Hygge. That warm, cozy feeling. What do you think of when you hear Hygge? Hot chocolate? Fur blankets? Blazing fires? Curled up on the couch with a cat and a good book? The fact that no one knows how to pronounce it correctly? (It's pronounced "Hue-geh", btw)
It's all the rage right now. But it's not just a Winter thing. Sure, it's about warmth and coziness, but it's also about fun and happiness. It's about creating a safe space to relax. To create a get-away from the rest of the world. Your own private island. To build a place meant for you filled with only the things you love, and things that produce calm. You can do this year round. It's not just a cold-climate ideology.
Candles. Books. A few pretty knick-knacks. Coffee mugs. Soft blankets and throw pillows. Fresh flowers. Paintings. A fun sundress. A glass of wine, or for you teetotallers out there like me - sparkling grape juice or refreshing glass of lemonade. It's about self care and mindfulness. It's about embracing peace. You can create peace working a 9-5 in your cubicle driving through an hour of rush hour every day. You can create peace as a stay-at-home mom with running children and screaming babies. You can create peace as an entrepreneur who works from home. You can create a sanctuary at home no matter your life's situation or your disposition. Life is not about what happens to you, it's about your perception of it and what you do with it
1 Keep It Practical and Functional
We'll use the example of an entrepreneur who works from home. Before you even begin, what's the point of a beautiful, well organized, cohesive desk if you don't use any of the items that are on it and all the things you do use are tucked away in a drawer somewhere? What if you have all the things you use around you but your monitor is so low, and your chair so uncomfortable, and your keyboard and mousepad so flat that you're in pain at the end of the day? Your health is always #1 priority. Invest in a back support from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Amazon. Get a mousepad and keyboard wrist cushion. Purchase a desk riser to move your monitor to the same height as your eyes to eliminate neck stress. Invest in yourself first.
2 Make It Clean and Neat
Purge and declutter! Be ruthless when going through items you don't use. If there's an important piece of paper, file it away or scan it and save it to the cloud. Invest in organizers. Keep all of your pens, pencils, sharpies, markers, paintbrushes, and highlighters all in one pencil cup. Keep your paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, push pens, and other little knick-knacks all together but separate from each other utilizing one large organizer or gather individual ones together to suit your needs if required. Purchase a tape dispenser to hold your tape and put it next to your stapler and pens. Gather your papers into one stack and put them in a paper organizer. Purchase a whiteboard calendar to hang above your desk. It not only saves you money, but helps save paper, too! Win-win.
3 Make It Beautiful
When you're purchasing the above items, buy one cohesive style. If you love modern clean and simple, purchase all-white or clear items. Grab a white fuzzy throw and pillow for your chair. If you love industrial, urban style, stick to wire baskets, brass and copper items. If you're more on the cheerful colorful side of things, The Container Store has an entire section of the exact style and brand of office supplies in bright, fun colors, you could purchase one of each of the colors of the rainbow, but still keeping to the same brand and style to form a cohesive, yet fun look. However you want to do it, make it your own and make it beautiful!
Once you've created an ordered, clean space that is beautiful, cohesive, healthy, and tailored to you, you will experience true Hygge and calm, even when trying to hurriedly meet a dead-line. Light those candles, breathe in the scent of fresh Hyacinths, take a look out the window, breathe in deeply, sit up straight, and smile pleasantly while you work. You'll be shocked at how cozy, happy, and pleasant your day is when you make your spaces around you pleasant and enjoyable.
Being a city girl, composting was a completely new concept to me. I was instantly hooked and very interested in vermiculture, which is composting with worms. The more I read, the more excited I became. I couldn’t wait to purchase my own worms and start a bin on my back porch. I live in an apartment and I’m not a farmer or a gardener by any means, but I was wasting a lot of food scraps and I wanted to put them to good use. Plus, it just looked fun! If you’ve ever wondered about composting and what it entails, you’ll enjoy this post.
