I’ve been feeling a little rubbish about myself and my commitment to living green (have you noticed by my lack of posting for FOUR months?!) I guess I feel like a bit of a hypocrite when my bin looks more like the average person’s than it ever has since I first started with this zero waste thing.
As always, there is a lot to be learned from going through hard times, some say you even learn more. And that means I can learn and pass on a few things, even if I’m not perfect (which is all the time by the way).
The little things DO matter
Much in the same way as getting out of bed is a struggle for me some days when I’m going through a rough patch in my mental health, saying no to a straw or a plastic bag can be a massive deal (and still is to me). God knows they make it hard to even do the little things without making trash; the amount of times I’ve requested a drink without a straw and before I know it they’ve plopped one in and it’s too late! I could go on, but you get the picture. This whole thing is hard. Cut yourself some slack and celebrate the little things.
It’s okay to fall from a high standard
In fact, it’s humbling. When you’re too perfect, you lose the ability to empathise with most people. Before I judge someone for eating meat or buying vegetables wrapped in plastic I can remind myself that I did exactly the same not too long ago. It doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it does mean we shift the focus back to improving ourselves and not focusing on everyone else. You have more influence like that anyway.
Take as long as you need
Sometimes we just need to take a breather. When you don’t even feel human, how can you expect to be your best self? If you’re struggling with mental or physical health, you need to do what you need to do to get your immediate needs met before you can concentrate on anything else. I’ve done a lot of beating myself up over waste I’m creating, but you know what, now I have perspective I can see that it’s just not gonna be a priority when you’re in a state like that.
It’s been a short and sweet post today, but I’m hoping this is the beginning of some regular-ish posting from me again. It’s something I’ve heard other zero waste bloggers say on a small scale, but I wanted to commit an entire post to it. This is the post I wish I’d read a while back. Please look after yourselves people.
I’m not gonna lie, technology is a hard one to get around. Without it, we wouldn’t create nearly as much energy waste as we do. And yet, we can’t live without it now (or at least I couldn’t). I thought I’d share a few ways that I know about, that can help to cut down on electrical/technology waste, that aren’t “change to LED light bulbs”…
Cor(d) Blimey! (I’m so sorry)
One of the many things that really bug me about chargers and earphones (Apple are the worst from my experience, but most phone brands tend to be terrible) is that the cords come loose at the base or split at some point after a few months. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of ‘planned obsolescence’: manufacturing a product to deliberately last only a few months or years. Nowhere is it more rife than in the technology industry. One way to avoid replacing these cords with yet more tat, is to invest in ones that are designed to last.
House of Marley – I bought a pair of /house of Marley earphones a few months ago and there’s no looking back now! The wire is covered in a fabric cord rather than the rubbery plastic tube they are usually enclosed in. Not only does this mean that it is likely to be more durable over time, but you don’t get those awful tangles every time you put them away! They use recycled materials and wood where they can as well, so that’s a plus.
Syncwire – my brother bought himself a pair of phone charging cords from this brand and I thought they looked cool with the mesh-like, thick casing around the wire. He told me they had lifetime warranty too and he needn’t say any more! I love products that guarantee themselves, because it says something about the quality. They do cords in a variety of lengths for Apple and micro usb port phones (most Androids).
As far as perfect solutions to the phone problem goes, there are next to none. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t try to resist the current trends and vote with our wallets.
Fairphone – this brand speaks to me on multiple levels. Firstly, they are basically the only brand I know of that sources its materials fairly. That in itself is amazing and commendable. Considering that the minerals used in phone manufacture are likely to be contributing to conflict in countries across the planet, hence the term ‘conflict minerals’, this represents probably the best way to show that you are against profiting from that situation. Besides that, 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 that one bit and replace it yourself, diverting a whole phone from landfill which is what usually happens. Normally when a phone breaks, it costs almost as much as the selling price to replace, or there is no option for repair and you have to buy new. Fairphone does things differently and restores the power back to the consumer and it’s awesome.
