Thursday, December 21, 2017

Minimalist & Zero Waste Gift Ideas

Similar Wholesome Christmas Tee (100% Sweatshop Free) //
Old Hat & Jeans // 

If you're searching for some last minute gifts, I'm here to help! This year, I bought minimalist and zero waste gifts for family and friends that were focused on making their lives more sustainable and happier, or allowing them to have new experiences. My goal was to rid Christmas of the materialist association that it has developed in recent years. That being said, most of the following gifts do not focus on materialism and can even be made or bought immediately if you're in a time crunch:
  • Amazon Gift Card - I like the idea that someone can buy whatever they want or need with this option so that they don't receive something that will end up in a landfill.
  • Groupon Tours - There are many amazing Groupon tours, restaurants, and travel options that are offered at a steep discount. 
  • Micro Loans - This is one of my favorite gift ideas because you are supporting a real person starting a business that will allow them to support themselves and promote economic growth in their community. 
  • DIY Gifts - I made a few different DIY zero waste gifts including lotion and chapstick (blog post coming soon).
  • Coupon Book - I made two coupon books this year dedicating my time to the person that I'm giving them to (I used Canva to make them).
Do you have any creative, minimalist gifts you're giving this year? For more inspiration, check out this video from The Girl Gone Green! 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

Thrifted Sweater // Old Jeans // 

As Christmas approaches, it's time to wrap my zero waste gifts in sustainable wrapping paper! Just the thought of all the wasteful Christmas wrapping paper and bows that can't be recycled makes my inner zero waste spirit cringe. Thankfully, there are many sustainable options when it comes to gift wrapping:
  1. Newspaper 
  2. Paper shopping bags (picture above) 
  3. Odds and ends that you already have 
    • Jars, ribbon, wrapping paper, bows, boxes, fabric, Christmas tree branches
  4. Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper 
Check out the photo below and this post from Ecocult for more options and inspiration!

Sustainable Christmas Outfit Inspiration

Thrifted Dress // Previously Owned Accessories //

As the holidays are approaching, I wanted to share a sustainable holiday outfit which can be worn for Christmas, New Year's, and any other holiday event you may have. What I love about this dress is:
  1. It's black so it's both classic and flattering
  2. It's versatile - you can dress it up or down
  3. It's thrifted so I'm not introducing more waste into the fashion cycle
  4. I paid $7.99 for it!!!
I hope this post inspired and proved to you that you can still get cute clothing at a second hand store. It may just take a little more time and patience. If you are still searching for a holiday dress, I recommend going to Goodwill or checking out Reformation

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What I'm Doing This Week With the $30 I Used to Spend Weekly on Coffee (pt. 2)

Similar Wholesome Christmas Tee  (100% Sweatshop Free) //

Today, I'm happy to share with you Part 2 of my new series, "What I'm Doing With the $30 I Used to Spend Weekly on Coffee". This week, instead of buying coffee at Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, I spent $30 on Christmas toys for a child in need. I did my best to find toys that were still fun, but not wrapped in plastic or made of plastic. My heart is filled with joy knowing my money put a smile on a child's face, rather than supporting corporate companies who create tons and tons of waste.

I challenge and encourage each of my readers to do the same: give up buying coffee this week and purchase toys for a local Christmas toy drive. I'm sure there are plenty of toy drives at your local church or community center. That $30 you usually spend on coffee can buy about 3-4 toys for some of the many children who won't have gifts this Christmas without someone like you.

Join me and let's do good this holiday season.


Monday, December 18, 2017

2 Must-See Netflix Documentaries: True Cost & Minimalism

If you know me personally, you already know that I don't own a TV and I don't have a subscription to Netflix as I value experiencing the beauty of life and traveling rather than spending my time binge-watching shows. However, I recently subscribed to Netflix for the one-month free trial for the sole purpose of watching the following two documentaries: Minimalism and The True Cost.

