Packing Party

Packing Party

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’m really interested in minimalism and how it can contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle. So, here’s a minimalist concept I haven’t explored before: the packing party. The inspiration for this post came from Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes, although I am very late to the party with this! You can find her rules My Pseudo Packing Party.

The idea is to pick a room – I chose the bedroom first – and pack up everything you know you won’t use in the next 48 hours or so. Then, after 48 hours (or longer if you like!), go through your packed items and decide which of them you’d like to add back to your newly-cleared space. The rest you then donate or recycle or landfill. Like Anne, I’m not including furniture in this. For the bedroom, I also didn’t include clothes and shoes (which I pared down and am more conscious of since doing Project 333) or earrings (which I sorted through recently).

I returned to my packed items whenever I needed something, although this wasn’t very often. This helped me to get rid of expired or unused medications, and also reinforced that although I have a lot of jewellery, I really don’t wear much of it. After unpacking the remaining items (in a different room), I got rid of a box’s worth of items, and there is now a free drawer in our chest of drawers. Even though I’d tackled these items before, I was surprised at how easy it was to get rid of even more.

Next, I’m turning my attention to the cutlery drawer in the kitchen (and any similar items hanging on the wall). I’m tackling just a small area because we have a lot of things in the kitchen and I don’t want it to get too overwhelming.

After a nice spring clean, here is the drawer with the items I know I regularly use (some of them don’t live in the drawer, but I popped them all in so you can see them all together). It looks like a lot, but wait till you see what’s been left out…

Cutlery drawer

And here are the items that I’ve ‘packed’ up. I’m keeping this tray in a corner of the kitchen, and I’ll only go to it if I need one of the items in it:

Packed cutlery

It’s been a week since I started this and I haven’t gone to look for any ‘packed’ items at all (although I have a feeling they may need to move home when I want to use the baking tray!)

Have you tried a similar thing? Or maybe you’ve moved recently and had to do this in earnest? I’d love to know your methods for paring down your possessions or just taking a good hard look at them ūüôā I find it’s really helpful to remove everything from an area as it helps to emphasise just how much was there, and whether you feel happy to put every single item back again.

Thank for reading!

Trash Challenge Week 2

Here we are the end of the second week of my trash challenge! I’ve been feeling very self-conscious about all the rubbish I’ve generated this week, and have had it on my mind a lot, so this challenge is definitely heightening my awareness, which is great. Here’s my rubbish from this week:

Trash Challenge Week 2

Again, if you’re interested, here’s a list of it all:

  • 1 milk bottle
  • 2 large jars, 1 small jar and 1¬†small tin
  • 1 cardboard box for cocoa powder
  • 1 large butter tub and 1 large yoghurt pot
  • 4 sweet wrappers and 1 chocolates bag
  • 1 pie tray
  • 1 bread bag, 1 bagel bag and 1 garlic bread bag
  • other food packaging: 1 sausage roll bag, 1 fish finger box, 2 meat packets, 2 cheese packets, 1 broccoli and cauliflower bag
  • 1 fortune cookie wrapper and fortune
  • 1 tea bag packet
  • 1 apple sticker
  • 1 cardboard toilet roll
  • 1 contact lens packet and 1 contact lens cardboard box
  • packaging from a bunch of flowers
  • clothing price tags (I forgot to add these last week)
  • assorted papers, including a pile of junk mail, 1 letter, receipts, 1 envelope, scrap papers reused and 3 print-outs
  • address paper and packaging from a magazine (apparently the packaging should be biodegradable)
  • plasters and packaging
  • 2 medication boxes
  • 2 boxes and 1 padded envelope
  • box and packaging from kitchenware
  • 2 cardboard kitchenware labels

It’s easy to see that it’s tricky¬†to completely turn things around in one week. But I’ve tried to make some small changes. For example, the only packaging we picked up whilst shopping in the greengrocer’s this week was the plastic bag the grapes came in. I also switched to yoghurt in a larger pot – it’s Yeovalley, which is organic and made in the UK, so I’m happy to stick with this for now. I’ve been putting a portion in a small tupperware to take to work each day.

