Seven Things – Week 2

  1. Take a break
    I finally found a job, which I’m hopefully starting tomorrow (these Kiwis do take their time to confirm stuff), so I decided to take a break from job hunting and just CHILL. I will need to find something else at some point as this job is only 10 hours a week, but for now I’m just going to enjoy my free time and relax.
  2. Rye flour
    I switched from regular shampoo to *drums* rye flour. My curls have never been so fluffy and defined.  I buy rye flour in bulk so there’s no packaging involved, and I can fill a whole jar for $1 #winwin
    (More on this topic soon.)

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  1. Buy a book
    I’ve been borrowing books from the library since we moved to New Zealand because I already have SO MANY and when you travel as much as I do you don’t really want to ship thirty boxes of books from one side of the planet to another every time. But on Tuesday I was wandering around and ended up in this awesome second-hand bookshop and just couldn’t resist.

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  1. Don’t be dull
    When you open the fridge and all that’s inside is radish and spring onions, you can still make it look like you’re having a fancy lunch.

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  1. Talk to old friends
    Not a day goes by without me missing my friends and family at home, so I always make a point of texting as many people as I can every day and keeping in contact. Thatmakes it feel like there’s no 18,000km in between us.
  2. Get better
    Last night we had our basketball semifinals, and I was EXTREMELY nervous because last time we played that team I had a very bad game. This time, however, I was very happy with how I played. Conclusion: failing once doesn’t mean you’re always going to fail. You can always get better.
  3. Be patient
    I ran out of incense a while ago and I haven’t bought new sticks yet because they all come in a plastic package plus I can’t find my favourite flavours. I was getting annoyed because I burn incense every day and I was missing it. Then my friend came back from Bali and brought me some! Unpackaged, exactly the flavours I like, and with a complimentary bracelet.

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Zero Waste challenge – Week 1

As you guys probably know by now, I do love a challenge. What I like even more is getting other people involved, especially when I think it’s for a good cause.
Waste minimisation has been my top priority in the past months, so Giac and I are currently challenging ourselves to live Zero Waste for two weeks.

The first week, which ends today, was all about using anything we already had that came with a packaging, assessing the amount of waste we produce on average in seven days, considering exceptions and compromises, while also refusing to buy anything that comes in plastic and trying to limit any packaging to recyclable materials at the same time.

The second week –assuming that at this point we have used up anything we had already purchased- is going to be about refusing and reducing even more, hopefully avoiding anything that comes in packaging at all, as well as assessing side effects such as whether we are saving money or we are eating better etc.

This is a review of the first week.

First of all let me tell you, this has been much easier than expected. Giac and I are already very aware of the rubbish we produce and we’ve been on a journey to minimise it since we moved to New Zealand. So we were already having a head start.
However there are things we are still struggling with (as in, items we find it hard to refuse or we haven’t found an alternative to yet).

This is all the rubbish we created in the past seven days, divided in recyclable (on the right) and not recyclable (on the left). I haven’t included all the compost, but just imagine a mountain of banana peels and tea bags as tall as you.

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Recyclable: pasta packaging, tin, paper scraps (tea box, notes etc), soy milk carton, flour packaging, paper napkin, toilet paper rolls (let’s ignore the fact that we used five rolls in seven days).
Not recyclable: makeup wipes, floss, receipts, fruit stickers, various plastic packaging, chocolate packaging, oatmeal packaging, canola spread container, contact lenses + container, chewing gums, various plasticky labels.

This is the result of a combination of consuming goods we had already and refusing to buy as many packaged items as possible.
In order to keep out mental sanity we decided not to go cold turkey and give up all packaging altogether. We decided to refuse as much as possible while still buying things that we think we need and we haven’t found an alternative to yet.
Below is a list of things we managed to refuse, things we compromised, and some final thoughts.

Things we refused

  • Spinach
    I do love a green smoothie. I always put spinach in my smoothies, however when I wanted to make myself one on a Friday, I realised I didn’t have any spinach and I couldn’t just go to the supermarket and buy it because spinach comes in a plastic bag. So I had to wait for the farmers market on Sunday to buy some in bulk. Zero Waste is all about being organised!
  • Sugar in coffee
    We’ve been to Starbucks a couple of times in the past week, and normally we’d both grab a sugar to go with it. Now we are either bringing our own sugar from home in a small container, or we simply go without.
  • Painting my nails
    I rarely do it, but sometimes I enjoy nail polish. However, removing it means using a cotton pad (landfill) and nail polish remover (toxic), so my solution was simply not painting my nails. I’m sure I’ll get over it.
  • Art supplies
    I didn’t need to buy any, but I did go visit my favourite art shop the other day, only to sadly notice how pretty much everything is wrapped in plastic. Will need to find an alternative to that.
  • Bread
    The bread we normally buy comes in a paper bag with a plastic insert. I haven’t got round to make my own bread yet, but for now we resorted to buying loose rolls instead, which also turned out to be cheaper.

