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What I’ve Read Recently

I have been on a library kick lately.

So much so that I went into my Amazon list and removed all the books on my wishlist and added them to my “For Later” shelf in my Chicago Public Library account.

While basically zero of my books have been cozy-up-by-the-fire-and-finish-in-one-day-books, they have all been really enlightening and I read them on the bus commuting to work.

Here’s what I have been reading. Have you read any of these?

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

By: Michael Pollan

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source: amazon.com

Summary:

“Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating. His absorbing narrative takes us from Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restaurants to organic farms and hunting grounds, always emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on.” – Michaelpollan.com

What I learned:

  • Next time you eat a chicken nugget really think about the taste. Does it actually taste like chicken?
  • Organic agriculture is almost as bad as conventional agriculture
  • Buying local is better for everyone involved

Dress with Sense

By: Christina Dean

Dress with Sense

source: amazon.com

Summary:

“This four-chapter guide will cater to your appetite to have a more conscious dress sense and will take you through how you can:

BUY better and make more responsible choices when hitting the shops

WEAR your clothes more creatively, and rescue hidden treasures from the depths of your wardrobe.

CARE for your clothes by learning better more environmentally friendly ways to wash

DISPOSE of them by swapping, gifting, donating or recycling – anything but throwing them in the trash!” – redress.com

What I learned:

  • Take care of your clothes
  • I need to learn how to sew more than a button or fix a hole
  • Avoid low-quality clothes, go for high-quality and then make it work for you
  • If your clothes don’t fit, take them to the tailor! I have a skirt and dress pants with the tailor right now

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

By: Florence Williams

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source: amazon.com

Summary:

“From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”- florencewilliams.com

What I learned:

  • Take the more scenic route to work, its better for you even if it is longer
  • Listen to some nature sounds, birdsong preferably
  • Basically living in the city is terrible for you

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Reducing your Waste

By: Bea Johnson

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source: amazon.com

Summary:

“In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. Today, Bea, her husband, Scott, and their two young sons produce just one quart of garbage a year, and their overall quality of life has changed for the better: they now have more time together, they’ve cut their annual spending by a remarkable 40 percent, and they are healthier than they’ve ever been.” – zerowastehome.com

What I learned:

  • The zero waste queen didn’t start this lifestyle until later in life, so that means it’s never too late to start
  • Lots of good resources and recipes

Life Without Plastic: The Practice Step-by-step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep your Family and the Planet Healthy

By: Chantal Plamondon

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source: amazon.com

Summary:

“LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy strives to create more awareness about BPA-based products, polystyrene and other single-use plastics, and provides readers with ideas for safe, reusable and affordable alternatives. By removing plastic from your home, you can reduce your environmental footprint, minimize threats to wildlife, support local businesses and live a healthier, simpler life.” – lifewithoutplastic.com

What I learned:

  • I really don’t like reading about all the ways plastic can kill us
  • That’s it so far, I just started this one!

Other books on my radar:

  • Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything, by Daniel Goleman
  • The More of Less: FInding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, by Joshua Becker
  • Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, by Susan Strasser
  • Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and A Raucous Year of Eating Locally, by Alisa Smith
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
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Most Loved Posts of 2017

It’s been a good year (at least for Waste Not Want Not).

I got engaged and the love showed for any of my wedding themed posts because the top three posts of 2017 were all wedding related.

1.) Finally Found Our Venue: Updated

 

2.) Introducing Waste Not Want Not Wedding

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3.)Finally Found Our Venue

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But don’t worry, there was still love for posts that didn’t have anything to do with my upcoming nuptials.

4.) Where Does that Water Go When It Rains A Lot? 

 

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McCook Reservoir

 

5.) How to Be a Craigslist Boss: Part 1

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6.) Who Needs Cotton Balls?

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7.) Meal Kit Market Means More Waste

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8.) A Recycling Conspiracy

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9.) A Recycling Conspiracy Solved

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10.) 10 Most Overlooked Ways to Reduce Waste: Part 1

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And there you have it! The Top Ten Waste Not Want Not posts of 2017! Can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring!

Thanks A Bunch

Most of the time it is other people that get in the way of and inhibit living a life with less waste.

BUT there are also the people who encourage you, listen when you are rambling about compost or send you articles they think you’d find interesting.

So in honor of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all those encouragers and listeners in my life.

