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Forging a Path To Sustainable Minimalism with Stephanie Seferian, author of Sustainable Minimalism

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If you’re ready to declutter your world and get more life out of life, then this podcast episode is for you. Stephanie Seferian is an expert in sustainability, zerowaste and minimalism. Through this interview, her book, and her podcast she offers simple strategies to reduce clutter and live more intentionally to save our planet.

About Our Guest, Stephanie Seferian: Stephanie is the best-selling author of Sustainable Minimalism and host of the top-rated podcast by the same name. After blogging about her personal journey toward a simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyle, she was inspired to help others create intentional lives centered around both simplicity and sustainability. She uses her platform to demystify the tenets of eco-minimalism with kids including eco-friendly decluttering, conscious consumerism, and low-waste living. Stephanie is an avid runner, an aspiring plant-based chef, and a lover of historical fiction. She lives outside of Boston with her two daughters, yellow Labrador Retriever, 10,000-ish bees, and husband who loves to compost almost as much as she does.

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Corinna Bellizzi: Hello fellow do-gooders and friends I’m your host Corinna Bellizzi an activist and cause marketer. Two of my ideals are sustainability and minimalism today we get to dive into each of these topics with an expert podcaster and author. Before I introduce them, I have some news we are now active on clubhouse you can join weekly discussions on social impact and sustainability and an open forum that’s inclusive each Wednesday evening. Find us on clubhouse @CareMoreBeBettr — just leave out that last E in better.

If you like what we’re doing you can support the show by sharing it with your friends and keep it at free by donating directly on our site just visit care more be better calm and click donate. Now today I’m thrilled to be joined by a fellow podcaster and Sustainable Minimalist Stephanie Seferian

Stephanie is an expert in sustainability zero waste and minimalism through her blog Mama Minimalist and her podcast Sustainable Minimalists. She offers simple strategies to reduce clutter and live more intentionally in an effort to save our planet. In January of this year 2021 she released her first book sustainable minimalism which I had the pleasure of reading, or rather, listening to on audible as I prepared for today’s interview. In this book Stephanie shares the stark reality of our global waste epidemic, while offering tips on how to reduce waste, while adopting a lifestyle that holds sustainability and minimalism as central tenants of the household. Stephanie welcome to the show!

Stephanie Seferian: I cannot thank you so much for having me i’m thrilled to be here.

Corinna Bellizzi: No, I would love to you I would love for you to kick us off by sharing with our audience, how you advise those new to minimalism and new to sustainability, so that they can begin making small changes in their daily lives.

Stephanie Seferian: I am a huge advocate for incremental ISM so that means you start where you’re at and you take a little tiny baby, not even a step, a toe forward towards decluttered and a more eco friendly life you take the smallest little toe forward possible so what’s one thing that you could reasonably try on for size, maybe you hang up your next load of laundry instead of using the dryer if that’s what you normally do maybe you make your coffee at home, tomorrow, instead of head to buy me we have dunkin donuts. What is one really small change that is not going to stress, you out that you can reasonably consider doing for the long haul that’s what I suggest everybody starts don’t do all the things all at once that’s a recipe for disaster just do one thing at a time.

Corinna Bellizzi: You know I think there’s also, in a sense, where someone gets super passionate about recycling and they become almost a pain to everybody else in their circles by. I don’t know saying like well you put that in the trash you know how dare you type of thing, so one of the things that we discussed in an earlier podcast with Eliza Erskine who helps companies become B Corps. Was that there can be that kind of fatigue around something like recycling, so how would you advise somebody who let’s say has gone to that the militant space to kind of help somebody along the way, without making them feel like they’re being judged for the recycling measures that they take already.

Stephanie Seferian: So I do believe that sometimes it’s better to say nothing than to say something, because if the approach isn’t welcome or if the offer to help is not welcome, and if the approach is judging it’s going to do more harm than good, so I suggest for anybody who feels a little bit militant in their ECO friendliness you consider your audience so are you talking to somebody who would be receptive to learning about how to better recycle or not first consider your audience and decide whether your advice is going to fall on deaf ears, or whether it’s actually going to make a difference.

Corinna Bellizzi: I resonate with that and one of the things that I have been frustrated with is the fact that so many of the goods that we buy in the grocery store come packaged in plastic. And when I looked into my local recyclers well you know all of these items are packaged and plastic bear this nice little recycling feel right. And yet I found out that most of them were not actually being recycled by my local waste facility management. So what that ultimately means is that, even though I had been putting those items into the recycle bin they essentially weren’t being recycled, I thought I was doing good I was actually just mucking up their system so that’s something that you cover in the book. What would you say to the person who, who has been recycling had the best intentions, over the course the last few years and find out that perhaps they are their efforts are going unmet by the matching needs of that waste facility.

Stephanie Seferian: Yeah I talked about recycling extensively in the book precisely because when I realized the true state of recycling in the United States, I was horrified. We are taught to believe that recycling is this amazing innovation, where our plastics and glass and aluminum and cardboard get magically.. Re up cycled up cycled I guess would be a better word into a new product, but the reality is and without going into. All the changes in Chinese imports in the past three years, I would say that a lot of what you and I, and your listeners are diligently recycling does not get recycled. Recycling is expensive in the United States and it’s it’s expensive for the trash companies, and so it is more common than you would think for such companies such municipalities to cut corners by simply recycling none of it and sending it all to the landfill so. For listeners who are similarly horrified. By that my suggestion would be to consider no longer looking at recycling, as this amazing innovation, because it’s it’s not if you’re concerned about waste I would consider or I would urge your listeners to consider. Taking home less recycling, to begin with that’s a big part of my book, because i’m so passionate about it, the answer, in my opinion, is not recycling.

