Rachel Dolecheck

www.racheldolecheck.com

central park, nyc

For anyone who doesn’t know, I made a brave decision to move to the NJ/NY area, and I have officially survived this crazy place for three weeks now. Some days are better than others, but overall, it has been life changing. I have, however, learned so much about this foreign world that I wanted to share with anyone who might be curious.

So here are my amateur NY tips for anyone who wants to know or wants to be wild like me and move up here straight out of college. Starting from most important lol.

  1. There is no good mexican food here. NONE. No happy hour margaritas. No queso. No El Paso. Ugh the list goes on.

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    You’ll start to really appreciate gauc tho

  2. However, the pizza is on point. Always.
  3. With the pizza being so good, I may or may not of gained a few pounds. But, you’ll most likely walk everywhere so you’ll have kick ass legs after a few weeks.
  4. Subways are the scariest thing ever. Or maybe I’m just dumb. Refer back to 3. – I walk. a lot.
  5. Moving so far away, you can truly start over. Forget the past. Forget the horrible people and delete any negative person in your life.

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    You’ll be so happy that you’re glowing. Ok maybe it’s just too much highlight, but you get the point.

  6. People are actually so kind. The stereotypical northerner does not exist, and they all think southern accents are cute so I’m actually winning.
  7. The wind is the worst thing my hair and I have ever experienced.
  8. The views are great though, and you’ll never get tired of seeing something new in the city.

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    Like the snow and the beautiful buildings.

  9. Everything isn’t actually that expensive, but don’t go shopping in Soho. All I gotta say.
  10. Lastly, always be confident and never let your guard down especially when you’re alone in the city.
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Having a friend does make everything so much better tho 🙂

Most importantly, moving so far away is like living in a world you never knew existed. Sure we see the city in movies and shows, but actually experiencing it is a totally different story. My advice to anyone who is eager to get out of their small town – DO IT. Do not even think twice. You will grow, prosper, and learn that there are so many bigger, better opportunities than your small hometown has to offer. It’s been a journey these first few weeks, but it’s a journey I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Have a great day loves and stay warm. ❤

-R

Unsplash image of plastic bags

Some of you may know of Plastic Free July or if you are like me, you are just hearing about it this year. I learned about Plastic Free July at the start of the month, and it’s basically a global movement that started in 2011 as an initiative to eliminate single-use plastic and help to create a plastic free world. While a world that is completely plastic free is quite unrealistic at this time, it still motivated me to think about my plastic usage and reduce my waste when I can. And the best part about Plastic Free July is that it’s the start of a movement that we can all continue even after the month ends.

A little background on how single-use plastic is affecting our environment and health:

Did you know that plastics are contributing to climate change from the very beginning of their life cycle to the end? Brooke Brauman wrote for Yale Climate Connections, “Oil, gas, and coal are the fossil-fuel building blocks of plastics. Companies drill wells into the ground until they hit a rock layer, then turn 90 degrees and drill horizontally. Injecting sand, chemicals, or water breaks up the rock to release gas and oil, which are transported to other facilities via pipelines, trains, and trucks.” That statement, in particularly, struck me because I was completely unaware of the full plastic life cycle before doing this research.

This extraction and transportation of fossil fuels releases an estimated 12.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Extracting and transporting the natural gas is then used to create feedstocks for plastics in the United States. Land disturbance also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions associated with extractions with an estimated 1.68 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere.

This statement basically means we are “taking all of the carbon from the trees and soils and removing that from the earth and introducing it to the atmosphere” said Matt Kelso, a manager of data and technology at FracTracker Alliance, which is a nonprofit that addresses the extractions concerns in the U.S.

Fast forward to the actual use of plastic: around 40 percent alone is used for packaging. Which will lead me straight into my first Plastic Free July initiative.

Conscious grocery shopping

Conscious grocery shopping is so important for our environment and super easy to do. Less than 14 percent of the nearly 86 million tons of plastic packaging produced globally each year is recycled, while the rest end up in our landfills or are incinerated. Waste incineration is the largest contributor to climate change of the three options, and it is an overall vast environmental injustice around the world. According to the CIEL report, U.S. emissions from plastics incineration in 2015 were 5.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. On top of these effects to our environment, incineration facilities are disproportionately built near communities of color and low-income populations (79% of them to be exact), which leaves workers and people near the facilities at risk to exposures.

