In this video I share how I gradually transitioned into minimalism and zero waste. It didn’t happen overnight, but with careful consideration along the way. Check out some of the products and things that helped me reduce my waste.
Take a peek into my bag as I get ready for a weekend trip to NYC. These are some tips to fit your favorite product into your carry-on or personal bag.
Products featured in the video:
1. ESPEROS BAGS backpack: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MAS91GY/ref=twister_B00XP064FW?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
2. Braggs Apple Cider vinegar
3. Steel tongue scraper: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LM43DWK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
4. Rosehip oil
5. Licorice root extract (oil)
6. Diva Cup (menstrual cup) or Lunette cup
7. Rose water
8. Nivea lotion
9. Altoid mints
What are your must-haves for a trip?
I don’t know about you but when I don’t reflect, I get ungrateful. When I don’t look back on where I started, I miss how much I’ve grown.
A couple days into the 2016 new year, someone asked me how 2015 had been for me. With a labored sigh, I replied “In all honesty, it was a tough year.” I hadn’t told a lie– 2015 was sprinkled with unexpected let-downs and challenges. Social media has a way of compiling a highlight reel of our lives that gives the false impression of a perfect life. While I was winning awards and getting speaking engagements, I was grappling with the reality of a dwindling savings account. One day, when I’m ready, I will tell you all that story. It’s one of true friendship and God’s provision. I’ll save it for another day.
Right now I want to take you back to how I started the year. I wrote down a vision for what I wanted to see in the next 365 day. I included my ambitions, my hopes, and my motivations. I believe that the way you start (with optimism and hope) frames how you’ll approach the year, with all its good and its bad.
“Go. See. Do”
I had purposed in my mind that I wanted to take a solo trip after I graduated with my Masters degree. I was nervous and was constantly checking Google Flight alerts for tickets during my lunch breaks. My destination of choice? Copenhagen, Denmark. I love biking culture and I had heard it’s a safe place for a woman to travel alone. I caught huge a break with a roundtrip ticket for under $600. On my trip, I stayed at the Urban House in Denmark and hopped over to Germany to visit friends and learn about sustainable fashion at H&M Starting House. I’d recommend a solo trip to anyone who’s ever considered it.
Be Happy. Live Well.
Happiness to me consists of spending time with loved ones and being free to be myself. Living far away from my family and friends, the things I cherish the most are unexpected phone calls, care packages, and authentic acts of friendship. In order for me to “live well,” I had to shed dead weight that was not helping me develop as an individual. It can be difficult to let go of relationships and things that used to fit you. Once those things become a hinderance, it’s necessary to remove them from your life. As a recovering people-pleaser, I still struggle with the need to justify my actions but a dear friend challenged me to start living for an audience of one. As long as God is pleased with my actions, I don’t owe anyone anything. I have said many times before that I am fiercely protective of my happiness— as we all should be. Before you invite people, habits, and things into your life, examine them thoroughly. And let them in only if they will make you a better version of yourself.
One day, I was praying and I thought what big and specific thing could I ask of God? I declared, “I want to have 5 speaking engagements this year.” As the months rolled by, I had almost forgotten my prayer. But emails and calls started pouring in and on December 4th, I found myself on stage at an award ceremony, giving remarks about sustainable fashion. It was my fifth and final speaking engagement for the year. Sometimes, I still feel like the nerdy girl who reads articles about textile waste for fun and it’s humbling that people want to hear what I have to say. The Word says, You have not because you do not ask (James 4:2). God is not intimidated by our ambition. Ask Him for what you want and when you do, ASK BIG.
Leaders of the New Cool
I’m not shy about telling people that I want my startup Style Lottery to be the thought-leader in recycling textiles. We’ve been working with the circular economy for a couple of years and we have been changing the way consumers get rid of their old clothes. Sustainable fashion isn’t just the new cool, it’s going to become the new standard. This year, I challenged myself to be true to my convictions. I adjusted my shopping habits and now more than half my closet is second-hand. I enjoy fashion and I recognize its ability to connect and empower communities. I am an outspoken advocate for sustainable fashion. You know what qualifies us as leaders? Our closets, our wallets, and what we chose to use them for.
I dabbled in the zero waste world for a bit and learned some great ways to lower my carbon footprint. I attended SXSW Eco, tried composting, eliminated meat from my diet, and read The Zero Waste Home from cover to cover. At the end of the day, I identified the necessities and the excesses in my life. I focused on getting basic staples and timeless pieces that will last several seasons. I have chosen to adopt a minimal waste lifestyle, where I work to minimize my environmental impact. Ever since I made the switch, I have less stuff and more substance. I’m aware that not everyone can fit all their trash into a mason jar, but if we can all reduce our waste in some way, we can make the world a better place.
Writing this post was therapeutic for me. In retrospect, I can see that I had a fantastic year. Although I didn’t get all the answers I wanted in 2015, I know that God will complete the work He started. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
That promise from God is enough optimism and hope to launch me into 2016. I cannot wait to see how His plans unfold in my life.
