Everyday, minimalism

Purr-fect Minimalists

So, I was sitting up at 2am today, thinking (because that’s the hour of the day that my creative juices start to flow apparently).  Before I had gone to bed last night, I was listening to a podcast by The Minimalists and they were taking about dealing with “Unpleasant” things.

I guess I should back up the boat a little and explain just who/what The Minimalists are.  Basically there were these two 20-something year old guys, that one day just had enough of their six figure, corporate job, rat race lives.  One of them, Joshua Millburn, had been faced with some of life’s more horrible un-pleasantries, by loosing his mother to cancer and his wife to divorce, all in one week.  So after life had given him the big F-you he decided to change how he lived his life by learning about Minimalism.  He soon realized that there was no amount of “stuff” that could ever make him (or really anyone) happy.  So it didn’t matter how much money he made, if all he was going to do with it was buy more stuff and in his case, get further into debt for that stuff (go figure right?  Making 6 figures and still in debt).  After downsizing literally everything in his life, including his job, home, wardrobe, use of technology, and then some, he truly realized that he could be happy with less.  His friend and former co-worker, Ryan Nicodemus, noticed in no time that Joshua just seemed happier.  He asked Joshua what his secret was and after explaining Minimalism to Ryan, he too started to downsize his life.  Unlike Joshua, Ryan’s universe already forced him out of his job when he was downsized from the same job that Joshua willing left months prior.  So with life’s little push; so forms the Minimalists.  Now over the past 6 years they have created a website, gone on tour, wrote books and done podcasts all about Minimalism and the joy of living with less.

Now back to what I was doing/thinking at 2am this morning.  I was actually petting my 13-year-old cat, Sammi, that for sometime now insist on sleeping right next to my pillow and purr-furs to have some part of her body pressed up against mine.  She was pretty happy to be getting some loving from me when she very well knew I should be fast asleep.  I got to thinking about her life  (a well taken care of house cat) and Minimalism.

My cat Sam, and her kitty sister Rasberry live the most purr-fect example of Minimalism that I can think of.  I mean honestly, they don’t really have any possession; except for the collar around their neck’s, a litter box that their human-slave (myself) keeps clean for them (most of the time), a heated bed (that Sam tends to hog all for herself), along with a couple of catnip toys.  That’s it.  No mortgage.  No car payments.  No bills to pay or job to go to (although sometimes I don’t think they keep up with their end of the kitty-rent-free deal when they leave me moist, hairy, surprises to step in with bare feet, just saying).  And I can tell you this, they are two of the most happy kitties.  They really have no worries and live a very pam-purred life.  They seem 100% happy in their carefree, minimalist style lives.  They don’t require “things” to make them happy.  They just love living life from day-to-day, soaking up an occasional sun beam or taking in the smells from our raised patio and of course the head scratches from mom and dad.  They don’t need to watch tv or get online to enjoy their lives.  They don’t have iPhones or Amazon accounts.  They live in the moment and flourish off of our love for them.

What a novel way to live.

Once all our basic needs are met (food, water, shelter and in my opinion love) what more do we really need?  I am just starting to learn how to live with less stuff and instead push to live through my experiences and passions.  It’s a hard process.  I’m not going to lie.

Unlike my furry friends, I was not raised to not want things.  Ever since childhood we are consciously and subconsciously, raised to want more.  To want better.  To keep up with the Jones’s in away.  Advertisements are everywhere for the newest, latest, and greatest, must have, things.  Peer pressure is real among children and adults to provide and have nothing but the best for ourselves and our families.  But what does it leave us with?  Latch key kids, whose parents have to work over 60 hours a week to be able to afford the house that is too big, with too much stuff, and too green a lawn to take care of.  Then those kids look for love in the things that their parents can afford to buy for them.  New phones, video games, clothes, cars and so on.  And the cycle starts over.  Maybe this time, the 60 hour work weeks drive these new parents to divorce.  Families are spilt apart rather than growing together.  And all for what????  Stuff.  Stuff, stuff, stuff and more stuff.  Instead of raising our children to feel entitled and devalued, why not raise them to understand that they can never get back time that is lost with their families when they are a slave to their things?  Take them to the park, go on road trips, read together, just spend time together!  Teach them compassion and empathy and above all love.  Self love and a kindness.  Teach them about things that cannot be bought.

