Review: In Praise of Slow

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Wow. So edgy and original.

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…

 

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This is why I love market day.

FOOD:

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.

 

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Yep. Not relevant in any way. Just a picture of my cat.

WORK:

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’

 

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That time I drew a robin.

LEISURE:

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.

 

MY CONCLUSIONS:

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.

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Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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My underwear all neatly organised- HOW SATISFYING!

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.

No poo.

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February 2017

I was going to wait until my shampoo bar ran out until I tried going without, but I found I started thinking about it more and more to the point where I couldn’t wait to ditch the products! I’m pretty sure I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner since at least the beginning of November, so it’s been at least 4 months. Let’s talk about No Poo 🙂

No Poo is short for no shampoo. Some people interpret this as only using sulphate-free shampoo, bar soap, or bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. I heard about water-only no poo washing and it appealed to me for its simplicity. When I travel that’s one less thing I need to bring with me!

The premise is that your hair produces sebum (oil) naturally. This method simply uses what nature produces to replace the need for shampoo and conditioner. What you normally do with conventional hair products is strip the oil from the scalp with shampoo, then replace moisture to the middle and tips of the hair with conditioner. By running water and scrubbing your scalp, then distributing the sebum down the hair shaft, you can remove oil from the scalp and moisturise and soften the rest of your hair without any products.

Method:

  1. Before jumping in the shower, de-tangle your hair with your fingers (preferable) or a comb/brush.
  2. Rub your finger tips against your scalp to warm and mobilise the sebum for 1-5 minutes.
  3. Run your fingers from your root down your hair to distribute the sebum down the hair shaft.
  4. In the shower, stand under warm/hot water and continue to run your fingers down your hair. You should be able to feel the oil spreading down away from the root and towards the middle/ends.
  5. When you are finished, lean over so your head is upside down and saturate your hair with cold water then turn the shower off.
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This kinda sums up the state my hair was in before. Dry, dry, dry, and only really curly at the ends.

A couple of years ago my hair was pretty damaged from bleach and hair-dye and I didn’t treat it too well. Since I shaved it completely in October 2015 and transitioned from a shampoo bar to water-only, I am amazed by the difference in texture. My hair has never felt softer, healthier or more curly- I love it!

Advice:

Water-only hair washing relies on sebum, so I would say if you’re used to using conventional shampoo and/or washing your hair more than twice a week, consider transitioning first. Purchase a sulphate-free shampoo or shampoo bar and use that for a while. If you wash your hair a lot, try cutting down by one wash every week (3 times this week, two times next week etc.) until you are only washing your hair once a week or once a fortnight. It is completely possible to go straight to water-only from washing your hair a lot, but you will more than likely go through a greasy stage which wouldn’t be too fun.. I washed my hair at best once a week before I started water-only and I took to it basically straight away, but everyone’s different so stick at it if you’re struggling at first!

The picture at the top of the post is what my hair typically looks like a day after a wash. For reference my hair type is 3B (see here for more info). I have seen people of all hair types use this method, but it might take some adapting. By all means do your research and find someone with similar hair on Youtube or the web who’s done it successfully for tips that suit you.

**UPDATE 10/09/2017**

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August 2017

So, by this point it’s been about 10 months of ‘no poo’ and I know my hair so well! I know what it needs, I am set in my routine, it is easy and simple enough that I know I’ll stick with it, and I’d say my hair is looking reminiscent of my early teens before I started messing about with dye and heat. Except I think it’s even healthier than that, because I’m not even using chemical-laden shampoos and conditioners now!

If one thing is true about me, it’s that I am lazy! So naturally my routine has pretty much halved. This is the updated routine…

  1. Before jumping in the shower, de-tangle your hair with your fingers (preferable) or a comb/brush.
  2. In the shower, stand under warm/hot water and continue to run your fingers down your hair for 2-5 minutes. You should be able to feel the oil spreading down away from the root and towards the middle/ends.
  3. When you are finished, lean over so your head is upside down and saturate your hair with cold water then turn the shower off.