Another cheaper option is to buy a phone secondhand. Due to contracts, meaning that customers upgrade their phones annually or bi-annually (basically before it reaches the end of its shelf-life). technology moves fast, and the temptation to have the newest model is strong in much of the population. It’s just a waste of materials and energy and is a symptom of today’s consumerism which produces and sells new things at a rate that the planet can’t keep up with. You buying secondhand is obviously cheaper than buying new, and often you can find a phone with little to no problems (because it was likely just discarded due to an upgrade rather than fault). You would be using something already in circulation rather than encouraging the production of more new things. Here’s an example of a UK shop shelling refurbished phones.
A deceptively simple tip
buy only the gadgets you neeeeed – I used to have a phone, tablet and a laptop which was just silly. I’d also casually own a billion chargers and accept more willy nilly. There is no need to own more than one of something, and while we’re at it you probably don’t need all the gadgets you have. The less you have, the less you’ll need to use, charge and replace. Simple.
Cut down on that usage – I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of an internet addict. I check my phone way more than I should, and sometimes I just open my laptop and do absolutely nothing cos it’s comforting. But you know what else? Whenever I find myself checking Facebook more often or mindlessly surfing the web, I also realise that I am bored or sad or in some way dissatisfied. It’s emotional! Whenever I think ‘ooh Netflix will make this better’ I find myself 3 hours later feeling exactly the same (unless I watched something depressing in which case I feel worse!) I could’ve done something helpful like spoken to a human, gone for a walk, or read a book- all of which waste no energy or money, people- but that would’ve been too easy! Anyway, what I’m saying is I’m working on it, and you should too.
Unplug – when you go on holiday, unplug everything that doesn’t need to keep running while you’re away. Try plugging things in, or switching on the socket just for the time that you need whatever it is you’re using. The little things add up in money and energy terms. Same goes for just going to work, or out for the day; if you can unplug/switch it off without anything getting messed up, do it 🙂
Energy providers – Sorry, I live with my parents so I don’t know about all this stuff yet, but you can switch to renewable energy providers and it makes a big difference. You can make a substantial monetary saving whilst doing your bit and all it takes is switching providers and carrying on as normal! The easiest thing.
Rechargeable batteries – I know, who even uses batteries anymore?! (except people with children and/or TV remotes, so almost everyone) Rechargeable batteries used to be a faff, but you can get USB ones now! They’ll save you money, and they’re better for the environment than single-use ones.
Solar- my sister just got a solar-powered portable phone charger. She’s gonna try and see if she can power her phone off the sun alone. That’s awesome. Imagine using the sun to charge your phone forever! It’s free! I found this brand which seems good quality and is a B Corp, meaning it uses its power to do good in the world. The profits from Waka Waka solar chargers (above) are used to provide power to those who do not currently have the option of electricity worldwide. The price would make it a bit of an investment, but it would pay for itself after that…
Hi there! I’ve been doing some thinking recently (help us all!) and it occurred to me that through this new way of life I’ve been living the last few years, I’ve been able to participate in my own acts of resistance against things I wasn’t even aware of before. Here are a few ways I’ve been sticking it to the man…
cosmetics- don’t use shampoo, and only use 3 makeup items
I am resisting the advertisement industry that lies and profits from women’s insecurity, telling us that we need an eye cream, foot cream, nail cream, and a different soap depending on whether you are male or female. My hair and skin haven’t been softer since I ditched the products which whilst doing a job, make your body reliant on them for something it can do naturally.
clothes- buy only a few items of clothing as needed, from ethical brands and charity shops
Spanish brand ZARA for example churns out a crazy 52 (micro) seasons a year, averaging 12000 styles (the retail average is 3000). It’s just irresponsible to think you can produce so much and encourage people to buy more and more with the situation already in dire straights. I am resisting the over over over-consumption and prices so low that people pay for your clothes with their lives on the other side of the planet.
veganism- I choose not to eat animal products
I’ve had people personally offended that I don’t eat meat. I’ve even had people ask me how I can call myself Jamaican. I am aware that in some cultures meat is very embedded into the every day, but there is no reason why someone should have to condone an act they consider wrong to be a part of a culture. I’ve also been told that I am being rude or fussy when refusing food that someone of another culture has made for me because it has meat in it. I understand that for a lot of people, they don’t see or think about the process and simply see meat and animals as food. My intention is not to reject your generosity but rather to live by a principle that I think matters.
