A NOTE ON SUSTAINABILITY.

While I have loved seeing today’s culture leaning towards more sustainable practices, making it easier and more mainstream to think sustainably, I also have been weary over the opportunity for businesses to capitalize on this shift in the market. I will be the first to admit that I did invest in some cotton grocery bags and other reusable swaps, but I also truly believe that the best way to be more sustainable is to buy and consume less overall. In my experience, it simply comes down to small changes in habit and mindset. Here are five changes I’ve made in my everyday life to be more sustainable.

One

Think ahead and plan smarter. Living more sustainably is rooted in some planning and a little extra effort. How many times have you forgotten your reusable grocery bags at home, or bought a plastic water bottle because you didn’t have a reusable one on you? Guilty. For me, this has meant planning a grocery list before leaving the house in order to bring the right bags, and keeping a utensil set at work, where I eat out of the house. I also reach for full fruits that I have to take the time to cut myself, as opposed to the precut, packaged alternatives. I’ve noticed that often, waste (single-use plastic) is a byproduct of accessibility and easiness. But as a result, I have learned that what is easy is not always right. Putting in a little extra effort makes a big difference.

Two

Educate yourself. Similar to ‘green washing’, there’s nothing stopping a brand, company or individual from claiming that they are sustainable. While this can depend on your personal views and preferences as to what is deemed an adequate ‘amount’ of sustainability, I still think it’s important to at least read into a business’s sustainable practices before blindly accepting them as true. In addition to researching companies that I am a customer of, I also enjoy getting inspired by others living sustainably, through blog posts on all types of sustainable living topics and YouTube videos in order to learn new practices or to simply be motivated by leaders in the community.

Three

Get creative with what you have. Consumer culture has trained us to believe that we need particular things for particular uses: vases for flowers, jars for our pantry, pitchers for drinks. I’ve enjoyed breaking that habit, and getting creative with using the things that I have in different ways. Large bouquet of flowers? Throw them into a glass pitcher. Empty jar in your kitchen? Ditch the lid and use it as a cocktail glass, pencil holder or catchall for mementos. Practicing resourcefulness has been monumental in my sustainable living journey.

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Four

Buy Less. If you start to adapt the ‘get creative with what you have’ mentality, it will be even easier to simply buy less. Not to mention, this is the number one way to live more sustainably. It can be harder said than done, which is why I’ve taken small steps to minimize the temptation. I have unsubscribed from retailer emails that put sales and new merchandise at the forefront of my inbox. I also don’t shop in stores often, but rather browse online and keep a wishlist of items that I love. If I still love and want the item in a few weeks, only then might I make a purchase.

Five

Transition Your Mindset & Be Happy With What You Have. Again, sometimes easier said than done, especially when a lot of us enjoy treating ourselves with material items, or feel excited when we buy new things. By practicing gratitude every day and allowing myself to recognize happiness when I feel it, I have slowly disassociated things with happiness. I’ll admit that this was a slower process for me, but by getting into the daily practice of gratitude, I am creating habits that are not only more sustainable, but also good for the soul.

How do you try to be more sustainable in your everyday life? I’d love to know in the comments below.

This post was originally written for JessAnnKirby.com.

SHOPPING WITH INTENTION.

If you’ve followed me for a while, some of my most loved sustainable brands may not be much of a surprise... But when I had the opportunity to share my favorites on a platform as big as Jess Kirby’s, it was pretty exciting. If one person is inclined to shop from a sustainable brand because of that post, it would be successful in my book! Check out the post for some more information about my absolute favorites, and click through all of my go-to sustainable brands below.

SIX THINGS I DO BEFORE 8AM.

Sometimes I hate to admit how much of a morning person I am. Mostly because there’s a small part of me that envies the person who can sleep soundly until 10am, and maybe because a part of me thinks (knows) that my early to rise mentality stems from anxiety. “I can’t sleep in! There’s things to do, thoughts on my mind! Sleeping in wastes the day!” Am I the only one who deals with that feeling?!