So as you can see I’ve sort of cut out the middle steps because I found it’s not really necessary for my hair. I never get oily, and my hair has settled into the new normal. Even after doing sports and being sweaty and muddy the water-only method works just fine. If my hair is very dirty from something I would just spend a bit longer in the shower working my fingers through the affected areas until satisfied.

Water only face washing

 

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So moody haha.

Hullo. So, for about a year now, I’ve been using water only on my face. If you told me a few years ago that I would now be leaving my face completely alone to do WHATEVER IT WANTS (!) I would’ve been very sceptical to say the least. My skin, from pretty much the day of my 13th birthday was spotty. More than averagely spotty. It did get a bit better as I got older but I still suffered into my late teens. I tried all the face washes and creams and even got prescribed this horrible roll-on thing from my doctor which admittedly did sort out the problem, but made my face so dry that I decided I’d rather go back!

I didn’t notice a significant change until I went vegan. A few months into my new, healthy diet (I decided whilst cutting out animal products, to actually pay attention to what I put in my body and up the wholefoods) I noticed that the problem areas I still had left were clearing up. Nowadays I would say my face is manageable. I still get the occasional one or two, but it’s no longer a concern. My skin feels on the whole quite healthy.

I don’t have a routine as such for washing my face. I’ll normally wet it when I’m in the shower (so around 4 times a week) then any other time if it feels too oily I use cold water. If I notice dryness or dead skin, I give my face a brush in small circular motions either whilst dry followed by a water wash, or I rub the wet brush over a bar of soap and apply to my face then water wash.

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my face brush on the far left

Unlike some branded face washes, this method doesn’t in itself hold the answers. In other words, it won’t sort out your face if it isn’t already healthy. Here are some tips for going water-only…

Eat well– lots of fresh produce, less refined sugars and oily foods. Basically eat healthily. I really notice a difference in the oiliness of my skin and usually break out after I’ve eaten badly. If you are eating well and you still have a significant problem, it’d be worth seeking advice from an expert in nutrition because certain foods affect people differently.

Drink water– same as above; water has a dramatic effect on the clearness of skin. Drinking water helps expel what your body no longer wants and fuels it to function like it’s supposed to.

Exercise– if your diet is half of the picture, exercise is the other. It all comes together and helps all the processes in your body run smoothly. You’d be surprised how getting a sweat on helps you look brighter and healthier!

phase out soaps– This stage will differ from person to person depending on what your skin has become used to. I would advise transitioning gradually though, because that way you won’t have to go through a period where your skin has to adapt to an extreme change, which could make it unpredictable. Find something a more natural version of what you usually buy in the supermarket. When that’s finished, switch to a soap bar. Then start cutting down on the number of days a week you wash your face with soap and use just water instead.

Avoid touching skin– This one is a struggle for me, especially when I’m stressed, but the less you touch your face the better. Every time you touch it you are making it dirty, so try to refrain as much as possible. Then when you do want to touch it, wash your hands first. I’ve noticed a change in my skin since I’ve been making an effort to leave it alone.

Learn what is normal for you– now that I have no products on my skin, I can feel what state it’s in, I know how my food affects it, and I have the instinct to know what it needs and when. Pay attention to what it’s doing and try and find out why. The better you know you’re skin, the better you’ll be able to give it what it wants.

**UPDATE 10/09/2017**

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August 2017

As you can see from the above picture, I am not spot-free. Ditching soaps and creams was not a magical solution to all my skin problems, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s not all I wanted. It would’ve been too simple for everything to clear up just like that.

Saying that, I don’t experience anywhere near the same amount of oiliness or angry spots that I used to get. When I do break out nowadays, the spots are less aggravated, they clear up more quickly, and I can often attribute them to being in a dirty environment or not eating very well. All the tips above, have been reinforced over the last few months as incredibly important to the well-being of my skin, even if I don’t adhere to them all the time (WHY DO CHIPS TASTE SO GOOD?!)

What suits me about water-only, aside from being the healthiest option for my skin, is the simplicity. Instead of applying things to my skin for it to adapt to, I leave it and then react when my skin gets oily or dry or I break out (which is pretty rare). This passive approach to the whole thing is perfect for someone who would much rather snooze for another 10 minutes a day than faff about with my skin! #toohonest?

 

 

Minimalist bathroom + make-up tips.

