Packing for Peace Corps (While Saving the Earth)

Lifestyle, Peace Corps

The time is fast approaching! A month countdown begins today, before I leave the USA to serve in the Peace Corps for two whole years!!(yes, I’ll be nearing age 24 by the time I get back, crazy, I know)

Where am I going you wonder? Nicaragua, where i’ll be teaching environmental education to primary school children, the dream. Packing for a two year trip requires quite a bit of planning, especially if you’re like me and plan on being as environmentally friendly as possible, which means a lot of second-hand thrift shopping and clothes swapping with friends and family.

One of my goals as an environmental educator is to promote sustainability in all forms, and this means being a conscious consumer as I purchase and pack clothing, luggage, shoes, etc.

What’s the big deal with shopping around for new things anyway? Shopping used to be a trip to the mall, ordering online, basically buying anything and everything brand new. This didn’t bother me until I read the numbers…

  1. It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton t-shirt.
  2. The average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year.
  3. Clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose.
  4. Shoes can take up to a 1,000 years to break down.
  5. 95% of textiles cannot be recycled.

After reading figures like these, my immediate reaction was how can I contribute less to these statistics?!

The solution may not be convenient, but it’s certainly less expensive, less pollutive and better for the earth, which is a concern for Peace Corps volunteers who care about people and the planet. Shopping second hand for most of my Peace Corps needs was a fun challenge and one I know will shape my future experiences.

fullsizeoutput_a0d

Clothing

  • 3 Denim Shorts
  • 1 Khaki Short
  • 1 Denim Skirt
  • 3 Long Khakis
  • 5 Pairs of Slacks
  • 2 Rayon-stretch Pants
  • 3 Dark-Denim Jeans
  • 3 Long Skirts
  • 1 Short Skirt
  • 6 Pairs of Yoga Pants
  • 2 Yoga Shorts
  • 6 Cotton T-Shirts for Bed
  • 1 Long Sleeve Spandex Shirt
  • 2 Shorts Sleeve Spandex Shirts
  • 9 Tank Tops
  • 4 Long Sleeve Tops
  • 4 Collard Shirts
  • 6 Cotton Shirts
  • 3 Blouses
  • 3 Strappy Tops
  • 4 Dresses
  • 1 Pair of Overalls
  • 1 Sweatshirt
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 1 Cotton Jacket
  • 1 Bandana
  • 2 Swimsuits
  • 30x Underwear (This I would not recommend buying second hand… when put in a situation like this where you must by new, I try my best to shop organic, fair-trade. My favorite brand by far is: PactOrganic)
  • 30x Socks (Same rule applies for socks, if you can try to go organic and fair trade)

Where to find second hand clothes? I found most of the above at: Goodwill, Poshmark(Online Clothing Buy/Sell), Housing Works, City Opera Thrift Shop, and from the closets of friends and family(Shout out to you guys, you rock). Local thrift stores are all over the place and many of them partner with great charities and organizations to raise money for HIV Prevention and Awareness, Train people for Careers, Fight Homelessness, support the LGBTQ Community and so much more. There are several pros to thrifting!

fullsizeoutput_a11

Shoes

  • Converse
  • New Balance
  • Hiking Boots
  • Mules
  • Slip On Canvas Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops

*Tip: When buying used shoes you can disinfect them with a natural homemade mix of things you can find in your fridge like vinegar and lemon.

fullsizeoutput_a10

(My sister thrifted and gifted this fitting little miss green T, thanks Sam)

Electronics

  • Macbook /Macbook Charger(Laptop is a must)
  • Compact Converter
  • DSLR Camera (2x Lenses)
  • Power Bank/Travel Light
  • Phone/ Phone Charger
  • External Hard Drive
  • Speakers
  • Headlight + Extra Batteries
  • Extension Chord
  • Headphones (x2)
  • Flashlight
  • Flashdrive (x2)
  • Battery Powered Alarm Clock
  • Extra Batteries
  • Digital Watch/FITBIT (Great to track miles/calories without the use of gym equipment)

Personal Health/Hygiene

  • Bamboo Toothbrush/Case (x5) (I like these because they are compostable but obviously you can find these in country)
  • Toothpaste (You can purchase toothpaste or 3 simple ingredients to make your own)
  • Floss
  • Razor
  • Face Wash (You can bring your own, use African Black Soap or make your own with local ingredients)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner (You can bring your own or make your own with local ingredients, I use Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • Soap/Soap Holder (African Black Soap is magic and can be used for practically all washing needs like face wash + shampoo)
  • Deodorant (You can purchase or make your own with local ingredients, I just use baking soda! Works like a charm)
  • Menstrual Cup (Zero Waste alternative to Tampons or Pads, Saves you $$$ + good for the planet, highly recommend)
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties/Clippers
  • Quick Dry Towels (x2)
  • Shower Bag
  • Natural Loofa (Compostable)
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers/Files
  • Tweezers
  • Q-Tips
  • Natural Sunscreen
  • Essential Oils (Great for Skin Treatment, bug bites, relaxation, headaches, all around soothing)
  • Tiger Balm
  • Makeup
  • Aloe Vera (Can be used as moisturizer and for any burns!)
  • Chapstick (You can purchase or make yourself with local ingredients)

