6 Simple Tips for Low-Waste Living

6 Simple Tips for Low-Waste Living

Since my husband and got married and moved in together, living sustainably has been something that we’ve been in the process of centering our lifestyle on. As someone who has been examining my consumption of clothing intentionally, considering my over all consumption and waste output has also been at the forefront of my mind. Over the recent months and years I’ve been introduced to a handful of helpful tips to reducing waste in our own home, and have compiled a few here for your own use!

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

While many of us know that most plastics today are recyclable, what we may be less aware of is the energy, water, and resources needed to complete the recycling process. The sad reality is that most municipal governments do not have the necessary infrastructure to recycle plastics effectively.

When plastic is unable to be properly recycled, it can take up to thousands of years for it to breakdown in landfills. If not exposed to light, it may be even longer.

There are a couple of options in reducing personal use of single use plastics. Bringing your own shopping bags & produce bags to the grocery store helps avoid consumption of LDPE Low plastic, that which grocery bags are made of.

Stasher reusable, freezer & dishwasher safe silicon bag

Eliminating single-use plastics in the home can be done by utilizing Tupperware, replacing ziplock bags with reusable ones (I personally love Stasher Bags), and replacing saran wrap with washable beeswax wraps.

Carry Reusable Dishware

Along the same vein of reducing plastic, being prepared with personal to-go dishware is another easy way to avoid single-use materials. Recently plastics straws have been under attack — and rightfully so, as up to 500 million plastic straws are discarded daily in the U.S. alone. Even worse, much of these discarded straws end up on beaches, and in oceans.

But plastic straws are only a small part of the problem, and being mindful about the ways we consume both plastics, and our meals in general are necessary steps in reducing our personal output of waste. This deserves an entire post of it’s own — but reducing the amount of meat, sugar, and dairy we consume plays an essential role in preventing climate breakdown.

A set of recently procured reusable bamboo utensils

In addition to reconsidering one’s diet, staying prepared by carrying reusable straws, utensils, and drink-ware will help avoid single-use plastics and disposable dishware. I personally like to keep a mug and a cutlery set with me at all times, in the case that I grab a spontaneous cup of coffee, or grab a meal to-go. But you need not get any fancy bamboo cutlery to do so — for quite awhile, I simply brought utensils I already had from my kitchen at home! You can also re-use plastic and glass containers from past grocery runs to pack a lunch to-go, or store bulk grocery items.

Reducing waste really doesn’t have to break-the-bank with fancy, new accessories and containers.

Shop Secondhand

A combination of thrifted & ethical fashion finds from this Summer 10×10 challenge

Believe it or not, textile waste composes nearly 10% of landfill waste each year. According to the council for Textile Recycling, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textile waste each year. That adds up to nearly 25 billion pounds of annual textile waste coming from the U.S. alone. WOWZA. More often than not, our textile waste is shipped to other parts of the globe where it’s then dumped into other, oftentimes marginalized communities — making it both unsustainable, and unjust.

Shopping secondhand is cost-effective, greatly reduces your individual contribution to textile waste, and is overall better for the environment. For every kilogram of cotton that is recycled, 20,000 liters of water are saved. (it takes quite a bit more water than one would expect to produce a single cotton tee — especially if it’s non-organic cotton). Shopping secondhand also gives pieces that would otherwise be disposed of, a second (or third, or fourth) life! While shopping with ethical & sustainable companies is a great start — replacing unwearable items with quality secondhand pieces provide an even more sustainable alternative to buying new. A few great online secondhand shopping platforms that I’ve found especially helpful are Poshmark, ThredUp, and Relovv.

Shopping secondhand also doesn’t have to stop at clothing! Consider finding furniture, dish-ware, and other home-goods from your local flea market or secondhand shop rather than purchasing something brand new.

Revamp Your Hygiene Game

While it may not be something we think about every morning, the items we use daily keep ourselves clean may actually be negatively contributing to the environment. Considering the ingredients that go into our soaps, shampoos, and deodorants is important — but also the packaging in which they come in! Since hygiene items are meant to be used regularly, their packaging will also be in need of disposal after we’ve used the products up.

Refillable Deodorant & Mouthwash tablets from byHumankind

Companies like byHumankind and LUSH are creating alternative options, with refillable hygiene products that eliminate one-time-use dispensers. Being conscious of both the toxicity of the ingredients used and the packaging with which they come in, brands like this make it easy to care for yourself while also caring for the environment.

