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.

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


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)


  • 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


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


  • 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


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)


  • 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


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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A Zero Waste Drink Order

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order by Conscious by Chloé

After trying to reduce the amount of waste I produced at home (by shopping in bulk, refusing junk mail, etc.), I figured it was time to tackle the subject of the trash I create when I'm on the go.

And my first source of waste when outside of home was: drinks!

Whether it's a spicy chai, a green juice or a delicous bubble tea, the amount of plastic wasted in a matter of minutes on a daily basis is appalling.

Besides the fact that the idea of having a hot drink poured into a plastic lined paper cup makes me cringe (I always feel bad when I see a kid drinking their hot chocolate with a straw from a plastic-lid covered paper cup, but know better than to say anything), it's important to know that single-use plastic cups are usually not recyclable curbside and that paper cups are neither recyclable nor compostable because of their plastic lining (though you can recycle their cardboard sleeve).

As for "bioplastics", "biodegradable" or "compostable" plastics that certain (hopefully) well-meaning businesses have started using, they just cannot biodegrade or be composted in backyard compost piles or most municipal and commercial facilities. Only a handful have the technologies required to successfully compost resins intended for industrial facilities. So these materials simple end up contaminating compost bins (if wrongfully thrown in them) or in the trash (where they should be, for lack of adapted composting facilities).

So to me, the best solution for now is simply to have your drink served in a real cup and drink it in, or have it poured into your own container to take with you.

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order by Conscious by Chloé

So here is are my 5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order.

1. Choose the right place

I like to know where I shop, whom I shop from, so I do some research and go the places that inspire me the most or that have been recommended to me (think local coffee shop rather than Starbucks).

If you're in Portland, check out my Zero Waste City Guide, Recycling Advocates' BYOC Coffee Shop Campaign supporters Map and the Surfrider Foundation's Ditch the Straw PDX Map

2. BYOC - Bring your own container (and straw!)

As you know, I have a pretty thorough collection of mason jars, my favorites being the wide-mouth ones. Plus side, their capacity is written on them, it makes ordering a 12oz latte so easy!

I recently purchased a stainless steel drink top and am very satisfied with it.

Of course, you can always bring your own insulated mug to keep your drink warm longer.

As for straws, simply refuse them or bring your own. I always have a set of two on hand: regular straws (straight or bent) and fat straws (for bubble tea).

If you want to go one step further towards the elimination of plastic straws, take the Last Plastic Straw Pledge. I'm also a fan of #StopSucking.

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order by Conscious by Chloé

3. Have courage

Bringing your own container the first time can be weird or scary. I once read that to obtain what you want, you should act and not ask (not applicable to all domains!), meaning, give your container to the barista as if you did this all the time. Don't ask permission, people will more easily say no.

You know the old line "Do as I say, not as I do". The truth is... I always ask for permission! And, for now, nobody ever said no. Should that happen, I'd have to stay calm and explain the reasons for my asking, but that's a whole other story. I'm French, so for me, everything has to be a fight or even a revolution!

4. Say thank you

Always. People need to know that you noticed their effort to accomodate your needs and that you don't take everything for granted.

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order by Conscious by Chloé

5. Go the extra mile

Bringing your own containers is great! But spreading awareness by suggesting changes is even better. Should you notice that something could be improved, don't hesitate to mention it. For example, I'm trying to convince all the bubble tea places in Portland to get reusable straws! If the protection of the environment is not a strong enough argument, use the money-saving one, it usually works.

Here in Portland, Recycling Advocates are doing a great job with their BYOC campaign. You can also support them through Amazon Smile (Amazon donates .5% of the price of your eligible purchases to RA whenever you shop at

Surfrider Foundation also launched their Ditch the Straw campaign and have successfullly convinced several businesses to only put a straw on request and look for sustainable alternatives.

5 Steps to a Zero Waste Drink Order by Conscious by Chloé

Now go home, or go for a walk, or go meet your friends, and enjoy your drink! You deserve it!

Photographs by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé, except for top and bottom one by Candace Molatore.

If you're a shop owner and you want your business to be more conscious, don't hesitate to contact me for consultancy.

Zero Waste City Guide - Geneva, Switzerland

The Zero Waste City Guide to Geneva, Switzerland - Guide Zéro Déchet de Genève by Conscious by Chloé
Image credit: Samuel Zeller

Although Switzerland is the fifth waste producer (the USA are 6th) in the developed world with 2.61kg per capita per day, it seems like many recycling and waste reduction solutions are widely available in the country.

I've lived in Geneva for more than 10 years before moving to the the States and now have the priviledge to spend a month there every year for work.

Its first bulk shop opened about a year after I launched my blog so I've been lucky enough to be able to follow the city's growing zero waste community with great interest and witness the apparition of more eco shops and green initiatives during each one of my visits.

I've seen the city change quite a bit in the past couple years, especially on the sustainability front. This year, I've been happy to notice that my 2 "usual" shops, the very popular "Coop" and "Migros" started expanding their own dried goods in bulk selection and to discover a whole new list of vegan-friendly restaurants.

In this Zero Waste Guide to Geneva, you'll find a variety of bulk stores, vegan restaurants, organic beauty salons, biodynamic wine bars, second-hand shops and so much more.

