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My Journey To: A Low Waste Lifestyle

Friday, October 4, 2019

low-waste-sustainable-lifestyle
This post is not sponsored but does contain affiliate links.

When we were preparing for our move, I was sickened by the amount of "crap" we had accumulated. Stuff we didn't need. Stuff we didn't use. I'm ashamed to admit we hauled a lot to the city dump. There were a lot of things that couldn't be recycled or given away. I vowed to never ever be in that situation again. That was my starting point. I didn't realize at the time that it would lead us to fully changing our entire lifestyle.

I promised mother nature & the universe (and my bank account) that I wouldn't be wasteful like that again. I think it's easy with social media to get caught up in the "newest" and "prettiest" things. We have goals of aesthetically pleasing lifestyles plunged down our throat with every glance of Instagram. It has taken "keeping up with the Jones's" to a whole new level. An unhealthy one.

We needed a few furniture pieces once we got settled into our new house. We were gifted a dining room set from J's grandmother because she is now in assisted living. It's beautiful, has familial history, was free to us, and we are reusing instead of buying new. I won't lie, even after all my vows to myself for a more minimal lifestyle I found myself caught up in pinning home decor on Pinterest. I nearly almost purchased a brand new mid-century (isn't that an oxymoron) TV stand and coffee table online. Old habits die hard. I had to reel it in and I'll be searching thrift & antique stores for our future furniture. Yes there's downsides to this, you must have patience. It takes time and a lot of trips to find a piece that speaks to you. But once you do... it's so rewarding! 

Clothing was another shame moment. I couldn't believe the amount of clothes I had accumulated and can't wear anymore, or haven't worn, or completely forgotten about! This is where fast fashion comes into play. This was another promise I made to myself, to not get caught up in fast fashion. Not only because it's completely unnecessary, but fast fashion is the leading cause of clothing in landfills, most fast fashion clothing items are created in unethical shops outside of the US, and it takes about 700 gallons of water to create 1 cotton shirt. Those are just a few reasons that fast fashion is not sustainable and is unethical. I only kept a few things that I loved, the rest was donated. In our new city, Wichita, I have found several thrift shops that have amazing items for very low prices. I've made a few trips, because we did need a few things once we moved. I will only be purchasing secondhand or from sustainable clothing companies. One of the most freeing things about not purchasing fast fashion is that YOU have a chance to decide what YOUR AUTHENTIC style is. Don't get caught up in what the fast fashion industry tells you to wear, wear what you want to wear. If you're not chasing trends, you aren't creating waste. I'll definitely be posting more about fast fashion in the near future. But for now keep this in mind:

  • don't buy clothing you don't need just because it's on sale
  • seek out secondhand stores, there's some amazing ones out there
  • invest in sustainable pieces that are well made and will last a long time
  • discover your own authentic style instead of chasing trends
My initial goal was to just cut down on random spending and accumulation of unneeded things. What I didn't expect was to find myself going down a full on low waste lifestyle. I started watching YouTube videos about sustainable living and that's when things really started to take off for me. We are currently a one steady income household. I make money from my Etsy shops & blogging but it fluctuates. We live off of J's income and she gets paid once a month. Without going too deep into personal life here, we decided when we moved I'd stay home for awhile. This is something I really wanted, and she graciously is giving me that. I wanted time to heal myself from my previous soul sucking job of 10 years (seriously, it did a number on me). I also wanted to give my side hustles full-time attention to see where I can grow. However, this brought on a major lifestyle change. I knew we'd have to cut some costs and be a little frugal for a bit while we adjusted to one steady paycheck a month. Not only is low waste sustainable living frugal, it's important for our world. 

reusable-sandwich-bags-sustainable-living

Every morning I get up and pack J's lunch for work. She's not fancy, she just prefers a sandwich and some veggies. Any kind. Even just plain crunchy peanut butter. She has long work days and takes 2 sandwiches. She'll have one at lunch (it's super early in the day) and one in the late afternoon. Her lunch bag came with a neat reusable plastic container (this was gifted to her last year) but it only has space for one sandwich. So we were using sandwich bags. After a month of this, I decided to look for a less wasteful option. I purchased these reusable sandwich bags. They have been amazing and I've since purchased reusable gallon size bags as well. This is a prime example of low waste being cheaper and better for the environment. These are made with food grade PEVA which is biodegradable.

