When I mention I am attempting to live a zero waste lifestyle, the people closest to me often respond with, “but how,” implying that it is impossible for someone as financially destitute as me to make a go of this. I’ll be the first to admit that a zero waste lifestyle does seem to go hand in hand with a certain level of privilege, and yet it certainly isn’t impossible.
Here are some tips for embracing a zero waste lifestyle on a budget.
1. Don’t try to do everything all at once. Take baby steps. Stick to your budget. If that means that you are only able to replace wasteful items with more environmentally friendly ones little by little, so be it. Don’t stress and just do what you can with the resources available to you.
*You could ask family and friends to gift you with some zero waste essentials for your birthday and/or winter holidays.
*You could choose one item to replace per month, such as replacing plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones one month, plastic throwaway sanitary products with reusable cotton pads the next month, a reusable water bottle the next month, etc.
2. Trade items and/or buy secondhand whenever you can. I got the most amazing wicker laundry basket because my dear friend had just acquired a new (old) one through free-cycle and I just so happened to mention to her that I was looking for a nice wicker laundry basket. This same friend and I constantly trade clothing, household items, toys, books and more. There’s a toy library in my town where kids can checkout toys—it works just like a library, but for toys. I’ve even heard of a similar system for clothes. There’s not one in my town yet, but I might see about starting one.
3. Shop in the bulk section of grocery store and bring reusable bags. I’ve even found it is usually cheaper to buy items from the bulk section. We get rice, dried beans, lentils, pasta, nuts, seeds, chocolate, dried fruit, seaweed and so much more from the bulk section. We try to buy things we can’t get in bulk in glass containers as much as possible. Sometimes this is more expensive, so just do what you can.
4. Visit a nearby farm to pick in season foods. A lot of farms allow you to come pick your own fruit and veggies. I’ve found it’s usually way cheaper than getting the same type of produce from the grocery store. Sure it’s more work, but it’s a fun experience, especially with kids.
5. Wild forage. If you live near nature, learn to identify plants so you can wild forage. Just be aware of how much you are taking. Always leave plenty. We pick our own dandelion greens in spring and summer, forage for wild berries, find wood sorrel and milk thistle make lovely additions to salads, wild violet flowers and leaves. There is an ABUNDANCE of wild plants that you can eat and that are super tasty and chock full of nutrients!
6. Grow your own food. Even if you live in a city, you can grow some of your own food. Some edible plants don’t even require a lot of sunlight. Just do your research and see what grows indoors. We live in the countryside, but most of our plants are in pots because we’ve had terrible luck growing things in the ground. We bring our herbs indoors in the winter. It’s so lovely adding fresh rosemary to soup during the cold months.
7. Make some of your own products. My son and I bake bread every Monday. It’s cheap and a wonderful activity to participate in together. I make a lot of my own beauty products too. I’ve slowly gravitated to the oil cleansing method instead of using facial cleansers, as an example. My skin feels so much softer and I’m saving a lot of money. Most of the time I just use the same organic extra virgin olive oil we use on salads. Sometimes I use Argan oil too.
8. Do you have a following on social media? Try reaching out to brands for free products. Sometimes eco-friendly brands are happy to trade free products in return for a mention on a blog post or other social media platforms.
9. Reuse! Repurpose! We had a flannel sheet that somehow ended up with a big gash in it (cat scratch?). Instead of throwing it away, I cut it into smaller pieces. These rags have since been used as napkins that we take on picnics, stuffing for my son’s homeschool projects (such as his felt maple leaf). I can even imagine using the flannel scraps for patches, gift wrapping (it’s the perfect pattern and colors for Christmas/Yule season), tiny bags, and more.
I hope some of these ideas have inspired you. Can you think of anything I didn’t mention? I’ll be sharing some of my #zerowastelifestyle over on Instagram @caitsdreamscapes https://www.instagram.com/caitsdreamscapes/ Tag your posts with #enchantedsimplicity 🧡✨
Now that it is well and truly autumn, I thought I’d plan my autumn reading list. Those of you who have been following me on Instagram @caitsdreamscapes www.instagram.com/caitsdreamscapes/ for a while know that I am not really the kind of woman to stick to a tbr list. I might plan a few books I intend on reading by a certain date, and yet I almost invariably read according to my mood.
That being said, I created my Autumn 2018 Reading List. The books in this list are books I hope to get to this season, but knowing me I will probably only read some of them and will pick up others I hadn’t even thought of reading.
So, without further ado, here is my list:
1. The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I re-read Betsy and the Great World and Betsy’s Wedding recently. I’d forgotten how much I love these charming books. I started reading the series aloud to my little boy the other day. We are already on Betsy-Tacy and Tib. I’m not sure how many of these books we’ll get to this fall, but hopefully most of them at least. This time of year I crave cozy reads, so this fits the bill perfectly.
2. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. My friend Stefie, www.instagram.com/stefiereads/ on Instagram, kindly sent me this book a while back. I loved Strange the Dreamer, so I’m keen on reading more Laini Taylor. I read a lot of fantasy books as a pre-teen, but haven’t paid much attention to this genre as an adult. I tend to gravitate towards magical realism more than fantasy or young adult fantasy books. I’m hoping to expand in this area.