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 7.52.13 PM

100% Recycled Biodegradable Packaging, BPA Free, Phthalate Free, PVC Free, Biodegradable & Compostable

BMBU Toothbrush


Lifetime Razor, almost 100 years old belonged to my great grandpa during the 1930’s. Besides the sentimental value behind this razor, I am happy to find a razor that isn’t a plastic disposable, and even better allows you to sharpen the blade over and over again. You can actually still purchase a Rolls Razor on EBay.

100% Biodegradable floss, no waste here.

This sunscreen is non-toxic and cruelty free. Most sunscreen finds its way into ocean waters and bleaches coral, however, this brand, Raw Elements is safe for you and the planet.

Work Supplies

  • Plenty of Pens/Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Highlighters
  • Tape
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Whiteboard Markers/Regular Markers
  • Index Cards
  • Stickers


Found this stainless steel water bottle for $3 at goodwill! Brand new would be $40

Miscellaneous

  • WATER BOTTLE (32 oz. Preferably)
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball Cap
  • Cotton Sheet set
  • Comfy Pillow
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable Canvas Bags
  • Stainless Steel Straw
  • Pocket Knife
  • Journal(s)/Books
  • Card Games
  • Light-Weight Robe
  • Belt
  • Earplugs
  • Hiking Packpack
  • Gardening Gloves/Tools (For enviro volunteers)
  • Jump Rope (Aside from running, i’m assuming it’s gonna be a challenge getting a decent workout)
  • Pictures of Family + Friends
  • Yoga Mat
  • French Press

This blog post will be a work in progress up until the day I leave; I will continue adding content as I gather more things and discover any useful tips for Peace Corps packers!

This blog represents my own thoughts and opinions. They do not directly reflect those of the U.S. Peace Corps or Nicaragua

 

5 Self-Love Rituals for City Dwellers

Self-Love

When I tell people I live in New York City, I usually get a wide-eyed, charismatic “oh! that’s awesome. I would love to be in such an upbeat, diverse and creative environment like New York!” To which I respond, “haha yeah… I’m in a great city.”

Don’t get me wrong, New York City is a place of pure magic. Nonetheless, it is a chaotic, toxic, overly stimulating, hard-to-pick-and-choose-my-battles-on-the-subway kind of place. I admire the marvel of it all. Walking the streets with my de-stress herbal tea in one hand and metro-card in the other (Tea is a must for this environment!) The day begins a little something like this:

I speed through the station to get to work early this time. There are people all around me doing things – A businessman on his tablet, a baby crying (probably cause of the lack of fresh air and the sound of screeching rail wheels) a woman putting on her mascara as she waits to fill her metro-card. But mostly, these people are getting in my way. I know it’s not their fault but the city makes you believe each and everyone of these people conspired to make you late to work a second time this week. As I approach my platform, I am met with a border of bodies blocking every entrance to the train. Greaaaaat. And am I really sweating already? You quickly check the time to see if there is any possible way of making it but that hope is soon gone. You chug your tea and hope the next train really does get there in 6 minutes.

These 6 minutes seem like a lifetime, but in fact are a grace period for you. An opening for your mind and body to recalibrate, refocus.

Waking up to the sound of never ending construction and urine scented commutes, I knew it was necessary to make my world a little more pleasant with 5 self-love rituals.

Read and Write. Two beautiful creative outlets. We love to write, get our ideas on paper, feel connected to others who can relate to our situations. (um, yes this is what I am doing right now by writing this on living in NYC and how it gets overwhelming at times and how we can help ourselves realign with self-love. Heck, if I happened to stumble upon this blog while waiting 6 minutes for my subway I would probably think one of these conspiring subway people hacked my phone.)

Carry a journal and a book you like with you at all times. Write down your thoughts and experiences so that 1) You will remember them and 2) So you can see how much you have learned and grown. A book is never a bad idea. You can read it while you wait and hey, you might even spark conversation with someone around you who has already read it! Reading and writing are the two self-love rituals I use the most and I think other people do too. The only difference is that I consider these two things a form of self-love while others may just think of them as reading and writing. (Self-Love Tip: When you tell yourself you are doing things because you love yourself, you are reminding your mind and body that you are worth the time and effort. You are worth the learning and expressing.)

