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Welcome to the Cottage.

The Tiny Canal Cottage® is a 1920's Craftsman-style house by the Venice Beach Canals in Southern California. This <400 sqft home/office is the full-time residence of Creative Director Whitney Leigh Morris, her husband, their son, and two rescue beagles.

Lower Waste Days in LA

Lower Waste Days in LA

This post was sponsored by Garnet Hill. The words an opinions expressed are my own. As always, any imagery showing West and/or the pups was taken as they interacted in their own natural ways.

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 An individual’s journey to a more eco-friendly existence doesn’t have to be completed overnight. It doesn’t need to be traversed flawlessly in a straight line, and no one is fast-tracked to the high road by shaming others or one-upping our peers. The transition is about caring and trying. Really trying. Both when the eyes of others are upon us, and when they’re not. 

For me, this journey began when Adam, StanLee and I moved into our tiny home, as small space living is inherently more environmentally friendly. But, looking back, we certainly amassed a regrettable amount of waste in the years that followed. It wasn’t until after out son was born that we became far more aware of our footprint, and our role in the climate crisis. 

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 Since then, we’ve been working towards the goal of as low waste of as lifestyle as is reasonably possible here in our live/work family home in Los Angeles. 

Dropping off beverage bottles for return and reuse at    Erewhon Natural Food Market.

Dropping off beverage bottles for return and reuse at Erewhon Natural Food Market.

Refilling our own glass containers with household and beauty products at    Recontained   .

Refilling our own glass containers with household and beauty products at Recontained.

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We still have much to learn and accomplish. But we’ve shifted our habits enough to enjoy a marked change in our spending, health, spare time, energy consumption, and material waste. 

Biking to the library to borrow books, rather than driving to buy our own copies. On a daily basis, we swap the car for our bikes whenever it feels safe to do so. Whether we’re traveling solo or with our son and pups, we pedal our way through our errands.

Biking to the library to borrow books, rather than driving to buy our own copies. On a daily basis, we swap the car for our bikes whenever it feels safe to do so. Whether we’re traveling solo or with our son and pups, we pedal our way through our errands.

There are always times of exception: client purchases, hospital visits, the occasional new toy for our son, props for brand shoots, and sporadic deliveries in packaging that can be greatly improved upon. But we are attempting to eliminate those instances, or offset their impact through other actions. 

Giving the cottage plants a bath with the leftover water from West’s activity table.

Giving the cottage plants a bath with the leftover water from West’s activity table.

Across all categories, we’ve realized the importance of versatility when it comes to any item we acquire.  Whether it's new or vintage, for the house or for our wardrobe, we now understand the value of having pieces that are timeless in style, versatile in function, and durable in construction. When considering new purchases, we'll ask ourselves several questions— one of which pertains to versatility. (Can that new bistro table we're considering for the garden be easily carried and fit inside the house or on the porch so we don’t need multiples? Yes! Can we adapt our existing glassware with a few add-on accessories to make it suitable for our young son so he doesn’t need his own set of cups? Yes! Can these bath towels also be used at the beach and even as curtains and tablecloths? Yes!)

These sorts of adaptable goods save us money and space, while lessening our waste.

No one in our family regularly gets new articles of clothing— even little West, who is growing quickly as children his age do. We share a single compact closet, which is also where we keep West’s permanent collection of board and picture books, as well as our bedding. While the space is not overstuffed, there's admittedly very little room to spare. So when we add something to the closet, we give TWO pieces away to family, friends or non-profits. (I wrote in greater depth about this topic in a recent post entitled Remaining Clutter-Free for the Long Run.

If we add something new to our shared closet, we donate at least two pieces to help us avoid over-accumulation. We reuse product packaging in art projects with West, and refill the bags or boxes with giveaway items for friends and/or local non-profits.

If we add something new to our shared closet, we donate at least two pieces to help us avoid over-accumulation. We reuse product packaging in art projects with West, and refill the bags or boxes with giveaway items for friends and/or local non-profits.

Nearly everything that earns a place in our wardrobe has to be an item that can work year-round, and be dressed up or down. 

When it comes to recreation, we usually chose to stay local and enjoy our neighborhood and community resources. We take our son to nearby playgrounds, rather than buying or building one in our own (tiny) yard. We bring a small selection of toys and crafting supplies with us when we're out so we’re less likely to make impulse purchases or require new packs of crayons, etc. As a healthy way of unwinding at the end of the day, we paddle through the neighborhood in our hand-me-down canoe.

When it comes to recreation, we usually chose to stay local and enjoy our neighborhood and community resources. We take our son to nearby playgrounds, rather than buying or building one in our own (tiny) yard. We bring a small selection of toys and crafting supplies with us when we're out so we’re less likely to make impulse purchases or require new packs of crayons, etc. As a healthy way of unwinding at the end of the day, we paddle through the neighborhood in our hand-me-down canoe.

This month, I treated myself to a few items from Garnet Hill

  •  A simple, solid maxi dress that can be dressed up for work or down for beachside strolls

  • A crinkled, double-gauze shirt-dress to be worn as-is, with leggings, or over jeans

  • An unfussy A-line knit dress that is suitable from day to night.

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We bring our own reusable drinkware, bags and utensils wherever we go.

We bring our own reusable drinkware, bags and utensils wherever we go.

Each piece is made with Tencel™ and/or organic cotton.

 Adam and I recently discovered that— for whatever reason— Tencel™ doesn’t attract or hold nearly as much pet hair as some fabrics, and yet it is still breathable, flexible and absorbent. We have two rescue beagles, one of whom sheds more than any dog I’ve ever met, so this is hugely helpful. A strong, easy-care fabric, TENCEL™ is made of natural cellulose derived from sustainably harvested wood pulp from renewable tree farms. This modern and eco-friendly fabric is buttery-soft, smooth and elegant. It pairs well with other fabrics, like organic cotton

Walking to our closest farmers market to buy in-season, regional produce from local growers.

Walking to our closest farmers market to buy in-season, regional produce from local growers.

Garnet Hill’s organic cotton is made with fibers farmed without harmful pesticides, GMOs or chemical defoliants, which is not only better for your skin but also for the land on which the cotton is grown.  

If florals are being sold in plastic sleeves, I remove them on-site so the vendor can reuse them.

If florals are being sold in plastic sleeves, I remove them on-site so the vendor can reuse them.

We bring our coffee thermoses with us on our errands, just in case we decide to buy a sip while on-the-go.

We bring our coffee thermoses with us on our errands, just in case we decide to buy a sip while on-the-go.

During transitions between seasons, I usually layer my outfits with linen— one of the oldest and strongest natural textile fibers. It is breathable, has naturally-occurring antibacterial properties, is comfortable in fluctuating weather, has excellent color fastness, and — in my opinion — gets more beautiful over time. 

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These pieces have worked well for our lifestyle. Whether I’m biking through our errands, reading with West at the library, playing with the pups in the garden, visiting clients, or attending events, I’ve appreciated the comfort and versatility of them all. I plan to wear them year-round, and for years to come.

Reducing Air Travel

Reducing Air Travel

Less Shopping, More Time

Less Shopping, More Time