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April 22 is Earth Day. While adopting Earth friendly habits on Earth Day are good, I would like to challenge this community to adopt sustainable practices every day. The reasons for doing so are quite simple, really.
First, it saves money. For those who argue that sustainable products are pricier than non-sustainable products, take it as a sign that the need to practice going without remains. Perhaps the crux lies in certain shopping habits? Most of the time, the most sustainable option is buying nothing. The second most sustainable is revamping old things into new ones. The third most sustainable is accepting hand-me-downs or asking to borrow. A fourth sustainable option is to practice minimalism, so that even the purchase of a more sustainable option is cheaper than buying ten gadgets that add up to the same functions. I find that most people, when it comes down to it, are simply not intentional enough.
On that previous note, it limits clutter. A bag of 12 rolls of paper towels can be replaced by one or two reusable rags. A case of water bottles bought from the grocery store can be replaced by a reusable water bottle. A stack of books can be replaced by library ones, a closet full of clothes can be replaced by a capsule wardrobe, a bag of rolled up plastic bags can be replaced by one or two totes, etc. All of this to say, one of the solutions to waste is summed up in the word “LESS”.
Thirdly, it creates community. Challenge friends and family to save the Earth. Celebrate by experiencing Mother Nature – go on an arduous mountain hike, or surf in the ocean before work. Share common items with each other. Give your baby’s old crib to an expecting friend. I take unwanted articles of clothing from my friends all the time. Carpool to work, and chat about your day on the way home.
These reasons, and so much more. Consider this a gift guide for yourself, and Mother Nature.
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I am going off-grid from the PC charts here as I digress to talk about tushies and Tushys – as in human ones and bidets. I have been meaning to make the switch to bidets for a few years now. One of our closest friends has been raving about its usefulness and environmental friendliness at every opportune moment, but I never did like that big clonker that was sitting atop his toilet. So I have been putting it off for the sake of aesthetics, which we all know is an important part of my intentional life. However, as more and more of our friends made the switch, the urge to get one increased, and finally, my less-waste self came across the most minimalist, affordable, pretty bidet I could find: Tushy!
Tushy was founded by Miki Agrawal in 2015, the same co-founder of Thinx. It has since then revolutionized the way young people doo their business. Bidets have become a sort of fad, but it is nothing new. Many countries around the world use bidets, and my friend who I mentioned earlier got his after visiting Japan and using bidets in the public and personal restrooms. In a more primitive sense, I, myself, experienced butt-washing in my youth, having never used toilet paper until I was thirteen years old. In my country, we use buckets of water to rinse our bums or simply hop in the shower. In fact, I remember first immigrating to the United States and being told by my mom that “toilet paper does not do the job.” To her, a bum’s not clean until it has been washed with water. This, of course, wasn’t the reason I got on my hands and knees to add a bidet to my toilet. The motivation came from the environmental effects of making the switch. Below are a few statistics.
How Much Are You Saving with Tushy?
The average non-bidet user uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day. This adds up to about $10 worth of toilet paper a month, or $120 of toilet paper a year. A tree produces about 100 pounds of toilet paper, and one person uses up about 50 pounds of toilet paper a year. For a family of four, this adds up to two trees per year. Because it takes 37 gallons of water to create one roll of toilet paper, 4884 gallons of water is wasted per person per year.
It takes no statistician to confirm that switching to a bidet results in saved money, trees and water. However you also save yourself time from having to buy toilet paper. You save yourself stress during no-TP emergencies. You save your bum from chafing and your significant other from skidmarks. You save yourself the embarrassment.
Tushy is juuuuuust right
Is this all feeling a bit too much? Well your wallet won’t think so since Tushy is quite the affordable bidet, costing only $109 (although my readers can receive 10% off of their Tushy purchase using any of my affiliate links within this post as long as they enter the code: THEDEBTIST at checkout).
Does that sound too little? Tushy is the perfect minimalist bidet, with a sleek white frame and simple adjustable knobs in neutral colors (ours is Bamboo!). We own the Tushy Classic and as baby bear says, it is juuuuuust right! For those who want a little more, the Tushy Spa has a water temperature control making those cold mornings more comfortable.
The Dirty Details
So I know some of you are hoping I spill a few dirty details. However, the only thing dirty might be your toilet seat cover when you remove it to place a Tushy underneath. No worries though! Seeing all that gunk is the most difficult part of this set up. And hey! What a great time to clean up!
