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Why Hate The Term ‘Zero Waste’- but I’ll still use it

I hate the term ‘Zero Waste,’ I feel like it is an exclusionary term that probably scares people away from this… movement. This is a movement, right? When I first started reading about Zero Waste, I instantly felt like I would fail at this. I knew that no matter how little waste I could get down to, I would never achieve zero. I have a cat who is picky about his litter and I simply can’t go the corn or cedar pellet route, unless I want him to just start pooping everywhere in protest. I drive a car because I commute 15+ miles to work each day, which means I can’t be zero waste. I sometimes eat chips and am yet to find a way to recycle those bags.

As for the bigger picture, even people who create zero waste in their own trash bins are still creating waste. The bulk bins at your favorite stores are generally filled from a plastic bag, or at least a plastic lined bag. The produce at the farmer’s market was transported there somehow, probably in a waste creating vehicle.

The steps that need to be taken in order to achieve a truly zero waste life are simply out of reach for most Americans. I don’t have the capability to live as my ancestors have, growing my own food, slaughtering my own animals, knitting my own winter socks, and chopping my own wood to heat my home. I live in an apartment in suburbia, with domestic animals, a boyfriend who is not zero waste, and 2 bonus kids who love their individually packed fruit snacks. If I were to take the term ‘Zero Waste’ literally, I would never have even tried to find Facebook groups to learn more, I wouldn’t be hunting down YouTube channels dedicated to other people’s journeys, and I sure wouldn’t be writing about it and making videos about it.

For people prone to taking terms at face value, the words ‘Zero’ and ‘Waste’ attached to one another is daunting and exclusionary. It makes it difficult to understand and know where to start. I tend to use the term ‘Lower Waste’ or ‘Reduced Waste’ as a way to open dialogue with others. It opens the door to questions and ideas for those I have engaged with. In media though, such as blogs and videos, I still say ‘Zero Waste,’ for now. Why? Because it is now a recognizable term. When people head to a search engine they use this term instead of looking up, ‘Reduced Waste.’

When I was thinking about this blog post, I really wanted to use it to clear up misconceptions about Zero Waste that may keep people from even trying it out. I also kind of want to open dialogue about what Zero Waste means to other people. I feel like many people want to be the last word on what ZW is or is not, but the literal definition of ZW is simply unattainable. For me, Zero Waste is a practice in being mindful. Paying attention to alternative ways to go through my day in a way that is more Earth friendly. Can I fit my mason jar under that coffee hopper opening? Did I bring my bag? Do I really need that straw? Will my feline friend accept the cat litter offered in the bulk bins of my local pet care store? I still create trash, just waaaaaaaay less. And I now actively search out recyclable packaging and avoid plastics (limited recyclability). Will I ever be able to do without a trash can in my home? I’m not sure. But I choose to not beat myself up if I do need to put something into the bin that cannot be reused or recycled.

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Minimalist Meets Non Minimalist

I had gone minimal long before beginning my romantic relationship with Eric. I had purged my nonessentials, organized everything, my walls had only the décor I loved, and my bathroom had only the few products I used. It was a long, rewarding process that I had finally graduated from and I was super proud! And then BAM! Hurricane boyfriend hit. When he moved in, suddenly there were all of these clothes, movies, and posters to contend with. I was overwhelmed and frustrated. I had just simplified my home to the bare minimum and here I felt like the house was back to full capacity. There were many times when I wanted to just go rogue and discard the items that I felt like he didn’t need.
But did I?
Nope.
I often times see those who have chosen to follow the path of minimalism struggling with partners who are not minimalists. I totally understand that struggle! But then I see that some people are trashing their partner’s belongings, hiding them, or other methods that I, personally, find counterproductive. I once had someone throw away my belongings and it ended up making me covet them more! What helped to keep me sane when I would get upset about Eric’s things was to remind myself that this was MY choice to let go of my stuff. No one forced me, it was all me, which is why it’s stuck so well. I also remind myself that I can only make decisions for myself in my life. When I came to that life changing moment of deciding to be mindful of my things, I made a personal decision. And how could it ever be my place to make a personal decision for another capable adult?
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So, here I am in a new relationship, with a boyfriend who just moved in with a ton of stuff, most of which I never saw him use. He would occasionally remark about how little I had, and I would just tell him how it made me feel, how I came to realize I had had all of these things I didn’t need. He got to see how little laundry I had to do, and how I used damn near everything I owned. Over time, he started to compare what he had to what I had, and decided that it was time to relieve himself of about 100 tshirts he had been hauling around but not wearing. It was an awesome time. Because I hadn’t nagged him, and because he had the space to make his own decisions, he ended up starting to purge his belongings all by himself. I was nothing but encouraging, congratulating him often. The support really inspired him to continue his purging. I was astounded! Eric even sat and learned how I folded my tshirts and started organizing his dresser similar to how I have mine. All with no demanding.
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Is he some supreme minimalist now? Nope. Do I expect that? Nope. He still buys little Donald Duck figurines and proudly puts them on display on all of the available shelf space we have, which drives me nuts. But this is our shared space, meaning he also gets to make this house feel as much his home as I do. I don’t hesitate to ask for his help with cleaning up around the house, but when it comes to judging what he finds important, that’s just not my place. We have found a nice compromise about our shared space (which is all of it), and it makes our lives so much easier. Besides, he supports all sorts of weird things that I do, so I enjoy supporting his love of anime memorabilia and collection of Primus shirts.
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Fine Tuning

