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.

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1 year on: Ecoegg laundry egg

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It’s been a while since I reviewed a green product, and this’ll be the first non-toiletry related ‘1 year on’ I’ve done too! Ecoegg is a replacement for washing detergent, and is a hollow egg shape filled with pellets. As your machine fills with water, the pellets release a natural foam and mild fragrance to make your washing clean and fresh. I bought my Ecoegg just before I moved to France, and it was super useful not to have to worry about buying washing powder/tabs/whatever at all during my time there. Here’s what I think after over a year of using this.

Price:

I bought mine on Ebay for £18, which is more or less retail price. As is the case for many of my other reviewed products, I did have to initially spend more than I usually would in one go, but when you consider that what I bought should last me approx. 720 washes, you can imagine the saving! (Ecoegg calculates their product to cost about 3p per wash)

Durability:

So how it works is that you buy the egg along with refill pellets (I bought 10 refills which you replace every 72 washes, hence it all lasting me 720 washes). The mineral pellets should wear down by 72 washes, so then you just top it up with another refill. After all my pellets have run out I simply have to buy more to refill my egg 🙂 The egg itself will last a lifetime- that’s as reusable as I could hope to be!

Verdict:

I appreciate the simplicity of the Ecoegg; now all I need to remember is that (and the clothes obviously hah) not to mention it makes travelling a doddle.  I can’t imagine having to even think about regularly buying detergent! They both go in the drum and no need to worry about fabric softener either! The pellets are made from natural minerals and are 100% hypoallergenic- so if you have sensitive skin or babies, no problem 🙂 My only gripe is that the pellet refills came portioned out in 10 small plastic wrappers. If it wasn’t for that, they would’ve been completely waste-free! ARGH! Even so, it’s less plastic than individually wrapped tablets or bottles of fabric softener. I will however be shooting them my feedback via email after this to see if something can be done about the wrappers 😉

Leather.

Okay, so let’s talk about leather. It’s pretty much been a staple of our wardrobes since the beginning of time, and I have to say I didn’t bat an eyelid about buying and using leather up until a year ago. I used to think it was the only quality, durable, smart material to go for, especially when it came to shoes and bags.

Lots of people justify buying leather for its long-lasting qualities and think that it’s a byproduct of the meat industry, however whilst I can’t dispute the first point, the second is an over-simplification. You can read about how the meat and leather industries have a bit more of a complex relationship here and here.

Now that I am a vegan, I try to avoid using animal products wherever possible, for environmental and ethical reasons. but I have had a few exceptions. For instance, I have a few pairs of leather shoes that I bought before becoming vegan that I wear regularly. I don’t intend to buy any more new leather, however I think it would be a waste not to continue using these shoes because the damage has already been done and I do value them. On the other hand, I have donated a few bags and pairs of shoes that I don’t make enough use of or that I no longer feel comfortable owning anymore. Basically, it’s up to you how you deal with the leather in your home. In my opinion there are no wrong answers.

As for buying new items of clothing and shoes, here are a few of your options…

Secondhand leather– there are plenty of leather products on the secondhand/vintage market with a heap of life left in them. If you really like the way leather looks/feels/performs, this’ll be your best bet as you don’t need to contribute to and encourage the leather industry by buying new.

PROS: you get leather, secondhand can be cheaper

CONS: may have to search longer/harder to find what you want, promoting leather by wearing it

New leather alternatives– nowadays it is possible get good quality, sustainable and ethical vegan leathers. This means that no animal skins went into the making of that material- woo! Buying new does mean more energy is required to produce it, but sometimes it’s necessary; besides, it’s good to support brands that are contributing positively to the fashion scene.

PROS: no cruelty, better ethical/environmental credentials generally, encouraging good companies

CONS: can be expensive, requires more energy to produce than buying secondhand

If you are interested in new vegan leather alternatives, here are some highlights from the places I’ve found online…

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Cream Kate Loafers, Beyond Skin, £99
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Citibag, Wilby, £70

 

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Melissa elastic heeled boot, All Sole, £72

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Ville- Carbon, Matt and Nat, £84

Dinner.

