APRIL 2019.

I mentioned at the end of last month how I expected April to be slow, and I’ll admit, it was! Most of our weekends felt long, which is up there as one of the best feelings ever, along with sleeping with new sheets, which we also happened to buy this month! Anyway, I’m grateful for the nights of being able to cook a meal, watch tv and curl into bed before 9:30, and for weekends where we had no alarms set and no where to be.

In May, I’m looking forward to riding the creative wave that I’m on. (Gotta take those bursts of inspiration when they come.) I’m also looking forward to a little getaway to Portland, Maine. It’s been since March that I’ve travelled, and while I’ve loved the homebody moments, I am itching to explore! Only a couple more weeks, and I’m not wishing any of it by. Until next month…


APRIL FAVORITES

Fashion | I’m really into the idea of blazers as a jacket in spring, and this cotton linen version from Everlane is the perfect mix of oversized, yet still flattering. I am also itching to wear this denim jumpsuit, come on summer weather!

Food | One Friday night, we stayed in and created a shrimp piccata dish, over pasta and with spinach. I have to say, it was one of my best! Otherwise, we indulged in a feast over at Pabu in Downtown Crossing. Sushi, wagu beef, sake and desserts — it’s one of those meals that you happen to have every once in a while. Everything was delicious!

Book | It’s hard to choose this month. I read three books in April and all of them were good, just not The Silent Patient good, you know what I mean? If you’re looking for an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller, I suggest No Exit. If you’re interested in the Gone Girl-esque psycho thriller, I’d say The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Link | This article on rules for life. . . Please read this. And take it to heart. Life is too short, and my takeaways from this is: to be nice, to order that extra dish at a restaurant, and to always make extra dinner rolls (obviously).

Media | While I wasn’t totally in love with new music this month per se, Beyonce’s Homecoming debuted, and man, that show got me. Beyonce fan or not… you are, right?!… she just kills it. Singing, dancing and just pure entertainment and girl power. A highly recommend from me!


MAY AGENDA

Have a movie night watching Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile when it airs this Friday

Take a long weekend up to Portland, Maine

Cook this recipe for Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter for Sunday Dinner

Go up to Lake Winnipesaukee for the first time this season

Read at least two books, including The Great Alone and The Woman in the Window

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!.....

A NOTE ON MINIMALISM.

While minimalism looks different for everyone, these are my five hacks for living a more minimal life. 

1. Become conscious through education and inspiration | I can't even list all of the wonderful podcasts, blogs and YouTube videos I've come across in my search to find out more information about minimalism, conscious shopping and zero waste initiatives (they often go hand in hand). I've learned things like you eat 7 lbs of lipstick in your lifetime so chemically based formulas are definitely not ideal (thank you Follain), physical decluttering actually effects your mental health and that the average American produces over 4 lbs of trash a day. All of these things have helped me become more aware about my lifestyle. Learn more from just a few of my favorites: The MinimalistsTrash is for Tossers and The Good Trade.

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2. Think about versatility and re-usability | Consumerism has trained us to believe we need specific products for specific uses. What I'm learning to accept is that we absolutely do not. One of the biggest multi-use items we’ve added to the loft to minimize waste and excess products is mason jars. They're airtight and portable (which makes them perfect for food storage), are less toxic than plastic and can be used for all types of home uses.

3. Keep a donation bin | If you find something isn't working for you, but aren't willing to commit to ditching it, have a designated place that is out of sight to store it for a short period of time. I use a box under my bed. If after month or so I haven't reached for the items, or have forgotten what's in the box completely, I can easily get rid of it with the peace of mind knowing that I don't actually need or use those items.

4. Remember your daily added value | Practicing gratitude may sound super 'yoga guru' of me, but I've realized that if I take 30 seconds every day to recognize what I valued most during the day, almost 100% of the time it is not a tangible item. This allows me to keep my values in check: I may love a pair of shoes online but is buying them going to give my days added value or is it just going to provide a temporary thrill (and higher debt on my credit card)?

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5. Remove temptations and replace with positive influences | In general, I'm here to tell you: just cut the cord. Unsubscribe from emails from retailers that clog your inbox and tempt you to indulge in the latest sales. (Gently) disassociate yourself with people who are not helping you be your most true 'you'. Find productive ways to spend your time other than online shopping or visiting a mall. I have felt... a million times better now that the only emails coming to me are ones I truly want to read, I'm spending time with people who I can discuss meaningful topics with and I’m making 'down' time to read, get into something creative, or spend time with my family.

So-- what do you think? Can you take some small steps to make your life more minimal and more spacious for the important things?

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!