Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My thoughts on "The True Cost"

I should start with saying that I'm not a true fan of this emotional documentary movie style they have in USA. I find that all this emotion makes it hard to stay objective and thus makes it hard to take the opinion they represent 100% genuinely. I do watch them occasionally, but I try to keep in my mind to filter facts and bigger picture from emotions and opinions.

This being said, the movie The True Cost gave me a big impression and a lot to think about.
These are my thoughts in random order.

There are actually 2 problems with fast fashion (from now on: ff)
1. we consume more than we need
2. we consume for too low price
The first problem is kind of environmental and cultural, the second one is human rights problem.
Solving first of the problems doesn't eliminate the second and vice versa. I'd even think that consuming less would worsen the situation for the workers in the industry. Because they would have less work. Their pay has to go up at the same time.

Conclusion - buying ff (buying it, but not acting it) only seldom doesn't make you a better person. You're still buying things that are made for too low pay.
The solution should start from buying clothes that are made while paying fair wages. It would leave us less money and less reason to buy ff clothes.
It still leaves the question - what would to the people who would lose their jobs when consuming went down.

There are many people who don't eat meat because they can't bare the thought that animals have to die. Way too often I notice how they're regularly and way too often (and more often than anybody would need) shopping clothing from ff that might have killed many people.
Shouldn't ethics begin inside our own species?
The same goes for those yogis who eat plants, meditate... and have no care about their ecological footprint or human rights.
Also, while there are medical and biological reasons why a human being should consume some kind of animal food sometimes, there is no reason why anyone should ever consume clothing made in sweatshops.

All empires built on slavery. You can say, that since factory workers live in their homeland they're not slaves.. but actually it's just cheaper this way.
Minimum wage in Bangladesh is 1,500 taka ($19) per month for all economic sectors not covered by industry-specific wages; in the garment industry the minimum wage is 5,300 taka ($68) per month. 
It's roughly 20 times less than in USA and 10 times less than in my homeland.
Local Purchasing Power in United States is 232.24% higher than in Bangladesh.

Ff is so popular, it's hard to find local or higher quality clothes.
So even the people who don't follow the ff mentality do buy from there, since 1)it's cheap 2) there is no other choice actually.
It does depend on where you live. But if you want to buy your clothes from store so you can try them on, then around here you have very little choice. Ff is everywhere, but you have to spend hours searching more high-quality stores. Most people give up.
If there was a store where simple, normal sitting, normal quality, timeless clothing was sold, many people would be happy. The problem is - nobody wants us to wear long lasting timeless clothes. It would be bad for the business. The best way is often to go to the seamstress.

I still have the Roots t-shirt I got 14 years ago. It has exactly the same shape it had when I got it, it has no holes. It used to be snow-white as new, now it's more natural-white, but that's all that has happened. Otherwise it has the same quality as a new shirt. I still wear it to gym. And no one has laughed at me.
I would die to get one more such quality shirt(for the next 14 years:) ! Unfortunately Roots doesn't seem to be common around here.
The ff shirts lose their shape in few months and in more than 5 months they start getting small holes inside the fabric. Even if I tried, I couldn't wear them 14 years to gym.

Ff has taken elegance out of fashion. It's like they don't even want people to look good. So people would keep trying to find new looks.
It is true that fashion keep changing with the time, but at the moment fashion is going 10 times faster than it should.

If i would be norm to pay more for our clothes it could bring some of the factories back to western world. And it could lessen the lack of jobs. But it would mean people should pay 10 times more for clothes. I think most of the people I know could afford to have around 4 times less clothes and pay 3 times more for them.

I've never understood the shopping as a recreational activity. It is cool to find new and important stuff you never knew that existed. But it doesn't mean you should buy it all.
It does take a long time to shop, though. If you know what you want (and it ain't in fashion at the time) or you actually want the item to fit really well, it will take time. But this is not recreational, nor it is something one does regularly.
I just don't get it.

Also I don't get it why I should be assessed by the age of my clothing.
Or in that case, why couldn't I be assessed by the fact that I'm still able to wear and fit into my 14 year old shirt or that I'm able to keep by assets in such a good condition I'm able to use them for so many years later.
Doesn't it say more about me than the fact that I'm able to walk into a store and get something as cheap as a lunch?

so yeas, I do recommend movie The True Cost. People should understand that cheap always comes for the price of extreme poverty in somewhere else.