Since I moved to France and especially after I went vegan in January, I’ve been turning into a foodie. The kitchen has become my favourite place, and whereas a year or two ago cooking was a chore and a source of stress in my life, it is now what I look forward to most days!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty abysmal at following recipes. But that’s okay, because it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re happy with the result. Here are a few meals that I’ve made recently:

 

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Broccoli and lentil soup – My hand blender was on the blink which I only realised as I got it out to blitz the broccoli up for this soup, so it ended up having some quite large bits of broccoli in it! But it was actually really nice to be able to taste all the elements and them not to be blended together. The key was putting onion and garlic in and seasoning it well.

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Green lentils

Onion

Garlic

Sea salt, black pepper, coriander

 

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Rice, plantain and lettuce – This one was easy. I am obsessed with plantain. Maybe it’s because it’s sweet and I’m a sucker for anything sweet. Maybe it’s because I fry them in oil, who knows (coconut oil is perrrffecct for this as it brings out the sweetness!). Also, brown rice is great. I made the switch a few months ago and I do not regret my choice one bit.

Ingredients:

Brown rice

Onion

Lettuce

Plantain

Coconut oil

 

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Roasted yellow peppers with quinoa – This one was a fun one. I started off by boiling the quinoa, then mixed it in with some black beans, chickpeas, tomato purée and some spices then filled a hollowed-out pepper and whacked them in the oven! It turned out really yummy.

Ingredients:

Yellow pepper

Quinoa

Tomato purée

Black beans

Chickpeas

Red onion

Sea salt, oregano, black pepper

 

As you can see, most of my dinners aren’t that fancy. They don’t involve too many ingredients and usually include at least one vegetable and some kind of grain. They are filling and pretty healthy, and it’s exciting to keep experimenting every day with new ideas. I haven’t included directions on how to make these, because I am basically just making it up as I go along, or I look it up on Pinterest and follow someone else’s recipe 🙂

Little things.

Today I thought I’d take a leaf out of The Beauty in Simple‘s book and share a list of small things that I am grateful for or excited about at the moment. I really love the fact that you can find beauty and value in the every day, mundane details and I’m trying to get better at it, so here goes…

5 simple things that have made me happy this week:

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  1. On Mondays I get the majority of my food from the market on my uni campus. I bought a beautiful baguette off a very nice lady who complimented me on my baguette-shaped cotton bag. My day was made and it hadn’t even hit 12! snapchat-3653081788801760395
  2. My worm bin finally arrived! Watching all the little wriggly babies settle into their new home and giving them their first load of food scraps was really amazing yesterday. I may have stayed there watching them until the very last one wriggled underneath the surface of the soil before I reluctantly put the lid back on… Expect a post soon about how I’m getting on with this new compost method! snapchat-6525766345540802439
  3. Having a cold really blows, (GET IT!) but since I’ve been using handkerchiefs instead of tissues, I don’t get that sore red nose thing that I thought was inevitable. Plus I keep them in this jar in my room, and all the colours and patterns look so nice together. snapchat-314470562345266043
  4. Today rounded off week 3 of my final year at university, (eek!) and whilst it’s pretty hectic, I’ve managed to minimise the things I take with me. I have one bag (a year ago I would’ve been rotating at least 3) one notebook and one folder for all my lessons. It is really nice not to have to empty and refill my bag and risk forgetting things, because I just carry it all around every day.snapchat-3383675782844297014-1
  5. Breakfast for me consists of jumbo oats soaked overnight in nut milk, 1 chopped banana, 1 chopped date, a handful of nuts and a sprinkle of vanilla/cinnamon. It’s filling, refreshing, yummy, healthy- I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Small steps.