Did you make a vision board this year? Or make New Years resolutions? If so, what were your main themes for 2016? Leave a comment below :)
Meet Anamarie from the zero-waste blog, Fort Negrita. She is an Earth advocate with passion for zero-waste, traveling, self-reliance, and regenerative energy and waste. I had the chance to interview her about the realities of the zero waste lifestyle. Check out the interview to learn great tips for about living a more minimal lifestyle and creating less waste.
What does zero waste mean to you?
Zero waste is a silent protest and it’s a conscious decision to eliminate waste from your life. You’re voting for the kind of products you want to see on shelves. From the way that you purchase groceries to how you buy clothes, being a conscious consumer lets you put your money where your mouth is. Instead of supporting unsustainable companies you get to support the kind of businesses you’d like to see thrive.
How much power and influence do you think the consumer has?
The power of the consumer is huge. Every dollar spent is a vote. And the more aware customers are of how their money is being used by companies, the more empowered they are. Consumers are letting businesses know what they like and what they want.
Before you started zero waste, what was producing the most waste in your life?
Definitely food. We live in a to-go culture and that to-go lifestyle has a lot of packaging. So it’s very easy to create waste with food. Before I started zero waste, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I needed to go buy things like almond milk and I didn’t know how I was going to give up those things. Eventually, I swapped out all of them for zero waste options.
How do you handle grocery shopping if you’re trying to avoid food packaging waste?
I’ve swapped out food packaging for food that comes from the bulk section of stores. Not like Sam’s Club bulk, but bulk that involves a scooper and dried goods. I can get itemslike nuts, grains, rice, and granola in bulk. I go to the grocery with my own canvas bags and mason jars and take home all my dried goods inside of those. So I either buy in bulk or in the produce section.
What about when you go out to eat?
I tend to stick with dine-in restaurants, rather than to-go places. You have to find unique ways to get around making trash. I haven’t been able to get waiters to package up my food in my reusable food container because of food regulations, which I respect. So I order my food “for here” and when I want to take leftovers home I can package them up by myself in my own food container.
Since starting zero waste substitutes that you’ve made and things you’ve given up?
I gave up on toothpaste tubes and started making my own 4-ingredient toothpaste. It has baking soda, coconut oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil. And I now use a bamboo toothbrush. When I’m done with it, I can use the toothbrush handle as a marker in my garden or toss it into my compost.
I also switched to soap without packaging. I fill up my jars with castile soap and I use it for cleaning my dishes, the floor, and the bathroom.
I buy a big jug of distilled white vinegar and use it for cleaning. When I’m done, I recycle the jug.
I don’t use disposable cups anymore so if I want some coffee or chai tea, I just grab my mason jar or a reusable cup.
What was the biggest challenge for you in your transition to zero waste?
I have been zero waste for over a year so it doesn’t feel weird to me anymore. It was a habit that I had to create to replace old ones. One of the toughest habits to break was using paper towels. I was so used to going into public bathrooms and drying my hands on paper towels that when I started zero waste, I was still doing it. It took me a full month before I stopped pulling paper towels.
How much do you stay ahead of the game?
I always keep 3 things in my bag at all times— a reusable cup, a cloth napkin, and either a spoon, spork or a fork. Preparation is a big thing for me. There were those moments at the beginning where I was out somewhere and really wanted something to eat or drink but was unprepared. Now I can’t leave home without my stuff because if I’m out with it, I risk not being able to eat when I want to. I had to figure out my groove, where I could go and shop. I learned a few tricks. For example, if I wanted some Powerade, I could go to Circle K or 7Eleven and use their machines to refill my reusable cup. It all took some time, but now that I’m doing it every day, it doesn’t feel like work to me.
What kind of progress would you like see in regards to zero waste?
I’d like to see more businesses cater their structure to the zero waste lifestyle. A lot of times, it’s on the individual to do good but it really should be on businesses to create a culture around zero waste. Think about a coffee shop. If they decided to no longer carry paper cups and instead have ceramic cups or let people bring in their reusable cups, we’ll see the culture begin to change to one that is zero waste-friendly.
If people want to try out zero waste, where should they start?
They should start by watching the things they’re throwing away and being more thoughtful about their waste. Think about how your trash is going to be around in landfills for a thousands years even after you’re done with it.
It seems like minimalism and zero waste go hand-in-hand. Would you say going zero waste has made you more of a minimalist?
Definitely. You start thinking Do I need this or do I want this? Sometimes people just buy things because it creates a comfort for them, but it’s not really a need. When you’re zero waste, buying something you don’t need is really just wasteful. I started looking at everything I already owned and it started to bother me. I looked into my closet and thought why do I even have all this stuff? And thinking about getting rid of it, just frustrated me even more. With zero waste, you start wanting less and you replace that consumer “feel-good” you get from buying things. You end up finding happiness in other ways. Zero waste is like an awakening. It makes you a conscious consumer.