Or if you’re up for the challenge, there are dozens of recipes out there for making your own hygiene products! From DIY deodorants, to self-made toothpastes, to much more – you can typically refill personal hygiene products on your own, with the right combination of common household ingredients.

Go Paperless

Although paper and cardboard are already the 2nd most recycled items, only about 62% of paper good produced are actually recycled. This means that both properly recycling, and reducing paper consumption altogether is important.

One obvious way to reduce paper waste is to go paperless with receipts, bank statements, and other documents periodically sent your way. You can also opt to have your name removed from junk mail lists, to avoid the unsolicited mailer ads that tend to go straight into the recycling bin upon arrival.

Integrate Reusable “Paper” Products

Reusable cloth napkins from Marley’s Monsters

In an additional effort to minimize paper consumption, consider everyday items that may actually not need to be thrown out after one use. Think: makeup wipes, paper towels, napkins — even toilet paper!

Companies like Marley’s Monster’s make reusable & washable products to replace single-use paper products like many of those listed above. But you can just as easily make your own! One can pretty easily recycle old cotton tees by repurposing the fabric into washcloths, cotton-round wipes, and much more. It just takes a little bit of time & sewing!

Surprisingly enough, there are even sustainable toilet paper options! (and no, it doesn’t involve washable tp – although that would make for quite the interesting product) A handful of companies make toilet paper from recycled paper goods, and even tree-free toilet paper from alternative renewable sources.

I understand that this list was in no way comprehensive of every way one might possibly work towards a low or zero-waste lifestyle, but my intentions was to provide practical and simple first-steps.

At the very least, I hope that this short list of low-waste tips provided some guidance for those of you also early on in your sustainability journey. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these yourself, or have additional tips and tricks to share with us!

The Perfect Gift for a Loved One: JORD Watches & Bands

The Perfect Gift for a Loved One: JORD Watches & Bands

The Perfect Gift for a Loved One: JORD Watches & Bands

Since beginning my journey in slow and ethical fashion, I’ve come across numerous brands doing incredible work to responsibly produce goods that are beneficial and respectful to both the people involved in manufacturing, and the environment. As I’ve been on my own journey in sustainable living, friends and family have become curious about how they too, can live and shop more responsibly. Since most of my exploration has up to this point has been in the realm of fashion, a majority of the brands I’ve been exposed to create ethically-made women’s clothing. More recently though, I’ve gotten connected with a few companies that are creating quality, timeless, gender neutral pieces. One of these companies, is JORD.

JORD (pronounced “yode”) is based in St. Louis, and makes quality watches made from natural, and largely reclaimed materials. Their gorgeous wood watches are both beautifully crafted, and mindfully made. From bamboo to olive, to numerous others; there are a total of 13 species of wood that JORD utilizes to create their watches.  As you browse their website you’ll find that they provide information about the quality and texture of wood itself, where it comes from, and how sustainable it is. This transparency empowers customers to make an informed decision when considering which watch best suits their lifestyle and needs.

In addition to building their watches with quality wood, the glass and movements that make up their pieces are also built to last.  

JORD was kind enough to gift my husband David a Zebrawood band to accompany his Apple watch. Sourced from Congo, West Africa; Zebrawood contains pronounced growth rings that create a highly contrasted, yet timelessly classic watch design. The band itself is stylish, yet made to be worn for years to come. David has sported it for everyday wear, during our recent Maui trip, and for classier occasions such as date nights or weddings. He’s found it easy to dress up, or wear casually; making it a perfect capsule wardrobe piece.

Funny enough, I actually gifted David a wooden watch for one of our first dating anniversaries a few years back. And though it was a beautiful watch, we both noticed that it wore out quickly. In contrast, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how the quality and craftsmanship of his JORD band seems to withstand the wear of day-to-day living, and the occasional Seattle down-pour (the wood is water-resistant.) Needless to say he’ll be wearing this watch for a lifetime! In addition to the incredible craftsmanship, JORD watches are custom sized, with a one year warranty and the option for personalized engravings to ensure that your watch is perfect for yourself, or a loved one.

I’m excited to share that in this next month I’ll be hosting a giveaway with JORD, so one of you can add this capsule classic to your own wardrobe!  The winner will receive a $100 gift-code toward the purchase of any watch (or Apple watch band) on JORD’s website, and will be announced at the end of this month via email.

