Old, gifted and thrifted

Hi buds. Look at me! Wearing the same things forever! That is my #1 tip for ethical wardrobes. Re-use the heck out of stuff. Also, buy used. If not used, then buy with a low imprint and good labor standards. 

I am still carrying my extra "insurance" -- a few extra pounds that will save me from certain death if I ever get super ill (like my flu-induced stomach bout of yore). My clothes still fit but they are kinda just fitting so I should start walking more or actually jogging-running again. (I'll go with walking more.) I am pretty lazy these days (like out of breath on the stairs lazy) and also I guess I don't want to exacerbate the genetic heart disease I'm bound to inherit? From a #wasteless perspective, not switching sizes a bunch is helpful in not having to get a new wardrobe...I guess. But why is exercise so gd miserable, I ask you?

Cardigan: gift from 2 Xmases ago
Shirt: thrift store shopping last week
Necklace: Clyde's Rebirth
Shoes: Insecta 
Tote: gift, and over-dyed when I did the blue dye batch 

Thankfully I have some comfortable fall shoes to do all of that supposed walking in -- my second pair of Insectas. They are an eco brand that uses salvaged materials (fabric, rubber for the soles) and they're surprisingly comfortable. Now that it's 50 frickin' degrees I'm no longer wearing my oxford cut-outs and am wearing these swan oxfords instead. With some Rilakkuma ankle socks, because I'm over 40 and extremely professional.  

In other news, I'm still learning more and more about hermit crabs (now that we have threeeeee) and the cats are incredibly grateful for their new entertainment. Violet, in particular, has really taken to being the main crab steward. She has logged many tireless hours inspecting the crabs for gonopores so she knows whether they're male or female. What a trooper. However, she's not telling. 

In other other news, I started a private online Facebook group for a few friends who agreed to do Lynda Barry's comp book diary exercises on the daily. If you didn't know, Lynda Barry has a tumblr that she uses for her UW comics classes and it is here. She also has a book called Syllabus, which is a hybrid biography of a comics class syllabus and also a book. Anyway, this small group has a few weeks under their (our) belt of this daily observation journal and sometimes this daily animal journal. I cannot really draw, but Lynda Barry loves that people like me try so that's enough for now. Also, I drew this of Violet and I kind of love it. 

The things I draw "better" aren't a style I like anyway but it's weird because I don't know any other way to draw them. My brain knows how to draw a hippo that looks like a hippo ONE way, a way I don't particularly care for. Why? A mystery for the ages.

This doesn't have anything to do with ethical style or reducing waste or anything I say this blog is about but I felt like talking about it and I'm boss here -- so I did. Also I think it's just good to do something different and "creative" sometimes. Maybe all the time! Balance, y'all.


Life Lately: Rotten Apples, Crabs, Mini-Spatulas and all that stuff.

Hi pals. I know my last post was about cutting down on wasting food but as I type, I have a bunch of soft, gently aging apples in my fridge. Progress, not perfection. Let me know if you have any ideas for kinda old apples besides smoothies or eventually compost.

What else have I been up to?

Getting Crabs:

Aside from watching apples rot, I've been doing a lot of prep work for our hermit crabs. That's right - CRABS. Rescued hermit crab Peter Parker was joined by two fellow purple pincher crabs - Harvey and Rose. You can see a harrowing video on my IG of Harvey trying to introduce himself to Peter Parker. I've been learning all sorts of hermit crab things - not the least of which is what to feed them. Apparently - everything. They need animal protein, plant protein, sea vegetables, fruit, non-sea vegetables, calcium and chitin. Which begs the question: will this vegan ever care for an animal who doesn't eat other animals? Ever? Guess I'll be keeping those cognitive dissonance skills in good form. 

Hair Farming:

I am also trying to grow my hair in a bit to shoulder length -- this will require less cuts and less color treatment (which means less chemicals, less money spent, less of my time spent in a hairstylist chair). I refuse to give it up completely, so this is the best I could do for now. My hair has started to flip up in all sorts of uncharming ways but I will hang in there, looking like an unkempt cousin on The Patty Duke Show. 

This is an old People Tree dress that fit weird in the hips
but I liked the pattern so I had my tailor make it into a shirt.
Still going strong a few seasons later. 

Not Wasting Stuff:**

Mend and make do? Use it up, wear it out, do the twist and shake it all about? I can never remember those maxims. Use up your products. That's the concept for which I was trying to recall the rustic saying. I have been trying to do this even when packaging doesn't make it easy. Like below -- thankfully another company gave me this previously-useless minuscule spatula so I could use it to get to the last of their competitor's product. 

