Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

A Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

How to Have Stuff Without Breaking the Planet

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Last year, I attended a virtual event hosted by Sandra Goldmark - a designer, teacher, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on circular economy solutions to overconsumption and climate change and the author of Fixation: How to Have Stuff Without Breaking the Planet - and Vincent Stanley, Patagonia Philosopher and co-author with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company.

During the discussion, Stanley referred to Michael Pollan's mantra:

"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

and the way Goldmark adapted it to stuff:

"Have good stuff, not too much, mostly reclaimed, care for it, and pass it on."

This quote made me think real hard about my own relationship to things. Having moved quite a few times during my life and especially from Europe to the US back in 2014, I've had to think real hard about what I own, what has value to me, what I need and what is worth shipping across an ocean and a continent. Ever since I've made that purge of my belongings, I've tried to be mindful about what I welcome into my life, mostly because stuff not only takes space in my house, but also in my mind.

Having a lot to care of, clean, repair, move is not something I enjoy, so my philosophy has been "less is more" over the past decade.

I've read many books that have reinforced this idea within me and always welcome more resources to remind me of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place.

What I've wanted to talk about today was how is it possible to have stuff without breaking the planet? I have yet to read Sandra Goldmark's book but I wanted to take inventory before doing so, just to see whether I'll learn more after that.

Blundstone 585 by Conscious by Chloé
My first pair of Blundstones, which recently received a little TLC to survive another winter in the high desert

Have good stuff

There's no arguing the importance of purchasing good quality items, items that were created from renewable materials, items made while respecting the people who made it too.

I found that Buy Me Once is a good resource to buy items once, meaning "that will last you a lifetime".

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The current iteration of my living room shelf

Not too much

The Minimalists once got a lot of press for their concept of packing party as in packing everything you own and only taking out items as you need them and, after a set period of time, getting rid of whatever you haven't used or needed during this time.

It's a pretty dramatic approach but is a good way to realize that we only need a limited number of things to live and to enjoy life.

This does not mean that you should not own stuff that is not useful, but maybe it would be worth reconsidering the things we own and making a decision.

Thrifted Quilt by Conscious by Chloé
A beautiful quilt I bought at a local thrift store

Mostly reclaimed

The bulk of the cost of a thing on our environment is its manufacturing process, transportation, distribution so it's easy to understand that the most sustainable one is one that already exists, has already been used, and could serve someone new.

Mending Guide The Far Woods Conscious by Chloé

My first sock darning session

Care for it

I have a newfound passion for repairing things. It all started with darning socks but I've slowly been researching ways to repair and maintain electronics, shoes, and fixing wobbly pieces of furniture. If I one day own a car again, I'll make a point to learn as much as I can about it to care for it.

Also, I keep a growing list of people and companies who can help me prolong the life of what I own.

I discovered a denim mending wizard who will give a new lease on life to your most worn-out pair of jeans.

And, maybe my favorite of them all, Fix-it-Fairs are simply wonderful, I once attended one in Portland and my mind was blown away by the knowledge and generosity of people who showed up and offered their skills to help others repair things like a broken zipper or a vacuum cleaner!

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A beautiful pair of Ace & Jig pants I realized I wasn't wearing as much as I thought I would and which I ended up selling on Poshmark

Pass it on

A lot of the Minimalist lifestyle or the Mari Kondo method focus on the getting rid part of the process, but to succeed in "not breaking the planet", we need to keep in mind the idea of circular economy. Before sending things to the landfill, what if we tried to figure out whether someone else could use them? You'd be surprised at how true the "One person's trash is another person's treasure" is.
I'm a member of my local Buy Nothing group and things from Amazon padded envelopes to broken hangers are valuable materials to other people or businesses. People are resourceful and creative, let's never forget that!

Chloé writing a list of 2022 resolutions by Conscious by Chloé

Final thoughts

I could talk about this forever and will probably after I finally read Fixation: How to Have Stuff Without Breaking the Planet.

I also learn on a daily basis about what the "best practices" are, and also sometimes make surprising discoveries (second-hand cars vs electric cars) but I wanted to touch on the subject to share a little about my relationship to this subject.

I'd love to read your thoughts too. How do you conciliate having stuff and caring for the planet?

Feel free to share in the comments below (I know signing up to comment can be a pain, but you'll only have to do it the first time :)

Minimalist Shelf Zero Waste by Conscious by Chloé

This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via one of my links, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

The Conscious List

Quilt Mural for Conscious by Chloé

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? I think I'm gonna start a small quilting project.

Picture by Yena Kwon

This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via one of my links, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Composting Solutions in Portland Oregon (and elsewhere)

Composting Zero Waste Portland Oregon

As you may know, organic matters are not meant to end up in a landfill. The conditions there are not optimal for their breakdown and the collection of the gases they emit while they decompose.

This is why it is important to find a solution to dispose of food waste and maybe even turn it into new material or energy to close the loop!