To enter, simply provide your name, email address, and preferred gender here: www.jordwatches.com/g/marikoashley

All entrants will at the very least, receive 10% off your order — so it’s a win-win situation!

Best of luck to all of you who enter. I hope you enjoy their classic watches as much as we have 🙂  

Investing in Less: How and Why I Started a Capsule Closet

Investing in Less: How and Why I Started a Capsule Closet

Have you ever walked into Target, shopping list in-hand (or phone), determined to get in and out of there in under 30 minutes…only to be completely derailed within the first 10 seconds walking through those sliding doors? Suddenly you’re scanning the dollar(-ish) section for cheap and trendy home décor, which then leads you straight into that gorgeous home goods section, which is conveniently right next to the clothing department, which is right across from the beauty and haircare aisle. Next thing you know you’ve gone back to switch out your little red basket for an entire cart; and have somehow managed to pick up about a dozen unplanned items – perhaps not even managing to get the things that were actually on your shopping list. You walk out of the store, far from unscathed by all too tempting prices and aesthetically arranged shelves.

I hope I’m not alone when I say that this “Target effect” has impacted my consumption not only with the clothing I’d spontaneously purchased; but even in the impulse snacks I chose to buy, the home goods I decorated my apartment with, and the “wellness” products I just needed to give a shot.

A couple years ago I started to confront my consumption habits in a seemingly unrelated attempt to better my mental health and wellness. I’d recently begun therapy, and in doing so had realized that my life was unnecessarily cluttered — not just with things, but also with negative self-talk, numerous self-imposed obligations, and even a handful of unhealthy relationships. It was clear that my entire life was in need of “Kondo-ing,” and clearing out unnecessary material possessions was the least intimidating place to start.

This process turned out to be far from easy. As I made an honest assessment of each personal possession, an increasing awareness of dissatisfaction with much of what I owned surfaced. I had too many pieces of clothing, but ironically “never had anything to wear.” I had dozens of clean beauty and makeup products, but none of which actually worked with my acne-prone skin. And I had a myriad of once-stylish, dollar section-procured wall decorations, but felt uneasy and overwhelmed by my own living space.

The temptation to throw it all out at once was curbed only by the fact that my donation-dependent ministry income would simply not support the replacement of these less-than-satisfactory items. And even if I were to cycle it all out…would I not just end up in the same place of dissatisfaction when trends shifted, my mood changed, or the low quality of my cheaply-bought items finally gave out?

A mix of old fast fashion, with secondhand ethical fashion pieces: asymmetrical Topshop dress, with a VETTA Capsule boyfriend shirt, and Veja sneakers.

Thus began my journey into a simpler, slower lifestyle. I unsubscribed to my ad notifications, and took a break from my regular, boredom-inspired Target runs. Having now acknowledged that the accumulation of more “stuff” would only further fuel my anxiety, I replaced the time once spent browsing for things with activities that encouraged self-reflection, self-compassion, and self-love. Afternoons went from strolling around the local mall, to deepening my yoga practice and starting a blog. Mornings shifted from scrolling through Instagram ads, to enjoying my morning coffee while reading an article to learn something new. In doing so, I developed a clearer understanding of who I am, what I enjoy, and what I need. As my self-perception deepened, I grew a desire to externally express who I am through my living space and personal style.

From this place, my consumption habits shifted. As the cheaply-made items I’d once purchased during past Black Friday sales began to wear out, I started to invest in timeless, well-made pieces that actually reflected my unique style and personality. Slowly but surely I’ve been curating a capsule closet with long-lasting, ethically-made and sustainably sourced pieces that I’m proud to wear. When my husband and I got married and moved in together, we were more intentional about what we chose to put in our shared living space. Our purchases were no longer about what was cheap or convenient, but were instead informed by what was purposeful, and reflective of our values.

A few of my favorite gifted and thrifted capsule pieces: Frank & Oak boyfriend blazer, Tradlands 101 Elms White Oxford shirt, Blake Goods Circle Belt, and Everlane Straight Leg Crop jeans.

