Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Bonjour & Welcome! Conscious by Chloé is a Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

My One-Word Theme for 2018

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé

Just like last year, Octave & I spent Christmas morning at home and hit the road right after lunch to go spend the night in an old guard station in Washington State.

To access the cabin you usually need to park your car on the side of the road and put on your snowshoes. Once you get there, you have to build a fire as the house is usually cold (unless the previous guests kept it warm for you). There's no cell service, no electricity (but there are gas lamps) and no running water.

Without the distraction of our phones and computers, time slows down and we gradually adapt to the rhythm of nature (our bedtime quickly synchronizes with sunset).

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé

This year, I packed this workbook in my backpack. I wanted to read its intro before the beginning of next year. So I sat by the fire, snuggled in my sleeping bag and entered the world of the moon and its cycles. It was a really magical time and I couldn't have wished for a better place to start this journey.

This little escape confirmed the feeling I'd had for the past couple weeks about what my one-word theme for the coming year should be.

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé

But first, I wanted to share a little about how my one-word theme shaped the past year.

As you may know, my 2017 word was ROUTINE.

The past year has been a tough one - for many of us - and my theme has helped me keep afloat. Here are some habits that have given me a feeling of normalcy every time I came back from a trip or felt like I had fallen off the wagon.

  • Wake up at the same time every day - Besides the fact that it's basically a great idea, this allowed me to have one hour where I could be in touch with my clients in Europe before they end their workday.

  • Walk at least 5'000 steps a day. I know it's half of what's recommended, but it's a start. It gets me out of the house, plus, I know a route around my neighborhood that's the exact right distance and allows me to listen to at least one podcast episode.

  • Set up work dates with fellow freelancers - I am SO productive when someone is working next to me! And it's a great way to catch up and/or brainstorm.

  • Sign up at the gym and take classes 3 times a week - I joined a gym in September, after a hectic summer that was concluded by a major weight gain. It's the first time I love a gym, have fun in class, and even manage to go there and just spent 20 minutes on the elliptical! It gets me out of the house and I feel energized if I take a class in the morning or just calm after I take a class in the evening!

As the end of the year was approaching, I started to wonder whether one should just let go of their theme and make room for the next one, but a spontaneous decision confirmed me that ROUTINE is now becoming a part of my life.

I'll elaborate later but just wanted to put this here. You do not HAVE TO let go of an annual theme and replace it by the following year's. But you can if you want.

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé

Now, let's talk about the future.

My one-word theme for 2018 will be LEARN.

While studying ways to improve my routine, I noticed that I came across a certain number of stumbling blocks.

  • Over the past couple years, I've started to rely more and more on Octave for certain things like photography, graphic design, and other fields. While he loves to help and clearly is more efficient than I am, I've sort of abandoned certain tasks or even stopped improving them. And that's something I'd like to change.

  • I also hear myself say a lot that "I cannot remember numbers", or "I'm bad with numbers". I cannot remember the population of Portland or what my measurements are in the imperial system. I don't know whether it's laziness, a social construct or just the way my brain has developed but I want to see whether I can change this pattern.

  • Along the same lines, I was to improve my memory. I am convinced that my phone is slowly gnawing at my memory and I want to make a conscious effort to memorize data and remember names.

  • I've also mentioned many times that I really want to improve my public speaking and storytelling abilities.

And then, I want to learn new skills. Here's a non-exhaustive list of fields of interest to me:

  • Food preserving

  • Fauna and flora

  • The moon and its cycles

  • Feminism

  • Avalanche training

  • Poetry

  • Small business ownership

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé

My intention during this new year will be to learn as much as possible, from the people I know, from the people I admire, from big and small organizations, from makers, teachers, mentors.

I'm planning on investing time and money, proposing to barter, hosting gatherings, organizing retreats.

So this is my intention for 2018. I hope you'll follow along and get something out of it along the way.

My One-Word Theme for 2018 by Conscious by Chloé


Now, I'd love to know, if you had to choose one word, or a short phrase, to sum up what you want to focus on in the new year, what would it be?

Junk Mail Notebook DIY

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

I love notebooks and carry them everywhere with me. If I did not control myself, I would buy a new one each month.

The other day, as I was reorganizing my office, I found one that Octave and I had designed for our coworking space's opening party. We had made them from scratch, gathering the supplies and taking them to a neighboring creative space where we sew and screen printed them.

