Sunday, July 16, 2017

TALKING TRASH: Zero Waste and Minimalism

The beautiful thing about minimalism is less consumption and therefore less waste.
This minimalist truism works well for objects and clothes. You buy things intentionally and when it's time to pare down your belongings there are a few different avenues to dispose of your stuff:
-donating them
-selling them
-recycling them
-and of course trashing them. ☹️
On the other hand, packaging of goods is designed for the garbage. The cycle of consumption and the trash that comes with packaging is a big environmental problem and often not considered in minimalism.
I didn't consider it either.










↟Here I am now carrying my food scraps to a compost location at a friend's house (sadly our apartment building doesn't compost yet). For those of you who want to keep track, I've been flirting the idea of zero waste for quite some time and pursuing it in earnest since January 2017.



For a long time, I was mindful to practise minimalism in my life, but I was still producing heaps of garbage.
Truly, there’s nothing minimal about an overflowing garbage bin.
This is why I started asking “where does all this trash come from?”
Well, it mostly came from the grocery store and from online orders. While some of it was food scraps, a lot of the trash was plastic packaging. Food scraps can be composted but packaging was on everything and I didn’t know what to do about it. What’s worse, I carried this unwanted packaging into my home with every purchase I made.
Was I just a garbage producing machine?
I was appalled and frustrated.
Where could I go from here?
Now, the heaps of garbage in my bin was not the result of a minimal lifestyle opting for convenience. I never chose packaged goods so I could save time and invest that time elsewhere. Honestly, I’ve just never given much thought to the garbage streaming in and out of my home. And I also hadn’t considered the life cycle of things much.
I thought being minimal and frugal was already making a difference.
But this is what I know now: My minimalism didn't address the extraneous amounts of packaging waste. Packaging is designed for short term, often single use and it is meant to be thrown into the garbage. At best packaging is recycled, but often it streams right into a landfill. By design packaging isn’t precious as for example an old t-shirt or an unloved object is. Unfortunately, until recently, it never occurred to me to work on reducing the packaging waste that came around the produce from the grocery store.
I didn’t know I could say no to the paper bags at the bakery.
I didn’t know I had a choice in how fresh produce, bulk food and deli counter purchases are packaged.
I didn’t know I can bring my own glass containers or cloth produce bags and say no to the obligatory plastic baggies.
I was afraid grocery shopping would turn into a huge hassle but I was wrong. In fact, most stores in Salt Lake City are happy to support zero waste shopping. And it is refreshing to leave a store with just produce and no added garbage.
Also, in case you’re wondering, adopting this new lifestyle didn’t turn me into a crazy bag lady with lots of zero waste knickknacks. On the contrary, I noticed that zero waste reduced the number of bags my husband carried home from the store, it streamlined not just my trash but it also simplified the belongings in my kitchen and bathroom. Which minimalist wouldn’t like that?
In many ways, minimalism and zero waste compliment each other. For example, one of the most important ways to keep clutter and trash away is to control what enters through the front door. This is always a good way to start minimalism or zero waste.
I started my zero waste journey by
-looking at and examining our trash
-and then I set out to shop without buying any packaging
-and I also decided to disengage from using disposables and plastics in general.
Saying no and refusing "trash" made a significant difference every day. At the same time I realized that zero waste is a slow journey that builds momentum over time and it also gets easier with time. In the beginning zero waste isn't easy because many old purchases in the home are far from zero waste and will eventually be phased out and become trash. This kind of trash is almost unavoidable and it's especially annoying when you're so on top of your zero waste game with new purchases. As an added pressure, society assumes zero wasters like me can fit an entire year's worth of household trash into a single mason jar. To be honest, this might be the case if on day zero of going zero waste I filled a dumpster and rid my home of all the half full plastic packaged items so I could start with a clean slate. That's not the route I wanted to go.
Maybe one day my trash will fit the size of a mason, but I still wouldn't keep my trash in a jar like a prize or a measure. That's not for me. I'm much more concerned with the big picture.
Luckily my husband is on board with the zero waste initiative. This is important in our household because he does 90% of the grocery shopping. Therefore, we both had to keep the same goals in mind to effectively keep garbage from entering our home. Overall, it’s been a simple transition and easy to maintain. An added bonus about zero waste is the money saved from buying ‘naked goods’, the frequent and novel conversation with cashiers and the responsible sorting and minimization of our garbage. As the name implies, zero waste means creating no landfill trash. At best it also means sending nothing to recycling. Of course this is the ideal that zero wasters work towards. I’m not at zero in my efforts to reduce waste, but since being more mindful and starting to compost our overall household garbage decreased by 90%.
I’m good with this progress for now. After all zero waste is not about being perfect.
It’s about being aware of one's impact on the planet.
It’s about being aware of where items go after you have used them.
And it’s about being aware of where your items came from before making the purchase.
It's not as the name implies creating zero trash because very few people can attain this goal.
On that note, it’s important to know that the zero waste lifestyle is not an all or nothing approach. An all or nothing way of thinking often has little practicality. It allows us to do nothing, be afraid to start, or quit since not being able to do it perfectly is a really good excuse.
With minimalism or zero waste I’m not looking for perfection but I would love to take steps towards making a difference. I look at zero waste as a lifestyle I can pursue daily with simple persistence. To me, it’s not just a fad. It’s daily intentionality that afford me to have a lighter footprint on this earth.
#GoingGreen2017 #SLCzerowaste #plasticfree