Pictures come from their official Instagram site.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What I've gotten rid of in july

Since, I've been going through my things for more than a year now, it's not that easy anymore to find things to reduce.

Luckily I discovered, that I hadn't gone through my bookshelf before. Not once! So I corrected that mistake and chose a bag full of books to donate. Most of them were books I'd bought while travelling. You know the feeling when you're stuck in an airport and you finish your book and there's still 4 hours to go.. ?  Most of the books I had never read after getting home.
Going through my books was really easy, since it was the first time.

Secondly,  I looked at my collection of scarves critically. I wear scarf most of the days. In winter I even wear 2 at once sometimes. So I need a few scarves, to be able to clean them and still have something to wear. But still, I was easily able to find 3 scarves to donate.

Thirdly, I bagged most of magazines I found from home ( I have to say most, since I left my Love his 3 Playboys since he was a single man and for myself 3 magazines I brought when I lived in South America:).  I'll take them to paper recycling when I'll go around there.

Fourth, I threw away some underwear that didn't have the look or fit anymore. You know.

Fifthly, I threw away an old shopping bag that had so many holes that I didn't find any point in mending it again.

Sixth, I chose two handbags to donate. One was a retro one I really like, but I've never used it. Maybe someone else will use it. Second was something my mom gave me but I never liked and I finally gathered my courage to donate it.

Seventh,  a broken planter. I must admit I broke it myself, because I had to re-pant a tomato plant and I couldn't get it out of the old planter.

Last, a pair of sandals. They were so worn they would have probably broken the next time I'd word them.

So even I've been minimizing for a while I actually got more that 2 bags of stuff to donate (and some to throw). I could have found more books to donate, but I'll go through them again. The journey is my destination :)

about the 'intake'.
from not absolutely living necessities (food&medication&toothpaste&fuel) I bought concert tickets. But they don't really count since a concert is an experience not a thing. Also, I go to concerts really rarely so it's a big experience for me :)
Then I bought a fertilizer for my garden. I don't think it counts also, because even though I can live without it, my garden can't.
A glue to fix my shoes. I could choose between getting new shoes or getting glue. With the second choice my shoes will probably last at least until the end of summer.
The only  unnecessary & thing  thing was a face serum. I'we always wanted to try one and I'm happy I did. I even might buy a new serum after I finish this one.

I find it more easy to track the thing that I get rid of and the things that I get. Until this balance stays negative, I'm going in the right direction.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pros and cons of container gardening

Container garden is a type of garden where you keep your plants in all kinds of containers instead directly in the ground.

It's pro's are:

You don't need a yard or a garden
Most of us don't have a garden. But with just some soil, container and a seed you can have a container garden.
You can have a container garden literally anywhere. Having a flower pot on your windowsill is a container garden. And you actually don't even need a window, since you can use artificial lighting. Have you heard of Click & Grow yet? :) (If you haven't, this is not advertising, it's my personal note to you. They're making history in container gardening indoors. Take a look at their blog and Instagram :)

You can bring greenery anywhere
This is really just continuing previous point. Using containers, you can bring trees and strawberries to your balcony and flowers to your doorstep. When you're living in a big city, having your own green space will be a real treat.

You can do it in small space
A flower pot does not need much space. But it creates a great atmosphere. And it's really amazing how much you can grow if you have a square meter!

You can rearrange as much as you want
Planting something into the ground usually means that you will leave it growing there. Planting something into a container gives you freedom to arrange your containers as much as you like. You can even move and take your containers and plants with you.
It's really useful when you have flowers with different blossoming times. So you can always keep the plant with the most blossoms on the most visible spot and change them when blossoming ends if you like.

It's less work
Having a real garden means digging through it at least once a year and constant weeding. I've had a garden, I know.
Growing in containers means minimum amount of weeding and instead of digging, you just pile up and smash all the soil into if plants die.

You can grow plants with different requirements.
Cactus wants different soil than tulips and tulip wants different soil than blueberries. Having one traditional flowerbed means that you can't create different soil conditions for each of them. Or maybe with lots ow hard work. But the soil and drainage will still be mixed. Growing each type of plant in different container lets you create different soil conditions.