3. The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs. I adore mysteries. This one sounds intriguing. I got it from Book of the Month club, and haven’t had time to read it. I’m hoping to get to it this fall.
4. The Victorian and the Romantic: a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time by Nell Stevens. This is about the author’s experience with developing a fascination with the Victorian era novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell. It sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to start it. I was pleased to win this one in a giveaway.
5. an Agatha Christie. I’ve probably read everything she ever wrote, or at least had published. There is nothing cozier to me than reading an Agatha Christie book in the autumn as I breathe in the scent of bread baking in the oven, woodsmoke from the cabin/studio coming in through the open window, feel the warmth from a hot mug of tea in my hand. I haven’t chosen one yet. I’ll probably pay a visit to my local library next week.
6. Jane Eyre. I’ve been attempting to reread, or read for the first time, at least one classic a year. I reread Jane Austen’s Emma over the summer, and now I’m really feeling called to pick up Jane Eyre. I know I said I like cozy books in the autumn, but I also like darker, melancholic books too.
I’m sure I will add to this list as I see fit, but this is a good start anyway. What books do you plan on reading this autumn? Do you plan out your tbr, or are you more of a mood reader? What books do you think I should add to this list? Are there any you have read lately that you think I MUST read too?
Also, are you on Goodreads? I’ve been spending more time on there lately, and I’m getting better at updating my current reads. Come find me on Goodreads www.goodreads.com/user/show/64447147-caitlin-gemmell
September might be my very favorite month. Most days are cool and crisp but there is a hint of summer left in the air. Today, after we finished Harry’s homeschool activities, we decided to pick wild apples. The past few days were beautifully autumnal, and I had dreams of wearing my apple colored wool jumper while I picked apples, but summer isn’t quite ready to leave yet. We went downtown first, to run an errand, and boy was it hot! We were all feeling a bit grump from the heat, the noise, the mad rush around us. I hadn’t left our wilderness nest for days, so it was a bit of a shock to venture downtown.
We we decided to treat ourselves to drinks and food from the salad bar at our local co-op health food grocery before going to pick apples. I’m glad we did because the universe guided me once again!
For those of you who follow me on Instagram @caitsdreamscapes, or read my last blog post, you’ll know that I had a dream about my spirit plant—the plant I need in order to call my spirit home. My dream revealed this plant to be lime (called linden here). I was determined to get linden flower blossoms for tea, yet I expected it would be difficult to find.
To my amazement and delight, our tiny co-op happened to have linden blossoms in the bulk section!!! I can’t wait to try this tea and share my experience with you. Hopefully I will be able to share my thoughts about this plant next week. I was just so amazed to have had this beautiful serendipitous event occur. It just goes to show that when you are quiet and listen to that inner wisdom, the universe guides you.
Okay, back to the wild apples. We were feeling less disgruntled after eating delicious, wholesome food (I had a Vietnamese noodle salad) so we drove back towards home and ended up at our favorite nature preserve. This is usually THE time of year for picking wild apples, so we were disappointed to find very few apples on the trees—and what we did find were green. Despite our disappointment, we had an amazing time. We identified lots of wild plants (all part of Harry’s homeschooling) and Harry pretended to be Little Red Riding off through the woods to visit Grandma. He carried the basket we brought with us for the apples.
We were so happy to find lots of plants that we connect with. We found goldenrod, asters, wood sorrel (Harry’s favorite treat), clover, and yarrow.
When we were driving home, the sky was AMAZING! We decided to take a detour to drive up to our favorite steep hill. It wasn’t raining on top of the hill, but we could see rain far in the distance—towards downtown. It just so happened that we remembered we were nearby a place with...a wild apple tree! And YES! It was laden with beautiful, rosy red apples!!! We only took a few as we tend to when gathering from one place. It’s important if you forage for wild food to be sure to be aware of how much you take. Leave plenty behind. I am so happy that we ended up picking wild apples after all! The day was perfect. And now, I’m going to brew my first ever cup of lime blossom tea. I feel certain the taste and scent of it will transport me back to my beloved New Forest.
Here’s to appreciating the simple things and finding magic in the ordinary. What a beautiful life this is!
Oh! And before I forget, I was inspired to start a new hashtag project on Instagram. After my dream about lime trees, and my experience in nature today, I felt like creating a hashtag called #enchantedsimplicity 🧡Please join in. Post your simple, every day, magical moments. Show how simple living can be enchanting! Make that cup of tea, those wild foraged mushrooms, that eco-friendly dress appear infused with magic. I can’t wait to see your posts. You can see mine on https://www.instagram.com/caitsdreamscapes/
Blessings and magic to you!
Recently, a friend of mine mentioned connecting with her plant totem. She said she can always rely on her particular spirit plant anytime she needs to return to a peaceful, grounded state of being. This idea intrigued me, and I began searching for my own spirit plant.