Also, something I haven’t had to experience as a woman, but that I have witnessed happen around me: the association of manliness with meat-eating. Who knows where it stems from; cavemen ideology, the preoccupation with protein and muscle-building, I can’t really comment. But as weak as the argument seems from someone liberated from the need to fit in with gender stereotypes, I have seen that in many people the need to perform their gender and what they consider to be essential components of their gender is a really strong pull.
I am resisting the association of meat-eating with culture or by being a mixed-race British person of Caribbean heritage who does not eat animal products. And as a woman I do not perpetuate the myth that to be strong, healthy, happy or fit in, it is necessary for any gender to do so either.
Yeah, so we got a little bit political today, but that’s okay! It’s important to remember that often things that are worthwhile and right, are not easy. Being aware of underlying influences in society is crucial to breaking their power and realising that they do not need to control you. Thanks for reading 🙂
Hello friends. I appreciate that it’s been a couple of months since my last post. When major changes happen in your life, sometimes it feels like you need to economise energy and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other! I’ve moved home from uni, worked a fantastic though hectic temporary job and am now through the other side. Having had the space to collect my thoughts and relax, I have the brainpower and sense of self that I was missing and I’m back for more Magical Blue shenanigans! Without further ado, let’s kick off with my old favourite, 5 things that caught my eye recently…
A company in Denmark rents out baby and child clothing to parents and I love the idea! Firstly it means that the clothes can be returned and reused by more children which is great for the environment, but it takes the hassle out of constantly shopping for it all! I really hope this is the future for many more countries.
Next up, the big news this week that France has planned to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040! I love this bold commitment, as it shows that France is prepared to lead the way or stand out on its own for the sake of the planet. They’re really investing in alternatives which is what needs to be done.
Being a reducetarian is a great way to get started on the road to better health, a lower environmental impact and a more ethical diet. I’ve spoken with many people who are of the opinion that if you can’t make a large difference, it’s not worth doing. Be it veganism, zero waste or even politics, a lot of people opt out of trying at all because what’s one person going to change? And also, it’s so tempting to want to be perfect from the off, that the thought of failure also discourages us. Being reducetarian just means reducing meat consumption at a level that is realistic to you. It could mean meatless Mondays, vegan until 6 or just cutting out one type of meat from your diet. I didn’t know what reducetarianism was, but before going vegan I cut down to only eating meat on weekdays, (I know!) then weekends before stopping completely. I can recommend the gradual approach 🙂
And lastly, how much easier would capsule/minimalist wardrobes be with these shoes?! The premise is that you buy one pair of shoes and can switch the heel height quickly and easily. For someone who very rarely wears heels, this would kind of solve the problem of having to have a pair just to use once or twice a year. It’s an interesting idea.
So I recently finished this amazing book. You know when you read or hear someone speak, and it puts into words all the fragmented thoughts you have about something and pieces them together, but even better than you could, ‘cause they have more information and understanding? Well this book did that to me.
Carl Honoré’s book follows him as he looks into ways that we can live more slowly, interviewing people and trying things out for himself to give his honest opinion. By slow, he doesn’t necessarily mean taking ages to do everything; he describes it more as a way of life, of making connections with people and what you’re doing. It’s about living at a pace that best serves the environment and us. I picked three sections of this movement that most stood out to me and commented on them…
Food plays an important role in the slow lifestyle. Looking at the current climate, it’s not difficult to see where we went wrong…
‘It is speed and convenience which have turned farming into the abusive, heartless place it is nowadays. Even plants are pumped with pesticides and synthetic fertilisers to boost and speed growth. Every scientific trick known to man has been deployed to cut costs, boost yields and make livestock and crops grow more quickly’
‘Produce is picked before it’s ripe, shipped in ice, then artificially ripened at the destination. This messes with the life-span, taste and quality of our food’
‘Two centuries ago, the average pig took five years to reach 130 pounds; today it hits 220 pounds after just six months and is slaughtered before it loses its baby teeth’
‘In 2003, researchers at Essex University calculated that British taxpayers spend up to £2.3 billion every year repairing the damage that industrial farming does to the environment and human health’
Reading this makes you realise that the rate at which food makes its way to our plates currently, is wreaking havoc on the planet, animals and our bodies. Buying and eating locally sourced food in season is part of living within nature’s speed and rejecting the constant availability of modern convenience. Investing in organic food and rejecting processed, GM food (as well as boycotting McDonalds and the like, who are known to fly in the face of efforts to responsibly produce food) are all massively important ways to vote with your money. Spending time waiting for the dishes to be prepared in the proper time it should take, enjoying the company, and not feeling rushed to leave a restaurant sounds amazing- it does require a mind shift however.
