Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Follow Chloé’s journey to a simpler, greener and happier life.

Reset your phone, reset your life

Girl with hat looking in the distance by Conscious by Chloé

You know how sometimes one little event ends up making you reflect on your life in general?

This happens to me a lot, especially when I'm clearing my closet...

This time, both a book and my phone made me re-evaluate my habits. Here is how it went:

During our road trip - which I highly documented on Instagram and that will be the subject of an upcoming article - I read many books, different kinds of books, and one of them was by my favorite happiness expert, Gretchen Rubin.

As you know, I listen to her podcast and was also very inspired by The Happiness Project, her best-seller. Unsurprisingly, her latest book, Better Than Before, was on my reading list. This time, she tackles this critical question: How can we make good habits and break bad ones?

With September coming up, a big project that will keep me busy for weeks and this general feeling of going back to school, the long hours driving along the Western States roads were the perfect opportunity to reflect on my habits. I assessed my New Year Intentions and formulated some new ones for the coming month.

But the implementation of these habits came in a funny way. I had been having issues with my phone for a while now and had postponed the inevitable restoration for too long. A thorough restoration is something you really do not want to have to do. It means losing all of your beloved settings, reinstalling numerous apps and re-entering a countless number of passwords (At least, I was glad I used 1Password. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, head out to my favorite apps article.)

In the end, it took me an entire afternoon to tackle this nagging task. What I would never have imagined though, is that evaluating whether every single app in my phone was worth reinstalling would make me reflect on my lifestyle in general.

Better Than Before helped me identify certain aspects of my personality. I'm a questioner, a procrastinator and probably an abstainer. This came as no surprise, but actually writing it down in my notebook helped me realize that what I needed was a) tools to organize my life and prompt me to do certain activities at certain times, b) an accountability partner and c) to identify activities that should be paired together in order to ensure they will be done (you'll understand what it means later).

I fell into a fitness-related vortex and spent way too much time linking well-being related apps to the Health app (I use an iPhone) and installing new ones that were suggested to me. Since my health data had completely been erased, I was motivated to start afresh and capitalize on the good cycling and hiking habits we had set during the holidays. So I reinstalled Runkeeper and Strava for walking, hiking and cycling. I also reinstalled my precious Clue app (period tracking), and the fun Sleep Cycle one. As one of my goal for the year was to drink more water, I also installed the Waterlogged app. And it's been pretty successful so far. Even Octave asks for a glass of water whenever he hears the waves sound of the app reminder.

Octave got me into mountain biking during this trip, and as we got back home, I finally managed to convince him to go indoor bouldering with me. We went to an intro class this week and got a pass for the next two weeks. Let's see how it goes. Accountability really works for me, so I hope that this fitness & fun partnership will go a long way.

As for work organization, I followed a friend and colleague's technique and set reachable daily goals in order to finish on time (duh!) and avoid the stress of the upcoming deadline, the sleepless nights, etc. I also try to wake up and go to bed at the same time, start working and stop working at the same time and take a break to listen to a podcast while walking after lunch (Rubin's strategy of pairing activities). That's basically office life at home, except that I'm allowed to make a couple exceptions.

This will hopefully give me more stability and eventually make me healthier, and happier!


Have you ever had such an experience? What happened? Did you quit your job after painting your nails? What are your habit hacks? I'd love to hear it all!

Podcast - A conversation with Sean Barron of The Portland Cool Podcast

The Portland Cool Podcast Reading List by Conscious by Chloé

Guess what? Being an avid podcast listener can lead to surprising outcomes.

As you know, I love podcasts. They keep me grounded, teach my a lot and make me discover incredibly talented people.

I sometimes reach out to their hosts to share my enthusiasm and opinions. But what happened this time was pretty amazing because, one thing leading to another, I ended up being invited to participate in one of them.

And what better podcast could it be, than Portland's coolest podcast?

I was pretty sad to learn that the Portland Sustainability Podcast was going to broadcast its lasts episodes, and was really surprised to be invited to talk about sustainability on its sister podcast, the Portland Cool Podcast. But in the end, it makes perfect sense. Sean is a Master Recycler, Portland is the greenest city I've ever lived in, everything's cool!