Corinna Bellizzi: So, if we look at the bins that we fill up each week as all garbage then perhaps we can move ourselves in the direction of change, I mean, because what I think about you know if you’re drinking these bottles of wine enjoying your evening at home. That bottle of wine is made of glass that glass costs money to make it thankfully inert and so far as the environment is concerned, if it ends up in landfill. But at the same time, you know it takes energy to build and to recycle a new often to I found out that recyclers in my neighborhood, at least if the glass bottles break on their way from the been into the garbage truck that those broken glasses, or those broken bottles do not get recycled. And so it’s a really complicated story that I think we just need to get a little bit more clear on if we start to look at everything that leaves our House as waste in those garbage bins I think that would be helpful.

Stephanie Seferian: yeah sorry I was just going to say to that we’ve been taught by recycling marketers that be, if we recycle were. Strong environmental stewards we’re doing right we’re doing all we can, but I would urge anybody listening today to think instead not of recycling if you recycle as you being an environmental steward think of instead, how can you reduce your waste and reducing waste also therefore means reducing how much your quote unquote recycling.

Corinna Bellizzi: mm hmm and how much you’re consuming. Yes, so as I read your book, it became obvious to me that you’re asking people to want more out of life, unless stuff cluttering it which could be the things that might end up and you’re recycling bin, but it could also be just the items that you’re bringing into your home. So, can you tell us more about your journey journey from more of that consumerism perspective to a minimalist perspective.

Stephanie Seferian: I’d love to so I should start by saying I was never particularly ECO friendly I didn’t grow up in a ECO friendly minimalist house, by any means, I never thought about plastics, I never thought about our society is reliance on over consumption. I never it never crossed my mind until I became a mother I my husband and I and my dog and our two cats, we were living in an 850 square foot apartment when my first daughter was born and. Very soon after she was born, I felt suffocated by all her stuff felt like it was squeezing us out of our apartment. That all all the clothes so many clothes I if I said she had 100 dresses I don’t even think that would be an exaggeration, the toys, the gear. And I didn’t have much free time to, but the free time I had was spent cleaning organizing putting away maintaining all this excess. And so I had a moment where I just said, you know let’s work smarter not harder let’s get rid of everything that’s non essential you don’t need 100 frilly dresses. Onee zip up onesie, maybe two if we have an accident every day that frilly dresses like it’s just a dress, but when I went to go to figure out, you know what to do with all this stuff I was met with more questions.

Minimalism at this point, this was around. Minimalism was a buzzword everybody’s like jumping on the minimalist bandwagon, but all the minimalist influencers nobody was talking about well what to do with all this stuff that doesn’t spark joy. You know, they say, get rid of it, but you know I would have to say yeah out of sight out of mind, no, and if that didn’t work for me the thought of sending all this perfectly good stuff to the landfill just just wasn’t wasn’t going to happen in my little apartment and so. At the time I wanted to minimize and an eco friendly way and I couldn’t find resources, I couldn’t find a person talking about that. So I decided, I was going to be that person and I started a blog to categorize my successes my failures to hopefully help others, and here we are five ish years later. I’ve got a podcast and a book and they’ll talk about sustainable minimalism until my head hurts yeah.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, you know I think there’s this trend and sustainability, to where people don’t want to get rid of things before their useful life has ended. And I think for me having grown up in a household that did cherish sustainability that looked at life cycle of goods I you know learned when I learned. Listening to another podcast that you are on talking about how many times, an item of clothing gets more and before it ends up at goodwill, or some other charity was really surprising to me, I think the average was about four times. And for me, I think every piece of clothing that I own has been worn probably 100. Because I think about that and I, you know I will wear them to the point where there’s a hole in it and it’s not repairable so I need to consider this a rag and cut it up. But there is this sense within that sustainability kind of core to me that that has a very hard time being minimalist. Because I hold on to these things until they’re useful life is let’s say dissipated, because I fear too much that it will just end up in landfill, even if I do donate it right. There’s this entire trend from the fast fashion world where all those these cheap clothing items get made they get donated and they don’t actually find a new home once they’re donated so they just end up in garbage.

So what would you have to say to the person concerned about that or who might be having a hard time transitioning from this rooted sustainable perhaps almost pack rat perspective and i’m i’m looking in the mirror, as I say this to something more minimalist well.

Stephanie Seferian: First, I would say that you know ECO friendly living and minimalist living they don’t have to be on opposite sides of the spectrum right, you can fall somewhere in the middle, you can.


00:14:31.710 –> 00:14:37.650

stef: be slightly more of a pack rat and and still want to live with less.


00:14:38.760 –> 00:14:47.880

stef: And to your question about wanting to keep everything so that it doesn’t head to the landfill, I would say.


00:14:48.930 –> 00:14:53.010

stef: I guess, I would ask you, is keeping all this stuff.


00:14:54.150 –> 00:14:57.690

stef: impeding your quality of life, and if the answer’s no then.


00:14:57.720 –> 00:15:04.290

stef: go on with your bad solo thing keep it, but if it is, which for a lot of people that excess.


00:15:05.820 –> 00:15:12.930

stef: contributes to stress and anxiety contributes to resentment with his or her partner contributes to.


00:15:13.290 –> 00:15:31.200

stef: Loss of free time organizing maintaining all this stuff and so, if that sounds like your experience, I would say, consider utility consider the item in questions utility can you actually pass if it has utility like if you have a shirt that you’re not wearing but doesn’t have holes.


00:15:32.370 –> 00:15:38.040

stef: Can you find somebody in your life not goodwill not Salvation Army those Gray.