If you live in an apartment, or even if you don't but want to use worms, you'll want to start with a plastic bin of some sort. You'll need to get a drill and put holes all over the bottom, sides, and lid. If you don't, your worm bin will get too hot, your worms will suffocate and start to try to crawl out (ie when you open your lid, they'll be all over the top of the sides of the bin and the lid). Your bin needs to be like 70% brown matter/30% green matter. Brown matter is newspaper layered and shredded, any kind of paper that isn't slippery (read: not covered in plastic), spam mail, envelopes with the plastic torn out, cardboard (pizza boxes are perfect), dirt, brown leaves, etc. Sticks, pinecones, and pine needles take a lot longer to decompose, so use these sparingly. Green matter is any food and....anything green. Leaves, grass, rotting flowers your boyfriend got you, you get the pic.
Again, you can opt not to do worms, it'll just take a little longer to decompose and you'll need to mix up the soil every week or two to aerate it, but it would be a lot less of a hassle as you don't have to worry so much about the moistness, pH level, and temperature, but, I like bugs so I opted for a vermiculture. You can get Red Wigglers (earth worms like deep, deep ground and they don't breed or eat as fast, so everyone recommends Red Wigglers) at your local bait and tackle shop. If you don't live in the country, you can purchase some here like I did. I recommend 1000 to get you started. They regulate their own population based on the size of their container. Pretty impressive for being blind.
You don't want your vermiculture to be dry, you want it moist but not wet and soggy. You will also need something under your bin to catch the "compost tea" or garbage juice that inevitably will drip out. It's basically gold to farmers and they'll pay a hefty price for it. It's fertilizer water. I need to get a lid, as you can see in my pictures, it just left a black mess on the ground. My fault. Don't be like me. Use a lid to a second tub and prop the bin up on bricks (don't drill holes in that lid, obviously). Use the juice for your garden, or put it in a glass jug and sell it/give it/use it as a bargaining chip for a discount to your friendly neighborhood farmer at the farmers market.
Worms can freeze to death and it can get too hot (bacteria breaking down the food will naturally heat the bin), so make sure it's between 60° and 80° F, though I have found they're ok between 40° and 90° F. I bring mine inside in the winter at night (you can put a big blanket over it).
Try to keep the 70/30 rule of brown to green. Too much green is not good. The brown is their home, the green is their food. They need both. At the same time, it's more of an art than a science, so cut yourself some slack. If there's too much green, throw in some paper and cardboard to fend off flies and potential smell. They'll eventually get around to eating it all. If they don't eat it fast enough, you can chop it up real small or put it in the blender. I've found that putting my food scraps awaiting composting in the freezer works best for me.
Keep them out of the sun. They hate sun. When you first dump them in, put them directly in the sun (or a lamp or light) to make them burrow down into it. Otherwise they'll crawl all over checking out their new home and accidentally crawl out and die. If you ever find them around the edges of the bin trying to crawl out, take the lid off and turn on the light or put it in the sun. It helps get them back down in there. Then add more brown or water or grounds (acid) or egg shells/corn meal (base) to keep the pH level balanced. If they crawl out it also could be that they aren't getting enough air or the bottom is too swampy, you can carefully aerate the bottom with a gardening fork (worms are delicate, so be extremely careful if you do this. Many discourage doing this, but sometimes you just have to).
The worms can be too overfed or underfed but it takes a lot. You can eyeball it.Many recommend a small bin to go under the sink to hold scraps until you put it in your main bin, but my main bin is next to my back door, as I'm in an apartment, and I get fruit flies in my house a lot! (Pro tip: keep apple cider vinegar with some dish soap in a bowl around the house, esp the door and kitchen, if you have a fruit fly problem) So when they come in, they would breed in my small bin under the sink and when I'd open the lid, they would all fly in my face. Not a pleasant experience. Plus, freezing food and then thawing it helps to make it a lot quicker to decompose and eat. The worms will appreciate it. Some things you may not think about putting in there are corn starch (I've heard it's almost a treat for them and helps give them grit to "chew" their food since they don't have teeth so give them some in the beginning at the very least... but dirt and dried leaves also act as a grit). Pro tip: Worms LOVE watermellon! Definitely put in any skins you have leftover!