(** apples excluded)

Shopping Secondhand:

My schedule now puts me squarely in front of a thrift store or two once a week so I've taken to checking against my "stuff to buy used" list. I'm more likely to find what I need if I'm looking all the time, obviously, so this feels like a nice little routine. Last week I found this perfect black vegan puffy coat (belt and hood!) along with a b/w striped dress and a picture frame for my office. Only the frame was on my list but the other things fit well and are things I will wear a lot. Then this thread about whether it's ethical to buy secondhand popped up on IG via Slow Fashion October. My friend Erin tagged me in it, thinking I'd be interested - and I was. 

The idea was that if thrift shops are meant to serve those with less funds, why are the rest of us shopping there? The poster asked herself if she would be better off supporting small ethical brands if she had the means to do so. I sometimes have the means to do so, and I do support brands I like but I do still shop secondhand. Why? The supply is so great and the turnover, so quick. 

This was my comment: 

It's funny this popped up today. I do spend quite a bit on small ethical designers (for me anyway) but I do still shop at re-sale places and thrift shops. I pass by a Goodwill once a week and typically I just check in against my "to find used" list of housewares but today I found a perfectly sized vegan belted puffer coat w/hood and a dress - in addition to a frame for my office (which was on the list). Their turnover is so significant that my frame was dated...today. I don't think it's because everything is purchased but because they have so much "aged out" inventory on a short cycle. So I definitely don't feel like I'm eclipsing someone else looking for the exact same thing at the exact same week or two that item is actually on the shopping floor. None of the housewares are the same as last week even. I agree re the markups in some places - lots of H&M and F21 at exact same retail prices (and they're not sturdy enough to warrant it). I don't think there's a perfect answer here but I'm more likely to feel guilty about takeout containers or plastic coffee cup than shopping thrift.
It is a good question, though, and worth thinking about as our clothing supply and purpose of second-hand shops shifts. 


Food Prep, Food Waste and Reusing Plastic (aka Failing! woohoo!)

I've been trying to be more careful about food waste lately. I'm basically famous for buying salad greens and once they get slightly not-fresh, relegating them to compost. Part of this has just been picking better -- maybe romaine is a better choice because it lasts longer and stays kinda crisp? Or a tiny head of butter-leaf lettuce that can be used in one salad. Then don't get new lettuce til I need it. 

I'm also trying to meal plan so I don't end up with random stuff in the house that I have to think about, puzzling through how to prepare it or being forced to cook random things that are left in the fridge before they go bad. (My boyfriend does most of the house cooking so he's good at that stuff. I primarily deal with meals that I make in bulk for my work lunches or some batch cooking.) 

This was one of my favorite brown-bag lunch salads a while ago and I brought it back -- corn, red peppers, avocado, cilantro, lime juice

Side note: we were looking at some attractive bowls while window shopping in P-town this past weekend. They were nice and affordable enough but we didn't need new bowls, despite that some of ours are chipped. We realized we're fine with the whole chipped bowls thing (wabi sabi if you must). So please enjoy our consciously-kept chipped bowl in the photo.

Travel throws a wrench in that food planning as well. We were thoughtful about finishing off most of our perishables at home before we left. 50 gold stars!

On the flip side, we grocery shopped a bit too much while we were away. We ended up eating as much as we could -- you know, right before hopping in a car for 4+ hours and then sitting on a train for 3+ hours, so smart! -- but then had to figure out how to pack the rest. 

Leftover lunch with Triscuits with avo, EVO and sea salt,
an avocado, pasta with vegan sausage,
+ the rest of a pint of Breyer's non-dairy Oreo ice cream

We managed to save most of our plastic recyclables and a jar to put our leftovers in so we only had to use one new Ziplock bag. (We had an obscene amount of pasta left.) It was a bit of musical chairs with packaging but we did it. We didn't need the cup for cut up fruit but we had it so we used it and it definitely helped us eat more fruit on the car ride. 

Tin: a large amount of salad & all leftover avocado & tomato
(snack mix that was in the tin was moved to the old Triscuit bag)
Hummus container: apple crumble
Jar: picked cabbage
Bag: pasta with vegan sausage
Cup: cut up fruit for the car ride
Plastic bag that had potatoes: all the leftover fruit

Next time we'll try to grocery shop less and bring more tins with us. We will eat all of the food we brought back and all of the stuff that would have been recycled during our trip will be reused (the jar, the Ziplock) or recycled (the hummus container, the drink cup) at home. 


