Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

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

Leave no trace

Lake Twenty-two in the Snoqualmie National Forest WA by Conscious by Chloé

So Octave and I have this thing were we try to go sleep outside whenever we can, either because we need to slow down and disconnect or just because the opportunity arises, like a couple weeks ago, when we had to go to Seattle for an interesting partnership I'll share with you soon.

Spending time in nature is something that we love to do together: #couplegoals.

As some of you might have seen on Instagram, we car-camped in the Snoqualmie National Forest and chose to do something more before leaving, rather than just spending the night and taking off for our hike right away.

Camping in the Snoqualmie National Forest WA by Conscious by Chloé

We channeled our inner Baden-Powell and decided to clean our campsite from waste that was there before we arrived.

We usually have no use for a trash bag since we try to apply the zero-waste principle to our trips (the only waste we produced were banana peels which we put in the mason jar our soup was in to compost them back home), but I always bring one along just in case.

And I’m so glad I did. Aluminium cans, glass bottles, plastic jugs… condoms (!) were scattered all around. Don’t worry, the picture doesn’t show it but we protected our hands from all this nasty stuff.

Our bag was quickly filled up and we disposed of it in the appropriate bins at a parking area we stopped at on the way to our next hike.

Snoqualmie National Forest WA clean up by Conscious by Chloé

It’s a little thing to do, it took us less than 10-minutes, but it totally boosted our morale for the rest of the day.

Of course, we decided to focus on the positive side of our action and not the fact that careless and disrespectful people go up in the woods and throw stuff away or that more people will come and trash this place after us.

Snoqualmie National Forest WA clean up by Conscious by Chloé

The title of this article was inspired by The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics whose Seven Principles are the following:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Leave What You Find

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Respect Wildlife

  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

I strongly encourage you to read them in details on the Leave No Trace website.


What’s your opinion on the matter of clean-ups? Pointless? Encouraging? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

DIY - Reusable food wrap

Reusable food wrap DIY by Conscious by Chloé

I've ditched plastic wrap and have been using reusable food wrap for close to a year now so I think it's time to review this experience and share my first DIY!

Reusable food wrap not only looks better, smells better but it is just as convenient as plastic food wrap (as long as what you wrap in it isn't too juicy.

Reusable food wrap DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Last year, I bought three pieces of Bee's Wrap, a small, a medium and a large one.

I mostly use them for cheese, avocado or lemon halves, to freeze pizza dough and to cover bowls when I make bread or pizza dough.

After use, I just rince them under cold soapy water (warm water will cause the wax to melt).

Reusable food wrap DIY by Conscious by Chloé

After a year, my wraps had lost a lot of their wax from washing them so much (their description says that they will last close to a year, that's good timing!), so I figured it was time for me to do something: buy some more or re-wax it or even make my own.

Yesterday, I needed a little break from a busy workday (I work from home) and I suddenly decided to look into reusable wrap making. I wasn't sure that I had all the material I needed, but I actually did!

Reusable food wrap DIY by Conscious by Chloé

I had bought a pack of pre-cut fabric squares at Ikea quite a while ago, to practice sewing. They were the perfect size for smaller food wrap pieces! The fabric is not the most natural and organic, but I figured it would be perfect for a test run.

I also had beeswax pellets on hand, as I started experimenting with lip balms (not a success so far), so there's that.

Then, as an accomplished seamstress (sic), I have a good pair of pinking shears.

And finally, since I replaced my plastic toothbrushes quite a while ago, I now have a couple of used bamboo toothbrushes that I use to clean bottles and bathroom grout, so I decided that the next one will have a new role: spreading evenly the melting wax on the fabric.

I still cannot believe I didn't do this in the first place instead of buying some already made. Especially since I had all the material on hand already!

Reusable food wrap DIY by Conscious by Chloé


REUSABLE FOOD WRAP

Active time: 10 min
Total time: 15 min

Supplies

  • Fabric (preferably natural & organic)
  • Scissors
  • Beeswax
  • An old toothbrush
  • A cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper (compostable)
  • An oven + a Timer
  • Pinking shears to prevent fraying (optional)
  • A cheese grater (optional)
  • Thread + a Button (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven at 200°F (90°C).
  2. Cut your fabric at the desired format.
  3. (Optional) Use the pinking shears to prevent the fabric from fraying (and don't be forgetful like me and do this after waxing the fabric, your pinking shears won't like that).
  4. Place on the cookie sheet (add parchment paper underneath if you want).
  5. Cover in beeswax (use a grater if the beeswax does not come in pellets).
  6. Put in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes (but always keep an eye on it).
  7. Once the beeswax starts melting, use the toothbrush to spread the wax evenly.
  8. Take the waxed fabric out of the oven and let it dry (don't leave it on the cooking tray for too long or else your fabric will start browning/burning, trust me on that one).
  9. (Optional) Double a piece of thread and pass it though the button making a knot. Use it to close the wrap if necessary.