DO NOT COMPOST:
Any peppers except bell peppers, walnuts, onions, garlic, shallots, any dairy, oils, citrus (I recommend using orange peels for cleaning to make vinegar smell good), egg yolks and whites, cat litter, glossy paper like post cards, silky mailers, or paper cups from fast food places (it's lined with plastic), large pieces of wood, salty foods, any highly processed, sugary foods, plastic, metal, aluminum, rubber, wax, or glass, stickers, and large amounts of starches like potatoes, rice, noodles, or bread (keep it to a little at a time). Most say don't do meat or bones because it will attract unwanted pests.
Any fruits or veggies that aren't listed in the do not compost list, corn cobs, seeds (so many people accidentally get food that sprouts in that beautiful, rich, organic fertilizer, and that's ok!), bamboo (toothbrushes, be sure to pull the nylon brush part out first!), silk (clothes or floss), seasonings, any paper (paper bags, mail and envelopes with plastic torn out), cardboard (cereal boxes, pizza boxes that aren't super greasy, etc), anything 100% cotton (Q-tips, cotton balls, clothing), feathers, fur, hair, nail clippings, matches, toothpicks, coffee ground, egg shells, napkins, toilet paper and its roll, paper towels and its roll (although switching to rags are better), broom sweepings, vacuum cleaner trash (dust and crumbs), old jelly, nut, nut shells (except walnuts), compostable egg cartons, compostable berry cartons, dryer lint, dead flowers, and popcorn, its seeds and kernels. Some argue that 100% latex is ok, like condoms, gloves, and latex balloons, but others disagree. So you can decide for yourself, if you wanna give it a go and see if it works, let me know in the comments!). Bodily fluids like urine and feces are compostable but not recommended if you are using the compost for food items. But if you want the compost to use for flowers, that's fine to put in human or animal waste if you desired to. Lol!
For more info, YouTube and Google are your friends.
How many worms should I start off with?
Eh. It really depends and doesn't matter too much. They'll self-regulate their own population.. cool, huh? I recommend 1,000 for a big plastic container like mine. But I had 500 to begin with and they eventually grew. I also had a friend give me some extras, too. They'll breed, just give them time.
Does it smell?
Yes. It smells great! It smells like fresh, clean earth - a big field. Unless you go crazy and dump 4 weeks worth of food at once or something. Even then, they'd eat it eventually and it would only smell for a short time. You just gotta cover the food with the brown materials.
How often do I feed them?
They say once a week. Again, I think it's an art. I just feed em as I run out of space in the freezer or I have some scraps or I feel like it. It's just depending on how sciencey you wanna get. some ppl like to rotate where they put the food so they know what food their worms like and what they don't. I figure, whatever they don't eat, the bacteria eventually will so I'm not gonna worry about any picky eaters.
How often do you empty the bin and restart?
Every 6 months or so. Or if your entire bin is now worm castings/fertilizer.
How do you restart?
While remembering that your worms are tender and can easily be chopped in half and die, you can carefully move all the compost to one half of the bin. Then fill the other half with fresh brown compostable material as you did in the beginning. Then add tons of green (food) to the far corner of the bin. After several days, or maybe a week, your worms will realize all the food is gone and will begin looking and will find the new bedding and food source. You can then shovel the compost into a bucket. I recommend being careful, as you don't know if there will be any worms still idiotically sitting in their old home starving. So go gently and lovingly place them in the new home.
What if my worms begin The Great Escape?