We are taught early on in life that time is money. Honoré writes that as soon as that link was made, a race was begun to maximise profit and cheat time. Ironically though, it does come with a cost. Many individuals and companies are learning that more time spent ‘working’ does not translate to better productivity. In fact, limiting working hours makes you more likely to be focused. The payoffs for working less hours include better wellbeing, more family time, freedom to commit to other interests, and time to reflect on work things so that you make better decisions when you are there. Coined downshifting, it is essentially about being ‘willing to forgo money in return for time and slowness’.
Small, local business ties in with this way of life. The larger the company, the more likely (generally) it is to become impersonal and strive for profit. With the world the way it is, it’s easy to forget or to downplay small business, but there is something to be said for being able to work at a manageable pace on a smaller scale, and still making enough to put dinner on the table.
‘Pleasure before profit, human beings before head office’
When it comes to free time, slow activities can reap a bunch of benefits. For instance, knitting is a personal hobby of mine and I’ve picked it up again recently with more determination than ever. I learned as a child to knit (thanks Mum!) but I have to say, I felt quite frustrated that my creations would never look very neat and that it took so long to see results. It’s tempting to only take up hobbies that yield instant results or that, to put it bluntly, aren’t very difficult. That way you can’t disappoint yourself and can create the illusion of being more productive. But the thing is, hobbies don’t need to be productive. What I now love about knitting is exactly what frustrated me about it as a child! I don’t stress about how long my projects are going to take, because I can enjoy the process and I know it’s going to take a while. The repetitive movement is therapeutic for me, and requires me to be absorbed in the process, allowing my subconscious to mull over anything I need to.
Reading is another gem of a practice to weave into your every day. Taking as little as 10 minutes to read a book can calm me a hundred times more than several hours of Netflix-watching could. It has made a huge difference to my wellbeing in recent months. Even reading In Praise of Slow and taking notes on it for this blog post has deepened my appreciation of the content. I was forced to stop and consider every section carefully which allowed me to reflect on the points, work out which ones resonated with me, and decide how i might make changes in my life.
That is by no means an exhaustive list of slow leisure activities- beit writing, exercising, gardening or sitting in cafes… whatever it is that makes you happy, that you can focus on, that you enjoy so much you don’t care how long it takes, sounds like a winner. You deserve to give yourself enough time to practice those hobbies, because they are just as important as your job.
The main point I’ll be taking away from this book is that things take as long as they take; you just have to accept that. If it’s important enough, you will be able to ‘justify the time’ and won’t begrudge yourself those activities. As a consequence, I’m especially invigorated to spend more time in the kitchen preparing food, making and growing things myself. That way I can connect to my food, be healthier and appreciate the length of time it takes to grow things.
It’s also made me think about who I want to be, and what I’m going to have to compromise in order to achieve that life. I don’t want to be someone always thinking of buying things. I don’t want to be surrounded by stuff. I want to spend my money on food and experiences, and I want to have the option of working less hours because I would rather have more time than money. So that means I’m going to have to keep struggling with that constant itch to spend and consume.
Sorry this post was so long! This was the very edited-down version! As you can tell, I enjoyed it 😛 I would highly recommend In Praise of Slow, and would love to hear what you think about it, and what other areas struck a chord with you.
Writing posts seems to be beyond me recently, my head space is not really ideal. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped trying. Here are some little ways in which I’ve been trying to be healthier, happier and better to the planet in the last week or so…
Not zero waste (weetabix came in cardboard and paper, raspberries in a plastic punnet) but I’ve been feeling pretty down this week and eating well has helped no end. I made this insanely yummy stew the other day that had 7 vegetables, 2 types of lentils and filled me up like you’d never believe! At least my body can be happy and I don’t have the added burden of feeling so sluggish.
