the things we own & meaning | sustainability

the things we own & meaning | sustainability

It’s now February, beautiful February. It never lasts as long as the other months, but it does hold quite a bit of quality doesn’t? I always think pink. Or red–a nice warm vision (although the weather may show otherwise). With recent events, we can use a lot of warmth nowadays; inside and out. Whenever I see children in the city, young, cute and energetic, I remember that we have to teach them. Teach them to be kind, to share, to respect one another. To love.

And so I wanted to show some love today.

For this, specifically, are things I gathered that were either secondhand from family or friends or from my adventures in thrift shopping. I took a moment to really think about why these items were important to me. I encourage you to look at the things you own/use/have and really think about its meaning to you. Do consider what you buy, why you buy and for how long you will have it. Consider in investing on pieces that matter more and last longer.

I used to really love just browsing a store and if I saw something I really thought I liked, I’d buy it. Nowadays, it’s not the case. I do still like browsing and I sometimes have the urge to buy, but it’s not at all like it used to be. A lot of the things I see in stores don’t have meaning to me anymore. I take an extra moment to think about: 1. Is this something I have already? (Nice jeans, but how many do we need of these?) 2. How long will this feeling of happiness last? (A lot of times, my answer is.. until I have it and then it just becomes a part of my other wardrobe pieces). 3. How important is this to me, really?

Here are some of my dear things:

my first 35mm camera (secondhand):
I had a 35mm camera prior to the one I have now. It was my dad’s and it did take really beautiful photographs. I remember I had to look everywhere for their specific batteries and it was a journey. But it was worth it. Below is a photograph from this camera:

thinking

cigar box purse made of embroidery beads (thrifted):
It was so beautiful. It was my first time going to this thrift store and it had so many unique and funky things (a huge telescope, colorful sofas, etc) I saw the purse sitting on a shelf and it was so eye-catching. It’s also very well made. This item reminds me that there are beautiful, practical upcycled items–makes me feel inspired & creative!

t-shirts (secondhand):
I think this is something everyone can relate with. I wear all kinds of t-shirts I’ve gotten over the years from loved ones. I especially like the oldie ones. They hold special meaning to the person I got it from, but also for me. It’s not just a shirt I can get at a mall. There are stories, memories and reasons behind them.

Although I care about these items, I know that they are only a catalyst of what holds the most value: time, ideas, emotions, people & experiences. One day, these items may find themselves in a new home with new owners who can feel the joy and inspiration I’ve had. Or at least I hope so. Even if it just produces practicality and ease in someone’s life will be enough of their existence–but it should be sustainable.

green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

green tip #11 | sustainability | donate or DIY crafts with your used holiday & thank you cards

For those who are wondering what to do with used cards you receive from loved ones or new ones you don’t plan on using, here’s a suggestion: donate them. I only just learned of this today and I’m happy I came across this. An organization called St. Jude’s Ranch for Children have a used (& new) card recycling program. They accept cards all year round for all occasions. Here is a link to find out more information about this organization: https://www.stjudesranch.org/about-us/

Here is their mission:

“Transforming the lives of abused and at-risk children, young adults and families by empowering them to create new chances, new choices and new hope in a caring community.”

For those who would like to get some DIY crafts going and perhaps use for next year’s holidays, I’ve linked a few resources I found online. I saw some really cool and interesting things!

Martha Stewart Holiday Card Ornaments
Good Housekeeping 8 Ways to Get Crafty with Old Cards
Care2 18 Surprising Ways to Reuse Greeting Cards
Artists Helping Children Recycle and Reuse Christmas Cards with Crafts for Kids

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

green tip #10 | sustainability | 5 ways to reuse this packaging box

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Thinking about how to be more eco-friendly really stretches my creativity. I start to see every day items and give it new meaning. I think about their purpose and the materials it is made of. For instance, this box used to carry bottles of water. In the past, I would see packaging and immediately just recycle. Without a thought of what it could be used for in another way.

Then, I would go to a mega-chain store and purchase organizational furniture or products that could easily be made from the packaging we get all the time: empty boxes, yogurt containers, fruit jam glass jars and even plastic take-out containers. Those yogurt containers could be washed out clean and used as pens/pencils/paint brush holders or planting pots for flowers. They usually have a cute & colorful design anyway. The glass jars could be used to carry extra change or office supplies. Turn your cereal boxes into magazine holders or paper organizers.