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I am reluctant to even mention the word ‘gardening’ at all in this post, because what I’ve been doing feels pretty far from it in many ways, but it’s exciting and a small step in the direction of gardening!

I found out recently that you can grow certain vegetables (spring onions, leeks, lettuce etc.) from the root in just water. So in theory, if I planned it right, I wouldn’t need to buy any of these again! I started off with spring onions, saving about an inch off the bottom and submerging its root in some water in a jar. Just over two weeks later I have these babies!

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The longest one (which I’m assuming I planted first)  has had about 5 inches of regrowth! In the next few weeks I’m going to chop it up and see what it tastes like. In hindsight, I might still be buying spring onions in the future, as the yield I’m currently getting is considerably smaller than you would get if you bought them. However, I’ll add a shoot or two to the shop-bought onions I’m using, why not. Eventually when I have a nice big collection, it’ll pay off, especially when you consider that they are organic.

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several of my growing onions has started to sprout another stem!

I have enjoyed watching these little guys shoot up so quickly, and it’s nice to have something low-maintenance to look after to ease myself into it! This week I’m adding a leek root to see how that does alongside the spring onions on my windowsill. See this article for a list of veggies you can regrow from water with tips 🙂

 

5 Things this Monday…

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  1. This post called ‘My Zero Waste is not Pretty‘ is brilliant. I am definitely guilty of wanting to make everything glamorous and beautiful which means I’ve turned down perfectly usable items I already own to replace them (not really the point of this whole zero waste malarkey…) I definitely needed the reminder that it’s a slow and not always pretty process.
  2. The infogram above from Food Navigator USA illustrates the difference your diet makes on the environment, from regular meat consumption to vegan. Hopefully it’ll be an encouragement wherever you are on that scale towards eating less animal products, that every little bit counts- keep it up!
  3. Next up is a video that came up on my suggested videos on Youtube. I don’t currently follow this guy, but his story about why he became vegan is both funny and original. He explains why he doesn’t broadcast his views and why it’s really easy to judge other people and it’s just quite refreshing to get another perspective. I think he’s a cool guy basically.
  4. These 5 reasons to avoid plastic containers are a must-read. Plastic is everywhere you look nowadays, but keeping it off your food is so important, especially when you know the stuff it can do to you.
  5. Last but not least, Ariana from Paris To Go addresses a concern I hear quite a lot: that the thought of wearing secondhand clothes is somehow dirty. As I read this, it reminded me of what I was like about certain items a few years ago. The post is so well-written and covers the disturbing reality of new clothes today, as well as practical tips for cleaning and restoring secondhand products before use. My favourite read of the week I’d say.

London discoveries #2: Cornercopia

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I took a walk through Brixton Village recently, as it had been quite a while since I’d last seen what was in there. I approached this plain-ish looking frontage and there were gorgeous multi-coloured handmade candles displayed outside. When I popped in I thought it was going to be a gift shop, but I spotted a selection of Redecker brushes (including my dish brush) and realised that this place has all sorts of plastic-free homeware!

I didn’t come away with anything on my trip, as I am trying not to buy impulsively, but I plan to revisit when I run out of bar soap, as well as to invest in a cast-iron pan and a plastic-free dustpan and brush during the summer.

Cast-iron pots and pans, brooms, kitchen utensils, and bar soaps to name but a few of their stock, Cornercopia is a must-visit if you are transitioning to more eco-friendly home equipment or setting yourself up for the first time. I would highly encourage checking this shop out if you’re based in South London (or even London, as it’s so close to Brixton tube station) because I saw things here  I’ve only seen online previously, and shopping in store saves on the pollution and packaging created by delivery.

Cornercopia Homestore

Address:

Units 37-38, 2nd Avenue
Brixton Village
SW9 8PS

Website:

http://cornercopia.myshopify.com/

Opening hours:

Wednesday-Sunday 11-6