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…
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!
I’ve watched basically every environmental documentary out there, and I recommend educating yourself as much as possible, but this shortlist is all of the documentaries that changed my mindset massively and helped to inform my opinion on many things.
Gasland directed by Josh Fox was the documentary that got me to start using my voice as a tool to inspire environmental change. After seeing it I became very involved in anti-fracking activism which helped me to become trash free! A must see.
King Corn follows Ian and Curt as they try to learn where their food comes from. To do this they end up planting a hectare of corn. The process of doing this and what they end up with was one of my main motivators for becoming a vegetarian.
Food Inc. – must see.
No Impact Man – This documentary follows Colin as he lives without making an impact (this isn’t totally true as he still uses fossil fuels) but it’s a pretty cool doc.
An Inconvenient Truth – The climate is changing.
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.
I am extremely grateful and thankful to have received a degree in Environmental Studies from NYU. It is where I got a lot of my foundational science education that really helped to shape the way I think about things from a systems perspective. However, most of my knowledge on sustainability came not from school, but from reading.
I am a big believer that school isn’t how we become well versed in something, it is a hunger for learning and a desire to constantly challenge and enrich ourselves. I have included the names of the books that have helped me to grow and expand as well as a link to where you can buy them secondhand on Amazon (I know, they aren’t the best)… so I suggest first getting books at a local library, then purchasing books secondhand or on an e-reader if you have one. If you buy books secondhand online, remember to ask the seller if they can package it plastic free in an envelope as opposed to a plastic mailer. They are typically very accommodating.
The book that started it all for me:
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: The book that was published in a series of 3 excerpts in the New Yorker in 1962 that led to the banning of DDT and helped to start the environmental movement.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer: After becoming a father, Jonathan Safran Foer looked into why we eat animals and the stories behind them. This book is top 10 for me.
Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan: Through the question of what to have for dinner, Pollan looks at our food system and how America eats.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan: This book looks at the American Paradox- the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. He suggest a “new” diet that looks in the direction of making thoughtful food choices.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser: A look into the American fast food industry.
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé: a look into not only how what we eat affects us, but the world.
Flammable by Javier Auyero and Debora Alejandra Swistun: The impact of a large oil corporation on an Argentine shantytown.
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher: A statement against “bigger is better” industrialism.
Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: Geography shapes the destiny of the world.
Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawkens: how businesses can be both profitable and environmentally responsible.
Collapse by Jared Diamond: How and why societies fail.
The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard: The impact of overconsumption on the environment, economy, and our health.
The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
Enjoy these books and please let me know if you have any additions that I might have missed!
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:
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!
This video has been a long time coming! It is a complete list of everything I use in my bathroom in my beauty routine! I hope you love it 🙂
Here’s what I use:
Organic Corn Starch – as dry shampoo
Baking soda- exfoliant or pimple remover
Zero Waste toothpaste- applied with my bamboo toothbrush (recipe below)
Bamboo Toothbrush can be found HERE
Face Oil – I love calendula oil or sweet almond oil
Zero Waste Body Butter (recipe below)
Zero Waste Deodorant (recipe below)
Stainless Steel Safety Razor
Soap: I use a package free, Organic, vegan soap