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.

Urban Foraging

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé
Photo credits: Octave Zangs

Last week, a woman who was driving by my house stopped and asked whether she could get some leaves of a plant that grows between my neighbors' and my yard.

I told her that "of course" and asked what the plant was and what she was going to use its leaves for. She replied that it was mullein and that she was going to make tea with them to relieve her daughter's cough.

I had no idea I had a medicine cabinet in my front yard. This encounter made me realize how poor my botanical knowledge is.

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

When I was a kid, I enjoyed going mushroom hunting and berry picking with my grandpa and I do remember jonquil harvesting in meadows with my mom and her girlfriends. But I cannot recall any more foraging experiences in my adult life, except for fruit picking on farms and foraging for "home decor" (see below).

I miss having a guide to teach me about the local flora and sharpen my senses.

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

Two years ago, I attended a class with Rewild Portland
where I learned how to make tea, pesto and other interesting recipes with urban foraged dandelions.

That same summer, I also read Eating Wildly, a memoir about foraging for food in New York City and tried to keep my eyes peeled as I was walking the streets of Portland.

But then again, I could not identify anything without outside help.

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

Since my word for this year is LEARN, I'm determined to find ways to educate myself about the local ecosystem and look for opportunities to forage in my area.

Here's what I found so far:

Foraging Classes

  • Rewild Portland has a "free skills" series (donation or sliding-scale based)

Foraging Books

(I borrow mine from the library)

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

Foraging Maps

  • Falling Fruit, an interactive map of free foraging resources, which aims to facilitate intimate connections between people, food, and the natural organisms growing in our neighborhoods.

  • Portland Fruit Tree Project, whose mission is to increase equitable access to healthful food and strengthen communities by empowering neighbors to share in the harvest and care of city-grown produce.

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

Foraging Tips & Rules

  • Educate yourself about the local flora
  • Bring your foraging guide with you for reference
  • Be responsible - check what the law says about foraging in your area, look for foraging related signage, always ask before picking something from someone's yard and do not trespass
  • Be safe - watch out for parks where the city services spray chemicals
  • Be mindful - leave something for others to enjoy, do not dig the roots so plants can regrow

Urban Foraging by Conscious by Chloé

I hope I'll get to share my bounty with you soon over here, with recipes, remedies and other lessons I learned along the way.


Are you a forager? Do you have resources (books, websites, organizations) to recommend?


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Foraged Wreath DIY

Foraged Wreath DIY by Conscious by Chloé

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé
Photo credits: Octave Zangs

I love supporting local makers, but I don't necessarily always have the budget to add their pieces to my closet.

And then, sometimes, the universe conspires in my favor.

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

Worn / Jumpsuit: Lauren Winter (made in Portland, OR), Shoes: Rachel Sees Snail Shoes (made Portland, OR), Bag: DIY.

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

I've been a fan of Lauren Winter for a couple years now. I wear her pants weekly, no matter the season - do you remember them in my fall capsule?

The quality of her linen is perfect, the cuts are very flattering and her aesthetics and mission align perfectly with mine.

I'd been eyeing her wraparound jumpsuit and waited for the right oppotunity (i.e. sale) to make a move.

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

The jumpsuit is everything I expected. The linen is the softest, the color complements my skin tone and hair color just like I wanted it. The fit is great though I might have been able to size down (I chose a medium). I feel like it's a little bulky on the bust and shoulders.

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

Now let's talk about my shoes!

I was following Rachel online, first met her IRL at the Sustainable Fashion Forum and again at an Airbnb Experience hosts meet-up here in Portland (she teaches shoemaking workshops, I host tours of my "Zero Waste" Home). She later organized an open studio event where I got these samples for a steal.

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

The rubber soles are very comfortable and the leather is buttery soft. They are now my go-to summer sandals.

If you're not able to come to Portland to take a shoe-making workshop, you can order a kit and make your own at home! How cool is that?!

A 100% Portland-made Outfit with Lauren Winter and Rachel Sees Snail Shoes by Conscious by Chloé

I consider myself very lucky to be able to get to know the people who made items I wear on a daily basis.


How do you shop for a somehow pricey piece? Or do you save your bucks for the right time and splurge? Do you wait for a sale and "risk missing out"?


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The 5Rs to a Zero Waste Lifestyle

French Market Bag by Conscious by Chloé

Over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to speak about my lifestyle, the reasons why I adopted it and the ways I implemented it in my daily life. Such opportunities arose again recently and forced me to take a step back and look at my life from an outsider's perspective.

As zero-wasters, we tend to talk a little too much about the nitty gritty amongst ourselves and sometimes forget that it is important to look at the bigger picture and remember why we made these choices in the first place.

So over the next couple weeks, I'd like to go back to basics. Who, why, how?

But first, I'd like to tell you about the 5 Rs of the Zero Waste Lifestyle, first coined by Zero Waste Home author Bea Johnson.

This mnemotechnic tool is a great way to make a decision when life throws a (zero waste) challenge your way.

Here are 5 major ways to prevent waste from entering and cluttering your life.