Here are, however, a few things we came across during installation that you may appreciate. The manual says to turn off the water using the water shut-off valve behind the toilet. Some knobs, however, no longer function due to disuse. In which case, one would need to turn off the water to the entire house. Which is what we had to do.
Secondly, have plenty of towels around. You want to catch any water that comes out of the toilet, in case the shut-off valve doesn’t work. Also, wear gloves. When you get to the part that requires toilet seat removal, you want to make sure you won’t feel any surprises. Hopefully you clean your toilet regularly, but we won’t judge!
Lastly, adding the bidet underneath the toilet seat cover may make the screws that once clamped the toilet seat down too short. The added height of the bidet will require longer screws. No worries, I simply trekked to Home Depot and went down the bathroom and toilet aisle. There’s a section for toilet repair and you’ll need to buy two very long screws, which costs about $3.
Overall, I think the installation is super simple. I was able to do it by myself. If I didn’t have to run to Home Depot to get more screws and if my toilet’s water valve actually shut off, it would have probably taken me 15 to 20 minutes. Which means I would have been using Tushy within the hour. But instead, it took me a good hour due to the “complications” I came across. It’s taken me longer to build Ikea cabinets.
It has only been less than 24 hours but I absolutely love Tushy! I feel suuuper fresh and squeaky clean. Mike gave me a thumbs up as he exited the bathroom this morning. That’s a HUGE sign. In addition, I have had a lot of positive feedback from people in this space. I’ve had people reach out to me to tell me they received this for Christmas. I’ve heard stories about moms installing this in every bathroom in the house (including the trailer!). I have friends who just moved in together literally this weekend saying they are getting one for their new space. And that one friend that has been raving about bidets for ages? He said, “Welcome to the first day of your new life.”
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Thea Merritt, the founder of EcoNow, a resource for locally hand-made and eco-friendly goods. Thea created her company when she saw that there was a need for eco-conscious products in Orange County, California.She began by hand-sewing alternatives to single use items and offering them at local farmers markets. Eventually, she was able to open a store-front in Costa Mesa’s The Lab Anti-Mall. The store boasts a wide variety of goods, including an extensive refill station and many reusable, biodegradable alternatives to plastic. It has now become my go-to, one-stop shop for all of my daily household needs. To learn more about this amazing hidden gem, read the interview below.
When did you first start getting into living a zero-waste lifestyle?
Throughout my teenage years I adopted a minimal living mindset. I didn’t like having too many things and liked to be very organized. About 5 years ago, I evolved my minimalism and non-attachment to material things into a sustainable living mindset that came from learning how a very small amount of “recyclables” are actually recycled. I wanted my carbon footprint to be minimal so I fully embraced biking to work and school, stopped relying on recyclable materials, and educated myself on the impacts humans have on the planet.
What made you decide to start EcoNow?
A lot of people would compliment my lifestyle and say things like “I wish I could do that,” and I would reply, “you can!” but realized quickly that without a resource to provide for people, it was all talk and no action. I tried searching for sustainable stores, restaurants, and organizations in Orange County, and I couldn’t find much. I felt pretty alone and then an “ah-ha!” moment came and I realized I could help create a sustainable community. I began sewing produce bags, cutlery pouches, and Eco Towels (our paper towel alternative) and I found a few local farmers markets to sell at. I remember some of the people I met at my first market and I remember the feeling they gave me, I realized I wasn’t alone on this mission to sustainable living and living with awareness, and it motivated me to keep going, keep growing.
How did you go about creating your business? Did you go to business school or was this venture something that organically unfolded?
I did not study business but chose to study philosophy. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with my life and I figured I could choose a career later as studying Philosophy leads people down many different paths. In school I learned a lot about myself, such as how to think critically and to apply my morals.That was when I decided I wanted to provide for my community, do good for the Earth, as well as for people. Before starting Eco Now I worked with people with special needs and I thought I would become a teacher in that field. But as my love for sustainable living grew and I started making eco-friendly goods for other people, I knew it was my passion and I wanted to see if I could make it more than just a hobby.
What does sustainable living mean to you?
Sustainable living to me is living with an awareness of myself, of others, and of our planet Earth. It is not only about consuming consciously but living consciously. Sustainable living is so much more than waste management. It helps you to be aware of yourself, of your choices and their effects even after they are out of sight.
