Plastic: It’s Harmful, It’s Wasteful, It’s Everywhere

(picture by pixabay.com)

My adversion to waste started at a very young age. It was something ingrained in me as a child by my parents. While being potty trained I remember being taught 3 squares for #1, and 4 squares for #2. And don’t bunch up the toilet paper either, it won’t be used efficiently. Fold it. Paper towels only had one use: to wipe grease from the skillet. Using it to clean up a mess or to dry your hands was a HUGE no no! Food better not be thrown away either. Little children are to eat cut up apples slices because if you just give them an apple -most likely half of it will be thrown a way. On that note, there are certain ways to cut food up to ensure you aren’t wasting any parts. Canning food from our trees was no different either. Even the apple tree that had worms in every single apple were still canned. You just had to cut through every single slice around the part the worm had been in. I remember even finding maggots in the trash can because there was at one time raw meat in the trash but my dad dumped out the trash and kept the same trash bag so we could get more use out of one bag! Generally you only need to take the car somewhere if you have multiple places to go. And don’t even think about leaving a light on if you have left the room for a few minutes….I think you get the picture here. And many of these principles I still do in some version or another. “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a moto used in our home in more or less words.

Frugality is a good lesson to learn and it teaches you to appreciate what you have. My parents are  the King and Queen of this. But many of their principles are based around money not necessarily the cost to the environment. My awakening to living a more sustainable life started with my sophomore year of High School, from my body-smelling hippie biology teacher that I loved, who would talk to us about the Japanese principle of Wabi Sabi and the importance of reading books and about the destruction of the environment. Then the last 1/3 part of class we actually discussed biology. A year later I graduated early and bought my first book on how to “go green.” And my passion over the years for sustainability for the people, the animals and the planet has always been there since then, but based on situational circumstances my principles being practiced have at times been hard core and other times, not as much. I’m human right?

In college I was roommates with 5 other girls and daily our trash would have to be taken out. I couldn’t stand how much of our trash could be recycled or composted. So I would put all my recyclables in a pile and once a week walk from my apartment to the back of the grocery store and dump it in the proper recycling bins then do my grocery shopping. I didn’t have a car, but I couldn’t let all these things just get dumped. I’m now fortunate enough to live in California where there is easy access to recycling. My apartment has a dumpster just for recyclables and believe me, I use it. But recycling plastic it’s not good enough for me anymore. Recycling plastic is really downcycling. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade and turn back into soil. And when recycled it gets turned into a much harder plastic that won’t be able to be recycled again. So most plastics get one or two life spans. And that’s not all, they have horrible chemicals in them that are linked to imbalancing our hormones and are linked to certain cancers. I’m not just talking about BPA, which is a commonly known toxin people look out for in plastics. Plastic is not meant to be used over and over again. And many plastics are not properly put in the dumpster or recycled causing severe damage to our planet and animals.

Look around your house, almost everything was/is packaged in plastic or is plastic. I encourage you to read more about plastic here. And to educate yourself more on how wasteful and damaging it is.

All this being said, it doesn’t feel good enough for me to put plastic in a recycling bin anymore. There was life before plastic and in the history of mankind, it wasn’t that long ago that it didn’t even exist.

A Plastic Free Challenge for myself and for all who are interested! I am going to try to consume little, to no plastic items for two weeks starting March 26. I’m talking about predominately one-time-use plastic. I have containers made of plastic, my kids have toys with plastic, our car has plastic in it, so I’m not talking about stuff like that. I’m talking about plastics that have short lifespans and greatly reducing the type of plastic that doesn’t get multipe uses but gets used up quickly: grocery bags, straws, etc. Not consuming new plastic for the next two weeks. The challenge will be shared on my Facebook page which you can click on here: Simplicity In All Things where the community of everyone doing the challenge will be. I’ll be sharing tips this week on how to avoid new plastic to prepare us for the next two weeks and throughout the challenge I’ll be sharing my experiences and set backs. I hope that you will join me in the challenge and share your experience as well! It’s a starting point. And I hope it kick starts me (and hopefully you too) to use less and less of this manmade, non-biodegradable stuff.

 

A Poem I Wrote about Consumerism


If there’s anything that keeps me up at night, it’s the heavy weight I feel with the lifestyle I am caught up in of not always being a responsible consumer. What principles am I teaching my children? Where is my self-control? Why don’t I always make wiser purchasing choices? And why is our lifestyle such, that I don’t feel I have control of what enters my home even when I am making conscious choices? And even if I was different, would that isolate me, would that offend people who are also on this rat race of consuming as much as they can afford? How does it stop? How do we start waking up and start taking a good look at the impact we have on this planet, our health, and our addictions?