Mason Jar with Ecojarz Drink Top by Conscious by Chloé

1. REFUSE

Waste makes its way into our lives in various ways. Some are obvious, some not so much. Some are voluntary, others not really.

The first step to reduce your waste production is to REFUSE what you do not need.

What can/should be refused?

  • Single use and disposable (paper or plastic) items such as straws, cups, bags, napkins
  • Junk mail
  • Freebies such as pens, stickers, tote bags - We all love free stuff, but the time and physical and mental space they cost us might not
  • Unsustainable practices - Not only do I refuse to use disposable cups at coffee shops, but I've decided altogether to stop shopping and therefore supporting businesses whose values I do not share (think fast-food restaurants that use styrofoam containers and big coffee shops whose disposable cups end up on beaches and in the ocean)

How?

  • Refuse disposables - Order a drink with "no straw", order "for here" in reusable dishware instead of using single use plates and utensils.
  • Prevent junk mail - I wrote a whole article about it
  • Resist the temptation - A free tote bag sounds great right now, but once you get home and realize you already have 10, you might loose interest and resent yourself for that moment of weakness
  • Bring your business elsewhere - Support your small neighborhood coffee shop who resists the appeal of disposables

Tiffin by Conscious by Chloé

2. REDUCE

Society, people, the media want to convince us that we need the latest phone, gadget, dietary supplement.

If we simply avoided these sources of envy, our consumption would naturally decrease, but we can also take a proactive approach and question the reasons why we get influenced.

By taking a look at our purchasing patterns, we can identify areas where we can simply REDUCE our consumption.

What can/should be reduced?

  • Our current wasteful consumption
  • The activities that support or lead to over consumption

How?

  • Evaluate your past consumption, think about purchases you later regretted, take a look at what you own and consume, and ask yourself whether you need or enjoy it
  • Declutter - we spend a lot of time cleaning, washing, sorting, rearranging and taking care of the things we own. Owning less means less time wasted doing those activities. And then sell, donate, recycle, compost or send to the landfill what you no longer need.
  • Decrease your consumption and the activities that lead to consumption - Bike or walk instead of using your car, take shorter showers instead of baths, organize a clothing swap instead of a shopping trip.

Mason Jar with Ecojarz Drink Top by Conscious by Chloé

3. REUSE

What can/should be reduced?

  • Eliminate wasteful consumption (shop with reusables, swap disposables for reusables)
  • Alleviate resource depletion (share, buy used, buy smart)
  • Extend the useful life of necessities (repair, rethink, return)

How?

  • Bring your own reusables - Invest in a zero waste kit or shop your cupboards to make your own - A reusable mug, a stainless steel straw, a stainless steel box and a cloth napkin should cover your basics
  • Get your library card - look for the closest library, tool library, toy library, kitchen library and start participating in the sharing economy
  • Try reusing or repurposing something before throwing it away - Make veggie brith out of food scraps, a body scrub with ground coffee, fire starters with toilet paper tubes and dryer lint
  • Repair something - Bring a pair of shoes to the cobbler, attend a fix-it fair, learn how to darn socks
  • Buy something used instead of something new - Craigslist is a great place to start, or your local second-hand or vintage store.

French Market Bag by Conscious by Chloé

4. RECYCLE

Take a moment and inquire about what's recycled curbside in your area and where recycling depots are (+ their cost & opening hours).

If you live in Portland, you'll find everything you need on the City's website.

Mason Jar with Ecojarz Drink Top by Conscious by Chloé

5. ROT

aka Compost!

If you have the possibility to compost, give it a try! Whether you live in a house or an apartment, alone or with your family or roommates, there are many options out there that might fit yout situation: some cities offer curbside composting, others have a compost bin at the farmers market, you might to try backyard composting a try, or give vermicomposting a try.

Tiffin by Conscious by Chloé

Bea Johnson recommends that you apply the 5Rs only in that specific order. It's a tool that I come back to over and over when I feel the urge to purchase something. I try to think whether I can simply refuse it, if I can borrow it, find it second hand, in a non-plastic version, etc.

Zero waste is a journey, a lifestyle, not a goal. No one will be zero waste ever. But if you're in a position to make a change, I highly encourage it to.. just start, with one thing. Once you'll have your Zero Waste goggles on, things will get easier and remember that you have a whole community of Zero Wasters around you who can support you during this adventure.---

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You Can't Go Wrong with Neutrals

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé
Photo credits: Octave Zangs

Last night was a good hair night, so I bribed Octave with the promise of dinner at our favorite taco joint in exchange for a quick photo session on the way there.

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé

I had thrown this outfit together before heading to an event at WM Goods.

Create + Connect is a monthly gathering where a small business owner shares her journey and opens the discussion on a subject of her choice. Last night's host was Stefani Padilla of La Tierra Sagrada (hence the good hair day, I had actually washed and blowdried it as I knew I would feel self conscious if I showed up with messy and dirty hair at an event hosted by a hair stylist).

We talked about self care, the full moon, and crazy people.

