A year of not buying anything (new) + investing in experiences

I came across an article in the beginning of the January about a woman who didn’t purchase anything for one year.Of course she isn’t the only one who has attempted a pause on purchasing. Others have and for various reasons. Be it financial, minimalism, or ethical values. 
I advocate conscious consumerism. I don’t necessarily believe consumption is the problem but it lies in the act of compulsory consumption. Alden Wicker of EcoCult recently covered this topic with her excellent article Conscious consumerism is a lie. Here’s a better way to help save the world

She writes: “Making series of small, ethical purchasing decisions while ignoring the structural incentives for companies’ unsustainable business models won’t change the world as quickly as we want. It just makes us feel better about ourselves.”

Alden’s stance aligns with the perspective that our shopping intake makes but a mere dent in the cause for sustainability, and I agree with her. Its our actions that make impact but we should address what those actions are. The majority of companies are willing to create products based on demand or fads. Sometimes we forget our money is funding a company’s values or business structure. I believe brands have to earn our trust and we should be doing research when it comes to their standards and business models.


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It’s thoughtless acquisitions that become excess. We reflect and think: I will never really use this; wear this, read this. When you’re driven to want something is it because it will bring you inner joy or consistent use? When I moved I realized how much books (and objects) I had. As I selected the ones I was going to take with me I began to realize my time with other objects had reached it’s peak – and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong. I still have a lot of books. That won’t exactly change because reading is my preferred hobby and source of creative inspiration. But I have analyzed the way I should go about letting go. Develop community. Pass it down. Gift it to a stranger.

This year I choose not to buy anything new with the exception of consumables such as food, plants (because I will gladly live in an urban forest), experiences such as train rides or recreational events, and zero waste toiletries like soap when needed. I will still continue working with companies and brands though they must be zero waste or have packaging that is completely recyclable.

A reason I don’t want to make new purchases isn’t completely about saving money, although that’s an added plus, it’s more so about investing in the opposite of materialism. Things make us happy because of the meaning we attach to it. I don’t spend much time with objects. I want to spend more time creating.

I believe in following guidelines where you have reached that level of comfort with your actions. Don’t force yourself to do something that isn’t you. Similarly, we shouldn’t force our own beliefs onto others. Exposing our views is best received when we have genuineness behind our message.

Even though I wont be buying anything new, I could still make occasional secondhand purchases if I really need something but in this moment I don’t and don’t want to. I have enough to sustain me. I have the library. I choose to make decisions that align with my values.

Part two will feature the opposite of “not.” It will discuss the experiences and possibilities that are in our everyday lives. I don’t think living with less means a life unlived, but rather it’s a life that has the potential for more experiences, interactions, and focus.

Inspiration + More on this topic

Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast featJess Lively on Intuition and Living with Less


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Changes: On Moving, Materialism, & Self-Care

Recently I moved into a new home. It was very sudden and everything worked well in my favor but I was reminded of how draining the process of moving can actually be. You begin to realize how many things you own when you move. How many boxes or totes of items you need to haul from one place to the next. Or what items hold more value to you compared to others. I questioned why I had collected things that I hardly used but set aside for a rainy day. 

This will not be my last move but it did give me a reason to recollect on purpose and meaning, something that author (who also holds a master of applied positive psychology) Emily Esfani Smith claims can help us achieve richer and more fulfilling lives in her book The Power of Meaning. To be clear I think everyone has their own individual perception on “things” or what makes them feel comfortable. When it comes to spaces. Mine just happens to align more so with aspects of minimalism and consciously consuming. 

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I realize that moving causes me to personally come to grips with what truly matters to me. It is not objects but the purpose they serve. This can mean letting go of what no longer serves me but lingers like ghosts hidden in the attic. 

In a way I am thankful for the experience because it did cause me to reevaluate. Therefore I am working on incorporating this year is prioritizing my time and schedule. The past month I discovered what bullet journaling was. I didn’t want to buy another agenda because I tend to use them and then forget them. Thankfully I still had an unused journal from my previous zero-waste office/back to school guide to use in place. I liked the open-spaced beauty that I wasn’t confined to limited space. I could fill in what I wanted (budgets, list of goals, list of meal planning) and since I use refillable/erasable pens I don’t have to worry about “errors”. I am also taking a cue from my beau and will use the calendar app on my laptop to fill in events, dates, and posting schedules. 

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But there is another entity I am going to incorporate: self-care. While this was on my mind in the beginning of the year and in first page of my bullet journal, the sudden move caused me to do what I do best: put myself last. Therefore I am going to think of ideas and routines that I can integrate in my calendars such as guided meditation, solo nights-in (complete with binging Gilmore Girls & pizza), art journals, or visiting somewhere in nature. Self-care means a lot to me because of vulnerability. When you have autoimmune issues it causes you to reflect and hit the brakes. But you need not have any condition to participate in self-care. Everyone should. You matter. Nourish yourself. 

Sustainable Shopping: Creative Energy Candles

I love the ritual of lighting candles. Lately we’ve had a very brisk, cold winter in Los Angeles and with the rainfall and overcast skies it makes it all the more beautiful and ideal for lighting candles and unwinding with a book or film on Netflix.


But most candles aren’t really ideal. Conventional candles that are made with paraffin wax is essentially a petroleum waste product that must be treated chemically and then bleached. Artificially scented candles, even when they aren’t lit, can release chemicals like formaldehyde into the air around you because of simple evaporation and what’s worse is that the scents themselves are oils petroleum-based synthetics. Further more The American Lung Association says, “refrain from burning scented or slow burning candles that have additives.”