1. Minimalism: I used to be the girl who went shopping online once a week and always had the biggest wardrobe out of all of my friends. However, when I was abroad, I realized I didn't need all that "stuff" as I found myself wearing the same mom jeans and white t-shirt multiple times a week. During this time, I was experiencing more to life than I had ever experienced, and through all of these experiences, I realized that all my "stuff" no longer made me happy. In fact, all along it was actually giving me a false sense of happiness and fulfillment. After this realization, I began making small changes to my lifestyle. However, it wasn't until after watching Minimalism that I made a drastic change. I went through EVERY item that I owned, and truly thought about its use in my life. This resulted in me selling and donating about 2/3 of my belongings. Now I can focus on what really matters in my life. That's the beauty and power of this documentary. 

2. The True Cost: If you ever wonder why I constantly talk about how horrible the fast fashion industry is, this documentary will explain the many reasons why. In fact, it actually made me cry. I felt so disgusted at myself for falling into the trap of buying cheap clothes and contributing to the horrible lives of the people making these clothes. When you see a factory-working mother having to send her child off to another city to be cared for so she can work for ridiculously long hours and not get a living wage, I bet you will think twice about buying a $10 shirt from H&M or Zara ever again. 

Let me know if you watch either of these documentaries and your thoughts on them! If you want any other suggestions, I recommend A Plastic Ocean and Chasing Coral!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

World Pancreatic Cancer Day - My "Why"

100% Thrifted Outfit //

On November 16, 2014, I found out that my beloved brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I knew from that day forward, my life would never be the same. I had just moved into college and was struggling with the adjustment. My brother would always call or text me asking, "Are you okay?". Little did I know this would become the most important question I would ask him over the course of the next 21 months as he bravely fought for his life. During these grueling months, my eyes were opened to what I pray no one will ever have to experience. I saw my brother suffer more than anyone should have to suffer. I sat by his side as he cringed in pain from simple movements that I took for granted. I watched his poor body change as the cancer inside him took over. I held his fragile, yet strong hand as he breathed his last breath on July 27, 2016. 

In those 21 months, my brother taught me the very meaning of, "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play them". Boy, did my brother play them. Shortly before his passing, he told one of my family members that the past few months were the best months of his life. They were the best because he didn't let pancreatic cancer win. Instead, he lived life the best he could each and every day. He gained a new sense of gratitude for every person in his life. He saw beauty in the little things in life, in the sunrises and the sunsets. He was happy.

I hate this cancer, I hate what it did to my brother, and I hate that it took him away from me. But, I love that my beautiful brother is at peace, watching over me each and ever day. I love that he allowed me to grow into the person I am today. I love the community that he allowed me to be a part of at Project Purple. I love that I now have a promise to fight for a cure and keep my brother's memory alive as long as I live. Most importantly. I love that I will life this life to the best I can possibly live it, just as my brother did. To my angel in heaven, I love you forever. 

In Loving Memory of the "Best Guy Ever" 

Monday, November 13, 2017

What I'm Doing With the $30 I Used to Spend Weekly on Coffee (pt. 1)

100% Thrifted Outfit (minus Converse) //

As the holidays are approaching, I can't help but reflect on how grateful I am for all I've experienced the last two years...I've had the opportunity to live in 4 countries, and travel to 20 others. Through these experiences, I have learned valuable lessons that ignited me to change my lifestyle to veganism, minimalism, and conscious consumerism. That being said, the holidays will be very different for me this year. I want to give back in ways I haven't made an effort to in previous years. Now that I don't spend $30 a week on coffee at Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks, I have an extra $30 in my wallet. This week, that $30 went to purchasing 30 cans of organic, vegan food for a Thanksgiving Food Drive at Villanova University. That's right...ORGANIC and VEGAN. I believe that the people who will be eating this food deserve the same quality of food that I personally believe is best for my own health. So yes, these cans cost slightly more. However, I bought extra cans to make up for the cost difference. That's equality my friends, and that's what I believe is right.

I challenge and encourage each of my readers to do the same: give up buying coffee this week and donate food to a local Thanksgiving Food Drive. That $30 you usually spend on coffee can buy about 30 cans of food for some of the 45 million Americans who will go hungry this Thanksgiving.

Join me and let's do good this holiday season.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My Sustainability Journey: Veganism, Slow Fashion, and Zero Waste

Thrifted Sweatshirt // Old Jeans // 

If you've been following me for a while, you know that there have been some major changes in my life over the last six months which include switching to a vegan lifestyle, only buying sustainable clothing, and becoming zero waste. What motivated me to make these changes? 

