zero-waste journey: reusable straws

At this point, the issue surrounding plastic straws has hit the mainstream- literally and figuratively. Ditching the single-use poly-plastics and opting for reusable straws is a simple way to reduce the waste that is having an unprecedented impact on our environment, specifically our oceans. There are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.  Investing in these tiny suppers is not only inexpensive but also responsible. We use over 500 million (!!!) straws per day, many of which make their way to our oceans and end up in the stomachs of our marine life. Reusable straws seem like the obvious alternative.


For my introductory reusable straw, I went for glass. Being a “glass-over-everything” girl, it was a natural choice. My first glass straw was by Simply Straws, which was included in my To-Go Ware reusable utensil kit. Despite my cautious efforts whilst using it in public, it was accidentally tossed after I left it in my water glass at a local breakfast joint in my hometown.

It was an emotional day,  but I jumped right on Amazon to reorder; this time I got a set of four: two bent and two straight, a straw for every occasion. I liked ’em, but not nearly as much as my Simply Straws straw. They are wide, making them a great smoothie companion, but they’re a little uncomfortable to enjoy with any regular bev.

With luck and coordination against me, I lost another trusty straw after it took a fall and shattered. I figured it was time to rethink my purchase, considering my clumsy tendencies. Time to bring in the big guns- the mighty stainless steel competitor.

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Despite my usual glass preference, I’m really digging these straws so far. Iced and/or chilled beverages taste super refreshing from the stainless steel’s cooling effect. They were inexpensive, they’re fool-proof/drop-proof, and very easy to transport. Perhaps I’m a biased pro-reusable straw gal, but compared to plastic straws, there are virtually no “cons”.

Reusable straws are one of the “first stops” on my zero-waste journey, and I haven’t looked back once. It brings major personal and public awareness to the plastic issue at hand. So far, I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback and inquiries regarding where I purchased mine. It’s the best kind of snowball effect. When it comes to saving the environment, the most powerful first step is being the change. Cutting back (and ultimately eliminating) your plastic consumption is a great start.

Your Gal, Shaye

 

 

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wedding season: make a splash on a budget

Weddings are expensive. For the newlyweds, obviously, but for the guests too. Lots of planning–and dollars–go into attending a wedding. There are the travel expenses, the gift, and the (also very important) look for the night. There isn’t any way of getting around the first two, but as far as your outfit, there are ways of beating a triple-digit price tag.

When I got invited to the wedding of one of my lifelong friends back home, I couldn’t wait to see everyone but I also couldn’t wait to piece together my get-up. I hate to admit it, but I initially turned to Nordstrom. I found [what looked like] an awesome dress for only $40. When I received it in the mail, I was so disappointed with the quality and the poor fit. At this point, I had less than a week til my flight back to New York. So I thought when in doubt hit the thrift shop. And that’s what I did.

The thrift shop we found is called Granny Takes A Trip and is strangely inside of a mall, which doesn’t seem fitting. I was judgmental and my expectations were low but once we got inside, I was really blown away. Such a hidden gem. The dress selection was minimal, so I didn’t think to look through them at first. I scored two pairs of awesome denim shorts, so I was fine with just ruling it as a Levi’s stop. But, then I figured I might as well check ’em out because you never know.

I sifted through the rack, which was cluttered with an eclectic collection of frocks, kaftans, and sundresses. Nothing tickled my fancy. I was on the verge of dismissing it as a lost cause but just before I walked away, a chiffon maxi with long-sleeves and a floral pattern straight from the 60s caught my eye. It was huge and I’d certainly need a belt with it as to avoid drowning, but I gave it a shot.

There was no price tag… minor red flag. The sales associate had to send a picture to her boss, which made me more skeptical– seemed like a whole lotta of trouble for a little dress. I figured it’d be expensive and not worth the inconvenience I was putting them through. I was wrong. It was $22. Only twenty-two dollars. I was in disbelief… the deal was sealed.

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I already had an idea of which accessories I wanted to wear based on what I had planned for my last dress. To my pleasure, they paired perfectly with this one, too. My dates for the night were bold clip-on gold earrings (as seen below), which I found at a shop in SLC for $12, my tooled leather clutch (as seen here), and this “look at me” chunky yellow leather belt courtesy of Kami’s closet. It all came together for under $100. I felt fabulous, especially knowing how little I spent.

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You don’t need to splurge to make a statement. Quite the opposite, really. It just requires a little patience and some optimism to be a vision in vintage.

Your Gal, Shaye

SS: MATE the Label

In essence, this column is to inform and advise. Understanding the ‘fast-fashion model,’ which is a large sector of the fashion industry, is crucial to living a stylish life of mindfulness. Many people have fallen victim to the allure of industry and aren’t aware of the irreversible impact it’s having on our planet. Throughout all stages of textile production, the aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric ecosystems experience lasting environmental harm, including but certainly not limited to the emission of greenhouse gases.