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Thank you to my Mom for being an avid reader, always liking my Facebook posts, and being interested in what I am writing. I will forgive you for brushing it off every time I tell you that I am going to build you a compost bin in your backyard.

Thank you to my Dad who has contributed to a lot of my DIY  projects when I need help or materials.

Thank you to my Aunt MM who replies to my posts with great enthusiasm about how she is making changes or how she has been using cloth napkins for ages! Also for teaching me about haggling and getting a great deal at garage sales. Some of our recent purchases together are below:

Thank you to my friend Julie for calling me the other day to tell me she was going to purchase non-toxic nail polish and for sending me new blog ideas.

Thank you to my friend Britni and her husband Eric for appeasing me on a ski trip by picking up trash and always holding myself accountable.

Thank you to my friend Nina for starting her own compost bin in her backyard.

Thank you to K’s friends who read the blog specifically to make fun of K for composting. You’re still talking about composting and I call that a win!

A huge thank you to all my other friends, family, and readers who have sent me articles, comments on my posts, shared a story with me or told me how much you like reading my blog.

 

Thank You!!!

 

Inspiration

This blog does not get an unreal amount of traffic.

My page views are not off the charts.

And I am totally okay with that.

That’s because I love hearing from friends and family (and those on the internet) about what they have learned from my blog. It makes all of it worth it.

I have had friends in Washington reach out about recycling questions. I have had family friends in Maryland send me food waste articles. Followers now know what to do with their old running shoes, their old Apple products, and their old jeans.

 

I had a friend from DC message me the following:

“I love following your blog and seeing all that you do to help the environment. It really inspires me to do little things to do my part. I realized how awesome cloth napkins are for EVERYDAY!”

So much excitement about cloth napkins!

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Another friend has started composting, like real composting in her backyard. I am so proud!

Just being able to make one small difference is really what this blog adventure is all about.

So thank you.

5 Reasons Why I Love Living in the City

I have lived in two major cities in my life so far.

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The nation’s capital, Washington, DC

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and the pride of the Midwest, Chicago, IL

While living in the city does has some setbacks (so many sirens), city life has become a part of me in many ways.

Without further adieu, here are

The 5 Reasons Why I

Love Living In the City

1. Being able to walk everywhere

I can pretty much access all of life’s necessities via my own two feet. Within just a few blocks are my gym, the mailbox, the bank, the pharmacy, a grocery store, tons of restaurants, a farmers market, a zoo, and Lake Michigan.

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Just steps away is Lincoln Park Zoo

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A few steps more and I can dip my toes in the Lake

In DC, I had the ultimate luxury of being able to walk to work. The 20-minute walk to and from was my favorite way to begin and end the day. In the year and a half I lived there, I never once took the Metro to work. I walked rain or shine.

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Not many people actually live in downtown DC, but I lived smack in the middle in Chinatown

2. If I can’t walk, public transportation is always an option

Yes, there are some things that are a bit farther outside the radius of the distance I would casually walk to. But there are also some times I will make a day of it if it is nice out, like the one time in DC where I decided to walk 4 miles to and from Trader Joes.

Our location here in Chicago is right near the L and many bus lines heading into the Loop. In DC, I lived a block from the one Metro stop that could connect me to all other lines.

3. Never far from something interesting

Living in a city basically means there is ALWAYS something going on, much to the chagrin of drivers and people trying to go about their daily lives without getting stampeded by Lollapalooza attendees.

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See a movie in Millennium Park

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Go to antique and vintage markets

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Play softball on the National Mall

 

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Attend a march for a good cause

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See your favorite sports teams play

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Pick up your produce from a farmers market

4. So many spaces to exercise & explore

A lot of people think that when you live in the city it becomes harder to exercise. That is absolutely not true. While I am a bit further away from acres of undeveloped green space, I do have access to some of the greatest spaces to work up a sweat.

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Go for a run along the Lakefront Trail

Not only are there so many cool places outside to go work out, there are also so many different kinds of gyms that everyone can find something they are interested in. Aerial yoga? Got it. Trapeze lessons? Got it. American Ninja Warrior gym? Got it.

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Running the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

 

I became a part of a great fitness community while I lived in DC called November Project. It’s free and we worked out all over the Capital. From the Capitol building steps to underneath the cherry blossoms, we were everywhere. Now in Chicago, I meet up with November Project at the Bean and everywhere else in between.

5. Being able to be a part of so many different things

I am involved in almost way too many things. I serve on a non-profit associate board, regularly volunteer at beach clean ups, and participate in numerous environmental functions.