I transitioned to veganism during my second semester abroad in Milan. I had previously been vegetarian for about 5 years, and had taken a break from vegetarianism whiling studying abroad in China, and then Milan first semester in 2016. However, I absolutely hated how I felt during these months; I was bloated and even gained about 10 pounds. I knew I had to make a change so I dedicated one of my 2017 New Year's Resolutions to becoming vegan. Aside from health reasons, I was also motivated to make this change due to my passions for animals rights and sustainability. In summary, this transition took me about five months to complete, and was eased by the abundance of fresh food and produce available at farmers' markets in Milan. I will dedicate an entire post to transitioning to a vegan diet soon! 

Slow Fashion: 
I was motivated to become an advocate for slow fashion after continuing to cultivate my passion for sustainability while interning at S'well Bottle this summer. As an online sales intern, I was required to research sustainable online brands and pitch S'well to them. Through this research, I began to realize that there were many other sustainable options for clothing, and my eyes were opened to the horrors of the fast fashion industry. I haven't looked back since and don't plan to shop at fast fashion stores ever again. Now, I buy almost all of my clothing used from Goodwill which saves my wallet and the environment! 

Zero Waste: 
This is the most recent lifestyle transition I have made in my life. While studying abroad in Milan, I became adjusted to a lifestyle that produced very little waste. In our apartment (consisting of seven girls), we were required to have five separate trash cans: trash, plastic, glass, paper, and compost. Through this, we only produced about one garbage bag of trash per week! I knew I wanted to continue this lifestyle when I returned back to the States, so it only made sense for me to officially become trash-free. Besides a few additional changes since then, like shopping in bulk and making my own beauty products, this lifestyle is no different than the lifestyle I lived in Milan!

In conclusion, the goal of each of these transitions is to become more sustainable, reduce my carbon footprint, inspire others, and ultimately to continue to experience all the beauty that the world has to offer for many years to come!  

Monday, November 6, 2017

10 Ways to Live More Sustainably

Today, I am happy to share 10 simple & easy tips to live a more sustainable life! 
  1. Use a reusable water bottle
  2. Use a reusable coffee mug or tumbler
  3. Use reusable straws
  4. Use a tote bag
  5. Use mesh produce bags
  6. Go thrifting. 
  7. Use soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars
  8. Shop locally at farmers' markets. 
  9. Wash your clothes on cold, and hang them to air-dry. 
  10. Get rid of "one-and-done" products like paper towers and ziploc bags, and instead, use towels and mason jars
As always, thank you for watching and for joining me in creating a more eco-friendly world! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sustainable Fashion Doesn't Have to Be "Crunchy", "Hippie", or "Boho"

100% Thrifted Outfit (minus previously owned accessories) 

I was recently asked the question, "What's one thing that people assume about you before they know you?". On paper, people assume that since I care about the environment, live a vegan lifestyle, and strive to create as little waste as possible that I am "crunchy", "hippie", and "boho". This couldn't be farther from the truth!

Today, I am here to tell you that while I care about the environment, my style will never be described as any of the adjectives above. Rather, my style is quite the opposite: it's vintage with a modern and feminine flair. My outfit in the photos above speaks exactly to these words: vintage, modern, and feminine. Each of the pieces of clothing in the pictures above are thrifted, but are far from "crunchy", "hippie", or "boho". My point? Just because you care about the environment, doesn't mean you can't be fashionable while doing it! In fact, I'm a firm believer that you can be sustainable, and be glamorous at the same time. Don't believe me? Then I invite you to follow along my journey on Instagram @anewerkatintown and watch this glamorous gal save the environment one sustainable and fashionable outfit at a time!

P.S. Don't forget to bring a reusable tumbler or mug with you when you get coffee in order to reduce your waste! Some cafes will even give you a discount! The one in the pictures above is here


Thursday, October 26, 2017

How I Save Money by Living a Sustainable, Zero Waste Lifestyle

Thank you to those of you who have been tuning into my new weekly series: Instagram Live every Thursday at 9 PM EST! To watch the videos live, follow my Instagram @anewerkatintown!