I've you've been reading me long enough, you know about my crusade against junk mail. But still, I do get some from time to time, and keep it in a box on my office shelf for a future use.

And this time has come. My urge to get a new notebook and the ever-growing junk mail pile have led me to make my own junk mail notebooks.


JUNK MAIL NOTEBOOK DIY

We all get junk mail, whether we like it or not! Although there are great ways to prevent receiving it, we sometimes still do. And that's OK. So let's make the most of it and get crafty.

Active time: 10 min
Total time: 10 min

Supplies

  • Junk Mail (or old documents after you've scanned them)
  • (optional) Thicker paper, or thin cardboard - for the cover (thick envelopes or cereal boxes)

Tools

Instructions

  • Collect junk mail and light cardboard.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Select 10 sheets of junk mail printed on one-side only.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Add 1 sheet of thicker paper at the bottom of the pile.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Cut the sheets in half (or just keep them as is for a larger format).

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Collate 10 sheets together alternating between printed side up and printed side down in order to get 2 printed pages and 2 blank pages side by side once your notebook will be bound.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Fold them in half to create a crease.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Mark the crease with a pencil.
    This will help you sew on a straight line.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Sew the sheets together following the line.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Tie a knot at the top and bottom of the binding.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Trim the thread (not too close).

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • (optional) Trim the edges of the notebook. According to the thickness of your notebook, the inside pages might be longer than the cover page, so you can trim them a little get perfect edges.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

  • Customize the front and back page.
    This is totally up to you. Have fun and personalize your creation.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Notes
You can make your notebook as big and as thick as you want. Just keep in mind that the more pages you'll add, the longer the inside pages extend outside of the cover.

Junk Mail Notebook DIY by Conscious by Chloé


Do you know other creative ways to reuse junk mail?

My 10 Personal Commandments

My 10 personal Commandments by Conscious by Chloé

I always get very pensive on trips, I brainstorm, make up lists in my head, take inventory of my life.

During my last long flight, I came up with a list of personal commandments - truths and tricks that generally make my life simpler and happier.

Having a tried and tested list of answers for the interrogations, big and small, that life throws my way gives me a sense of control, peace and security.

As a questioner, I like to research, gather data, and make decisions based on that information. I also like it when these decisions can be applied to many aspects of my life, to save me from spending more time researching.

Reading this list calms me down, makes me smile, reminds me of what's important.

I've kept this list in my notebook for the past 6 months or so, and only just came back to re-reading it this week, to see whether it had passed the test of time and was still relevant.

My 10 personal Commandments by Conscious by Chloé

I edited it - as some commandments were too specific to the period I came up with them - and wanted to share it with you. Here is how it goes:

My 10 Personal Commandments

  • It's OK to say NO.

I wrote a whole article about this one. Whether it's deciding not to go to an event you are invited to (and staying at home to take a bath instead) or refusing to make coffee for a client (because you know your boss did not even think about asking your male coworker to do it), you're the master of your fate, you do you, enjoy that freedom.

  • Alcohol isn't worth it

This one seems very specific, but it's playing a very big role in my life.

I've suffered from migraines most of my life now and I'm only starting to learn to identify my triggers.

Alcohol is a major one (so is lack of sleep and loud environments). So when I don't feel like drinking - at an event, at a family gathering - I just don't.

Lately, I also stopped justifying my non-drinking. If people want to think that I'm a party-pooper or that I'm pregnant... I. don't.care.

  • Let it go

There are things you can change, others you cannot. And oftentimes, you just have to let them go. It's a tough one for me as I have a tendency to ruminate, overthink and beat myself up about things. This story of two monks and a nun really opened my eyes. It's a quick read. I swear!

  • Smile

Too often - because, I'm shy, nervous, insecure, because I have a hard time understanding people in loud environments - I tend to retreat into my "serious gaze" (those glasses sure help), which, I feel, makes me appear unfriendly. So I try to practice smiling more, one trip to the coffee shop at a time.

I've also been trying to put into practice the "act the way you want to feel" mantra. They say that if you want to be happy, you could start by looking happy.

I'm not 100% sold on that last concept, but seeing people smile back is a very rewarding experience.

  • Less is more

I suffer from FOMO, analysis paralysis, and many more afflictions caused by the abundance of options.