Looking back on my own childhood, I do remember having some great Christmas’s and birthday’s.  My parents were not rich by any means but I never went without anything that I can remember and I’m sure I got a lot of great things for these occasions.  But what I remember most is the time that I spend with family and friends during those occasions.  I remember taking walks with my grandmother.  Going swimming at my aunt and uncles house and hanging out with my cousins.  I remember going to the flea market every Saturday morning with my dad or coming home everyday to my mom after school.  During the summer it was fun to hang out at my friend’s house or go swimming.  I always felt loved.  And I always felt like I belonged.  But I honestly could not tell you much about the gifts I received.  Sure I remember a couple of the bigger items (getting a brand new Nintendo back in the 80’s was crazy amazing) but most I don’t even own any longer.  They severed their purpose at that time in my life and now they are gone.  But the things that I wish I could get back are not things at all.  It has taken me a long time to realize this.  And now I hope to move forward in my life knowing this and embracing the time that I have with all the important people in my life.

I mean going back to my cat analogy.  I could leave my two babies alone for a whole day with tons of toys and treats and stuff to keep them occupied, but I can guarantee you that the second they hear me coming to the door they will be on the steps waiting for me to come in and love them.  They will have forgotten about whatever toys are scattered around the floor and just want to have an open lap to lay in.  (I slow blink you too Sammi and Rasberry.)

What it all boils down to is stuff is stuff.  Stuff does not equal love.  Stuff does not fill the holes in our hearts or our souls.  It just gets in the way of what is truly important.  Your passions, beliefs, families, friends, furry babies, goals, adventures, and time that you can never get back.

One of the questions that was asked of the Minimalists during last nights podcast, was, “Is there anything you removed from your life that you now regret that you removed?”  Both Joshua and Ryan’s answers were No.  Actually Joshua’s regret was that when he found out that his mother was deathly ill, he regretted that he had let so much time pass without any contact with her prior.  Granted they had a very rough mother to son relationship (she was an alcoholic and he a latch key kid, both with no money) but at the end of her life he wanted nothing more than more time with her.  I am not sure where I have heard this before, but I believe a lot of nurses and care givers who work at hospice organizations or homes for the elderly all hear the same thing when people are in their finally days.  Everyone just wishes they had more time.  Time.  Time with their family and friends.  Time to go on that trip that they never got around to.  Time to just sit back and enjoy the wonderful life that they had.  Time for more sunsets.  Time for more visits with their children.  So, even though it sounds so cliché, “you can’t take it with you in the end”, couldn’t be truer of a statement.

Another point that was brought up about “regretting something that you removed” was that if you were that attached to a material object that you actually felt it pain when it was gone, then you were probably putting too much energy and life force into that object in the first place.   A set of fine china from your grandparents house, is not your grandparents.  It’s just stuff.  You may remember the times that you ate off of it, maybe at the holidays, but those memories are far more important to have then the box of plates and tea cups that you have stored away in your garage.  Write down those memories.  Blog or journal about those times in your life.  Share the stories with younger family members that may have been too young to appreciate them in the same way.  But let that box of unused stuff go.