I fine tuned my bathroom this week. I don’t have a ton of bathroom things, but my big goal now is to have so little that I can pack it all into a bathroom organizer for travel. It sounds so crazy to me, compared to how much I had 5 years ago. All of those half empty shampoo bottles, a huge drawer set of make up, and unused nail polishes: all discarded. And now I want to simplify even more?! Duh. I love a challenge.
FT B 2My portion of the cabinet above the toilet, which is mostly items I am using through.
I originally thought about getting one of those hanging, soft sides toiletry organizers, but now I am wondering why I want to ADD to my bathroom! I am currently trying to find a physical way to dictate how much space I am willing to dedicate to my bathroom things. I thought about how awesome it would be to only use the toiletry bag for my things, and one for manfriend for his, but then I realized that this is my challenge and not his. I first brought out every single bathroom item into the living room, I spread everything out onto the floor and sorted them.
I had one pile for things that are trash only such as an eye liner I had used a few times but ultimately didn’t care for, one pile for things that could be rehomed such as a hair straightener that I used once and hated, a pile for things that would be useful in other areas of the home like a jar that I can use for food storage, and a repurposing pile. In the repurposing pile I put all of my lip balms that the texture or flavor sucked, healing salves, and a few cute tins that I didn’t know what to do with, I ended up cutting down the lip balms and scooping out the healing salves, putting them in to the tins, and melting them down to make lip balms that I would actually use.
FT B 3The space above my cabinet above my toilet, where I highlight a framed card from a friend,
my elephants, and a rockin Bluetooth speaker
For the items to be kept into the bathroom, they immediately got put into organizers with like items. I am trying to get away from having all of our bathroom supplies out on the counters and shelves, so organizing them while in a different room made it so that I had to designate an actual home for my stuff. I ended up with 2 small plastic storage containers, one with all of the cold and flu meds for the household and one for all other medicines, like headache medicines and bandages. I kept one zipper pouch for my essential oils. I have 2 small flip top containers, one that has our nail files and clippers, and all of my hair removal stuff like the epilator and my manfriend’s shaver, and one that has my accessories in it like handmade fascinators and my extra earrings. The items that I use often are in the over the toilet cabinet, like my homemade scalp serum, emu oil for my face, facial dry brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, and vitamin jars (yes, I pour my vitamins into their own jars).
FT B 4The space below the sink, where we store all medicines, towels, etc.
In the end, I didn’t get rid of all too much, at least in comparison to how much I one got rid of years ago, but now it is once again the bare minimum of what I use and need, and everything is so well organized again! I do have about 5 items that I enjoy but don’t need and probably won’t purchase again after they are used, and those items are now in the forefront so I am reminded to use them up. These items are a hair cream, a lotion, and a few other gifted items that smell nice or feel nice but are not mandatory to my way of life. I am as excited to use them as I am to use them up and regain that space! Ultimately, I would love to get to so few items that I can have everything out and not have it feel cluttered!
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Contents of my cabinet (that are not homemade):
Dr. Bronner’s Hair Crème in Lavender: Click Here
Nubian Heritage Lotion in Olive and Green Tea: Click here
Pacifica Solid Perfume in French Lilac: Click here
Bass Facial Dry Brush: Click here
Badger Facial Cleansing Oil in Damascus Rose: Click here
Crystal Essence Mineral Roll On Deodorant in Lavender White Tea: Click here
Pure Montana Emu Oil: Click here
SIBU Rejuvenating Night Cream: Click here

Cast Iron Care

I find that everyone seems to have a preferred way to care for their cast iron, and I am yet to find a way that will utterly ruin it. There are many misconceptions about what methods to use and what methods to avoid like the plague. When I first got my cast iron I was overwhelmed with all of the methods out there, and the conflicting information as to what works. The concept of having to cut a potato in order clean my pan blew my damn mind. Now that I have used many ways to clean my cast iron, and my pans are still intact, I would like to review some ways and maybe clear up some myths. Rather watch? Click here.