When my head starts to spin, I just remember that less is more. Having one good sweater is better than 3 cheap ones. You can probably count your true friends on one hand. Outer order, inner calm.

Simplifying, downsizing and organizing are amongst my favorite pastimes. I know, I'm weird.

  • Act now

I usually wait for the "right time" to do something, big or small. Whether it's changing that broken light bulb in my bedroom or starting writing this book that's been on my mind for a while, the best option is always to act now. It will either provide an immediate satisfaction (now I can read in bed) or just give purpose (sharing my wisdom with the rest of the world, in all modesty).

  • Don't expect a gold star

This one is a tough one for me. I'm a gold star junkie and am convinced that my work and efforts should be acknowledged, always.

I'm working on it, it's gonna take time. In the meantime, if you want to tell me how much you appreciate what I do, suit yourself :)

  • You can stand anything for 10 seconds, then you just start on a new 10 seconds

I borrowed this saying from the one and only Kimmy Schmidt! This goes for headaches, scrubbing floors, or any unpleasant task or experience. It's just a practical translation of the "This too shall pass" adage.

  • Assume that people are doing their best

This is one of the main lessons I learned from Brené Brown's "Rising Strong". You never know what someone might be going through. There could totally be an extraordinary circumstance that made them behave themselves the way they did. I try to repeat myself this whenever I'm about to snap at someone. It helps, most of the time.

  • Think about your future self

Whether it's by going around the house at night and putting things back where they belong or exercising regularly, I try to do things that will make my future self happy, or thankful.

Waking up to a tidy home is definitely a good way to start the day and taking that yoga class or doing that core training will for sure help me in the medium and long run.

My 10 personal Commandments by Conscious by Chloé


What are your personal commandments?

If you haven't done so yet I would highly encourage you to take some time to write down your personal commandments (in your planner, on your phone, next to your bathroom mirror) where you can reference back to them easily.

Zero Waste Period

Zero Waste Period by Jola Kokoszka for Conscious by Chloé

Periods are a private and delicate subject and I'm usually not one to share intimate details publicly.

But since feminine hygiene can be an important source of waste (and social injustice), I thought I'd share my insights on the subject.

First, let's have a look at the various options available:

  • Menstrual cups A small, flexible cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing menstrual flow.

  • Reusable Pads or Liners Similar to "regular" pads or liners, they usually have wings that fasten around the underwear (some feature a removable insert made from absorbent material).

  • Period Panties These look like regular underwear, except that they can absorb a day's worth of menstrual blood.

The last two can be used as back up for menstrual cups or (organic) tampons or to completely replace disposable feminine hygiene products.

  • Free / instinctive bleeding I do not know whether this is a hoax or just the latest woo-woo trend, but I just wanted to put this here. Has any of you heard of it? It consists of learning to know your body, to control it and then let yourself bleed freely when you go to the toilet...

Why I chose the menstrual cup

I first heard of menstrual cups close to 15 years ago when I was working as a hostess during my studies. One of the girls on my team was actually the first menstrual cup salesperson in Switzerland and introduced us to this new product. Most of us were grossed out and I never heard of the menstrual cup for the next 10 years, until I finally decided to make the switch close to 5 years ago!

As far as periods go, I've always been an advocate of the less is more approach. My mom and I went to the supermarket on the first day of my period and got all the options available. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted one product for any type of situation (swimming, sleeping, camping, traveling). Pads were too uncomfortable and bulky, swimming) and tampons with applicators took too much space in my bag. I've never really been introduced to any other product so my choice was easy: tampons. No applicator, no liner.

Everything went smoothly and I would have never had to change my routine until the eco-activist living in my head told me it was time to rethink this aspect of my life.

I remember the day I purchased my menstrual cup. Octave was actually there with me. I was visiting him (or had just moved in with him, I'm not really sure). We had not been together for very long time and I felt a little weird telling him I had to stop by the pharmacy to "get something". I remember him asking what it was, and ultimately decided to tell him about menstrual cups.

Zero Waste Period & Menstrual Cup by Conscious by Chloé

My experience with a menstrual cup

Having used tampons without applicators for many years, I had no apprehension to insert the cup and got the hang of it pretty quickly (fold and insert).

After 4+ years of using the cup, I can report that I've never felt freer. Here are a couple reasons why I love my cup.

