Extending the Life of Your Shoes

“When you look good you feel good”

That is the motto that is hanging above the desk of Alex, my shoe guy. He has been repairing my shoes for three years now.

When I bring him my shoes they typically look like straight trash. I procrastinate so much before taking them to him, they are basically at the point of falling apart. They look like they should just be thrown away. But then Alex performs some type of magic and fixes them to the point where they look brand new and I remember, oh yeah, people make shoes, they can fix them too.

… a DUH moment, but it is so easy to buy a new pair of shoes that we forget that it can be simple to forget we can fix the ones we have.

I love these two pairs of shoes so much and found them both secondhand for practically nothing, wore them until they were dead, and don’t think I could find them again. I am SO grateful that people like Alex exist so that I can keep wearing the shoes that I love, and not have to spend lots of money on new shoes or spend lots of time finding ones I like again.

It is so much better to fix what is broken then buy something new and in the process stimulate your local economy, support skilled jobs, and get to know new people in your community.

Here’s a shoe tip: If you buy a new pair of shoes, bring them to a cobbler to have a bottom put on to protect them – it will exponentially increase the life of your shoes!

Check out these before and after pictures!



PS – if you live in Williamsburg and need shoes repaired…
Alex-Broadway Shoes
236 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
… otherwise I suggest finding your local repair person and going to them and if you like them, tell your friends!


A Zero Waste Alternative To Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning. Let’s talk about it. First of all, I stopped going to the dry cleaner years ago. Not for environmental reasons, but because they are SO expensive. Paying $8 in NYC to have a shirt cleaned? No.

Besides the cost of getting my clothes “professionally cleaned”, I began to learn about what they were actually being cleaned with. The truth is that the chemicals used by most dry cleaners can cause harm to air quality and to you.

When I started making my own laundry detergent, I tested it out on my delicates and to my complete surprise, it totally worked. I now wash wool, cashmere, soft cotton, silk, linen and other delicates by hand in my sink using my laundry detergent from The Simply Co.

Many dry cleaners use perchloroethylene aka perc. Perc is a volatile organic compound aka VOC. When you get a dry-cleaning bag, most likely when you open it up it will smell a bit sweet. That is perc. The gasses from perc can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and gasses have been said to exacerbate asthma.

My advice… stay away from the dry cleaners except for professional repairs, steams, and pressing (if they are all chemical free) and wash your own clothing by hand. For me I hand wash and let the item dry flat on a towel and then iron or steam as necessary.

See below to buy the Simply Co. detergent, and one of our tote bags:



Shopping Secondhand in NYC

People ask me all the time how I shop Zero Waste. My answer: secondhand!

I buy all of my clothing secondhand which helps me to save money and have a closet full of unique items. How do I do it? Well, I teamed up with Suitcase Magazine and Viber to create a video on why I love secondhand shopping in NYC and what my favorite spots are. Check out the video below to learn all about them!
My favorite Secondhand Stores in New York City: 

  1. Beacon’s Closet
  2. 2nd Time Around 
  3. Housing Works
  4. Goodwill

What do I look for? 

When secondhand shopping I look for simple, well made pieces that I could imagine wearing two days in a row and not having anyone notice. I like for my clothing to be basic and not trendy that way I can layer it, wear it over and over, and keep it for a really long time. I also look for pieces that are made from natural fibers like cotton, silk, hemp, wool, and leather. These materials are all naturally biodegradable. I stay away from synthetic fibers because they are bad for your skin because they are made from toxic ingredients, bad for the environment because they are typically oil derived and the extraction and production processes are chemical, water, and energy intensive, and bad for our oceans as synthetic fibers get released into our water system and mistaken for food by animal life which then suffocates them. Plastics in the ocean also attract toxins when are then consumed by animal life so I stay away from plastic based or synthetic fabrics.

What are some of your favorite secondhand finds and stores? Let me know in the comments below!


One Pair of Jeans

So…. problem.

I own two pairs of jeans. One is a completely ripped up pair of jeans only appropriate for the summer months. The other is a pair of black skinny jeans that I bought secondhand and love to pieces, literally. I wear them just about every day. Four days ago I was putting them on in a frenzy to run out the door and the crotch ripped. NOOOOOOOOOOO. Besides being totally devastated that my favorite pair of jeans ripped, I was bottomless except for my one pair of leggings that I typically only wear at night and my summer jeans.