My most recent farmer’s market trip I took.

Something I’ve done this Plastic Free July to combat these effects to our environment, is shop locally, package-free, at the local Jersey City Farmer’s Market. All you need is your reusable grocery bag and a creative chef mindset for some delicious plant-based recipes. Of course I still do buy some plastic grocery packaging, but the effort taken is what counts in my mind. 🙂

Reusables

Another plastic usage I knew I needed to reduce was my plastic cup/straw intake and an easy fix to this is reusables. I love my coffee runs, I can’t lie, but there are definitely ways to reduce your waste when getting your favorite coffee every once in awhile. I finally purchased some metal reusable straws and responsibly recycle all my plastic cups. I also use my reusable coffee cup when possible and always use my Swell or Yeti water bottle for my daily water intake.

This is a reusable jar I painted and now keep my metal straws.

Something important to remember about recycling is that less than 14 percent of plastic actually gets recycled. Of that, only 2 percent of plastic is recycled into the same products and 8 percent is “down-cycled” into something of lesser quality. There are also 7 different kinds of plastic that are marked accordingly on each product, and generally numbers 1, 2 and 5 are the easiest ones to recycle. Anything else is usually disrupting the recycling process, which puts a huge responsibility on the facility workers to sort out the waste.

Menstrual products

Women’s menstrual products are actually a huge contributor to plastic pollution in the world. In 2018, 5.8 billion tampons were sold in the U.S. with the majority of them ending up in the landfill as plastic waste. Tampons flushed down the toilet can also end up in oceans when sewer systems fail (Borunda, National Geographic). Plastic waste in women’s menstrual products has been an ongoing issue, with exciting alternatives that have surfaced in recent years: the period undies and the menstrual cup.

Sanitary items information on plasticfreejuly.org

I decided to try out the period undies that I see Instagram ads for on a daily basis. These panties hold up to 4 regular tampons and are washable and completely reusable. On average, women use about 3 tampons a day with a cycle lasting around 5-7 days. During my last cycle, I eliminated 80% of my plastic waste from tampons with these amazing, comfortable period undies. The other alternative is a little silicon cup, called the flex cup, which I plan on trying next month. Overall these alternatives are combatting amazing efforts against plastic waste from menstrual products.

That’s it for my guide to Plastic Free July, and while plastic free living definitely seems difficult, knowing how much a difference I can make alone motivates me. If I can take the effort, I believe anyone can! Education is such an empowering tool, and I only hope to continue learning to help make this world a better place.

Did you contribute to Plastic Free July? If so, what did you do? 🙂

-R

If you have time, I highly suggest reading this article about How plastics contribute to climate change by Brooke Bauman from Yale Climate Connections or this National Geographic article about how tampons and pads became so unsustainable.

Other references:

Plastic Free July

Plastic waste is everywhere in grocery stores. Can they cut down?

How much plastic actually get recycled?

Nearly 80% of US incinerators located in marginalized communities, report reveals

Cozy apartment corner

And on a budget at that.

After living in the same space for a little over a year, I think I finally have it decorated the way I want. I’m hard to please if you can’t tell.

I wish I could find a photo of my apartment when I moved in because she’s really come a long way. The first piece that really brought my space together was this amazing sofa I found on the street just as my neighbors were putting it out. The story of getting this bad boy into my space could be a whole other blog post (sorry Matt), but this sofa really found a home in my apartment. While I’m also working from home indefinitely, it has served as my desk, napping station, and morning coffee spot. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to give it up.

Behind the sofa is my retro wall collage that I’ve been working on for about a year. The process was slow but only to ensure I added the most meaningful pieces. It started with this iconic Vogue cover that was actually here when I moved in. I then added a vintage owl painting my grandmother gave me, a few thrift finds, and a Jersey City print that I bought at a local boutique. My adored album covers were the finishing touches to really bring the whole look together. I mean who doesn’t love Stevie? ❤

Finally getting the recognition they deserve, meet Hank and Ernie, aka the spotlight of my bed area. 🙂 This area honestly took a lot from me. I’ve moved night stands around, changed the wall behind the bed at least 5 times, and finally have it the way I want. I had this frame for quite some time and never knew what I wanted to put in it until I decided to make this collage that exemplifies so much for me and something I’m actually quite proud of.