So one sleepless night I wrote a poem. I have never written a poem before but the thoughts in my head that kept playing over and over again had a ring to it and the words just flowed out of me with ease. This poem isn’t meant to sugar-coat behavior, it is meant to shock because things that bring discomfort make you think. And with shock and discomfort brings change. The narrator speaking is an American which is why I give it this title:

America’s Society

More, more, more -what void are we trying to fill?
Is one gift not enough? Is it something about us we’re trying to conceal?

With this, more, more, more
one day isn’t enough, we’ve got holidays,
yes many holidays to celebrate with more stuff.
Then there’s birthdays, promotions, and congrats for doing good
yes there’s always excuses to compulsively give,
celebrating with more is what motivates me to live.

You see, I’m rich by location of where I was born,
and that right alone has earned me my things.
I don’t have time to be innovative to cut economies off my strings.
I’m too busy working and playing for all this stuff,
They should have been born, where it isn’t so tough.

Cause I need, more, more, more
You say there are those who are poor?
I’ll just build a factory and build economy so I can keep my habits up,
Yeah, that will shut them up.

Don’t talk about using my money to be innovative, creative, generous, and good,
yeah, my goods could help other mankind in far lands
to become self-reliant and free their slave hands
but that takes thought and time and my own assets
And I need those resources,
Yes, I need cheap sources to fill my big void up.

More, more, more
You say I don’t give?
I give plenty to those that live-
just as comfortably as I do to show that I care
And I buy earth’s resources to bring others out of despair.

Don’t tell me they’re a slave to me,
look at it like I made them free.
Sure the consumption comes with a price, yes a fee,
to not give back to our earth more than we receive.
But I see this as a new meaning to “stewardship.”
Mines better, and clever, and works in harmony,
with this idea that today’s “what we want”
can be tomorrow’s “old thing.”

I need more and more.
Yeah I know there’s places where times are tough,
that’s why I employ them to make me more of this stuff.

Decluttering Books & Magazines

Back in 2014 I moved around a lot forcing me to have to decide what to part with. I got rid of a lot of books which was both hard to let go and also very freeing.

Here I show you all of the books my husband and I have displayed in our apartment. My husband does have probably another 2 dozen history books in his classroom and on our closet shelf but he’s a history teacher so it’s valuable knowledge. Our bookshelf is mostly his books too, that he so kindly went through with me to decide if he really needs them all or not. I have a few novels but for the most part my books are self help books I really love and some cook books. I don’t have a big issue owning too many book so much as I do with magazines so I’ll explain my system of keeping the amount low.

Books: You may be wondering why, why get rid of books? I am for having books and information that serves you, I especially do find value in non-electronic information. But I truly believe that everything has an energy about it, even if it just means that energy and emotion comes out of you from the objects. Just like our clothes, picking up each book and feeling if it sparks joy in you is crucial. If you pick up a book and you get the feeling of obligation, that you should be keeping it because it cost a lot of money or because someone gifted it to you but that it doesn’t spark joy, then get rid of it. “But what if they all spark joy?!?” Be honest with yourself and part with the ones that you haven’t flipped through in the last couple of years. I posted a picture of my book shelf so you could get an idea of a non cluttered space with books. If you have stacks of books everywhere, there’s a problem.

Magazines: Magazines can be filled with great resources, but they’re also filled with a lot of advertisements and information that you don’t need. Since many magazines come to people through a subscription it can be one item that really can take over the space in your home. I have been collecting magazine clippings since high school. I guess you could call it my ‘Pinterest before Pinterest’. Even today I still like to have a physical copy of articles that I enjoy. I have a binder for home decor and organization, a binder for fashion and fitness, sheet music of songs I enjoy, and recipes I’ve printed out that I found on Pinterest that I use on a continual basis. The basket and side table above has all the magazines I own, plus a coloring book, a few small books, a family journal, envelopes, a laptop, and a white binder and small binder I’ll talk about in a later post. I don’t buy magazines all the time or have a subscription but I buy them if I really love most of the content. The process of buying a magazine looks something like this: I go through it a handful of times in the store throughout the month and I have to be really thinking about it a lot before I’ll purchase it. So the magazines I do have have a lot of good content in them. And I’ll eventually tear out the pages, place in the binder, and declutter my pages currently in my binders.