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the superstars.

I’m still working out what an ideal amount of toiletries is for me, so by no means consider this the final edit. However, there are a few things I’ve learned when narrowing down my collection which you might find useful. The following tips are things that I do to keep my bathroom products to a minimum…

Water for face + hair washing:

Yep, you heard me- no shampoo or face wash! Apart from my skin and hair completely thriving on water alone (after a transition period. I will be writing separate posts on these soon!) the best thing about it is that I don’t have to pack anything up to go away. Water is everywhere! More bag space and less expense and complication, WOO!

 

2-in-1 eyeliner:

If you have an eyeliner pencil, you can use it normally for a soft line, or to make your lashes look thicker,  hold a lighter 1-2cm from the tip for a few seconds, it softens the consistency and it makes more of a gel or liquid liner. The black gets bolder too. If you’re an eyeliner fan, trust me, this will blow ya mind 🙂 Now you only need one!

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My organic muslin face cloth for wiping off make-up. Bought here

Oil:

Be it coconut oil, olive oil or argan oil, (to name but a few) they all make great make-up removers. Just rub a few drops over the area then wipe away with a cloth. Now that my skin is natural, it tends to regulate itself in terms of moisture, but occasionally it gets dry. This is where the oil comes into its own again. Rubbing a teeny bit of oil (sometimes diluted with water for a lighter effect) is all I need to revive a dry patch. Having one product that serves many purposes is the best way of saving space and simplifying.

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Left to right, top to bottom: ‘lust’ solid perfume, LUSH; pina colada flavour lip balm, gift; homemade mascara, recipe here; lighter; argan oil, ClementsClements; eyebrow brush, Ecotools; Kohl eyeliner pencil, Boots

Refine:

Remove items from collection and store somewhere else. If you don’t miss them after a few months, get rid (donate, give to friend, chuck). It’s easy to keep products that you think you might need for an occasion, but it’s very eye-opening to discover that you only actually tend to use a fraction of the things you have.

No duplicates, this is not the apocalypse:

You don’t need to stock up. There isn’t going to suddenly be a shortage. Also, if you decide you no longer want to use a certain brand/product, you can easily change because you don’t have 10 duplicates in your drawer waiting to be used up. Replace when you are really close to running out/have already run out. Vow that you’re not going to buy another shampoo until you’ve used up what you have, or if you do fancy starting fresh immediately, donate the unused stock.

Review: Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (2016)

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(Source)

Minimalism has slowly been creeping into my consciousness for a while now, but I just thought I’d warn you that I’m well and truly hooked and that you’re about to see a whole lot more from me on this subject!

Without further ado, I watched this documentary on Netflix and it really has inspired me. It starts off with this quote:

‘At a time when people in the West are experiencing the best standard of living in history, why is it that at the same time there is such a longing for more?’ Rick Hanson

And it’s true. I don’t think it’s just my friends and family that are sharing my enthusiasm for making a difference, it’s sweeping across the country and the world. In the aftermath of the crazy consumerism that’s exploded over the last 50 odd years, people have come to realise that it is lacking as a means of making you feel good in the long run.

In the fashion industry it’s gone from having 4 or maybe even 2 seasons a year (Autumn-Winter/Spring-Summer) to 52! That’s every week! You’re supposed to feel like you’re not ‘on trend’ so that you buy more. The abuse of garment workers means that the value of clothing is through the floor; you no longer need to wait for clothing to be unusable; it simply has to be unfashionable to deserve throwing away. And who even cares when it only cost £3, right?

Advertising has polluted every area of our lives. Bathrooms, films, taxis, doctor’s surgery… Advertising for children’s products has changed; it used to target mothers, but now it goes around the parents and straight to the kids. A large number of children have access to technology from as young as under a year old.

HOWEVER! People are beginning to realise that they might be being tricked, and that they have more options than they are lead to believe. And that’s where minimalism steps in. This documentary features The Minimalists, No Impact Man, and news reporter Dan Harris, among others, who share their personal stories of coming to the decision to live with less. I love how varied their stories are, how different their problems were, and yet they found an alternative way to live and now their motivation is essentially the same: to simplify the stuff that doesn’t matter and live more intentionally. It looks different for all of them, but it works.