The two side tables is what I struggled most with, but ultimately I decided to make one very simple and the other a cozy spot where my record player and my sad plant (I still have hope) can live.

I also made this yin yang from an old sauce jar and nothing has made me happier. 🙂

And last but not least, my biggest project yet – my kitchen station. This island started out in the middle of my apartment to serve as a dinner table, and it slowly got pushed to the side to free up more space. Since we’ve been quarantined, I decided to really jazz her up and give her a real purpose. My actual kitchen space is tiny measuring at only 5.4ft wide. The coffee maker and toaster were originally in that area, but I knew I needed more space for dishes and to cook. So that’s when the kitchen station become more of a reality. With a little help from amazon, I found this amazing shelf that can be lengthened or shortened to bring the look together.

To come to conclusions, I think my space finally makes me happy because of how personal it has become. My framed wall collage means so much to me, there are little pieces of my family, and all my thrift finds that are giving items a brand new home. Decorating is a beautiful process that takes time and if you strategize, you can do it on a very small budget. 🙂

-R

rainbow wall art

*Disclaimer* This post is not directed towards anyone or group in particular. It is simply just my thoughts put into words. 🙂

We are officially halfway through 2020 and these first six months have honestly felt like years. We are still facing a global pandemic, yet half of the world is acting as if it’s over. We are fighting for racial equality and we are mourning the thousands of deaths that have occurred from both difficulties.

In my last post I wrote to treat others the way you’d want to be treated. In other words, follow the Golden Rule. It seems, however, following a simple rule may not be enough for most people so I thought I would write out some steps that could be helpful for anyone struggling with kindness this year or knows someone who might be struggling with it. All I have ever wanted to do is spread kindness and love so I truly hope I’m able to make the slightest difference with this blog.

My first step I want to present is the simple idea of canceling your judgment.

I believe no one should ever judge a person based on their appearance and while the color of someone’s skin may come to mind first (as it should), I also mean we shouldn’t judge a person based on the color of their hair, the amount of tattoos or piercings on their body, the size of their body, and especially not their sexual orientation. Let’s try to take a step back this year and stop judging people for reasons that don’t involve your personal life. When we judge someone, especially in public, it is very easy to offend that person by simply making a face, comment, or even by your body language. Human beings have the right to express themselves whether it is with what someone may consider art on their body or the person they choose to love. We never truly know what a person is going through and because of that, it is not our position to make the judgments based merely on outside looks.

That way of thinking should never be accepted, which ultimately leads to my next point of minding your own business (ugh I tried to type that as nice as possible). We each are given our own life to live and that’s truly a beautiful thing. At the end of the day, you matter and your life matters. Sometimes it’s important to once again, take a step back and worry about yourself and your mental and emotional health, and stop worrying about everyone else so much. Now I know some people might say, “Well worrying about others is a kind thing” and yes that is correct. But it’s the situations where you don’t belong that can be detrimental to another person’s life. Worrying about other people by judging them or making assumptions never has a positive outcome. So next time you see something happen that you may think you need to be involved in, think twice about if you actually do. Think twice about if the situation could somehow be misconstrued because you decided you needed be involved.

To wrap things up here, my last step in how to be kind is to take everything from above and think twice about what comes out of your mouth, what you post on social media, and even the thoughts you may have about a person. Now I know this one may be hard for some people (including me), but even your negative thoughts have a greater likelihood to turn into hurtful words. As it was stated above, forming an opinion on something or someone you don’t really know anything about is one of the most harmful things you can do to another person. We are all guilty in some way or another of forming these opinions on people who may look or act in a different way than you are used to. These are mere opinions that can truly do so much more harm than you would ever realize. And I write this because I have been fallen in these categories way too many times of judging someone or thinking negative thoughts for absolutely no reason.