You can Google it and find many different reasons. Well, if you just got your worms, it's because they're blind and wanting to check out their new home. Help them out and place a light at the top of the bin with the lid off and that'll help keep them below. If your worms are veterans, many times it's the temp, pH level, or moisture of the bin. I usually put it in the sun, keep the lid off for a day or so, and see if that helps. They usually burrow back down. If they still keep coming back up after you put the lid back on, put some more brown materials (that'll help with too much acid or water) or maybe drill more holes. You could also put more coffee grounds if you don't think the acid is high enough. If it's too acidic, put some egg shells and corn starch on it.
I'm getting big black flies (or giant maggots/larvae) that kinda look like a wasp. What do I do?
This is the Black Soldier Fly! The BSF can be a blessing or a curse. They don't cohabitate with worms, so if you have worms and you love your beautiful vermiculture compost, you'll have to carefully and painfully move your worms to a new bin and maybe start afresh. I had to keep mine indoors during the summer months because of the evasion. They hibernate in winter. They make the compost extremely wet and gross, but if you have a ton of food scraps, they'll perfect for you! They can eat so much and are very thick-skinned to lots of conditions, so they could be a dream, or your worst nightmare, depending on how you view them.
What if all my worms die?
That's highly unlikely that all 1000 worms will die (and by that time, they'll probably have reproduced so much that it's much more than 1000). Some will inevitably crawl out occasionally and maybe die, but don't beat yourself up. This is an art and a learning process. If somehow they all die, you could buy more or go worm-free.
What if I need to go on vacation?
Worms can last up to a month or so without eating. You can feed them before you leave and they'll be fine.
Got any more questions? Ask them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!
Updated June 8, 2018
Recently, I discovered composting and wanted to give it a try because of the amount of food waste I produce, which I have worked hard to reduce. I have always loved bugs so when I discovered worms help composting go faster, it was a no-brainer. But the more I learned about composting, the more I heard about the Zero Waste movement. Zero Waste adds two extra “R”s to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra. They tack on a “Refuse” to the beginning and a “Rot”, referring to composting, at the end. Refusing disposables and plastics that are used only once. Also, this is not a political post. I actually am extremely conservative and lean heavily toward the right side of the aisle, but I believe strongly this is a bipartisan subject. It doesn't have to do with global warming or saving the planet or even reducing our carbon footprint. If you live on a planet, and you want that planet to be beautiful and have lasting, sustainable resources, and you want to protect and keep that planet lasting for generations to come, I think it's only logical to reduce the amount of trash we throw away, not to mention all the animals that die everyday from eating plastic in the ocean. I highly recommend the documentary A Plastic Ocean. It's on Netflix streaming at the time of this post. This video with clips from A Plastic Ocean is the main reason I have chosen to go Zero Waste. Studies are showing there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in 2050.
Many believe it’s too difficult, time consuming, or expensive to implement Zero Waste into their lives, but look at how much waste you produce a week. Think of the money you spend on it. Think about the time we use to go to the store to buy plastic cups and napkins, lug them into the house, and take the trash to the curb. Think of how much money you could save by eliminating some of it. I'm not saying you have to go all in, you can pick one or two things and ease into it. It's easy and can save money. If something doesn't save time or money, then don’t worry about it. Do what’s sustainable for you. To be honest, I just thought it was cool. New things I get to buy, and what? They have reusable straws and plasticware? How neat is that?! I had no clue what beeswax wraps were (see #9)
*I make no money off of any links or purchases. These are purely my own opinion.
20 ways you can begin Zero Waste in your life:
1. Hand Soap and body wash. Use bars of soap instead of liquid soap. The difference might surprise you. Water. You're paying for watered down soap inside a plastic container when you buy liquid. Save your money, save the plastic, buy solid. You get brownie points if you get it local at a farmers market with no packaging. Did you know most shampoos, conditioners, body soaps, and face washes have plastic in them? Yep! They have liquid plastics called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate(SLES). Used as a surfactant and foaming agent, they are strong skin irritants and produce nitrosamine, a substance linked to cancer formation. Not only that, but it isn't filtered in our water treatment plants, so it goes straight to the ocean. Our ocean is filled with liquid plastic because of shampoo and hand soap. Also.... microbeads! (I recommend cool apps like Beat the Bead and Think Dirty)
2. Toothbrushes and floss. These use unnecessary plastic and rubber that isn't recyclable. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes. They use the same nylon bristles as normal toothbrushes, but you can pull the nylon out when you're done with the brush and compost the toothbrush. Also check out silk floss, which is also compostable.