Today’s capitalist-fueled marketing encourages us to buy more and buy quickly. But if we’re to truly make the shift away from consuming in meaningless quantities to instead investing in intentional quality, it’s going to take time. The instant gratification that comes from an impulsive fast-fashion buy fades quickly when the new, updated and “exclusive” version of an item suddenly makes what you already own feel irrelevant. Trust me when I say it’s worth it to invest in that which might take longer to procure but will bring you joy for years to come. And perhaps what you’re “investing” isn’t monetary. Creating a capsule closet or intentional living space doesn’t have to be expensive. Putting in effort and time to find quality secondhand pieces is just as valuable of an investment as purchasing a brand-new, ethically and sustainably made article of clothing. And if we’re talking about sustainability, it’s certainly the zero-waste way to invest, since it gives these lovely items a second (or maybe even tenth!) life.

And hopefully, some of what you already own is already reflective of your unique style and personal values. There may be quite a few items that were impulsively purchased just to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing trends…but there will likely be other pieces that you have simply because you love them, and because they fit your frame in just the way you feel your best self in. What I came to find as I began my journey of capsule closet building, was that quite a few of the fast-fashion items I already had were actually in alignment with the styles I’d felt empowered in much of my life. Though the quality of the items couldn’t stand the test of time, there was no need to throw them out before letting them live out their full clothing lives – even if it’s short.

My “uniform” (or favorite style combo) tends to consist of a front-tucked loose top, and some wide-legged, flowy bottoms. This outfit specifically has been procured fully secondhand via Poshmark: Hackwith Design House top, VETTA Capsule culotte bottoms.

As a person with a smaller-than-average frame, I’ve always loved items that were once considered “too boxy.”  I like the way they encourage me to take up more space – both physically, and emotionally. Though wide-legged pants have been all-the-rage in recent fast fashion circles, I’ll personally be keeping this style in my wardrobe long after the trend has passed, because it embodies a form of self-awareness and self-love that I want to be expressed in the clothing I wear for years and years to come. I’ve also come to find that there are particular colors and fabrics that I’m drawn to. Olive green has been a tone that I’ve loved for years and will continue to love due to its versatility. As of lately, I’ve come to appreciate the way it highlights the olive and brown tones in my skin – a part of me I didn’t openly acknowledge nor love until recently. Fabrics like linen and tencel have also become personal favorites, as many ethical fashion brands have been utilizing these materials to create sustainably-made, long-lasting pieces. Not only are these high quality fabrics timeless, but they seem to fall on my body in such a way that is both comfortable, and flattering. They remind me to balance all the effort that goes into a busy day, with a mindset of ease.

So perhaps as you consider your own relationship with clothing, and with “things” in general, it may be helpful to first come back to yourself. To remind yourself of who you are, what you value, and what brings you a sense of life and joy. As you grow in self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-love; pay attention to the ways that this deepened sense of self may want to manifest in your external life – both in the clothes you wear, and in the messages that are communicated to yourself, and the world around you through those simple, yet powerful pieces. Learning to choose quality over quantity may take time, but is a worthy investment for your closet, as well as yourself.  There’s an undeniable sense of personal power that grows as you intentionally choose in to your own unique form of self-expression. Finding that, my friends, is of much greater value than any Black Friday sale deal you’ll ever get your hands on. 

Pursuit of a Zero-Waste Period

Pursuit of a Zero-Waste Period

This probably comes without surprise, but I have a period. It comes every month, whether I like it or not. With its ever-persistent frequency, it got me thinking about what I choose to put (or not put) into my body each month, and how my monthly cycle adds to my personal contribution to the environment.

So began my journey toward a healthier, zero-waste period.

I can’t quite remember when my first period was, but I do remember how excruciatingly difficult I found it to insert a tampon when the time came. I can’t recall how much menstrual health was talked about in my middle school sex-ed class, but it clearly wasn’t discussed to extent that I felt in any way prepared to know what period products worked best for my body. Nevertheless, I went on to use tampons for a majority of my cycle due to the convenience of being able to swim, run, and stay active while on my period.

From middle school until now, the predictability of my period thankfully stayed consistent. I can just about nail down the exact time of day it’ll start. What has changed though, is my body’s reaction to old Aunt Flow’s visit. It seems that the older I get, the heavier my monthly flow, and the more sensitive my body becomes to menstrual cramping and body aches. This could be due to a variety of reasons, from an increased hormonal levels that come with being in my 20’s, to the mix of synthetic materials that make up the ingredients list of the tampons I’d used most of my life. Either way, it’s made me reconsider what products I use when my monthly menstruation hits.