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  • Incense
    My inner hippie loves some incense. I burn it pretty much daily. That’s why I ran out of it and I’ve been looking for some packaging-free sticks. The ones I found were not really my favourites so I haven’t bought any yet. I really like coconut and nag champa but they come in paper + plastic. Will see if I want to go with the less preferable flavours but in the meantime more research is needed!
  • Chocolate
    Giac is addicted to Cadbury chocolate. The packaging, however, goes straight to the landfill. As an alternative I’ve been baking like crazy to make sure he gets a daily supply of cookies instead.

Things we compromised

  • Pasta
    Unfortunately, pasta in bulk is not really a thing yet. I’m more of a rice person and could happily live without pasta (despite being Italian), but Giac has pasta pretty much every day. So we did buy it, after making sure we found a brand that has recyclable packaging.
  • Soy milk
    Haven’t got round to make my own milk yet. I will try for sure in the future, but for now I’m taking it one step and a time and still buying soy milk, as long as it comes in a recyclable packaging.
  • Condoms
    Probably TMI here, but lots of contraceptives are wasteful. I’ve been considering switching to Daysy, but haven’t made up my mind yet. This probably requires a separate blog post as it’s quite a broad subject, but in the meantime any suggestions in this field would be more than welcome!

Where we shopped instead
In order to minimise the amount of packaging, we went to the farmers market on Sunday (nothing new here, we shop at the farmers market on a regular basis already), and for anything other than fruits and veggies (i.e. rice, sugar, spices, seeds) we found this nice place in Newtown called Moshim’s (go check it out if you are in Welly) which has a huge selection of goods in bulk. We brought our own bags and jars, and ta-daaa! Zero Waste shopping.

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I also made my own shampoo, switched to a new face wash, and will try to make my own face cream as soon as the raw ingredients I ordered arrive (recipes coming soon!).

Overall conclusions
Forcing yourself to set aside every piece of rubbish you produce really makes you aware of it, and personally it still feels like we accumulated a lot. Compared to the average household, though, I think we did pretty well.
For me, the best way to transition is not to go Zero Waste overnight but to take it one step at a time. Replace what you need as and when you run out of it (i.e. I still have a couple of face creams that I’m going to use up before I make my own, so I can re-use the containers as well), take your time  to do your research and find sustainable alternatives. Ideally you want to go package-free, but if you can’t try at least to find the same item in a recyclable packaging.
Keep in mind that the point of living Zero Waste is accepting the fact that recycling is not the solution: refusing is (part of) the solution. So an even better approach is to consider whether something you want to buy is something you really need. You’ll find that nine out of ten times you can probably go without.


Book review- The Regulars

I’m reading a lot recently, so here, have another book review.
Disclaimer! Minor spoilers.

On my bedside table: The Regulars by Georgia Clark

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Why I picked it up: It was all over my Instagram feed when it came out in the UK and all my ex colleagues were raving about it. It was forever on loan at the library so when I finally spotted a copy on the shelf I grabbed it and now I don’t want to return it ever.

What it is about: Evie, Krista and Willow are three best friends trying to make it through their twenties in New York. They are the Regulars: regular girls with regular jobs, cool but not popular, not ugly but not stunning-beautiful, never really standing out.
Wannabe-journalist and passionate feminist Evie is a copyeditor at a glossy magazine, where her attempts to cover issues such as bisexuality, women’s representation and rape victim support are perpetually dismissed in favour of “Find your inner bad girl!” or “Is Facebook killing your sex life?” articles.
Krista is a hot mess who dropped out of Law School in order to be an actress, but she’s forever late for her auditions and hasn’t paid the rent in the last seven months.
Delicate and sensitive Willow lives under the pressure of her father’s presence, a successful film director who makes her photography look bland and lifeless.

But everything changes when Krista is given a small purple bottle containing a mysterious potion called Pretty, which has the ability to turn anyone into the sexiest, hottest version of themselves.

One drop, one week.

One by one, the girls give in and take the Pretty.  To their dismay, they soon find out that prosperous breasts, a flat stomach and shiny hair can in fact open many doors: Krista is offered a role in a movie co-starring her childhood crush, Willow finds inspiration to take photographs that will be exhibited at her first successful exhibition, and Evie gets to date her favourite writer and long-lived wet dream Velma Wolff.

But the Pretty has some side effects too (beside turning your insides out right before the transformation): Willow has to sacrifice her mental stability in order to capture the perfect angle, Krista is fired twice in consequence of accidents involving masturbating with a Tween King trophy and exposing her crush’s micropenis to the World Wide Web, and Velma Wolff turns out to be a bit of a bitch.

The Regulars is a brilliant Comedy of Errors that sees three ordinary girls experiencing the world from a different perspective, enduring a rollercoaster of emotions, gradually realising that in spite of a hot body it’s still them inside of it, and eventually learning that they don’t need the Pretty or any other magical elixir to be themselves, and to love their bodies and personalities just the way they are.

Would I recommend it: YES. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s such a page-turner: witty, clever, and most of all HILARIOUS. Go grab a copy NOW.