You can do it in cold climate
Growing anything in cold climate is a lot of work. After planting something outdoors you will be praying every night in hope there will be no frost. And if there is, the plants will probably be dead or their growth is stopped for a long time.
Planting in containers means you can start them indoors (you would be doing it anywhere in cold climate) and if  it get's warmer you can keep your planters outdoors at daytime and indoors at nighttime (notice the usage of 'if' instead of 'when':). And if it should get warm, you can leave them permanently outdoors and already have fruits and flowers when others still have small sprouts in their gardens.

More variety
Of course you can plant into a traditional planter. And if you'r growing crops you probably should. But for entertainment you can also plant into an old shoe, chandelier, soup pot, old sink, chest of drawers, anywhere really. You can keep plants in the ground with their container or hang in the air. You can really use your imagination and get crazy if you wish.
Some ideas for inspiration


At first it requires more money
Because in addition to usual costs you also need planters.
But like I already mentioned, you don't need traditional planters. And once you get them you can keep re-using them.

It needs more watering
When plant is in ground, it can last without watering for days. Keeping them in containers means daily watering. And in hot days multiple times a day.
(but there are clever ways to automate watering)

Being allergic to mould or pollen makes plants sometimes hard to tolerate. Don't container garden indoors when you have allergies!

You need to keep fertilizing
Having very little soil around the roots (compared to flowerbed) means the plant will use the nutrients in the soil quite fast. To keep your containers from turning into desert it would be wise to keep adding fertilizer weekly so that plants have power to flower.

So these were some reason I'm totally in love with container gardening :)
I'd be happy to get some more ideas, why it's the best.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

where happiness comes from

I was wondering what makes me happy while I was cleaning my late grandma's house.

And I found that

happiness comes from cuddling with my Love
from eating home-grown strawberries with my mom
from long walks with my dog
from making someone smiling or laughing
from doing nice little things for others
from travelling
from doing something I thought I wasn't able to do
from achievements
from getting better after being sick
from kind words from someone
from a call or a mail from a friend
from finishing a chore and getting some rest afterwards, knowing that all that needed to be done is done.
from a sunny day after some bad weather
from first snow
from seeing baby animals!
from snorkeling
from being in nature
from being in beautiful surroundings
from dancing to music

And from thinking about the things that make me happy.

writing down this list, made me smile for the whole time :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

My journey towards simple living and minimalism and 7 things that helped me

I've always found joy in organizing, reducing costs and effort and recycling. But it took me more that 20 years and many struggles to find, that it is actually a thing, and that it might have bigger purpose that just being organized. I've always been rather frugal and minimal, prioritizing emotion and experience over material stuff and money and enjoying living in small spaces, travelling lite and so on. But you know, a girl needs to have a few dresses, and then some more. And if you see a good book, you'll buy it in hope you'll read it some day and when there's a sale you buy one pare extra of anything so you'll eventually end up with more stuff than you expected.

Over a year now I've been purposefully trying to revert into more simple and minimal living. It hasn't been crazy get-rid-of-as-much-as-you-can journey, but a rather slow process. I don't think I even plan to end up with only x items of clothing or completely clutter free living room. It's about the meaning of minimizing and the journey towards it.

 For me it's extra hard to get rid of stuff since I come from a post-soviet country and a rather poor family where nothing was thrown away. We always kept things because we had payed for it (and when you're poor it's a big motivator). Also, I've been  in the same size since I was 15 and I've never had any personal style or care for fashion. So theoretically I'm still able to wear anything I've owned since a long time ago. How can you get rid of anything you can still use? This is why transition into getting rid of things in addition to buying less and reusing old was hard for me.

Also, minimalism has a mental aspect of clearing our daily life as well. Doing only the meaningful activities, giving ourselves only to meaningful people and not over-planning, over-organizing, over-thinking over-exercising or anything over-. And I guess that is even harder part than letting go of physical clutter and stuff.

By now I have around half as many clothes than a year ago (and I didn't have many before, it could all fit into a closet), less shoes, less furniture, less books, less social media accounts, less obligations. Less anything really. And damn, I feel good :)
I must mention I have around the same amount of kitchen supplies, since I didn't have many to begin with.

I don't have any plan to next do this or that. But  regularly try to find items to donate and aspects to minimize. This week I went through my supply of scarves (I had many, I still have many) and I chose around one third of them to donate. As well I took a look at my bookshelf and again picked out books I'm sure I won't read. I still have too many scarves (and maybe books as well), but this is my style to do things gradually.
I always have a bag in my closet where I put things to donate and I try to get it full regularly. I don't live to minimalize and simplify endlessly. I live to live, to enjoy my surroundings and existence. And simplifying and minimizing serve these purposes for me at the moment.

