MY BULLET JOURNAL.

I am a huge advocate for the traditional paper and pen. I saw someone post once comparing a creative's mind to a window with thousands of tabs open at once... and I could not relate more. I'm one of those people that if I don't write absolutely everything down, it will either consume all of my thoughts, hindering my ability to concentrate, or it's gone completely. IE -- I write everything down from remembering to fold laundry to the food I plan to cook for the week.

That being said, 2018 is the first year that I fully embraced the bullet journal method in its entirety. Up until now, any planner or journal that I have used just never seemed to be absolutely perfect. I ended up incorporating bullet journal theories where I could, but new year, new me and I started day 1/365 with a brand new Shinola grid journal. A few weeks in, and here's why I am absolutely in love:

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Flexibility | I don't know about you, but for me, some weeks are jam-packed, while others are very slow. In other pre-designed journals, I had too much room on some days and not enough on others. With a bullet journal being completely at my disposal, I can design each week based on what I have going on and what my needs are on any given week.

Creativity | Setting up and designing my journal is a creative outlet separate from any creative tasks that are tied to 'work' (IE: necessary). It's relaxing and freeing to be able to write, draw, collage and design whatever I feel like. And, at the end of the year, my bullet journal will become both a log and a visual representation of my year. (And for those who really want to go down a dangerous rabbit hole, look at bullet journal videos on YouTube, to see just how many possibilities are out there!)

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Efficiency | The general benefit of the bullet journal is the extreme efficiency that it provides. Outside of just the format, the idea is that the user spends a few minutes at the beginning of each day reviewing what needs to get done and writing it down, migrating tasks that have yet to be accomplished from previous days. Watch this video from the bullet journal's creator to hear it explained in full. 

Reflection | After the year, your bullet journal becomes just that: a journal of your highs and lows, successes and failures. What tasks kept getting pushed off? Which goals did and didn't get accomplished? This journaling method essentially creates a blueprint into your innerworkings. Pretty cool, huh?

Achievement | The bullet journal allows me to crush all of the things that I set out to accomplish by taking large, overarching goals and breaking them down to manageable steps. How? 1. At the beginning of the year, write down all of your yearly goals. 2. As each month approaches, look to your yearly list, and write down a few very specific items that can be accomplished in a month to get you closer to your yearly goal. 3. Finally, write down on your to-do list the daily action that accomplishes your monthly goals! It becomes a tiered system. The best way to exemplify this method is with my yearly goal of reading ten books in 2018. To accomplish this overarching goal, I knew that I had to finish the book that I was reading on January 1, by the 31st; it became a January goal. How did I ensure that I completed the book? Simple math and I knew that I had to read 12 pages a day to stay on track. I wrote 'read 12 pages' on my to-do list every day. It may sound slightly obsessive (or at least for my reading example it is), but it is also truly effective! 

Do you bullet journal or do you want to try? What methods work for you and what do you like or dislike about it? The journaling nerd in me would love to hear about it!

A NOTE ON ZERO-WASTE.

Let me start by saying that I certainly cannot say that I live a 100% zero-waste lifestyle. I produce trash, but I have tried really hard to cut out any excessive trash production. Prior to working on this initiative, I noticed that at work alone, I used a plastic stirrer for my coffee every morning and plastic utensils for my breakfast and lunch, which were both usually stored in cling wrap or plastic bags...yikes.

So, where to even begin making small steps in the right direction? #1: assess where most of your waste is coming from. For me, it was 100% food consumption. Buying packaged food, cooking it, storing it and consuming the leftovers has probably contributed to 80% of my trash. The other 20% is household products like cleaning supplies, beauty products and clothing.

With that being said, I've taken small and super easy steps to reduce my waste that are not  intrusive to my life. You can adapt these practices to reduce your waste too, and if your biggest waste production comes from a different area of your life, I'd love to hear how you have taken small steps to start your zero-waste lifestyle!

Just say no to straws | After two consecutive days of not reaching for a stirrer at work, it became habit and I haven't done it since. It been about three months: five work days a week x twelve weeks = SIXTY plastics straws that I've saved from going to landfill.