I don’t want to go into a load of detail and ruin it for you! I would highly recommend seeing this documentary, even if you aren’t already thinking of being minimalist. It is a great insight into how some people live and encourages you to be more intentional in life in general. I did write down some quotes that I liked from the film though… Enjoy! Also let me know what you thought of it if you do give it a watch 🙂

‘As human beings we have strong attachment -initially in our lives- to people who are caring for us; sometimes it feels like those attachments spill over to objects, as if they were as important as people’ Gail Steketee

‘You can never get enough of what you don’t want’ Rick Hanson

‘I wish everyone could become rich and famous so they could realise it’s not the answer’ Jim Carey

‘Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle’ Non-hairy minimalists

‘We are not going to reach the environmental goals we are seeking whilst maintaining our current lifestyles. We’re going to have to give up a lot’ Unknown

‘The beauty of not being prepared for everything is that you are forced to call on others and they on you for favours/borrowing etc. You end up in community.’ Unknown

‘Because you can do anything you want you can potentially do everything you want, but to do everything you want you have to sacrifice things that really are important’ Unknown

‘You can’t force people around you to be as minimalist as you, or at all. You have to respect their choice.’ Unknown

2016. 2017.

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me feeling smug with 2 baguettes in France

Hey all. Sorry for kinda disappearing for a month (and then some). The end of the year gets so crazy!

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be a general feeling that 2016 was a pretty terrible year. Granted, lots of depressing things did happen in 2016- in politics especially- but I don’t like the thought of allowing some of the not so great things that happened this year overshadow the good. I for one am not willing to write this year off as a waste of time, 365 days I wish I could get back. So I thought I’d write a list of things I am personally grateful for from 2016 (off the top of my head!)

In January I committed to becoming vegan! That was a massive decision that I struggled with initially, because it meant reteaching myself how to cook, learning about food and nutrition and letting go of my addiction to meat. But it was so worth it! I don’t regret my choice at all and it gets easier by the day. Not eating animal products has lead to more compassion for animals, a healthier lifestyle and I’ve finally started living in alignment with my values (still got a way to go but this is a step)

I returned from 9 months in France in April, which was a massive learning curve for me. When I first came back I wasn’t sure if it had been a great experience or if I’d used my time well. But looking back I learned a lot about myself and proved that I could push through large amounts of fear to make a life on my own in another country.

This September I got round to organising therapy for myself. I’m still trying out different avenues, but just proactively seeking help and acknowledging that you need it in the first place makes a significant difference to your mental health. Also, the more you talk about it with others, the more you realise it’s not uncommon to need support.

The great thing about starting to look critically at your lifestyle is that it opens up your awareness to other good causes. Not 4 months after I learned about zero waste, I decided to be vegan, and now I’m learning about minimalism. They all go hand in hand. The materials and working conditions used to produce the things I buy have become factors that I now think about and I’m so pleased.

Looking to the future, I’m learning not to be so hard on myself. When you first start out with a new lifestyle/goal, especially around New Year, you want to have a clean slate and keep it clean. Like forever. But there’s nothing wrong with admitting it might be more realistic to think that you might slip up or need time to transition. Over this holiday period I dread to think how much packaging I’ve sent to landfill (some of it unwillingly, some of it I’ll admit I saw it coming) but I’m picking myself up and saying ‘let’s start again’. We’re human, and we have to gentle on ourselves.

Leading on from the previous point, I’ve learned that the best way to motivate is to learn why. It’s all very well knowing that recycling is better than trash, but I had no drive to change anything significant in my consumption habits until I had a personal connection to the people and animals who suffer most at the hands of climate change. The same goes for finding out the truth about animal welfare on mass farms and high street shopping. The key is finding out the whole truth, and then deciding whether to support or withdraw from contributing to that situation based on what you now know. It’s pretty cool that we are so empowered with all this information at our fingertips!

Anyway, that was me getting back on this blogging bandwagon 🙂 Happy New Year friends!

Thoughts on Black Friday.

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Ooh, so artistic.

