DIY. Best of all you can compost that trash!

Furoshiki wrapping cloths can be used to wrap just about anything
Furoshiki wrapping cloths can be used to wrap just about anything

3. Furoshiki is a Japanese wrapping cloth used to wrap all sorts of things. Traditionally it was used to wrap up clothes and bento box lunches, but nowadays is used to wrap up gifts in a way that can be reused over and over again without creating waste. No tape or ribbon needed since the fabric is tied together with folding and knots. Like origami, but with a surprise inside.

Reuse your Christmas bags again and again. Just remember to collect them once the gifts are open via The Sunshine Grove
Reuse your Christmas bags again and again. Just remember to collect them once the gifts are open

4. Last year’s holiday bags work great for this year’s gifts. As they unwrap their gifts, my family has been subjected to me shouting “Don’t throw the bag away. Give me the tissue paper. I’ll fold it.” As a result we have a stash of holiday bags and tissue paper from the last few years that we reuse so we avoid buying new bags.

If you have wrapping paper use it as your last option via The Sunshine Grove
If you have wrapping paper use it as your last option
5. Remember when I mentioned I used to collect cute holiday wrapping paper? Well I haven’t used it all. In fact I had 5 unused rolls laying around. The wrapping paper is only for gifts leaving our home, where I cannot control how it will be disposed of. That doesn't excuse the waste, just makes it someone else’s trash. TOTALLY KIDDING! Wrapping paper you have stashed away can be used and recycled, but consider a greener alternative when you run out.