For me, sustainably living ties in nicely with slow consideration and intentional choices. Because of this, I find a greater appreciation for the simplest of tasks.
Do you also relate sustainability with a gratitude for the tinier moments?
100% – I did not name my business Eco Now to reflect immediacy, which I’m sure many people think. (I decided that it is okay if people think Eco Now is about immediacy because sustainable living is a very urgent and important topic to address). I named it Eco Now as a reminder to be present and aware. I wanted to share my own personal mantras through my business name. I ask myself often, are you present, are you aware of your choices, are you being eco now? My philosophy on life is that you only ever have this moment and it is important to know whether you are living in the moment completely, if you are present, and if you are acting in line with your morals.
What advice would you give to those just beginning their zero-waste journey?
Be easy on yourself, educate yourself, use what you have first, and buckle up because once you wake up to this lifestyle there is no turning back.
What advice would you give to those just starting a business?
Simple. If you believe in yourself you can do it. You will know when you are making the right choice and you will know when you are on the right path. Many things will be really fluid and easy and I believe that if they are it means it’s right. Whenever I have friction in a moment, I step back and assess and ask myself, “Am I looking at this the right way? Is now the right time to be focusing on this?” Usually, it just takes a moment of awareness to tell what move is the right move. Most importantly, be critical of yourself and be ready to put the work in. Your life will likely be consumed by your business and you need to decide if that is the kind of life you want to live.
What are your favorite zero-waste local artists?
I try to work with all my favorite local zero waste artists, you will find some of their stuff in our shop, or you will see us collaborating in some capacity. Here’s a list of some of the amazing local companies, people, and organizations I have discovered in the past two years.
Backyard Bee’s is an ethical and local beekeeping service. They rescue bees, harvest honey sustainably, and make awesome beeswax based products like deodorant, shampoo bars, and body cream and they use sustainable packaging! You can find them at Orange Home Grown Farmers Market every Saturday and also we have few of their goodies in our store.
Fleur & Butter, is a local artist that sews and plant dyes reusable bento bags. They also hand make bread and offer local delivery, they even wrap the bread in their sustainable bento bags! You can find some of their stuff in our shop or on IG @fleurandbutter
Community Consciousness, is a local organization that touches on many topics both sustainably and ethically, I believe they began as a resource for composting in Orange County and have now evolved into much more than that, they organize local events, beach clean ups, and fundraisers, they have a few artists on their team (if not all?) and their promotional gear always looks incredibly fresh! They are an incredibly compassionate group of people that have big plans for our Orange County Community and I can’t wait to see how they grow. Find them on IG @communityconsciousness
Thistle and Sage Botanics is a local candle and natural fragrance maker and you can even refill your fragrance bottles and candles with her! Her candles are top-notch, soy-based, and phthalate free. You can find a few of her best selling candles in our store.
Cycl – Cycl is an app created by a friend of mine here in Orange County. The app is a resource and voice for all who are trying to live sustainably but still want to eat out and shop with small businesses. The user can locate and rate restaurants and stores on their sustainable practices. I’ve needed this app in my life and I know that countless others need it in their lives as well, even if they don’t know it yet! Hopefully this app will motivate users and business owners to be more sustainable with their practices. Hopefully businesses will learn that more and more of their customers care about sustainable practices and that it is a factor in deciding where they spend their money.
Popsikle Shop – A local thrift store on wheels here in OC. Yeah that’s right! Popsikle Shop runs out of this adorable camping rv and you can shop second hand clothing and accessories. Through COVID Popsikle Shop adapted with a power move and now they style second hand outfits virtually as an additional service to people. I love that they offer styling and shipping but I still can’t wait to see their second hand store on wheels in person again! They are more popular on TikTok but they have a page on Instagram and website for shopping as well.
If people wish to learn more, what resources (blogs, podcasts, books, or documentaries) would you recommend?
I don’t always recommend topics that are solely focused on zero waste, sustainable living, or our planet’s environment state. I like to share materials on what I believe is the root of everything, self-awareness. Here is a mix of both:
The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Masli
Be Here Now by Ram Dass
A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhardt Tolle
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Podcasts: Science Rules! with Bill Nye
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage with Carl Saegan
Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey with Neil De Grass Tyson
I want to thank Thea for her generosity and her time. I think that she has brought something that Orange County was sorely lacking and in doing so, has strengthened this community and made it a much better place. If you have been considering visiting EcoNow, I would highly recommend doing so. Feel free to bring your own refillable glass jars and bottles, but if you have none, no worries! They can be purchased in store. All bulk items are purchased by weight at very affordable prices. My favorite products are the Jojoba Oil (which I use as eye make-up remover), the Tea Tree Shampoo and Body wash, and the All Purpose Cleaner.