reusable-cotton-rounds-low-waste

At the same time I purchased the reusable sandwich bags, I purchased reusable cotton rounds. It just happened that the day I was placing my order, I ran out of cotton rounds. Since my brain is in full low waste mode, I decided to look for better options. I use these for eye makeup remover and my toner. I'm in love with these! They're made from natural bamboo material and are biodegradable. They also came with a little laundry bag. I keep this bag in a drawer in my bathroom, and just place the used rounds in there then toss in the laundry when it's full. Once again, a frugal and low waste replacement.

nut-milk-low-waste-lifestyle

I don't like cow milk. I never have. I've never been the type to sit down and drink a glass of milk. I prefer almond milk for cooking and cereal. However, even purchasing almond milk at Aldi is an expense I'm not crazy about. Mostly because I use a little for a recipe then it goes bad. I've wasted A LOT of milk over the years. I accidentally came across a YouTube video where a woman was making oat milk from scratch. It was insanely easy, incredibly cheap (I always have oats on hand, love them), and low waste for sure. Especially if you buy your oats from a store that has bulk bins. I'm going to do a blog post on my oat milk process soon, but in the mean time here's the nut milk bags I purchased to make my oat milk. 

bulk-bin-reusable-bags-low-waste

Speaking of bulk bin shopping... 
Here in Wichita we have a Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's is opening next week. Sprouts has been my ultimate go-to for bulk bin items and most of my organic produce actually. I already bring in my reusable shopping bags but also made the change to reusable bulk bin bags. We buy our coffee beans from Sprouts and we go through a lot of coffee. I use a reusable bulk bin bag and come home and immediately transfer the beans to a mason jar for storage. I also started using reusable produce bags. This is a no brainer and I'm disappointed I haven't been doing this all along. Produce bags are so incredibly wasteful. I purchased my bulk bin bags & produce bags from Sprouts but these are a nice option from Amazon.

reusable-straws-low-waste

I'm a straw drinker. 24/7. Even at home. The wrinkles my lips will have when I'm old... I'm not sure what it is but I need a straw. I already suffer from very low fluid intake (my urologist is on me about that) and I find straws help me drink more. During our move, my favorite Starbucks reusable tumbler with straw got broke. So I had no cup at home with a straw. I was placing my Grove Collaborative order and came across bamboo straws. I immediately put them in my cart. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about them, but I love them and take them with me everywhere. They come with a nice drawstring bag so I keep the extras in my purse for out and about. This would be an unnecessary purchase for anyone that doesn't insist on drinking out of straws like I do. So unless you're like me, you can probably skip this purchase. The thing I like about the bamboo is that it's not affected by heat or cold liquids like metal straws. This package comes with 6 straws, a travel bag, and a cleaning brush. Check them out

I know that I've shared some of my low waste replacements with you today, but I think it's important when starting your journey that you don't run out and buy everything you "think" you need. Let it happen organically. Find stuff you already use every day and see how you can make it low waste. I didn't necessarily seek out the low waste lifestyle, it found me. So I did naturally find replacements. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about these changes in my life and I look forward to sharing so much more with you!

What are some things in your day to day life that you can find a low waste alternative for?





5 Must Haves for Moving

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Moving is not fun, in fact it's quite stressful and overwhelming. I'm fresh off the heels from a move, so I thought I'd share a list of must have items for moving. I wish I had this list at the beginning of my move instead of learning it along the way!

||1} Moving boxes- yes it's obvious but what you need to be told is this... BUY MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED! Here's the thing, everyone will tell you this, and you'll be like "yeah yeah I know". No you don't! I don't know how many trips we made to Home Depot and Sam's club for boxes. We found that the medium sized boxes were what we used most. I wish I would've just started with a big bundle of them from Amazon. I know buying boxes is an added expense, but where I lived it wasn't easy to collect quality used boxes. I also liked the idea of having perfect sturdy boxes for my valuables. TIP: Save them after you move. As I type this, every single box we purchased for our move is now nicely broken down and stacked on a shelf in my office closet. This way, we'll have them for our next move!

||2} Rope for the moving truck- this is something I had NO IDEA that I needed. I thought the truck just came with stuff to strap stuff down with. It does not. I have never used a moving truck because I never moved further than 30 miles before. Usually moving day consisted of friends with trucks and a few back and forth trips. Luckily for me, a friend that was helping us load the moving truck had rope with them.

||3} Packing paper- I had read that newspaper isn't the best thing to use for packing your dishes because it can transfer. I did purchase some packing paper, and I have to say I went through 2 packages of this stuff! I used it for everything. I wrapped my office label printers with it, game consoles, dishes, glasses, knick-knacks, my essential oil bottles, etc. This was one of the best purchases I made as far as moving supplies go.