Back to the problem though. No jeans, huge hole (as you can see above), and a minor panic attack. Number one I am not in a place financially to buy a new pair of jeans. Number two, I can sew but I have never put a patch in anything and didn’t want to do any more damage, so I walked- erm- ran my jeans to a local tailor in Brooklyn and asked if they could patch my jeans. THEY COULD! It was only 15 dollars which is a bargain compared to the money I would have spent buying a new secondhand pair of jeans and the time and frustration it takes to try them on. I really hate trying on jeans. So for the past few days I have been wearing my night leggings but now I finally have my jeans back!

I just picked them up and they are totally fixed, it cost me much less than buying a new pair of jeans, and I’m incredibly happy! It is easy to think that if an article of clothing rips it is “dead”. But this just goes to prove that even something like a pair of jeans that seems irreparable can be made almost like new!


Zero Waste Music Festival Fashion

I have not yet posted about clothing or fashion on this blog, but I suppose now is as good of a time as ever to divulge that I buy all of my clothes secondhand to reduce the overall demand for clothing on this planet.

This past week I was in Chicago for Lollapalooza. I believe that festivals are one of the greatest place to get inspired by what others are wearing. In preparation for my week long journey I brought along a small bag filled with a few secondhand items to wear. I made sure all of the items would go together so that I could mix and match them which made packing and unpacking at each stop a cinch.

My festival packing list: 

  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Three dresses
  • Two tank tops
  • One vest
  • One set of PJ’s
  • Underwear and socks
  • One black bag
  • One hat
  • A pair of booties
  • A few pieces of statement jewelry

And thats it! The best part? My day 2 duds landed me on Elle Magazine’s website and my day 3 outfit was the cover image on Women’s Wear Daily! It just goes to show you that living a Zero Waste life does not mean you have to compromise your personal style or the quality of the clothing you wear.


Zero Waste at Music Festivals

I wore many hats this past week at Lollapalooza, both literally and figuratively, as the driver, unofficial photographer, and girlfriend of the bass player of the Brooklyn based rock band Beast Patrol.

While the starstruck, gape-mouthed, giddy side of me was euphoric throughout the entire week, the rational, critical side was constantly bombarding me with reminders of how insanely wasteful these operations can be: the energy, the fossil fuels, the cans, the travel, the disposables, the destruction of the grass beneath the feet of the gyrating populace… the list goes on and on. That being said, measures were taken both by the festival and by me to reduce the overall impact of the amalgam of festivalgoers.

I took some small steps to ensure that my week created as little impact as possible by toting along some  of my what I now call… Music Festival Essentials:

  • Mason Jar
  • Fork, Spoon, Knife
  • Cloth Napkin
  • Wide brim hat
  • Organic snacks in jars
  • A well thought out travel route with smart stops

How did I use these essentials? 

  • I brought a mason jar to use as my drinking vessel throughout the trip. It was perfect for coffee in the morning, water and drinks throughout the day, leftovers from dinner, and ice cream in the evening.
  • I only drank things that did not come in bottles that I could have in my mason jar such as mixed drinks and beer from a tap.
  • I brought a napkin, fork, knife, and spoon every day so I would not have to use plastic eating utensils.
  • I brought jars full of Organic snacks including nuts, dried fruit and granola and brought fresh fruit for the first few days of the trip.
  • I pre-researched places to stop along the route for Organic food.
  • I said NO to giveaways. Traveling with a band, I was offered a variety of giveaways that I neither needed nor wanted. The only two things I came out with were a reusable bag and reusable ear plugs (dating a musician means going to a lot of shows and as the foam earplugs are environmentally unfriendly I needed an eco-friendly alternative).
  • To be fair, I drove to Lollapalooza and it was easily around 2000 miles. A huge amount of fossil fuels that I am not proud of. However, I squeezed myself, the four members of Beast Patrol, all of their gear and clothes in a four door car saving both money and fuel.
  • To reduce other fossil fuels from travel within Chicago I used their bike share program and took the bus, both extremely fast and affordable alternatives to cabs (plus I got to bike along the beach on my way to Lollapalooza and get some exercise and take in the beautiful landscape)!!

Lollapalooza took some great steps to reduce their environmental impact at this year’s festival. They had a Green Street with artists, non-profits, and environmentally friendly programs for festival-goers including…

  • CamelBak filling stations
  • Composting food in the artist and picnic areas
  • Hundreds of recycling bins
  • Using bio-diesel at Lolla for their primary fuel for generators
  • Collaborations with with Green Mountain Energy to track and offset Lolla’s carbon footprint by donating to the Indian Creek Landfill Gas Project in Illinois

I was amazed that sustainability was so thoroughly integrated into this festival and am already getting excited about what they, and I, will do next year!