Eco Friendly Products for Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… goal setting season. I love a good New Year’s Resolution, and I also love shopping consciously. This blog post will outline a few products you can feel better about using compared to their traditional high-waste counterparts.

Personal Care

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Akamai Basics offers a refreshing alternative to personal care products made with parabens, plastic beads, and other not-so-great ingredients. I’ve used their soap, toothpaste, hair/face oil, and tongue scraper, but they’ve added many more great products like mineral drops for healthy hair and nails, mouthwash, skin balm, and refillable floss. They focus on recyclable or biodegradable packaging and simple, natural ingredients.

Use code MINIMALIST20 for 20% off a one-time order or a subscription over $35 (now through Jan 5, 2020!)

Contact Lenses

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It can be frustrating to deal with bulky contact lens packaging if you’re trying to reduce plastic consumption. Scout from Warby Parker is a new contact lens made with a super-moist material that reduces dryness and a smooth edge design for comfort. As a bonus, they come in flat pack packaging using about 80% less packaging material than traditional contact lenses.

You can try a six day trial of Scout for just five bucks, and then get a 3 month supply for $110 if you love them.

Reusable Menstrual Care Items

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Periods suck, but they suck a little bit less when your pads are cute. At least this is what I tell myself when I buy pads with sharks on them. Reusable menstrual items significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by a person’s period. Tampons and pads come with a ~$3k lifetime cost for standard brands, produce a ton of waste, are full of toxic stuff you don’t want near your genitals, and mess with your natural pH and vaginal flora.

Check out Party in my Pants or search Etsy for cloth pads to find some in any and all fabric patterns, colors, shapes, and styles. If you want something custom, work with an Etsy seller on your idea!

If you’re interested in a menstrual cup, check out Put A Cup In It to take a quit that will help you select the right brand and size for your particular needs.

Do you have a resolution to reduce waste in 2020? Tell me about it!

 

8 Ways Cooking is a Form of Self Care

Cooking can be both meditative and calming for the mind. Creating a meal gives you something to contemplate and focus on, and preparing food can be meditative. Plus, when making a meal, you’re creating nourishment and fuel for your body to move through the day. Everything from an increased sense of calm, developed focus, to heightened senses during the cooking process helps to put our busy minds at ease. For a deeper look at how cooking can benefit your self-care regimen, Kitchen Cabinet Kings compiled 8 reasons cooking is like therapy.

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About the Author

As a senior content marketing specialist, Megan Darmody is most passionate about creating and promoting unique content that drives client growth. Outside of the office, you can find her seeking out the next camping spot or consuming way too much coffee.

How to Incorporate Minimalism into a  Home Renovation 

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Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

As we grow, our homes grow with us, and it can be challenging to keep up with home improvements due to the natural hustle and bustle of life. Over time, rooms can become cluttered, outdated, and dingy due to daily wear and tear. So, if you’ve found yourself in need of an overhaul in your home, look no further. Utilizing minimalism as a design style can provide you with added benefits of peace of mind, as well as a clutter-free, and inviting space. Here are some simple ways to incorporate minimalism into your next renovation that will leave your home feeling more relaxed and cozy. 

Clean Up the Kitchen

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Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

Seeing as the kitchen is the most utilized room in a home, it becomes easily susceptible to clutter and disorganization. It’s common to find a junk drawer, duplicate cookware items, and an overloaded pantry in many kitchens. If any of those sound familiar to you, it probably means that your kitchen isn’t as functional as it could be for you and your family. Thankfully, a minor and minimalistic kitchen remodel can do the trick. 

$$$: Reorganize Your Storage

If you find that your storage space just isn’t cutting it, you can incorporate new cabinetry in your kitchen to not only give it a face lift but make it functional to fulfill your minimalist design. Installing new cabinets in a kitchen can cost about $2,000 to $8,000 on average, but can vary based on the size of your space and the material you choose. Plus, you can customize cabinets to maximize storage by including a lazy-susan or double pull-out shelving. New cabinets will provide you with the opportunity to have clutter-free counter tops and more room to organize your belongings.

$$: Paint the Walls

When completing a remodel, color can make a significant difference in a living space. Neutrals—such as taupe, beige, and camel—can be used as accent colors to minimize any bulky furniture pieces like large tables or islands. You can also mix in black, white, or wood finishes to tie the space together and complete the simple and spacious design. Don’t underestimate the power a fresh coat of paint can have on the illusion of space—especially if you’re trying to keep it simple.

