My Top Eco Friendly Products

Today is World Environment Day - A UN approved holiday that calls attention to environmental issues. This year's theme is plastic pollution - "Beat Plastic Pollution". In a message, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged all people to reject single-use plastic items, and warned that growing levels of plastic waste were becoming unmanageable, saying “every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans. I know we can't all be zero waste, but we can take small measures to reduce our plastic pollution by finding alternative for products we use on a daily uses (e.g. coffee mug, bottled water etc.). Down below are just some of my favorite eco friendly products that I use on a daily basis, and I've also created a page where you can find other products that are not included in this list 

1// Frank Green Mug

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This has to be one of my favourite eco friendly product right now! A friend received it as a birthday gift and I knew I had to get it because of how cute and fashionable it is, but most importantly the minimalist design of the mug. Aesthetic aside, Frank Green mug is great eco friendly product you can use on daily basis to help you reduce your own single use waste cups or others. Also, for each product you buy online, frank green donates a portion of the profits to Earthwatch. Since 1971, Earthwatch has helped over 100,000 people join leading scientists on crucial environmental research projects around the world. Earthwatch has invested in around 1,400 conservation research projects in more than 120 countries. And around 4,000 students and 5,000 educators have benefited from Earthwatch fellowships. If this is not enough to convince you to order your own, I don't know what will. 

2// Stasher Reusable Bag

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 If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my many stores about how I love Stasher bag. Stasher bag is another great way to reduce single use plastic bag. Aside from the minimalist design, Stasher bags are great for everyday use or even traveling - it features innovative air-tight, pinch-press seal to keep food fresh; ideal storage for food, travel, school and more. The bag is 100% pure platinum food-grade silicone is safe for the freezer, microwave, dishwasher and boiling water; and unlike plastic bags, Stasher bags contain no petroleum, no PVC, and no latex.

43/ To-GoWare - Bamboo Utensil Set

Like most people I am no stranger to forgetting my utensil at home when I bring my lunch to work - so having To-GoWare in my backpack always means avoiding having to go to the Cafeteria to get plastic utensil.

4//  S'well water bottle

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I think everyone knows about S'well water bottle, aside from how fashionable it is, it's also Eco-friendly and BPA-free. 

5// bamboo toothbrush

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If you're not sure about the other products, this is the simplest change you can make and must because with 4.7 billion toothbrushes being made annually, which we are advised to change every 3 months, it seems a pretty important item to switch to a more sustainable and eco-friendly option ASAP. Bamboo is a natural plant based material which, at the end of its life, is totally biodegradable and can even be composted. Bamboo is a sustainable material and grows super quick. I think it also looks quite nice, too. Bamboo toothbrushes have a bamboo handle, and typically bristles made from nylon. Some brands out there use nylon4 for their bristles, which are shown in a lab to be biodegradable.

Minimalism with Colin Wright

As a self-proclaimed fan girl , I was extremely excited about this feature. There are few minimalists out there that I look up to, and played a big part in my decision to becomine a minimalists, and Colin Wright is one of those people, which makes this feature very special for me.

Little about Colin, aside from being a minimalist, he is an author, speaker, blogger, and podcaster who travels full-time, relocating to a new country every four months, with each home/location determined by his readers— Colin is currently based in Memphis, Tennessee where he spend most of his time working on his podcast Let's Know Things,  finishing up on a new book and learning how to cook.

Colin's journey to minimalism began 8 years ago (2009) when he decided to get rid of most of is belongings (things that couldn't fit into a carry-on bag) and pursue an Exile Lifestyle (his then blog). Since 2009, he has visited about 60 countries,  and all 48 contiguous US states (twice).

Down below Colin talks about his journey to minimalism

How do you define minimalism?

I usually think of it as figuring out what's important so you can clear away the superfluous to make more room for the vital.


What or who inspired you to become a minimalist?