||4} Retractable Sharpie- using a retractable Sharpie was a game changer. We didn't have to keep track of a marker lid while already juggling a million things. I highly recommend getting a few of these.

||5} A moving binder & a basket- I looked on Pinterest to find printables for my moving binder. I used this one. I printed the pdf pages and 3 hole punched them into a binder. This was my lifeline and ended up being incredibly useful (and still is 2 months after we moved). I kept a copy of our lease agreement for the house in it as well and all receipts from U-Haul and moving expenses. I kept the binder in a basket like this one. I use that basket all the time already as a "portable office". I keep all my bill paying necessities in it, a financial planner, grocery circulars for meal planning, etc. Anyway, while we were moving I used the basket for grand central station. It housed the moving binder, sharpies, extra packing tape, scissors, box cutters, a mini screwdriver set, and everything I thought I'd need all together as we moved. On moving day I added a toilet paper roll in it, TV remotes, and phone chargers. This was my lifeline during the move and I still refer to the moving binder for random things that come up.

I hope that these tips help you and make your move as stress free as possible!


2019 Fall Collection

Friday, August 30, 2019



My 2019 Fall Collection launches today! Featuring 2 charms, and 4 clips. Available in silver or gold factory forged hardware and your choice of a matte or glossy clay finish.

Every year, my fall collection is the biggest selling collection of the year. Starting with my initial first year with Etsy. My first fall collection went viral and was shared across many huge planner Instagram accounts.



 One of my favorite pieces from this collection is the Pumpkin Coffee. It's an adorable pumpkin coffee mug filled with coffee and topped with whipped cream and a sunflower.


I also offer dangle clips for my charms. I know a lot of people love the special charms I make, but they don't use charms, they like to use clips. I implemented dangle clips so everyone can utilize every piece of my collections.


If you love charms, but are unsure about using lobster clasps and how they'll fit with your planner, I also offer ball chains. Ball chains give you a lot more flexibility on attaching the charm to any planner, or even other things like purses or backpacks!


I pride myself on my yearly beautiful fall collection and I invite you to come check it out!

You can visit the "SHOP" tab at the top of the page, or find me on Etsy "EmileeSpeaks".

Thanks so much and I hope you enjoy the 2019 Fall Collection!

I'm now a Wichitan

Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Hi! Hello! Do you even remember who I am at this point? Ahah! Well let me tell you... I've been a busy bee and we've uprooted our lives and moved across the state! I am now a Wichitan. J graduated college and got a job in Wichita, so here we are. She was offered the job in February and we kind of sought other opportunities first, because I'll be honest, I wasn't super excited about moving. Super long story short and a lot of discussions later, we decided to take the opportunity. It was the best opportunity and once I got on board and got over the dread of moving, I was actually excited. I love a bigger city and Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, so that works out nicely.

I did have some emotional hiccups to work through. I'm not huge on "change" and this was big "change". We spent the summer enjoying time with friends & family before we moved. Then before we knew it, it was getting time to move. That was not fun. I purged so much stuff, you have no idea. We went from a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom loft apartment to a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house. I purged so much "crap" that I'm pretty sure I'm never buying anything again. That minimalist lifestyle is looking pretty damn good!

The most exciting part of all of this is... I GOT TO QUIT MY JOB! I hated that job with every fiber of my being. It was toxic. J's new job allows me to stay home and work on my own ventures and take care of the house. I can now devote proper work hours to my Etsy shop and my blog, which is the dream. On my last day though, they got us cake and gifts which was really nice and very unexpected. I'll miss some people, but not the job. At all.


We brought everything to our new house in Wichita in the Uhaul 2 days before we were staying for good. On the actual moving day, leaving our current life behind, we loaded up our cars with the remaining items that needed to go and the animals. I took Callie (dog) and J took Igloo & Quorra (the cats). We got about 45 minutes into the drive when J's tire blew on the car. Luckily we were close to a Walmart and were able to get it right in and fixed up. We transferred the cats to my car (in their crates of course) and I went ahead to Wichita. Mind you, we moved during Mercury Retroshade... so we were asking for some sort of car trouble.


On our third day in Wichita we went to a concert. I had purchased the tickets prior to moving because I knew we'd be up here already and I really wanted to go to this concert. It was the ALT-IMATE Tour. Bush & Live celebrating the 25th Anniversary of their albums "Sixteen Stone" (Bush) and "Throwing Copper" (Live). Our Lady Peace opened up for them as well. Bush & Live were in my top 5 favorite bands in the 90s, so I was incredibly excited to go to this concert. It turned out to be more than I expected, because Gavin Rossdale came into the crowd to finish a song and walked within touching distance of us! I literally could have reached out and touched him... but I didn't because I'm not creepy. Though plenty of people WERE touching him. (Sorry for the grainy photo, it was all happening so fast ahah!)