Final thought: I also want to say that something I have noticed in myself is the more I get rid of, the more it makes me aware of the type of consumer I am. I spend a lot of systematic time deciding what I’ll purchase now. Getting rid of your belongings gives you a sense of freedom and a reality of how much of an addiction you have to consuming goods. Being a conscious consumer directs us into a path of being goods stewards of the earth.

Please share with me either here on my blog or on my social media platforms your thoughts and experiences decluttering magazines and books, I’d love to here from you!

Happy One Year: 10 Things I’ve Learned Being Married to You

(Photo via Myra.Photo)

This last weekend Stephen and I celebrated our one year anniversary! We spent the whole day Saturday driving around like we were on a road trip and eating the best Mexican and Italian food we’ve ever had in San Diego. It was a much needed date since we haven’t gone on one since our son was born and the last few we’ve had I was miserably pregnant.

Stephen and I met 7 years ago and dated for 2 years. We spent much of our waking days with one another and seriously thought we knew everything about each other! We definitely knew a lot but during our couple years away we both have changed and have had to get to know each other again and it’s been quite an adventure, not to mention marriage is always different than dating. Here are 10 things I’ve learned this last year:

(November 2009)
(July 2010)
  1. Blending families is tough. Or if you marry later in life, or you married really young, or too soon, or with kids or without kids. Marriage is just tougher than our ideal of what it’ll be like.
  2. What ever thoughts you nurture about your spouse will be the way you start perceiving them to be. If you think about all the negative and the things that bother you, they’ll start to annoy you more but if you focus on their strengths and think about the positive you’ll see the good.
  3. If you’ve got young kids and you want to…you have to schedule it in. That’s all I’m going to say on that one.
  4. Dates are important or else the person you’re married to starts feeling like a roommate. I resist this one for some reason, probably because I hate trying to find a babysitter.
  5. Having defined roles works for us. I have an aunt who says her husband makes the money and she spends it and I first thought it was silly and ‘poor husband’ but now I get it and it really works best for us that way too. It makes things much less complicated when you only have one spender. Only I like to say he makes the money and I work at stretching the dollar.
  6. Sometimes your spouse seems crazy…sometimes they think you’re nuts!
  7. You need a spouse who finds you lovable, even when you feel you aren’t. It makes the world of a difference when there is forgiveness and seeking to understand.
  8. One on one dates with kids are important too. If you want to make sure everyone feels needed and important, taking time to do one on one with everyone in the family really helps.
  9. Laughing is important…laughing at the appropriate time is important too. I think I’ve almost got the one down now.
  10. Marriage only works if you’re married to your best friend.

I love you Stephen! Here’s to many many more years.

(Photo via Myra.Photo)

Konmari Method: Clothing (Part 2)

In Part 1 of my Konmari clothing post I talk about keeping things that spark joy and I touched briefly on the folding method technique that makes us able to only need one dresser. I want to talk a little more about Konmari’s method of hanging clothes, how this method has been going for us, and storing clothes.

The best description for how to use the closet using the Konmari method comes from her 2nd book “Spark Joy” and my closets can give you an idea of what Marie Kondo is talking about.

“Clothes made of thicker materials, such as jackets, suits, and coats, should be stored on hangers, as should any items that are hard to fold or that wrinkle easily, such as men’s dress shirts and garments that are made of fluttery material…When hanging clothes, be sure to arrange them so that they rise to the right. Keep the same category of clothes together: coats with coats, suits with suits, jackets with jackets, and so on.”

We have 2 really good size closets in our 2 bedrooms but only half of each closet is dedicated to clothes. As you can see, my daughter’s doesn’t have much in there. The hanging shelves is for my babies clothes. On the other half of my daughter’s closet I hang wet clothes that I don’t put in the dryer. Once dry I either fold or hang in my closet. The rest of the space is dedicated to storage that I’ll get to in future posts.

My closet is the same as well. I put mine and my husband’s clothes to one half of the closet because I like to keep closet doors open. The other half is also where we store things. I also have pants and skirts in hanging shelves that don’t fit in my drawers. [Confession- I’m scared of closed closets and closed shower curtains. I want everything out in the open at all times. I don’t like places where people can be hiding.] So my closets are always open.

So far using the Konmari method for clothes has been working out really great. I can see why she recommends doing this first in the process of decluttering- it’s not the biggest of a commitment. I’m still struggling with papers. My husband loves that he can see all his clothes in his drawer since they’re all upright. The downside is I’m so particular about how things are folded, I’m the only one who can do it, but I had that problem even before I adopted this method of folding.

