No spend month – take 2

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I’m so smug about this photo!

So in October 2016 I challenged myself to spend no money on clothes or items (see here for details of the rules, and here for my reflection on how it went at the end). Just over a year later and I’m back again with another one! Generally I think I’m in a better situation in terms of resisting consumerism and owning less, however I have to recognise that this is something I have struggled with and continue to struggle with. A regular check and yearly challenge can only do me good!

This time, I figured it was necessary as I’ve felt the Christmas shopping madness seep into my consciousness and I’ve been indulging myself in the thrill of buying new things for myself a lot more than usual. I recently watched this video by Minimalist Ninja about relapsing from minimalism, and it’s inspired me not to beat myself up too much and to get back on the horse! (is that a phrase? I use it all the time, so I hope so…)

So for the entirety of January I’m going to do the challenge! My rules are quite simple:

SPEND: food, drink, experiences, absolutely necessary toiletries

NO SPEND: clothes, items

Unlike last time, I’m going to document my progress a lot better in January, posting updates and excerpts from a diary I’ll be keeping specifically for when I’m struggling with the challenge (which will be often I assure you!)

Hopefully I’ll get more out of it and I can move forward with this thing. Hopefully someone will find my observations helpful. Alright, that’s enough for today 🙂

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5 Things this Monday…

Macaque Maintenance

  1. There’s a new documentary on Netflix advocating veganism and exploring the treatment of animals in farms- yes! Netflix is such a good source of documentaries and I can’t get enough of them 🙂 Check out the trailer here.
  2. The winners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest have been announced, and their pictures blew me away today. What better reason to want to save this beautiful planet…
  3. 10 ways to use a handkerchief! Tea towels and hankies are so useful for so many things! They really come into their own when you go zero waste, I love them.
  4. It’s probably too late for this year, but this article gives advice on what trees can be kept in pots outside then brought in for Christmas year after year, as well as tips on how to care for them. I’m definitely keeping this bookmarked.
  5. Buy Me Once has put together a review of reputable knife brands to find out which is the best. Could be a last minute gift idea or something to invest in with your Christmas money that’ll last a lifetime.

An Ethical Mobile Phone?

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I’ve been meaning to review my new smartphone for a few months now, but having read this article by the Guardian this morning on the conditions in Apple’s factories, I thought what better time than now..

I actually mentioned the Fairphone brand in my post on more environmentally-friendly technology, titled Green Your Tech. Today I’m going to cover the main advantages and disadvantages in more detail, as it’s been about 2 months since it arrived!

Ethical sourcing of materials + manufacturing

In my previous post, I talked about how Fairphone are the only phone manufacturer I am aware of that sources its materials fairly. Considering that the minerals used in phone manufacture are likely to be contributing to conflict in countries all over the planet (hence the term ‘conflict minerals’), this represents the only way to avoid profiting from and perpetuating that situation. Fairphone traces their materials every step of the way to ensure that they come from sources that are good for the planet and the people that collect them. For more information, see their policy here.

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Durability

Fairphones are modular and easy to take apart. The idea is that when one part of the phone reaches the end of it’s life or breaks, you can simply purchase the one faulty bit and replace it yourself, diverting a whole phone from landfill where it would usually end up. Normally when a phone breaks, it costs almost as much as the original purchase price to repair, or there is no option for repair and you have to buy new. Not only is there the option to repair a Fairphone, but because you can do it yourself, it ends up being quite cheap. What more incentive do you need! Considering the fact that I haven’t had a smartphone last longer than 2 years (due to the failure of one part or another), I’m optimistic about the Fairphone’s chances.

Usability

This is what probably most people have asked me: Does it perform to the standard of most smartphones these days? Before I discovered that an ethical phone was possible, I deemed it a necessary evil of modern living that I would have to buy a mobile made in questionable circumstances. My only real concern after that was how much quality I could get for my money. Being used to pretty good phones (my last 2 were a Galaxy Note 3 and a SONY Xperia Z2) I’m going to be honest and say that the Fairphone does feel like a downgrade. In most respects it performs like every other android I’ve had in the last few years (when I unlock my phone it is easy to forget that it isn’t any one of the previous 3 I’ve owned) except for in a few respects. You can tell by how light and toy-like (?) it feels to hold compared with ‘normal’ smartphones, that Fairphone aren’t equipped with the same resources available to their larger counterparts who would’ve been able to slim it down to about half it’s size and make it feel a little less like a toy or a prototype. This, and a few other minor luxuries, I can of course live without. My only real gripe is the terrible 12MP camera which doesn’t take any decent pictures of anything. I’m really hoping they come up with a better quality camera I can replace this one with in the future.

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Eco-credentials

Even before and during the buying process, I noticed some crucial differences in the way that Fairphone operates. Firstly, I was very pleased to learn that on their partner site The Phone Coop, there is an option to buy a refurbished Fairphone 2. Not only was I about to purchase the most ethical phone on earth, but I could get one that had already had some kind of life thus contributing to a circular economy, not to mention saving £80 off the RRP! Then, before adding the phone to your basket, they have an option to buy one with or without a charger. At this point, I was on another planet of happiness. The amount of times I’ve wished every new mobile didn’t have to arrive with those crummy earphones that break after a month or so and another charger for you to add to your collection I thought to myself as I clicked ‘Add to Basket’.

By the time my Fairphone arrived in ALL RECYCLABLE and NON PLASTIC packaging, it was like all my birthdays had come at once! Barring the screen protector film, all I was left with was a couple of bits of cardboard which I’m going to reuse and IT’S SO GOOD!