For those wondering, the shirt I am wearing is from For Days, the first-ever closed loop clothing line. They’ve just released these dual-colored retro shirts upcycled from previous shirts that they had on the site. The tees are vintage V-neck fit with a shorter hem. For Days has a great incentive for closing the loop, which is to trade in used For Days clothing for newer styles at a very steep discount. I would definitely check them out!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
Tip 14: Forgo the coffee table.
We have yet to corral a coffee table into our living room. Erm, what we designated in our minds as the living room. In reality, I’m referring to a corner of our small space that our neighbors decided would better fit as a bedroom for them. Regardless of the designation, the room where we have a couch and a projector has yet to hold a coffee table.
I just haven’t come into agreement with one.
I used to own a coffee table. It was a big and bulky thing that I came across at a consignment store when I was first (and finally!) moving out of my parents home – at the ripe age of twenty-three. I rationalized to myself its bulkiness, saying that the solid wood meant that it would last. “Heavy-duty” was the word I used, when explaining the table to Mike that evening. I convinced him to accompany me the next day to “look at it”, but really I meant “pick it up and take it home”.
It had drawers (two in fact) for storing things. The upper drawer was topped with glass, so that you could look in on the display. It always felt cluttered though, so all it did was collect dust. The bottom drawer was worse. It collected junk. If things disappeared, that would be the first place I would look.
What’s more, when we moved into our small space, a 900-square-foot loft without any doors, the coffee table we owned took up what felt like half of the living room. Since it was a solid wood table, without legs or airiness beneath, it made our space seem divided and small(er). Plus the dark colored wood – an almost black-grey kind of brown – absorbed much of the natural light.
We ended up donating it to a family in need, which was its only saving grace. But I’ve been hesitant to add a coffee table again since the trauma of criss-crossing between the guilt I felt for getting rid of it and the hatred I felt for its unbecoming qualities.
I suppose today’s post about forgoing a coffee table originates from negative experiences with mine. We have been making do with a tiny side-table, which I also have half a mind to donate. At least it’s easily movable to the corner of the room, allowing both of us to lay out a yoga mat in front of the couch.
I do prefer the flexibility of a side table. In fact, I’ve considered multiple flexible options in lieu of a coffee table, such as ottomans and foot stools in the form of tree stumps.
Below are a few contenders, in case you are also searching.
+ A camp stool – for the sole purpose of putting tired feet up onto something. I love this stool because you can fold it up and stash it against the wall or behind a console, for a less cluttered look.
+ Maple nesting tables, of the stackable variety, to reduce real estate when not in use.
+ A mushroom tree stump, for holding a drink or two. Bringing natural elements in, without buying more houseplants.
+ A step stool, which has dual-use for shorties such as myself.
+ Actual ottomans, in a rich sienna leather. Extra seating when gatherings resume post-COVID.
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I’ve already dedicated an entire post on less waste and periods when I first spoke of how I managed my visits from Mother Nature using a single cup. But I feel as if this requires a revisit, for the glaringly obvious reason that there are a few scenarios wherein Lunette failed to prove itself a friend. While the cup has been mostly sufficient for all my feminine care needs, I have found that when it comes to travel, a more dependable plan B needs to be in place.
Walking down the streets of Mexico City does not seem like a problem, until you realize that their bathrooms generally don’t have private loos that contain sinks in the same stall. Where to empty a cup? Even if sinks were available, could one trust the running water? The last thing I want to do is explain myself in Spanish why I have a bacterial infection while wallowing in pain from the ever-so-common downfall of all menstruating persons.
Likewise, traveling on a 15-hour flight to New Zealand and Australia isn’t much fun with Lunette. While the airplane does have a private sink, the tight quarters make the entire process tedious and, once again, I worry about running water. Always the water.
Still determined to find a way of managing my monthly miseries that’s good for the planet as well as good for me, I decided I needed a plan B.
