Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

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

Have a blissful week-end #5

Hiking in Oregon by Conscious by Chloé

What are you up to this weekend? I'm going on a retreat with a group of amazing women which will include movies, hikes hot tub soaks and wine tasting. I hope you'll have a great one and in the meantime, here are a few links from around the web:

This guide to a good death moved me a lot.

Getting one of these to label the jars in my pantry.

One of my favorite Portland bloggers.

Who makes your clothes.

Wishlisting this class for my birthday next month.

My first word when the alarm clock rang this morning.

Currently reading this book.

This closet tour.

I usually don't paint my nails, but this color made me look.

A zero waste and minimalist cracker recipe.

Conscious Cohabitation

Conscious Cohabitation by Brandy Young for Conscious by Chloé

Last year, I was asked by my local Minimalists group to give a talk about Conscious Cohabitation. It was an interesting exercise for me to reflect on what it's like to share a home with Octave. I got a chance to discuss with the attendees about their own experience of sharing a home with their parents, significant other or roommates and learnt a lot!

I've updated my presentation according to their comments and thought I would share it with you here as well.

First, there are a couple things you should know about me:

  • Octave and I have been living together for 3 years now (less than one in Switzerland and the rest in 2 homes/cities/States in the USA).
  • I grew up an only child.
  • My parents live together, but were never married.

This should give you a better idea about how and why I decided to implement the following system at home. I divided life at home in 4 categories: admin, finances, scheduling and housekeeping.

And last but not least, please bear in mind that I am here presenting a system based on my own experience and that I in no way assume that it's a one fits all.

Admin by Conscious by Chloé

1. Admin

Raise your hand if you've ever been in this situation where you think you're super ready for a meeting with your banker, real estate agent, mobile provider and they suddenly ask for a document they totally failed to mention before.

Based on this scenario, and on the fact that Octave and I moved overseas and had no intention to pay for the shipment of all of our admin archives, we digitized the majority of our papers. And here is how I organized them.

Google Drive

I've been using Google Drive for as long as I can remember, so I just created the following folders and shared them with Octave.

  • Create 1 shared folder that will contain 3 shared sub-folders (2 personal, 1 common).
  • In each of the 2 personal folders, scan and add the following personal documents for each person: ID, drivers license, passport, visa, birth certificate, ID picture.
  • In the common folder, scan and add the documents that are relevant for both parties: marriage license, rental agreement, insurance, accounting spreadsheet (see Finances). You can also add another subfolder and name it "Old" where you will archive items that are no longer relevant (previous car insurance, former lease agreement).

1Password

If you've been following me for a while, you've already read this article and know how much I love 1Password.
Long story short, this app will create complicated and safe passwords for all the websites you use, will remember all your important info (SSN, credit card number) and will even autocomplete forms online (oh the time you'll save not having to type your name, date of birth, address, bank info etc) and all you have to do is remember one. single. password. or use the touch ID on your phone.
We installed it on our phones, tablets and desktops and shared the passwords that are useful for the both of us (car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, utilities).

Finances by Conscious by Chloé

2. Finances

Before we moved to the US, Octave and I each had our own bank account. We meant to open a joint one, but the timing was never right, we had different banks, worked in different cities and never got around to being able to meet at the bank before it closes.

But as soon as we moved to the US and met our banker, we opted for the following system:

2 personal bank accounts

One for each. No messing with the other ones expenses, the household/family is on track, the rest is personal.

1 joint bank account

  • Open one joint bank account.
  • Select the paperless option.
  • Set a monthly automatic payment from your personal account to your joint account (calculate and estimate of your monthly household expenses and divide it by 2).
  • Opt for automatic payments for: rent, utilities, Internet, phone, home insurance, health insurance.
  • Get one debit card for each and use it to pay common expenses: groceries, common hobbies, restaurants, trips, home improvement.