♡ Nina

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Summer Capsule Wardrobe 2017

This month I'm excited to start my 8th capsule wardrobe and celebrate warmer weather.  
As usual, I have 33 pieces for the next three months because I'm still following Project 333.  This past year I've noticed a trend away from capsule dressing, but I'm still happy with the concept and to this day I'm still learning from it.

Learning to take full ownership of your belongings by taking pride in what I own, mending and taking care of my items when they get tatty.  My clothes and my belongings aren't perfect but I enjoy using what I have, altering and accessorising things and making them my own.

Learning to be more selective by finding and living my values.
Learning simplicity and intentionality.
...and maybe someday it will help me discover my style as well.  

To me things have progressed past the stage of convenience and cutting out negative self-talk.  At this point I see capsule dressing as a slow journey to discover my personal style.  When I started capsule dressing I could not say what was important to me and what made me feel good.  Now I'm quite happy with the clothes I own, but I also feel inspired by slow and neutral fashion.  I certainly reconsidered my buying habits and I look to buy from more sustainable brands.  However my capsule doesn't feature very many slow fashion items because I want to keep wearing many of my old clothes season after season.  In addition, I also like to buy second hand first before investing in something new.  But I have noticed a shift.  When you look at the clothes in my capsule or capsules, you will see a lot of older, well loved items with stronger busier pattern and newer items I thrifted or bought from brands with sustainable practices that are in a softer and simpler color and silhouette.

Here's my selection for this summer:
(As usual, I will mark all new or new to me items with a * and I will show the brand name of ethically made items.)

SHORT SLEEVE TOPS (7)
1 - navy blue graphic blouse 
2 - blue/white striped T-shirt with embellishments 
3 - black crop blouse with pink/white flowers
4 - white/blue striped boxy T-shirt 
5 - white polo shirt* (new to me/thrifted item)
6 - white camisole
7 - cream lace T-shirt

LONG SLEEVE TOPS (5)
8 - black turtleneck sweater 
9 - navy blue swing cardigan 
10 - chambray button down 
11 - white/blue striped peplum button down
12 - white long sleeve button down

DRESSES (5)
13 - black maxi dress 
14 - black/white sleeveless flare dress
15 - red, white and blue stripe dress
16 - navy blue pleated dress* (a gift from my husband)
17 - black lace dress

OUTERWEAR (1)
18 - blue denim jacket

BOTTOMS (5)
19 - indigo jeans PATAGONIA 
20 - light blue jeans 
21 - white jeans
22 - navy blue or navy blue with white polka-dots reversible midi skirt
23 - tan shorts*

SHOES (4)
24 - black lace up heeled boots NICORA SHOES 
25 - black hiking sandals
26 - white tennis shoes
27 - black chunky heel sandals

