I thought it would be worth looking at my starting expectations and seeing how I’m going:
- Reduce the amount of plastic I accumulate. Absolutely! Here’s 6 months of accumulated plasticpackaging from birthday gifts and a book that was probably ordered last year but arrived in 2017. The bubble wrap will be reused. Milk lids and labels and one bottle bought the day I hurt my back and knew I wouldn’t be able to get out of the flat for a few days fruit labels. Unavoidable even at the market A goody bag with some yummy coconut ice that I couldn’t refuse. And a plastic wrapper on a newspaper that I didn’t ‘see’ back in January before my packaging awareness kicked in.
- an overall reduction in my waste. Another tick for this one. I think this was 2 weeks of waste. See I’ve given up lining the Bin in paper too. It just gets a good scrub or I use the paper bag packaging from my toilet roll. My main waste item now seems to be tissues. I am considering a swap to handkerchiefs but haven’t quite worked out where to get them from.
- Consuming less but maybe spending more on those things I do consume. Yes and no. I’m definitely consuming less and I suppose the things I buy are built to last so you’d expect to buy more. But I’ve also starting buying second hand, which is cheaper and better for the environment. Food wise, cutting out packaging = cutting out lots of processed food I don’t need so I’m spending less. Buying meat in the butchers is way way way more expensive than supermarkets and cheese…..oh dear. For a country with dairying as its main primary industry, non packaged cheese costs an arm and a leg!
- Learn a lot about what is important to me and what I can do without. Sort of. I think I’ve given myself a year limit so I’m putting off buying some stuff until after 2017- like clothes or shoes. It is making me question every single purchase though. It’s also made me aware of ‘peak stuff’. More below.
- grocery shopping and food preparation is going to take a lot longer. Yes and no. Grocery shopping is spread out over about 10 shops instead of one supermarket but I don’t do a weekly shop in the same way I used to. I am more conscious of what food I have and I plan meals more. Meal prep definitely takes longer. So much so that I don’t cook much from scratch during the week. I mainly cook and freeze things at the weekend for rehearing during the week.
- making my own products and potions. Not so much. I’ve made some things but I’m discovering I’m very time poor and sometimes the time getting the ingredients and then making the products isn’t worth it for me if I can buy the same thing plastic free. Easy simple things like apple cider vinegar are worth it. The tests that have failed for me have been toothpaste and solid shampoo and conditioners.
- Make and research home made alternatives to everyday products, though I also expect to discover a lot more plastic free things in shops once I go hunting for them. Yes. Definitely. Some alternatives are so easy it’s not worth making your own.
- My biggest worry is what happens when my bottle of milk runs out? Well, I managed to get milk in glass bottles. Though not completely plastic free, it’s the best option I could find. I still keep powdered milk as a back up because buying the milk in glass involves a trip across town.
Some other things I mentioned back in January
- Food waste. I’m really trying to reduce this as much as possible. I made veg stick but there was still ends to be disposed of.
- Make do and mend. I sewed buttons back on my coat. Does that count? It’s something I need to explore further.
- Microbeads. Now there’s an interesting one. Our local supermarkets have banned the sale of all products containing microbeads from 1st July and are offering a microbead amnesty in stores this week.
- The zero waste talk by Liam and Hannah in July 2016. These guys were really inspirational and have decided to turn it into a full time pursuit for the next year.
Something I mentioned above which I haven’t really touched on before is buying second hand. I’ve noticed a lot of blogs or challenges around ‘Buy nothing new’ for a month or a year or sometimes forever. It’s got lots going for it as a way of buying
- Generally cheaper
- Less embodied energy than buying new
- Saving things from landfill
On the downside often things have a little bit of wear and tear, they won’t have a warrantee and certainly op shopping you never know what you’re going to find or even if you’ll find what you’re looking for. You can buy online from eBay or Trademe but that involves packaging so is out for me at the moment. I hate the muddle of second hand clothes shops. It stresses me out looking at the jumble of styles and colours and sizes, so I don’t think I could ever embrace the buy nothing new as a whole way of life.
I will happily potter around looking at the other bits and pieces in second hand shops and have picked up some things I needed:
- A hot water bottle- seems to be almost brand new – $4 ($6 new)
- A glass storage bowl with lid -$2. (24.99 new)
- 2mm alumnium knitting needles -$2 ($3 New but also need to drive there)
- A crochet hook (for dropped knitting stitches) – $1 (5.99 new plus petrol)
Living in a small apartment and avoiding shops has also increased my awareness of all the stuff I have that never or rarely gets used. (Books do not count!) This appears to be something that a lot of people are reaching – and the term peak stuff has been coined. I like the idea that every cent I don’t spend on a piece of clutter could be spent on travelling or a memorable experience, so will definitely be continuing with buying less.
Along these lines, something I’m keen to develop further is a capsule wardrobe. The ultimate capsule wardrobe is the school uniform. While I wasn’t thinking of going that extreme, when you’re not a morning person, not having to think about what to wear each day is much less stressful. A capsule wardrobe is versatile but also means that you can spend a bit more on one item because you intend it to last a few years. I don’t think I will ever be able to get completely plastic free clothes, (elastic free knickers anyone?) so better to buy one item that last longer than many that thrown out quickly. The next few months will be spent sorting/clearing/working out what I wear most in my current wardrobe with a view to knowing what to buy next time I head to the Northern hemisphere. More reason to keep saving those pennies! (Or actually cents- NZ changed to decimal 50 years ago this week)
And of course, I need to start thinking about plastic free Christmas presents. Given they’ll be heading half way around the world glass jars are not really an option! My sister is way ahead of me here. Instead of one birthday present this year me, she is sending a postcards for each year . They turn up randomly to brighten my day and make all my colleagues smile too. I think we’re up to 16 now… plenty still to come!