Invest in reusables for your desk/car or wherever you spend more of your time | If you can invest some $$ up front, purchase reusable items to replace the one-time-use products that you're used to using. (It will actually pay for itself after a while.) At my desk, I have a mason jar for water, my own coffee cup and a set of utensils wrapped in a cloth napkin. These super easy swaps have weened me off one-use cups, plastic utensils and straws.

Keep reusable bags on hand | My day tote or backpack to and from work always has a net bag and two organic cotton produce bags in it for when I'm spontaneously stopping at the drugstore or Whole Foods to pick something up last minute. (You can keep reusables in your car if you drive, too.) We used to have that infamous 'plastic bag full of plastic bags' under our sink and guess what? It's been empty for weeks! 

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Take a look around your local grocery store | Since most of the trash I consumed is based on food consumption, I wanted to take a critical look at where it all starts: the grocery store. Even up until this year, we were using plastic bags for things like garlic and avocados... (Why?!) The first easy switch: ditch plastic bags and stray away from packaged goods. Most grocery stores even offer produce like mushrooms, herbs and green beans package free. I'll be honest, this lifestyle takes a liiiittle more effort, (yes, we cut a full watermelon as opposed to buying the pre-chopped version and yes, I pre-plan what I'm going to buy so I can bring the bags that I need) but the result is less waste and a healthier diet! Second step: research what is offered in bulk. Whole Foods offers an awesome bulk section with rice, grains, nuts and beans. Bring a cotton produce bag or mason jar from home (note the PLU number on your phone) and fill up, zero waste!

Overall, I think my biggest tip is to think ahead. Prepare with reusable bags when you go to the grocery store and stock the places you spend time with sustainable items. Then, it's as easy as *that*.

And stay tuned, my next endeavor is into less-waste kitchen and bathroom products. I was highly skeptical at first, but here I go!.....

ZERO-WASTE // Why I Became Waste-Less Conscious

I don't have to be the one to tell you that the world is a scary place. Violence, hate, consumption, overall disregard for the place we call home and the people that inhabit it. Sometimes I think we're all walking around with our heads spinning out of control until they just explode. (Sorry for the graphic imagery.) It was time to take control and make educated choices in my every day life to make a difference where I can.

I came across the zero waste initiative as I was researching minimalism: they often go hand in hand-- people who are true minimalists produce less waste simply based on their values-- and I was absolutely hooked. Not only are the facts startling, but I thought that if more people knew about them, they'd surely be more conscious too. (Weird how big brands, fast fashion and even the government don't inform you, the consumer, on it, right? Eyeroll.) For example:

PLASTIC STRAWS LAST FOREVER. 500 MILLION PLASTICS STRAWS ARE CONSUMED EVERY DAY IN THE U.S. ALONE. AT THIS RATE, BY 2050, THERE WILL BE MORE PLASTIC STRAWS IN OUR OCEANS THAN FISH.

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN PRODUCES 4.4 LBS OF WASTE A DAY. HOW MANY DAYS WOULD IT TAKE YOU TO PRODUCE YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN TRASH? HOW ABOUT 5X YOUR BODY WEIGHT? (NOT THAT LONG, RIGHT?)

THERE ARE 25 BILLION LBS OF CLOTHING DUMPED INTO LANDFILLS EVERY YEAR THE U.S. ALONE. THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS THE SECOND MOST WASTEFUL INDUSTRY BEHIND OIL. (THAT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WAS DISCUSSED IN MY EDUCATION AT PARSONS...WE ACTUALLY CONTINUOUSLY STUDIED ZARA AS THE UNICORN OF RETAILERS.)

OVER ONE MILLION SEA BIRDS AND 100,000 SEA MAMMALS ARE KILLED BY POLLUTION EVERY YEAR.

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And that's just the beginning. If you're like me and have said something like, "I'm not sure I want to bring children into the world at this rate," then maybe you, like me, are the perfect candidate to start somewhere, in a small way, to make a difference. I realize that it may not seem like much, but it does add up. 

If you want to learn more, I suggest this awesome article from Trash is for Tossers to get you started. And stay tuned here, I'm sharing the small steps I've taken on a daily basis soon, as well as a bunch more lifestyle content to show that this way of life doesn't have to compromise anything else I do to be effective. I'm super excited to continue sharing this journey!