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8 five-minute decluttering tips to simplify your digital life

Decluttering Tips to Simplify your Digital Life

decluttering tips

I mentioned over on Instagram this week that I’ve been in a bit of a blogging rut. About a month ago now, I moved out to Monroe, Georgia, where my family has a little house and some land that’s been in the family for many years. This little house in the woods is the most peaceful, relaxing spot, and you’d think it would be the perfect place to work on exciting new blog posts for you guys! It wasn’t until a few days ago I realized that although I am surrounded by nature in the most beautiful place, when I sit down to get to work on my computer, I sit down to a cluttered uncomfortable mess.

I know you’re wondering, “What does this have to do with zero waste?” Although not directly related, in my opinion when striving to live zero waste that includes zero wasting of time. When your electronic life is simplified, you’re able to spend time focusing more on what’s important rather than wasting time sifting through emails, thousands of photos, and apps.

I recommend taking five minutes each day to work on some of these decluttering tips. Just as decluttering your entire house in a day is a massive obstacle so would be decluttering your digital life in a day. When I organize my house, I like to work in categories or by room. In the same way, you can use these categories to organize a little each day.

1. Inbox

Clean up your email inbox. Yes, go through those 200 unread emails, and delete the ones you know are not important and respond to those that are. Organizing your inbox into folders will also help simplify things and make it easier to respond more readily to important emails. Once you’ve decluttered your inbox, try to keep it that way!! Answer/delete emails daily so they don’t pile up and overwhelm you.

2. Old Documents

This one may not seem as important to you, but trust me, going through old documents not only speeds up your computer but also makes it a lot easier to find files that you do need when you’ve eliminated the unnecessary. Once you’ve streamlined your files, put them into to folders that you will be able to navigate more easily.

3. Photos

Going through old photos will take more than five minutes, but try taking just five minutes per day for a week to start to hack at this big project! I have not only thousands of photos on my phone but also plenty more on my computer. What I’ve learned is, I don’t really need 100 photos of that concert from 5 years ago or 50 sunset photos… Deleting duplicates and photos that didn’t turn out great will free up a lot of space on your device.

After going through and deleting the not so great photos, I like to organize my photos into folders as well. It’s a huge project I know, but definitely worth it. After you’ve decluttered old photos, PRINT some of the ones you love! Printing is my favorite part, because now you can actually enjoy the photos that you do have and love by seeing them regularly around your home.

4. Streamline Social Media

Streamlining social media was really important for my own digital decluttering project, because I find myself wasting a lot of time on social media, time which could be better spent doing something productive. Streamlining social media to me meant deleting platforms I don’t use regularly and leaving a whole lot of Facebook groups. I was in at least 60 different Facebook groups and decided to leave ones that I either wasn’t active in or found myself wasting time scrolling in.

5. Unfollow/Unfriend on Social Media

This decluttering tip goes along with the previous one about social media, mostly because it’s so easy to wind up wasting time on it regularly. Take a few minutes to go through your “friends” lists and unfriend people who let’s face it, aren’t really your friends. It is way too easy to find yourself scrolling through photos of your best friend’s cousin’s kid’s school play… Also, unfollow social media accounts that don’t provide value to you personally. Your interests change and that’s great. You don’t have to clog your news feed with accounts that interested you years ago. Move on!

6. Phone Apps

You’ve cleared a lot of space on your phone after deleting old pictures, but another great way to free up space on your phone is to delete unused/rarely used apps on your phone. Plus it’s so much easier to find what you’re looking for on your phone when you don’t have to hunt through unused apps.

7. Delete Bookmarks

I, for one, had hundreds of bookmarks on my laptop before starting my digital declutter. It was really helpful for me to go through these booksmarks and delete the ones that I didn’t find useful, print and/or archive articles that did interest me, and actually USE the information from these tabs.

8. Unsubscribe

This decluttering tip is something you’ll have to work on a little each day, but it has totally changed my inbox organization. Before, my inbox was about 60% advertisements and 40% important emails that needed responding to. Now, whenever an email pops in my inbox for something I’m no longer interested in, I go ahead an unsubscribe immediately. This will simplify your inbox enormously, but it’s definitely something you have to keep up with regularly. Making a habit of unsubscribing immediately when an unwanted email arrives will make it easier.