All of that aside, I’ve come to love being a morning person; the stillness of it, the slowness. It allows me to feel productive before the business of the day ensues. I’d like to think that it sets me up for success in some ways. So, here are six things that I usually do before 8:00:

1. 5 minutes of tidying | Especially as someone who works from home, our apartment is my all day work space, so it is important to me that there isn’t a pile of dishes in the sink or an unmade bed— it just wouldn’t be a productive space for me! Although we’re pretty good about staying on top of big messes, in the morning there’s inevitably clean dishes waiting to be put away, some laundry overflowing, or tumbleweed of dog hair brushing by… it’s really doable, and effective for me to spend a few minutes first thing in the morning just addressing these ‘chores’ and allowing myself the atmosphere I need to be productive.

2. Put things back in their place | Similarly to the above, things like books, remotes, shoes, mail, all get dropped fluidly in our house. Having a place for everything, and making sure those things always make it there, keep things at least looking tidy.

3. Take a few minutes for myself | Whether this is 15 minutes of reading in the morning or spending an extra 5 in bed after my alarm, ‘treating’ myself is always something I try to do. Waking up the extra minutes early is definitely worth it.

4. Walk the dog | Obviously.. for his sake. But other than that, just getting fresh air first thing in the morning is a game changer. To be honest, I don’t know how motivated I’d be to do this without a dog, especially in New England winters, but maybe there’s a track nearby or a coffee shop in walking distance that allows for some time outside before your day starts. Just doing it forces me out of that ‘I’m comfy in bed’ feeling and wakes me right up!

5. Review ‘admin’ items, like my upcoming schedules and bank accounts | This may seem super over the top to do on a daily basis but… I do. By keeping a daily tab on my planner, bank accounts, bills, meetings etc., there’s never a time when I sit down after weeks of neglect to surprises, a big project or something I missed. It makes me feel like my ‘affairs are in order’ — how adult— and that gives me peace of mind for the rest of the day.

6. Write down one point a gratitude from the day before | You already know that I find that practicing gratitude has helped me in my minimalism journey but in addition, I just love to journal. I’ve found that remembering a high point of the day before, no matter how big or small, not only keeps me practicing gratitude on a daily basis, but it also serves as a diary of sorts. Looking back even just months and seeing what I considered to be the best part of my day always makes me smile.

Thank you to True & Co for allowing me to try out your much-talked about V Neck Bra. I’ve been on the lookout for an intimates brand that isn’t a big box retailer for a very long time, and this female-run, San Fran based company has really hit the mark for me! Take their fit quiz to see what style would work best for you!

SUSTAINABILITY AROUND THE HOLIDAYS.

It’s already time to prepare for the holidays — can you believe it?! While decorating the house, gift giving and eating lots of food are some of the best ways to get into the spirit, they also can be super wasteful too. Lots of excess and waste accumulates this time of year, so here are some of my easy tips to be a little more sustainable this holiday season:

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Decorate with perishables | I’ll be honest, some decorations you just can’t replace. For me, that’s the ornaments on our tree and our stockings. But other than that, one of my favorite ways to decorate is with natural elements that can be found right outside! Ferns, twigs and pinecones can be foraged and used for a charming and zero waste alternative to fake greenery. Plus, once the season’s over, compost them or toss them back out in the yard… no need for bulky storage! 

Wrap with care | While glittery and printed paper may be tempting, I’ve had a lot of fun being more creative with wrapping gifts during the holidays. There are plenty of supplies already at my fingertips that don’t require a wasteful purchase! Newspapers, brown paper bags, magazine pages, old linen clothes and other items are perfect for upcycling. Decorate your wrapped package with twigs or a stem of pine or rosemary and you have a wrapped gift with no extra waste! Plus, your gifts will certainly be the most unique under the tree!