00:15:38.430 –> 00:15:48.720

stef: Salvation Army, excuse me, those like instead of just dumping it somewhere, do you have an actual person in your life, who you know would benefit from this item, I feel like.


00:15:49.350 –> 00:16:06.060

stef: When we take our stuff and put it in a box and like leave it outside of donation Center were removed from the act of donating and so, if you can give it to a person and know that they will receive benefit and actually use the item that might.


00:16:07.590 –> 00:16:08.220

stef: Might.


00:16:09.960 –> 00:16:15.570

stef: relieve some of the worry that you have about sending something straight to the landfill.


00:16:15.900 –> 00:16:22.590

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, that transitions really nicely to this other topic that you cover in the book about trading giving and gifting.


00:16:23.010 –> 00:16:33.570

Corinna Bellizzi: So let’s talk about what each of these looks like as we seek to help our listeners understand how they can reduce their footprint, by seeking used and giving us to products, even as gifts.


00:16:34.770 –> 00:16:46.680

stef: yeah so I should say right off the BAT that I grew up in a household that revered newness as a kid you know we didn’t thrift.


00:16:47.100 –> 00:17:07.590

stef: We bought new and the stuff that we bought new was not quality stuff it was fast fashion, but it was new and there was definitely there was a definite prioritization of newness and so, even as I, as a podcaster and writer in this space i’m always checking my.


00:17:09.390 –> 00:17:12.810

stef: assumptions about drifting, because that goes against.


00:17:13.860 –> 00:17:22.650

stef: How I grew up and I, a lot of listeners who write to me say the same they grew up with newness the thought of spending money on something old.


00:17:23.760 –> 00:17:44.130

stef: doesn’t doesn’t really something just doesn’t feel right about it, and so I would say that you know marketers advertisers advertising teams have told us all that new new is best, but I would argue that new is not best if new is.


00:17:46.950 –> 00:18:01.470

stef: eating up our planets non renewable resources and then trashing the planet in the forums of pollution in our waterways and our oceans and overflowing our landfills so.


00:18:02.580 –> 00:18:15.960

stef: I suggest, if you can thrift, if you have a thrift store go for it, if you can buy second hand from Facebook marketplace, I say go for it, if you have a buy nothing group which is, in my opinion, one of the.


00:18:16.320 –> 00:18:22.140

stef: most amazing things in the world, you put it’s a great way to declutter stuff you don’t.


00:18:22.950 –> 00:18:36.930

stef: need you no longer need but it’s also a great way to acquire things you do need without spending a cent, and finally, by nothing group one other great aspect to them is they really strengthen bonds between Community members.


00:18:37.200 –> 00:18:38.610

stef: That answers your question.


00:18:38.970 –> 00:18:53.340

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah you know, one of the things i’ve worked to do is reduce the plastic toy input and as many times as I host a birthday party or something like that, for our kids were always essentially saying no gifts.


00:18:53.790 –> 00:19:00.030

Corinna Bellizzi: and limiting party favors to things that can be reused or that are made of wood or that.


00:19:00.570 –> 00:19:08.370

Corinna Bellizzi: You know aren’t just the general plastic crap that you would get from the dollar tree, because I think that has become the norm for so many of.


00:19:08.790 –> 00:19:15.030

Corinna Bellizzi: These kids birthday parties, and I know we’ve been for the last year and a bit of a pandemic and there isn’t as much of that.


00:19:15.510 –> 00:19:27.090

Corinna Bellizzi: However, that has also introduced I think more disposability into our daily lives again because, even those of us who want to go grocery shopping with our own reusable bags.


00:19:27.510 –> 00:19:38.040

Corinna Bellizzi: are being told, in many cases that we can’t use those anymore, or if we do use them at specific stores they’re saying okay well, you have to pack it yourself at the end.


00:19:38.490 –> 00:19:57.090

Corinna Bellizzi: Then you’re cluttering up the line and and and you know, so I wondered if you could talk about perhaps how we can practically approach, reducing our consumption of plastics right now specifically during this pandemic, if you have any particular gems or ideas i’d love to hear them.


00:19:57.750 –> 00:20:22.020

stef: Well, this is something I struggle with have been struggling with for the past year, I would say that we are living in extraordinary times and not in a good way, and so we must therefore pivot our our daily ECO friendly acts and we need to let ourselves off the hook as best we can.


00:20:22.290 –> 00:20:24.990

stef: With with regard to plastics.


00:20:27.090 –> 00:20:36.870

stef: You know i’m at my supermarket, they are not allowing us to bring our own bag, so I have a gigantic stack in my in my garage of paper bags.


00:20:37.800 –> 00:20:55.290

stef: i’m trying to reuse them one by one, but I probably have about 300 at this point, I would say, for anybody struggling with that, like you, are like I am I would say, try your best to shop at places, other than the supermarket the supermarket the pharmacy they are.


00:20:57.270 –> 00:20:59.700

stef: And they are under the assumption that.


00:21:00.930 –> 00:21:15.090

stef: reusable renewables are unsanitary there’s no there’s no science to back that up but can you go to a mom and pop store, who is more open to you, bringing your bags, can you go to the farmers market and put your.


00:21:16.260 –> 00:21:33.270

stef: lettuce in directly into your bag, these are all places that do not rely on the single use disposable is nearly as much as the supermarket and so can we can we lean in to those places now and always.


00:21:33.570 –> 00:21:39.570

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah you know I know that the local farmers market and Santa Cruz when they first reopened.


00:21:40.860 –> 00:21:50.370

Corinna Bellizzi: It was very much like a hazmat shopping experience if i’m being frank, you know you you lined up and you could only walk in and certain stage.


00:21:51.480 –> 00:21:59.070

Corinna Bellizzi: order you didn’t touch any of the produce yourself they packaged everything in plastic and handed it over to you.


