(I split this post in two parts so it's not so long)
These two photos were taken in Times Square within a span of five years. The one on the left, in 2019, and the other one in 2014. You might not notice many differences between them, except for the hair and style change, but the internal differences are astounding.
On my first visit to New York in 2014, I traveled with co-workers and advisors to a newspaper/yearbook conference through school. We spent four days in the Big Apple attending lectures and exploring the city in our free time. I was walking on clouds, visiting the city I always dreamed of living in, experiencing the hustle and bustle of the big metropolis and like many tourists, spending my money on things I didn't need, to impress people that didn't matter. Because, if you don't take photos or buy a souvenir, did you even go?
That was then... when I returned in 2019 for my KonMari seminar I saw the city with fresh eyes, as if I was visiting for the first time. I didn't have a list of stores I HAD to go, or things I NEEDED to buy. Instead I had restaurants I wanted to eat at, museums I wanted to visit and neighborhoods I wanted to explore. It was all about EXPERIENCING the city instead of SPENDING in the city.
What changed in the last five years? I discovered minimalism and changed my perspective. I started to value experiences over things and learned to detach myself from the consumer driven culture we all live in. I first became vegetarian, then plant based. I discovered zero waste and started adapting my life towards a more eco-friendly approach and became more intentional with my time and goals. Needless to say, my shopping habits changed drastically, and now there are many things that don't occupy my home anymore!
The first time I became vegetarian I was 18, a very picky eater and unaware of my body's nutritional needs. Because of my poor diet, I started showing symptoms of anemia which caused me to go back to eating meat. At the end of 2017, after watching Earthlings, I decided once and for all to never eat meat again, and have been healthy and happy ever since. A couple years ago, I decided to go plant based. I do still occasionally eat cheese and egg mixed in a product, but that's the exception on my diet.
WHY: Not eating meat was the easiest and best decision I have ever made! I feel healthier than ever and I feel good that by doing so, I am saving lives and helping the environment. It's a win, win situation and it also saves me money on my grocery bill, since I mostly buy produce and bulk grains.
2. Cleaning products
Especially now, in times of COVID-19, when we are told to wash our groceries and keep our hands sanitized at all times, companies are thriving on people's fear or germs and diseases. Walking through any cleaning isle in a supermarket can make you feel overwhelmed and concerned for all the things you "should" be cleaning and sanitizing. Brands want you to think that you need a different product for each area and material in your home, because they want your money! Mirror, glass, tub, tile, floor, counter, sink, appliance and carpet cleaners are everywhere. Believing in the myth that each area/material needs a different type of cleaning product will only make you waste time and space, having to store all the different bottles you "need" in your home.
WHY: After using all the products I already had, I kept some of the bottles and instead of buying new, I have been making my own, using simple and clean ingredients. I use a mixture of 1 tbsp of Castile liquid soap, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, water and a few drops of my favorite essential oil (make sure they are non-toxic to your pets). I have been using that mixture for three years and never had any issues. I use it on counters, floors, mirrors, tub and toilet and even on stainless steel appliances, and no, they don't leave any streaks behind.
When I was a teenager I loved the Victoria's Secret scented lotion and sprays. Then I switched to perfumes, accumulating many bottles in a short period of time. During college I gave some bottles away to friends, and by the time I graduated (2016) I had a handful of the ones I really enjoyed, and used. I decided to finish every bottle and not to buy them anymore. I have one bottle left and plan on finishing up by year's end.
WHY: I don't want to overwhelm my body with unknown chemicals that could potentially cause health problems in the future. Instead, I opt for vegan soaps and the occasional essential oil. Plus, perfumes can be very costly and the bottles hard to recycle!
4. Trash bags
Using a compost bin in the kitchen allowed my to forgo the trash bags and instead dispose of my trash plastic free. I have lived in apartment complexes since then and never had any issues taking out the trash without bags. I simply bring the trash cans (IKEA bins made of recycled plastic) out to the dumpster and dispose of them like everyone else.
WHY: Since starting my low waste journey I stopped buying trash bags because I don't mix my food scraps with other types of trash anymore. I do have to wash the bins occasionally if there are any spills, but it's a small inconvenience compared to buying more unnecessary plastic.
Not drinking alcohol is a new thing for me. I was never a heavy drinker, but also never passed on the opportunity for free drinks and the occasional tequila shot. But after drinking daily during the last Holiday season, my husband and I decided to get a head start on Dry January and stopped drinking on December 28th last year. I've been sober curious for a couple years, so I was excited to take in the challenge and change the status quo.
WHY: We've been doing very well since, only drinking 4-6 times in the past two and a half months and I plan to keep going for the rest of the year. We recently purchased a Soda Stream, so I'm excited to craft some refreshing non-alcoholic drinks this summer.
Stay tuned for part II of this post!