Having been swept into the “clean beauty” trend, I made the switch to organic tampons about 2 years ago. I hadn’t thought much about the impact non-organic tampons might have on the environment prior to that, but was keen on ensuring that what I put into my body wouldn’t put me in harm’s way. In retrospect I came to find that much of the organic beauty trend wasn’t personally healthy for me (particularly in the realm of skincare), but stuck with using organic tampons as I thought it couldn’t hurt to take the precaution, especially since they’d become more financially accessible as organic tampon and pad companies started popping up left and right.

This last year in particular though, I’ve been on a journey questioning and addressing my consumption patterns. It started with reconsidering my diet, and how the overconsumption of red meat contributes to climate change. Lately, I’ve been exploring how to more intentionally invest in slow and ethical fashion, as a means to reduce my clothing consumption and waste.  And as my period has continued to come each month, I’ve also been considering how to consume and waste less during my monthly menstruation.

Did you know that tampons are used by about 43 million people in the U.S. alone? And of those 43 million, one will likely use 11-16 thousand tampons in a lifetime. That’s a LOT to dispose of, y’all. Not only are single-use applicators adding to landfills, but most non-organic tampons contain rayon and traces of dioxin, which are dangerous to both your body and the environment.

There are some amazing alternative tampon solutions out there, like the first ever FDA-cleared re-usable tampon applicator by THINX. Designed with medical-grade materials, this pocket-sized tool lets you ditch single-use applicators by inserting an applicator-free tampon into the THINX re.t.a. (reusable tampon applicator.) On average, using an OB (non-applicator) tampon produces 58% less waste than a normal tampon.

But in an effort to personally ditch single-use period products altogether, I decided to integrate a menstrual cup into my monthly cycle.  The cup seemed like a simple solution, as most menstrual cups are made with medical-grade silicone and are flexible enough to fold and insert with ease. They can be left in for up to 12 hours (dependent on your body and your flow) and can be washed and sanitized for re-use once your cycle is over. I understand that the cup doesn’t work for everyone’s body, but I wanted to give it a shot as it really did seem like a “catch all” solution to my period waste problems.

I’ll be real – transitioning to the cup has been a process to say the least. I give extra props to those who use menstrual discs, because though cup insertion has been pretty simple…I’ve come to find that removing it is the tricky part. I can’t imagine removing something that doesn’t have a handle of sorts to help identify where it’s at “up there”. Either way, you really get to know yourself when using either product. After trying out a few menstrual cups in different sizes, I’ve come to find that with a personally moderate menstrual flow, I like model 1 of the Diva Cup best. I leave it in anywhere from 5-8 hours at a time, and it catches most of my flow pretty seamlessly. But when I say most, I mean not all of my flow. It wasn’t quite the “catch-all” solution that I’d hoped it would be, as I still found myself wearing liners to catch the little bits that the cup let slip out. I’ve also noticed that after the first couple “heavy” days of my period the cup gets increasingly difficult to remove because it doesn’t fill nearly as much. With gravity playing a generous factor in aiding cup removal, having a lighter cup actually becomes pretty problematic.

That’s when I decided to try out THINX underwear. I’d seen ads for THINX across social media, and occasionally in my inbox. But “period proof panties” seemed too good to be true, and I didn’t have the guts to give them a shot until hearing positive feedback about the underwear from a trusted friend. THINX are washable, reusable undies that are designed to replace pads, tampons, liners, and some days — even cups. The period-proof tech in each pair consists of 4 layers of fabric that are moisture-wicking, odor-controlling, super-absorbent, and leak-resistant.

A couple cycles ago I reached out to THINX as I was researching menstrual hygiene and eco-friendly period options for future blog content; and THINX graciously sent me a complimentary pair to try out. Y’all….I was absolutely blown away by the effectiveness of these period-proof panties. Not only were they perfect for pairing with my menstrual cup on heavy days, but they completely replaced the need for pads and liners on the days where my flow was too light for a cup. Surprisingly stylish, and easy to clean; I very quickly got back in touch with THINX to join their THINX Leaders program and build a fuller set of THINX underwear for periods to come.

At this point in my low-waste journey I’ve found that the combination of a re-usable menstrual cup with a few pairs of THINX underwear is the perfect fit for my body, and my flow. I know that everyone’s body is different; and for some a re-usable tampon applicator in combination with organic tampon inserts, or re-usable and washable pads is a better option. No judgement there! The thing to first prioritize is to know your flow, and find what low or no-waste option works best for your body.

If you are looking to try THINX specifically though, this weekend is the perfect weekend to do so!

