My 2018 New Year Goals

I know that it is a little Cliche to be posting my New Years goals or resolutions. I am not really an advocate for resolutions because I feel as though if you are wanting to change you can do so at any time and you don’t need a whole new year as an excuse. But there is also nothing wrong with sitting down and writing out what you want to accomplish for this year. Goals can be a wonderful thing, especially those goals that help to better your life. So this post isn’t really about the resolutions that I am trying to hold myself up to. I don’t want to set some crazy standards about how I need to be this year, and I don’t feel that I need to change who I am. I just want to better the lifestyle that I already am living. So here are my goals for this New Year, the things that I want to accomplish and work on the most.

1. Go fully vegan: This is probably the biggest goal, and the worst thing coming from a self proclaimed plant eater. I have always tried to use plant powered wherever possible because in reality I eat about 90-95% plant. As a transitioning vegan, it isn’t always easy to switch over cold tofu. I hadn’t properly prepared or made it clear to friends and family that I was eating this certain way and did not want to stray. So for holidays or special occasions I would let it slip. Why bother others with my requests, why tell them that I can’t eat that? It was just easier to eat the meal they prepared. But for this year I want to eat 365 days no meat. 365 days of making my own thing, requesting something else and saying “I can’t eat that”. 365 days of refusing the normal holiday fare. We shouldn’t let a good habit slide because of those around us and we shouldn’t compromise our goals just because it’s a holiday or because that was the food that was made. I am going to have to get really good at making and/or bringing my own things. The hardest part-explaining to my mom why I still can’t eat the veggies because she put butter on them.

2. Go full zero waste: We have slowly been transitioning and moving to this lifestyle. I have all the packaged things we have left over in their own area waiting to be used. The main goal is to get rid of the trash can and potentially just have a jar. We have a compost set up, recycling for stuff that can be that we still had and we buy in bulk and unpackaged when possible. My next step is to announce to everyone that we are doing this lifestyle because I do not want to receive anything in packaging anymore. Thankfully this Christmas people got us useful gifts that are actually minimal waste. So we are off to a pretty good start.

3. No spend year: I talked this over with my husband and we agreed to a no spend year. The rules: no spending anything unless it’s a needed item, a holiday in which you give a gift or the occasional game because we are currently trying to build up a gaming collection. But wait, doesn’t that go against minimalism and zero waste? Well yes, kind of. But the way that I do minimalism is if it brings me joy then I keep it. I am a lover of movies and games (both video and board) so that is something that I still need to explain to people that I won’t stop buying because I actually use them. However, I can start buying used ones instead of the packaged new ones in store. That can at least cut down on the plastic packaging we get from games. Also I do weed out those items that we no longer watch or did not like. I either donate or sell them. And even though it would be minimalistic to ditch all their cases, I keep those because I do not want to toss that much plastic just to have nothing on my shelf.

4. Blog more: I always have so many ideas for blogging but I go stretches without doing anything. I need to keep up on it, mostly because blogging for me is kind of like my journaling. I also need to stop worrying about numbers, which is something I am always concerned about with social media. If people like what I post then they will follow, if not oh well. Not the end, not everyone likes everyone’s content.

5. Do yoga every day: I know, I know. I am an instructor for goodness sake. But honestly I slack so much in this department. Not only do I want to do yoga every day I want to accomplish some hard poses and become more flexible. I want to make more flows, share them with people and just feel good in my body by doing what I know I should be doing everyday. So no more slacking. Yoga everyday needs to happen.

6. Last but not least, have an awesome year: Honestly our lives are what we make them. I have seen so many people complaining about how crappy 2017 was. And the same went for 2016 as well and so on. But honestly, despite all the bad I had some great years. I became a certified yoga instructor that; is pretty awesome. So I want to focus on positives this year, and really make it a great year. Because 99% of the year is how we react, perceive and make things. So here is to positivity and joy this year!

What are some goals you guys have? Some things you want to really focus on? Let me know in the comments, if we have similar goals don’t be afraid to chat with me. We could be buddies and help each other get to our goals this year.

Happy New Year guys! Let’s make this the best year yet!

Ways to be minimal waste this Christmas

Christmas is the best and worst time of the year. We all love the time with family as well as (lets be honest) the plethora of gifts we get. Even if we are wanting to try and be more minimal there is just something about getting a lot of things (that you probably wont ever look at again past the holidays) that gives us that childish giggle and joy. I love getting presents, even as I transition into a minimal lifestyle I still love getting things. Recently, I love getting things that are practical and fit into my lifestyle. However, we started transitioning into this lifestyle in fall and that was too late to inform my family without causing major anger and fights. My my mom is an all year kind of shopper, with a closest stuffed full (not even kidding) with potential gifts she is 100% always prepared for the holiday season. Many a panic over what to get people ended with my mom opening up that closest and pulling out an array of picture frames, lip balms, lotions, note pads, ornaments and other little Knick knacks. She saved my skin in the gift giving department over the course of my childhood, but this also meant that if I didn’t inform her in January that we don’t want any Christmas gifts this year, or we want them unwrapped and unpackaged, she would not handle it very well. I get it, buying something for someone they don’t want is a slap in the face and while she is very prepared (maybe too prepared) I just can’t do that to her. So we sit back and accept this one last (hopefully last) Christmas of wrapping paper and packaged items.