00:21:59.580 –> 00:22:08.100

Corinna Bellizzi: And now that’s getting back to a place where you can you know more like bring your basket or something like that, with you, so I think some of those restrictions are starting to loosen.


00:22:08.670 –> 00:22:17.760

Corinna Bellizzi: And what i’ve noticed in my home area is that the railways grocery stores are allowing you to bring your own bag in, but you have to pack it yourself.


00:22:18.240 –> 00:22:28.890

Corinna Bellizzi: That hasn’t actually been the case for many of the others, so what i’ve been doing in this can work I don’t know if it’s something that you’re able to do given where you are shopping but.


00:22:29.310 –> 00:22:37.590

Corinna Bellizzi: Putting everything back into the cart and then just going to my car and putting them back in putting them into the reusable bags in my car.


00:22:38.400 –> 00:22:44.790

Corinna Bellizzi: Since some of those stores just still have restrictions which makes sense to some extent, but which are, I think.


00:22:45.480 –> 00:23:03.000

Corinna Bellizzi: we’ve just gone overboard it’s the pendulum swing right, we fear, so we swing all the way to one direction the science shows that contact transmission of coven is lower it’s more like airborne that seems to be the problem so wearing reusable masks is really good.


00:23:04.320 –> 00:23:13.410

Corinna Bellizzi: You know i’m just constantly struggling with one other point, and that is that i’ve always looked at coffee as a treat.


00:23:14.250 –> 00:23:22.440

Corinna Bellizzi: And so, when i’m out and about every once in a while i’m like gosh I could really be nice to get a coffee or tea at a local coffee shop.


00:23:22.980 –> 00:23:33.630

Corinna Bellizzi: And I had traditionally just brought my reusable mug with me all of the time, and now they are not allowing me to do that i’m looking forward to the day, which they will lift those restrictions.


00:23:34.110 –> 00:23:47.280

Corinna Bellizzi: But even just for listeners who might have battle that same problem, what I can suggest is that you just ask them not to give you the plastic lid because that is, I think the worst contributor that you get from you know that short visit to the coffee shop.


00:23:48.330 –> 00:23:58.170

Corinna Bellizzi: So something else you cover in the book specifically talks about some of the contaminants that are in the plastics that are used in packaging.


00:23:58.770 –> 00:24:08.340

Corinna Bellizzi: even down to this delvon closure device at the end of a bottle of wine right that’s the twist top right, but my husband always corrects me on a stove enclosure device whatever.


00:24:08.790 –> 00:24:23.070

Corinna Bellizzi: But it’s lined with plastic many of the foods that we get from grocery stores come in plastic and they seem to be something that is supposed to be heat safe, you could throw in your microwave dark black plastic.


00:24:24.810 –> 00:24:33.060

Corinna Bellizzi: And you know, one of the things that you talk about in your book is the fact that each of these leeches chemicals into our bodies, when we consume them.


00:24:33.570 –> 00:24:48.990

Corinna Bellizzi: So i’d like for you to talk about specifically why from a health perspective plastics are bad for us to consider as a packaging item for food as perhaps additional fodder for people to consider really trying to limit their exposure to them.


00:24:50.130 –> 00:24:54.750

stef: yeah plastic is not benign from a health perspective.


00:24:55.980 –> 00:25:12.390

stef: Numerous studies have shown that, when you heat food or illiquid up in a plastic container chemicals from the plastic leach into the food or beverage the that can disrupt disrupt your endocrine system.


00:25:13.200 –> 00:25:31.620

stef: can lead to serious chronic illnesses down the line, including cancer, when I was researching the book, something I was shocked to learn was that if you buy a bottle of water in a plastic bottle and you leave it in your car in the Center console and it’s a hot day.


00:25:32.910 –> 00:25:42.270

stef: Even just a hot day will leach the plastic bottle will leach chemicals into your water, I had always assumed, it was microwave based or dishwasher based but no.


00:25:42.690 –> 00:25:54.240

stef: And some foods are more susceptible to that leaching tomatoes, are a big one that’s why there’s the non bpa can liners, that I am always looking for.


00:25:55.170 –> 00:25:58.890

Corinna Bellizzi: By how do you identify those because i’ve even often looked at.


00:25:58.890 –> 00:26:03.750

Corinna Bellizzi: grocery stores and been like a wall, I just want to shy away from anything tomato for that reason.


00:26:04.650 –> 00:26:13.410

stef: Well, I would say number one best practice would be grow your own tomatoes can them all at home, but for listeners who aren’t quite there yet.


00:26:14.640 –> 00:26:32.880

stef: In my experience, every canned product that has a non bpa lining will say so in a gigantic font front and Center and that’s because marketers know that there is a significant subset of consumers who are looking for bpa free canned goods.


00:26:33.780 –> 00:26:52.140

Corinna Bellizzi: Great now another topic that came to mind as as I was reading your book in particular was how you get buy in from your partner and your kids around trying to live a little bit more minimalistic or not getting that latest greatest plastic toy that they might.


00:26:52.650 –> 00:26:53.040



00:26:54.300 –> 00:27:05.250

Corinna Bellizzi: This is something we battle in our own House and has, quite honestly, led to me boycotting certain TV shows that are so heavily marketed towards plastic toys.


00:27:05.730 –> 00:27:20.190

Corinna Bellizzi: The so I love to just get your thoughts on that and perhaps you could even just speak about your journey from that personal perspective just going from being more consumerist to more minimalist and how you got there by in.


00:27:21.600 –> 00:27:41.550

stef: So my children are they just turned four and seven so they’re still young and I am fortunate that I started this lifestyle, when my oldest when my seven year old was a baby so she really doesn’t know much different I have no idea how listeners with a 13 year old are going to pivot.