In honor of May 28th being Menstrual Hygiene Day, THINX is generously offering a 30% discount off of all their period-proof undies from May 24th – 28th.  Should you choose to invest in a  few pairs yourself, you can do so through my THINX Leader link, meaning I’ll receive a 10% commission for every 10 pairs sold. I will be donating all commission made this weekend and onward to Planned Parenthood, in support of the vital reproductive health services and education they provide. If you’d like to think about it longer before trying out THINX, you’ll still be eligible for $10 off your purchase after this weekend’s sale by buying through my THINX Leader link.

I know I’ll be getting myself a couple more pairs this weekend, and I hope you’ll join me as we crush period stigma, pursue a zero-waste lifestyle, and fight for menstrual equity in the process!

gettin’ my sleep together

gettin’ my sleep together

As an Ennegram type 3 (The Achiever), I’m constantly looking for the most productive way to utilize my day. Just recently I took a “Vision Day” of sorts to map out the remainder of the year, and to determine what lifestyle choices I’d like to hone-in on over the next 9 months. A good friend of mine reminded me that it takes approximately 3 weeks to build a new habit, and 1 week to break one. With this in mind, I decided to create month-by-month “Habit Building” schedule. I intend to spend the first week of the month critically assessing a particular aspect of my lifestyle, and then spend the following 3 weeks integrating healthier + more sustainable everyday actions toward building a habit.

Ironically enough, the topic that felt of utmost importance to creating a sustainable habit-building foundation, is not that which initially screamed “productivity.” Although most of us start the year attempting to build habits around what we eat, how much we exercise, or how much literature we read; I thought it particularly important to first address the quality of an easily-overlooked daily practice – sleep!

The National Sleep Foundation describes sleep hygiene as a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. Why is this important? Sleep is sleep, right? And given how readily accessible caffeine is, why should it matter if the sleep I get each night is ‘quality’ sleep?

As it turns out, getting a good night’s rest is beneficial for more than just preventing that post-lunch, afternoon slump. Apart from quality sleep supporting healthy brain functioning and all-around physical well-being, it also promotes one’s mental and emotional health. It seems that it would be to our benefit then, to tackle the ever-escaping good night’s rest before integrating additional healthy habits into our daily lives.

That being said, I’ve spent the last week observing my personal sleep habits and patterns through keeping a sleep diary.

Needless to say, I have some obvious issues maintaining consistent, quality sleep. As a means to start changing that, I’ve compiled a few daily actions I’ll be practicing over the next 3 weeks to build healthier sleep hygiene. In case you’re also hoping to shift your own sleeping habits, I thought I’d share what I’ll be trying in the next 21 days.

  1. Keeping a consistent sleeping schedule: Personally, my ideal “wake-up” time that I’m working to normalize, is 6am. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 26-64 years old (aka, likely everyone reading this post) need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You can visit their website to see what is recommended for other age groups. This means I need to aim to go to sleep between 9-11pm.
  • Regular Exercise: Being a “certified yoga teacher” doesn’t mean I’m immune to exercise droughts. If I’m real, I’ve been in one for at least the last 2 months. Part of my 6am wake-up goal is the capacity it will create for me to re-integrate a daily yoga practice into my mornings. Although it’s said that some of us should avoid intense exercise close to bed-time, integrating regular movement at other points during the day is said to increase the quality and duration of sleep.
  • Reducing BlueLight Exposure prior to bedtime: Blue light itself isn’t necessarily bad for us; as it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood – the sun itself naturally produces high levels of it. And though there’s still quite a bit of research being done regarding the holistic impact of blue light exposure, one thing that’s surely agreed upon is the impact of blue light in suppressing melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone your body naturally produces that lets it know that it’s time to go to sleep. While light in general decreases the body’s melatonin production; blue light does so at an exponentially larger level. Aside from decreased screen time and dimming my living space, I’ve also partnered with Baxter Blue — an Australian-based glasses company that donates a pair of glasses to someone in need through each purchase through their “Pair for a Pair” pledge with @restoringvision. I’ll be trying out a pair of their non-prescription glasses that filter blue light known to cause digital eye strain, to test out the impact decreased exposure to blue light has on my quality of sleep.
  • Reducing Alcohol & Caffeine Consumption: Up to this point I’ve really taken advantage of hearing that a glass of red wine daily can help decrease heart disease…so you can only imagine how disappointed I was in doing further research, and finding that although alcohol does help healthier people fall asleep quicker, and sleep deeper for the first half of the night… it actually reduces REM sleep for the second half of the night, significantly. For more obvious reasons, caffeine being a stimulant can delay the timing of your body’s readiness for sleep. I’m looking to replace my evening glass of wine with herbal tea, and to have my morning coffee and/or black tea before lunchtime.
  • Prioritizing Thoughts + Activities that Reduce Stress: Be it yoga, meditation/prayer, reading, or sorting through my thoughts via journaling – partaking it stress-reducing activities on a daily basis can improve the quality of one’s sleep drastically. There’s an unfortunate cycle in that lack of sleep leads your body to boost its levels of stress hormones, which in-turn causes hyper-arousal, making sleep even more difficult to enter into – let alone stay in. I’m hoping to fight this downward spiral by engaging in intentionally stress-reducing thoughts and activities particularly close to bed-time. This may mean no email-checking past 6pm, or scrolling through my IG feed less…but those things will surely still be there the next day, after a good night’s rest!