 

Having an organized and simplified digital life is a lot like a decluttered home. It makes it so much easier to be productive in your work space! Have you had a digital declutter recently?? What are your best tips for others just starting out?

 

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quick & easy pickled jalapenos recipe

pickled jalapenos

It’s summertime and my garden is in full swing! The pepper plants are growing like crazy. Although, I love adding jalapenos to just about every dish I make (the spicier the better!), I really needed a recipe to make use of a large number of jalapenos at one time. Last summer, fellow Instagrammers suggested making pickled jalapenos with my surplus peppers. After enjoying delicious pickled jalapenos all summer long last year, I was so excited for my abundance of jalapenos this year. Last summer, I used a simple recipe from Allrecipes which was a great foundation for my current pickled jalapeno recipe. I’ve made them a little differently ever time until I finally found the perfect variation of ingredients for optimal flavor. AND, a super plus, this recipe is very nearly waste free!

Finally, for more useful Tiny Yellow Bungalow recipes and DIY projects, head over here!

Quick & Easy Pickled Jalapenos

This recipe makes two 8oz mason jars full of pickled jalapenos.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • One cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar (If you prefer a milder and sweet pickle, add another 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar)
  • One tablespoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 large jalapenos, sliced into rings
  • 2 8oz mason jars

Directions

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and minced garlic in a saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil.

Pack jalapeno pepper rings into mason jars and cover with hot vinegar mixture. Then, let mixture cool for 10 minutes.

Cover with mason jar lids and refrigerate until needed.

pickled jalapenos

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the hike inn: an environmentalist’s dream vacation

hike inn

This past Christmas, my mom gifted me a two night stay at the Hike Inn. Last week, I finally had the opportunity to use my gift, and I want to tell you all about my stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn, a back country lodge located in the Amicalola Falls State Park. The Inn is just a short hike away from the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. However, I mostly want to talk about how driven this place is towards sustainability and nature conservation. It really was an environmentalist’s dream vacation 🙂

Eco Conscious Architecture

You have to hike just under 5 miles to get to the Hike Inn. It’s hidden away in the woods of the Amicalola Falls State Park, and it really blends right into the trees. I took the facility tour (twice! – I know nerd alert!), and it was really interesting to learn about how the Inn was constructed so deliberately to coexist with the surrounding nature.

The whole building’s structure is on stilts to minimize its environmental impact and allow the natural flow of water on the mountain. I also learned that rather than sizing building materials to fit the design of the Inn, the Inn was designed around the sizes of building materials to minimize wasted material from cutting to fit materials. The ceilings and windows are high to allow optimal natural light. Also, the windows are positioned to assist natural air flow through the building and because of this, air conditioning is not needed.

Energy at the Hike Inn

There are solar water heating panels on the roof of the bath house and also at their laundry facility to help save energy. The Inn also has photo voltaic solar panels on the game room building. They are striving for these panels to generate 75% of the electricity consumption of the building in the near future!

Composting

My favorite part of the facility tour was checking out their composting systems. They vermicompost all their raw veggie and fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, and shredded office paper waste. It was really cool to see the red wrigglers at work. They eat about half of their body weight in garbage per day. The worm castings (basically worm poop…) are harvested twice per year and then used as fertilizer for the garden.

vermicompost
Vermicomposting!
vermicompost
Worms in Action!

Guess what else they do at the Hike Inn?? They compost human waste with a composting toilet system! This was absolutely fascinating to me. The toilets look pretty much like conventional toilets, but there’s no water flushing system. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that composting toilets do not stink, believe it or not. All of the waste from the toilets gets sent down to this big container in the basement, and it takes nearly 5 years for the container to be completely filled. When it’s time to empty the system, the waste is spread out to bake in the sun and sterilized to become “humanure” which can then be used as fertilizer for plants.

composting toilet
Composting Toilet
humanure
Sebastian inspecting the humanure… human waste composting system in the background.