00:27:42.090 –> 00:27:49.470

stef: To an economist left i’m sorry I I just don’t know, but I will say in my house I do a few things.


00:27:49.560 –> 00:27:53.250

stef: That, I think, keep them bought in the first is.


00:27:54.600 –> 00:27:58.050

stef: We prioritize experiences so.


00:28:00.360 –> 00:28:16.050

stef: my daughter just had her birthday party her like we give experiences her she’s going to have a cooking class with my grandmother that was her main gift than that is in her opinion, the greatest thing like one on one time with her beloved grandmother.


00:28:16.320 –> 00:28:29.580

stef: act as one she’s sleeping over her other grandmother’s house next weekend for a movie night so prioritizing experiences and is one way in which I hope to continue to.


00:28:31.980 –> 00:28:39.990

stef: highlight like the joy that others can bring to our lives and therefore diminish the.


00:28:41.520 –> 00:28:50.820

stef: The oversized the potentially oversized impact of a new Toy that’s, not to say they don’t get new Toys they got toys on their birthday, but we don’t give a lot.


00:28:51.750 –> 00:29:07.110

stef: I think, each of my daughter’s got three presence from us and same at Christmas, we are very strict each child gets between five and seven presence it’s a want a need a read a share an experience so five.


00:29:07.770 –> 00:29:11.130

stef: And we’re really strict about that because.


00:29:11.520 –> 00:29:29.310

stef: i’ve seen in my own life yesterday today’s it toy is tomorrow’s clutter there and I also think as parents it’s our job to fight back against consumerist culture, our children, our children they don’t have that insight they don’t have that.


00:29:30.600 –> 00:29:45.480

stef: perspective to be able to do it for themselves, and so I do believe, as a mom that it, that is my job, I will say that my seven year old she is starting the comparison game she sees her friends have I don’t know let’s just use the example of an iPad.


00:29:45.630 –> 00:29:47.040

stef: her friends have an iPad.


00:29:47.490 –> 00:29:54.870

stef: She came home, one day, a couple weeks ago mom why don’t I have an iPad like my friend.


00:29:55.470 –> 00:30:04.050

stef: And when she when she asked questions like that it’s a very simple family model that I use in this family we do things differently.


00:30:05.130 –> 00:30:07.230

stef: And then I follow that up with.


00:30:07.620 –> 00:30:16.230

stef: All the great yeah all the great things we do differently differently doesn’t need to mean that we are curmudgeons and don’t have any fun and don’t ever buy stuff.


00:30:16.530 –> 00:30:18.000

stef: It just means that we.


00:30:20.100 –> 00:30:24.180

stef: We value other things, I hope that answers your question.


00:30:24.570 –> 00:30:30.210

Corinna Bellizzi: No, I think it does, and you know I personally have a sense of overwhelm around.


00:30:30.750 –> 00:30:40.380

Corinna Bellizzi: The holidays when it comes to Christmas and the consumerism that surrounds it, the number of asks that my six year old has for toys that he wants and.


00:30:40.770 –> 00:30:51.030

Corinna Bellizzi: You know I just always lean back on you know write it on the list it doesn’t mean you’re getting all of it but you’ll get something you know does go ahead and and keep that in his mind.


00:30:51.480 –> 00:31:09.510

Corinna Bellizzi: Recently, this week, he asked for a specific helmet for a specific Star Wars character and he said, can we just go buy it and I said no, we can’t buy that, but we can make it, and so we created a project around it, we actually looked up a YouTube tutorial somebody had created out of cardboard.


00:31:10.530 –> 00:31:23.490

Corinna Bellizzi: Paper toilet paper rolls and paper Monday, which are all non toxic and especially in today’s culture, with the number of items that people get shipped them, you know guess what you tend to have cardboard around right.


00:31:24.060 –> 00:31:30.990

Corinna Bellizzi: So it was a fun Sunday activity it’s probably going to take us three or four nights to finish because it’s a rather complex helmet.


00:31:32.190 –> 00:31:36.210

Corinna Bellizzi: But it’s just one thing get him to engage in something that’s.


00:31:36.210 –> 00:31:44.610

Corinna Bellizzi: Different and honestly family time around that so it’s one of the things that we’re doing another is that.


00:31:45.120 –> 00:32:01.800

Corinna Bellizzi: You know you mentioned earlier participating in those Facebook groups that might be mommy mommy Daddy buy sell trade type of groups and we participate in those i’ve said goodbye to anything ryan’s world he’s not allowed to watch that show anymore.


00:32:02.610 –> 00:32:04.830

stef: We don’t need all that show oh it’s.


00:32:05.430 –> 00:32:06.810

Corinna Bellizzi: The dangers of YouTube.


00:32:06.900 –> 00:32:08.010

Corinna Bellizzi: You know so.


00:32:08.850 –> 00:32:16.920

Corinna Bellizzi: A lot of his friends know about it and they want to watch it, so we have to be real careful about what will allow and this teenage it seems.


00:32:18.120 –> 00:32:25.020

Corinna Bellizzi: But yeah screen time is a gift rather than you know something he automatically gets things like that no yeah.


00:32:25.800 –> 00:32:34.680

Corinna Bellizzi: So, as I look through your book to an idea you share is moving towards this lifestyle can actually save you money.


00:32:35.550 –> 00:32:45.510

Corinna Bellizzi: And, especially now, when many people are hurting they aren’t necessarily employed in the same way that they might have been in the past they might have limited hours they might have even lost their jobs.