Gift more thoughtfully | One of my favorite things to gift, especially when I have a lot of people to give to, is something homemade. A gift that requires your time definitely means a lot more than something that only requires your money! Create soy candles with essential oils and mason jars, or bake cookies and other treats. One of my personal favorites is to make infused olive oil for cooking. My favorite is garlic and rosemary, but this recipe for roasted garlic infused oil sounds delicious too. Divide into anything from old salad dressing jars to empty wine bottles and there you have it! Outside of the time element that comes with making a gift, you can also control the ingredients in and process of creating your product, meaning no toxic ingredients or excessive plastic waste. Win/win for you and the gift recipient! If you aren’t a DIYer, look into finding gifts at vintage shops. How much more thoughtful and cool is it to gift a vintage denim jacket, belt or decanter?!


Be responsible with food waste | While considering composting is my first recommendation when it comes to food waste all year round, sometimes you may not have the means or resources to do so, especially while traveling. My suggestion is to see how unwanted food can go to use: sure, taking leftovers to eat (for days) post holiday is a must, but what about unopened or perfectly good unused items? Donate them! Beef bones and/or veggies scraps going into the trash? Save and freeze them until you can make a big pot of homemade stock.  Often times we throw away food out of habit, when we could really be getting so much more out of what we have! Think proactively before tossing and see how much more you can do with extra food this season.

What tips and tricks do you have for being more sustainable during the holidays?

This post was originally written for Jess Ann Kirby.

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COLD WEATHER WARDROBE.

Cold. Is. Here. It’s supposed to be particularly brutal this year, which I’m not exactly thrilled about, but up until January, I am usually in winter mode. Bring on the snow! By now, you may have heard me mention that I’ve been investing in five pieces per season to freshen up my wardrobe while also putting a cap on things that I buy. So far I’ve only gotten two, as I’m kind of unsure what else I will need…or, maybe I’ll find that I won’t need anything!

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First Rite Clothing Twill Work Jacket | You may have seen on my Instagram post a few weeks ago that I often make wish lists before purchasing clothing, and a piece from First Rite has been on my list for a very. long. time. I was so happy to order a work jacket in camel this month. I really like keeping my eye out for items that have impeccable quality, a timeless design, but also some unique elements like these asymmetrical pockets, and here it is. I could not be happier! This thing is going to be on high repeat for years to come.

Mejuri pieces | You guys know how much I love Mejuri. Loooove Mejuri. Such great quality, for amazing prices. I would say 80% of my jewelry is from this Toronto-based, sustainably-focused brand and I really appreciate that all of their pieces have become like a second skin to me. I wear them day in and day out, and really do not feel like I need anything else to complete everyday jewelry collection. I love these earrings in particular because they’re a little more elevated than my everyday, but also minimal and understated.

In addition to new pieces, my winter wardrobe consists of staple pieces that I wear season after season. Read about what they are over on my post for Jess Ann Kirby here.

FUELING CREATIVITY + LIVING IN THE MOMENT: A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX.

As someone who spends their work life, and a lot of their personal life, online, particularly on social media, I've felt truly conflicted recently with the role of social media in my life, and whether my constant participation is necessary (/harmful/frivolous/beneficial) for my career and overall well-being. And I'm not the only one... from influencers to companies, people are (finally) starting to discuss the benefits of a social media detox. I've definitely seen a need for one come to fruition in my own life: Often I see on social media, particularly with creatives such as writers, designers, photographers, painters, that they create such beautiful things in so many ways, and not just for work. They pursue passion projects. They design 'just because'. I found myself questioning how they had ‘all of this time’ to do these things. And then I started to notice... while they were creating, and simply posting to social media, I, unlike them, was being sucked into the vortex of the endless scroll. Maybe an assumption here, but probably not. 

Here's where I feel an internal conflict. As a digital marketer, is my up to date knowledge on everything social media something that makes me successful in my career? In some ways, I do think it is. Knowing who's who online and forging connections both professionally and otherwise is a large and super important part of what I do. I even advise my own clients on the importance of timely engagement with their followers and other accounts. So what will a social media detox look like for me? What's the perfect equilibrium between staying on top of a social platform that can be compared to a black hole (...yikes) and taking the time to step away, to enjoy the life that I'm living in real time.