Sure, I do understand that everyone has their own personal vise.  Maybe pick out one tea-cup to have just for yourself and then let the rest go.  I know my vise is greeting cards.  Even though I made a promise to myself about a year ago, that I would stop sending/buying greeting cards (because what a big waste when you really think about it, but mom if you are reading this, which I know you are, I will always continue to send  you cards because I know how much you love them) I have kept every single card my mother has sent me since I moved out-of-state over 13 years ago.  I have no idea why, and they just sit in a box in a closet in my condo.  The only time they get touched is when I add another one to the box.  But now when I come to think about the why even more, I realize that this was a learned behavior because I can go to my parents right now and my mom would have a huge pill of cards from my dad and I probably from longer then I have been alive.  I don’t even know if I have ever really asked her why she has kept them all?  Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it may not be the best use of space.  I’m sure when the horrible day comes that my parents are no longer with me, I will find solace with them, but I do try to remind myself that they are just cards; not actually physical extensions of my parents themselves.  I think that is the hardest thing to deal with when deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.  We personify inanimate objects.  We feel like we will be “hurting the feelings” of the object we are trying to part with, because someone we love dearly, gave it to us.  That’s where the real issue lies; in separation of feelings vs what actually is.  That’s what makes it Unpleasant.

Well I have rambled on a lot longer then my original thoughts from my 2am cuddle feast with my cat.  I know it has been quit sometime since my last entry (almost 4 moths, yikes!) but I do hope to be writing more and more as I allow less and less stuff to enter into my life.  I hope you will continue to follow me as I go down the rabbit hole of Minimalism and learn how to find joy in my life from more experiences and less clutter!

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less waste, minimalism

Mariposa

A couple months ago I mentioned in a different blog post that we had successfully downsized to only having one car.  And we still could not be happier with that decision.  We spend less on gas, less on insurance (but not as much as you would think because we did loose our multi driver discount), and it’s just nice only having one car to worry about in general.  I have been walking and riding my bike to most places that I need to get to.  My work is only a couple blocks away and my gym is about a half mile away.  If for some reason I need to go farther away, I just take my husband to work in the morning and pick him up later.

My husband has been on board with the whole one car idea (obviously since we traded in both our cars to get the one we currently have), but he worries about me only having a bike to get around on.  To the gym or to work it’s no big deal, but if I want to go to any classes in the future (like my photography one’s) or I have a doctor’s appointment that is just a little to far to peddle too he wanted me to not have to take him to work all the time.  Or there are days that he just needs the car in order to make it to appointments that he may have after work.

So lets go back in time about 6 years ago.  The time when I had transportation on two wheels!  Yes, I used to own and ride a motorcycle.  It was a Kawasaki KLX250SF dual sport.  It was my first and only motorcycle.  I took the safety class and got my license to ride!

Kawasaki KLX 250SF 09

But because of some unfortunate circumstances in my life, I had to sell it.  And ever since then I have been waiting for the day that I would be on two wheels again.  Now my husband was not too keen on the idea of me having a motorcycle.  He had just met me when I had my last one, and was glad the day I sold it.  (He doesn’t hate motorcycles, he was just worried for my safety.)  And every time I bought up the idea of buying another one, he was not too happy about it and the topic would be dropped for awhile.

Now back to current time; as you can see this was the perfect time to bring up the idea of having two wheels again.  It would be something that I could get a farther range on and would still be more environmentally friendly then buying a second car (plus I am really against having a second car.  I want to go at least a year with only one, if not longer).  He still didn’t like the idea of a motorcycle, but for some reason was ok with the thought of a scooter (go figure).

So let me introduce you to our newest two wheel purchase!

buddy125-lavender

This is my 2016 Genuine Buddy 125 scooter, and yes she is lavender!  I named her Mariposa, which means butterfly and she is pretty awesome.  Since she is a 125cc scooter, you do require a motorcycle license in the state of Texas to ride on the streets.  Good thing I have had mine since 2009!  I was told by the dealer that I am the first person in Austin to own the new color, but overall Buddy’s are very common and reliable scooters.  They are made in the USA and carry the best warranty on the market, 2 years with road side assistance!  She has a top speed of 59mph but the dealer said since I was so light (120 pounds), I could probably get up to 65mph.

I have to admit I was a little nervous when I first took a test drive on one at Urban Motorsports.  You would think it would have been easier for me to drive because it shifts automatically; not like a motorcycle that has a clutch.  It was hard to wrap my brain around not having to clutch. Instead you just having to pull back on the throttle and go!  But after a few spins around our neighborhood, it felt like second nature again.  Now I have a little more freedom to go to places that are a little farther away.  And so far, it has only cost me $1.08 to fill up her tank!  She will get around 90 miles to the gallon once she is broken in (after about the first 200-500 miles).