3. Shaving. Disposable razors have so much plastic. Try a safety razor. This was the last thing I tried in my zero waste journey. I was nervous, thinking it would hurt and give me a ton of scratches. I finally purchased one (it was my latest leap on the zero waste journey) and I've never had a single scratch, which is more than I can say about Harry's razors that I used before. Just look up youtube videos on how to do it and go slow and don't press down! I also use this shaving soap bar instead of cream. It is SO soft and smooth and doesn't cause breakouts like regular soap does. It's so awesome. I love it much better than shaving cream. A lot cheaper, too.
4. Butt Rags. Haha! This is what my husband and I call them. Among many other things. We hate the term "Family cloth" because it's such a misnomer! It's not ever reused before it's washed and it's certainly not reused by other family members! I get they're not for everyone, so if you can't bring yourself to take the plunge yet, don't sweat it. This is about what you can do. If you can't do something, that's fine. I was strongly against family cloths until I read this article. But now that I've seen that it's not one cloth that you share between the whole family and that it can be extremely soft and luxurious, I took the dive and bought some from Creekside Kid. Oh my goodness, I adore our new cloths from Creekside Kid. So soft. My husband and I were so nervous, but we can't imagine life without them now. Granted, toilet paper isn't unsustainable. Paper is a renewable source. But toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic that can't be recycled. You can get some at your local health food store like Whole Foods where TP is individually wrapped in paper. If you can't make the plunge to the family cloth, at least try to go that route.
5. Feminine products. I'm not a tampon girl, but for those who are check out the menstrual cup. There are tons of videos and reviews you can check out and it's perfectly safe (safer than a tampon because you can wear it at night without worrying about toxic shock). It's "made with the same silicone material and grade approved for healthcare applications for over fifty years and that it does not contain any of the following: latex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer and polyethylene and is free of colors and dyes. Silicone products have been shown to be biocompatible (i.e. accepted by the human body without adverse reaction), durable, flexible, and easy to sterilize" as stated on the Diva Cup website. Though I definitely don't plan to use them much, they're nice to have for beach days or if I wanna bath tub soak.
You can also make or buy reusable cloth pads on amazon. Some are made with bamboo and they're very sustainable, plus will save money. They are so luxurious, comfortable, soft, and also don't smell like disposable ones do. Try one. I double-dog dare you.
6. Loofas and face towels. For your shower, swap to a natural sea sponge like this one. They're softer and sustainable (if they're real and from a company that uses sustainable practices). Why use face towelettes when you could just scrub it off gently and have it feel great for your skin? Use a konjac sponge! It is a natural sponge found in Japan and it will change your world. Sometimes I find them at TJ Maxx for a steal, but I also love the one (and all the products) from The Honest Beauty. They do use plastic, but I recycle them and they are high-end, luxury products, but organic, safe for your skin, and pretty affordable for all of that considering. Especially if you get the bundles. That goes for their other brand, The Honest Company.
7 I love Coke and I'm never gonna completely give it up, so I'm just gonna have to recycle my cans (anything is better than plastic as it is poisonous, not sustainable, eventually breaks down to the point it can no longer be recycled, and is a large contributor to marine deaths). But water bottles are basically just tap water with salt. Carry your favorite water bottle with you to save from buying another one or purchase a really cute glass or stainless steel water bottle or canteen.
8. Another throw away item we use everyday is napkins. Instead of buying throw-away paper napkins, you could purchase some 100% cotton napkins for $10 and how much money could you save your family over your lifetime? How much landfill space would you save? I purchase some French-stripe napkins.