  • It's zero waste. Duh! This is good for me, good for the environment, good for future generations (Am I exaggerating?). Oh and it's convenient for when I go hiking and camping (no bloody trash bag to haul back to the nearest trash container). I just carry a squirt bottle to rinse it and clean up.
  • It's inexpensive and saves me money. Considering I got mine more than 4 years ago and have not spent one dollar on feminine hygiene products ever since, you do the math!
  • It's discrete. I remember looking for my badge in my pocket as I was approaching my office building one day and heard something else fall on the floor. Yep, a tampon. I'm pretty sure none of my coworkers who were standing outside smoking a cigarette (boo!) saw it, but I did blush for a second. The only time I have to carry the cup with me is when I travel and know I'm gonna have my period. It usually comes in a small fabric pouch, very cute!
  • It's comfortable. Is it just me or have you ever felt your tampon inside of you when you were sitting (a little TMI, but I'm pretty sure some of you know what I mean). Well, this never happened with a cup, it's lightweight, it's flexible. You pretty much put it in place and forget it's even there. Cups usually come with a stem at the bottom. Keep it as is for the first couple days you use your cup, as the stem makes it easier to remove the cup. But know that you can trim this stem. I personally totally trimmed mine as the stem was a source of irritation.
  • It's efficient. The only accidents that happened with my cup are pretty recent. And now that I'm writing this article and doing a little research, I just realize that it might be time to retire my first cup and get a new one.
  • It's easy to use. You might want to lock the door of a clean and well-lit bathroom with easy access to a sink the first couple time you use a cup and practice insertion and removal. After a couple times, you'll become an expert and master the single-handed gesture (or not, this is not a competition). Personal tip, we recently installed a bidet on our toilet. I love that it helps me feel extra fresh during that time of the month.
  • It's easy to clean and maintain. I usually empty my cup 3 times a day according to my flow (morning, noon, evening). I simply empty and rinse it during the day and clean it with soap once a day when I'm in the shower. At the end of my cycle, I scrub it with baking soda (check the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations) and a dedicated brush (an old bamboo toothbrush), clean the suction holes with a dedicated toothpick, boil it in water, dry it completely and store it in its pouch until the next month.
  • It makes periods real. Ads want to make you believe that menstrual blood is either gross (it should never be seen) or nonexistent (or turquoise blue). But it's a great indicator of your health and of how your body works and should not be disregarded. I love to be able to see and "study" it. What shade of red is it, what's the texture like, is it abundant? Of course, you can also just dump the content of your cup in the toilet and never have to look at it.

A couple more things

Feminine hygiene is definitely a very personal subject. There is no right or wrong way to take care of yourself during this time of the month.

Just know that some of us are lucky enough to have that many options to chose from and be aware that many brands actually donate a portion of their proceeds to women who are not as lucky as us.

I compiled a little selection here.

Do you have any questions on menstrual cups? Feel free to ask me anything! I'll be happy to share a little more about my experience.

Picture by Jola Kokoszka for Conscious by Chloé. This post is not sponsored but when you shop via some of the links above I may make a small commission from a sale. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Conscious by Chloé!

The Conscious by Chloé 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Ethical and Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide 2017 by Conscious by Chloé

'Tis the season!

Shopping consciously, ethically, and sustainably for our loved ones at the end of each year (for those of us who celebrate the holidays) can be a dreadful task.

If you're like me, you keep a list of gift ideas all year long. But sometimes, things do not work out the way they should.

Like last week, when I ruined my plan by leaving Octave's eye prescription on my desk (I want to get him solar prescription glasses).

So now I'm on the hunt for the perfect gift/s for him, and he's a tough one to please!

For this year's Gift Guide, I decided to make things easy, so all the items in the following lists can be ordered on Amazon. This might be a controversial move, but you know my motto: simpler, greener, happier.

For those of you who live in Portland (or don't mind ordering online from various places), read until the end of this article for my recommendations for small business Saturday.

The Conscious by Chloé 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Let me introduce the Conscious by Chloé 2017 Holiday Gift Guide, a complete eco-friendly & sustainable gift guide for her, for him, for the adventurer, for the cook, for the nerd, and for the little one:

Gift Guide for Her

1 | Clogs | Sandgrens | made in Sweden | Because low heels are empowering.
2 | Socks | Pendleton | made in USA | Because socks should be colorful.
3 | Book | We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Because we should.
4 | Pin | Because sometimes, all she needs is a cup a coffe and some space (metaphorically or not).
5 | Bag | Baggu | made in USA | Because she doesn't need a bigger one (a backpack would be nice as well).
6 | Face Mask | SW Basics | made in USA | Because she deserves it.
7 | Hat | Krochet Kids | made ethically in Peru | Because she loves to support the work of other women.
8 | Earrings | PARIKHS | made in USA | Because you can never go wrong with a piece of jewelry.