I hope you'll find it useful. Don't hesitate to send me your comments and questions or to share more suggestions in the comments.

Click on the top left icon on the map to show the various categories or open it in full screen.

General Information


Geneva is a very walkable city, especially in the summer. But if you're not a fan of walking or lack the time to do so, you have 2 options:

  • Public transportation, aka TPG - If you fly to Geneva, you'll find a ticket machine by the luggage pick-up belts. It prints FREE 80 minute public transportation tickets. That's a great way to get to the city center by bus or by train for free! For the rest of your stay, you can either get your tickets through the TPG app, buy a prepaid card at the train station's TPG shop or just do it the old way and buy tickets at the bus stop machines. The TPG tickets allow you to travel by train (from the airport to the train station), by bus, by tramway and even by boat (the cute little yellow and red ones).

  • Bike - You can rent a bike at Genève roule, right behind the train station. I think they also give you a map to figure out the prettiest and safest routes.

Recycling, Composting

  • There are recycling bins all over town, at the airport, at the train station and many other hubs. If you're looking into recyling more specific items like glass, PET, batteries, textiles, paper, aluminium and tin, compost, look at this Ecopoints map.

Water Quality

Tap water is drinkable in Geneva, including the water from the water fountains (unless posted otherwise).
85% of people in the city drink tap water. It's up to 1000 times more eco-friendly to drink it, it's 100 to 500 times less expensive than bottled water (or actually free if you get it at public water fountains or you hotel), 90% of it comes from the lake and 10% comes from phreatic zones. So don't forget to bring your own bottle.

Sustainable Initiatives

Geneva has got a buoyant creative community which I've been lucky to be a part of for many happy years.

  • Boîte d'échange entre voisins - Neighbors put in their local « Neighbourhood Exchange Box » items they no longer need so someone who might need them can take them. I actually highly recommend you watch the TEDx conference by the brain behind this project, Dan Acher. It's so heartwarming!

  • - A directory of all the places where you can repair your stuff instead of having to just throw it away!

  • Element21 - Tips and projects to make the city more sustainable, from banning plastic bags to saving water at home.

  • Keep in use - A platform where you can publish an ad to give things you no longer have a need for.

  • Ecoccinelles - Family focused DIY to protect kids from harmful susbtances (in the air, in cosmetics, in food).

  • popnfix - It's the equivalent of Taskrabbit. You can hire a handyperson, sell, give or rent items you no longer need.

  • pumpipumpe - On this website, you can order stickers and stick them onto your mailbox in order to show your neighbours which things they can borrow from you (sewing machine, tools, cooking utensils, camping gear).

  • Green mop - This sustainability-focused platform publishes recipes, teaches classes, gives talks and even has an online shop.

  • DIY Geneva - DIY Geneva is a great online and in person resource for people who want to make their own cleaners, decorate their homes or repairing their own bike.

  • Esprit Nutri - Raw cooking, natural cleaning products & cosmetics and zero waste workshops.

  • Formule Nature - Make your own cosmetics.

  • Bees4you - Adopt a beehive.

Green Events

Zero Waste Community

More resources

Annik Wetter, MAMCO - The Zero Waste City Guide to Geneva, Switzerland - Guide Zéro Déchet de Genève by Conscious by Chloé by Chloé
Image credit: MAMCO


Know What's Up



Birdie Coffee Shop - The Zero Waste City Guide to Geneva, Switzerland - Guide Zéro Déchet de Genève by Conscious by Chloé by Conscious by Chloé
Image credit: Birdie

Useful expressions

No straw please
Pas de paille s'il vous plaît

Could you put it in my bag/cup?
Pourriez-vous le mettre dans mon sac/ma tasse?

I've brought my own bag.
J'ai mon propre sac.

No receipt please.
Pas de ticket s'il vous plaît.

The Zero Waste City Guide to Geneva, Switzerland - Guide Zéro Déchet de Genève by Conscious by Chloé
Image credit: Samuel Zeller

Do you live in Geneva? Are you planning a trip to Switzerland this year?

Bookmark this article, share it with a friend, pin it on your Pinterest Travel Inspirations board.

Feel free to send me your questions and comments, or to tell me about an awesome spot I've missed!

Get in touch here in the comments section, on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Also, who else gains 3 pounds whenever they travel to Europe (#chocolate #croissants #chocolatecroissants) ?

A Complete List of the World's Best Zero Waste Bloggers

A Complete List of the World's Best Zero Waste Bloggers by Conscious by Chloé

I don't know about you, but I love to follow bloggers from my own city. I like being able to identify familiar places and be informed of what's happening around me.

But I'm also curious to know how people live on other corners of the planet and I'm always on the hunt for entertaining ways to practice my second and third languages.

And of course, since I'm a member of the zero waste community, I want to showcase the work that my fellow bloggers, YouZubers and Instagramers put into the world.

That's why I've compiled the following list and created the following map of the world's best zero waste content creators around the world.

I hope you'll find new or familiar sources of inspiration for your journey to sustainability.



South Africa

America (North)


In English

In French


America (South)














The Netherlands






New Zealand

Don't hesitate to share your favorite zero waste blogs in the comments and I'll update the map regularly. Thank you!

Photo by Raw Pixel.

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!