Get a Journal. Find a good book.

Music. Gives you all of the feels. I wonder if anyone else has sat down after a long day, felt this weird absence in their body and quickly realized how they hadn’t listened to music much at all that day. It might just be me, but I have played this game before where I trace back the really good days and think about what went differently and it comes up time and time again that music makes a difference. It has been the biggest determinant in my mood, mindset and outlook. For this reason, it has made it to my self-love ritual list. Everyone should have a wicked playlist to tune into anytime they’re feeling like they need a little love.

Love yourself. Make a playlist, or many!

Since this is a list of self-love rituals for city dwellers, I wanted to make sure the first two rituals could be done anywhere. A train, on the sidewalk, at a park. The beauty of reading, writing and music is that they can be easily accessed by anyone at anytime. I also believe that self-love rituals can be more profound when in the comfort of your own home, so the next three will require you to be there.

Soul Food. When most people think of soul food, they can almost smell the image that comes to mind. Mac & Cheese, Mashed potatoes, the stuff that feels good in your belly. Well… the kind of soul food I’m talking about is a little different. It feeds more than your appetite for fatty, greasy, delicious plates of homemade dishes. It is the nourishment of the mind, body and soul that come from simple, whole and organic foods.

Self-love begins with what you are made of, and if what you are made of is heavy toxic foods, then you are going to feel heavy and toxic. On the other hand, if what you are eating is coming from the soil and nurtured by the sun, you are going to feel that difference in your body. If our body is being taken care of, then our thoughts are going to be a lot clearer. My definition of soul food consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and purified water. The self-love moves into the kitchen when we keep high energy food around and then moves into the body when we prepare and eat our food.

Preparation is just as important as ingestion. Take your time with your nourishment and growth. When we look at our lives in a span of a lifetime, we can see that each meal we have ever consumed has quite literally, become us. With this understanding, we can see that how we prepare and ingest our food makes a difference.

Try to buy organic local foods, rinse food with purified water, try to use as little heat as possible to conserve nutrients(heat kills vitamins) cook with family, make your food look as appealing as it is nutritious(make art with your smoothie bowls) think about the resources it took for your food to be on your plate(the sun, water, farmer, love) All of these elements bonded together to make you grow. Be thankful and share the meal.

 Share a wholesome meal with those you love.

Herbs. Wow. Our planet is seriously something special. Of course we all know there are tons of wildlife in the forms of animals, plants, fungi and a whole lot more I don’t exactly know about. But damn, we have it all. This mystical world actually has plants that help us heal in many different ways. Herbs are under acknowledged in my opinion. I believe a lot of us use these plants without even knowing we do. In our food, medicines, beauty products, and so much more.

I believe that by not just simply using these plants in our daily lives, but actually forming a connection with each type and understanding it’s power we can build a lot of self-love. This is one of my favorite self-love rituals for the simple fact that it includes the natural world. The power of self-love multiplies when you let the power of our feminine earth connect with our being.(I may be losing you to all the hippy talk but I felt that writing in this way was most authentic and revealing of this ritual.)

Chamomile for relaxation, Lavender for restful sleep, Rose Hips for glowing skin, Passionflower for anxiety relief. The list goes on. Now tell me, would being relaxed, getting good sleep, and having glowing skin not be a beautiful case of extreme self-love? You can use them for tea, run a bath with them or both. Vital for living in the city and a great way for outdoorsy people to bring the plants back home.

Herbs are a gift to us from the earth. Use them.

Unplug. Is this the 3rd or 4th article you’re reading on the web? Have your eyes been glued to your screen for quite sometime now? I can feel the guilt from over here. Don’t feel guilty. Just do something about it. Turn off the screen. Be by yourself.

The city can be stimulating and hectic by nature and now we have technology that allows us to be on several different social platforms that pretty much do the same thing but only exist because it’s another place for marketers to place fat ads in your face that won’t go away unless you find the little ‘x’ on the bottom left of the screen. It’s just this constant stimulation that we often times get so wrapped up in we let our days slip away, as well as our minds.

This self-love ritual is one I take kinda seriously. A lot of people might not like to agree with me that we are addicted to our phones, computers and TVs. The kicker is we believe these gadgets are keeping us happy and in the loop, when in reality… its not reality.

Go for a run, meditate, hike, talk to a stranger(in the right setting), walk your dog, practice any of the above rituals to get you back into your mind and body.

That’s the extraordinary thing about being in a city, you have every reason to unplug.

There are plenty more self-love rituals out there and I’m sure you can create your own personalized rituals that adapt to your life and needs. I hope this has been helpful to you and if you know someone who could use these rituals, well, spread the love!