00:32:45.870 –> 00:32:54.090

Corinna Bellizzi: I would think that this is something that could resonate with the greater Community and perhaps get buy in from people who might be more reticent otherwise.


00:32:54.540 –> 00:33:06.630

Corinna Bellizzi: So is there a quantifiable amount of money that you’ve been able to save on an annual basis, or even just you know some practical idea of how much somebody might save that you could offer them.


00:33:07.980 –> 00:33:11.580

stef: So i’ve never gotten out by spreadsheet to see.


00:33:12.600 –> 00:33:17.310

stef: Exactly how much money i’ve saved, but I can give you a really quick example.


00:33:18.360 –> 00:33:32.550

stef: Of a big money saver so in my town, we, the trash pickup those are private entity, so we have to each household chooses a trash company to stop at their house once a week.


00:33:32.610 –> 00:33:36.720

stef: Interesting yeah it’s not town wide so.


00:33:38.310 –> 00:33:48.150

stef: When we first moved to this House, we were having the trash trash man come every trash man or woman, excuse me come every week.


00:33:48.870 –> 00:34:05.970

stef: And as we continue to reduce our trash reduce our recycling my husband and I said, you know I think we could do every two weeks, and so we called them up, they said sure, so that was saving us $80 a year just having it.


00:34:06.120 –> 00:34:10.680

stef: And then, a little while after that we said, I think we could have them come once a month.


00:34:12.000 –> 00:34:20.490

stef: And now we are saving close to $300 a year just having them come once a month, so that’s just one example, I will also say that.


00:34:22.620 –> 00:34:34.560

stef: We are told that you know, life is really hard we’re really we don’t have a lot of time, and so we need X, Y and Z product this.


00:34:34.980 –> 00:34:43.560

stef: convenient product to save time, however, what we don’t realize is that we’re actually paying a premium in terms of.


00:34:44.340 –> 00:35:06.240

stef: A price we’re paying extra money for this convenient product, I could, I mean the first example that comes to mind is disposable diapers right, those are 26 cents, on average, each you go through, I don’t know 400 every let’s just say let’s just say you use 100 a month right.


00:35:08.070 –> 00:35:19.020

stef: That is significantly more expensive than a cloth diaper and i’m not advocating for everybody to go start class typing diapering their child, but I am suggesting that people start looking at this.


00:35:19.530 –> 00:35:34.620

stef: convenience factor like like is this product that you’ve been using for decades, is it worth that extra upfront cost, sometimes I would say, the answer is yes, sometimes the answer may be no.


00:35:35.850 –> 00:35:45.000

Corinna Bellizzi: You know, one of the things you mentioned that I think is a really great tip in your book is the use of coconut oil for many of the things that you might use multiple products, for otherwise.


00:35:46.110 –> 00:35:55.140

Corinna Bellizzi: So why don’t we just use coconut oil as an example, you know what are the things that you use coconut oil for in your household and what products that they helped you replace.


00:35:55.740 –> 00:36:03.960

stef: yeah so I use coconut oil as my face moisturizer my body moisturizer and my makeup remover so one product.


00:36:04.980 –> 00:36:18.810

stef: Three three uses and then, if you want to get crazy, I will say that coconut oil is in a lot of DIY home products if you’re into making your own lip balm coconut oils in there.


00:36:20.130 –> 00:36:31.380

stef: that’s just an example, but I am all about questioning whether I need these products to be more beautiful or to be more.


00:36:34.140 –> 00:36:47.190

stef: Productive or whatever the product is i’m always about questioning those claims and seeing, if I can simplify it if I don’t need the product eliminate it or use something else in multiple ways.


00:36:47.580 –> 00:36:53.010

Corinna Bellizzi: Right now, I mean I confronted that recently just with regard to this podcast.


00:36:54.180 –> 00:37:04.500

Corinna Bellizzi: You know I learned about the clubhouse APP I did a couple of sessions through club house with another person’s iPhone in my presence, because it’s not yet available on android.


00:37:04.980 –> 00:37:09.300

Corinna Bellizzi: And I am an android girl, this is my phone I love it.


00:37:10.140 –> 00:37:23.040

Corinna Bellizzi: it’s my Samsung s nine i’ve had it for three years it’s still kicking and doing really well, so in my mind it’s not time to be replaced, even if there’s some bigger, better, faster, more gadget available now.


00:37:23.520 –> 00:37:27.570

Corinna Bellizzi: And even F clubhouse was only available on apple devices.


00:37:28.470 –> 00:37:35.940

Corinna Bellizzi: I made a conscious decision over 10 years ago to walk away from apple because I felt like their products, generally speaking.


00:37:36.270 –> 00:37:48.660

Corinna Bellizzi: Had a planned obsolescence of only a year or two down the road like they just would push so many updates that would take up so much space on the phone or on the device, and it would just gradually stopped working as well.


00:37:49.290 –> 00:37:58.830

Corinna Bellizzi: And I bit the bullet, you know, a couple weeks ago I got an iPad that was refurbished online from a reseller that would put a.


00:37:59.130 –> 00:38:04.080

Corinna Bellizzi: warranty on it so it’s a couple years old, but guess what it runs ios and it runs clubhouse.


00:38:04.440 –> 00:38:14.820

Corinna Bellizzi: This so now, I have this iPad that’s replacing my older sons tablet which was you know, on its last legs that he’s you know, had for about five years now.


00:38:15.420 –> 00:38:21.480

Corinna Bellizzi: So i’m thinking about ways that you know, as I make these decisions in my life, how can I go ahead.


00:38:21.840 –> 00:38:35.070

Corinna Bellizzi: And fulfill the needs that I have around my scholastic work or around my my work, work or around the podcast work to try and just be a little bit more mindful in the day in my daily life.