Method One: SOAP AND WATER

First of all, I read all of the time how soap will absolutely ruin cast iron and on and on and blah blah blah. However, if the piece in question has a good, hard season an occasional soap down will do absolutely no harm. I actually recommend a soap down on a new piece, especially one that’s second hand. You never know what that cast iron had been exposed to and, if you’re like me with food allergies, a soaping is the only way to make sure your pan won’t cause you hives, stomach upset, or worse. If the pan has an uneven or gooey season, using soap can help to remove the weak seasoning and then you can go on to correct it.

Method Two: SOAKING

People absolutely lose their minds over the concept of soaking cast iron. It’s like the zombie apocalypse if it’s even mentioned. I, too, was once put off by soaking, also under the impression that even a quick soak would leave my cast iron susceptible to rust, but then I had allowed something to burn in the pan and felt I had no other choice. It was experiment time! I left the pan to soak overnight. And guess what? In the morning I was able to easily wipe the last little stuck on crumbs out and there was no rust. Since then, I commonly soak my cast iron and have no rust from it.

Method Three: KOSHER SALT RUB WITH OR WITHOUT POTATO

Were you confused when I mentioned the potato in the intro? Well, now we get to clear that up! The most popular method I have seen is to scrub the dry pan with kosher salt, either with the cut end of a potato or with a paper towel. The salt scrubs the excess oils and food away, and you are left with a clean pan that is untouched by water. I have tried this with a dish towel, but no potato, and found that it was too complicated for as often as I use my cast iron, which is up to 4 times a day. It definitely works, though I would still rinse it clean afterwards instead of wiping it again and again to remove the salt.

Method Four: STEEL WOOL OR CHAIN MAIL

This is a method I have not used, but they sound awesome and I will most likely end up getting a chain mail scrubbie soon. I didn’t even know these methods existed or were so controversial until I started researching for this topic! I have read about people using steel wool or chain mail both with and without water, and the concern people seem to have about it is the thought that the intense scrubbing will remove or damage the seasoning. While I have not used these, I consulted with a friend who has and she says that she uses her steel wool for daily cleaning and has caused her seasoning no harm. So, not too educated on this one.

Method Five: LOOFAH AND WATER

This is my preferred method. I rinse with water, sometimes soak, and then use a round cut from a natural loofah to wipe away the mess. It makes it very easy to upkeep and the only thing I need is a natural loofah that is compostable.

In short, there seems like no wrong method to clean cast iron. If you were expecting me to speak about using the self cleaning oven method, campfire method, or any other deeper cleaning method, that will be reserved for another post. I intend to include in this series a post dedicated to cast iron rehab, so that I can give proper attention to that subject. How do you clean your cast iron? What did I miss?

Like my Facebook page: Desiree Celeste

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Anime Fest 2017!

Helloooo! And welcome back! Last week, manfriend (if I’m going to talk about him, he must have a nickname, what shall it be?!) and I attended Anime Fest here in Denver, and I felt it was pretty successful! I have never been to a convention or anime/comic fest before and was very nervous about, well, everything. The influx of people, the thought that trash would be inevitable, the fear that I would go off the handles and want to buy everything in sight. You see, I LOVE anime and manga. I once had a formidable manga collection, which has now been scaled down to just the books I love to reread. If I could have a room dedicated to each of my favorite mangas and animes, I would have a mansion of diverse genres. However, I will never go back to keeping so much stuff.

To start off on the right foot, manfriend and I brought our own water bottles (filled with coffee). We had no idea how long we would be there, so I wanted to be at least a little prepared. I also made sure to bring my cross chest bag instead of opting for the fanny pack I usually wear when doing things where a ton of people will be around. Once there, I was bombarded by all of these beautiful people and things! I wanted to be behind my camera, taking photos of every person I saw, but dialed it back. I knew that I would probably not look back over those photos and would rather sit with the memory of being present that day. So, not a single photo was taken. But I did gawk at some amazing cosplays!

Manfriend and I decided we would be buying things that day, but we made the plan to be mindful. My first purchase was two draw string bags (pictured below), made of cotton and perfect for brussel sprouts or almonds! I, obviously, declined a bag and popped these beauties into my purse.

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Manfriend also surprised me with a new Sailor Mars wallet that forced me to further minimize my wallet items, and it’s small enough that it’s even more convenient to carry! And I bought him a 4 print set of our favorite Studio Ghibli movies. I WISH I would have picked up the artist’s card, because there are no markings on the art as to who to credit! If you know who did these pieces, please let me know so I can drop their link!

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I also got to sport my life uniform in a way that reflected my inner ChibiUsa! Overall, we brought home only what we found useful and created no trash, as even the lanyards and ID tags are being reused here at the house. I am pretty proud of my first Anime Fest experience!

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