A few things helped me easing my way into transition to minimalist mindset. Some of these might seem unusual for many.

1. Having more money
It's often thought that minimalism is frugalism and essentially to have more money thus more to poor people. I find it wrong. Being poor means owning less usually just because you're not able to get goods. But the items you have, you keep. Growing up, moving out and having my own money taught me that nothing happens if I get rid of something I'll need in 2 years. I am able to get a new item if it's really necessary. And most of the times I won't need it ever. Time changes and who knows what we need in the future.
So even when minimalist mindset can help you save money, it's hard to transition into that mindset if you don't already have enough to get by.

2. Charity
I rarely sell the things I get rid of. There are some things that are practically worthless by the time I'm letting them go, so I try to recycle them. Everything else I donate to charity. Feeling that having less items of my own helps someone else gives me motivation. I do need to put more effort into getting rid of things because it's longer way to charity centers than to the trashcan, but still, it feels way better this way :)

3. Understanding your limits and being realistic
Even the most productive, rich and energetic people have some limitations. Most of us have a few more than some limitations. Like the size of our home limits the furniture we can have and length or the vacation limits how many clothes you should bring.  But continuing from there: the length of your workday and the need of sleep limits the other activities you can do in a day and your body size limits the size of the clothes to buy. There's no point to plan or buy stuff for the the reason that you might be able to do this if you skip sleep or if you lose x-amount of weight and are invited to a wedding or an asteroid hits the Earth. Buy the tings that you're 100% sure actually are going to use. Plan activities that you're sure you're going to do and are needed to be done. And nothing bad happens if you have unplanned free time for an hour.
You need to understand that living is always a trade-off. This is how nature is made. Doing/having one thing means you won't be doing/having something else. Accept the trade-off and don't try to fight the nature.
 For me the turning point was having a chronic health condition that limited my energy. So I started leaving out energy demanding things and replacing them with energy giving things. I started removing items from home because I never used them since I didn't have energy.

So All these thing you have that are holding you back like little time or energy or small home are actually your advantage. Understanding what you can't do or have gives you a starting point towards the things you can have and do. Having pre-existing limits makes your life already so much easier.

4. Trying out minimal life for short periods or only in some aspects of life
Trying out something before deciding if it's good for you is a popular method and why not try it with simple and minimal living as well. You can try it when you take smaller bag than usual while travelling. Or when you visit your summer house where there's only a bookshelf and nature and nothing else to do. And on both occasions you should find that nothing bad happens when you don't always have a plan or a different outfit or  many different choices of entertainment. Try out what happens when you only plan as many chores that you are sure you'll get done.
Implement the aspect you enjoy to your life and find new aspects to try.

5. Visual beauty
Having less things around is beautiful. It means less clutter, less things to keep in order and the items you have can have more effect. But for this one needs to understand that some of the things need to find a new owner.
Getting my home more pretty step-by-step is really inspiring to me.

6. Understanding that you don't need to do this
Having pressure to finish something by deadline might be good at work to get things done but we shouldn't function only by pressure. Do things only when you need that they give something back to you.  Find the small things that give to you. The things you or anyone around you don't feel purposeful are irrelevant.
I feel that giving some of my clothes to charity gives me happiness and that having less clutter in my bedroom improves my living environment. I don't think that having less photos in my home would serve me, so I'm not going to reduce the number of photos.

7. Having purpose
If you feel pure joy of your life, you don't need to change anything. But if you have a purpose, like have more time and energy and happiness, handle better your everyday things, you need to take steps towards it.
I've found that having more energy comes from doing only the most purposeful and meaningful things. That feeling of being in control comes from not trying to control absolutely everything.
Gets kind of philosophical, I know :)

So that was the story behind my journey towards minimal living. I'm not there yet, and probably I'll never be. But already the journey itself has given me so much energy, happiness and I beleive also health that I'll be always grateful.

