the ReFab Diaries: zero-waste lifestyle
Showing posts with label zero-waste lifestyle


Goals - Week 12:
  1. Reduce my reliance on plastic in the kitchen
  2. Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
Stretch goal: plastic-free kitchen

Goals - Week 11:
  • Reduce my textile waste
  • Support organizations that recycle the usually un-recyclable
  • Finally get rid of 8 pairs of old bras I've been "storing"

Stretch goal: organize a bra drive!


Goals - Week 10:
  • Reduce my reliance on single/limited-use plastic items
  • Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
  • Stop bringing plastic into my home

Stretch goal: no single-use plastic in my life


Goals - Week 9:
  1. Reduce packaging waste
  2. Shift my shopping habits to incorporate more bulk
  3. Retrain myself and local stores: reusable bags/containers need to be "allowed"
Stretch goal: A pantry full of glass jars by the end of the year!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that my first step into shopping the bulk section of my local Whole Foods was fraught. And I'm so glad I shared the experience because the response was fabulous! 


Goals - Week 8:
  1. Reduce my household carbon footprint
  2. Spend my money on renewable energy
  3. Walk the damn walk
Stretch goal: Get everyone else to switch!  :)




Goals - Week 7:
  1. Reduce my reliance on single/limited-use plastic items
  2. Slowly replace things with non-plastic alternatives
  3. Stop bringing plastic into my home
Stretch goal: zero-waste toothpaste

About half of the nearly 600 billion pounds of plastics produced each year go into single-use products. Just think about that for a second.



Goals - Week 6:
  1. Spend less time dealing with email
  2. Avoid the message to buy
  3. Avoid the damn message to BUY

Stretch goal: ZERO promotional emails

If you use gmail, you have a partitioned inbox like I do. And it's a really a great way to filter "promotional messages", most of which we've volunteered to receive. Who knows why. Many reasons, right?

Here's the problem: they're all tempting us to buy things we don't need. So. My goal this week is to scroll down and UNSUBSCRIBE. It's a pain. But if I'm committed to reducing my "stuff" and trimming my waste, temptation to buy doesn't help.

Any of you done this?







Goals - Week 5:
  1. Precycle - bring less non-recyclable plastic into my home
  2. Buy less, make more (without being stinky)
  3. Save money!


Stretch goal: make this for everyone I know so they'll try it!  (recipe after the jump)



Goals - Week 4:
  1. Look for ways to make my coffee habit more environmentally friendly
  2. Make less trash
  3. Repurpose more
Stretch goal: pay more to buy locally roasted, fair-trade coffee.



Goals - Week 3:
  1. Upcycle a non-recyclable item
  2. Repair or repurpose old clothes
  3. Buy less, make less trash and create more  :)
Stretch goal (punny!): use old tights to line plant pots



Goals - Week 2:

  1. Really pay attention to how much I throw away #thereisnoaway
  2. Decrease landfill waste
  3. Notice how fast the recycling fills up
Stretch goal: Composting - achievable if I figure out a sensible solution for a single urban apartment dweller.



If you missed it, here's the post explaining the whole "trimming my waste" thing.

Goals - Week 1:

  1. Precycle: reduce the amount of packaging I bring into my home, even if it's recyclable
  2. Reduce exposure to chemicals in cosmetics. Because no one seems to be regulating them or       explaining them very well. See Stink! ... you won't like what you smell hear
  3. Support small, local businesses making products using simple ingredients

Stretch goal: DIY soap or body wash.



Happy 2016! I'm a week late but hey ... better late than never right? In fact, that's sorta the sentiment behind the new series I'm kicking off this week. Better something than nothing. Better to start than wait for the perfect time and place to start. Right?

So here's the plan: for the next 51 weeks, I'm going to share with you all the small changes I've made (and will make) to "trim my waste". And by "waste" I mean everything from actual trash (and recycling) to the unworn items in my closet, the energy suckers in my home and an array of other wasteful habits and behaviors. Why? Because I've been arguing for years that upcycling is my low-pressure way to change mindsets. A gentle prod in the direction of more conscious, conscientious consumption.