Seven Things – Week 1

Happy Friday beautiful readers, and welcome to this new segment of my blog called SEVEN THINGS.
What was that? Could I not pick anything less inventive? I know, but I spent a whole week trying to come up with a more original title (like Seven Sins, Seven Dwarves, Seven Minutes in Heaven), however I wasn’t gonna write about eternal damnation, midgets, or people making out in a closet. So I thought I’d just go with the most straightforward version.

Seven Things is a weekly segment (posted on a Friday) that involves me listing seven things that got me through the previous week.
The two reasons behind this are:

  1. I’ve been slaking too much recently and I’m struggling to find out ideas to write about, or rather I do have ideas but some of them are taking a long time to develop so I need something to fill the gaps in between and keep me motivated to post regularly;
  2. I love lists.

So without further ado, here are the first Seven Things that helped me survive the past seven days.

  1. Get tired
    I signed up for a half marathon in June and training has officially commenced. I’m up to 8.5km so far and back to the good old post-running feeling. To be completely honest I don’t really like running itself, but I love how tired my legs feel afterwards, and the fact that I can bake three dozen cookies and eat them all in one sitting without feeling one bit guilty.
  2. Rhymes
    I’ve never been a fan of poetry, but I’ve been reading a lot of Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg and Kurt Vonnegut thanks to my shiny library card. I’m not sure I really get it, but it’s been good to alternate rhymes and fiction.
    (I have the feeling that this will be a recurring point, since I’ve been camping in the library every single day and checking out dozens of books at a time.)

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  3. Strumming
    I’ve added two songs to my five-song repertoire on the ukulele (they’ll probably be up next week). I’m making an effort to find new tunes I can cover which is great for singing too!
  4. Make yourself useful
    I spent my Saturday volunteering for a couple of causes I’m strongly passionate about: waste minimisation and animal rights. It wasn’t fun to stand for six hours in the freezing cold, but I met heaps of cool people and got to go to the Gay Pride festival, so.

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  5. Get rid of stuff
    I never seem to be satisfied with the amount of stuff I have nor with the amount of stuff I donate, especially regarding my clothes. It’s going to be a while before I manage to build The Perfect Wardrobe, but in the meantime I shall see you soon, local charity shop.
  6. #morningsareformaking
    Thank you Kate for inspiring me to get out of bed at 5.30am and get stuff done. I’ve been reading, writing, running, translating, and felt creative and productive in general, plus I’m surprised by how not tired I am during the day in spite of getting less sleep than usual.

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  7. Find a purpose in life
    Currently that means finding a job, personally. I’ve been sending CVs like there’s no tomorrow, and I’ve got a trial at a café on Sunday. Well, it’s only 10 hours a week over the weekend, but I could use some pocket money (I sound like a 13 year old).

There you have it. Talk soon, peeps.

Book review – We don’t know what we’re doing

On my bedside table: We don’t know what we’re doing by Thomas Morris

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Why I picked it up: British author, black&white mugshots on the cover.

What it is about: From stuttering teenagers being arrested, to manic-depressed sisters befriending Japanese tourists, to flabby stag parties, Thomas Morris’ collection of short stories portrays a wide array of different people in different situations, all located in Caerphilly, South Wales, and brought together by the fact that they all have no clue what they are doing.

Would I recommend it: Yep. Witty, funny, this collection reads smoothly while delving deep into the lethargy and blandness of a sleepy town reality.

Book review – Paulina & Fran

On my bedside table: Paulina & Fran by Rachel B. Glaser

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What it is about: Paulina and Fran are two curly girls in their late teens/early twenties who attend art school in New England.
Paulina is someone who “records her orgasms and listens to them for her own amusement”  and fantasises over her funeral (featuring “swans, celebrities and rivers of tears”) at someone else’s funeral. In Paulina’s world, she comes first. Bold but scornful, she’s a self-proclaimed queen bee, well aware of her sturdy body and its sexiness. Paulina also seems to be the only art major who thinks that art is useless and unnecessary (“Art is an adolescent impulse to busy oneself with oneself”).
Fran is also quirky but in a more subtle way. She’s sweet and dreamy, a bit of a wallflower, but more serious about her art aspirations.

The two girls are drawn together during a study trip to Norway by a common sense of detachment from the rest of their peers and an ambiguous interest for each other.
Fran seems the first human being Paulina is genuinely interested in. They quickly grow inseparable, building a relationship that revolves around a mutual inability to relate to anyone else. They bond over their curls and a make-believe sexual adventure with a Nordic stallion named Blood Axe.
However, their friendship is intense but brief. The girls quickly drift apart when Fran starts dating Paulina’s discarded boyfriend, Julian.

Among student parties and weekly trips to SUPERTHRIFT, Glaser’s characters move in an aseptic scenery where the future looks blurry and  everything concerning art has already been said.
After graduation, Paulina proceeds to launch her very own hair salon chain, Supercurl, while Fran moves to Ohio and ends up abandoning her art dreams in favour of a dull cubicle job.
As the years go by, Paulina and Fran are leading separate lives, apart from each other yet interlaced by past lovers, forgotten library cards and other small traces that constantly remind them of each other’s existence.

Would I recommend it: Not to everyone. I found it interesting but a bit slow at times. This book is more about personal development and charatcer relationships  rather than things actually happening. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s more into action.