Notes

Use this same technique to re-wax older pieces.


This is my first DIY, so your comments and feedback are more than welcome, do you have any questions? Is this all clear? I have a couple more that I'm planning on publishing, would you like that? As usual, if you want to, do share your progress on social media, tag me or use the #consciousby!

The Zero Waste Switch Challenge

The Zero Waste Switch Challenge by Conscious by Chloé

It all started when my friend, former colleague and fellow blogger Véronique* started sending me pictures of her zero-waste accomplishments on Facebook.

I've learnt a lot ever since I've publicly shared my intentions to live a greener life. I thought that it would in a way ostracize me but the exact opposite happened: people are really open to it, share with me what they already do at home and actually ask me for advice.

We don't all have the time or the motivation to become zero-waste from one month to another. But there are simple steps that we can take to make ourselves feel better, save a little money in the short and long run and, last but not least, take care of our planet.

I've been trying to come up with ways to share my experience and knowledge. One of them is this blog, another one is through the bulk buying workshops I'm starting to teach in Portland, but what about you, readers from all over the world (insert proud face here)? Véro had already given me a solution.

I realized that challenges are something that work well with me, in a non-competitive way (unless I'm the winner). Knowing that a group of people and I are on the same boat keeps me motivated. So I thought that a fun and simple way to do this together would be through a weekly challenge.

If you want to join in, sign up for the zero-waste challenge and get ready to go on an eye-opening adventure with a group of like-minded people.

We'll be starting on Saturday 2nd April but you are free to complete the tasks in your own time, even saving them up and completing them all at once! I'll be sending through a new recipe, DIY, or switch recommendation each week and will hopefully give you the motivation to give it a try! And of course every challenge needs a hashtag! Ours will be #ZWswitchallenge. I'll share my updates with you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and I really hope you will share yours too!

*Véronique is also the one thanks to (or because) whom it all started.

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And don't hesitate to share your zero-waste successes any time with #ZWswitchallenge regardless of whether it's related to this week's specific theme. I just love to see what you all have in stock and get more inspiration from our growing community!

10 ways to stop junk mail

Addressed mail only calligraphy by Conscious by Chloé

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 following list of solutions which will help you dramatically reduce the amount of junk, promotional or unwanted mail in your mailbox.

Do not feel discouraged by the number of items on this list. Tackle them one at a time (or all at the same time if you feel like it). If you've been following me for some time now, you might have read this article and installed 1Password on your computer, so signing up for these services will run smoothly, or as we say in French comme une lettre à la poste (like a letter at the post office).

Preventive solutions

1. Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages publishers know that there is no point of delivering a print directory to someone who does not want one. Based on your zip code, the system will identify which subscriptions you may receive and offer you the option to opt out.

2. DMA choice
DMAchoice™ is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association, it will help you:
- have your name removed from the lists companies use to find new customers or donors, and magazine publishers use to find new subscribers,
- stop receiving catalogs from companies you haven't purchased from or magazine offers from publishers you haven't subscribed to,
- stop receiving mail offers from companies you haven't donated to or purchased from.

3. OptOutPreScreen
OptOutPrescreen.com is a centralized service to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance. It offers two options:
- electronic opt-out for five years: your name will not be eligible for inclusion on lists used for firm offers of credit or insurance for five years.
- permanent opt-out by mail: your name will no longer be eligible for inclusion on lists for firm offers of credit or insurance (in order to complete your permanent opt-out election, you must print and mail the permanent opt-out election form).

4. Inform your letter carrier
Even if this won't solve all the unsolicited mail problems, communicating your preferences with the person who actually puts the mail in your mailbox can go a long way. Explain your situation, zero waste lifestyle and discuss solutions with him/her.

5. Addressed mail only
Putting signs like Addressed mail only, [Former Resident's Name] does not live at this address, No Other Tenants Besides [Your Name] on your mailbox might work too. Even though you might have already told your letter carrier that you only want addressed mail in your mailbox, a visual reminder can be a strong one.

Pro-active solutions

6. Catalog choice
Catalog choice is a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more. The process is pretty simple:
- you receive unwanted mail: unwanted catalogs, coupons and credit card offers, donation requests, and other junk mail arrive daily and clutter your home or office,
- you report it to them: you can simply log in to create a free account and register your opt-outs online. Just search for the company, and submit the opt—out,
- they'll take it from there: they act on your behalf to protect your consumer rights and get your opt-outs processed. You can keep track of your opt-outs, and if you receive the mail again, they will follow up!