There’s still quite a bit of research to be done on the topic of sleep itself, but I’m hoping that practicing these simple things on a daily basis will help build long-term habits that promote good sleep hygiene. In an effort to create a strong foundation to integrate further lifestyle habits, I’m excited to begin by first investing in the health of my body and mind that’s generated before my day even begins. For me, investing in sleep hygiene is the vital first step in my personal journey toward a holistic health that addresses my body, my mind, and my soul. I look forward to sharing about its impact in the months, and years to come.

If investing in sleep hygiene is something you’re personally interested in, here are a few websites that were helpful for me in my own research on the topic:




I also recently read an interesting article on The Good Trade on the topic of dreams, and how keeping a Dream Journal can contribute healthy sleep hygiene, increased self-awareness, and all around mental health and wellness. The author links additional resources at the end of her piece.

Happy reading, and happy sleeping friends!

Intro to Partnerships: Skylar

Intro to Partnerships: Skylar

I’m an evangelist. Always have been, probably always will be. And not necessarily in the religious sense of the word – though I have had my fair share of experience in evangelical ministry; but more so in my inherent enthusiasm for the things I love, and my desire to share that enthusiasm with others.

All that being said — when I find a great podcast, a well-written book, an amazing company, etc. – I can’t help but tell everyone I know about it. And initially when I started this blog, my intention was to stay far, far away from the world of sponsored posts, paid collaborations, and promoting products simply for the sake of growing a quick following. I didn’t want to risk the integrity of authentic writing, for some free fast-fashion pieces or a pyramid-scheme asking me to exchange a discount code for some free publicity. I also didn’t want to promote unnecessary or excessive consumption.

However, as I continue in my own personal journey exploring the intersection of socially conscious living and holistic wellness, I’ve come to find that this journey is less about eliminating consumption altogether, and more about orienting myself to question what I consume, where it comes from, and whether or not it’s beneficial to myself and the world around me.

And so, given my inherently-enthusiastic nature, I should’ve known that the time would eventually come when I’d find companies, products, and content that I’d have the urge to write about. As I’ve begun exploring the realm of ethical fashion, conscious consumerism, and holistic wellness; I’ve been humbled by some of the incredible people, companies, and stories I’ve come across. And though I’m early on in my journey of exploring these topics, I’ve made the decision to start sharing some of these resources for those who are interested in learning about what I’ve personally come to find helpful. Over the next few months, I’ll be incorporating highlights of a few ethical and inspiring brands I’ve come across – some of which I have professional partnerships with, and others that I’m simply just a huge fan of. I hope what I share can be of interest to those of you on a similar journey exploring a lifestyle that pursues wellness, and mindful living.

55F99081-7697-42D7-AA3D-46516F9ED59ERecently I was contacted by Skylar; a natural fragrance company whose mission is to celebrate Body Beauty by creating a new world of fragrance by using clean, conscious ingredients to craft beautiful, innovative and hypoallergenic scents for yourself and your home. Needless to say, I was impressed with the vision of the company. I hadn’t yet considered how the perfumes or scents I used daily might have an impact on my personal health, or the wellbeing of the planet.

As I learned more about Skylar, I was pleasantly surprised by the integrity and transparency of this relatively new fragrance company. Skylar promises clean, conscious, and innovative products as they eliminate the top 6 “dirty ingredients” present in most scent companies. Their products are completely free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, allergens, animal-derived ingredients, and synthetic dyes. Y’all…I’ve been using perfumes, and candles for YEARS; and never thought to consider what ingredients were contributing to these smell-good scents.