$: Declutter Excess Items

Once you’ve installed your new storage space and/or redecorated in your kitchen, take the time to purge any additional kitchen tools, expired items, or basic items you may have forgotten about. Be sure to give each piece you keep a designated area to prevent future disorganization. If you find yourself with duplicate items that are unused and in good condition, consider donating them to prevent waste. 

Keep in mind, though, that if you aren’t able to easily replace duplicate items, it’s okay to hold onto them in storage. If they’re contributing to a clutter problem in the kitchen, set them aside in a designated storage area in the event something breaks and needs a replacement.

Revamp the Living Room

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Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Your living room should be a cozy space where you can kick back and relax. But when items start to accumulate on the tables and entertainment center, it can be easy to feel uneasy since clutter can leave us feeling stressed and anxious. So once you’ve taken the time to purge the room and reorganize the essentials, simple renovations can refresh your living room into a minimalist hideaway.

$$$: Build New Storage

Consider installing built-ins to give your decor pieces a place to shine. This can be a fun DIY project for you and your favorite handyman to tackle together and will be a great way to utilize all the square footage your room has to offer. Built-ins will help with limiting the amount of space for knick-knacks and will prevent you from over decorating or creating chaos in your area.

$$-$$$: Swap Furniture

Furniture can also make or break the look and feel of your living room. Keep in mind that minimalism focuses on quality over quantity; you don’t have to add more items to create depth in a room. Instead, try incorporating functional pieces such as a sectional couch matched with smaller accent tables, and accent with natural textiles. 

For cost savings and reduced environmental footprint, shop local resale shops like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore to find furniture at a much more affordable price. My living room is furnished with secondhand items and it’s just as comfy and cozy as something bought new.

$$: Revamp Floors

Another great way to add to your open-feel is to install new flooring. Light-colored wood or large tiles are perfect options to add to your minimalist style. These options will create the look and feel of a bigger room and can be accented with a colorful area rug. Be sure when choosing a rug, to assess the size options, as you want to be sure to show off as much of your flooring as possible. The larger the rug, the smaller the room will feel. 

Spruce Up the Bathroom

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Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

The bathroom is another room in the home that can quickly become cluttered and disorganized, seeing as it’s usually our go-to room while getting ready each day. If you have the means to do so, replacing your bathroom vanity can provide you with more storage, as well as free-up any counter space that’s been taken over by brushes, cosmetics, etc. 

$$-$$$: Replace Your Vanity & Storage

Design options are endless, so assess your bathroom to help you choose a bathroom vanity that suits all your needs. Should you decide to install a larger vanity that offers more counter space, be sure only to keep out what is necessary. 

If you feel that you need more storage than what your vanity provides, opt for sleek bathroom cabinets to store all of your toiletries. To take your bathroom design to the next level, look into mirrors that provide additional storage and lighting to make your room as functional as possible.

$: New Fixtures

During your remodel, you can also consider updating the fixtures throughout your bathroom. Replacing your faucet, showerhead, and light fixtures with modern black pieces will tie the room together for a clean design. Fixtures can be found at a bargain at your local DIY store or Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

$: Declutter the Vanity

If you can’t afford a remodel or you’re in a rental space where you can’t make big changes to the space, take some time to re-organize and declutter the space. Be intentional with the items that you plan to keep on the counter top. If you find yourself knocking things over and getting frustrated, you’ll enjoy the peace from a less cluttered counter. But if you’re someone who needs to have all their stuff at arm’s reach, find a way to make it work for you within the existing space. Minimalism is personal.

Ultimately, the key to incorporating minimalism into any home improvement project is to make meaningful renovations by being mindful of your needs. Through the use of functional furniture and decor, as well as carefully selected design styles, you will be sure to have a finished remodel that the minimalist in you will love.

 

Shopping Consciously as a Minimalist

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Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

While minimalism is already widely accepted as an eco-friendly way of living, there are still ways you can continue to do your part if you’ve adopted a “less is more” lifestyle. Shopping consciously is one of the easiest and most effective ways to embrace minimalism, while also putting our planet first. As you embrace the minimalist way of life, here are just a few ways you can shop more consciously along the way.