There’s a third composting system at the Hike Inn as well, the Earth Cube. This system is used to break down everything else like meat, cheese, oil, etc.

Earth Cube
Earth Cube

Zero Food Waste

My zero waste friends will be excited to hear that the Hike Inn strives for zero food waste in their cafeteria. All meals at the Inn are served family style with reusable plates, cups, cloth napkins, and silverware (no disposables). Guests are encouraged to eat as much as they’d like, but to eat everything they put on their plate. The clean plate club is no joke at the Hike Inn! Each night they scrape the cafeteria food scraps into a bowl and weigh it. Their goal is no more than 1 ounce of food waste per 10 people.

Also, when you go to the cafeteria for the first time, you are given a mug and cup that will be used solely by you during your stay at the Hike Inn. You put a name label on your cup and rather than washing cups over and over every meal, this cup and mug is yours for the stay!

hike inn
Everyone reuses their own cups

Landscape & Garden

The Hike Inn is surrounded by all native plants. A lot of the plants have labels so it’s nice to walk the property and learn their names. They also have a special bat garden where they’ve planted night blooming flowers, provided a water source, and installed a bat house. Bats are important to the ecosystem so they’ve provided an inviting backyard for these animals. There’s also a small employee garden that was filled with gorgeous kale during my visit.

garden
Employee garden, check out that kale!

I had an altogether wonderful experience at the Len Foote Hike Inn last week. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions for me or if you just want to rave about the Hike Inn too! 🙂 And if you’re based in Georgia, do yourself a solid and book a night’s stay at the Inn!

 

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go vegan for the environment

Go Vegan

Go Vegan for the Environment

Transitioning to a vegan diet is definitely a tough decision to make, but it has a lot of advantages that are worth considering. Choosing to eat a plant based diet can make your body healthier, your waistline smaller, your pocket fuller and the earth safer.

People who have made the switch to a meatless diet are not only benefiting personally, they are also taking part in saving the planet. I am well aware of the very real repercussions of climate change. But for those of you who are new to the concept, infrared radiation from the sun normally bounces off the Earth and exits the atmosphere. However, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere prevents them from going out thereby trapping in the heat they bring. Experts refer to it as the greenhouse effect which is the main contributor to climate change.

A lot of factors supply the increased and rapid accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere. For this reason, experts are calling on the public to make an effort to reduce these gases.

How Going Vegan Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The burning of fossil fuel to produce electricity and heat remains the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, animal agriculture is still a very significant contributor to pollutant emissions. And just as importantly, it’s a factor that we can easily influence by reducing meat consumption.

Meat production contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in two ways: deforestation and emissions of pollutant gases from animal manure.

Deforestation

The increasing demand for meat urges livestock owners to expand their pasture land and additional land for growing feed crops. Trees play an important role in converting carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen through photosynthesis. A lesser number of trees through deforestation means a lesser number of natural carbon dioxide converters. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, or UNFAO, livestock agriculture is responsible for 9 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Animal Manure

Manure from ruminant livestock, such as cattle, emits methane. It is a type of greenhouse gas which is 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Ruminant animals have a unique digestive system compared to other animals which may be the reason why their manure releases methane.  Findings of the UNFAO showed that livestock agriculture is responsible for 37 percent methane emissions.

Furthermore, the same records from the UNFAO showed that raising cattle creates a bigger problem than raising other livestock, such as poultry and pigs. This is mainly because beef production requires more land, water, and fertilizer than producing poultry meat and pork.

Choosing Plants Over Meat

UNFAO also pointed out that eating plant foods can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. For example, producing a pound of vegetables creates roughly about three to five times lower gas emissions than producing a pound of meat. The explanation behind this is simple. It is more efficient to grow crops and eat them directly than to grow crops, feed it to animals to make them grow, and then eat them.

Greenhouse gas emissions from meat production may not be as problematic as emissions from fuel combustion used to generate electricity and heat. However, taking part in such a great cause should not be underestimated. Choosing to help save the environment by going meatless is a win-win, because it also makes your body healthier!