After reading this post, I am more cautious with what plastic items to re-use (some plastics cannot be re-used and should be recycled after one use).

Since they are packaging material, they are usually made very well. They are durable and sturdy. Yes, they aren’t the most visually appealing when it comes to decorating your home, but this is where the creativity and fun comes in. Get some inspiration from what you would have purchased and go from there. Paint it or design with magazine pictures or photographs or other items of memories.

Regarding the box pictured above, I have a few ideas to re-use it.

1. Fold in the two flaps on the sides, turn it horizontal and it can now be used as a shoe organizer. I have a metal shoe organizer that cost me money and it may even rust later. But this one is free, does the same job and no rusting since it’s paper. (This is actually what I used this box for.)

2. Take more of these boxes and stack them on top of each other. Stick them to each other by glue or tape and cut away the flaps. Now it can be a book shelf, a DVD/CD/video games shelf.

3. Use this box for transporting items that can’t be separated. The slots make it snug for less moving and the divide keeps the items together, but organized.

4. Turn this box into a memory or toy box. Decorate it with amusing fun images from previous travel trips or toys for your children. Maybe store your old yearbooks or scrapbooks.

5. If you have a cat, see if it can be a fun little toy for him or her. Maru the cat loves playing in boxes. Here’s a cute video of him.

Practice this exercise next time you put something in recycling or the trash. Could this be useful somewhere else?

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

This is such a good amount of information regarding recycling. I noticed myself constantly looking beneath plastic containers now because I want to make sure what can and cannot be recycled. Also, many stores now will take plastic bags and even bulbs, electronics, so be on the look out where you shop because they may have a mini recycling center as well. I recently found out that this website called Earth911 has a database for where things can be recycled in your area. Thank you to the writers of tinycaravan :)

tinycaravan

Recycling 101: The Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making

Stop! Before you toss that empty pizza box in the recycling bin did you check to see if it can be recycled? Putting one wrong thing in the recycling bin can ruin an entire batch. In this blog, we give you a brief on recycling 101: the mistake you don’t know you’re making and how to properly recycle at home.

View original post 1,472 more words

green tip #9 | sustainability | rethink gift-giving & holiday traditions

green tip #9 | sustainability | rethink gift-giving & holiday traditions

Resources on having a green Christmas:
Eco-cycle’s 6 Ways to Go Green This Holiday Season
Eco-cycle’s 10 Ways to Go Green
Rookie Magazine’s Thrift Your Gift

The links above are so helpful in the suggestions they give on being more green this season! As I continually think of ways to be more eco-friendly in my life, there is a big one that I think everyone should consider: rethink gift-giving this holiday season. Instead, focus on having experiences/memories, giving to charity, feeling happiness, preserving self-wellness and sustaining financial stability. It means valuing meaningful actions and good intentions and spirit. It means being creative in having fun celebrating. Alternatives to giving gifts: give money, gift cards (preferably ones you can send via email), DIY gifts, thrift store treasures, or simply lessen the amount you give.

“…the way we produce, consume and dispose of our goods and food accounts for 42% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means the choices we make about our “stuff” has a bigger impact than driving our car or heating our homes.” – Eco-cycle Website

Holiday waste is a huge contributor to climate change and the depletion of valuable resources we need.

The use of resources 

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Image source: Light and Color Lab

There is this cycle of buy, use, donate/throw away and buy again.

Regarding Christmas gifts, buying new clothing is especially popular this time of year; ties for dads and new ugly sweaters for those theme parties and what about extra socks that are on sale?

“As new clothing comes into our lives, we also discard it at a shocking pace. The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year. That adds up to more than 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone.” – The True Cost movie website

There is a need to really understand what our actions are doing to our world and why we are doing them. The continual cycle of buy and throw away costs too much to perpetuate this pattern.