I would highly recommend getting a scooter, especially a Buddy 125, if you are in need of a second vehicle to just get around town on.  But just be safe!  A lot of states require that you take a motorcycle safely class to even get your licenses and always wear a helmet.  I have a full face helmet from when I rode my motorcycle.  Even though the 3/4 face helmets “look” more like scooter helmets, I would recommend a full face.  I used to work at a motorcycle dealership and we called 3/4 helmets “jaw breakers”.  And that was strictly because if you were to get into a wreck, there would be nothing covering the front of your face and you can piece the rest of it together from that.  I also wear a armored jacket and gloves when I go on longer trips.  For both the helmet and jacket I would recommend anything from Joe Rocket.  They have awesome gear.

Examples of full face vs 3/4 helmets.

The helmet on the left is the exact one I wear!

And no matter if you are on a motorcycle or a scooter, be safe out there and to all the 4 wheels vehicles remember to “share the road”!

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Books, Everyday, less waste, minimalism, Vegan

Happy Earth Day, everyday

WARNING!  So I am climbing up on my soapbox today.  I always try to be as upbeat and positive as I can with most of my blog posts.  I feel like my blog is my creative way to express myself and the things that are truly important to me.  Being vegan, (there I said it and I managed to get to the 4th sentence before mentioning it) I feel like I try to be as in tune as possible with animals, my health and our environment.  A lot of my post convey this.  But this post may seem a little “in your face” but that is only because I am super passionate about the topic.  I am by know means against things like Earth Day but I don’t like it when people are hypocrites and/or oblivious to things around them.  And I think a lot of the issues stem from people not being informed or choosing to keep their heads in the sand because “it’s too hard to change”.  Change is hard; but like a lot of things in life it can be necessary.  And right now it is very necessary for the generations to come, so that they will have an Earth to celebrate.

Celebrating Earth Day is like throwing money at cancer; neither one are fixing the real issues.  Sorry for starting off so cynically.  Don’t get me wrong, the Earth should be celebrated, but that should be a daily occurrence, not an American made holiday for environmental agency to make money off of.  I think the right idea was in mind when Earth Day was founded in 1970.  And it has gained millions of followers world wide; but what are we really doing to make our environment better for every living creature?

According to earthday.org:

“Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016. It’s bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand.

This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable.”

Planting trees is a great idea, but instead of planting them and having to wait 5-20+ years for them to mature, why not stop cutting them down in the first place?  We are loosing the equivalent of one football field a second in the rainforest do to deforestation to make room for more livestock.  More livestock?  Really?  Since when is eating meat more important then preserving the lungs of our planet?  Let’s explore other ways agriculture/livestock is killing our planet:

Cowspiracy-Infographic

The most interesting part in all this, is when you go to pages like Earthday.org and other environmental agency’s pages, there is no mention of the impact that agriculture has on our planet.  This is also not something that is generally taught in schools.  And don’t even get me started on the government approved food pyramid.  And look at the efforts the USDA is claiming it’s making in honor of Earth Day:

“WASHINGTON, April 19, 2016 – This week, representatives from USDA’s Rural Development team will be celebrating Earth Day by visiting newly funded projects that will improve rural water quality and safety in 33 states across the country. USDA is investing $183 million in 60 water and wastewater infrastructure projects through Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program (WEP), which provides technical assistance and financing to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for communities with fewer than 10,000 residents.”

Instead of trying to throw more money at the issue why not get to the true source of the problem?  Keep the water supply clean and more readily available from the start.  Animal agriculture wastes and contaminates more water then anything else.  Millions and millions of gallons of water are used to produce crops to feed animals, and to water them and then to clean up after slaughtering them.  All that water is put in bloody, waste filled, retention ponds behind farms and slaughter houses.  That water then seeps into the ground and eventually into the water supply, thus contaminating our rivers and lakes and just like the old saying goes “all rivers flows to the sea”.  It’s a domino effect by then.