My student loan came and I invested in some good tech that should last longer than the rubbish cables you get with your phone which are designed to last approximately 5 minutes. These House of Marley earphones are made from FSC certified wood, have fabric covered cords for durability I love them.
In my quest to lead a slower, more conscious life, books are making a comeback. Reading calms me down in a way a million Netflix shows couldn’t come close to doing. And the same goes for knitting (another hobby I’m pouring time into at the moment). There’s something about committing yourself to the process and being completely absorbed which I’m only really learning the true value of now.
A selfie?! On my blog?! I know, I know- but how else do I talk about my crazy hair! Chopping it all off was the best decision I ever made for its health, but the growing out process has been long. A year and a half in, and I can put it up in a ponytail, but I mainly just leave it to do its thing (above). I like the way it does whatever it likes, and watching how my natural, untamed hair in its full glory.
Yes people. It’s all very well trying to buy environmentally friendly fabrics, and not use animal products, but it all means nothing if you’re still buying into businesses that effectively use slave labour. (That was a bit more direct than I thought it would be, but there’s nothing like a little harsh truth!) As it’s Fashion Revolution week, and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, I figured it might be good to share something.
Now I’m an advocate of the largely secondhand wardrobe, because not only does it contribute to good in the world, (if it comes from a charity shop you are making a donation to their work) but it means that instead of garments going on a one-way path to the garbage heap, they become part of a loop economy. Products that can be used again by someone new, avoid the fate of landfill and all the horrible dangers associated with it. When you buy secondhand you don’t require anything to be made from scratch in a factory, so no energy is wasted to create it. There’s enough already in existence to mean we shouldn’t need to buy very much completely new! It can go round and round the loop until it can’t be used any more!
However, sometimes you can’t be searching high and low for things. Also, there’s something to be said for encouraging and supporting ethical businesses with our money. So without further ado, here is a list of ethical clothes manufacturers on my radar…
First up, a petition! Let’s show the supermarkets that we as the consumers do not want our produce smothered in plastic. Sign this petition and share it with your family and friends- let’s do this.
A London cafe has ditched dairy after watching a 5 minute video on the dairy industry called ‘dairy is scary’. They put the above poster in their front to explain why. It’s so exciting to see companies taking action after educating themselves 🙂
I have finally started using this search engine that I heard about a little while ago. They plant trees with the money raised from ads. I’ve only used it for one day and they are committed to planting 8 trees on my behalf- talk about an easy way to do something awesome for the planet! See this video for more on how it works…
Looking for a zero waste alternative to hair gel? Well look no further! This amazingly easy recipe requires only flax seeds and boiling water. And that’s not even the best part- you can use the seeds again and again before composting them!
If you’re based in the UK you will no doubt be familiar with many of these restaurant chains. Fun fact: they all have vegan options and some even have a whole menu. YIPPEE!
Hello! As you may have been able to tell from my recent posts, the bathroom has been an area I’ve been concentrating on. I’ve reduced my toiletries, found zero waste alternatives to lots of products, and I’d say the process of ‘transition’ is nearly over. I haven’t had to chuck anything away from the bathroom in… well I don’t remember the last time. Except there is one thing we chuck away several times a day without batting an eyelid- or maybe a better term would be flush away.
I haven’t bought baby wipes or flushable wipes since I started striving for zero waste, and to be honest, it’s not too hard to live without. It was always a luxury. I find that if ever I do feel the need for one, a few drops of water from the tap onto a folded piece of loo roll does the job.
In terms of actual loo roll, I either buy recycled toilet paper from the supermarket wrapped in plastic, or if I have the time to get to another shop, Ecoleaf recycled paper in recyclable packaging. That was until I read a few posts on it and realised that using reusable toilet paper didn’t actually sound that bad!
Let me get a few things straight. Reusable toilet roll is not just keeping dirty toilet paper or anything like that. It is actually fabric, which you use once and then stick in the wash. Also, I’ve decided to only deal with no.1’s using reusable wipes because cleaning no.2’s off is beyond me at the moment, so it’s regular loo roll for that. If you think about it, it’s the same principle as using a handkerchief really, and to be honest I’ve taken to it with as much ease!