 

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Election day didn’t turn out like I thought, but I was able to serve as an election judge at my district’s polling place.

 

 

 

 

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Last year, I became a Chicago Conservation Corps leader. I can partake in projects that better my community and environment.

 

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Marching with thousands on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC’s March for Climate

 

 

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Cleaning up Montrose Beach

 

So that’s it! Do you have any additional reasons for why you love living in the city? Obviously, these are not all the reasons, and city living has some downsides, so let me know! What did I miss?

The End of An Era: Goodbye Gomez

Not too long ago I posted about how I still drove the same car that I have had since high school.

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My beloved 1998 Toyota Rav4, Gomez, with 197,000 miles on it

Our bond is just like the Liberty Mutual Insurance “Brad” commercial, except replace 4 years with 11, Brad with Gomez, and I did not total my car.

 

But really, nothing can replace Gomez. We legitimately have been through everything together.

I love my car so much that I am willing to share extremely embarrassing photos and memories of myself with Gomez through the years.

A Look Back

 

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The first day of junior year of high school when I just got Gomez, 2006

 

Driving to Friday night high school football games.

 

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Football game Friday

 

Jamming to burned CDs filled with super angsty teenage love songs.

 

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The first day of senior year with Gomez in the background, 2007.

 

Still driving to school even though I tore ligaments in my right ankle and was wearing a boot, which I removed to drive.

Piling as many people as there were seatbelts inside since I was one of the first to get my license. 

 

 

Chauffeuring my brother & his friends around when he came home from college.

Trekking down to Bloomington, IN  for 5 years worth of trips back and forth.

 

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Packed and ready for the drive to start Junior year of college, 2010

 

Filling Gomez to the brim with basically my entire life as I moved from house to house each year.

 

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Off to senior year of college, 2011

Transporting bikes and equipment to the Little 500 track.

Also transporting multiple Redsteppers (college dance team) to the football stadium. 

 

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Moving out of college for the last time, 2013

 

Hauling furniture and vintage pieces I’d find at garage sales.

 

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In storage, waiting for me while I lived in Washington, DC, 2014

 

It breaks my heart to say that Gomez is up for sale (on Craigslist of course). I now drive a slightly newer Rav4, but it is definitely not the same.

We had a great run and I will never forget my first car.

Whoever buys you is going to get a car that is well-loved.

 

Sunday at Randolph Street Market

Yesterday was a glorious day here in Chicago. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds and not stifling hot.

All I wanted to do was spend time outside so after a morning bike ride on the Lakefront Trail, I hopped over to Randolph Street Market to check out the vintage goods.

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I am always on the hunt for something unique and vintage, so much so that I made up a schedule for vintage shopping. Just like my love for Craigslist, I am fascinated by the fact that you never know what you are going to find.

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I did not end up buying anything, which is totally fine. Making a purchase is not in any way mandatory. You have to make sure you are going to LOVE what you buy.

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Even though I did not come across anything that had to come home with me (or anything would actually fit in our place), I enjoyed getting to browse what was available.

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There was definitely plenty of reuse, upcycling, and vintage charm to go around.

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On the other hand, there was also some really good quality midcentury modern pieces available.

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If you visit Randolph Street Market, there are vendors inside as well as outside! When colder weather rolls around, you can still shop the market from October through December.

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I did absolutely love these outdoor chairs! Aren’t they so clean and neat? Unfortunately, I have no outdoor space, so nowhere for them to go. I am sure someone else will love them just as much as I did and will be able to take them home.

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How did you spend your gorgeous Sunday?

Maps, Maps, Maps

This probably makes me super nerdy, but I really love maps.

I am a visual learner and physically seeing information helps me absorb it better than just reading or hearing about it. Maps and visuals also make a bigger impact on audiences.

Due to class scheduling conflicts, I was never able to take Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a course in graduate school. Basically, GIS uses data to spatial create maps and layers of different types of data and information to help answer questions and solve urban planning problems.

Now that I am out in the real world, I realize that I should have tried harder to fit it into my class schedule.

When I saw there was an opportunity to attend a 2-day GIS workshop here in Chicago, I jumped at the chance to learn a new skill for professional development and my own personal map fetish.

Over two days, we covered the basics of a skill that takes years to fully master, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

We worked with data sets and transformed them into spatial data and then applied layers of other data on top. It was so cool!

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Don’t mind the Cheshire cat, he was just a placeholder for what would have been a company logo.