So much is harmed and wasted just so we can eat meat, poultry and fish.  The land, air, water, animals and our own health are effected by the consumption of animal products.

  • We are killing the very lungs of our planet with deforestation happening at an alarming rate daily.
  • The amount of methane (produced from animal “farts” and “poops” to dumb it down) in the air has sky rocketed and causes more air pollution then all of our transportation needs lumped together.
  • We are inhumanly torturing millions of innocent beings everyday for our greedy wants.  (These are not “needs” because we can live healthy, sustainable lives without animal products.)
  • We have hungry people, in poor nations all over the globe.  Yet we produce enough food to feed the planet just from the amount of food we grow and use to feed livestock.
  • Diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular issues are sky rocketing because we are consuming more and more animal products then ever before and we have become more sedentary then ever as well.  Red meat and dairy have been found to contain carcinogens that cause inflammation all over the body and make it harder for us to ward off this diseases.  And to go along with that, we are trying to fight them by throwing pills at them and “walking for causes”, but very few in the medical field are trained in the 7 years of schooling about the benefits of good nutrition through a whole foods, plant based lifestyle.

This list could go on and on…..

But why not play a huge part in alleviating the issue?  Make a change in your day to day life that will have a bigger impact.  Bigger then driving a Prius.  Bigger then recycling.  Bigger then low flow faucets and twisty light bulbs.  Go vegan.  Go vegan for your personal health.  Go vegan for the voiceless animals that are killed in horrific ways every day.  Go vegan for the environment; for the water, air and land.  Go vegan for the generations to come.  We cannot continue to live the way that we do.  We will not be able to sustain, especially with the rise in global population.  Please take the time to educate yourselves.  The information is out there.  Demand it, watch it, read about it and learn from it and then pass it along.

vegan4

I went vegan a little over 3 years ago and I would never go back.  I don’t think that makes me better then everyone else but I am proud that I took the time to educate myself.  There are so many things that we do everyday, year after year, that we don’t really think about the repercussion of.  Instead we follow the masses.  Grandma and grandpa did it this way for years so that is the way we will teach our children to do it.  Just because we don’t know any different doesn’t make it right.  Stand up and stand out.  Empower yourself and your family and friends and together we can make a movement like, Earth Day, become something that everyone and everything on this planet can truly celebrate.  (Rant over, thank you.)

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less waste, minimalism, Vegan

Dirt babies

For about the past two years now, we have been composting.  Even though we have a small condo and small backyard, we still manage to compost all our food scraps.  Since I am vegan, I like to keep my compost that way too, so only non-meat items are allowed, except for the eggshells that my husband will contribute every now and then (he is omni, what can I say, we can’t all be perfect).  We also throw in things like used paper towels, trimmings from out indoor and outdoor plants, and shredded paper.  We have even encouraged our neighbor to compost her like items as well.  We have a small tumbler in the backyard that I got from Costco.  Actually it was my birthday gift from my parents two years ago!  The gift that keeps on giving!

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Our process is simple.  We have a couple plastic containers, that have gasket sealed lids that we keep on top our fridge.  When you have something that needs to go in the compost tumbler, you put it in there.  When the containers are full, I take them down stairs to the tumbler in the backyard and empty them.  Give the tumbler a few spins, and voila! you’re done.  It takes us about a year to fill the tumbler.  You would think it would fill faster, but the little worms and flies that are in there do a great job of breaking everything down, thus creating more space for next time.  When it does come time to empty it, I have a small area in the corner of our yard that I pile the compost into.  Every now and then I go out there with a rake and stir up the dirt.  We also put some of our larger compostable items directly into that pile; like for example our Halloween pumpkins.