So this is why I want to buy a lot of bar soap?

When we were in Cape May over Labor Day I realized I'd forgotten to pack soap. There is a nearby CVS but we'd also come across a vegan soap and toiletries shop in our "Cape May + vegan" googling and I jumped at the chance to support such a shop even if the soap was more expensive -- and also I love buying stuff like that. It's a little #treatyoself but also totally useful and adult. I bought soap! We all need soap.

And maybe this is why?  I ran into a post on Apartment Therapy that recaps a study. The study states that when we feel a loss of control (stress), we are more likely to buy an increased amount of utilitarian products. 

To quote a quote from the Apartment Therapy link --

The study's authors explained the results, writing, "Consumers who experience a loss of control are more likely to buy products that are more functional in nature, such as screwdrivers and dish detergent, because these are typically associated with problem solving, which may enhance people's sense of control."

And I get this. I get a feeling of sufficiency, preparedness and yeah, control when buying utilitarian items. It's not boring, it's smart! I am known to buy trinkets as well --  I have a whole Sonny Angel collection so I mean come on -- and soap and soy milk are good sound buys that prepare me for the future. Sonny Angels make me happy (cute kewpies with animal heads!) but now I'm running out of places to put them. I get a little jolt of kawaii cute woo! that happens but I definitely don't feel more in control or more prepared in my life by buying tiny dolls. When I buy tiny dolls I just feel frivolous even though I enjoy them. (And I have some plastic guilt about them.) Bags are probably a similar middle ground. Useful, needed, but I already have plenty and they don't wear down the way soap does. 

I thought it was an interesting study and, honestly, maybe something I would push myself to do more than buying dolls or bags in the future. I feel like it's a win-win if something gives me a positive boost and is something I'd use anyway. 


I tried it: Solid Lotion Bar

On or about August 10th I started my solid lotion bar experiment. From that day on, I used Lush's Therapy bar as body lotion daily. (Okay, to be honest twice I was running really late because tardiness is in my blood and I just didn't have the time but every single other day I did.) This was in an effort to be zero waste and plastic free! This bar fit the bill for reduced waste. It's sold off the shelf as pictured. It was my choice whether to put it in a small paper bag or in a container I brought. (I was not prepared. I put it in the bag. *sad trombone*) 

Did it work? Despite my hesitations at using a massage bar as a lotion bar, it worked pretty well. I think I liked it better than my standard lotion even though it is a bit of a process to apply. You have to warm the bar in your hands to use it. Which is easy enough -- at first. But then, the bar gets smaller and smaller. And just like bar soap, it starts to break apart into smaller pieces. That's where it becomes a bit more of a process. Also, it's summer so I am not in need of a wicked deep moisturizing so it's possible this won't be so great over the dry winter months. 

How long did it last? A little over a month. I have a few small pieces left as of this post.

How much did it cost? $12.95 for 1.8oz -- which is steep. Do I really want to pay $13 for moisturizer each month? Probably not. There is a berry bar (Strawberry Feels!) that's larger and cheaper coming in at $11 but it's still probably more than I'd want to spend a month on moisturizer -- despite valuing plastic free and zero waste. 

What next?

The bar's main ingredients are cocoa butter and shea butter so I'll do some digging online. Maybe I can find someplace that sells both in bulk and combine them or figure out a way to get bulk ingredients to make a lotion. If you have any zero waste, plastic free, reduced waste options on this front that you're into, let me know! 


New bag, new crab.

Over Labor Day we went to Cape May to spend time with family: sitting on the beach, skee ball, Down the Clown, dog belly pats, kiddos, vegan Ben & Jerry's cones, visiting the local cat rescue, vegan empanadas, vegan calzones - you know how I roll. I also stopped in my fave-o-rite store in Cape May - Givens Circle - right in the mall. I got to see a ceramics show they had in their window and I got a black canvas Baggu cirlce bag. It's the perfect size to house my wallet, phones, keys, liptstick, etc. Did I need a bag? NOPE. I had a hard time with not buying stuff this month thanks to a stressful work situation and having no impulse control when I'm stressed the eff out.
And once I start spending, I keep spending. So now I have a new bag. 