So I thought of Thinx. It’s a purchase-with-purpose underwear that has a mission to provide reliable access to safe menstrual hygiene products for those in need. With partners like Girls Inc., Safe Horizon, and the Alliance of Border Collaboratives, Thinx plans to expand access to basic hygiene products and community services like reproductive healthcare and mentoring.
On top of that, it is a REALLYgood product. I am a minimalist by nature, who does not subscribe to single use items. This means I do not buy pads or tampons, at all. Thinx checks those boxes for me. It is a re-usable panty that is reliable in what it claims to do which allows me to continue living life scotch free of worry or discomfort.
Thinx has versatility, with multiple styles to fit your personality and preference. I own the boyshort in black which I wear under my running shorts, the sport in dusk which I wear under my leggings, and the super hiphugger for my everyday needs. Each style has a different level of protection, so that heavy flow days could be as carefree as lighter days.
And the upkeep is simple too. Hand-wash in cold running water and hang to dry. I have only three pairs but by hand-washing right after use and cycling between them, I can survive an entire cycle without missing a beat.
Lastly, it saves people money. If I assume that a box of tampons is purchased every month, with each box costing $7 (to be on the more conservative side), then there is a savings potential of $84 a year. The Lunette cup lasts you 3 years, so that adds up to $252 in savings. I would wager Thinx can last longer than that. It may seem like chump change but let’s assume all females adopted Thinx over the course of their entire life. And for each Thinx purchased, let’s say it saves another female in financial need from buying tampons and pads. You create a whole chain of events that end up saving the world a lot of money, and the oceans a lot of waste. Not to mention saving young girls in low-income communities from missing school and other opportunities.
I am thirty, and I have still yet to own a couch of my choosing. Every couch that has permeated my living space has either been already provided by previous tenants or handed down to me by someone I know. What does that say about me, exactly?
While it is quite obvious that our personal successes are not defined by an ability to own a couch, I think it is implied that a medical professional of thirty would have been able to afford one by now. But buying a couch is no easy thing. In fact, buying ANYTHING for me is never an easy thing these days. The entire process involves a hefty amount of serious pondering and a mild case of deep-skin writhing.
In this line of work, I am approached by others in general for my thoughts on stuff. In a sense, my job here is to help make a value judgement. I am presented with the following questions: Who made it? How is it made? Where is it made? What materials are used? Why is it necessary? Which option is best, in terms of sustainability both in terms of the environment, the social implications, the global effects, and least importantly, my personal repercussions. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a matcha whisk, or a set of pajamas. It’s even more pressure on large scale purchases, such as a brand new couch.
I have been in search for a sustainable couch for years. Ever since my husband (then-fiance) and I moved into our own place two months after I graduated dental school in 2016. Specifically, I have looked for a couch wherein I can trace exactly where it was made, whose hands were used to make them, and in what environmental conditions. I have yet to find one that comes close. Most furniture companies don’t even bother to tag couches as sustainable, and those that do only involve a small level of sustainability (like using reclaimed wood without any consideration for the fabrics of the upholstery) that I cannot even take them seriously.
So then I started to reach out to acquaintances about possibly fabricating a couch. Our favorite piece of furniture in our home is a 12 foot dining table hand-made by the two girls who provided our wedding furniture. We thought maybe we could do the same with the couch. I reached out to a fellow wood-worker-baker and an at-home clothing seamstress to ask about making a sustainable wood frame and sourcing end-of-the-mill fabrics. But sourcing the fabric will take lots of work researching jobbers and the wood-worker friend was busy with current projects as well as a baking schedule. It wasn’t the path to take.
So we turned to the next sustainable option, which is to buy a used and unwanted couch from Craigslist, which would prevent an additional item from entering a landfill. I know that it would put us in the same spot as before, owning a couch that’s a hand-me-down of sorts, but at least it would be a couch of our choosing. When we went to Melbourne in January, we stayed at a really nice AirBNB, and we fell in love with a mid-century modern couch in their living room.
I was surprised to find a similar couch made by West Elm selling at Craigslist for $800. The same couch is still selling at West Elm for double the price. While West Elm sells some sustainable products, couches are unfortunately not one of them. But sustainability as defined by environmental impact is achieved with this option, and the fact that it was already owned means the buying of this Craigslist couch does not have an ADDITIONAL social impact or global effect, except for the positive effect of side swiping it from the landfill. So where’s the hitch?