00:38:35.550 –> 00:38:42.420

Corinna Bellizzi: So I apply that now, you mentioned these DIY efforts that you feature in your book and there are a lot of them.


00:38:42.930 –> 00:38:51.420

Corinna Bellizzi: So I was hoping, you could just give us the highlights from the type of DIY projects that you have in your book because they seemed practical.


00:38:51.960 –> 00:39:02.250

Corinna Bellizzi: They also were wide ranging, in my opinion, and they seem relatively simple, so I was surprised by that like so just talk for a moment, you have a floor.


00:39:03.300 –> 00:39:16.500

stef: Well, I want to say that I don’t jump out the gate with DIY recipes I don’t think that that’s where somebody completely new to an eco minimalist lifestyle should start, I think.


00:39:16.860 –> 00:39:28.710

stef: Making stuff at home yourself is an advanced strategy after you’ve been at this a while, but yes DIY and 2021 has a.


00:39:29.850 –> 00:39:34.230

stef: bad reputation as being time consuming Why make when you can buy right but.


00:39:36.000 –> 00:39:52.200

stef: The reality is that you can make home cleansers for, and you know you can make a six month supply and under three minutes and save a lot of money, and you can put them in your own glass bottles instead of the plastic ones, which are probably going to the landfill.


00:39:52.560 –> 00:39:56.250

stef: same with a lot of beauty products my absolute favorite.


00:39:56.700 –> 00:40:04.470

stef: Beauty DIY beauty Pack is I make my own dry shampoo and i’m actually using some right now.


00:40:05.550 –> 00:40:17.370

stef: it’s as simple as mixing some cornstarch in a jar and if you have dark hair like I do you add coconut powder until it’s matches the color of your hair.


00:40:17.430 –> 00:40:18.090

stef: You put it in a.


00:40:18.300 –> 00:40:19.140

Corinna Bellizzi: Cocoa powder right.


00:40:19.320 –> 00:40:20.160

stef: Oh, what did I say.


00:40:20.460 –> 00:40:21.720

stef: coconut oh.


00:40:23.520 –> 00:40:23.760

stef: yeah.


00:40:24.240 –> 00:40:31.710

stef: i’ll start i’ll say that again you add cocoa powder until it matches the color of your hair I use an old makeup brush.


00:40:33.030 –> 00:40:39.330

stef: apply it to my roots use my fingers move it in, and there we go that’s that’s my dry shampoo for the day.


00:40:40.350 –> 00:40:45.600

stef: so easy I mean two ingredients you put it in a jar and you mix it up.


00:40:47.040 –> 00:40:48.330

Corinna Bellizzi: Literally you don’t even have to mix it.


00:40:48.390 –> 00:40:53.100

stef: Probably just take it right yeah and those are two things you probably already have in your cabinet.


00:40:53.940 –> 00:41:05.940

stef: So you could make it out of ingredients you already have, or you could go to the store and spend $5 on a on a product and probably an aerosol container it’s a, in my opinion it’s a no win I would make it.


00:41:06.450 –> 00:41:14.670

Corinna Bellizzi: No parent pardon me, you also this got me to think about whether or not that could actually get you between like if you happen to dye your hair.


00:41:15.060 –> 00:41:22.080

Corinna Bellizzi: between sessions of getting your hair dyed like if you were going a little Gray, you could use some of this dusted powder at your part line or something like that.


00:41:23.250 –> 00:41:29.130

stef: I don’t know because I don’t currently dye my hair, but the pandemic is giving me lots of gray’s so.


00:41:30.210 –> 00:41:34.830

stef: it’s it’s gonna be soon i’m you know, give me another six months and i’ll report back on.


00:41:35.100 –> 00:41:36.120

stef: And if that works.


00:41:36.600 –> 00:41:40.410

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah another thing that you mentioned, I think, was even eyeliner.


00:41:40.440 –> 00:41:47.880

Corinna Bellizzi: Being relatively simple to make and that one was one that spoke to me, I was like wow you know I could make my own island or that’s amazing.


00:41:47.940 –> 00:41:51.090

stef: yeah and if i’m not sure if.


00:41:53.130 –> 00:42:06.870

stef: You know you have health concerns, but making stuff at home to go without saying is is a great way to limit your exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals so yeah i’m all for it.


00:42:07.320 –> 00:42:09.570

Corinna Bellizzi: You know, definitely cleaner yep.


00:42:09.870 –> 00:42:29.700

stef: yeah you know my my go to scrub for my pots and pans is some sea salt mixed with some lemon juice, make a paste and then put it in your disgusting dirty pots and pans and scrub away works better than any product i’ve ever used on the market so.


00:42:29.970 –> 00:42:32.970

Corinna Bellizzi: easily and that’s just salt, salt and oil.


00:42:33.210 –> 00:42:35.250

stef: Sea salt and no lemon juice.


00:42:35.400 –> 00:42:36.030

Corinna Bellizzi: lemon juice.


00:42:36.210 –> 00:42:37.530

stef: Did I say lemon oil sorry.


00:42:38.670 –> 00:42:46.320

Corinna Bellizzi: I might have made that there, I think you know i’ve been looking at things that you can use for skin scrubs and things like that I think you mentioned.


00:42:46.620 –> 00:42:53.070

Corinna Bellizzi: using sugar or salt, along with an oil for scrub for your face isn’t, for example.


00:42:53.310 –> 00:42:59.160

stef: yeah and another one that’s all over the Internet currently is using coffee grounds, so I know you like your coffee.


00:42:59.550 –> 00:43:02.340

Corinna Bellizzi: I do like my happy, thankfully, we compost.