Take Inventory

Before you set out on any sort of shopping excursion, it’s always important to create a home inventory. By definition, minimalists seek to live with the items they need, as opposed to what they might want. This means you should strive to not have a significant amount of duplicate items in your household. While stocking up on canned goods or owning several sets of sneakers might not feel like a big deal in the beginning, buying excess quantities of items you already own can create more waste in the long run due to forgetting what you already have, food expiring before you can eat it, etc. Taking the time to write down a clear and concise inventory of the things you already have is a sure fire way to keep you from buying items you don’t need. 

It’s important to note, though, that not everyone can afford to replace things if they don’t have duplicates. Don’t feel pressured to pare down to the barest of minimums, and it’s ok to keep a backup of something stored in case of emergencies. Instead of focusing on a numerical limit, consider your space the limit. Only keep as many of something you can reasonably fit on the shelf, in the bin, or in your dresser.

Practice Mindful Grocery Shopping

A great way to keep yourself conscious as you shop is by being as mindful as possible as you purchase your groceries. Whether you like to buy your ingredients on a weekly or biweekly basis, be sure to have a plan of action when you enter the store. Having a list helps keep you on track and inspires less shopping spontaneity. Don’t shop on an empty stomach as this can cause you to purchase more than you need.

Consider changing up your diet slightly by adapting to a more environmentally friendly way of eating. Try your hand at practicing recipes that incorporate little to no meat, as the meat market’s carbon footprint is a steadily growing problem. Planning out your meals well in advance will keep you from making unnecessary purchases and it will keep your pantry more organized over time. 

Shopping at local farmers’ markets can also help reduce the carbon footprint of importing food from far away and helps boost the local economy and support small business.

Donate As Much As You Buy

This is essentially the “one in, one out” rule.

Try to make a mental note to donate items from your home just as often as you add new items. If you’re debating buying a new chair or sofa for your living room, first assess which current piece of furniture you know you could do without, unless you are shopping for a space that needs a change in functionality to seat more people or add a guest bed, etc. 

This goes for your clothing as well. For each new item you add to your wardrobe, choose one to get rid of, if your closet is already at capacity. Smaller possessions such as clothes are easy to accidentally stock up on if you aren’t careful to clean out their hiding places regularly. The next time you feel yourself in need of some wardrobe retail therapy, look online for a closet clean out option to help you keep your closet from becoming overwhelming. Donating will help ensure that all of your shopping is a circular process, helping you maintain a minimal life the eco-friendly way. 

Invest in Reusable Products

If you are able to invest in reusable products, it can reduce your overall home inventory as well as your waste. The best place to start when looking to buy more reusable items is with the things you find yourself using and needing most on a day to day basis. From zip lock bags to plastic water bottles, we tend to create the majority of our waste in the kitchen.

If you haven’t already, try reducing your plastic waste by buying a quality reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Instead of having to continually purchase zip lock bags for your leftovers, look for alternative ways to keep them fresh, like with beeswax wrap. Take the time to consider washable, reusable alternatives the next time you’re hoping to shop more consciously. 

Checking Your Minimalist Privilege

It is extremely important to note that not everyone has the financial means or the ability to follow these recommendations. Sometimes you have to buy in bulk to save your pennies, and the one-in-one-out rule does not apply when you are starting from a point of having less than you truly need in the first place.

Minimalism is a way of life to prioritize the important things over living to excess — and that is whatever you make it.

How Your Surrounding Space Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

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Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Whenever there’s an opportunity to make yourself feel better, seize it! The world is a hectic place, but your life doesn’t have to be.

Therapy isn’t the only way to improve mental health. There are some things you can do on your own to make yourself feel better – the space around you plays a big role in that. 

Do you know that feeling after cleaning up the house or decluttering your desk? That’s exactly what we mean by making yourself feel better. That feeling of motivation and positivity proves to what extent our surrounding space impacts our mental health. 

Here are some tips that can inspire you to improve your well-being and make meaningful changes to your space (and hopefully your inner and outer peace). 

Declutter regularly

“When my house is not in order, I don’t feel in order.”

Clutter can feel like your worst enemy. Picture yourself at the happiest you’ve ever been. Now imagine entering into a cluttered apartment. That feeling of disappointment that you are feeling only at the thought of clutter is proof that your surroundings play an enormous role in your life. The good news is that it doesn’t take that much effort to bring a positive change and to make yourself feel better. Decluttering requires a little will power and a couple of hours of your life (weekly or monthly depending on your desired level of decluttering).

Redecorate

Everybody enjoys a change here and there. Redecorating and changing your space can have a positive impact on your mental health. Those changes don’t have to be immense. Even the slightest update in your living room can put a smile on your face.