Which leads to my new little backyard mystery.  Currently in my pile, I have these giant leaved plants growing.  They have pretty thick, fuzzy stalks as well.  I had raked them down before, thinking they were weeds, but when they grew back I noticed they only grew in the pile and not in the rest of the yard.  So I got to thinking they might not be weeds after all.  Asked my neighbor to take a look at them and she took a picture and put it on Facebook for some feedback.  Most everyone who commented said they looked like some sort of squash growing.  I know I haven’t had any squash to put in there but we did have whole pumpkins that got thrown in there over the past two years.  So we googled pumpkin leaves and they looked very similar!  I’m pretty excited about this!  I would be floored if we grew some pumpkins or even squash!  I have no idea how they will do in the upcoming summer months but for now I am going to just let nature take over and wait and see.  It’s kind of like waiting to find out the sex of a baby!

So what will our dirt babies be?  Pumpkin or squash?  Due date, fall of 2016!

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less waste, minimalism

Tulips to Ivies

I was in the car this morning driving my husband to work when a radio commercial for a florist came on.  They were advertising a spring bouquet of 30 tulips for 30 dollars.  Just the other day, I read somewhere about how flowers like that are very wasteful and I would imagine not that great for the environment.  I haven’t researched a whole lot into it yet, but I could clearly get how that could be true.  If you consider that they are probably grown, using a bunch of chemicals and then are trucked in from miles away and probably even from different countries all together.  Sounds like another form of GMO farming to me.  Not to mention you only get about a week of life out of them.

To offer a solution, whatever article I was reading suggested to give house plants, if you MUST give something.  They last longer and a lot have been known to help clean the air in your house.  Plants like Ivies can even turn into the gift that keeps on giving because you can cut them down when they get too large and replant the smaller pieces to share with someone else.

Now the thing that amazed me most about hearing this commercial and thinking back to the article I read, was when my husband blurted out that flowers seem pretty wasteful and he would rather give me a house plant instead!  That floored me.  I was already thinking that I was going to go home and research into how commercial flowers are farmed, and then share the information with him but instead he already got it!  He asked my opinion about it and said that he was really starting to see the world in a different way from all the things I share with him.  Just him saying that, and putting things together in his mind, for himself, was better then any $30 tulips in my book!

Sometimes I feel so small and alone and even crazy with my thoughts.  How could doing so many small things, that seem pretty insignificant to others, ever make a difference?  Composting, recycling, being vegan, living minimalistically, and so on; how will that ever change anything?  I’m learning even if something seems so small, it can have lasting affects if you stick to it.  So never give up or give in.  If you believe in something, then do it!  Talk about it, write about it, plant the seed, because right when you think no one is listening, someone will surprise you!

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less waste, minimalism, Running, Vegan

Yucca….. charcoal?

For about the past 6 months now, I have switched over to only using bar soap as a body wash in the shower as well as for hand soap.  I don’t have a “favorite” brand of bar soap but it does have to be all natural, organic, vegan, and has to include activated charcoal.  I’m not too picky on smell, most of the natural, hand made soaps I’ve found all have a nice scent to them.  Usually a little more “earthy”.  The activated charcoal is the winning ingredient for me.

Being a runner and someone who spends a decent amount of time in the gym, I sweat.  And for a lot of athletes, along with that sweat can come acne.  I always thought just by taking a shower after a workout or a run was enough to prevent acne but I found that it wasn’t.  It also depends on what you are cleaning your body with.  There are a lot of chemicals in commercial body soaps that are too harsh for your skin.  Most dry you out why too much by striping all your body’s natural oils away.  Even though you will feel clean, your sink maybe dry.  If it is too dry, then your body with naturally produce more oils and then you are right back to where you were before you took a shower!  Using a moisturizer can help, but sometimes they too will clog pores and cause acne.

So, I decided to find a better way.  Something without all the ingredients that I can’t even pronounce.  That’s when I looked into handmade soaps with natural oils and other organic ingredients.  And through that process I learned about the purifying attributes of activated charcoal.  Activated charcoal is used in many products because it’s ability to pull out toxins.  For people with acne, it can pull out bacteria that is down in your pores and excess oils/dead skin that build up over time.  By pairing it with natural oils, such as tea tree oil or even olive oil, you can deep clean your skin and replace the oils at the same time.  It has worked wonders for me.  I used to get acne on my back and shoulders from wearing a sports bra and now it is much more minimal from showering with the soap.  I also use the soap as a face wash and I have seen even more dramatic results there.  And if I do get any little pimples that pop up, I spot treat them with water diluted, tea tree oil.  Just a small dab with a Qtip and they are usually dried up within a day or two.

