Reducing waste through upcycling, repurposing, refashioning and reloving.

Upcycle: DIY book-page gift bag

Happy Sunday! Here's a quick DIY for you. What you need:

  • Old book pages
  • Mod Podge, scissors and tape
  • Hole punch and material for handles (twine, tape, ribbon)
  • A big hard-back book (or a box from your recycling) for sizing the bag

45 ways to make less trash.

At the beginning of 2016, I committed to trimming my waste. After years of using this blog to gently reinforce the message that mindless consumerism is a problem, I decided to take off the gloves. Inspired by the zero-waste movement, I joined Be Zero's #makelesstrash2016 challenge and declared my intention for the year: to trim my waste. Because we are literally consuming ourselves. And we need to wake up.

Thanks to the generous (and robust) zero-waste community I've become a part of, I'm reminded often to stop worrying about the word "zero". Zero waste is an industrial term being applied to a lifestyle. It refers to a circular-based economy where we design without waste as an end product. We don't yet have the infrastructure, laws, or consumer demand to move us from our current linear economy to something circular. Zero waste is a goal - the lifestyle is not to be taken literally. That's why we need to educate ourselves on materials, on resources, and on how we can give companies the incentive to make change. We have to simplify and become resourceful, thrifty, and community-centered again. We have to rethink the way we consume. And we have to make less trash.

What have I learned this year? That every small change matters. That avoiding plastic packaging is incredibly difficult. That avoiding single-use plastic is not nearly so difficult. And that putting my money - and my energy - where my values are is worth it.

Here are 45 tips, takeaways and learnings from 51 weeks of trimming my waste: 

An invitation to imagine...

An Invitation to Imagine from Debbie Millman

Imagine that we are on one planet and we are all living right now.
Imagine that we are united around one continuous sun and we are accompanied by one luminous moon. 
Imagine that, as a species, we feel deeply and we are moved by beauty and music, friendship and joy, art and poetry.
Imagine that we feel deeply and we can cry—deep soulful heaving—to share our burdens and be comforted by others.
Imagine that we believe so completely in our values and ideals that sometimes we feel compelled to defend them.
Imagine that we are united by the diversity of these beliefs knowing that a range of ideas are the ingredients to create progress.
Imagine that we are fiercely committed to the freedom to love who we love, to worship in our own way, and to be tolerant of the behaviors and beliefs of others.
Imagine that we are on one planet and we are all living right now.
Imagine that we have love.
Imagine that we feel love.
Imagine that love.
Imagine that love.
Yes, that love.
Imagine That.

 Wishing you all the love you can imagine this holiday. 

 I'll be back next week with a big wrap of "Trimming my waste"!

Trimming my waste: Week 46 (mom's refashion)

To say that this refashion was years in the making is no exaggeration. I started it three years ago. Then shelved it because I had an idea of what I wanted to do next, but didn't have the know-how. Last month, my parents came to visit. And I hauled it out and asked my mom for help (pro sewer) - so glad I did! Along with the know-how, this really needed someone else's eye and patience. 

Here's some version of a how-to:

Trimming my waste: Week 45 (The Denier-in-Chief)

Cartoon credits: Zapiro and Green Humour

Since my last post, the USA elected a climate-denier as the next President. We will soon have the embarrassing honor of being the only major nation on Earth led by someone who rejects climate science (although that hasn't always been the case). If you know anything about me or this blog, I don't have to explain to you why I've felt paralyzed for a while. I wrote and rewrote reactions but never published them. Then I thought of saying nothing because I try to keep this blog light. Then I calmed down.

I calmed down and remembered that this very big thing I care about has never been safely in the hands of any administration. I probably wouldn't have this blog if the world was already doing what needs to be done to address climate chaos.

The UN Climate Conference just wrapped up in Marrakech. The goal of the conference was to have leaders from around the world do the work to make the Paris agreement real. And representatives from the US were there in force. How did Paris come about in the first place? Not because leaders of nations suddenly woke up to the climate crisis. They got there because people who care WILL NOT SHUT UP.  Can we trust them to follow through? Hell no. So let's not shut up.

The actions that will ultimately drive change are, and always have been, in the hands of consumers. Change consumer habit and the market is forced to react. Recycle, reuse, repurpose. And demand what you want supplied.

Here's a shortlist of things you really can do:

1. Keep voting with your $$ lovely refabbers. 
Whenever you can, shop off the grid: used, local, small. Take the train. Ride your bike. Turn off the lights and shop for high-efficiency appliances.

2. Support clean energy by switching to clean energy.
Do you know where your power is coming from - wind, water, coal, or solar? If you want to ensure it's coming from a clean source, that's possible. In many parts of the US, consumers are now able to switch with no disruption and no change of provider. I switched to CleanChoice Energy a year ago.

If you can't switch, talk to your power provider to determine if a greater percentage of your energy could be coming from renewable resources. If you don't ask, they won't know that you care.

3. Continue to support organizations that know how to fight this fight. 
Pay attention to orgs like The Environmental Defense Fund and sign their petitions. Here's a great list of 25 environmental agencies and organizations who know how to fight.

4. Read actual, real good news.
Guess what? Our soon-to-be Commander in Tweets is not a king. There's a big difference between him saying he'll pull out of the Paris agreement and his ability to actually do it. How do I know this? Because I've decided to work a little harder to find real, powerful voices on climate and read them. Like this piece by Diane Regas, Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund. And articles covering the work of Jonathan Pershing, top climate envoy for the current US administration. And in case you can't tell by all the quotes, I'm a fan of Naomi Klein.

UPDATE: 1 June 2017: He announces "the withdrawal". Please read this