Blogger of Light and Color Lab  also mentioned the holidays in his recent post:

“Try to be aware of the way you make decisions and how you come to conclusions in a thought process.  Re-evaluate the things you need vs. the things you want.”

green tip #8 | sustainability | handmade mini journal with pressed flowers

green tip #8 | sustainability | handmade mini journal with pressed flowers

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I had a bouquet of flowers nearing their final life stages and I didn’t want to just throw them out. I decided to look up how to press flowers. Unfortunately, I didn’t use fresh ones as many sources suggested, but I did it anyway. I waited a few weeks as they were placed between pages of my huge dictionary stacked under other heavy books and things. I did find a tutorial using a microwave method, which I haven’t done, but I’ll leave the link below. Along with it are a few tutorials of how to make your own journals. Again, I didn’t use these, but will probably some day. I think making journals by hand is great because it’s so versatile and earth loving. I see myself making personalized ones for family & friends as gifts or for myself.

Eco-friendly notes:
-This was made entirely with materials I already had at home and many of which were ones I upcycled.
-Alternative to throwing out flowers is to simply compost.
-Alternative to making your own is to buy from a local vendor who uses eco-friendly practices and materials.

Materials this journal was created from: pressed flowers, cardboard from empty pasta box, junk mail envelopes, scrap paper, unused/blank pages from previous journals/planners, stickers, plastic covering from an old planner, clear packaging tape and string I already had in my craft box.


I love it so much. I’m already using it and know that the materials I used to make it is put to better use.

Some pressed flowers tutorials I found online:

How to Press Flowers (Rookie Magazine)
Pressed Flower Tutorial (Modest Maven, microwave method)

Some journal-making tutorials I found online:

journals (curiously crafty.)
Bind Your Own Book (Instructables)

green tip #7 | sustainability | gift card holder from a toilet paper roll

green tip #7 | sustainability | gift card holder from a toilet paper roll

“If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

(comment on holiday waste according to a Standford website)

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Hello friends, happy December 1st. As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a sustainability trail for a few months now. To continue on, I’ve decided to make a gift card holder from a toilet paper roll. This can be used for any gift giving events, especially this holiday season. The visual steps that I took to make this gift card holder is in the slideshow below (you can pause and skip to photos if you want to).

Materials/Tools:
-Scissors
-Scrap paper (to draw the image on)
-Markers, crayons or colored pencils
-Acrylic paint (I used white and dark blue)
-Paintbrush
-Paint Palette
-Pen
-Glue or Tape
-Ribbon or stapler or washi tape (to enclose the ends)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few tips:
-After each paint session, let the cardboard dry completely. Otherwise, the paper will be less sturdy and paint may chip off.
-If you don’t like the acrylic texture of the cardboard, stick on clear shipping tape over it; like lamination. The surface will be smoother and will protect the cardboard.
-To make the crease more effective, place a heavy book or object on top of the card holder.
-You can fold the cardboard into a gift box, too, if gift card isn’t appropriate.
-Personalize however you like. If it’s for a birthday, draw a cake or cupcake. If it’s for a graduation, write the year in decorative font. It can cater to whatever style/design you want.

If you want some inspiration with making gift boxes out of upcycled materials, feel free to check out my post green tip #4.

green tip #6 | sustainability | Thanksgiving tips

green tip #6 | sustainability | Thanksgiving tips

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, but truly, an every day thought of mine, is that I am so thankful. The WordPress community is filled with so many influential human beings and I feel like I have a space to share my ideas, artwork, reflections and everything else you’ve seen here. Big thank you to the blogging friends who engage with me on my blog and the new ones who recently joined in. I learn so much from all of you and feel inspired all the time!

For this green tip post, I wanted to focus on trying to be sustainable; especially during the holiday seasons! I am linking a few resources I found around the web, but also listing a few things to think about. There is also a link that lists volunteering opportunities all across the United States on Thanksgiving Day for those interested. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

Please consider…

  1. ..the amount of food-and-guest ratio and a plan as to how to use leftovers.
  2. ..using reusable plates and utensils.
  3. ..what items can be:
    -composted (ex. food)
    -recycled (ex. soda/beer cans & bottles)
    -reused (ex. decorations).
  4. ..carpooling, biking or other alternative ways in saving gas to get to your destination.
  5. ..DIY decorations
  6. ..an alternative to Black Friday, such as Small Business Saturday (support local businesses)