The company’s founder, Cat Chen (shout-out to WOC-owned businesses!!), started Skylar when she discovered her 4-year-old daughter was allergic to her traditional perfumes. As someone who’d been working with the Honest Company, she began the hunt for clean fragrance products that lived up to these same clean standards. Unable to find a fragrance brand that was hypo-allergenic and toxin-free, she decided to work towards the creation of clean fragrance and thus, Skylar was created.

Since April of 2017 the company has launched roll-on and spray perfumes, and home fragrance candles inspired by their perfume scents. Their products have received incredible reviews, and multiple magazine features.

Skylar’s innovative approach to scent utilizes nature-powered perfumes and candles that are packaged and produced with well-being of both people, and the planet in mind. Expanding the frontier of “clean beauty” as they pioneer the creation of hypoallergenic perfumes, Skylar’s products dispel the myth of “natural” being equivalent to “healthier,” and instead cultivate just the right formulae of both natural, and lab-made ingredients to produce scents that are safe for even the most sensitive of customers.

14B5114B-3672-4856-B6D6-9FCC60D4FDFEWhat I’m super excited to announce is that I have the honor of partnering with Skylar to launch their newest product, in the form of a program called the Scent Club. Over this next season, I’ll be collaborating with Skylar to share the mantra, back-story, and limited-edition scent that is included in this monthly membership. As a regular perfume-wearer, I’m really looking forward to incorporating cleaner scents into my daily routine. In my own journey toward holistic wellness, replacing my current face and beauty products with healthier alternatives has been a slow but steady part of the process, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do so with my good-smelling-scents as well!

The first Scent Club perfume they sent me is Magic Bloom, accompanied by the mantra “nurture your inner magic”. Before getting into the incredible smell, and encouraging mantra of this month’s scent, can I just say how impressed I was with their packaging?! 4FC4CC78-59D5-48FE-98D6-938B045432B9Yes, of course the box was beautiful…but what I really appreciated, was how minimal and eco-friendly it all was.  I’ve always side-eyed Amazon, amongst other brands that ship tiny items in huge boxes, with un-recyclable styrofoam, packing peanuts, etc. Skylar however shipped their Scent Club box in a compact, recyclable box with compostable packing peanuts made of non-toxic, biodegradable organic vegetable starch. After opening, you simply put them in your kitchen sink, and they’ll dissolve upon touching water. How clever is that?!

This new scent was spot on as well. The first time trying it on I asked my husband what he thought, and his immediate response was “oh wow, it really smells like spring!” I couldn’t agree more. With hints of yuzu, magnolia, and pear; this citrus-infused scent gently wakes up my senses, nudging me into a smooth transition from the dreary Seattle winters into a bright and vibrant spring. I’m looking forward to ushering in the warmer weather this month with this light and cheery scent.

The box also came with a bookmark for Scent Club members to write down their own response to the mantra, “I will nurture my inner magic this month by…” I chose to personally nurture my own inner magic this month by stopping to pay attention to my body, my mind, and my soul.


This month brings a lot of transition for me. We just moved into a new neighborhood and have simplified our lifestyle to accommodate for a much smaller living space. I’ve also just begun a new job, volunteering as an Impact Editor for a local non-profit to hone-in on my writing and creativity skillset. And as I continue to invest in my personal blog, I’m beginning the exploration of new partnerships, writing topics, and lifestyle changes that I hope will make a long-term impact in my life and the lives of others for years to come.

In the midst of all this change I’m finding it increasingly important to actively stop, observe and tend to the wellbeing of my body, mind, and soul. These 3 aspects of my being are so interconnected, and influential in what I can give to the people around me; but are also the most easily neglected during times of busyness and change. So, with the mantra of nurturing my inner magic in mind, and my portable roll-on scent in hand as a reminder; I look forward to actively investing in acknowledging and nurturing those 3 areas of my life and being.

This is just the first scent of the monthly fragrance that I’ll be receiving as a Scent Club member, but I look forward to sharing about the scent and mantra of future scents as they come. If you’re interested in following along, you can do so as I share more on Instagram (@marikoashley) Otherwise, you can try it for yourself (along with any other Skylar products) for 10% off with the code MARIKOS10 🙂