9. Plastic wrap/sandwich bags. You can get a beeswax replacement that is reusable. You can wash it off when you're done using it and save it for the next time. They come in all different shapes and sizes online, or you can make your own. If you want ziplog bags, get reusable ones! There's bags for sandwiches and airtight bags.
10. Scrub brushes for the kitchen. I like to get bamboo when possible as I mentioned before and get replaceable heads. There are many versions: 1, 2, 3 (it makes a great veggie brush), and 4. Also, for general scrubbing you can use these: 1 and 2.
11. Fun kids (or kid at heart) food stuff. Ice pops? Popcicles? Toddler apple/anyfruit-sauce pouches? Yeah, they got it if you're willing to make em.
12. Glass milk jugs. Sadly, they're only a half gallon, but they're organic, sustainable, usually local and cow-friendly and not as processed (which means you gotta shake the milk and drink it up before it goes bad). This does mean that it costs more than regular milk. But it's about the same price as a half gallon of organic milk in a plastic jug. It usually has a $2-3 deposit fee, but when you bring the jug back you get your deposit back. There's also a brand of milk that is trying to bring back the olden days of milk delivery. Check out Oberweis!
13. Plastic straws. Americans alone use 500 million drinking straws every day. This is something no one thinks about because they're free and come with every meal. It's like we don't even see it. We use it, abuse it, and lose it. It's not recyclable, it's a waste. Refuse a straw or bring your own glass straws or these stainless steel. If you have kids, they'll love these colored ones! If you don't think straws are a big deal, I double dog dare you to watch this.
14. Plastic utensils. Again, it's "free" so we never think about it. Plus, they're so small, we think no biggie. But "It is estimated that close to 40 billion individual plastic utensils—meaning 14 and 18 billion plastic spoons—are produced each year, and with such low rates of reuse and recycling, most of them end up in our landfills, beaches and oceans." I'm sorry, did you read that number? I almost got dizzy. You can get your own little bamboo utensils (which is very sustainable. Always opt for bamboo anything if you can. It grows so fast) or get a little zipper pouch and carry silverware in your purse (or car) so you have it in fast food places that don't have silverware or your work. If your work has silverware, use it. If you're a germaphobe, just wash it before you use it (and remember how many germs are in your body already and that you come in contact with and those germs will help your immune system) or keep yours at work in your drawer.
15. Paper towels. I keep paper towels for soaking up blood from ground beef when I pull it out of the freezer and it gets runny or grease from bacon, but otherwise I use cloth rags instead, or "unpaper towels" as some call it. Be careful to stay away from microfiber cloths. Microfibers, as well as any materials that aren't 100% cotton, linen, or another natural material, are made of plastic which go unfiltered into our oceans, polluting marine life. Opt for 100% natural fibers when you can like cotton, linen, etc.
16. We all know about BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag, right? Every store has inexpensive reusable bags to go green and offer discounts for bringing them back each time. But have you ever thought about produce bags? Often times produce comes in plastic wrap or produce plastic bags are available for use. You can make your own or purchase little produce bags that can save so much plastic. Also, places like Fresh market, Earth Fare, Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc all have bulk options. They have the little bins where you can bring your own bags or glass jars and fill up with beans, flours, sugars, grains, seasonings, and more with no plastic or waste! If you didn't know, Sea Turtles, which are now endangered, eat plastic bags mistaking them for jelly fish. They have found an abundance of plastic inside 100% of Sea Turtles in the ocean. Also, North Pacific Sea Birds live off of little bits of plastic to the point that they can't eat any real food. They have found enough plastic in one bird's stomach that is the equivalent of 12 pizzas in a human. They die a slow, agonizing death. Does that convince you to bring your own bag yet?
AROUND THE HOUSE
17. Swiffer. Swiffer is the brand that changed life for me, and probably most people. If you use a swiffer duster like I do, you can find a washable replacement for it here. And if you use a Swiffer or a Swiffer mop, you can find all sorts of reusable pads. If you don't like the replaceable plastic liquid holder of the Swiffer mop, then switch to Bona like I did. If you're into DIY you can make your own liquid and pour it in the reusable liquid pouch.