After that I basically spent every waking minute working or on hermit crab stuff. Two weeks ago I had a really vivid dream that I rescued a hermit crab and the very next day someone posted in a vegan NYC Facebook group that her kids got a crab as a gift that needed to be rehomed to someone who could take care of it. (THAT'S ME!) So, that's what I've been up to. Letting my bonkers dreams rope me into more responsibility than I actually need. It's truly astounding what land hermit crabs - the ones sold at boardwalk shops in crappy painted shells that are bad for them - actually need so that they don't slowly suffocate to death and die.

I found out that most of what the pet stores sell for hermit crabs is all wrong and basically hermit crabs are the worst pets to have ever -- they are all wild caught, they're forced into painted shells, they need high heat and humidity, they need a really varied diet but don't eat that much, they're nocturnal and social and need crab buds...it goes on. Did you know you can buy proper hermit crab food on Etsy?! You can! They come in plastic but almost everything I bought came in plastic except the tank.

As you might imagine, the crab is a hit with the cats, too.

Here is Peter Parker in all his nocturnal glory. (He came in a crappy little bad-for-him Spiderman shell.)

peter parker video

Otherwise, I've been holding down my membership in the #tevagang and just wearing the same ol' stuff most of the time -- Everlane striped t-shirts, Tevas and my sweatshop-but-fit-and-trusty black jeans.



This past week: travel, block print and cats

This past week I had to travel to LA for work, which I know sounds fun. But two days were spent facilitating a 20 person meeting and after hours we...worked on a presentation that was due. Also I managed to get motion sickness yet again on the way to and from dinner at Doomie's and had to make my coworker pull over. There is nothing more profesh than running out of the car so you don't vom your vegan junk food in front of your colleagues, clutching your iphone, which is still navigating the ride home out loud. The third day I did get to see a lot of kittens so that was a nice finale. Delicious vegan food abounded the entire trip (and rebounded at times, I guess). And my colleagues are each a gem. They're like a precious gems show all together. For real. Much much love. But I am so glad to be home. So glad. 

What can I tell you about this week? I've gotten pretty good at packing. I over-packed just slightly.  My luggage was pretty light for one week. It was cooler than I thought so I skipped the dresses and stuck with jeans...and Tevas. I can't quit them, I swear. Toiletries were spot-on. I bring extra contact lenses just in case. The solid moisturizer bar is helpful since it eliminates yet another bottle in my liquids bag. Brought my spork wrapped in a cloth napkin, my travel mug, my wraps and a stainless steel leak-proof container. We don't have refrigerators in our rooms at this boutique hotel so I can't really save leftovers or buy a dish the night before for plane travel. That's the only bummer about that beautiful and friendly place. I did ask the airport food court restaurant to put my rice, beans and guac in my container but they wouldn't so I had to dump the food into my container and throw out the used plastic. My reaction was like every other Zero Waste meme out there. 

I finally got around to washing and wearing that block-printed Po-em dress. Here is a photo of me (and my Tevas) standing in Port Authority bus terminal on our way back from a day trip to New Jersey. Classy! The DIY turned out pretty decent though! I usually end up hating my DIYs (perfectionism is so fun!) but I actually like this one.

I am glad to be home because it means I'm not working 12 hour days over this weekend (just a few hours). And also because I get to see my own cats again! I got to see some cats while I was traveling, too, and even got to hug a gray long-hair old-lady rescue cat at a posh pet store but there is nothing like having your own cats so excited that you're home that they sleep on your face - literally. The amount of meows, drooling and lap time I've received make it clear that I'm supremely loved

And in my final paragraph I'm going to do something I don't usually do -- take pictures of someone's stuff and judge them but this one was just so over the top and atypical that I am doing it anyway. We were shopping at our local food co-op (where they voted in a charge for plastic bags to discourage folks from using them because they couldn't get an outright ban through) and we saw this cart where bars of chocolate were bagged up in brand new plastic produce bags! And everything else by the looks of it! And here I am, trying to reduce my bag usage bag-by-bag since each bag counts, trying not to be super neurotic but kind of being super neurotic. My eyes were probably like saucers when I saw this. The contrast of this person using plastic bags with abandon at one of the least plastic-bag friendly places I can think of...amazing! It just goes to show you how completely different everyone's perspectives are, even people within the same cooperative, which has a mission statement with values pertaining to the environment and countless meetings discussing a potential bag ban and so forth. Shockingly, my normal is not everyone else's normal! It was a good dose of culture shock, though of course I am bummed to see it.