Soo…lets talk about plastic, specifically the amount thats wasted…
Recently I read that there are hardly any applications for recycled plastic. One of the only things it can be made into is bumper stickers. This made sense as I remember being taught about how difficult plastic is to recycle.
Thinking about this made me VERY conscious about the amount of plastic I dispose of. Is there a huge demand for bumper stickers? Despite me always putting it for recycling (if appropriate) I’ve never been convinced that this means it gets reused. There are rumours that our carefully sorted recycling often goes to landfill anyway *cries*. Even if it does get reused, there is an energy output needed to repurpose it. To allay my huge feelings of guilt about the environmental impact of all this (poor planet earth) I’ve started reducing the amount of plastic I use.
I already tote around a refillable water bottle and reusable canvas bags. Both practices are quite commonplace, especially since we now have to pay for carrier bags in the UK. I never get the small plastic bags when buying fruit and veg, even if it seems comical to have onions and potatoes rolling around my shopping trolley. Despite this I felt I needed to do more. This means:
Making more food from scratch. Most ‘ready to go’ food comes in bulky plastic containers. I cook most nights anyway and bring packed lunches, but some of my snacks come in plastic packages. I can make more of these at home and as an added bonus they’ll probably be healthier too.
Buy food that does have plastic packaging. Now I don’t just choose products based on price but also on packaging, or lack thereof. The other day I brought loose peppers that were more expensive than the packaged ones to avoid the plastic bag. I’ve swapped where I get my frozen blueberries, as some seem to have double the packaging.
Make swaps to products that don’t have plastic containers AT ALL. For some things, like certain hair products I’m not aware of alternatives I’m happy to swap to. *If you know any hit a girl up.* Other swaps however are more manageable. I’ve started using a bar of soap in lieu of shower gel and washing powder instead of liquid.
Make your own cosmetics. Never again will I buy a body scrub in a plastic tub. I’ll made my own out of ingredients in my kitchen cupboards; sugar or oats make great bases for scrubs. The same goes for face masks.
Buy products in bulk or package less. This is especially effective for dry products, I’ve heard of places you can bring the container you store things in a home.
Shop locally from smaller suppliers. Often they are more accommodating to requests for less packaging. In a supermarket your meat comes in a load of plastic, end of. A local butcher however can wrap it grease proof paper instead if you ask. When the product is sourced from nearby it’s carbon footprint is smaller. Additionally you are supporting local businesses and people in your community. Win win win!
Although small these changes can really reduce the amount of plastic you waste. Now, does anyone know shops in the UK I can buy food without packages?
My first foray into having less started in my wardrobe and bedroom, gradually it’s spreading though the flat. I can’t help it, I have the decluttering bug! I sell or donate anything I get rid of, only throwing things away if there’s no other option. As always there’s great scope for improvement, but here are some other areas I’ve made some progress in:
The simplest part was getting rid of books I don’t like anymore; the trashy ones that I don’t care about and ones from when I was a teenager. Then it became more difficult, I really enjoy some books; I think there is a real romance attached to them. I love the smell of the paper and the feel of the book in my hand. Despite having an e-reader there are some instances where I will always prefer to read the actual book, so I’m keeping the really important or beautiful books I have. There are some that I’ll pass onto friends once I’ve read them. The main problem I have at the moment is letting go of some text books; I know that I can get the same information from the Internet but I still haven’t been able to part with them. I have managed to get rid of all my university notes, after 6 years there was a larger amount. I found it difficult because I’d put so much effort into them; my diagrams of cells really were beautiful. I knew deep down I wouldn’t use them again, if I wanted to reminisce I had a bound copy of dissertation and essays on my laptop. It became easier when I stopped looking at my notes and just put the paper straight in the recycling.
I realised there was a problem when on two occasions in one month I couldn’t find incredibly important documents I needed. A mad search ensued, looking into every possible hiding place. This meant scouring the entire flat; because being the sensible person I am, there was no designated place to store my paperwork. Instead it is spread between; folders, drawers, the bookcase and even at my mum’s. Fortunately I found both of the offending certificates, but as I found myself surrounded by a jumble of paperwork I decided I needed a change. The time came for me to invest in a filing system, I was realistic and started with a smallish case. Gradually I’m sorted through documents and storing them properly.
I have resigned myself to having a eclectic collection of crockery and kitchen utensils, they are perfectly serviceable and for the moment suit me. I’ve got rid of things I really loathed, like the offensive red cutlery. Things have also gone if they were; duplicates, awkward to use and clean, or just useless. My favourite items are the vintage la cruset set that I was lucky enough to be given. Despite my recent clear out I still feel I have too many pots and pans, I’m to get rid of a few more.
My next area of improvement is entertainment and electronics, in particular CDs and DVDs. As motivation to clear them out I’m bribing myself with a new laptop; mine is virtually unusable. I plan to upload all the DVDs and CDs onto my new laptop (backed up of course), then get rid of the physical copies. This way I won’t loose them, I’ll just generate space. In general I try to have a one in one out policy and have little clear outs now and then. I find it helps to have a long term goal; currently mine is to have significant less than when I moved in.
Before I moved into my flat after finishing University I completely redecorated my room at my Mum’s. This might seem unnecessary, a full time job doesn’t leave you with long stretches to spend at home. However I really wanted it to be a space that I loved being in, to make the most of any time I spent there. My room has a ensuite that also needed to be welcoming for anyone that stayed. The problem was that I had a lot of junk and I knew I needed a major clear out. This was before I got round to making capsules and reading about minimalism; I just got rid of stuff to make this space pretty. Having less also meant that my upcoming move would be easier, another major benefit.
With all this in mind I started on my clear out mission. I couldn’t say how much I got rid of, but it was a LOT. I had a couple of car-boot sales, provided charity shops with heaps of stock and sent packages of clothes to my younger cousins. University notes were recycled and textbooks sold to other students. I was quite ruthless, mainly I only kept what I really loved / needed.
I wanted a light uplifting room with pops of colour and found a lot of inspiration on Pinterest. I chose white walls so it would feel clean and bright. My budget was tight, I repurposed all my old furniture spraying most of it white. My mum chose a new set of bed linen; white with beautiful flowers and leaves on one side, stripes on the other. I used this to guide other pops of colour in the room. I was bold and spray painted my desk pink, it has a fantastic varnished finish. I have a few groupings of pictures and mirrors hanging on the walls, I tend to like grouping them in sets of three. Finally I used items I kept when clearing out to make it feel personal; like an old prom dress hanging on a door and pretty heels decorating my bookcase.
I continued the white walls into the ensuite, which makes the whole space flow well. We had a mirror with a striking black surround and a black and white bath mat; so settled on a monochrome theme. There is a handy patterned box for my cotton wool balls and I framed a cute little postcard. My favourite buddha is sat on-top of the drawers and there is a new sleek light fitting.
All in all it really is a lovely space and the kitten seems to like this room best too!