It all came down to sustainability as defined by my personal life. $800 is no chump change. Maybe in proportion to brand new couches (why do they cost so much?) $800 seems like a steal. Perhaps it is. But in terms of my personal financial goals, $800 is almost double what we set aside each month for travel. $800 is almost three months worth of groceries, or eight months worth of dining out. $800 is a year’s worth of cat food for Theo, and probably all the Christmas and birthday presents we want to buy. It is one-third of our portion of the mortgage, which is helping us build equity – can a couch do that? It is 12% of our monthly loan payment, which is buying us freedom. How much freedom can a couch buy you?
In the end, we chose the most sustainable couch, which is the couch we already had. It buys us freedom from the cycle of continually searching for something better. It helps build us equity by not taking way from our ability to build equity. It fuels our financial goals, without taking away from our time. In the end, it came down to the answer of not which couch is best, but which couch is good enough. That’s what sustainability is all about.
I sometimes wonder how well these superlatives, and our quest for the best of something, end up serving us. What about the possibility of replacing better or best with good enough? The reality of my own day-to-day life is that living simply and keeping a pared down collection of well-loved items often isn’t about having the best. It’s about making the best of what I already have.
Like Erin, we search for ways to make the best of what we have. It’s the ultimate way to live without forever needing to chase. In our space, we have shades where walls should be, wooden panels where doors should be, and a bed where some might put a living room. But it ISenough, and there we still sleep soundly.
I am not one to take in an eye-sore kindly. I would call that one of my biggest flaws. Things just have to be aesthetically pleasing to be pleasing to me. For that, I am sorry. So when it comes time to start putting presents under the tree, it follows that I cannot just shove them there, unwrapped. It isn’t that I feel the need for another person to be surprised, although surprises are quite nice. It’s that I need the presents to look cohesive, for my own sanity. Which brings me to the following dilemma: less waste for a time of the year when gifts abound.
Last year, I wrote about the art of furoshiki gift wrapping, as a means to produce absolutely zero waste by using excess fabric lying about the house. But after a year has come and gone, I am without any more fabric left to wrap gifts in. It appears that everyone wanted to keep the fabric pieces for their own re-use. This year, I find a not-so-perfect zero waste (zero-ish waste? less waste?) solution from the following:
+ Less gifts, in general. Call me Einstein, but with less gifts comes less gift wrap, and therefore, less waste. This year, I have narrowed down our gifts to ten. That includes required Secret Santa’s at work and holiday parties, and our most immediate family members. Part of this comes from our public renouncement of the gifting of material things, right this way.
+ Simple methods of wrapping. One of the very first memories I have of being conscious of my wasteful lifestyle involves wrapping gifts at Christmas time. I was 20 years old and I had volunteered to help my aunt wrap the gifts for my cousins (all forty-something of them). I was previously taught by my mother how to make gifts look pretty by adding in additional folds in the wrapping paper and using multiple bows. By scrapping sticker tags when my hand-writing was too ugly to bear. I went about my usual methods of wrapping gifts when my aunt questioned why I was folding the wrapping paper in such a way. I replied, “Because it looks pretty.” To which she laughed and said, “It wastes paper.” Confused, I didn’t understand why that mattered. Off course, my mind mulled the comment over and over again in my head as I continued to wrap. By the end of the wrapping session, I was embarrassed at the waste of gift wrap that I had cost my aunt. I was embarrassed of my frivolous lifestyle. And I saw a glimpse into the world of minimalism that I had yet to discover. Nowadays, I just wrap the paper once around, barely enough to cover the good, and call it a day. A more refined self finds this way of wrapping more attractive anyway.
+ Simple materials. I avoid plastic as if I was allergic to it, that you may already know. These days, I find comfort in choosing materials that are natural, biodegradable, or at the very least, recyclable. For Christmas this year, I’ve stuck with twine, string, paper wrap (the non-glossy kind), brown boxes, and re-usable stamps. The color scheme itself is simple, making it easy for me to satisfy my need for cohesiveness. To fill excess spaces in the boxes, I’ve opted not to purchase tissue paper, but rather, use left-over packing paper that has survived our move into our new home a few months ago.