 

The most awesome part is that tons of regional GIS data is available for free!

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BRB let me go make some maps.

Stand Up and March

All day yesterday I felt really weird.

Sick to my stomach, yet full of anger.

TV and the internet were avoided like the plague.

All week, I had been on the fence about attending the Women’s March on Chicago. I was afraid of the crowds and the possibility of violence, but I knew I should be there.

On the first day of this administration, we need to take a stand, so I hoped on my bike and rode down the lakeshore path to Jackson and Columbus in Grant Park to attend the rally.

 

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There are my rallying shoes since I technically didn’t stay for the march part (which actually got cancelled because there were just too many people to march)

 

I mostly just listened and looked around, taking all of it in. It was great to see families and their young children, groups of young women, and groups of older women, all gathering together in a common fight.

My favorite part is always the creativity of the signs people bring to protests. Below are some of my favorites.

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Let’s Make 2017 Better: Resolutions for a Less Wasteful Year

2017 is here. It is a whole new year and a fresh start, but it is going to be a tough road ahead.

The United States will inaugurate and swear in two men who do not believe in climate change as President and EPA Administrator respectively.

That is a tough pill to swallow, but not a time to back down. 2017 will be a year of trying even harder to make a change.

New Year’s resolutions are all about making a change, and I have plenty. These are not the generic resolutions everyone makes and breaks by February, but instead specific Waste Not Want Not resolutions that can make a difference beyond yourself.

I am looking forward to seeing the changes I can create in my own environment and the one around me.


 

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I am not going to focus on shedding pounds from my body, but instead, remove pounds of organic waste from ending up in the landfill. Since I was able to compost about 51 pounds in a 5 month period, I feel this is a good goal for next year.


 

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Eating healthier means paying more attention to what you are putting into your body, but it is often overlooked as to where your food is coming from. Sure you can eat broccoli that traveled across the country on a truck, or you can eat broccoli that was grown less than 100 miles away (0r even grown in your own backyard).

To find your local foods, head to a farmers market near you or a store specializing in local products. In Chicago, I love to shop at Green City Market which is just a 5-minute walk from our apartment. I recently started shopping at Local Foods and am considering joining a co-op like Chicago Market.


 

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Everyone wants to save money, but we can save even more by not buying the things we don’t necessarily need. Buying a shirt because it is marked 50% off, doesn’t save you 50%. You just spent 50% more because you made a purchase on a whim.

For the purchases of items you know you will need, do your research. Find a high-quality version of what you are looking for. Chances are it will be more expensive upfront, but in the long run, it should save you money because you’ll never have to purchase it again.

One more thing we can stop wasting money on is our food! Every time you let food go to waste, dollar signs are flying out the window. I try to repurpose leftovers into other meals, compost organic waste and freeze older vegetables to make stock.


 

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I think the Container Store is a hilarious idea. They preach how buying more stuff at their store will make you more organized. Hang your 45 infinity scarves on this specially made scarf hanger! Buy more plastic bins to store your fake plastic Christmas tree and non-recyclable wrapping paper!

How about we just pare down our belongings so we don’t constantly have to be organizing? I already read about Marie Kondo’s method in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which basically involves going through everything you own and asking yourself, “Does this item bring me joy?” In 2017, I plan to ask myself that question with more of my belongings.


 

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I have already purged a lot of my clothes, but there are still plenty hanging around that I don’t wear that often. I want to be at the point where I do not have any more clothes left at my parent’s house.

There are many other options on what you can do with your clothes besides donating them. First, you can reuse them for a different purpose. T-shirts, for instance, make great cleaning rags. Also, consider trading clothes in a clothing swap with friends and family. Probably most important is to repair your clothing! I just noticed a hole in one of my 2 pairs of jeans. I am going to learn how to properly repair that rip!


 

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Did you know that basically half of the trips you make are 3 miles or less? Most of the places we need to go, like the pharmacy, the bank, and the grocery store are not far away (of course, this only applies if you live in a high-density area).

I, of course, advocate for everyone to get physically moving at least once a day, but another way to escape our sedentary lifestyles is to use walking and biking as our mode of transportation. I personally hate having to get into the car to run an errand while living in the city (I don’t want to lose my parking spot!). Being able to get things done by foot or bike is way better for your health and the environment.

Let’s bring on 2017! Did you plan to make any similar resolutions? Or are you inspired to add some of these to your list? Let me know!