As the severity of the situation persists, large companies and local brands alike are vowing to break the chain. It is their mission to do what is ethical by ensuring all operations are carried out sustainably. Nature and fashion can coexist despite the toxic relationship the two have had over the last century. We don’t have to forfeit our love of fashion, we just have to find brands that are willing to do what’s right. That’s where I come in; I’m here to offer alternatives to the otherwise disposable pieces you regularly shop for.

Discovering fresh brands that have beauty and brains is one of my guilty pleasures. There’s nothing like finding a line that has a unique aesthetic and a progressive mindset, am I right? Buckle up because with each new Sustainable Spotlight post, I will be introducing you to another awesome brand that you’ll probably fall in love with (just like I did).

Time to set sail into a sea of sustainably-made beauties.
Destination: MATE the Label, DTLA.


While perusing Instagram a few years back, I stumbled upon MATE’s feed and was mesmerized. In all honesty, I judged this book by its covered and was sold solely on their style. MATE was a mystery company to me, so I didn’t yet know that they were the whole package.  After doing a bit of research, I quickly realized they weren’t a mystery at all. In fact, they were already an established line that hailed from the west coast.

MATE the Label is the brainchild of Kayti Carr O’Connell, who I was lucky to meet earlier this fall. It began as a side hustle, which consisted of Carr selling thrifted wonders she found herself. From this, the idea for MATE was conceived and thus, the Label was born.

Dreamy graphics decorate the majority of MATE’s buttery-soft pieces. Not only could they potentially melt in your hands, they’re extremely versatile as well. By this, I mean you sleep in them or rock ‘em for a night out on the town. It is clear that MATE has mastered the groovy vibes category but they also stand for some really great causes. That’s far out.

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In a 2017 interview with La Femme Creative, she said, “being made in Los Angeles is a big part of our brand. We have partnered with factories that are all within a 5-mile radius of our HQ. This means that we are able to check in on development and production on a daily basis. We are very hands-on with each step of the process and love being able to build relationships with the people that are making our product.” Apparently, the average shirt travels to 4 or 5 factories before reaching the hands of the consumer, so the fact that MATE produces and manufactures all products in what is essentially their backyard is commendable.

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As mentioned, I met with Kayti a few months ago at MATE HQ. I was there for an interview, actually. Upon my arrival here in LA, I was trying to figure out which direction I wanted to take within the sustainability realm. I did know that LA is a breeding ground for environmentally conscious brands, so I racked my brain for some of my faves. Naturally, MATE came to mind. I checked out the ‘Careers’ section on their site and went for it. Email sent. The position was for a social intern, which is up my alley and a great launch pad but after being offered the position, reality hit me and reminded me that being car-less wouldn’t allow me to commit to the position.

Anyway, while there, Kayti and I discussed her vision for MATE in the future, along with a few other ideas she had brewing in the pot. She mentioned putting an even greater emphasis on being natural, in terms of fibers and dyes, with an obvious continual effort on ‘thinking green’.  A company with morals, an organic outlook, and killer taste is one I can get behind. Not to mention, their pieces are super fun to style (as seen below). MATE has it goin’ on, at a reasonable price point, nonetheless!

The next time you’re looking for not-so-basic basics and trying to minimize your environmental impact, opting for MATE is a chic option. You’ll be turning heads, guilt-free.

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The captain of this ship is out. Until next time…

Your Gal, Shaye

gal’s first column: Sustainable Spotlight

Hi, all!

It’s been a whole [almost] three weeks since my long-anticipated debut of galtruism. As I noted in my first post, I’ve had the real intention of starting a blog for a while, but always put it on the back-burner. I figured eventually I would do it- ‘maybe in a few days’, ‘next month when the semester is over’, or ‘after the holidays when things slow down.’ To my shameful admission, there was always an excuse. Finally, I bucked up and realized the only way to do something was, well, to do it. Although I’ve only written two posts thus far, my wheels have been turning since I published the first one. I’m currently cooking up a couple new posts but in the meantime, I would like to debut my first column, a concept called Sustainable Spotlight. 

Sustainable Spotlight will highlight brands within the fashion/jewelry, health/beauty, and home/lifestyle industries that are diligently working to change the product market landscape through sustainable and eco-conscious practices. I already have a handful of unique lines I’m so excited to share with you guys! Some are changing the game by vowing to only produce their pieces in the US, while others are empowering women worldwide by solely teaming up with local artisans overseas.

Each brand that gets stage time under the galtruism spotlight possesses attributes that make them stand out amongst the crowd. Some are big, and some are small, but all are mighty and doing their part in making a difference.

Stay tuned to see who the spotlight hits first… you don’t want to miss it.

Your Gal, Shaye