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé

I'm currently letting my bangs grow. Is this a good or a bad idea?

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé


Worn / Trench: Only Child (made in Oakland, CA), Top: second hand, Jeans: old American Apparel (made in Los Angeles, CA), Shoes: Everlane (made in Val D’Arno, Italy).


Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé

This trench was my paren'ts birthday gift to me. It took me hours to decide between the cotton canvas and the linen version and then to chose a color. Camel and rust were close contenders, but I ended up sticking with a neutral palette and ordered the oatmeal. You can't go wrong with neutrals, right?

The same had happened to me a couple weeks earlier with the shoes. I have not regretted that decision, but did feel a little stupid when Andrea - who's got them in cognac - mentioned that she would never buy light-colored suede shoes in rainy and muddy Portland.

I did inadvertenly pour a drink on these shoes the first night I wore them, so I suppose the universe just wanted me to realize quickly that they'll never stay perfect.

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé

This reminds me of something. When you were a younger, did kids at school also step on your brand new shoes to "baptize" them (aka make them dirty) or was this just a ridiculous custom/bullying tradition in my school?

Only Child Trench and Everlane Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé

You've already seen this top here, those jeans here and this necklace here.

I still have some weight to lose to be back to where I was when I felt great in my skin, but I'm on the right path and already feel comfortable in those high-waisted mom jeans (even while seating! Woop woop!).

I usually wear this top under a jumpsuit since it's a crop top, but can now also pair it with high waisted pants.

I stopped wearing this necklace for a while as I had taken it and worn it almost daily during a month-long trip to Europe last year. Now that I've missed it I'm happy to wear it again.

Only Child Trench and Everlane  Day Heels Look by Conscious by Chloé


Do you also stop wearing items altogether only to be happy to find them again after a while and enjoy them again?

Day Hiking Essentials

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

Over the past few weeks, I've had the chance to go on short hikes alone, or with friends. On a couple occasions, people have shared their surprise about the fact that I carry a backpack and a first-aid kit.

It's only natural to me, just like I wouldn't drive without my seatbelt on. But it's not always been the case. It's only after I attended a mountain safety workshop and had a couple misadventures myself that I really started writing my own backpacking checklist.

Now, whether it's only for a short walk in Portland's amazing Forest Park or for a steeper hike in the Columbia gorge, I always make sure I cover the following 10 essential aspects, for my safety, for my comfort and for the environment.

1. Navigation

I have to admit that I am totally guilty of only bringing my phone with me and a screen shot of my route. Don't be like me, and do the right thing! Get a map (and a protective case), a compass, and learn the basics of navigation.

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

2. Protection

My skin hates the sun, so you'll never see me out without either long sleeves or a thick coat of sunscreen, and a hat on my head.
As for insulation, I usually wear a base layer, a hoodie, a pair of leggings, and a pair of hiking socks, and keep a waterproof jacket and a puffer jacket in my backpack.

4. Light & Sound

No matter how early I leave or how short my hike will be, there's always a headlamp in my bag. I once had to snowshoe in the dark, it won't happen to me ever again! A whistle is also a cheap and efficient way to let people know where you are should you get lost.

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

5. First-aid supplies

I got my first-aid kit after a preparedness workshop. It proved to be pretty useful very quickly, even if it was just to help a friend who had a stomach ache during a short car ride.

I added an emergency blanket to my kit. They're very lightweight, cheap and efficient, so get a bunch of these and put them everywhere, in your backpack, in your car, in your home!

6. Fire

  • A lighter or matches in a waterproof container

I just learned how to start a fire. We never light fires during our camping trips because we feel it's safer to cook with a gas backpacking stove, but they can save your life in case of an emergency.

7. Tool Kit

I usually have a knife or shears for foraging, but a multi-tool could be pretty useful under unexpected circumstances.

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé
The reusable food wrap pictured above was gifted to me by LilyBee Wrap.

8. Nutrition

I like to pack my supplies in sealed pouches so that they do not spill or attract wildlife but I sometimes just put snacks in a cloth bag and wrap a sandwich in reusable food wrap.

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

9. Hydration

I usually like bottles with a sport spout. But this one by Tillak (coming soon) is lightweight, insulated and easy to clean.

10. Plogging

  • Trash bag
  • Gloves

Have you ever heard of plogging? It's a Swedish trend which consists in picking up trash as you exercise outdoors.

I have increasingly gotten very mad as I kept seeing trash during my hikes, so I started packing a trash bag and a pair of gloves to pick up litter as I go. It will not save the world, but it will make me happier and make the trail nicer for the next hikers. Also, following the "broken windows theory", I want to imagine that a pristine trail will be less likely to be trashed that one that's already covered in litter.

Day Hiking Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

Most of these items never leave my backpack, which never leaves my car. That way I'm always ready to go on a short hike and I have an emergency kit with me at all times!

Women in the Outdoors

Now talking about women and the outdoors, I wanted to share a couple people and resources that have been inspiring me lately to get more outside:


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Our Car Camping Checklist

Car Camping Checklist by Conscious by Chloé