Volunteer opportunities across the United States on Thanksgiving Day, click here

Other resources:

10 Tips for a Sustainable Thanksgiving  source: The Huffington Post

Tips for a green Thanksgiving source: Harvard University

5 Ways to Have a Sustainable Thanksgiving source: World Resources Institute

8 Ways to Waste Less Food at Thanksgiving source: Sustainable America

good news | environment | 11/21/2016

good news | environment | 11/21/2016

An old coworker of mine said something along the words of accepting the bad as well as the good and with his wisdom, I am here to say, learn from the bad and progress towards the good. I came across some positive environmental news as of late and I wanted to share those links with you friends in case you are interested. I am so proud and happy to hear that there is real progress towards real change. Change that will affect all of us and hopefully provide a cleaner, healthier world.

Nation’s first statewide plastic-bag ban now in effect across California

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

I know that critics may say that they use these plastic bags for other things like picking up pet waste and use as trash at home. Maybe in the future there could be ways in which we learn how to compost better. Pet waste could be used as fertilizer for a vegetable garden, for example.

Nearly 50 countries vow to use 100% renewable energy by 2050

Source: Independent

I hope more, including our own country, gets on that list.

Federal Judge Greenlights Landmark Climate Change Lawsuit

Source: Sierra Club

The youth is our future and the youth is their own future and they know.

“Every person is a powerful person if you choose to exercise your power. That power exists 365 days a year, not just on election day” – Bernie Sanders

Las Vegas’ New ‘Kinetic Tiles’ Power Streetlights With Foot Power

Source: Popular Mechanics

I like that this technology will collect energy through actions/situations we already do, like walking in the city. Hopefully this can be translated in other ways like on the highway or exercise facilities.

Obama Takes Historic Action, Protects Arctic Ocean From Offshore Oil Drilling

Source: EcoWatch

It’s important for us to realize what it means when we disturb the ecosystem and how that greatly affects the living things that rely on it (which is essentially everything, including us). We are all connected. I’m learning that now more than ever.

green tip #5 | sustainability | support companies who care about the environment

green tip #5 | sustainability | support companies who care about the environment

Since it is no surprise that the holidays are coming and based on some stats I recently found out about holiday waste, I decided to really think of and share different ways to be more eco-friendly this holiday season. I created a small gift guide from a company that truly makes a positive impact on the world, tonlé. I first featured this zero-waste company after I watched the documentary The True Cost. It was actually one of my first sustainability posts. Again, I am not tonlé’s spokesperson or paid or anything. I am just a believer in their cause. I LOVE making gifts (big DIY nerd), but if you’re not like me, then I think supporting companies who care about the environment is the next best thing!

Based on tonlé’s website,

Each year tonlé’s production, in contrast to a typical manufacturer, saves the following:

  • 10,000 kg (22,046 lbs) of materials from landfills
  • 70,000 kg (154,324 lbs) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere
  • 200 kg (441 lbs) of pesticides
  • 46,266,600 gallons of water

belle dress - black (pre-order)

belle dress, shop it and image credit here.

parry bangles - olive

parry bangles, shop it and image credit here.

keang top - grey stripes

keang top, shop it and image credit here.

anna clutch - succulent print

anna clutch, shop it and image credit here.

lydia trousers - navy

lydia trousers, shop it and image credit here.

green tip #4 | sustainability | gift boxes from upcycling & facts on holiday waste

green tip #4 | sustainability | gift boxes from upcycling & facts on holiday waste

I had these baby cereal boxes and thought I could create something with them. I thought of an idea that if I inverted the box, it could easily become a gift box. This could also be the case with regular-sized boxes, too. I bet pasta boxes, shoe boxes and all kinds of packaging could work. Here are pictures of some inspiration of how to decorate the box, too. I figured this would be helpful in the upcoming holiday season. The paper I used were from junk envelopes. Needless to say, this could not only save waste, it upcycles the cardboard and makes it into something useful and creative.

Here are some quick facts on holiday waste, (according to a Standford website)

“Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!”

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“If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.”

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“If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

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“The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.”

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Additional websites I found helpful in giving ideas on how to enjoy the holiday season with loved ones without contributing to the harmfulness of the planet.