Gift Guide for Him

1 | Sweater | Pendleton | made in USA | Because he collects them.
2 | Book | I love Dick by Chris Kraus | Because you can't wait to see his face when he opens it.
3 | Scalp Massager | Because he deserves it.
4 | Socks | Pendleton | made in USA | Because socks should be colorful.
5 | Dopp Kit | Baggu | made in USA | Because he loves stripes as much as you do.
6 | Beard Oil | The Regular Guy | made in USA | Because he's not a regular guy.
7 | Boots | Danner | made in USA | Because, Portland!
8 | Patch | Because he cares for the environment as much as you do.

Gift Guide for the Cook

1 | Tea Towels | Because they're vintage.
2 | Dutch Oven | Le Creuset | made in France | Because it's French.
3 | Wooden Utensils | Because they get even more beautiful over time.
4 | Butter Warmer | Because you never knew you needed one before you had one.
5 | Book | Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists by Julia Sherman | Because cooking is a form of art.
6 | Cheese Grater | Because it's always better to grate cheese at the very last minute.
7 | Reusable Sandwich Bags | Bee's Wrap | made in USA | Because we should all ditch plastic wrap.
8 | Sprout Jar | Modern Sprout | made in USA | Because cooks love to grow their own food.

Gift Guide for the Adventurer

1 | Compass | So they'll always find their way.
2 | Bandana | Pendleton | made in USA | Because it's a pretty versatile piece of fabric.
3 | Hobo Knife | Case | made in USA | Because they love multi-use tools.
4 | Travel Pillow | Because sleep is so important.
5 | Camp Chair | Tillak | 25% of profits to the environment | Because it's very light.
6 | Gloves | made in USA | Because they lose them all the time.
7 | Kindle | Because it's easier to pack than 10 paperbacks.
8 | Book | A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit | Because reading about exploring is also part of the journey.

Gift Guide for the Nerd

1 | Bamboo Speaker | Because, bamboo.
2 | Solar Battery Pack | Because, solar.
3 | Compostable Phone Case | Pela | made in Canada | Because, compostable.
4 | Cardboard Standing Desk | Because, cardboard.
5 | Smart Outlet | So he keeps his devices safe.
6 | Book | ELIOOO: How to go to IKEA and Build a Device to Grow Food in Your Apartment by Antonio Scarponi | Because it reads like an instruction manual.
7 | Cable Tacos | Hatton Henry | made in USA | Because cables are always entangled.
8 | Key or Phone Finder | Because losing your keys or your phone is not eco-friendly.

Gift Guide for the Little One

1 | Wooden Teether | Grimm's Spiel und Holz Design | made in Germany | Because plastic sucks.
2 | Beanie | Krochet Kids | made ethically in Uganda | Because you're never too to support the work of women.
3 | Feminist Patch | Ectogasm | made in USA | Because you're never too young to learn about Shakespeare, and feminism.
4 | Native Seed Bombs | Seed Balls | made in USA | Because learning about invasive plants is important.
5 | Recycled Recycle Truck | Green Toys | made in USA | Because it's so meta.
6 | Organic Onesie | Because they'll criticize your sense of humor soon enough.
7 | Book | Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk | Because we should read more stories from native cultures.
8 | Wooden Bowl & Spoon | Camden Rose | made in USA | Because plastic sucks.

Shop small in Portland

Here are my favorite places to shop in PDX:

And I can't wait to visit Portland's latest small shop: Wild Poppy Goods this Saturday!

I selected these gifts for their aesthetics, their usefulness, their makers and their country of origin. For more ethical & sustianble shopping inspiration, check out my kits.

I hope you'll find what you're looking for here but also highly recommend you to visit your local small shops to find the perfect hand- and locally made gifts for your loved ones.


Picture by Alexandre Guimont for Conscious by Chloé. This post is not sponsored but when you shop via some of the links above I may make a small commission from a sale. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Conscious by Chloé!