+ Less wrapping of the gift wrap themselves. If I have to buy gift wrap in order to appease my need to have everything look cohesive, may it be the least-dressed gift wrap there is. This tip goes out to the minimalist (or minimalist hopefuls), to the environmentalists, to the pursuers of mindful living. This year, I went to a local stationary store (and by local, I mean I live across the street from it), and chose a brown paper gift wrap rolled up sans one of those cardboard rolls that you typically find in the center of a tootsie pop wrapping paper. Additionally, it was not wrapped up in cellophane, as they usually are. It was held together by a piece of paper detailing the company from which it came. I also purchased paper tape, with a little green decorative charm, holiday-esque enough to spruce up plain brown boxes (see what I didthere?). I purchased yarn that was wound around a cardboard roll, and without the plastic covering (why are they even necessary?!). Lastly, I whipped out my wooden stamp collection and cut up a piece of sketch pad paper to make the name tags. All of this to say, it doesn’t take much to appease my need for pretty. We don’t have to indulge our presents in excessive gift wrap, but I am completely okay with allowing myself something simpler. It’s not perfectly zero-waste, but we can’t always be beating ourselves up for their inabilities to be perfect. We are, after all, human. The point is, we try.
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As thirty days of escrow continue to creep on by, I can’t help but daydream about all the fun we are going to have in our new place. Off course, not all at once and definitely not right away. Buying a home doesn’t completely absolve us of all other responsibilities! No, we’ll be making the home feel more like OUR home at a s-l-o-w pace, as if that wasn’t already expected. No need to rush in, all foolhardy. But for now, a girl can dream.
Currently, the obsession lies with the bathroom, specifically the one upstairs. It will likely be the first room that we plan a renovation for, with the hopes of tackling it sometime next year. Why not right away? Because we believe in YNAB budgeting and maintaining a healthy balance between student loans and property ownership. Because we recognize that renovating any space is a WANT and not a NEED. Because sometimes, you just have to live with the selections of the previous homeowner, and still be grateful there’s a roof over your head, you know? Not in dire need of anything at all, the reno can wait, but my thoughts have a mind of their own. In an effort to source things ethically, here are a few products that I am playing pretend with. All products are either Fair Trade Certified, organically made, solutions for sustainable living, or have a social impact in third world countries. Some of them check off more than one box, too.
+ For clean butts and minimalist styles – Tushy Bidet – I’ve written about a history of not using toilet paper until I was in my teens, here. Plus, friends rave about bidet living and I am pretty much ready to go back to a zero toilet paper life. For now, Who Gives A Crap has my back. But I still dream of a bidet for the sake of reducing my carbon buttprint. The US spends $6 billion on toilet paper alone. That crap is unsustainable. Additionally, in an effort to fight the Global Sanitation Crisis, Tushy has partnered with Samagra and has helped provide clean latrines for over 10,000 families. If you’re interested too, get 25% OFF all original Tushy bidets here! Plus, get Tushy towels for ONLY $5 with the purchase of any bidet. Ends 9/30.
+ For drying off after five-minute showers – Coyuchi Towels – Fair Trade Certified and GOTS certified, these are loomed in India using organic cotton. For a no frills towel, I am looking at these guys, specifically in the slate color.
+ For keeping puddles off the floor – Coyuchi Rug – A matching mosaic canyon bath rug, off course! Organic cotton and hand-woven, also in Slate. Why this infatuation with Coyuchi? Let me count the ways…
+ For vanity above the vanities – The Citizenry Provdencia Mirror – Two matching mirrors over the vanity sinks. You’ve likely heard about The Citizenry by now, but these mirrors hold a special place in my heart. These mirrors were designed by Cristobal and Valentine, a husband and wife duo that lives in Santiago, Chile, and did you know that I, too, lived in Santiago, Chile for a bit? Citizenry gives people access to a market that they wouldn’t have otherwise, and in a fair trade working environment, these mirrors brought together multiple artisans from multiple backgrounds, such as glass, stone-cutting, and wood working. I want to support people from the city I once lived.
+ For the clothes that served us – The Citizenry Hamper – Hand–crafted from locally sourced palm leaves by master artisans in Guerrero, Mexico. Each basket takes three days to complete, from start to finish in a fair trade working environment.
+ To cover up – Ty Shower Curtain – A simple recyclable shower curtain made of #2 plastic material. Unlike other vinyl showers, it does not off-gas and it breathes, making it less likely to grow mildew or mold. Ty is made of 100% HDPE, one of the most common recyclable plastics and is PVC free. At the end of Ty’s life, you may recycle it locally or send it back to Grain to do the recycling. For the artistic, they also sell a customizable version here.