A lifestyle change. I made a hard pivot from running a branding studio in LA and all the accoutrement that comes with being a business owner in such a competitive market, to deciding that I wanted to start living, rather than working myself to death aspiring to someday live.

I wanted my life to orient around travel, so a key component of that pivot was getting rid of anything I couldn't carry. As I streamlined my stuff, I noticed the benefits, started writing about it, and at some point someone told me I was a minimalist...back then there weren't too many people writing on the subject, so I hadn't come across it before.


What are some advantage and disadvantage of being a minimalist? 

It's mostly advantages, actually. If you find yourself getting rid of things that you actually need, that are actually valuable in some way, then you're doing it wrong. Minimalism isn't about denying yourself things, it's about having more of the good stuff, and less of the stuff that you feel compelled (for whatever reason) to have; and that includes possessions, but also relationships, work, and everything else.

So I guess you could say that some people consider it weird to be a minimalist, which could be construed as a downside. But there are not a lot of downsides to focusing on the important stuff, thankfully.


Is minimalism or the exile lifestyle for everyone?

Traveling full-time certainly is not. I think the vast majority of people would probably hate to live the way I life; it's a lifestyle very custom-tailored for me and my priorities.

You could make the argument that minimalism is for everyone, I think—I hate to claim absolutes, so I won't make that claim. But it's such an individual thing that anyone who's suffering from minimalism is probably trying to live according to someone else's standard for it, and as such, is not doing it right. For folks who are actually looking at their own priorities, though, and refining their lives to be more aligned with their wants and needs? It's hard to imagine someone who wouldn't benefit from that at least a little.


It seems like the minimalist lifestyle is becoming mainstream, what do you think is driving this shift in mindset?

Oh, I think there are a lot of variables. Part of it is a pushback against the conspicuous consumption of the 80s and 90s. Part of it is a response to more recent political and economic happenings. Part of it is the popularity of certain aesthetics that do particularly well on social networks that have gone super-visual. Part of it is carried by the convergence of new technologies that allow us to have less conspicuous forms of luxury, and access to valuable things without needing to own them.

I think it's important to distinguish between 'minimalism' the visual and consumer trend, though, and 'minimalism' the philosophy. There are a lot of 'minimalist' products that aren't; they might be structurally simple, but they might also be largely superfluous and more or less piggybacking on the minimalism trend. Both are growing, and either can lead to the other, but I think the larger, more mainstream version—at the moment at least—is the one that encourages people to buy things with a certain color palette or price tag, rather than the one that encourages people to think hard about what they buy and whether buying will be a better use of their time, energy, and resources than their other options.

People often think of minimalism as a mission to rid the world of all consumerism, what do you say to those that think that’s what minimalism is all about?

It's more about buying the right things, than not buying things. The 'right' things will be different for everyone, of course, but it's absolutely not anti-consumption. It's anti-thoughtless and anti-compulsory consumption, but it's kind of pro-intentional consumption.


We live in a society that value material possessions, which makes the transition to minimalism seem impossible at first, how do you suggest people make that first leap of letting go of material possession?

Figure out what's actually important to you, first. Don't just start tossing stuff, figure out where you want to be, how you want to get there, why that direction makes sense.

Have a less-cluttered space can be valuable all by itself, but the bigger point is clearing your space and your mind to ensure you have plenty of everything to commit to whatever it is that's most important to you. Taking that time to stop, step back, and look at things from a new, wider perspective ensures you're not just going through the motions. It can also help clarify why you're doing it to begin with, which makes the process more of a pleasure and less of a task.


Does a less-is-more life bring happiness?

It certainly does for me! I'm having a blast.


Do you miss having a normal home or ‘life’ that doesn’t involve having to constantly travel?

I tend to view wherever I'm at in the moment as my home, so it's not an issue most of the time.

I do miss certain people sometimes, but I also have the ability to stay in touch with them and visit them regularly, so it's not as big a deal as you might think. I like the fish-out-of-water feeling that comes with unfamiliar surroundings, and I like the process of making a strange place feel cozy and familiar.