18. Lint rollers. I have 4 cats. Yes. Four. In a 2 bedroom apartment. We have fun. And yes, I am crazy. I also have hair everywhere. When there's a ton of hair on my couch and upholstered dining chairs I use this amazing lint brush. I also try to brush my cats as much as possible with this cool hand brush that comes with it, which my cats cannot get enough of. But occasionally the lint brush just won't work on some clothes or get every last hair off. That's when I use Flint as a refillable option, which Target also carries. There's this washable option that I haven't tried, too. If you have, leave me a comment on what you think. Paper packing tape is also an option.
19. Scents. Glade plugins and Febreeze are horrible for your health. They cause sinus problems and can be hormone disruptors. Once, I sprayed Febreeze and instantly began coughing, got a sore throat, and had a terrible sinus infection that lasted for over a week. Any scents you buy from a regular store pollute the air in your home with horrible chemicals. Get rid of them! We're not even talking about the waste. I used to be addicted to my Glade plugins, I'll be honest. I have 4 indoor cats and I need something to freshen the air and most candles just don't do it. I do love soy candles (if you get candles, get soy. Otherwise, you guessed it, more chemicals) but they are expensive and I can't keep them going all day, so I found a solution. essential oil diffusers. Not only do they smell amazing, they have incredible healing properties. (I'm a big supporter of DoTerra and Young Living. Their quality is unmatched. Three drops of their orange EO smelled my entire house where as 40 drops of whole foods EO didn't make a difference at all). In place of air freshener spray, you can purchase a glass spray bottle (amber and cobalt protect the essential oils from the sun breaking them down) and fill it with water and use a few drops of lavender. I use it on my linen duvet which wrinkles all the time, I use it to smell my house up quickly if someone is about to come over, I use it to help me go to sleep, and I use it in the bathroom.
20. Dryer sheets. Use these wool balls instead. Gets out the static and softens. You only have to replace them every 10 years or so.
If you're nervous about trying something Zero Waste, remember that this was how it was done for thousands of years until just recently in history. Research, research, research. Find different resources and learn everything you can. Knowledge combats fear. Take the plunge. Try it! You might find out you love it, as my husband and I did with the family cloth and as I did with cloth pads. You just might surprise yourself! And hey, if you don't like something, no one is forcing you to continue using it.
If you're interested in learning more, read the book Zero Waste Home.
Happy zero wasting!
Updated June 8, 2018
I've never considered myself a minimalist. I don't have the classic minimalist home - pure white and contemporary furniture with no smooth curves. I've always liked the typical minimalist style, but it's never been me. To tell you about me and my style and how I recently discovered I actually am a minimalist, I need to take you back to my childhood.
As a kid I was a high-functioning hoarder. Even though you could walk through my room and nothing was on my bed, underneath it was packed with clutter. Trash, paper crafts I made at VBS, toys I'd forgotten about, dirty socks, nuclear waste.... you know, the usual stuff. I also had a very large pile between my bed and a tall dresser that I would lay a blanket over to "cover up" the clutter - as if it was fooling anyone. The tops of my two dressers were completely covered in beanie babies, jewelry boxes, and tons of little figurines people had given me over the years. I also had a very large headboard with three cubbyholes, one that was covered with a sliding door, that held all sorts of memorabilia and I won't even talk about my closet!
I'm an empath, if you don't know that about me. Much like Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, I can feel people's feelings and I can heavily influence their moods, as well (minus the cool light-up antenna... can I surgically get some of those?) . Sometimes to the extreme and sometimes close family or friends fear telling me bad news because they know it affects me so deeply, although in all honesty because I am an empath, it makes it easier to process bad news because I experience pain so frequently.
