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 Conscious by Chloé 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

The Conscious by Chloé 2018 Holiday Gift Guide 2018

This year, you will not find a typical gift guide on the blog.

The end of the year can be a stressful period, especially for those of us who are on a budget.

Black Friday is a great opportunity to buy long-coveted and usually pricey items at a bargain, but not everyone has the time or courage to shop during this time of madness, IRL or online.

Also, the FOMO is real. My guts are wrenching as I'm typing this. The race to the best bargain, shopping under pressure, are very triggering for me.

I tried my best to avoid temptations as much as possible last week. I reminded myself not to check certain websites, unfollowed as many brands and influencers on social media as proactive measures but still felt a little tinge when an ad or promotion would still seep through my filters.

I'm a recovering shopaholic on a budget. The struggle is real.

But I have to admit that I feel very lucky. Being far away from my home country, the pressure to give gifts is very low. The only people whom I usually give gifts to are my parents and my sweetheart.

And the formula is most of the time pretty simple. Octave and I decide on a budget and get a gift (or gifts) of that amount to each other. This year, I'm toying with the idea of gifting each other experiences rather than material presents, and we might just decide to treat ourselves to a common experience, like a couples massage or a 2-night getaway.

As for my parents, since they live so far away from me, I usually wait until my next visit, or opt for gifts that keep on giving. Last year, I knew they would be in the process of selling and buying a house, so I subscribed them to interior design magazines for inspiration.

I've been very inspired by this Ethical Hierarchy of Gift Purchasing.

There are so many ways to give ethical and sustainable gifts no matter what your budget is this holiday season and I'm very happy to share some of them.

Sewing DIY by Conscious by Chloé

1. Give Your Time

Spending quality time with loved ones is priceless.

I love this idea because no matter what your budget is, you have the possibility to give someone a very meaningful gift.

You can craft a cute voucher for one of the following time-sharing gifts and put it under the tree:

  • Teach a skill

I wish I had had more time to learn certain skills from my grandma. She taught me the basics of knitting and how to make mayonnaise. I cherish those moments spent with her and hope to pass the knowledge to those around me (though I have to admit I'm a little rusted).

Teach a loved one something useful, like, how to mend a sock, something fun like how to dye with shibori or something edible like how to make chia pudding.

  • Cook

Offer to show up at someone's house and cook for them. No strings attached, just a random act of kindness, redeemable any time before the next holiday.

  • Babysit

Your exhausted parent friends will love you for gifting them the time to go on a date, or just take a long bath... alone!

Highway 1 Road Trip by Conscious by Chloé

2. Give Memories

Memories last a lifetime and a great way to show your loved ones how much thought you've put into finding a gift they'll love and appreciate.

Here are a couple experience-based gift ideas:

  • Concert tickets

  • Massage voucher
    Very high on my wishlist

  • Class
    More on that coming up next week on the blog

  • Weekend getaway
    Skipping the hassle of planning the thing is already a very big gift you can give someone!

  • Movie tickets
    And an extra voucher for pop-corn

  • Museum subscription
    Because it's a gift that keeps on giving. I love subscriptions! And may or may not have gifted myself one last year.

Bath Ritual Kit DIY by Conscious by Chloé

3. Make

Make a bunch of bath ritual kits, junk mail notebooks, scented candles, cookies.

Thrift Shopping by Conscious by Chloé

4. Buy Second Hand

A gift isn't less valuable if it's been purchased second hand, though you might want to put a little more effort on packaging as some tend to stigmatize preloved gifts.

Check out my favorite Portland Vintage Stores for inspiration (they sell online too), keep an eye on Criaglist, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, etc for the perfect gift.

Lauren Winter Linen Wraparound Jumpsuit in Camel by Conscious by Chloé

5. Buy

If you feel like buying something new is the right choice for you, by all means, do it!

Ethical means different things to different people. Whether it's shopping local, supporting a mission-driven brand or buying something that will last a lifetime, make sure that the purchase will make you and the receiver happy.

Check out my Favorite Conscious Brands for Women for a little inspiration or my ethical gift guide.

The Conscious by Chloé Shop - Ethical & Zero Waste

You can also alway visit my Shop.


Let me know in the comments below whether you make "unconventional" gifts.

Announcing Portland's First Zero Waste Conference

Portland Zero Waste Conference 2018
Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi

In exactly a month, Portland will welcome its first Zero Waste Conference.

And I'm very proud to be one of its 2 co-organizers.

Brion Hurley and I met on various occasions over the past couple years, notably through Recycling Advocates, the non-profit he's the President of. We also both attended the Master Recycler Program and the Agent of Change training of the Center for Earth Leadership.

Last June, he reached out to me and asked me whether I'd like to help him organize a Zero Waste Conference.

Hell yes!

We are very proud to announce that Recycling Advocates and Zero Waste PDX will be organizing Portland's first Zero Waste Conference on Sunday 14th October from 2 to 6 pm at Taborspace, in SouthEast Portland.

Portland Zero Waste Conference 2018

GET YOUR TICKET NOW!!


This event will be a “pay what you can” model, to give everyone the possibiliy to attend (our suggested donation price is $25 per person).

All the proceeds from this event will be donated to Recycling Advocates.

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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3 Ways to Kickstart your Journey to Zero Waste

3 Ways to Kickstart your Journey to Zero Waste

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 smile.amazon.com)

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

Transportation

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!

  • Ge-Repare.ch - 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

Activities

Know What's Up

Outside

Inside

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) ?