This week, I am sharing how I will save a minimum of $4000 per year by living a sustainable, zero waste lifestyle!

Here's the breakdown by category, including the amount I am and will save (based on research and average consumer spending reports):

Clothing: $850

  • Used clothing (usually from Goodwill)

Food/Drinks: $2500

  • Farmers Markets
  • Bulk Food
  • Make food and coffee at home
  • S'well Bottle  

Toiletries: $275

Cleaning Supplies: $100

  • All-purpose DIY Cleaner (white vinegar and lemon rinds...BLOG POST SOON)
  • DIY detergent (washing soda, baking soda, and lavender oil...BLOG POST SOON)
  • Hang clothes to dry 

Things I Don't Buy: $275

  • Plastic wrap
  • Plastic bags
  • Foil
  • Garbage bags (I do buy compost bags)
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues 

I hope this post shows you that implementing small, sustainable changes can make a big different on not only the environment, but also your wallet! Thanks for watching and reading! 

*Disclaimer: Many of the linked products do come in packaging that produces some waste. However, these are one-time purchases so, in my opinion, the future benefits outweigh the small amount of waste produced. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

10 Online Sustainable Clothing Brands for Every Occasion

Previously Owned Jacket and Crop // 

One of the most common questions I get is, "Where and how do you shop sustainably?". While most of my clothing is thrifted from Goodwill, I do look for specific pieces online. That being said, I am happy to share 10 online sustainable fashion brands with your that are perfect for any occasion you may have! P.S. If you don't follow me on Instagram already, check it out @anewerkatintown!

For Investment Pieces: 
1. Matter Prints - This is a great company who promotes the message of where and why something is made, and by whom MATTER. I am wearing their Wide Leg Pants in the photos above. 

For Trendier Pieces: 

For Casual/Basic Pieces:

For Bras/Undies:

For Vintage: 
10. Goodwill (my personal favorite!)

I hope this post challenges you to think about who and where your clothing is made, and inspires you to join me in changing the fashion industry!

*Thank you to Matter Prints for sponsoring this post. 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tips for Traveling on a Budget - Flights, Accommodations, & More!

If you've been following me on Instagram lately, you know that I recently started a new weekly series: Live Instagram Videos on Thursday at 9 PM EST. Each week, I talk about various topics including sustainable living, travel tips, and natural beauty routines. I wanted to share these videos with you on my blog for all of those who can't tune in live. Thanks in advance for watching! 

This week, I am sharing my top travel tips that I've learned from traveling to over 20 countries in the last 3 years. These tips include finding flights, accommodations, food, and attractions on a budget.



  • Buy snacks in advance
  • Buy 1/2 of your meals at local grocery stores 
  • Use TripAdvisor to find restaurants when you do decide to go out to eat 

  • Free walking tours 

General Tips: 
  • Keep a running tab of everything you spend money on in order to see where you can cut and save money 
  • Do a walking tour on the first day that you arrive so that you are familiarized with the layout of the city
  • Always keep a snack in your purse/bag

Thanks for watching and reading! Let me know if you use any of these tips! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

NYFW - Chasing and Achieving Your Dreams

*I will not endorse this outfit as these pieces were items I had and/or aren't sustainable.
This month, I had the opportunity to attend my first NYFW, and what a dream it was! Ever since I attended Vogue's Fashion Night Out during Milan Fashion Week last year, I vowed to myself that I would attend a runway show during NYFW. Let me tell you, achieving this goal was not an easy journey to say the least. I thought about quitting more times than not. In the many months leading up to NYFW and prior to the transition of my blog, I was forced to reflect on what I really wanted out of this life, and how this platform was allowing me to achieve those dreams. I realized that what I spent long nights dreaming about was not being portrayed on my blog, and that's the very reason why I felt like quitting. What I really wanted out of life and this platform was to fight for a bigger purpose, to make decisions each day that reflected my passions, and to be an inspiration to others to follow their dreams. On the surface, I successfully attended NYFW by spending hours researching and emailing PR agencies. However, and much more importantly, I attended NYFW by being my authentic self, following my dreams, and inspiring others to do the same. You can bet that I'll continue to do this each and every day until next year's NYFW! 

So, I'll leave you with this...dare to dream, and dare to achieve those dreams