In the aftermath of this Black Friday weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to write about it this year. Partly because of the blogs and organisations I follow nowadays, and partly because many people are starting to wake up to the reality of marketing ploys, I’ve witnessed more anti-consumerist responses to Black Friday this time around.

The likes of Greenpeace, Buy Me Once and Balloons Blow all published alternatives to the craziness of the buying frenzy, and inspired me to recommit to my conscious spending aim. Here are some things to think about when faced not just with Black Friday, but sales in general…

A sale doesn’t mean you’re saving money. By this, I mean that every time you buy something- whether it’s been reduced or not- that company has succeeded in taking your money. It’s no coincidence that you saw that ad online for 50% off, it is not lucky that you happened to click on it and find a bargain; it’s exactly what they planned to happen. Sales are designed to play on that part of your our nature that scavenges and hoards to survive (or at least did in the past), but most of us could do without another top or necklace in our lives and be just fine. I find that the more aware I am of my feelings and temptations when it comes to shopping, the more likely I am to be able to challenge myself to resist.

Believe in what you buy. It is no secret that we buy and own way more than we did even 50 years ago. But it’s gotten to a point where the planet can’t handle our wasteful ways (see this video showing what happens to much of the West’s discarded clothing for example). The solution is two-fold; it involves buying less in the first place, and then when you do need to buy something, choosing good quality things. Researching items that are ethically made, made of natural ingredients/materials and that are minimally packaged is really important because every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in. If you care about the process and workmanship that went into making that product for you, you should be prepared to pay for it full price.

Forward planning when you’re low on funds. By all means, if you want or need something but you don’t have a whole heap of spare cash lying around, a sale can be a glorious thing. If you hang on long enough and look in the right places, you can find pretty much anything at a reduced price. The good thing about being patient is that you have the space to evaluate and reevaluate whether you want that item. By the time you come across a good deal, you will know clearly what you need and whether you’re going to make use of it. I suppose what I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with sales if you look at them differently. Instead of them influencing you to spend money when you didn’t even want or need anything, consider shopping around and waiting for the appropriate (and inevitable) sale to roll around to get a deal on something you know you need.

Those were just a few things that sprang to my mind during the weekend. Do you have any tips for not giving in to the spending frenzy?

Reflections on my no-spend October.

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Apologies for the delay folks! The last few weeks have been pretty crazy round here. I just wanted to do a quick round up of my no-spend October, the ups the downs and what I’ve learned.

Successes:

I managed to go without buying any new items for myself for the entirety of October. It was hard. But I proved to myself it was possible. I was aided by the fact that I have next to no money at the moment anyway, but still, I know I would’ve found some to spend if I hadn’t been doing this challenge. It is empowering to know that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it.

Downfalls:

In a way, this challenge has only been a plaster on a bigger wound. My problem with buying unnecessary things has by no means gone away. At the end of the day, I knew that if I wanted to buy something, I only needed to wait until October was over to do so (and I have since made a few purchases). Now that I’m through the other side, I have learned that this is an ongoing challenge that I have to commit and recommit to.

Take-away points:

I already own a lot of things to enjoy – for instance, there are books I heard about in October that I felt desperate to buy. I was impatient to get started on them right away, but instead I picked up a book that I bought almost a year ago that I never got round to starting and I’ve enjoyed it so much! I’ve also spent more time doing other things that I know I enjoy such as drawing and DIY, which I made time for by not researching things to buy all the time.

Take time to consider – on the one hand, there are items I wanted when I started my no spend month that I still wanted just as much by the end. However, more often than those cases were the ones where I thought I needed something only to realise later that I could do without (either for the time being, or forever). Now, I know it’s important where possible to have a consideration period before I make purchases.

Shopping makes me feel good – if I really want to make progress, I’m going to have to be honest about my relationship with shopping. It makes me feel good. It temporarily takes away my negative feelings and fills whatever void I’m trying to distract myself from. This month may have dulled that urge, but it’s still very much there. I have a long road ahead of me that is going to require forgiving myself for falling short of where I want to be, as well as pushing myself to explore and overcome this addiction.

So, in short, I did it. I learned about myself and I took a step in the right direction of rejecting pointless consumerism. That’s all I can ask of myself at the moment I think!