That said, I do mix things up: at the moment I'm spending a year in Memphis, so I have more of a typical home life than usual. Balance is key with anything, and this is how I strike that balance, to ensure that I don't miss out on anything.


Can you tell is us what the Let’s Know Things podcasts is about?

It's a news analysis podcast, through which I add context to current events.

Each episode, I take an article from the news and extrapolate on it, explaining why it's important, how it connects to other issues of the day, the historical significance of it, and different ways to think about it, from as many angles as possible.

I release a new episode each week, and it's currently my favorite thing I'm working on. It's such an incredible challenge, and super-rewarding.


What elements of life is important to you? and how do you incorporate minimalism?

I'm happiest when I feel challenged and like I'm growing. I also like feeling free to pursue whatever random thing seems interesting at the moment, and being able to take on new projects even if they aren't going to be big money makers.

In this case, focusing on the important things means making enough money so that I can pay the bills, but also not fixating on money to the point where I don't have plenty of time to spend on all those other things. Striking that kind of balance isn't easy, but it's something I've been working on for many years now, and it allows me to have more or less 24-hours a day to spend on stuff I enjoy doing.


What are important life lesson have you learn as a result of becoming a minimalist?

A lot of what other people care about will be utterly unimportant to you, and that's okay. And the same is true in reverse: a lot of the most important things in the world, to you, will seem meaningless to others. There's nothing wrong with this. The world would be an incredibly boring place if we were all into the same things.


How do you like to begin and end your days?

I change it up quite a bit, but lately I've been doing about ten minutes of exercise in the morning, followed by ten minutes of quietly thinking about nothing at all.

At night I have an exercise routine that goes for about twenty minutes, and then I tend to read (usually fiction) for maybe an hour before going to sleep.


What elements are crucial to your workflow and creativity?

I've worked hard to make sure I'm not reliant on any outside factor, when it comes to feeling creative. You just never know what you'll have available when you're traveling, so I've gotten good at being able to get in the zone wherever I am, whatever's going on around me.

That said, I enjoy coffee in the morning and big glasses of water the rest of the day. I don't know why, but having a simple, clean beverage at hand while I work helps me stay in the right mindset, longer.


What are you currently working on? and What's next for Colin Wright?

My podcast is taking up a lot of my time at the moment, and I'm very happy about that.

I'm also learning to cook, learning to play the piano, and doing a lot more flexing of my guitar playing and singing than I've been able to do for a long while; some habits are trickier to maintain on the road, and anything involving instruments or crooning into a microphone is included on that list.

I've got a few books outlined, and I've been working on a lot of smaller creative projects here and there. A lot of my effort right now, though, beyond the podcast and playing music, has been on filling in some of the gaps in my practical education. If you travel full-time long enough, the 'staying in one place' thing begins to seem somewhat exotic and mysterious, so I've been doing my best to live a holding-still lifestyle to its fullest, and seeing how my priorities translate into a space where I'm still not inclined to own a lot, but in which I have more than just a carry-on bag-worth of real estate to work with. It's been quite the adventure, thus far.

Where you can find out more about Colin:

Exile Lifestyle, Let's Know Things, IG @colinismyname and twiter @colinismyname

 

Photo:  Colin Wright

Journey to Minimalism: Capturing minimalism with Kenya Meon

By: Kenya Meon

By: Kenya Meon

Kenya Meon is an Atlanta, Georgia based photographer, who often uses her camera as a tool of visual communication. Down below Kenya talks about her inspiration, how she got into photography, and what's next for her.

Tell us about yourself (where you’re from, what you do, anything interesting or quirky that people should know about you)

I’m Kenya Meon, a 25 year old lifestyle/portrait photographer and creative director. I grew up in a small town just outside of Macon, Ga. and I’ve been in Atlanta for almost seven years now. I think that my personality alone can be labeled as quirky. I’m still trying to get over my social anxiety so at times I can be very shy and awkward but the few people who know me for me and not just my image have totally fallen in love with my silliness and often blunt responses.