Why don’t you consider adding more plants to your space? You probably already know how healthy they are for their air-purifying elements, but they have some healing powers too. Plants will create a more natural atmosphere that will be more pleasant to be in.

(Caitlin’s note: I recommend Wild Interiors and Just Add Ice for indoor plants!)

Apart from adding green to your surroundings, you can bring more colors to your life by painting the walls. Colors can influence moods, so you should choose them carefully. For example, the blue color is known for its calming and soothing power, while yellow can boost your energy and put you in a better mood. 

Rearrange the furniture

While redecorating might require some time and money investment, rearranging the furniture definitely takes less effort but has a big role in elevating your mood.

My mum used to do this a lot when I was a kid, especially when she was feeling blue. A different living room set-up would always brighten up the house. Since my childhood, this was my go-to method for making myself feel happier.

Eventually, which furniture set-up works the best for you and your family depends on, well, you and your family. Try more options until you settle for the one that fits you the most and supports your daily activities in the most productive way.

Spruce up your workplace

“We are defined by where we spend our time.”

For most of us, our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time. There’s no denying that our job and office highly impact our mental health. So how do we turn this to our advantage? 

1) Add more plants

Plants are a must-have for every office space for health reasons and productivity. Even if you’re not working from home, but in a shared office space, there’s no way your colleagues or managers will object to having plants in the office. 

2) Clean and organize your desk 

Your desk needs to be taken care of regularly. Try to tidy up your office desk as soon as you are done for the day. Avoid keeping unnecessary documents or paper on it, that’s what file cabinets are for. Your desk should be fully optimized and free of clutter. Office tools like binders can also be very practical and can help you keep your space organized.

3) Let there be light and air

Good lighting and fresh air are crucial for every workspace. Nothing like those sun rays to make you feel productive and alive! 

Bonus tip: Leave the window open while you are on your lunch break. There is less chance that you will feel sleepy after eating if your office is well-aired. High temperatures can also cause you to feel sleepy, hence not productive, which is another reason to let air circulate.

4) Get a pet

A pet-friendly atmosphere will lift the mood of any workplace. If you are working from home, why don’t you consider getting a pet? If you are managing a workplace, definitely consider getting a pet for your employees. Not only that you will have a beautiful distraction from work, but you will also give and receive so much love, which will eventually make your work blossom.

5) Get inspired

Different people get inspired by different things. Your office space should reflect your personality, your desires, and your goals. You’ve surely noticed how some parents put framed photos of their children on their desks. It is what keeps them going, what makes them feel good and productive. It can be anything, from photos of your close ones to vision boards, places you’d like to visit, anything. What makes you good at your job? What’s your goal? Feel free to frame it and put it in a visible place so that you can get daily reminders of your path.

6) Add some colors

You will hear quite often that employees complain about the lack of color in their workplace. If you are one of them, share this constructive feedback with your managers so that they can consider adding some colors to your office. 

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you should definitely do some research on colors that would fit you the best – not only can the right colors do wonders for your productivity, they can also improve your well-being and lift your mood. No need to paint your home office walls if that’s not your cup of tea; there are other ways to add color – rugs, paintings, photos, ornaments, etc.

The most important advice I’ve ever received was to always listen to myself. You should do the same. If it makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Experiment with your home, office space, walls, and furniture as much as you want until you get it right. Create a space where you will feel peaceful and happy – what more could a person ask for?

About the author

tess

 

Tess Cain loves being organized. If she is not working at office.eco, then she’s dedicating her time to staying clean, clutter-free and organized. She also likes the outdoors, working out and volunteering.

Practicing Boundaries After Trauma

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Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

Boundaries take practice, especially when you have a history of trauma. Being a survivor of abuse can make the inner alarm bells malfunction — they either don’t go off at all because mistreatment has been normalized, or they go off at the slightest whiff of something that reminds you of a past traumatic experience.

This can make it extremely difficult to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Examples of healthy boundaries include:

  • Saying no to something without explaining your reasons why
  • Asking someone to stop doing something that bothers you
  • Canceling plans when you are too tired or overwhelmed to socialize
  • Taking a step back from intimacy in a relationship

These seem like they’re easy, but a history of abuse can make them seem insurmountably difficult. Complex PTSD, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can turn simple boundary setting into an exercise in self-loathing and self-sabotage.