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Shop owner Kara started her company to create a safer product on the market. Creative Energy Candles are cruelty-free and vegan with a blend of soybean wax, certified organic extra virgin coconut oil and a variety of essential oil blends with organic cotton wicks. They serve a zero waste  multi-purpose use both as a candle and warming lotion – as well as aromatherapy. With various sizes (I prefer the larger ones for less materials used + more product) I no longer have a need to purchase lotion that I would hardly use.
Packaging is very important for the company, or rather reducing packaging. The candles themselves are poured in glass jars or metal tin – both re-suable or you can recycle the glass. An outer sleeve made up of 100% recyclable material is the only cover on the candle


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The company also donates 10% of its proceeds to various charities and missions 

Featured here//

Moroccan Teakwood features notes of cedarwood, patchouli, black pepper

Bergmont & Oakmoss is one of my favorites with sage, lavandin and bergamot


Tarocco Orange (my beau’s favorite!) with mango and blood orange

Citrus & Wild Mintisspringtime in a candle, channeling Persephone with geranium, lime, and basil


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An All Around Zero-Waste Guide

Many other people have their own zero-waste kits or guides, and I am no exception. Whether I’m gone for a few days, school/work, or going to run some errands I try my best to be prepared and it’s truly quite simple.
Its been well into the year I started taking re-usuables with me everywhere and at first I used to be quite shy: (will they accept my coffee cup? Will my company think I’m being far-fetched?). But kindness is everything and when I hit up my favorite joints, shoutout to DRNK in East Hollywood, Honu Coffee in Santa Clarita, and of course Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cafes throughout the city, I’m often remembered by the baristas for being the gal who whips out her Kleen Kanteen or UKonserve up upon ordering her drink and have struck up friendly conversations and smiles. Pro-tip: the cafes mentioned above offer in house cups to drink out of, just bring your own straw if needed.
As much as I want major companies to be the leaders in reducing waste and making environmental issues the forefront of their priorities, we as consumers have a voice in making that a reality. From taking re-usables, saying no to single-use items, and choosing farmers markets or bulk-buys we can make a difference with our actions.
These are simple and affordable switches that will save you money, minimize waste, and let’s be honest are quite appealing. I wholeheartedly support the companies mentioned here for their dedication to sustainability and helping our beautiful earth while minimizing waste.

zero waste guide at http://violet-woods.blogspot.com

Kleen Kanteen Insulated Tumbler | This company is one of my favorites. They create products that are durable and great for anyone to use. You can use this cup for anything: coffee, kombucha, water, etc. and since it’s made out of stainless steel it wont leech any The cup will keep hot liquids warm for 4 hours and cold liquids for up to 15+ although they must be covered but that these do come with a press-fit Simple Lid, just in mind this lid is not leakproof.
Klean Kanteen Insulated Food Canister 8oz | These are multi purpose stainless steel canisters that you can use for food storage, buying in bulk, or takeout. It is also
insulated so it will keep your items hot or cold!
Catspring Yaupon Tea | Catspring is a Texas based company that produces sustainable tea free of pesticides, chemical fertilizers in cultivating. What is Yaupon? It’s a US native plant that produces a green or black tea, depending on how you roast it. Edible Austin describes it as yaupon’s berries as toxic but the small oval leaves of the plant had been used for centuries by Native Americans to brew in ceremony. The tealeaves can be composted and the company offers bulk looseleaf options.
Guayaki Loose Leaf Yerba Mate | c/o When it comes to efforts in sustainability and environmental integrity, Guayaki raises the bar. The company Sustainably sources the tea from preserved rainforests and devotes effort to reforestation projects. The bag it comes in can be composted in home composts or landfill in 180 days so yes, it is possible to create packaging.  So what is yerba mate? It’s a South American herbal tea that some use as an alternative to coffee or for energy. It contains 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, 11 polyphenols, and of course caffeine. Guayaki’s yerba mate is organic & fair trade and the used tealeaves can also be composted.
Fat & The Moon All Salve | The plant based alternative to petroleum jelly, skin & lip balm, and healing salve for cuts and burns. This is a great multipurpose product that soothes and heals with organic ingredients like calendula, st john’s wort, & oregon grape leaf (but note: it does contain beeswax). This company is considerate about minimizing excess packaging and using re-usable solutions like this metal tin. 
Organic Unbleached Un paper Towels/Cloths  & Produce Bags | From the store Natural Linens, these are organic, unbleached, GOTS certified, and Fair Trade certified these are the perfect alternative to paper towels or face cloths. Of course you can wash them and use them as often as you need. These come with polyester threading but if you pay a small fee, you can request cotton threading instead.
Full Circle Glass Travel Bottle | If you or someone you know prefers tea this is a good gift or them.  It comes with an infuser so they can go a zero waste route and add loose leaf tea and let it steep to their content (compost it) but you can also add bagged tea bags, lemon, sugar + etc. The body is made out of borosilicate glass and cork sleeve. The cap and bottom are made out of recycled plastic that’s BPA free. This is a great cup for on the go + travel ready.
Toockies Natural Jute Flower Trivet | These are beautiful handmade organic jute trivets that have so many uses. Toockies recommends this for holding casserole or roasting dishes but I like to use them as candle/drink coasters or wall décor. These are compostable & biodegradable and come in a set of two. Toockies uses a fair trade system to give a voice and financial opportunities to women in India who are able o making a living through this company. Learn more about Toockies devotion to helping these women-artisans here.
EcoInstinct Handmade Laundry Soap | When I was searching for laundry soap that was zero waste and palm oil free I found that you cant always get what you want.  But my search paid off when I came across Eco Instinct. This company started by Folk Herbalist Megan Donovan creates palm oil free, vegan, and Non-GMO laundry soaps that are plant based and free of borax . Thoughtfully packaged in post-consumer or recycled material that you can reuse when repurchasing. You can request a bulk purchase as well or get soapberries if those are your preferred choice.

 

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