Storing: I got a question from a friend on Instagram about children’s clothes- do I keep ones they’ve out grown yes or no? I first want to say that my husband and I don’t have any clothes in storage. And the answer to my friend’s questions is yes! I won’t get rid of children clothing until I’m 100% sure we are done having children. Although I hate storing things- clothes are a big investment cause children grow so much so fast you have to have a lot of different size of clothes. I buy large storage bags at the dollar tree and with a sharpie I label the size of clothes on the bag. I then put it in a plastic storage bin. I always keep a bag out of the plastic bin in the closet so when clothes get too small I can quickly put it in a bag so clothes don’t overflow everywhere. Here’s an example of my son’s clothes he doesn’t fit in yet but I’ve been gifted or purchased on sale for the future. Lastly I want to mention that I try not to have my children have much more than clothes per size that can’t fit into one bag. Any much more than that amount is too many clothes for a child who’s going to grow out of them soon.

I hope you are inspired to go through your clothes and declutter what doesn’t spark joy in you. Please let me know what your thoughts are and share your decluttering process either here or on social media!

Konmari Method: Clothing (Part 1)

If you haven’t heard about the Konmari Method of decluttering your home and life you must be living under a rock. Marie Kondo, author of two best selling books, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy,” is a professional organizer in Japan. She has clients world wide and has a very long waiting list.

marie-kondo

 

One thing she does differently than most professional organizers is that she doesn’t declutter by location, (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc.) but she goes by category. Starting with easiest items first and then doing the more difficult items last -such as sentimental items.

I’ll give you a quick intro of how she does it with clothes, since I actually did this months ago.

  1. Gather all your clothes in one pile
  2. Pick up every single item one at a time
  3. Hold each item and see if it ‘sparks joy.’ Do you love the item? Do you like wearing it or does it remind you of something negative like a person or an event. Is it the wrong size? Does it have a hole?
  4. If it sparks joy, keep it. If not thank it for when you had it. Ex. “Thank you, I really enjoyed all the times I’ve had with you but our time is over now.” “Thank you for the lesson you taught me-that I realized this color doesn’t look good on me and so I won’t buy a shirt this color again.”
  5. Folding: she recommends folding everything or just about everything and she has a special way of folding everything from socks to pants to dresses. Her method of folding maximizes space. This makes everything have no wrinkles and compact. You want to be able to have everything stand on its own and to place everything in drawers standing up. I have one example below of how to fold a shirt but if you want to see other items just look her up on youtube. There are a ton of videos of her and other people folding the konmari method.

Is it a longer process of declutter your clothes? Yes- but it starts to ignite gratitude for objects whether you’re keeping it or not. And it makes you more in tuned of what sparks you joy and what doesn’t. So from now on you’ll make more conscious purchasing choices. It could be that you realize you aren’t going to buy something just because it’s on sale, but that you’ll only buy things you love -even if that means owning less. The key to this method is having intention with everything you own.

Have you tried any of her methods? Let me know!

(Our 1 set of drawers for our family)

Decluttering Toys

The first step in simplifying your life is to declutter. And a few weeks ago I had had it with how much my daughter’s toys were consuming our apartment! Not only was it scattered in her bedroom but our couches were lined with toys, our dining area had piles, and toys would even end up on our bed throughout the day. I have seen on Pinterest a lot of people who divide up the toys and put half away and rotate them out and I’ve always thought, “that’s not going to be my house, she won’t ever have that many toys.” Well guess what….it is my house! So that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I know some of you may laugh because the above picture is literally all the toys she has and for a lot of western world kids it’s not a lot, but it’s too much for me.

I few months earlier I had already gone through her toys and gotten rid of little silly items. To describe what I mean: like the equivalent of cheap toys from fast food restaurants, except not because we don’t get happy meals and things of that nature, but you get what I mean, right? So I didn’t have toys that I felt like I could get rid of at the time. My main piles were anything play-food related, stuffed animals and baby items, small toys/figurines, and crafts/puzzles. Once I made piles I divided into half within the piles. This I actually had my daughter help me with. If there were 4 in a pile I’d ask which 2 she’d want at the time and etc. I didn’t hide that I was putting the toys away. I did it right in front of her and had her be apart of it. I told her that anything going in the tub that she wants to play with later, we would have to swap all the toys. So far it’s been going really great! It’s been a lot easier for her to pick up her toys at the end of the day (because they all fit into 3 boxes that go on her shelf and a basket on the side of the shelf). And for the most part, the toys are staying in her bedroom which helps me to keep the rest of the house clutter free! No, let’s be honest…less cluttered!

Please share your tips on how you corral the toys at your house, I’d love more tips.