The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving." -Gloria Steinem
Emerald greens. Deep heavy blues. Vibrant turquoise under a sparkling golden sky. Salty breezes inhaled all the way down to my toes. This was my every day growing up on the island of Okinawa. A childhood that has shaped me in only the ways that place can. What I am coming to realize lately is that I have brought many more gifts off that little island with me than I had ever known. Many are immediately obvious: freckles, a deep love for ramen and pottery. Some more subtle: a decent Japanese vocabulary, a knack for sniffing out all the beautiful antique kimonos and mad skills driving on the left side of the road. And some other soul offerings are still being unearthed to this very day; sometimes at a giant poisonous Okinawan's snail pace and other times a frenzied and panicked pace.
One of the subtle bits I brought away that is slowly unravelling itself into a whole new world for me was a concern for where our trash ends up. Living on a tiny island, one becomes painfully aware of the great amount of trash we create and the very few options we have to dispose of it. This fact led me to a place of great curiosity about how we can create much less waste by making good choices and getting greater use of the things we already have. I experimented with buying soulful old pieces of furniture and fabric. I began looking for ways to live in a state of giving more and taking less. More than anything, I want my decisions and my lifestyle to be more in harmony with how I feel about nature and my community. Asking myself this repeatedly - am I living in harmony with my surroundings? - has slowly unfolded into a passion for living (and working!) more sustainably.
The more I made decisions that sat well with my soul, the more I wanted to know what else I could be doing to create this sense of harmony I was beginning to feel. I began to sign up for courses, read books, watch documentaries and listen to podcasts at an almost frenzied pace. At certain points, I would begin to feel overwhelmed with all that I felt needed to be done. Then I took a deep breath and began where I could. Small changes I could manage that began to link in a chain that grows longer and stronger daily. So now I invite you, my friends, to link your own changes onto this chain because I truly believe alone we are strong, together we are stronger.
I am going to share some of my favorite options and resources that have educated or inspired me. Pick which ones appeal to you and see how they fit into your lifestyle and how adding your links to the chain make you feel. I hope amazing!
A fairly new habit of mine is taking a look around to see where I can reduce my waste in the first place. It doesn't always work out and that's fine, I just try again.
Reusable coffee filters or k cups. They make both!
Toothbrushes. All of that plastic that never goes anywhere. Bamboo toothbrushes are available with heads that can be replaced.
Shopping bags. You can make your own no sew bags out of old t-shirts. Reducing AND reusing. A two-fer! My favorite. It may take awhile to get used to bringing them with you but you got this. https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/
Buying bulk. Many stores offer a bulk section on items like rice and granola and you can bring in your own container. If sold by weight, the shop will weigh your container first then deduct that from the price when they ring you up.
Bring your own coffee mug to work or the coffee shop. Check out http://www.shopcompliment.com for some saucy ones made by a fellow momprenuer.
Before you throw something out ask yourself if it can be given a new life. Can that crib you are about to throw out be sold? Given to a pregnant friend? That young couple down the street? Or my favorite, made into a desk! http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/crib-to-desk-160682
There are many other items that can be given new life in a different way before being thrown out. There are companies that will patch clothing for you, turn race t-shirts into a quilt, repair outdoor gear, resole favorite shoes etc. A little research goes a long way!
The sewing room is MY absolute favorite place to reuse. Daddy's t-shirt into a baby onesie or a million other fun things? Scraps of leftover fabric into a little girls skirt? Yes, please! Just ask Pinterest. It will give you ideas for more things than you ever dreamt of! Don't sew? There are many no sew projects and those of us that do sew will often be willing to trade our sewing skills for baby sitting or homemade dinners!
For all you crocheters out there, make your own yarn out of old t-shirts! http://www.simplycrochetmag.co.uk/2013/04/17/diy-fabric-yarn/
The kitchen is another great place to reuse. That glass jar your spaghetti sauce came in makes a great leftovers jar, vase or storage for all those batteries waiting to be recycled.
After deciding that you need to purchase something new - check for a used one first. Kids bike? Eek! They grow out of them so quickly anyway. Why spend the money on a new one? End table? Children's books? Check your local thrift stores, yard sale pages, or garage sales.
Speaking of kids growing out of things at a break neck pace, why not try these same places for your kids' clothing? Many thrift stores have $ .50 days and other eye popping sales. If perusing the shops is not for you, head over to my new favorite thrift site http://www.thredup.com for easy online shopping for the whole family!
Another fun idea is to host a clothing swap. It's a great way to freshen up your wardrobe and have good quality time with your friends.
These are the pieces that will be priced a little higher but they will last much longer and keep those impulse buys and crowded closets in check. Plus, all the money you have saved in other areas can go into buying sustainable pieces that you truly love. Wikipedia will tell you sustainable fashion is "part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility." My definition is making products in a way that reflects how we feel about nature, our communities and our children. Do we want to shield and nurture these things or poison them? Are these things to abuse? To destroy? Here are a few of my favorite sustainable companies but please discover and share your own!
Groceries Apparel http://www.groceriesapparel.com
The Vintage Twin http://www.thevintagetwin.com
Zero Waste Daniel http://www.zerowastedaniel.com
Malia Designs http://www.maliadesigns.com
Glitsea Gypsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGlitseaGypsy
Unique Pl8z http://www.uniquepl8z.com/
Here are 35 more:
This is by no means a comprehensive list but I hope you have found it interesting and helpful and I invite you to share this article and your favorite resources and/or tips in the comment section below.
"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela
Fashion Revolution http://fashionrevolution.org/
Pod Cast Conscious Chatter http://consciouschatter.com/
To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle https://www.amazon.com/dp/0007264097/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_x_98ivybKKVN4PQ
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline https://www.amazon.com/dp/1591846544/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_x_Q9ivyb4RJ0CKQ
Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe by Greta Eagan https://www.amazon.com/dp/0762451270/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_x_L7ivybVM1E8VJ
We have No Idea How Bad Fashion Actually Is for the Environment http://www.racked.com/2017/3/15/14842476/fashion-climate-change-environment-pollution
The True Cost http://truecostmovie.com