Some Portland residents are very lucky to have access to curbside composting. But not all of them. Whether you live in a neighborhood that does not offer the option to compost curbside or in multi-family housing that did not implement composting from the get-go, here are a couple of local solutions that can help prevent your food waste (and other compostable materials) from ending up in a landfill.

Neighbors

I've said it before and will keep saying it. Building relationships with your neighbors is a treasure!

You can do so by waving at them on the street and starting a conversation about trash or you can use Share Waste, a map-based solution that can help you locate a neighbor who's willing to share their compost bin with you.

Sign up (for free) and plan for your next compost drop-off.

Work

If your employer composts, why not take your compost to work? A great way to not be the weirdo bringing smelly packages to work every week, make sure you keep a compost bin or bag in your freezer and take it out at the last minute before leaving for work.

Local Businesses

Why not inquire with local food-generating businesses to see if they compost and if yes, whether they might be willing to accept your food scraps? This includes neighborhood coffee shops, restaurants, and coops. My Zero Waste PDX map might send you in the right direction.

During your next shopping session, make a mental note of composting solutions at the places your visit. For example, New Seasons collects cork for recycling.

Composting at home

And of course, you can always give a try to the following a try

Backyard Composting

If you're lucky enough to have a backyard, backyard composting is an easy way to start converting food waste into food gold. I did this for a couple of years in Portland and have had no issues with pests and rodents. I just made sure to turn the compost regularly, balance out greens and browns, and add moisture when needed.

Worm Bin Composting

After I moved to a smaller town with no garden suitable for composting and no curbside composting, I decided to give vermicomposting a try. My friend Anne had hosted a "tour" of her worm bin set up through our Zero Waste PDX FB group and made the process seem easy enough.
Octave and I ended up building our own bin (we kinda have a woodshop at home now) and got red worms from a local "grower". But can we talk about how aesthetically pleasing this one is?
We had to bring it inside when the temperature got too low (we live in the high desert now) and got some issues with flies - which wouldn't have happened had we kept the bin inside from the very beginning.

Bokashi Composting

I considered bokashi composting for a minute, but didn't want to invest in yet another set-up and material, though it can be DIYed for cheap.

I ended up finding a tumbling composter for free on my local Buy Nothing group and haven't looked back.

Advocacy

Do you live in an apartment building that does not offer composting? Why not try and convince management to offer this solution?
More eco-friendly, less odors in the trash room, I'm sure there's an argument to be made.
I heard that a couple of Master Recycler alums chose this as their "graduating project", why not give it a try? There's no harm in asking!

Have any questions?

Make sure you know what goes and does not go in the compost bin and remember "When in doubt, throw it out" - but also call the amazing experts at the Metro hotline for any composting question.

And as always, I highly recommend you join the discussion about composting in our Zero Waste PDX group.

Zero Waste PDX Composting Guide Portland Oregon by Conscious by Chloé

Pictures by Del Barrett and Edward Howell

This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via one of my links, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

The Conscious List

Sledding for Conscious by Chloé

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? I kinda want to go sledding again!

Picture by Abeer Zaki
This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via one of my links, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Zero Waste Swaps - Laundry Sheets

Zero Waste Swap Laundry Sheets by Conscious by Chloé

It's been a while since I last wrote about my journey to less waste.

After living in a pandemic and moving to a rural town, my priorities have shifted and my access to zero waste resources has diminished.

But I still strive to live a life in alignment with my values, I simply have reassessed what made sense for me, my house, my wallet, my time, and my mental load.

One thing I've done recently, since using up the last of my DIY laundry powder, is switching to laundry sheets.

Zero Waste Swap Laundry Sheets by Conscious by Chloé

I was quite happy with the recipe I used despite everything I read about people ruining their clothes with DIY laundry detergent. Do you remember that phase in the pandemic when people were stripping their laundry in their bathtubs?

But I suddenly didn't find myself inspired to make it again (I might have run out of ingredients, I don't particularly remember how it happened).

Side note: I tried to make liquid detergent once and it was a total failure.

Zero Waste Swap Laundry Sheets by Conscious by Chloé

Anyhow, I did some research and ended up ordering these laundry sheets. They came in cardboard packaging but I put them in a mason jar because of... aesthetics!

I use them weekly and I sometimes only use half a sheet just to see how effective they are and I must say they work just fine.

When I think about it, I add some white vinegar to the softener dispenser, but I honestly don't need it here, the water isn't hard, my laundry remains soft.

Zero Waste Swap Laundry Sheets by Conscious by Chloé

They're cost-effective (especially if you use a half sheet per load), dissolve perfectly even in cold water, and boy would they have been useful during our road trip (we had to wash all of our bedding after a rainstorm and ended up buying laundry powder at the laundromat)!

So there it is, one little switch that saved me time and money. I might experiment again with laundry products (I need to find where to forage horse chestnuts) but this solution will do for now.

If you want to know more about my laundry routine, check out my laundry essentials.

What's your favorite Zero Waste Swap? I'd love to hear!

Zero Waste Swap Laundry Sheets by Conscious by Chloé

This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via one of my links, I may make a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!