That doesn’t meant that you can’t do your part in the minimal waste side of things though. There are many ways that you can reuse, reduce and recycle all without having anything go to the trash or even the recycling bin.

So here goes, my handy list of zero waste Christmas without actually having anything zero waste(side note this is just what my family has learned and done over the years, please remember we are not experts and are not telling you to actually do any of these things these are just ways to reduce the amount of Christmas waste that my family does regularly. Also, I can not promise that you will have no waste either, but we can work together to greatly reduce the things we just toss in the trash.):

1. Reuse what you can: This is something that my family has been doing for years, not because we had cared all that much about what we throw away. Sure my family was more conscious than others and we did our best to throw away the least, but my mom was more focused on saving a little at Christmas. So each year we got our gifts my mom would have us save what we can. You can reuse gift bags, tissue paper, clothing boxes and even bows and/or ribbon. My mom would make the annual walk though the living room asking us to hand back her bows, gift bags, tissue paper and gift bags. She would tell us that she can use them again next year. She would collect the gift boxes for clothing and fold them back up to reuse them (on the same kid) each year. I am 23 and we are still using the same clothing boxes that my mom got us as babies. It might seem a little crazy but my mom has NEVER had to buy those things again. Pretty smart and then non of those items are going to a landfill anytime soon. You can even reuse wrapping paper that is still looking good, if you want to make sure that the wrapping paper isn’t thrown out.

2. When in doubt…BURN IT! As a family with a pretty spacey fireplace many a Christmas items have been chucked in the fireplace. I don’t advocate this method as much because it can be dangerous and I do not know the full extent of fires on the environment. But my family also never threw in anything artificial. The things we burned we already biodegradable anyways, it just saved us a trip to the recycle bin or having to break down boxes. On a side note, this is also a way to decompose pizza boxes since recycling won’t take them. So in went the paper and boxes. The occasional tissue paper because we had discovered that the colored ones changed the first color too. Is this the best way to dispose of things? Probably not. But it certainly is fun and the ashes went straight to the garden to fertilize next years crop.

3. Recycle what you can: So there are things that can’t be reused or burned, like packaging from toys. So recycle them, or upcycle. Save bubble wrap as long as you can for other packages. Check the labeling on plastic items to see if they are recyclable. Amongst a million other things you can do to recycle and upcycle. My mom was a fan of taking away those items during the year we didn’t care for and then regifting them either to us or others during Christmas. I don’t recommend that one, the look on your kids face when they receive the underwear they never even missed is NOT priceless. But you can make sure the plastic you get for Christmas is at least reused once by making sure it gets to the recycle bin. A lot of the time people just toss it all in a garbage bag and chuck it in the trash. At least make sure it’s disposed of properly.

4. DON’T use plastic ware during the meals: This is the one thing my family was never good at. Paper plates are a staple for our Christmas Eve bash. We can save the heaping trash pile from ever happening if we just use regular reusable dishes. If you think that where you’re going won’t have that option, bring your own. One thing I learned from the zero waste home book was to just simply tell people “I don’t have a trash can” when they inquire why you’re bringing your own. Genius, and simple and minimal questions asked in response to that.

5. Wrap less, save more: Either wrap the present in something biodegradable (for those still wanting a pretty package Kohl’s makes biodegradable paper printed wrapping paper-it still comes wrapped in plastic though) or forgo traditional wrapping all-together. For my dad’s gift we got him a new (by new we already had it lying around and it was in perfect condition) laptop with adobe photoshop-also had that lying around. We decided to put his gift in an a old army surplus bag we also had. He loves surplus, the gift isn’t wrapped and we got rid of something we didn’t need. If this doesn’t scream zero waste Christmas I don’t know what does since his entire gift is thrifted and regifted.

6. Save, save, save: Anything else that does not fall under any of the other tips-like shipping boxes-save them! Reuse all cardboard boxes, you can even reuse twisty ties from toys if you can find a creative use for them. Like use them to bundle up cords or tie up a food bags etc. Reuse the old boxes to ship items, or for donations. If you’re anything like me you go through your place about once a month picking up all the items you don’t need or use. Save the boxes for those items and easily transport them to your donation destination of choice.