It's hard. And I'm still figuring it out, to be honest. But here's what I'm trying so far:

A nighttime cutoff | I’m trying to step away from social media, and my phone in general, after 9pm. I just have to remember...anything that is posted at 9pm will be most definitely be there waiting for me at 7am. Plus, less screen time before bed is proven to have a huge positive effect sleep, and for someone who truly values sleep, this is a no brainer.

Do something 'active' | I prefer to walk to most places that I need to go in the city, so I am walking a lot of the time. What's nice about this time is that for the most part, I put in my headphones and use that time to zone out with music and my own thoughts. But active is subjective: If it's not walking, I like to cook to keep me busy. Whatever it is, do something that takes you off the seat that you're in and gets you moving. It helps.

Short bursts of unplugged time for creativity | Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes and put it on silent, face down. Use this time to be creative. Usually once I get inspired and over those first few minutes of 'withdrawal', I actually get so involved that I don't want my timer to end! Recently I've been trying stream of consciousness writing. I've wanted to get back into writing for fun, and plus, it's said that stream of consciousness writing (essentially journalling) is really great for mental wellness and stress relief.

Disassociate posting for yourself vs. posting to post | The pressure can be real on this one. If you're not posting, are you losing followers? Will people forget about you? Will the algorithm work against you? When at first we might say yes, the reality is that engaged followers only care about your content and how great it is... which normally is a natural result of passionate work. When taking and posting photos becomes laborous, or you post something just to get content out there, it usually isn't your best. I’ve been working to except ebbs and flows in my creative process, as opposed to fight it, and work with my inspiration only when it comes naturally.

Just look up | Whenever you consciously find yourself scrolling on your phone, then also make the conscious decision to just look up, look around and put the phone down. Take a few deep breaths, pet your dog, stretch. It truly becomes the first step in breaking the habit.

Have you tried a social media detox?? I’d love to know! 

PARIS, FRANCE.

I don't have to explain how hard it is to summarize a city as amazing as Paris. There are no favorites! But, without picking particular places or memories over others, I wanted to share some general but notable thing to do and see for those of you who may visit for your first time! What were your favorites when you visited? Or the most memorable parts of any of your travels??

A true French breakfast | What eggs, toast and bacon is to the American, a toasted baguette with butter and jam and an espresso is to the French. Um, yessss. I love that the French, as do most Europeans, don't rush a sit down meal. You're either eating on the go, or sitting for at least an hour, even for breakfast.  It was the best way to start the day. My favorite was Carette in Trocadéro for the amazing coffee and breads and Café Marly for the one-of-a-kind location in the courtyard of the Louvre.

Chez Julien | A dinner highlight... and in Paris, that's saying a lot. Great cocktails, dinner and dessert, but also a particularly great location and atmosphere. I loved that it was fairly upscale, while also being approachable and fun. Not to mention, if you order the truffle risotto, they shave fresh truffle on the top... a (very expensive) rarity in the States.

Buly | I initially heard about this shop from The Good Trade's Sustainable City Guide to Paris, never expecting to stumble upon it. But when we did, I was so happy to have visited. Founded in 1803, this beauty and grooming shop is traditional in it's products and service. I highly recommend stopping in to pick up a special gift for someone back home or yourself! Not only are the products high quality and all natural, but the time and service put into your purchase will make it feel like a million dollar steal.

A visit to Montmartre | Just north of Paris is the large hill located in the city's 18th arrondissement. This little part of town is home to a wonderful 'aerial' view of Paris, Sacré-Cœur, an iconic church, genuine artists and quaint places to eat and drink. It was a nice change of pace from the bustling city, and so charming! 

Experiencing the Eiffel Tower more than once | It may sound obvious, but believe me when I say that you are going to want to experience the Eiffel Tower more than once, at all times of day... Not only did we take the ride to the Sommet (Not recommended for those afraid of heights, the elevator ride to the top even made me uneasy!), but we sat in the park with wine to watch it sparkle at night, took photos in the morning, and also did as the Parisians did and had a picnic on the Siene at sun down. Stop by the boulangerie, fromagerie, and grocery for all of the things you need to sit on the edge of the water and live like a local.