Amongst many subjects, Sean & I talked about how I got interested in sustainability, what particular event led me to open Conscious by Chloé last September and how one can start shopping in the bulk aisle.

Here is the conversation we recorded a couple weeks ago (in my kitchen). I hope you'll enjoy it.

PS: I may have mixed the information about recycling in Switzerland. Don't believe the numbers I give. Just know that I'm pretty proud of countries and counties that have a strong recycling policy, but that I would like to see more efforts made into avoiding waste production ahead.


Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes & co and to leave a comment to support it. I would really like to be able to listen to more and more episodes about the people of Portland. Also, I'd love to know what your favorite eco-conscious podcast is. Fire up!

Have a blissful week-end

Zero Waste Pantry by Conscious by Chloé

What are you up to this weekend? I'm gonna go to the farmer's market on Saturday morning and clean the house like a mad person because my parents are coming from France on Saturday night! I hope you'll have a great one and in the meantime, here are a few links from around the web:

Create your own home maintenance manual.

50 best green lifestyle blogs (8 is a lucky number).

This plant pot will soon be on my window sill.

A fashion podcast worth listening to.

How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic.

Octave made these popsicles this week, I want MORE!

The best music for your dinner party.

I need to add this staple to my wardrobe.

Speaking of fashion, check out this project.

Plastic Free July

Shibori furoshiki by Conscious by Chloé

It's been a year and a half since I've jumped on the zero-waste bandwagon. I've been applying its principles even more seriously since I've moved to Portland exactly a year ago. But lately, I've been feeling like I've hit a plateau.

At the beginning of this year, I read a book that, once again, completely changed the way I approach the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the objects I welcome into my home. It got me wanting to dive deeper into my habits as a consumer, especially for material belongings. This book is Plastic Free, by Beth Terry.

I thought I was doing pretty well, having reduced the number of times I have to take the trash out each year and having decluttered the house during our last move. But Beth's manifesto opened my eyes even more on the consequences of plastic on our health and on the environment.

I first thought that adding yet another rule to my consumer habits would lead to disenchantment. And I have to admit that, looking at all the plastic that surrounds us at home, I panicked a little. But I decided to take things slow and opted for a step-by-step process.

First, I realized that I could use it as a guide to help me solve the dilemmas I face whenever I need to make a purchase. Adding plastic in the list of noes made decisions simpler.

For example, we decided to get sporks for camping and were presented with 3 options: BPA-free plastic, bamboo or titanium. By eliminating plastic from the equation and choosing titanium for its durability over bamboo (which could be a great option, since it's biodegradable), the decision was made for us. Simpler, greener, happier.

Of course, there are different ways of looking at this. What is the carbon footprint of the production of each one of these 3 items? I don't know. In the end, the best solution in these cases is always to borrow or buy second hand in the first place.

For those of you who are curious to see why and how we could and should ditch plastic, this amazing plastics mindmap sums up part of what Beth explains in her book and makes for a great inspiration to reduce our plastic consumption.

Plastic Free July Plastics Mindmap for Conscious by Chloé

Observations

  • Plastic lasts forever
    Plastic cannot be recycled, it can only be down cycled, which means it will eventually end up in the landfill at best, or in our waterways.

  • Plastic kills animals
    Whoever has participated in a beach clean up will have seen how much plastic pollutes the ocean. Now you can imagine what percentage of it will make its way into the organism of innocent or confused sea creatures.

  • Plastic gets in the food chain and comes back to us
    If fish eat plastic and we eat fish, do we eat plastic? Also, BPA and phthalates are widely used in plastic bottles and food packaging, they can contaminate what they hold and interfere with human hormonal function.

Actions

I'm pretty happy with what we've been achieving at home since I finished reading Plastic Free. But, but I thought I would get a great boost by signing up for Plastic Free July and challenge myself to avoid all single-use plastic including the top 4 (straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids) for all of July.

Here are some aspects I'm going to focus on, based on our actual situation:

  • Ask for paper-only packaging
    When I need of something that is not available locally or second hand, I usually order it online and tend to forget to look and ask for eco-packaging.