By the way. I'm using my own photos or photos from Unsplash ( amazing site I already mentioned earlier) most of the time. This time becoming minimalist helped me as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

When Doing Yoga by Yourself

I was youtubeing (the second thing I found out today - this actually is a word) and found this video.
This is so true! for every kind of home exercising.
Last time it happened, I ended up watching the last season of 'Girls' instead of a quick stretching session. A good reason to have some videos bookmarked for those low-motivation days :)

YoutubeingWhen someone desides to take there time and search around Youtube.com. Looking into the depts of the website, the youtuber will find what the desire. (Urban dictionary)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Meditating for dummies

This spring I decided I need meditation.

I downloaded many meditation apps and found that Calm has this 10-day 10-minute tutorial. I finished it, enjoyed it, but didn't start meditating regularly.

Now I made myself to start again. Since I really have hard time to force my brain to be silent, I*m using external help again. This time I found this program.

Let's see if I get a new good habit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Welcome to my garden

This is my little garden I'm really proud of.
I'ts  a container garden around my apartment entrance door on around 2 square meters.

I started it last year with some spinach and flowers. And since it turned out really green and flowery on such a little area and it was space I created my own.. it felt really good to have and I started my garden again this spring.
I really enjoyed my spinach plant last year, but the seeds I bought last year didn't sprout this year. At least now I know that I need new spinach seeds every year :)
But I have a strawberry, tomatoes, salad, peppermint, parsley. Also flowers.
It's really amazing how much you can grow on a little area, given that you take good care of it.

Last year it needed investing in planters and seeds and I bought many bags of soil and needed to build some stuff. But this year it has needed just care, love and sunshine :)
I'll need to buy some more fertilizer. For aphids I just use coca-cola.

One thing that really surprised me was that at spring, when I start growing plants on my window ( you need to do that around here, because the summer is too short and the plants wouldn't reach maturity otherwise) I really need to fight for getting them big, getting enough light, getting them to sprout. But when the plants are already growing, and after planting them outdoors.. The main energy goes to fighting AGAINST the plants growing too much.. I still have to figure how much greenery is enough for my little garden.

So, this is my garden.
I often spend time sitting on my doorway and looking at the plants and bees flying around the flowers or drink coffee and read a book. I really feel like it's the best use for the 2 square meters I have around my front door and that this space gives me back a lot.

Three sites that inspire me

I used to be fan of many fitness-themed blogs, lifestyle look-what-I'm-wearing blogs and many other blogs.
But as I have been minimizing and simplifying many other aspects of life, I've done the same in with my social media and the blogs I follow.
So, at the moment there are not that many blogs/sites that I seriously believe in and follow daily.

1. The first favorite is undoubtedly becomingminimalist.
Like I just mentioned simplifying life is a big deal for me at the moment.
It's probably the only blog that I actually read from top to bottom and vice versa each time it's updated. It has given me a lot of inspiration. I'd say finding this site changed my life.

2. The second one is about photography, ideals, and yet again, simple and minimal-style.
Unsplash is a site where free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos are shared regularly. They have amazing photographers and just the style that I feel inspiring at the moment. So whenever I need a small trip to the fantasy wonderland, I head to Unsplash and spend some moments with their photos.

This site is so amazing that I'm going to share some of their photos right away.

Amazing, right :)

3. And the third one is kind of lifestyle, kind of green, and a lot of fun bicycling promoter. All of wich are important to me as well.
The author has the best sense of humor, really good drawing skills and belief in biking. I got hooked from the first time I visited her site.

there are of course more blogs that make my jaw drop and get inspiration flowing. They don't make to the top 3 but are worth mentioning: http://www.exploringalternatives.ca/ and http://thebarefootbudget.com/.

I can promise, time on those three sites will widen your perspective.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Will there be an ice age?

I just stumbled upon this news that probably there will be a small ice age in 15 years.
Living in far north, where the temperature 5F is considered normal in winter (-15C) and even in summer you will sometimes need to heat your home and  always take a warm jacket with you when going out in the evening.. this is not good news.
I do enjoy proper snowy winters with all the winter sports and beautiful scenery, but summer is as equally important. We all need some warmth.
Me and my Love have been playing with the idea to buy an apartment to somewhere southern country, rent it and move there when we're middle aged. This plan might come in handy.

Winter around here

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Yay! I started a blog!

So I made my own kind-of-lifestyle blog. Where I'm giving out my own personal opinion. It will be about my personal journey towards the life I'm building. Probably not 'what I did and ate' and many selfies kind of blog but about the ideas that are interesting and important to me, things I try out. Or who knows.
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