They even allow you to send your old phone back in for recycling, like, can it get any better than that?!

CONCLUSION

Fairphone have thought of everything. Here was me, patiently waiting for a phone that would either be modular, or come in recyclable packaging etc. and they’ve sorted pretty much everything! Literally the only drawback is that the camera is about five years in the past.

In terms of whether it’ll catch on, I think the standard and features of today’s smartphones are so high that it’d be difficult to convince someone to go backwards in that respect. However if you, like me, try to buy exclusively ethical and eco-friendly items and thought that a phone was one of those necessary evils then GUESS WHAT! This phone is for you! See the website and consider getting one when your current phone dies 🙂

Reaction to ‘Your convenience is irrelevant’

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So I saw this video come up on Gittemary Johansen’s Youtube Channel (great channel btw, do check it out for zero waste related awesomeness) and the title sounded provocative so I thought I’d write a quick commentary on the main points she covers..

 

“Everything worth doing is difficult” 

Agreed. Hands down.

 

“Convenience has become a really important value in our society” 

It’s so interesting that the concept of something being easier to get has grown into a virtue. Something being more easily available says nothing about the quality or ethics of its production, so it’s interesting that it has become in a lot of cases the ONLY guiding principle.

 

“Your time [has to] matter… all the time”

Convenience has a whole lot to do with time. Time has become its own currency in a way, and for many people, taking advantage of modern convenience is the only way to get everything done in the day. It will probably require you simplifying your life or prioritising zero waste over other areas if you want zero waste to work, or at least not feel like a mammoth task to you. (My review of In Praise of Slow is relevant here)

 

The difference between being wasteful and not, is a matter of “really small insignificant changes”

For the most part this is true. Most of the time it just means picking up a tote bag or a reusable bottle/cup etc. or buying a different brand/from a different shop. The harder part is changing your habits and going against the grain. It’s these two things (and particularly the latter) which make going zero waste more difficult to achieve. I suppose it still comes under the umbrella of convenience; it is socially inconvenient to have to explain yourself/argue with someone who is intent on giving you unnecessary disposable items. Preparation and repetition is key here.

 

“Those seconds… make the difference” 

I like this point that the video ends on: when it comes to making zero waste changes, we’re talking a matter of seconds or minutes difference. It is small, but they add up. Concentrating on the small changes one at a time stops you from being overwhelmed by the larger picture (I say as a reminder to myself as much as advice to anyone else!)

 

 

Thanks for reading!

5 Things this Monday

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Happy Monday folks!

  1. The Natural History Museum in London has committed to not selling plastic bottles, YESSS! Apparently the Oval Cricket Ground is to follow suit in the next few years, and it comes several months after Wetherspoons’ no straw decision. THE TIDE IS TURNING PEOPLE!
  2. This short article from Pebble gives tips on how to buy less and make more this Christmas. If, like me, you are tired of the consumer madness and fancy some Christmassy making sessions instead then take a read!
  3. I’d love to have a go at propagating mushrooms from the ends! It’s always fun to eat things you’ve grown yourself, and this is one I’ve yet to try.
  4. This letter from a mother to her vegan daughter made me think. For probably most vegans, it is difficult to stand by and watch people put their health at risk and contribute to animal cruelty etc. but the disintegration of a relationship like this is quite sad.
  5. It makes sense when you hear it aloud: Wasting time is psychologically important. It’s not healthy or conducive to productivity to always be doing ‘useful’ things. This article is well articulated.

Small efforts.

I’m back with a winter edition of Small efforts! Take a look at the things I’ve been doing recently…

 

  1. This dish brush was the first Redecker dish brush I ever bought, with the handle (see here) about 3 years ago now, in France! My life looks so different now, and I’ve since replaced the head, but I still have that original brush head and use it to clean my wellies and football boots. A tray of warm water and some elbow grease later and the boots are as clean as can be!

 

2. This bungee cord goes over the top of my bike basket to secure anything I put inside it. As you can see, it took a beating and the outer layer started deteriorating suddenly, exposing all the elastic. I was tempted to buy a brand new one when I thought ‘No! This is an easy fix! If there’s one thing I can do, it’s this.’ I looked in my ridiculous sewing stash and inevitably found some elastic thick and long enough to replace the bungee, and I’ve been using it for weeks 🙂

 

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3. Very excited to wear this dress over the Christmas season and beyond! I bought it in a charity shop about a month ago for a fiver (steal!) but it was a few sizes too big. I tried it on in the changing room to see whether it would be practical to alter and decided to go for it. I took the sides in by an inch or so, then elasticated the waist, and I’m really happy with the outcome! Definitely need to work on my altering skills because it’s a bit clumsy, but wearable nonetheless 🙂

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4. Normally, I either take my bike to the repair shop (money) or ask my boyfriend to sort my punctures (laziness). Last week, I was challenged by a friend to do it myself. You know what? It’s a bit of a faff, but it was easy enough! After repairing a whopping 3 punctures in one week (talk about a baptism by fire!) I figured the inner tube and tyre on my back wheel could do with replacing altogether. I have to admit, riding around on a bike you fixed yourself does feel pretty sweet!

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5. Last Christmas, I saved a significant amount of wrapping paper from gifts I received from and gave to my immediate family. This Christmas I’m using it again! Pretty much everyone in our house used brown/packing paper to wrap their stuff last year which was awesome because even the stuff I didn’t keep went into the recycling, but this time round I just have to root through my bag for something that fits! I even saved these gold and red trimmings so they’re not just plain. Very happy with how cute they look! #ZeroWasteWin