I bought my rainbow coloured bamboo wipes from Cheeky Wipes and they arrived a couple of weeks ago. My first impression was that they are SUPER SOFT! Forget toilet paper, this is living in luxury! The best way to describe them would be a thin, soft flannel. I have read in other reviews of reusable toilet paper that on the occasions when people have to use ‘normal’ loo roll again (when out or on holiday etc.), that it feels rough- I can definitely see how this could become the case for me!
It takes a bit of time to get used to reaching for the wipes rather than the paper, (I still occasionally do that, it is a lifetime’s habit after all!) and then there is coordinating when to wash them in order to always have a supply. I picked coloured wipes rather than white because I do colour washes way more often than whites and can just stick them in the machine at the same time.
Considering that no.1’s are the majority of toilet trips, I reckon I’m going to be saving quite a bit of money, energy and resources which is pretty cool! Reusable loo roll has been on my radar so to speak for quite a long time, but I only recently allowed myself to consider it an option due to misconceptions I had. I would recommend researching it- you don’t have to be a hippy, and it doesn’t make you dirtier or require a whole load more time or energy. Get on it people! This is something I never thought I’d do, but I have to say, I’m sold.
I know what you’re thinking, of all the interesting books out there I chose to read about tidying, but hear me out! The first time I heard mention of this book, I thought this is not for me. I, like the next person, want to be tidy but I’ve tried following rules and systems and yet I still find myself surrounded by mountains of stuff on a regular basis. But over time I heard snippets of Marie Kondo’s approach and I became so intrigued that I looked into it- and the rest is history! I read this book in less than 5 days. I am a slow reader, so that’s really saying something.
There is so much helpful detail in this book that I couldn’t possibly try and summarise it (some people have though, so give it a Google search if you want a better idea of what the method involves) but I thought I would just pick out the points that really spoke to me.
The simplified premise of the KonMari method is this: if it sparks joy, keep it. What I love about this is that it focuses on the keeping rather than the discarding side of decluttering. I found the process to be a lot more successful and less stressful than my previous decluttering attempts because I had the goal in mind of looking back over my possessions at the end and knowing I only have what I love. What sparks joy. I also think it’s great that Marie Kondo set the bar so high. She didn’t say keep it if you think it might come in handy, or because someone gave it to you and you feel guilty chucking it, or even because you like it. When you judge things on whether or not they bring joy, you are forced to be more ruthless and confront the reasons you might be holding onto things that you don’t want. The interesting thing is that having only what sparks joy might mean a large library or make-up collection for some, and the bare minimum of just about everything for others; it means different things for different people which is why it works.
When I started the book, it struck me that Marie would talk about possessions almost as if they were people. As a (sometimes) sceptical person, my initial reaction was to think she’d gone too far (part of me still thinks she is a bit too airy fairy and a few of her theories I couldn’t get on board with) but the sentiment behind it is what I love. For instance, she makes a point of thanking her clothes at the end of each day and encourages people to thank the possessions that they no longer want before discarding them. This is a really nice way of being more conscious and weaving gratitude into the every day. Also, thanking items for serving their purpose- be it for helping you realise that impulse buys are a terrible idea, or for serving you every day for years- means that you can let them go without the guilt. Kondo devotes a part of the book to folding clothes. Again, I thought how tedious when I first heard about it, but it all ties in to the gratitude thing. The practice of treating your possessions with respect and care will make them last longer and you will value them more.
Marie Kondo recommends decluttering and sorting your home all at once (or as quickly as possible). Turning your space from what it was, to the ideal environment in less than a month means that you get a more dramatic sense of how much better the end result is. This means you’re more likely to keep it that way (plus you won’t get bored or disheartened part-way through the process and give up).
The book encourages you to think about what kind of life you want before starting the decluttering. For instance, if it’s important to you to have enough space to have people stay with you, or to have as few possessions as possible because you like to travel, these goals are really good to have as a motivation when you do get round to it. One of my goals was to have a small collection of clothes and toiletries for travelling and simplicity. It makes me happy to look at what I have and know that it fits with the life I want to lead.
I really enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to go and sort through my room at home, just like I did at uni. I would highly recommend The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up as I believe it to be a very well-tested and practical method that can be adapted to suit anyone.