I love coffee. I know a lot of people say that, but I can't think of anything I love more (that isn't a mammal) than coffee. I typically just have my coffee black as well. I buy coffee beans for home consumption from local roasters, and I'm always on the hunt for the perfect coffee shop. In Pittsburg (where we moved from) we had the most amazing roaster & coffee shop called "Signet". I always always purchased my coffee beans from them. They have amazing beans and they know how to make great coffee. As someone who loves black coffee, that's my test at coffee shops usually. I'll try their plain black coffee. If they can't make that taste good, I don't want it. My favorite iced drink is just a plain cold brew. On day 6, we decided to take a break from the final unpacking and arranging and go to a close coffee shop. We went to Reverie. J had a caramel latte, and I had a plain cold brew. It was pretty good. If I'm being honest though, Signet's cold brew was better. I also believe J would say she preferred Signet as well because Reverie didn't have hazelnut syrup and hazelnut lattes are her jam. We'll definitely go back to Reverie mainly because I just used up the last of my Signet coffee beans at home, and Reverie is also a roaster. I'll try their beans and give it a go before ordering online from Signet. 


Another place we stopped for coffee is The Donut Whole. They have out of this world delicious donuts. I got orange cream and J got a thin mint. They have hazelnut syrup so she had a hazelnut latte, and I had an iced coffee with vanilla syrup and cream. I ordered this because I've had their drip coffee before when we've visited family in town over the years, and their drip coffee is not good. I'll be doing more in depth features on these businesses later on, right now I'm just talking about our first few weeks in Wichita.



Our 10th day was a Saturday. It was the first weekend we were able to relax and go do some fun things. J and I have worked weekends for 10 years, so now that we don't, we're taking full advantage of it! J's brother joined us this day (her whole family lives here). We went to Kansas Grown Inc. Farmer's Market. It's the largest grower owned Farmer's Market in the state. It was amazing! (I'll feature more individually my purchases from there soon) After the Farmer's Market we went to visit J's grandma for a few hours. It was a great time and wonderful chat. Then we went to 2nd Saturday. 2nd Saturday is an Artisan Market with food trucks, local art for sale, and live music. We shopped and browsed, and just overall had a great time. I was getting hungry by this point and was craving Banh Mi. So we had lunch at Little Saigon. I had Bahn Mi, and J had soup (I don't remember what she ordered exactly). The food was great and hit the spot.

That's a brief version of our first two weeks in Wichita. I'll have so much more to tell you about those two weeks and our upcoming adventures. If you'd like to keep up to date, I created an Instagram account solely dedicated to our life in Wichita. You can follow it here. It's brand new, just created last night, so there's not much but there definitely will be. 

Thanks so much for sticking around over these years and I'm super excited to share more with you now that I live in a metro area!





What I Read | January 2019

Sunday, February 17, 2019




I can't think of a better blog post to be my first of 2019. This year I didn't share my resolutions/goals in a blog post. I've been working really hard at deciding where I want to take this blog. It's clearly been a minute since I've posted, lol. Anyway, 2019 is bringing a lot of changes for me (including a big move to another city) and I know I'll have lots to share. Especially once I'm moved and living in my new (much larger) city. 

One of my goals for 2019 was to watch less TV, and read more. I've definitely succeeded for January! Here's what I read in January 2019...

new digital planning video | IPAD PLANNING

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I'm back from the long weekend with another Digital Planning video for you. We went out of town for memorial weekend and spent time with family. It was nice and a much needed refresher. I finally bit the bullet and purchased my new computer, so it's back to the grind this week!

|| I T E M S  U S E D ||
iPad Pro 10.5"- https://amzn.to/2v0ify3
Apple Pencil- https://amzn.to/2EHYbQQ
Apple Pencil case- https://amzn.to/2GLDPf5
iPad Case- https://amzn.to/2xwb426
Paper & Glam stickers- https://shop.paperandglam.com/
Miss Strawberry Milk stickers- https://etsy.me/2wAM7Cb
GoodNotes app
Planner - https://goodplanr.com/

|| F I L M I N G ||
Camera- https://amzn.to/2JfHnGY
Lights- https://amzn.to/2L6gaE9
Tripod- https://amzn.to/2JioZNJ
I hope you're enjoying the digital planning videos as much as I enjoy making them! Please let me know if there's anything you have questions about or want to see. 
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