ACCESSORIES (5)
28 - sunhat*
29 - canvas shopping tote
30 - black wallet VELO CITY BAGS
31 - black adjustable belt
32 - sunglasses 
33 - everyday jewelry: wedding ring/band, watch, pandora bracelet and 1 pair of stud earrings


What's in your capsule this season?  I’d love to hear about your choices for summer if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

I hope you enjoyed seeing the items in my latest capsule!  Until next time.
   ♡ Nina

Monday, April 17, 2017

Butternut Squash Curry

This delicious butternut curry has been a favourite at work potluck lunches all winter, so I had to share the way I like to make it before the rainy days of spring are over.  It's a simple, but fragrant, spicy creation that warms you up on gloomy days and gives your body good energy.  ๐ŸŒถ








I usually eat a bowl or two of this curry like a chili without the rice and I noticed that my stomach and my body feels light, satiated and good.  What more could you want from your lunch?  I hope you get the chance to make this recipe and share it with your friends. ๐Ÿ˜‹

This recipe makes four servings with some leftovers.
hckjddfhjsk





  • 1 small to medium sized Butternut Squash;  cut into 1/2 inch dice 
  • 2 Tbsp. Oil
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Hot Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp. Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Pepper

  • 2 stalks Celery; finely sliced
  • 2 inch nub of Ginger; grated or finely minced
  • 1 Green Jalapeรฑo Pepper; de-seeded and minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh Cilantro; stems finely minced and leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 1 large can of crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 small cans of Black Beans
  • 1 small can of Kidney Beans
  • 3 Kaffir Lime Leaves

  • 1 can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 bunch of fresh Spinach; chopped
  • Salt to season
  • 2 cups of rice (optional)

    Preparation: 
    1. The curry dish was usually enjoyed with the girls at work and therefore required pre-roasting the butternut squash and then cooking the curry in a large crockpot.  When you're looking to make this curry, start by preheating the oven to 375° F.  Peal the hard skin of the butternut with a vegetable peeler (or a sharp knife if you're skilled and brave) and then cut the butternut open.  Remove the seeds by hulling the butternut insides with a tablespoon and then cut the butternut into 1 inch dice. 
    2. Next create the spice rub by combining the ground cumin, ground coriander, hot pepper flakes, curry powder, ancho chilli powder, salt and ground pepper.  Add this mixture, the butternut squash pieces and the oil into a large mixing bowl and combine until the butternut is evenly coated with the spices.  Spread the butternut pieces onto a large baking tray and roast them for 40 minutes.
    3. In the meantime, cut the celery, the chili, chop the cilantro stems, grate the ginger and add them with 1/2 a cup of water to the crockpot on high.  After the vegetables are softened, add two additional teaspoons of curry powder and 3 whole Kaffir lime leaves.  Stir the mixture and then add the crushed tomatoes, the beans, 1/2 cup of water and the roasted butternut squash.  
    4. Cover the pot and cook on high heat for 1 hour.  Select the low heat setting if you don't mind to cook it for 4 hours.  One thing to remember when using a slow cooker is not opening the lid any more than you have to.  Every time you open the lid it extends the cooking time.  I know, if you are like me, you would want to look inside, give it a stir and a try, but trust me, this type of cooking works best if you leave it alone.
    5. After the cooking time has passed, stir in the coconut milk, brown sugar, and spinach and cook for another 15 minutes.  Finally, adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh squeezed lemon juice until you are happy with the flavour.
    6. Ladle into bowls or over a bed of rice and garnish with a generous amount of cilantro leaves.
    SignatureEnd
            Nina

    Sunday, April 9, 2017

    My Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2017


    This is capsule number 7 for me!  I'm still happy with the concept and I'm also still learning from it.  I'm learning how little I need, I learning which colors, fabrics and styles I like and I'm learning to dress for comfort and as a form of self-expression.  Each spring I’m excited to grab some lighter pieces from my clothing box and wear them.  I’m so over wearing a million layers just to stay warm and I know this will stop soon, but we're not there yet.  Where I live the temperature in Spring can swing between 30 and 70 degrees and it is also the time of year when it rains the most, so it's difficult to know how to dress.  I might get excited by how sunny it is outside and when I step into the icy breeze without a jacket I instantly regret my choices.  Some days start in the mid 30s and by lunchtime the temperatures climbed into the 60s.  When I take a train to work I'm dressed for an artic excursion and on my way home my scarf, hat and coat are no longer in service (usually stuffed into a cotton tote).  How is Spring where you live?



