7. Change of address
It's been a couple months now that I'm in my new house, and I still receive mail addressed to the previous tenants. Our letter carrier made us fill out a form with our names and new address, so I thought that we would never get unwanted mail again. I can be so naive sometimes!
So I decided to take the matter into my own hands and followed the advice I found in this article.
I went to the post office to fill out a change of address form in the name of the previous tenant whose mail I regularly receive (the online form won't work because it requires a forwarding address). In lieu of a new address, I wrote "Moved, no forwarding address" and added "form filled in by current resident, [My Name], agent for the above" next to my signature.

8. Return to sender
For first class mail, according to the reason why I received unwanted mail, I write one of these messages and give it back to the letter carrier: Refused, Return to Sender, No Longer at This Address, Take me off your mailing list.

9. Contact the sender
One kind of mail which cannot be returned to the sender (because return service is usually not included) is the "or current resident" mail. I left a note on my door saying that I only wanted mail addressed to me, my husband, or our respective companies, but the letter carrier explained to me that he has to deliver the "or current resident" mail, since the current resident is us. I guess that it would be considered that he did not do his job properly if he did not deliver the mail to the current resident. I usually look for the sender's contact information and ask for my name and address to be removed from his database.

10. 41 pounds
When you sign up for the 41pounds.org service, they take all the necessary steps to dramatically reduce your junk mail for a fee. They contact dozens of marketing organizations on your behalf to stop all the unwanted catalogs and mailings that you list. For five years, they update your service anytime you move, marry, change your name, or add new catalogs to your ‘No, thank you’ list.

UPDATE: Download the PaperKarma app asap! It lets you take photos of the unwanted mail you want to stop. Snap a photo, and you're done. They automatically contact the mailer and remove you from their distribution list!

And don't forget to fill in a change of address form and update your information with the aforementioned services every time you move!


Did I forget anything? How do you tackle unwanted mail at home? What about in other countries? Please share your insights! Picture by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

The Ultimate Zero Waste Shopping Kit

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

Ever since I moved to my new hometown, I've taken up zero waste shopping. After extended research, I chose one place to shop, but gradually found alternatives: a new farmers market in my neighborhood, and a cooperative.

But anyways, no matter where I chose to shop, my shopping kit basically stays the same.

So, after weeks of trial, I am proud to introduce my Ultimate Zero Waste Shopping Kit:

  1. Reusable totes
    I use one that was given to me at an event. It is super convenient as it has a small pocket inside where I can put my crayon, phone, card holder and keys. But I love this market bag that my rad forager friend Kristin hand dyes. From experience, I usually need two bags anyways since the jars can be pretty heavy and I don't want to smash my fruits and vegetables in one single bag. So I have a good excuse to get it!
  2. Water-soluble wax crayon (or felt-tip pen)
    The felt-tip pen is not conscious, I know, but I still have a bunch of these in stock from the coworking space I used to run in California. I use them to write the tare and reference code on the jars and bags. I usually write the tare at home on top of the containers, and then add the code while shopping, and since I use the same containers each time and usually buy the same products, this process tends to only be a one-time thing.
  3. Produce bags
    I seem to never have enough of these, and since I am about to start a cleanse including 99% fruits and vegetables (I totally made up that number), I definitely need to get more!
  4. Mason jars (for nuts, cocoa powder, honey)
    I ordered a couple of wide-mouth ones.
  5. Big canning jars (for almonds, granola, flour, meat, fish, coffee)
    I got a few of these at a famous Scandinavian franchise, but similar ones can be found online.
  6. Glass swing top bottles (for vinegar, shampoo, wine)
    Same thing.
  7. Growler (for beer)
    I refill my growler at a brewery which is within walking distance from my house.

UPDATE: All these items and many more are now available in my shop.

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

In other words, before leaving the house, I put in my shopping bag any empty jar or container (spice jar, oil cruet with a sprout and cap) from my pantry which is labelled with its original content. This makes the shopping list writing and the unpacking so much easier!

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

I've only had positive reactions from the shopping attendants. They love my way of shopping, are super helpful with the taring process, make nice comments about some of my unusual containers (I brought some super cute one from a trip to Morocco) and are thankful to be spared from bagging my shopping (I just put everything back into my tote).

The ultimate Zero Waste shopping kit with Mason jars by Conscious by Chloé

Also, whenever I leave the house, I tend to have in my car, a bag containing a mason jar & stainless steel straws (for a juice or bubble tea stop), produce bags (for fruit or croissants) and a big empty canning jar (for restaurant leftovers) in order to always be ready and avoid waste.


What about you, did you try zero waste shopping? I know it sounds scary, but I did it! I'd love to hear how it went. Feel free to share your experience with me or ask any question about zero waste shopping in the comment section, or on social media with the #consciousby hashtag!