00:43:02.400 –> 00:43:06.060

Corinna Bellizzi: So you know it all goes in the compost and I don’t feel so guilty about that.


00:43:06.300 –> 00:43:17.640

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah but I know it takes a lot of water to grow saying no things like almonds, I think the statistic for omens is a gallon of water per nuts, or something ridiculous.


00:43:19.080 –> 00:43:23.400

Corinna Bellizzi: I mean no it’s a lot same with avocados that’s kind of our Achilles heel in this House.


00:43:25.230 –> 00:43:25.500

stef: yeah.


00:43:25.530 –> 00:43:36.060

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah farming agriculture uses a lot of water and thankfully there is new technology coming out like there’s more of a movement towards vertical farming, where the water usage is.


00:43:36.570 –> 00:43:48.900

Corinna Bellizzi: Much much lower and they’re able to growth produce like lettuces and micro greens and doors, not use pesticides, because of the fact that they’re not open fields and.


00:43:49.410 –> 00:44:01.140

Corinna Bellizzi: create a cleaner product that utilizes less water, but those aren’t necessarily really commercially available products, yet you know we still rely on open farming for most of our foods right.


00:44:02.550 –> 00:44:19.260

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, thank you stephanie for all of your hard work and advancing the sustainable and minimalist perspective I like to ask you just one last question and that’s if there’s anything you would like to leave our listeners with that 30,000 foot view that sound bite or take away.


00:44:19.890 –> 00:44:22.140

Corinna Bellizzi: Just so that they can take that with them on their days.


00:44:25.020 –> 00:44:27.510

stef: What would you like, here just give me like a.


00:44:28.560 –> 00:44:30.030

stef: Give me an example.


00:44:30.660 –> 00:44:46.440

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, so you know if you wanted to say, for instance, one thing that you would have them change or the one thing that you might offer them as a piece of advice as they’re continuing on their own paths towards sustainability or minimalism.


00:44:46.680 –> 00:44:54.960

stef: Okay, so yeah I think I would like to just bring this conversation back to where we started, which is.


00:44:56.220 –> 00:45:05.340

stef: Eco friendliness does not have to be an all or nothing game, it does not have to be stressful it does not have to be time consuming.


00:45:05.970 –> 00:45:18.000

stef: it’s not only for the privileged ECO friendliness, is for everyone, because the planets for everyone, so if you can find one little change that you’d be interested in making.


00:45:19.980 –> 00:45:26.190

stef: Go for it and then reach out to me, and let me know how it goes and if it’s going terribly reach out to me, so I can help you out.


00:45:26.640 –> 00:45:39.570

Corinna Bellizzi: yeah well, you do have that ongoing blog I know you also have quite a bit of activity on instagram so people can reach out to you with dms and connect with you, with their ideas or thoughts or questions as well right.


00:45:39.870 –> 00:45:51.270

stef: I love it I love hearing from people all over the globe, so please do it might take me a little while to get back to you, but I get back to everybody so i’d love to hear from your listeners.


00:45:51.540 –> 00:46:01.410

Corinna Bellizzi: I love that now, I know I will take some of the practical learnings from your book into my daily life, I already shop for wine that comes with corks as a, for example.


00:46:02.610 –> 00:46:16.680

Corinna Bellizzi: And I just want to personally thank you for helping me on my minimalist journey i’m going to try and let go a little bit more of the things I might have been holding on to that i’m not using that are staring me in the face and i’m looking at a couple in my office right now.


00:46:18.150 –> 00:46:22.200

stef: Well, thank you so much kareena, this was an awful lot of fun, thank you for having me.


00:46:22.500 –> 00:46:27.900

Corinna Bellizzi: Oh, just think you know I like to invite our listeners to act.


00:46:28.710 –> 00:46:37.320

Corinna Bellizzi: That actually could be as simple as sharing this podcast with people in your Community refusing that plastic bag at the grocery store and putting everything directly in your cart.


00:46:37.650 –> 00:46:49.320

Corinna Bellizzi: or choosing products that are more mindful of the packaging they’re in you could even choose one or two items that you might choose to start making yourself at home, as opposed to buying in some big plastic jug from the grocery store.


00:46:49.980 –> 00:47:00.480

Corinna Bellizzi: You could even just order a zero waste electronic or audio copy of sustainable minimalism like I did in writing this book stephanie gives you a gift.


00:47:01.080 –> 00:47:05.760

Corinna Bellizzi: Of more life experience, while reducing waste saving you time and money.


00:47:06.330 –> 00:47:13.860

Corinna Bellizzi: To find suggestions like this visit our action page on camera be better calm there you’ll find causes and companies, we encourage you to support.


00:47:14.220 –> 00:47:24.810

Corinna Bellizzi: join the conversation and be a part of the Community we’re building, you can follow us on social spaces at care more be better and on clubhouse at care more be better without that final and better.


00:47:25.500 –> 00:47:39.120

Corinna Bellizzi: Now you can send us a DM on any platform or an email to hello, I care more be Thank you listeners now and always for being a part of this pod and this Community because, together, we can do so much more.


  • Stephanie Seferian

    Bestselling Author, Podcaster and Blogger - Sustainable Minimalist Stephanie is the best-selling author of Sustainable Minimalism and host of the top-rated podcast by the same name. After blogging about her personal journey toward a simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyle, she was inspired to help others create intentional lives centered around both simplicity and sustainability. She uses her platform to demystify the tenets of eco-minimalism with kids including eco-friendly decluttering, conscious consumerism, and low-waste living. Stephanie is an avid runner, an aspiring plant-based chef, and a lover of historical fiction. She lives outside of Boston with her two daughters, yellow Labrador Retriever, 10,000-ish bees, and husband who loves to compost almost as much as she does.

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