Side note: To differentiate our personal card from our joint one, Octave drew a heart on the joint one while we were still at the bank. My heart melted.

2 savings account

As responsible adults, and as we are both freelancers and do not know what tomorrow will be made of, we each opened a savings account.
We set a monthly automatic payment from our personal account to the savings account so we save without even thinking about it.

Accounting

As our income is fluctuant, sometimes one of us is not able to make the scheduled monthly automatic payment. So the solution I found to keep track of our accounting is to:

  • Keep a shared accounting spreadsheet in the common shared folder and keep track of expenses related to the household (the payments made by each of us to the joint bank account or extra expenses for the household that we paid with our personal account)
  • Meet twice a year to keep track of your common finances.

Side note: I usually set up a meeting in our shared calendar (see Scheduling) well in advance and chose a café in our neighborhood with a wifi connection. Being outside of our home helps us focus on the task to accomplish.

Scheduling by Conscious by Chloé

3. Scheduling

Once again, our freelance life pretty much shapes the way we have to organize our lives. With our irregular schedules and off-location assignments, I felt like we needed a platform to let the other know of major commitments. As we are both Apple products users, we decided to use the Apple calendar and:

  • Share our professional calendar with each other.
  • Create a common calendar for: reminders, invitations, events, trips, family visits, cleaning up days (see Housekeeping).

Side note: I recently discovered that you could export your Facebook Events (and Facebook friends Birthdays) to your calendar, check it out!

Housekeeping

4.Housekeeping

Utilities & co

We deal with things together, mostly, but we have a tacit understanding that he deals with all things related to the phone, Internet, car & home insurance and I deal with the landlord, rent, electricity, gas, water.

Side note: Chose what you have interest in or knowledge of and share the tasks equitably.

To-Do Lists

Wunderlist is a to-do list app like many others that exist on the market. This is the first one that I used, I tried to switch to another one later on but came back to this one. It does the job, there's no need to change what works.

We mainly use it to share our grocery list. It synchronises the data in real time so that we both know what to get when one of us decides to stop at the store, even unexpectedly. I have to admit that we use it less and less now that be both work from home and usually shop together but it's still there in case we need it.

We also have a general to-do list (mostly home improvement) and a bucket list of all the places we'd like to visit some day (couple day trips in Oregon/Washington).

Grocery Shopping

We usually make one big trip to our coop once a month (on the 10th, we get 10% off), the date is in our shared calendar so we don't forget it.
We update our shopping list on Wunderlist for non bulk items and look for the empty containers in our pantry (our empty containers are our shopping list).

Side note: To learn what you'll need to go on a bulk shopping trip, go back to my Zero Waste Shopping Kit article and to learn how to shop in bulk check out my Shopping in Bulk 101 article.

Cooking

Octave and I keep sending each other recipes that we want to try. I didn't know how to store them until I found the Pepperplate app. What I love about it is the fact that there is now a bookmarklet that makes importing the recipe on your desktop so much easier by filling in the fields automatically. The fact that the app is also on my phone makes grocery shopping so much simpler. Now I just need to stop importing recipes and start cooking them...

Side note: Our deal is as follows: He cooks, I do the washing up.

Cleaning

By now, you should everything about my Cleaning Routine.

Whether it's a deep-cleaning session or routine cleaning and, more importantly, if you share this task with a partner or housemates, knowing that a special date or time in the week or month is dedicated to this task makes the decision-making way easier. No arguing, no convincing, no debating, it's in the calendar so that's when it should be done!

Here is my personal schedule for quick maintenance:
Monday - Bedroom
Tuesday - Bathroom
Wednesday - Mudroom/Pantry
Thursday - Kitchen
Friday - Living Room
Saturday - Office

I try to keep the same schedule for weekly maintenance cleaning but mostly rely on our common bimonthly cleaning session, scheduled on Wednesdays, every other week.