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always had sort of a love for visuals which came from me exploring my auntie’s extensive magazine collection as a kid. Soon I started collecting my own and decided to go to art school and study fashion. Big mistake! But, I did discover that my purpose was to be on the visual and director side of the arts verses being a designer so I think its safe to say that I discovered my love for photography through fashion.

How would define your photo aesthetic?

I have a hard time putting a set definition on my aesthetic because it sometimes changes depending on my mood or what’s currently inspiring me. My work could easily fall into minimalism (Afro-minimalism to be more specific). There’s just something about brown skin tones set against a simple background or nature that resonates with me on a spiritual level.

Where do you find inspiration?

Now days most of my inspiration comes from social media. Since my phone is almost always in my hands I find myself scrolling endlessly through my explore page on Instagram. My favorite way of finding inspiration is still the old school way which is to spend hours at my local bookstore going through magazines falling in love with the same types of images that made me want to become a photographer in the first place.

How do you go about deciding what to capture?

When it comes to people, I usually find some unique feature about them and I instantly become inspired by that feature and come up with a few options as far as locations that I feel would highlight those features. Locations for me are mostly accidental. I like to go out and explore a lot so most of the places I chose to photograph happen off chance. If I can’t shoot there at the moment I discover it I will take a photo with my cell phone and save it in my archives until the perfect subject comes along.

How do you remain original with your photos?

A lot of the originality in my photos comes from both my directing and editing process. I like for subjects to be as natural as possible. I’m a very kind of go with the flow person. Since I’m self taught I don’t get too technical when it comes to photography. I’m always more focused on the overall composition and mood as opposed to worrying about what my aperture is set on. Even though that stuff is important I do believe a lot of photography ends up looking the same because most photographers follow the same technical rules. I think I allow for more freedom in my work.

A lot of your photos feature people of color (black people) why is it important to capture black beauty in a way that challenges the stereotypical depiction of black beauty in mainstream culture?

Representation is so important to me! It’s one of the things that drove me to take my photography to a professional level. I’ve grown tired of seeing black women over sexualized and black men shown as hyper-masculine. I want to be one of the photographers that isn’t afraid to experiment with the idea that men and women of color can be soft, fragile, and vulnerable. Those qualities are just as important as our strength and add so much to our narrative as a people.

What's your creative process before capturing a photo?

Before any shoot whether it is client based or something creative for my personal portfolio, I like to study the subject at hand as much as possible and then gather as much inspiration as possible based on what I gathered. I usually compile my favorite inspiration photos into a digital mood board for both myself and the client/ muse. The rest I allow to flow how it may.

What do you aim to capture or portray through your photos?

I always aim to capture a sense of softness and vulnerability. Most of my muses aren’t “professional models” and I love that because they aren’t trying to portray a

look or image that they were taught is beautiful. That takes a level of vulnerability and trust that I myself am still uncomfortable with (as someone who is extremely camera shy) and I admire them so much for trusting my eye. I want to show people who may have issues with confidence or being vulnerable that its ok to be you insecurities and all.

What does minimalism mean to you? and How is this reflected aesthetically in your photos?

Minimalism to me means simplicity and more appreciation for details that usually go unnoticed. I’m a very detail oriented person, but I don’t like a lot of things going on in a blatant way. In my photos I like to keep the composition simple with a direct subject so that subject is greater appreciated.

What's next for you? Any long term plans?

I’ve been praying and manifesting that I’m able to travel soon. I have an extreme case of wanderlust with no means of just being able to get up and go (just yet). Hopefully the universe works something out soon thought. I also want to continue working with local brands and independent artists to help build their image. In the near future I would also like to do more collaborations with other photographers as far as creative directing.

Where can people find you?