Because of my empathetic nature, I held onto things for many years for sentimental value. It got so bad that a few times my mom and brother would spend an entire day in my room cleaning and wouldn't let me come in to see what they were throwing/giving away. I remember the feeling of elation when I would step in the door and see everything so clean, beautiful, and in its place with no clutter whatsoever. I remember being able to find things for the first time, which was really awesome. I remember not being able to figure out what they got rid of and wondering why I kept it all to begin with. That's when it finally started hitting me that I don't need to keep everything I make or see or come into contact with. I also learned that my life is going to be filled with cleaning and organizing, so I might as well learn to like it so I don't have to be miserable. That awoke something inside that I could almost physically feel. My attitude toward cleaning changed and almost overnight I became passionate about cleaning. I would clean my bathroom with toilet paper and hand soap because I didn't know where the cleaning supplies were (I was 7. My mom showed me where they were after that and I took over cleaning the sink).
This began my lifelong love of cleaning and eventually organizing. It became therapy and relaxing for me because I was good at it, I didn't have to be micromanaged... it was freeing to declutter. My dad once showed me how to keep all my thousands of scattered drawings all over my room in one little letter box that he gave me. Since then, I have always kept my mail either in the recycle bin or one or two on the desk to do, and then join their friends in the bin after completion. My email inbox is always empty with the exception of a few emails that I am working on, and a place for everything so nothing hardly ever gets lost. I learned to throw away trash, give away clothes that don't fit or that I don't like or wear, and things I don't use.
Does that mean my house is all white and contemporary? No. I actually was terrible at interior design until I found a Pottery Barn magazine when I was engaged. That magazine and store changed my life and sparked a passion in me. But Pottery Barn isn't the "minimalistic" style. If you were to go in my closet right now, you wouldn't label me a minimalist. I have four giant boxes of Christmas stuff (What? Yes, I'm one of those annoying sappy, Christmas-nuts, and yes, I set it up mid-November and take it down in February - heresy, I know).
I love clothes. I'm not into trends and I went through a long phase in life looking for the style that was me. I went through geek, to girlie, to skater, to punk, to emo, to scene kid, to hipster (sometimes changing daily, which meant a very large, extensive wardrobe). When I got married and got a job making enough money to actually buy clothes that I truly loved, I discovered the classic style. Buying things that may cost more up front, but would last forever and feel amazing, fit great, and look even better. I discovered quality is better than quantity.
Look up "Capsule Wardrobe" on Pinterest or Google if you want ideas for your capsule wardrobe. However, everyone's is different. Mine is large and extensive as far as blouses are concerned. But the more you invest in pieces you love and will wear forever, the more you save yourself money in the long-run and the environment. Thriftstores and shelters are overwhelmed with donated clothes. Don't keep pelting them with more to throw away. Invest, invest, invest. Repair, repair, repair.
Minimalism isn't about a specific style of decor (If you don't have a fiddle fig leaf tree, you can still be a minimalist, I promise). It's not sterile white everywhere. Minimalism is a way of surrounding yourself with calm, making your house a home, a place of serenity, stress-free, however that looks for you. It means everything having a place and not having to stress where your keys are in the morning. For me, it's neutral, bright, classic style with a touch of old-world France. You can have your style and have knick-knacks that you love and still be minimalist. Minimalism isn't about getting rid of everything you own, it's not having things own you. It's about clearing out the things you don't really love to showcase the things you do.
I really enjoyed this article: 10 Things Minimalists Don't Do. It told me that I do implement the fundamentals of the minimalist mindset into the corners of my life and showed me some things I can work on. It's a good read. The benefits are more time, less stress, more money to do the things you enjoy like making memories and traveling, and focusing less on "stuff" and "clutter" that just makes life overwhelming. I still throw my clothes on the floor and occasionally let the dishes pile up, but again, I love cleaning, so it gives me a chance to do so every few days and I don't mind it. Don't let yourself be pressured into making your life look like someone else's. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your style. Enjoy your home, make it a place of calm and an island to escape to. That's the important thing.
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