A foray into sustainability

I have decided to add my voice to the call for ethical and sustainable living, particularly when it comes to consumerism. I want to delve into topics like fast fashion on this blog and address the staggering amount of waste and trash, particularly plastic, in our culture. Fast fashion and plastic are probably the most abused and the most harmful to our earth. 

Before we move one, a little PSA: My thoughts are not meant to judge or complain or criticize your choices. I definitely know what it is like to be on a budget and buy that $2 shirt on sale at Forever 21! But I can't ignore the facts. Cheap clothes like those from Forever 21 and similar stores use cheap labor that invites a cycle of poverty. It is just not fair. And also, I'm of the mindset to buy from local, U.S.-made shops to support our own economy. 

But to introduce this series, this current post is going to be as helpful as possible. I'm not going to rant over littering and save the trees; I want to share helpful tips on how to reduce waste and live more mindfully - tips that I've heard from other mindful people and that I've personally tried and found success with. So here we go!

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Tip #1

Drink out of a reusable bottle. A lot of people do this already and its a simple trick to help decrease the amount of plastic that gets used once and thrown away in a landfill. 

Tip #2

Carry re-usable shopping bags, or ask for paper at the checkout line. Some people will argue that asking for paper is just as bad for the environment as using plastic bags, but I am of the opinion that paper will always be better than plastic. If you are like me and forget to bring reusable shopping bags, keep a stash in your car for the next time you go shopping.

Tip #3

Switch to metal straws. This is a game changer for me personally - I almost exclusively drink through a straw. I don't know why, I just prefer it. But plastic straws are terrible for our environment! Some quick math - if I use a straw everyday for the rest of my life (let's say 70 years), that would be 25,550 straws from ONE person that end up in a landfill or in our oceans. So I recently bought a pack of 8 metal straws online and use those instead. I like them just as well!

Tip #4

Recycle!!!! I used to live in a town that did not offer recycling services, so let me tell you, its not always easy. But most other U.S. towns offer recycling services and I encourage everyone to utilize them. I was told by a blogger friend to go to the local dump and ask where all our trash goes. Usually, the answer is enough to push anyone to begin recycling as much as possible.

Tip #5 

Donate and re-purpose. In my quest for minimalism in my home and closet, I ended up donating bags and bags of clothes, books, pieces of furniture and other household wares. Not only do you get a tax write off for donating, you help someone else in need. Look for organizations or centers that don't necessary get a profit from reselling your donated things, or who are in desperate need for donations. Additionally, I began making an effort to re-purpose things before buying something new. It helped me distinguish want from need and has overall saved me money.

Tip #6

Compost - now this is something I haven't yet started, but I will in the near future. Composting is great for those who have gardens as you can use your rich, composted soil to grow healthier plants! There are a few rules on composting, such as how to set up your composting space and what can and cannot be composted, so do some research before you begin. But if you find yourself throwing away a lot of produce and food scraps, you may be able to set up a prime composting space and have super rich soil for future plants in no time!

Tip #7

Thrift - I understand that some people enjoy thrifting more than others but there are some serious gems that get donated or put on consignment. I have found a lot of essential basics and a few statement pieces when it comes to clothing at my local thrift stores. My most favorite denim shirt ever is from a thrift store and I wear that shirt once a week, at least. Furniture can also be thrifted and if you are really serious about it, that same thrifted furniture can be sanded and painted into a brand new piece that fits your space. My husband and I had a thrifted breakfast table and two chairs and that set was our favorite piece of furniture ever. We ended up donating it when we moved to North Carolina for someone else to enjoy, but my point is - you may easily fall in love with a piece from a thrift store, so give it a chance!

These seven tips are ones I practice regularly (with the exception of composting, at the moment) and I'm excited to see what other tricks I can uncover and share with you all. the meantime, what kinds of sustainable living tricks do you like to use? Do you have any questions on practicing mindfulness in a consumerist society? Let me know in the comments below?

Winter Blues and Vision Boards

Many friends have pointed out that the winter blues seem especially difficult this year. Winter blues, cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - it goes by different names but with similar symptoms. Anxiety, mood swings, lack of motivation and fatigue are all common symptoms that affect many people during the winter. 