Waste

As I am now a proud Master Recycler, I set up a new sorting and recycling station at home composed of:

Trash, Recycling, Compost

  • 1 recycling box (paper, metal, plastic bottles and tubs).
  • 1 glass box (for curbside recycling and to bring to the Bottle Bill & Redemption Center).
  • 1 compost tray that I keep in the freezer and bring to the compost pile once in a while when I go to open the chicken coop.
  • 1 trash can (yes, we still produce some trash).
  • 1 box for special items: soft plastic, corks, batteries, light bulbs can be brought to specific locations for safe disposal, recycling or reuse.

Side note: This sorting station is designed according to the Portland, OR infrastructure. We signed up for weekly reminders in order to be informed of the collection schedule.

Decluttering

We keep a donation box by the back door where we put items that we no longer use and are still in good condition for donation.

Junk Mail

Getting junk mail is one of the things that frustrates me the most in my journey to zero waste. I feel like all the efforts I'm making to prevent trash from entering my house are ruined by the junk mail that filtrates through my mailbox.
Through research and experiences, I came up with the a list of solutions which will help you dramatically reduce the amount of junk, promotional or unwanted mail in your mailbox.

6. Conclusion

This system is the result of a couple months of trial and error, even though it pretty much stayed the same after we implemented it). First, you'll need to sit down with your housemates, identify what your needs and priorities are and build a system around them.

If you're more interested in producing less waste, focus on your pantry and the recycling station. If you're more interested in keeping your financial independence, run to the bank and open a joint bank account. You do not need to do it all at once. Start small, see what works for you and adjust along the way.

The one thing that I found very important is this endeavor was to balance the roles. Sharing a house is sharing responsibilities.

I hope you've enjoyed reading my conscious cohabitation tips and hope they will help you make your life simpler, greener and happier.

Conscious Cohabitation by Brandy Young for Conscious by Chloé


Top and bottom pictures by Brandy Young for Conscious by Chloé.

Now, I'd love to read your comments on this subject. What system have you implemented at home? How do you distribute the roles? Who's in charge of what? Do you hire a house cleaner? Roommates, how to do deal with rent & utilities?

Have a blissful week-end #4

Oregon Coast by Conscious by Chloé

What are you up to this weekend? Octave & I are going to a concert tonight (it was meant to be a surprise for him but he blew it) and I'm gonna make a flower mandala with my girlfriends on Sunday. I hope you'll have a great one and in the meantime, here are a few links from around the web:

Definitely on my to-do list next time I'm on the Oregon coast.

Stop telling women to smile.

Meditation for real life.

I'm a little obsessed with this US made bag.

These amazing Alaska women.

I approve of this Portland guide .

Sometimes I wish this button actually existed.

This linen wash cloth is just what I need.

If I weren't traveling so much this summer, I would totally sign up for this women owned & organic CSA.

I'm a little obsessed with this home organization company.

Worn #5 - The Future is Female

The Future is Female Look by Conscious by Chloé

Last Sunday, I attended a late brunch with the one and only Sara Britton of My New Roots. The first time I saw her was actually half and hour before the brunch, when I saw her at one of my favorite Portland shops, asking about a boob print shirt.

This may not seem relevant at this point of the article, but the title might have already given you a hint.

As soon as I got in for brunch, a guest walked up to me to compliment me on my t-shirt (I get that a lot, thanks!), inquire about where I got it (Field Trip) and ask me whether I had seen the SNL skit about it the night before (I had not).

Long story short, feminine and feminist t-shirts are all the rage now and a fantastic conversation starter. Discussions spark with a little anecdote and can then lead to more profound exchanges about the current social and political climate and the uncertain future of female reproductive rights.

I am happy to report that I have now watched the show and decided that, in celebration of International Women's Day tomorrow, I would post this outfit which includes my beloved "The Future is Female" t-shirt.