The seasons are turning and I'm about to spend 24 hours traveling. This will be my last post for the year and I wanted to share Molly Costello's beautiful Solstice Moon and her thoughts on connectedness. Molly lives on the north side of Chicago and spends a lot of her creative time working alongside neighborhood youth to develop green initiatives that encompass social justice, prosperity, sustainability and community.

I'll be a the warmer hemisphere for the holidays this year, so my Chicago decorating is minimal. And I don't have a real tree. Not sure I ever will because. Well. Bit wasteful I think? 

But I kinda do have a tree. At the very least, a way to display ornaments and lights. Because most of my ornaments are meaningful and unpacking them every year is a sentimental journey I look forward to. Many are souvenirs. Some gifts from people I love. And/or, in the case of the intricately beaded South African angel, made by someone I love (my mom). 

I also have a few ornaments I made myself (see below for the how to). So, yes, some decorating has happened! 

Yesterday I happily wandered a new a favorite Chicago craft show (Show of Hands) and supported two of my favorite jewelers and friends: Tania Rodamilans and Betsy Siber. I also experienced the amazing thing that is Architectural Artifacts. It's described as an antique store and architectural museum. I'd describe it as a three-ring-circus for junk jivers. Or perhaps as The Night Circus meets Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium meets American Horror Story? I'll stop writing now and just show you lots of pictures. 


From a time when you could "know" your future for two quarters.


Time to send Making Garbage Great to a new home! As always, I used a randomizer to pick the winner and it chose entry #406 - that's Samm K. 

Samm, congrats! Expect an email from me later today to get your shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered for your interest and thanks to Terracycle for the great giveaway!

Here's to wasting less :) 









If you've spent any time at all on my blog, you know that a lot of my upcycling isn't glamorous. I'm most interested in what I can do with trash! I've worked with juice and milk bottles, beer cans, toilet-paper rolls, an old frisbee, negatives, plastic lids and lots of alley-grab furniture. So you can imagine how much I'm loving this brand new book from the minds behind Terracycle

Find out how to win a copy! This giveaway is open to all citizens of planet earth, 18 and older. If you are able to receive a book in the mail, you can enter. 




This is an unusual post for me - one in which I overtly promote a consumer product. Why am I doing it? First, because I love the product: a new, 4x concentrated, laundry detergent from method. Second, because I've been a loyal method customer since their products first appeared on shelves in 2002. And guess what? They just opened a soap factory on the south side of Chicago!


The South Side Soapbox is to conscientious manufacturing what Wonka is to chocolate. For example, the roof isn't just green. It's a massive hydroponic farm that will provide tons of fresh produce to a neighborhood considered a food desert. Can you tell I'm a fan?

The final reason I'm happy to write this post; it involves laundry. In the last year, I've found myself saying (a lot): stop drying your clothes in a dryer. Hang them! Why? Because your clothes will last longer and it's more energy-efficient. If you're at all like me - more interested in quality and longevity than trend - you want clothing to last as long as possible!



Actually, if you're looking for ways to be a little more "green" and a little less wasteful in general, overhauling your laundry routine is good place to start.

1. Water: we waste a ton of it washing clothes. So making sure you've got a full load before you run the machine makes sense.

2. Energy: do you wash everything in hot water? Not necessary. Because a powerful, concentrated detergent, like method, works just as well in cold water.

3. Pollution: what chemicals are you wearing and sending down the drain with every wash? Make sure you're using a detergent that's naturally derived, biodegradable and hypoallergenic.

4. Packaging: Are you buying detergent in huge plastic bottles? Wouldn't it be nice if the stuff came in a container made from 100% post-consumer plastic? And wouldn't it be nice if that container was, itself, 100% recyclable? Yup, method.

5. Locally made! If you live in Chicago, method is now being made in your backyard. So support local manufacturing.

And shop online right now with a coupon! Click here and enter the code THREEFORME for $3 off your online purchase.


Does this all seem familiar to you? Then go test your laundry knowledge and win $1000 worth of beautiful clothes from method and Asos.



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.



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