My other fascination with using bar soaps has been the cutting down on waste.  Instead of having a plastic bottle left over, now I have almost zero waste from the bars.  They maybe wrapped in paper or sometimes just have a sticker on them.  Plus I can use them until they are gone!  With a plastic bottle you are almost, always, throwing some of the product out because it just won’t come out of the bottle!  And not all of the bottles that these products come in are even recyclable.

So now that I had found a replacement for my body wash and hand wash, it was time to find something to replace my shampoo and conditioner with.  Good timing too because I am in the process of growing my hair out.  I usually have a very short pixie type haircut, but for the past 5 months I have been letting in grow.  I thought about the whole “no poo” idea, but my hair gets super oily in-between washings and I wasn’t ready to go through the detox process not knowing how long it would last.  So instead I started researching bar soap shampoos.  The first thing that popped up was from the same company that I had bought my charcoal body soap from.  Awild Soapbar carries a bar of soap that is made to be used as a shampoo.  It is their Yucca Root shampoo bar.  Yucca Root has anti-bacterial components and natural moisturizers.  Bingo!  Exactly what I was looking for from a company that I already was familiar with and is also local; just right outside of Austin in Manor, TX!  Couldn’t have asked for better!

One of our local grocery stores carries a lot of bars of soap from this company so I was able to just pick up a bar when we did our weekly food shopping.  It smells nice, very fresh, just like the charcoal body bar.  So far I have only used it twice.  Once on Monday and again on Thursday.  The first time I used it I could defiantly tell a difference in using and bar soap instead of a commercial bottle soap.  Once I got a good lather up it was just like the bottled stuff. The difference I noticed most was when I went to rinse it out.  My hair felt like it was extra clean.  Like squeaky clean.  It felt like I had been striped of any build up that may have been on it.  It dried faster and maybe even straighter too.  I have naturally wavy hair that I straighten after drying.  This time  after it had dried it didn’t seem as wavy.  Since I didn’t use a conditioner, my hair didn’t seem as shiny and had like a “texture” to it but it was defiantly clean.  An apple cider vinegar and water rinse is suggested after washing if you want some shininess, but I haven’t tried that yet.  The website said that it would take about a week for your hair to “detox” from all the build up.  My hair has been dyed and never had any kind of detox before, so I’m sure I will need the full week.  One thing I did notice right away was that it didn’t seem dirty as fast.  Normally by the next day after washing, it has a little oil build up.  This time I really didn’t notice the oiliness until the third day.

I’m really hoping that I will like the results I should see after about a week.  To be able to say goodbye to commercial products for my whole body will feel great!  Plus most of the bars of soap I buy are all from small, sometimes local businesses that hand make their products.  I love supporting the little guy.  I feel like they care more about what goes into their products so in turn I get more out of their products.  I’m thinking I will write an update on this product after maybe a month of use.  Until then, please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have about natural body and shampoo soap bars!

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less waste, minimalism

Big Berkey

Our household took it’s next step to becoming more sustainable (aka more hippie like) by ordering and setting up a Berkey Water Filtering system for our daily purified water needs.  We had been buying the dreaded bottled water for years now, and even though we are avid recyclers, I really don’t like impact that plastic bottles have on the environment.  Recycling is better then just tossing the bottles in the trash but there are still negative aspects that come from the actual process involved with recycling.  There are lots of fossil fuels used and lots of chemicals emitted into the air from these facilities.  Plus we still don’t really know just how toxic plastic really is to our health (even BPA free plastics).  So my goal was to find a way to cut out the use of plastic water containers.