I will be the first to admit I struggle with these feelings.. My mood and my energy levels have been pretty low and I feel extremely unmotivated. This in turn brings on a sort of guilt for not being the "girl boss" that we all think of - the one who is super productive, social and fit. But that isn't realistic either. As another blogger put it, "we are meant to go to bed and wake up in the sun - which in the winter means we are meant to sleep a lot longer. I think forcing ourselves into a routine where we sleep for the same amount of time year round is unreasonable, so in the winter when you get tired easier and you want to sleep more - sleep more!" This sentiment, combine with my doctor's orders to listen to my body and REST, means I've been prioritizing sleep and attempting to not feel guilty for it. 

But the guilt lingers. So I decided I needed something to gently motivate me each day. Something I can look at, repeat to myself and visualize easily Enter the vision board!

I very easily created a vision board today on Pinterest and then printed it out to hang on my bulletin board behind my computer. Along with these inspiring images, I also have a handful of phrases that are meaningful to me. They either provide encouragement or remind me of what I'm working towards. The cool thing about making my vision board on Pinterest is that it is easily changeable. If I have a new goal or need to tweak an idea, I can simply pin a new photo. 

Each photo above is a visual representation of a true, life-long vision I have for my life. Some of it is abstract, while other are self-explanatory. General themes in my vision board are peace, creativity, knowledge, organization, sustainability, family and the outdoors. 

Your vision board can be as abstract or as concrete as you would like. It is helpful to write down words or phrases you associate with your vision and to keep them in a journal or blog. Sometimes a vision can remain the same but the words you use to describe it change over time (or vise versa) so it is nice to have a log of sorts to keep track of what your vision means to you.

Remember, don't feel like you are stuck with whatever your originally pin or cut out of a magazine. It is fluid, just like you. I hope you can utilize a vision board to help pull yourself out of these winter blues. Spring is just around the corner, so now is a great time to gear up and begin dreaming again!


P.S. Other things that have helped pull me out of a funk have been HAPPY music and BAKING! Dance parties to Twenty One Pilots with my dogs are more fun than they probably should be :) If you would like to try your hand at a couple of easy recipes, check out this homemade bread recipe, this delicious lentil dahl recipe, this one-pan Mexican quinoa recipe, and this STELLAR double chocolate chip cookie recipe!

P.P.S. I'm reconnecting with the online world, so follow me on Bloglovin below!

When life makes sense

You know you're pursuing the right career when everything sort of falls into place and makes sense, right? I feel like things are falling into place all around me and it is exhilarating!

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Freelance work is in progress, I've made more professional contacts in my first two months in North Carolina than I did in four years in Florida, and the program I am pursuing (Public Administration) has been less horrid than I previously imagined. In fact, the topics we cover in class essentially describe my personality to a T. 

Last week, we covered program management tools and I was happy to learn that I live my everyday life as if I was a program manager. Ha! In particular, we covered scope of work, needs assessments, feasibility studies and Gannt Charts. All are tools that are used professionally by program managers and yet they are also reasoning processes that many people use in everyday life. It was exciting to learn about tools that already come naturally to me. For example, I got excited (maybe too excited) about Gannt Charts because I use them in my bullet journal to keep track of my job progress and daily goals. 

Side bar about bullet journals - I love this style of journaling because its minimalist in nature and allows me to combine all of my lists, thoughts, goals, worries and planning into one document. I use a Lemome dotted journal and its not only pretty but easy to use as the paper is thick enough to prevent bleeding and ink smears. Here is the original website for Bullet Journaling, but you'll find a ton of resources just by googling "bullet journal".

Anywho, its just nice that life has decided to make sense lately. I know change will come again soon, but I'm soaking in all the goodness that comes with this stability and confidence I have in school and career choices. 

Shameless plug here - my website eliewrites.com is live and I'd love for you to check it out! I have a couple of projects in the works but if you have questions, want to collab or need to consult with me, shoot me an email!

Also, none of the links posted above are commissioned. I'm just sharing the resources I find the best for me!