  • Make our own tortillas
    Octave and I both work from home and cook all three meals every day. Tortillas entered our pantry since we moved to the US and are a great solution when we run out of inspiration. But the only ones we can find are wrapped in plastic. Octave is usually in charge of cooking and his first attempt was pretty successful. So we should just make a habit of it and prepare a big bunch of tortillas and freeze them so we always have a couple on hand when we're feeling lazy.

  • Buy cheese at the counter
    I recently found a great place in Portland which sells a lot of good fresh products at the counter and even has feta and mozzarella. It is located close to my CSA pickup so it saves me time and gas.

  • Start collecting produce stickers for Stickerman
    Instead of automatically putting produce stickers in the trashcan, I'm gonna attach a piece of paper at the back of a cupboard and stick them on it every time I'll buy fruit. I'll use it as a reminder to sign up for the fruit CSA next year instead of the veggie one (now that we have planted the prettiest veggie garden at home) and will send the sticker sheep to Barry Snyder so he can make more educational art.

  • Be more aware of the composition of the fabrics my clothes are made of.
    I'm planning on doing a lot of reading about fabric origin, composition, production and will simply continue de buy second hand and focus on natural fibers. I'll keep you updated if you will.

That's it for this month's challenge. If you need more inspiration, Beth also compiled a great list of 100 steps to a plastic free life on her website.

If you're interested in what I will be up to during this Plasic Free July, know that I'll be documenting my daily victories and failures on Snapchat. Just add me as your friend, my username is: chloelepeltier.


Has anyone signed up for the challenge yet? If so, let me know, we'll be challenge buddies! No pressure, it can be as simple as just deciding to order drinks without straws during a couple days this month. Come on, it will be fun. But watch out, once you start, you'll see plastic everywhere.

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Last week-end was meant to take place a whole different way.

We had a whole road trip planned to the Northwest Overland Rally. But on the way there, Charlie (Octave's Land Cruiser) got a mechanical problem. So we drove back home to fix it.

I guess I must have had a premonition because I hadn't deleted all the events taking place in Portland on that week-end from my calendar. So I looked at the bright side and made the most of these 2 days in the city.

As some of you might have seen on Snapchat, I woke up early on Saturday morning for an outdoor yoga session followed by a (free) açai bowl for the one year anniversary of Carioca Bowls.

Later, I walked to the Woodlawn Farmers Market, which had reopened while I was in Europe, to get a little mint starter for my garden and some blueberries to snack on during the day.

After that, I rushed to one of my favorite shops in Portland, Johan, for its moving sale and splurged on ceramics. I also scored the vintage silk shirt I'm wearing on the picture and an amazing bodycon dress, made in the USA!

Ceramic cup found at Johan by Conscious by Chloé

Then I checked my phone and realized I had forgotten about the book launch of Becoming Minimalist's Joshua Becker. I was happy to see some friendly faces from the Portland Minimalists Group and get to meet Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz who was here on stage with Joshua.

Later in the day, I dragged Octave to Salvage Works to get some wood for a project I had in mind, and the main subject of today's article: a hairpin leg bench.

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

So here's our little tutorial:


HAIRPIN LEG BENCH DIY

A hairpin leg bench is a pretty easy and inexpensive project that will immediately add style to any room in your home.

Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 2 hrs

Supplies

Tools

  • Hand file
  • Orbital sander + sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Screws

Instructions

  1. Carve the edges.
    We used the hand file and finished with 60 grit sandpaper.
  2. Sand the wood.
    We used the orbital sander starting with 60, then 160 and finally 220 grit.
  3. Seal the wood.
    We used a polycrylic spray we already had from a previous outdoor sign project. We sprayed 1 coat and sanded after.
  4. Attach the legs.
    We more or less eyeballed the leg placement, but you can definitely measure it properly, and even clamp the legs and flip the bench over to see how it will look.

Notes

You can try different ways to seal the wood. We used what we had on hand, but wood sealer and Danish oil may be better options.


Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

I love the idea of making something new out of something old. Of course, the project is not 100% made our of reused material, but I'm glad we decided to go to a local shop rather than the usual hardware store. This quick DIY, which happen on the very same week-end Rachel made hers definitely gave me more DIY envy.


What about you? What was your week-end like? Lazy? Productive? This one was definitely on the active side but I promise it's not always as busy or inspired. But my Pinterest inspiration boards are here, in case my hands are itching.