My first idea was to have the water delivered to us in 5 gallon jugs.  Two things came to mind with this.  First, the 5 gallon jugs are still plastic themselves, even though they do get returned and reused, they still have to be manufactured in the first place and cleaned and recapped.  Second, I didn’t like the idea that the water would be delivered by large, polluting, trucks.  I thought about buying glass jugs and filling them at local filling stations, but that would still involve driving somewhere to bring water home. Lastly, it was would be a space issue for us.  We use a lot of drinking water and have a smaller home and would need to have a reserve of these bottles on hand (maybe 4-5 a month) and that takes up space.

Next thought was to have a reveres osmosis system installed.  I honestly don’t know a lot about these systems.  I’m sure that they work well.  They seem to be able to clean a lot of junk out of your water, including fluoride.  The units do usually take up some space either under your kitchen sink or somewhere else and with such limited space in our kitchen already, it didn’t seem like a good fit.  Plus between what they are made of and the fact that someone else usually needs to install them, it just didn’t seem as practical as I would have liked.

Thinking on a smaller, simpler, scale I thought about getting a Brita type system.  Usually just a small, plastic jug that has a filter in it that you refill and keep in your fridge or counter top.  Since they are smaller, and we need a lot of water, we would go through filters quicker.  I always try to use purified water when I cook and my husband drinks a lot of water to stay hydrated at work.  Used filters, equal more plastic waste (not even sure if there is away to recycle the filters?)in the end.  Also the idea of having to constantly refill the small pitcher in the fridge was not appealing to me.

On an even simpler scale I considered using Kishu Charcoal.  This would have seemed to be been a very “green” way to go, but still not as sustainable as I would like.  Basically, you place a small stick of this charcoal into a pitcher of your choice and pore water into it.  The charcoal is a natural purifier that sucks the toxins out of the water.  But we would face the same issue as the Brita with this method.  Not enough water produced at a single time.  Not to mention the sticks have a shorter lifespan and they are made out of carbonized oak tree branches.  I really didn’t like the idea of adding to the amount of trees that are cut down every year; not to mention the chemicals that are probably emitted from the factories that do so.  So no no, for the charcoal.

Here comes the Berkey.  Now my husband was already familiar with the Berkey system.  He used to live with some friends that were the ultimate hippies (and still are!) and they had used this method of water filtration for years.  So over the past couple years he had been putting the idea of owning a Berkey into the back of my head.  I looked into them from time to time but they never really moved me.  It wasn’t until I learned that recycling wasn’t as straight forward as it seemed (sorry I can’t pin point exactly what a read or watched to learn this, but there is great information out there) that I started to lean towards ordering the Berkey.

The systems come in about 6 different sizes and they are made from stainless steel and a minimal amount of plastic (I’d say a 90/10 ratio).  They do not use any electricity and are fairly easy to maintain and clean.  You can get systems that have 2-4 filters and the filters can last up to 4 years or longer (depending on the model).  The website actually has a formula you can follow to figure out just how long your filters will last (look under the FAQ section of the website)!  The main body of the system is very sleek and modern looking.

We got the Big Berkey model, which is their most popular size, and it takes up very little space on our counter top.  I literally just set it up today, which took about 30-40 minutes from unboxing to 100% set up.  The instructions were fairly easy to understand and the website has more in-depth instructions if needed.  The most time consuming part of the process was “priming” the water filers.  The unit itself goes together without even using any tools.  They system is totally silent and so far the water tastes amazing!   Crisp, clean and almost sweet!  I enjoy room temperature water for pretty much everything I use water for, so I can pore and enjoy the water right from the spout.  My husband has to have cold water, so we just fill up his metal canteen and put it in the fridge.  The unit sits on our raised bar counter top and our faucet has a hose on it that I can use to refill the reservoir when needed.  Currently I am very happy with our choice to purchase this item and wish I would have done it years ago.

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I would love to hear from anyone else who has fallen in love with Berkey!  I hope to do an update about our system in maybe 3-6 months.  I really don’t foresee anything negative to come out of this item because it’s simplicity and easy of use.  And even though I love seeing our recycle bin full every week, I am looking forward to it being a little more empty because of the lack of plastic bottles!

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