I tried to make tortillas instead of buying them, a recipe that I think will need some practise! And I baked shortbread and a cake instead of eating shop-bought desserts.

This week I’ll try to keep baking instead of buying desserts, and I’m going to investigate how to reduce junk mail through the Mail Preference Service. This won’t stop me from getting junk mail entirely but it could help to reduce that which is directly addressed to me.

It’s a slow journey but I’m quite enjoying this challenge and trying out new ways of reducing my waste. Again, I’d love to hear any tips or links to others’ posts about similar challenges!

 

Soap

I am a big fan of soap – I much prefer it to using shower gel. But I’m aware that loads of people use handwash instead of soap, so I’m going to deal with this in a¬†future post.

One of the reasons I like soap so much is that it can come with much less packaging than a bottle of shower gel or handwash. Obviously this does depend on the product itself and where you buy it from, as lots of soaps do come in boxes, or wrapped in plastic (or both!)

But, soap will very often contain palm oil. The way that palm oil is produced generally means that huge amounts of land are planted up with palm trees, making for a very unvaried ecosystem which doesn’t support a great amount of wildlife. These plantations often take the place of rainforests, meaning that a lot of the world’s fragile natural environments are being destroyed. It is often very hard to avoid palm oil as it is often just listed as ‘vegetable oil’ in lists of ingredients. There is a great article on Lush’s website about The Problem with Palm Oil – it’s an eye-opening read, so I would recommend you take the time to read it!

Lush sell palm-free soaps – the only problem is that they can be a bit expensive, so you might want to just buy a small bar to start with to make sure you feel you’re getting your money’s worth!

I’ve also tried natural soaps that use sustainable palm oil, such as those made by Handmade Norfolk Soaps. I’ve tried their rose petals and rose geranium essential oil soap, and it smells amazing! It’s likely there are plenty of other companies out there selling similar products, so take your time to find something that will suit you.

You could also try making your own soap. I would be careful when doing this as homemade doesn’t necessarily always mean natural or good for the environment! For now I’m happy to buy soaps as I enjoy using them and I feel content about where I’m getting them from.

Do you use soap regularly? Have you ever considered switching to a more environmentally friendly soap?

Sponges and Cleaning Cloths

I use a sponge every day in the shower, and I’m too ashamed to admit how long I’ve had mine for! So I decided it’s time for a new one, and I’m having a search around to see if there are greener options available. Just a quick search on Google found this Calypso Belle Body Sponge¬†(downside: comes in a plastic bag) and an EcoTools Loofah Bath Sponge. There are lots of similar products around – just be aware of postage costs, particularly on Amazon, as they like to sneak those in when you go to pay!

(If you want to know more about the different materials that can be used to make eco-friendly sponges, have a look at this article here.)

I’ve also found on Etsy an idea which I hadn’t thought of – a handmade sponge! Here there are lots of crochet sponges for sale, or you could take the plunge and make your own. There are cleaning sponges as well as bath sponges on this site, so it caters for all your spongey needs!

Regarding eco-friendly cleaning sponges and cloths, there are a whole host of these around – you can probably find some in a large supermarket with the other sponges etc. I particularly like the idea of the e-cloth. These might not have zero impact on the environment, but the idea is that you can use them again and again – saving you from using disposable cloths, sponges and paper towels!

If you’re looking to save money, an even cheaper idea is to cut up old clothes and use the rags as cloths – you can then put them in textile recycling collections/bins when you’ve finished with them! And you can find plenty of patterns for knitted dishcloths too (for example, see this free pattern on Ravelry).

I haven’t yet decided where I’m going to get my new bath sponge from, but it’s great to know there are options out there! Or I could stop using one altogether! Have you got any more tips on eco-sponges and cloths? I’d love to hear them!