    Here is my selection of Spring 2017:
    (As usual, I will mark all new items with a * and I will show the brand name of ethical made vegan items.)

    SHORT SLEEVE TOPS (2)
    1 - white/blue striped t-shirt
    2 - blush pink sleeveless blouse

    LONG SLEEVE TOPS (11)
    3 - white long sleeve button down
    4 - white and blue peplum button down
    5 - buffalo check flannel peplum
    6 - black turtleneck sweater 
    7 - olive green v-neck sweater
    8 - navy blue sweater
    9 - cream knit sweater
    10 - grey cardigan
    11 - navy blue swing cardigan

    DRESSES (2)
    12 - blue patterned wrap dress
    13 - black and white sleeveless flare dress* (new to me from a used clothing swap)

    OUTERWEAR (2)
    14 - fleece sweater* PATAGONIA
    15 - black peacoat

    BOTTOMS (3)
    16 - light blue jeans
    17 - indigo jeans PATAGONIA
    18 - white jeans* (new to me from a used clothing swap)

    SHOES (4)
    22 - black lace up boots NICORA SHOES
    23 - black lace up heeled boots* NICORA SHOES
    24 - white tennis shoes
    25 - black hiking sandals

    ACCESSORIES (7)
    26 - grey camera/work bag
    27 - black wallet VELO CITY BAGS
    28 - black adjustable belt
    29 - sunglasses
    30 - black beanie
    31 - black scarf
    32 - everyday jewelry: wedding ring/band, watch*, pandora bracelet and 1 pair of stud earrings*
    33 - ??


    What is in your capsule this season?  I’d love to hear about your choices for spring if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

    Thanks for stopping by!
       ♡ Nina


    Sunday, February 5, 2017

    Winter Capsule Dressing 2017

    Soon I will think about outfits for Spring, but first here is a look in my winter capsule for 2017, which I started in December.  It includes a lot of cozy, warm pieces that have been in my wardrobe for a few years and I also added some new items that fit with my casual style!  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

    This time around, I decided to include a visual to show the contents of my capsule better.  I'm also also hoping that doing a collage can help me define and understand my  clothing choices further.


    Here is my selection for this winter:
    (As usual, I will mark all new items with a * and I will show the brand name of ethical made vegan items.)

    SHORT SLEEVE TOPS (1)
    1 - white/blue striped t-shirt

    LONG SLEEVE TOPS (11)
    2 - white long sleeve button down
    3 - white and blue peplum button down*
    4 - buffalo check wrap blouse*
    5 - buffalo check flannel peplum*
    6 - black turtleneck sweater
    7 - dark blue and white patterned cardigan sweater
    8 - striped blue and red embellished sweater
    9 - striped blue and white embellished sweater
    10 - cream knit sweater
    11 - navy blue sweater
    12 - olive green v-neck sweater

    DRESSES (2)
    13 - blue patterned wrap dress
    14 - dark denim dress

    OUTERWEAR (3)
    15 - gray heated vest
    16 - black fleece vest
    17 - black peacoat

    BOTTOMS (3)
    18 - light blue jeans
    19 - indigo jeans* PATAGONIA
    20 - navy blue maxi skirt

    SHOES (3)
    22 - black chunky heel boots
    23 - black riding boots
    24 - black lace up boots* NICORA SHOES

    ACCESSORIES (8)
    25 - grey camera/work bag
    26 - black wallet VELO CITY BAGS
    27 - black adjustable belt
    28 - sunglasses
    29 - black beanie
    30 - black scarf
    31 - black gloves
    32 - everyday jewelry: wedding ring/band, watch*, pandora bracelet and 1 pair of stud earrings*
    33 - ??

    (In case you're wondering... all my shoes and the shiny black accessories are of course not real leather ๐Ÿ˜ƒ).

    What is in your capsule this season?  I’d love to hear about your choices for winter if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

    I hope 2017 has been good to you so far!
       ♡ Nina