Standford’s FAQ on how to prevent holiday waste
RecycleWorks Facts on holiday waste

green tip #3 | sustainability | organizing your space

green tip #3 | sustainability | organizing your space

i recently cleaned up my space here in the little old apartment because it was just time to. i don’t always feel motivated to, but when i am done with everything, i do always appreciate the space more than before. i also recently gathered some stuff from my parent’s house that saved me some time/money/supplies. to celebrate november 3, i decided to post tip #3.

how does organizing my space make me more eco-friendly?

as i was putting my art supplies away, doing my dishes and organizing the ever so daunting drawer of stuff, i came upon things i already had but was planning on buying. with organizing, you’ll see what you have. you’ll also see any duplicates of things you already own. as i said earlier, i recently went back to my old room and found unused notebooks, clothes/shoes i could wear even now and items i could donate. reason number 2 is just that. with organizing, you can see what you also don’t need. things you could possibly give to others to use, to sell, to donate or to upcycle. another thing about organization is that it saves you time and energy. you don’t have to waste energy on getting frustrated with a mess or feeling you like you can’t find anything. if you plan on organizing your pantry or fridge, this will give you a chance to really look at food items and see when they expire. this will eventually make your money worth it in terms of saving a food product from being thrown out or getting take-out/eating out.

Documentary review: Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens

Documentary review: Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens

Before the Flood features Leonardo DiCaprio and intertwines his own story, environmental activism and more importantly, featuring professionals in the field & their data, this film touches upon the very things we need to take action on right now. I encourage you all to take the time to watch this. It is on YouTube and it’s free. It’s time to start a conversation, to share and to maybe make big, small or any contribution at all to the cause in making this world safer and sustainable.

I think this documentary was very good. They bring up many perspectives on climate change–from the critics to politicians and scientists and centrally, from the eyes of DiCaprio. Through his journey to multiple countries and speaking with multiple people, he tells the story of climate change from when he first learned of it and his understanding of it now. The state of the world changed drastically.

A few facts that shocked me:
-In the last five years, 30 feet of ice melted from the top of Greenland. Thirty feet of ice now becomes water as part of the growing sea level.
-The electricity consumption of one American is equivalent to 2.2 people in Japan, 34 people in India and 61 people in Nigeria.
-1/2 lb burger = 24 hours of air conditioner use or 42 miles of driving a Prius. 47% of American land is used for food production and 70% of that land is used to raise cattle. Cows also release methane in the atmosphere. Cutting down our beef consumption can create a huge difference in how our resources are used.

Overall, I think this was an educational overview of climate change and I especially respect that they present point of views of many individuals from various locations around the world. We see countries making great strides in making solutions, but we also see the devastation many face right now. The film is well-edited  and captivating with an urgent message. Although we see glimpses of DiCaprio’s life as an actor, the film portrays the message that there needs to be changes in how we do things (politically, globally, individually and through media and education) and there is hope & there is responsibility. The future is on all of us.

green tip #2 | sustainability | cutting hair

green tip #2 | sustainability | cutting hair

i noticed i haven’t written a lot about sustainability recently, however, i do always have the topic in my mind (not to mention years of living dangerously is coming back, so it’ll keep the momentum going). some days i get more creative than others. this post idea is one i had for a while though and was thinking what i’d say. also, my computer’s been giving me problems and it has been lagging a lot. this doesn’t create a lot of good vibes in terms of being creative and posting when i feel the urge to. fortunately today, i’m getting some luck from the computer goddesses and they’re letting me post this tip.

how does cutting hair mean being eco-friendly?

for one, if you ever figure out how to cut your own hair, this will not only save money for you in the long run, but two, you can also use the cut hair pile for your compost in your garden! (please note, i think if you have dyed or other chemically treated hair, i probably wouldn’t compost it) since i don’t have a garden (yet) this doesn’t really apply to me (yet). i also can’t cut my own hair as i learned i’m just not graceful enough to (maybe one day). thirdly, shorter hair may minimize the amount of water you use when you shower. although i tend to like my hair medium-longish, i do like it when i cut it/trim it because it’s lighter feeling and definitely easier during washing.

check out green tip #1 | sustainability | getting take-out.