Tips for Transitioning to a Vegan Diet

  • Slow changes are good changes

Your gut needs time to adjust to the changes in your diet. Don’t expect to go from a meat eater to a plant eater in just one day. A slow transition is a good transition. Diets focused on plant foods are usually higher in dietary fiber which can have unpleasant effects on your digestion. This is especially true if your meat eating gut is not used to it. Start by going meatless one meal a day the first two weeks then gradually pick up the pace as you go. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to aid digestion.

  • Consume a variety of plant foods.

One of the pitfalls of switching to a vegan diet is not eating the right foods that meet your body’s nutrition needs. You are not going to bring positive changes to your health if this is the case. Protein, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 are key nutrients you should be sure to focus on. These nutrients generally found in meat are slightly harder to come by in plant based foods.

What are your favorite vegan recipes? Have you tried eating more meatless meals to help the environment and improve your health?? 

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zero waste toiletry kit

What’s in a zero waste toiletry kit?!

I’m spending the week at the beach and thought what a perfect opportunity to talk to you about what’s in my zero waste toiletry kit. I’m travelling light this trip, because let’s be honest, on a beach vacation I want to either be in my bathing suit or my pajamas. My personal care routine is just as minimal as my travel wardrobe while visiting the seaside.

zero waste toiletry kit

Quick Zero Waste Toiletry Checklist:

  • Bamboo Toothbrush
  • ZW Toothpaste
  • ZW Deodorant
  • Safety Razor
  • ZW Sunscreen
  • Hairbrush

Zero Waste Toothpaste and Bamboo Toothbrush

I’d say the very basic foundation of a zero waste toiletry kit would be a great zero waste toothpaste, whether homemade or store bought, and a bamboo toothbrush. I use the zero waste tooth paste carried in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop and a Brush with Bamboo toothbrush. To learn more about why you should switch to a natural and ZW toothpaste, check out this recent blog post of mine here!

zero waste toiletry kit

Zero Waste Deodorant

Plastic free deodorant is a must for zero waste travels, especially for hot days at the beach! Many zero waste enthusiasts use DIY deodorant recipes, but I am a huge fan of the PITS natural & vegan deodorant that comes in a glass jar. It’s the first natural deodorant I’ve found that is effective for hot sweaty days in Georgia.

zero waste deodorant

Stainless Steel Safety Razor

I made the switch from disposable plastic razors to a stainless steel safety razor a couple of years ago, and it has been one of my absolute favorite ZW switches. Not only do I not have to worry about tossing plastic razors on the regular, but in my opinion a safety razor gives a much closer shave. I take my safety razor when travelling, but that’s a personal preference. Totally optional!

Zero Waste Sunscreen

I currently use a zero waste sunscreen from Butterbean Organics. It works great, and it comes in a little metal tin that can be reused. Is there a ZW sunscreen that you really like?? I would love to hear what sunscreens you have experimented with. An added bonus, if you’ve found an effective ZW sunscreen that’s also vegan! I’m running low on my Butterbean sunscreen and would love to try out some other brands.

Hairbrush

My hairbrush that I carry in my zero waste travel kit is made of *gasp* plastic. I just wanted to point out that when transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle, you don’t need to toss every single item of plastic in your home!! My hairbrush works just fine, and I plan to use it until it’s absolutely worn out. I will be happy to hunt for a more environmentally conscious hairbrush after!

Not Pictured

For this week’s trip, my toiletry kit was pretty minimal. My accommodation’s here included shampoo and soap. However, on any other trip I would’ve probably brought a few slivers of my shampoo and soap bars in a re-purposed Altoids tin. I also normally travel with makeup but again, not much need for makeup when most of my time is spent at the water! Also, if it happened to be the week of my cycle I would’ve brought my Diva Cup. Not pictured, although I did bring it with me in my purse, my plastic free, vegan lip balm. My lips are a little chapped from spending so much time in the sun. I’m so glad I brought it on my trip!

What’s in your zero waste toiletry kit??

What personal care items do you bring when travelling zero waste?