You feel like you’re being difficult for no reason and that by saying no, you’re going to make everyone hate you and it will be all your fault.

It sucks. It is hard. It is painful.

And you have to keep practicing. 

I got a message over the weekend asking me out for lunch. It was a perfectly polite message, very complimentary, and I felt warmly about being asked out. But I wasn’t feeling a dating vibe with this particular person and I confess that I panicked for a moment. How do I say no? There’s no real “reason” to say no!

Not feeling enthusiastic about something is enough of a reason to say no.

The idea of a date wasn’t sparking joy for me, and it took me a moment to breathe and realize that this was just a conversation with an acquaintance and not a life and death situation. I wrote back to her and said thank you but I am not interested in a date. And she said that was totally fine and then we talked about a party she was throwing. It was a complete non-issue.

You’re allowed to say no when you’re just not feeling something. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and you don’t owe people a yes when you’d rather say no.

The fear: Saying no will make them hate you.

The reality: If it does, that’s pretty messed up and definitely not your problem.

I also canceled a date over the weekend because I just wanted to lay in bed and be lazy. That was totally okay too. (Side note: dating is exhausting, and my energy to do it waxes and wanes faster than the moon).

You are in charge of who is around you and how you spend your time.

What about when you do want to spend time with someone and your anxiety tells you THEY don’t want to hang out with YOU? 

Recently, the little voice in my brain decided that I needed to put some boundaries in place with a friend because he didn’t actually care about me and it was all a game. I was being toyed with. I was a punchline. Ha ha, who wants to be friends with sad traumatized Caitlin?

When someone is important to you, anxious traumatic patterns will convince you that they’re not safe (just like before!), so you protect yourself from future heartbreak by ending things ASAP. Constant self-sabotage is the name of the game when you’ve been raised with love and abuse as two sides of the same coin.

I wrote a very polite message to my friend, explaining that I needed to take a step back from our relationship because I felt like my mental health was at risk.

He responded by telling me that my mental health came first and he would respect what I needed to do. He asked if I would like to talk about it and we talked out what the little chattering weasels in my brain were saying. He gave me the safe space to get out all of my anxieties and fears. He responded with reassurance and kindness.

Oh. I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Thanks a lot, brain weasels. 

The huge, glaring, neon sign of difference between my relationship with this friend and my relationship with my abuser: My abuser told me that I was responding to an imaginary villain version of him in my head and that he’d never do something to make me feel that way — completely invalidating my fears and telling me they were made up. It’s not safe to express discomfort to a person who tells you your discomfort isn’t real.

My friend took my concerns seriously, let me talk openly about my fears, validated my feelings, and worked through the anxious spiral with me. We came out the other side of the experience feeling closer to each other, and I felt safe and seen and valued.

The fear: Talking about my trauma will make people think I’m too much work and I should just stay quiet and never be open about it.

The truth: The only way for me to keep learning that it’s safe to talk about my fears with people is to talk about my fears with people.

Moral of the story: Boundaries (and healing) take work. But it’s worth it. 

Read more from me!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my book, The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. I’d love for you to let me know what you think of the book, so please give it a read and leave a five star review on Amazon. If you’re morally opposed to Amazon, I have some other links here.

I’ve also set up a Patreon page which will get sneak peeks of upcoming topics, an opportunity for you to suggest topics, and additional Patron-only bonus content. Check it out, Patron levels start at just $1 per month to help support my writing.

 

 

3 Printable Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Stress

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Photo provided from A Place for Mom

Life can be stressful. From careers to family and everything in between, just getting from day to day sometimes feels like chaos. 

Luckily, there are ways you can manage your stress levels. It’s important to take a critical look at the commitments and tasks on your to-do list and evaluate how these things can improve your life. Decluttering your life can be a great way to reduce stress. Decluttering your mind, however, is a simple activity you can do every day to promote a sense of calmness in your world. 

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the current moment, noticing and appreciating the environment around you, being thankful to just be, and most importantly, letting go of any judgement you hold over yourself. 

There are plenty of ways to practice mindfulness, but to help you get started, A Place for Mom has created three printable activities you can do every day to lead a more mindful life. Included in the printables are a monthly mood tracker, a morning journal prompt, and a mind map template to lay out your thoughts in a way that helps you make sense of the clutter. 

Author Bio

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Marielle is a passionate writer who is always looking for new things to learn about and explore. She loves to travel in her free time and enjoys spending time with her family, fiancé, and three cats.