The Future is Female Look by Conscious by Chloé

The Future is Female Look by Conscious by Chloé

The Future is Female Look by Conscious by Chloé

The Future is Female Look by Conscious by Chloé

For those of you who are curious about the meaning of this historic t-shirt, here is a reminder. And don't forget to take action!


Worn #5 / Raincoat: Similar available via Everlane (made responsibly in VietNam), Bandana: Kiriko (made in the USA, printed in Portland, OR), T-shirt: Otherwild (made in the USA + 25% of sweatshirt sale proceeds donated to Planned Parenthood), Pants: American Apparel (made in the USA), Sneakers: Similar available via NeedSupply (made responsibly in the Brazil).


Unless provided, the origin of the items showcased in my looks will not be disclosed as I may no longer share the values of the brands from which I purchased them. I highly recommend you to look for an alternative in my shop, look for similar items in second hand shops or, if you're talented and/or motivated, make your own! Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

Digital Detox

Digital Detox by Conscious by Chloé

Digital/Analog, see what I did here?

Do you suffer from information overload? It happens to me a couple times a year. I let my guard down, I either forget to uncheck the unsubscribe box when I sign up on a website or I do want to go to the trouble of adding a * with the mention "Do not use for promotional purposes" on a form I fill at a new yoga studio and gradually see my inbox filled with unwanted newsletters.

Here are the steps that you can take to regain to control on your inbox and minimize the constant stimuli of social media notifications:

Inbox

  • Sign up for Unroll.Me. It scans your inbox to find how many subscriptions you have, then gives you the option to either unsubscribe or consolidate them into a daily digest called a “Rollup” - in one swipe.
  • Go through your junk folder once a week and. If you're motivated, unsubscribe from these spams (it might be is pointless, but it somehow gives you the impression that their number will decrease over time) or just delete all the messages it contains.

Phone

  • Turn off all notifications and sounds for apps (Go to Settings > Notifications - if you have an iPhone), except for calls, Messages, WhatsApp or whatever is important to you. To me, it's everything I mentioned before (though my phone is always on vibrate mode), plus my home security system and Buffer (to schedule Instagram posts) and emergency alerts.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode at night and leave it out of your bedroom. I leave it in my home office (read about my "No Technology in the Bedroom" policy in this article).

Facebook

  • Unfollow every.single.one. of your friends. This is a little dramatic, but it worked wonders for me. You'll end up with an almost blank feed when you log in which gives you the freedom to chose what information you'll get. If you're curious to know what's happening in someone's life, go check his/her profile. If you fear that you're going to miss something critical, maybe take a moment to reflect on the fact that there must be a way that this person in your life will have let you know of a major event directly.
  • Sort your friends into groups (family, high school, cities) in order to be able to have a quick overview of what's happening in their life. It also makes inviting people to events way easier. If you're my friend on Facebook, you know I'm an over(Facebook Events) inviter (#sorryImnotsorry).
  • Install the FB Purity extension to hide the "Trending" feed and other irrelevant (to you) FB options (games invites, etc). I installed it yesterday and already see the benefits of not being made aware of some politician's latest stupid decision or some celebrities latest birth announcement (I read the news from reliable sources and use Feedly for my daily fix of bloggers stories). Chrome users, you can also download this extension.

Instagram

  • Regularly go through a massive unfollowing session. I do this when I realize that I know more about some stranger's baby than my own family's. Then subscribe again to the accounts the name of which you can remember. Yes, I am an annoying follower.
  • Mute people's stories. You can be interested in someone's interior design style but not care about their family life (certain accounts have Insta Stories that are totally different from the images they post). Know that you do not have to to unfollow that account and can simply mute their story (Open your Instagram app. Make sure it's updated to the latest version. From the Stories bar on the top, tap and hold on the circular profile photo for the story you want to unfollow. Once you hold for a second, options from the bottom of the screen will come up)

What about you, how do you deal with digital clutter? You might also be interested in reading my 10 Ways to Stop Junk Mail article.