While it might seem crazy to go to this effort for Christmas, when Christmas is already a huge effort it is definitely worth it when you go to take out the trash and all you have is one little bag of Christmas leftovers. Especially if you’re like me and are going to a Christmas that isn’t trying to be zero waste like we are. But we can make the most out of Christmas, and even save a few dollars as well, simply but reusing and upcycling a majority of the gift wrappings.

Have a Merry Christmas!

The Struggle of Downsizing

Living in an apartment certainly has it’s ups and downs. I love living in a smaller space. There is less to clean, less space to store unwanted items and it is the perfect size for our family of 2 people and 3 cats. I love it, it’s a cozy little home and the apartment location itself has a lot to offer. However, it also has a lot of negatives attached to it. The dryer likes to shed out clothes, the washer recently started stopping mid cycle and refuses to open back up. Due to a small place, cat hair is an accessory we have reluctantly come to accept. And then there is the joy of having less space (something that I love having) and way to many items.

I write this after I spent a good portion of my day clawing my way though our walk in closest. Yes, clawing. Struggling, and sweating profusely. I had decided that if we could downsize our clothing items to just the bare minimal of what we need and use on a weekly basis I could use the smaller side for both me and my husbands clothing and use the larger side to house our laundry sorter. Neat, tidy, organized and minimal. These were the words I had in my head as I decided this was to be my next project.

However, after looking at exactly what was in the closest, I became frustrated and annoyed. I was throwing box after box of junk out that we hadn’t even looked at since we moved in. That was almost 2 years ago. Cat hair collected in embarrassingly large clumps, which was my clue to just how often these things were even glanced at. The cats had claimed the boxes for their own, realizing that their owners were never to return to them. These are the things that my husband had contributed to the closet. Leather polish, containers, car stuff that I have no clue what is used for. String, pouches, gloves, plastic, shirts and about a bajillion other small things that just seem to pile up in houses. I tossed it all out of the closest and promptly sent him a text, saying this was ridiculous we have never even touched this stuff after dropping in its spot when we moved in.

And that is what our apartment is. Junk, upon junk upon junk. At least I was telling myself it was all junk. My view of minimalism meant that everything needed to go. We have probably gotten rid of 50% of our stuff. Mostly my stuff because try as I might I seem to be the only one bothered by the amount of worthless items we seem to have. I poke, I prod, I plead. But most of the junk never seems to make it out of the house. Clutter is everywhere, Knick knacks and piles of things we don’t use. Stuff to donate that we never found boxes for. Kitchen items we NEVER use and have no need for. Just stuff, everywhere. Stuff from people, from my years of forever getting little figurines because people realized I like turtles so that was the go to thing. Boxes from things we bought that we “need” to keep because even though I returned the phone when my lease was up we might need that box someday. Magazine. Junk mail. Stuffed animals, blankets, trinkets, pens, lotions, tape, cords upon cords upon cords. The list is endless.

I look around and feel hopeless sometimes. I have weeded out 90% of the things that I own with no end in sight to when I will have a totally minimal shelf top. I just have to take a moment and breathe, and remind myself that the goal of having a minimal lifestyle is not to end up with nothing but to end up with only the things that I need or care about. Minimalism means something different to everyone, and to me it means I need to get rid of things with no purpose or need in my life. Cleaning up is a task certainly, but it shouldn’t be difficult. I find that when I stop focusing on how much I need to do, and how much stuff still needs sorted through, I am able to buckle down and get the job down quickly and efficiently. I have to remind myself that my goal is to get to a place where everything in my home has purpose and brings me joy, not to just make my apartment empty.

I started small, the smallest I possibly could. My bathroom. I went through and made piles. Things I absolutely need. Things I like and still use daily. Things I haven’t touched in years, but could donate. And things I don’t need, can’t use and can’t donate. I grazed through my items until I had the bare minimal of the items I need. I cleared off 2 extremely full shelves into two small slide out trays. My routine went from every face product ever to just what I needed. I have one face wash and one mask both from lush. I have my deodorant, all natural also thanks to lush. A hairbrush, hair ties and headbands- which is a must have for my yoga lifestyle. I have one eyeshadow palette, one mascara and one eyeliner which is all I need makeup wise. The only thing I didn’t throw out was my collection of Bath and Body Works lotion, because I use lotion daily and didn’t want to toss those items if I was going to be using them. Besides some nail clippers and tweezers, a face razor and maybe a hand mirror those are the extent of the items that I have in my bathroom. Suddenly I could breathe.

Slowly I have been going through each room, applying the same process I had in the bathroom. Now that I have a system, this downsizing isn’t so bad. It can be a struggle for sure, and I can come off as a little crazy, especially to my husband. But I am getting there. It won’t be overnight, but I can work towards a minimal lifestyle everyday. Eventually I will get to where I need to be.