I’m usually tucked away sipping coffee with my eyes glued to my laptop at one of my favorite coffee shops here in Atlanta or out exploring, but if you’re not local you can find me on Instagram @K.Meon or on Facebook at Kenya Meon.

Escape Mental Excess: Memoirs on Meditation

Written/photo by:  Ryan Antooa

Written/photo by: Ryan Antooa

“Minimalism”

Shortly after the word dances fervently off your eardrums and percolates in your mind, you likely envision an all white design space with a Swedish-designed chair in the middle, or someone clad in all black with a turtleneck, carrying a MacBook and a red pencil.

If you’re like me, 

your mind wanders to images from publications like Kinfolk and Montecristo - as well as the idea of minimalism vs. maximalism as a mentality – opposed to only physical notions of clutter.

While most entertain the physical aspects of minimalism, what about minimalism from a mental standpoint?

Decluttering your mind - through devices like meditation - is a quintessential part of the minimalist equation to truly bring freedom from the all-encompassing.

To truly embrace minimalism, there have to be mental paradigm shifts in addition to physical changes in your immediate surroundings. In fact, they work in a feedback loop where mental shifts ripple over to the physical aspects of life, and vice versa.

Something as small as taking 5-10 quiet minutes to yourself each morning, to the other end of the spectrum (say, embracing Buddhism in its totality), can lead to the shift you need to experience clarity. Ready?

Declutter, deconstruct,  and didact: free yourself from the things that distract.

Along the themes of minimalism; meditation isn’t just for self: it strengthens your relationship with people, places, and experiences around you.

“As gold purified in a furnace loses its impurities and achieves its own true nature, the mind gets rid of the impurities of the attributes of delusion, attachment, and purity through meditation and attains Reality.” - Adi Shankara

Escaping the excesses of the world can prove to be a difficult trial, especially in modern times: start with the palace of your mind, reduce excess thoughts, and you may yet achieve the clarity and intentionality you seek.

If you are an acolyte to meditation, here are a few resources to spark your journey:

Headspace

McGill - Audio For Meditation and Relaxation

Mindful Resources

Just Balance

Incense, chakras, and crossed-legs aside - all meditation requires is a few minutes of mindfulness to improve the openness and depth which you perceive the world around you - as well as your relationships.

Breathe deep, settle, and give meditation some time - it will do the same for you.

photo by:  Ryan Antooa

photo by: Ryan Antooa

Minimalist Guide: Working at home Productivity

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Most jobs I've had so far involved getting out of the house, from teaching to working in the retail industry, I was expected to leave the house at a certain time in the morning and return at certain time of the day. But recently working as a researcher I found myself getting most of my work done at home, since writing a literature review or work plan for a new project can easily be done at the conform of my home (even bedroom) with internet access and Mac Book. Having access to my personal email makes it even more easier to connect with my project manger in a matter of minutes without even leaving my bedroom.

Working from home has its ups and down - one of the perks of working from home is that you can working in your PJs and take power naps if you need be. But with that also comes the downsides of being able to work in your PJs - the temptation to check your Facebook, stream the latest episode of Game of Throne, or Instagram page is an ever issue you have to deal with. Its easy to lose motivation as well as a result of working from home, you have no one to talk to face-to-face, aside from emailing or texting.

 But it doesn't have to be all hopeless because I think if you're self-disciplined, working from home can be the best thing because you get to structure your day, when you start and when you stop working.

Down below are my five tips for being productive if you work from home

1. It's just another job: Whether you're planning on staying in all day or not, treat working from home just like another job - set a time that you wake up and start working. Establish a morning routine that doesn't involve jumping right into work, but having an hour or two to do your regular morning routine, including taking a shower and changing out of your pajamas. My uniform is yoga leggings and comfortable top. Since I usually wake up at 7 or 6:30 am, I usually don't get start working until 8 or 9 am.