Its human nature to negatively judge someone based on the way they look, but this year I say we try and change that. Of course this won’t happen overnight, but if we can work hard enough to alter our thoughts and actions, I truly believe the world can be a much better place.

Spread kindness, not hate.

Practice acceptance.

It’s okay to have an opinion, but try to understand when stating your opinion aloud, it can be extremely hurtful to another person. And when you do state your opinion out loud, understand that the other person can very well have a completely opposite opinion, and that is also okay.

Let’s make the ending half of 2020 the year of acceptance, understanding, and ultimately kindness.

Until next time,

-R

Click here to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor.

Justice for Elijah McCain.

To all the white girls I spent time with in Louisiana that have been completely silent on the racial issues happening in the world, I want you to know that I hear you, and I understand your silence.

Growing up white in the South especially as a female is the definition of white privilege. Your best friend just got a new dress? Good news because your mom will most likely buy you a cuter more expensive dress because it’s important to be pretty and wealthy in the South. You are never and I repeat never allowed to hang out alone with a black boy and even worse if you date one. I’ve seen people in the South complain about black people for literally being black.

And the reason for this silence is simply because of how we were raised in regards to racism. It’s because growing up in the South, you are taught to think most black people are violent, criminals, and ignorant. But it makes sense right? Slavery started in the South. Slavery STILL happens in the South.

To the farmers that have black men working for them doing their dirty work, you are part of this problem. You need to do better. To the lazy high school coaches who teach history, you need to do better. To the girls who were taught to be racist, you truly need to do better.

We are literally living through history and now is not the time to be silent unless you associate with being a racist, which I don’t think anyone would ever want to admit to.

But remember, I hear your silence and I understand. It’s hard. You don’t want to disappoint your family or friends. You are scared to maybe say the wrong thing. You don’t want to be judged. I’ve had every single thought you are probably having right now, but it takes one black friend to make you see life a little differently. And I thank God every day for bringing my black friends into my life because I truly would not be where I am writing this today without them.

Change starts with us. Change starts with us educating our parents on racism. It’s time to start having the conversation about racism. It’s time to take a step back and truly educate ourselves on black history and black oppression in America. Black oppression that continues to happen today. And let’s be honest, we did NOT get a good black history education growing up in the South. It’s time to stop claiming you’re not racist by saying things like “I don’t hate all black people” or “There are some good black people in the world.”

And you don’t have to post on social media to make yourself feel better about the situation. You don’t have to post at all, but you do need to be having these conversations with the people around you. The people that actually listen and value your opinion. Have conversations about racism with people who’s opinion you may have the power to change.

I am trying to do my part in spreading awareness to the people that I know need it the most, and I know that’s not enough. So if you want to do your part, but don’t know where to start, here are is a book I recently ordered to help me understand black oppression and racism in America (especially within children), and I plan to order a new one once I’m finished. I’m also adding a whole list of books for white people specifically to read on racism. You don’t like to read? Here’s a list of Netflix shows to watch on Black History.

It’s time educate ourselves and to use our white privilege to help people of color. It’s time to demand equality and ask yourself questions like “why am I apart of a sorority that doesn’t let black girls in” it’s up to you to make that change. Ask yourself “why am I not allowed to date a black guy” it’s up to you to have that conversation and make a change with the way our parents think. Ask yourself “Why am I supporting black musical artists but not the black lives taken by the police.” It’s time to demand diversity training in the workplace, in schools, in your sorority, etc.

We’ll never understand what it’s like to be a black person in America, but we can spread kindness and not hate. It’s time to treat other human beings the way you would want to be treated. It’s simple. Treat black people, trans people, gay, Asian, Hispanic, Islamic, etc in a way you would want to be treated back. We are all human and we all have our struggles, but it’s time we truly come together and attempt to make this world a better place because right now, it’s falling apart.

And as Jane Elliott said so well, “Every white person in this room who would be happy to be treated as this society treats our black citizens please stand.” And no one stood. Why is that? 

No one is perfect, but change truly starts with us. And if this triggered you, great. It means there’s room to grow and learn and evolve.

-R

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