The answer just came to me in a dream. I dreamt I was home, at least the place I still think of as home (The New Forest in England), walking towards a tree-lined avenue. I knew the trees were lime trees (or what is known as Linden here).
The importance of this dream was amplified when a crow (my spirit animal) flew into the branches of the tree near me and cawed loudly in my direction.
When I awakened, after my usual tea and morning ritual, I began searching for the folklore associated with this plant. I was astounded! Everything I read resonated with me on such a deep level. Lime trees are associated with a goddess of fate, they symbolize love, they are trees of justice, and they are incredibly resilient. I learned that the blossoms can be made into a tea and the tea has many health benefits.
Every snippet of information I got about this tree just seemed to reconfirm that my hunch about the meaning of my dream was correct. I was able to trust my intuition and have this incredible experience because I have learned to slow down and simplify my life.
Every day is filled with time to just be present, to listen to the birds chattering in the trees, the bleating of our goats, the sound of my son’s laughter. I cherish these simple moments and wouldn’t wish a return to a fast paced life EVER!
My life might not be glamorous or filled with lots of people, but it is filled with the people and things that matter. I cherish that first sip of tea in the morning while I write in my journal and listen to the choir of birds. I am grateful for the peace and quiet, the nature walks, the lessons in rewilding!
I enjoy getting lost in other worlds as I read and write. I appreciate cooking nourishing, wholesome foods.
I look forward to drinking lime blossom tea and seeing where this connection takes me. I can’t wait to learn from this plant. I know it has much to teach me and I vow to be an attentive student.
Tomorrow is the New Moon. For those of you who follow the lunar Ogham calendar we are entering the Hazel moon which also shares a place with the Apple moon. This seems appropriate as many have gone back to school at this time. It is a time for obtaining new knowledge and setting intentions for the cycle ahead.
I have just created the first week of lessons for those of you who are joining The Enchanted Sisterhood club.
Since this is only the beginning, I wanted to share my thoughts about what I want to accomplish with the sisterhood.
🍂#1 The Pursuit of Magic. Above all else this sharing circle and class is a way of rekindling magic. I want every day to be infused with enchantment. This is a way of keeping the Magic alive and sharing it with others who are ready to receive these joyful, powerful lessons.
🍂#2 Community/Connection. I want to build community with my sisters. I want to share our magical experiences and learn from one another. I want to feel like I am not doing this on my own. Even though most of us will be participating in the exercises and rituals from our own homes, I want to share our experiences through email. This is meant to be interactive, a constant flow of messages. I ENCOURAGE and even would say it is a REQUIREMENT to SHARE your thoughts and experiences with each week’s exercises with me. Go ahead and hit that reply button when you are done. Did you create art inspired by that week’s lesson? Did you have an amazing, magical dream after completing that week’s ritual? Share it.
Of of course some of your experiences might feel private. You don’t have to share the deeply personal unless you want to, but DO share SOMETHING.
Join the conversation on Instagram @sealskinjacket too. I will include discussion prompts that fit with the week’s lesson in our group messages. Not every person in the group message is in the sisterhood, so I ask that you keep the course materials to yourself but I do encourage you to share your experiences relating to the theme/discussion prompts for the week.
🍂#3 FUN! This should be joyful, creative, and inspiring. Engage in the material as a child engages in play. That’s not to say this isn’t serious. You will need dedication if you are going to benefit from the lessons in the sisterhood, but don’t get bogged down or stressed out. It should be a balance of joy and learning.
Some of the topics we will cover in the sisterhood are:
🍂The Dark Goddess mysteries
🍂Animism, nature connections, and sense of place.
🍂The Ancestors and recording our ancestral stories.
🍂Writing our personal legend
🍂Shedding our skin and growing a new one, women as shapeshifting animal in stories from around the world—particularly the story of the selkie.
🍂Stepping into our power as fully autonomous, sovereignty goddess.
To complete the lessons in the sisterhood you will need:
🍂A journal. This can be any blank book of your choosing. I recommend that you personalize it—really make it your own. In the first week of the sisterhood I suggest ritual for cleansing/purifying your journal.
🍂Ritual clothing. This can be anything! Just choose a cloak, dress, shawl, hat, or any other item of clothing that you wear every time you engage in ritual, journal, and complete the exercises I give to sisterhood members. Make sure you ritually cleanse this clothing in any way you see fit (smudge with sage, cover in crystals, wear for the first time under the light of the full moon, etc.)
SUGGESTED READING LIST
I would like for you to attempt to read some of the following books. I sometimes share excerpts and guide you to websites and podcasts by these authors, but you will really thrive in this sisterhood if you are able to absorb information from some of these books.
🍂Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
🍂If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
🍂Animism by Graham Harvey (or his book, Paganism)
🍂The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers (or the film by the same name).
🍂Body and Earth by Andrea Olsen
🍂Ogham: Wisdom of the Trees by Jon Dathen
🍂The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane
🍂The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane
I will continue to recommend books, films, artists, articles, etc. as I think of them and as we proceed through each season of the sisterhood.
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