2. Clutter space means cluttered mind: Establishing a minimalists work space or desk is essential. Since minimalism is having the essential things in your life, the same logic applies to my work space. Everything I have on my desk are the things I need to write, which often consists of my laptop, Microsoft Word, notepad, and a good internet connection. Figure what you need to get your work done and eliminate all the other non-essential.

3. Minimize social media distraction: Social media distraction is something that everyone struggle with - working from home makes the distraction even more greater because you have no one looking over your shoulder. So you have to find ways to minimize those distraction. There are few ways to minimize social media distraction: (i) put your phone on silent and resist the urge to check texts or missed calls; (ii) don’t check any social media; (ii) close out your email window so new mail notifications don’t pull you away from the task at hand; and (v) down social media blocker from the app store.

4. Get out of the house: Getting out of the house is essential! most of the time this involves going to a coffee shop and getting all or most of my work done. There are days where I find that I'll get more work done at a coffee shop than at home, so whenever I find that I am not getting that much work done at home, I drop by favorite coffee shop and get all the work done there.

5. Know its time to call it a day: One of the biggest mistake I made at the start of working from home is not having a establish time of the day when I stop working. One key thing to remember if you work from home is to not make it into a habit of working until mid-night every night. Since I am not owl by nature, I usually stop working around 8 or 9pm. I find that trying to get anything done after 8 leads to nowhere -in my experience it's impossible to get any productive work done after 9pm. Schedule a time that you call it a quits and start again after you've catch some sleep.

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30 Day Minimalist Challenge

It’s time to play the minimalist game!! or challenge - this game is based on the game introduced by The Minimalists (Josh and Ryan). This version of the challenge differ a little, so for those who can't seem themselves throwing 20 items on the 20th of June, they can just throw one item. You can either play the original game, or our version of the game (the Minimalists' yogi)

Here is The Minimalists version

With your minimalists challenge buddy, on the first day of the challenge you must get ride of one item, two items on second day, three items on the third day and so-when you reach the 30 day mark you get rid of thirty items. The beauty of the challenge is that it does not have to be only clothes, but everything is open to being thrown away ( clothes, furniture, electronic, tools, papers, books, decoration etc…). How younger rid of the time is completely up to you, you can either donate it, sell it or throw in the trash.

How you choose to get rid of the item is up to you, but it the item (s) must leave the house by the end of the day.

If you are doing the challenge with another person, whoever keeps going the longest wins the challenge. If you both keep it going, you both win. If you are doing it by yourself, I’d recommend treating yourself, perhaps not purchasing something that doesn’t add value to your life, but maybe buying yourself a latte or something that allows you to recognize the work and effort you put into the challenge.


The Minimalists' Yogi rules ….

If you don’t think you have more than 30 times and can’t see yourself being fully committed to getting ridof items according to each day of the month, here is a simplified version. For each day of the month you will get rid of one item, on day two instead of getting ride of two items you can get ride of only one item and the same applies for each of the days until the 30th of the month. By the end of the month you should have gotten rid of 30 items. You can get rid of anytime, it does not have to be clothes only, but anything!!!! that doesn't add value to your life. How you decide to get rid of the item is completely up to you (sell, donate or trash). Here is the catch, for the next 30 days you will have only 20 items in your closet that you will be wearing (10 items less. While you have only 20 articles of clothes you will be wearing during this month, you can have as many shoes as you want. Rule number three, each day I will post a challenge on the Instagram page that you must follow, the challenge will be designed in a way to add value to your life and help you with minimizing your lifestyle (i.e. media purge, unfollowing, not spending money a day, No Media for a day, etc….). At the end of the month you should be able to have 30 less items in your house, 30 new habitsand 20 items that you have worn for a month and hopefully have a greater appreciation for.


Whether you win or you lose, I’d love to hear about your game on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. #20challenge #30daychallenge #minimalistchallenge #theminimalistsyogichallenge

Photo by: MELODY JOY CO / IG @melodyjoyco

Photo by: MELODY JOY CO / IG @melodyjoyco