Trash Challenge Week 4

So here we are at the beginning of March, which means my trash challenge is done! It’s been four weeks of collecting all the rubbish I’ve generated (excluding items such as food waste), and it’s given me even more ideas for reducing my impact on the environment. Here’s week four’s photo:

Trash Challenge Week 4

  • 2 milk bottles
  • 1 large yoghurt tub
  • 1 glass soy sauce bottle
  • 1 bread bag
  • 1 small butter tub
  • 2 sausage roll wrappers
  • pizza packaging
  • 1 spring rolls box and plastic tray
  • plastic wrap and plastic tray from a whole chicken
  • 1 cod fillets box
  • 1 mine packet
  • 1 plastic grapes tray
  • 1 takeaway container
  • 1 crackers box and inner bag
  • 1 garlic bread bag
  • 3 chocolate wrappers (2 used for baking, 1 given as a gift)
  • 4 paper cases from a biscuit tin
  • 1 individually-wrapped mini roll
  • 2 old gift cards
  • assorted recipes and small pieces of scrap paper
  • prescription bag
  • magazine wrap and paper advert
  • junk mail (which came before I put a note on our letter box)
  • 3 cardboard toilet rolls
  • 3 contact lens cases
  • 1 Amazon box, paper padding and note (from a gift)
  • 1 instructions list
  • 1 sticker
  • 1 plaster and packaging
  • 1 cardboard label

There’s definitely still a lot I want to do, but this challenge has been great at making me more away about what I throw ‘away’ every week. If you’re stuck in an eco-rut or just fancy a challenge then give it a go!

This week I put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on our letter box, bought a sandwich from a sandwich van and had it put straight into a container not a paper bag (I was very proud of this!), tried to buy more things in bulk (such as meat and baking ingredients). I’ve kept baking too, which has definitely saved on a lot of plastic waste.

Supermarket shopping is a little scary for me at the moment, because I’m so conscious of all the packaging surrounding me. But it’s great to be aware of it, and I know that I’ve definitely reduced waste from fruit and veg shopping, so that’s a big plus. Here are my four photos from the challenge:

Trash Challenge Week 1 Trash Challenge Week 2

Trash Challenge Week 3 Trash Challenge Week 4

I don’t feel like I can see much of a difference from my photos, but as I said before, it hasn’t been very long yet. My blog is all about changing your impact on the environment and I know that if I keep making small changes then the amount of rubbish I produce will reduce. One of my main aims is still to cut down on food packaging, particularly that from meat and fish.

I hope you’ve found this challenge interesting – I really think it’s something everyone should try, even if it’s just for a week! If you don’t fancy collecting it, then you could try making a list of everything you throw away, and taking a look at it at the end of the week. Maybe you can spot some habits that you can change?

As always, I would love to hear from you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

A Return to Project 333

A few months ago I wrote about Clothes and Project 333. I wrote about how brand new clothes use up a lot of resources (and can also be expensive), having a significant impact on the environment. Not to mention ethical issues concerning the people employed to make them!

I feel that the main options to avoid having so much of an impact on the environment in this way are:

  • having a buying hiatus;
  • buying second-hand or from sustainable sources;
  • making and mending your own.

Although of course these are interchangeable. I try to combine elements of all three!

I was initially a bit reluctant to embark on my own Project 333. I tried to donate or recycle all the clothes that I knew I didn’t wear, were past it or that didn’t fit any more, using the ‘hanger trick’ to see whether I’d worn each item or not. And for a while I was content with just doing this. If I wasn’t sure about something, I put it in a drawer out of sight to see if I would want to take it out and wear it again. There must be close to 20 items of clothing in that drawer at the moment, and I’ve only taken 1 of those out to wear – only to decide I didn’t really want to wear it and put it straight back again. Soon these will all be consigned to a charity shop too.

Following on from this, at the beginning of July I really felt that I wanted to take the step of living with less clothes and see how I coped. Here is a reminder of what Courtney Carver says on her website about Project 333:

When: Every three months (it’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)

What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

What not: These items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)

How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.

What else: Consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

Courtney’s rules are that your 33 should include clothes, shoes and accessories, but I decided for my first 33 I would only include clothes, although I am also keeping track of the shoes I wear. To be honest I haven’t bothered boxing up the remaining items (although this is more of a lack of space issue than anything).

I also created a little spreadsheet I could use to track how often I wore each item. Here is a snippet from July (click on it to make it bigger)! The items highlighted in yellow are those I wore most often, and red those that I didn’t wear at all throughout the month.

Project 333 spreadsheet

I’ve never been much of a shopaholic and I’m sure I don’t own nearly as many clothes as others might, but even so I have been surprised over the last month as to how content I generally am just with the choice of 33 items of clothing. Here is a breakdown, if you’re interested:

  • 6 cardigans
  • 2 jumpers
  • 5 vest tops
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 blouse
  • 3 long-sleeved tops
  • 5 dresses
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pairs of leggings

Shoes:

  • 2 pairs of flats
  • 1 pair of boots

I should point out that my work wear and casual wear are pretty much the same (we have a very informal work dress code) so I haven’t had to set aside separate items for work, which you might have to factor in. Your style is likely to differ significantly from mine – and the climate could be very different – so you might have different numbers of items in each category.

I haven’t bought a single item of clothing for a few months now, I think, and I really feel that except for a new pair of boots (mine are falling apart and not repairable, unfortunately, and I would like to have some for rainy days to keep my feet dry), I have more than enough clothes to last throughout the warm/hot months of the year.

This project has also shown me how much I re-wear the same items. Even with this restriction, the fact that I didn’t wear 6 items at all throughout July shows how I always turn to my favourite items even when there is novelty or more choice. I suspect this is the same with most of us. Even if you don’t want to do Project 333, keeping track of how often you wear each item could be interesting!

I am definitely going to continue with my Project 333 items until the end of August, and then I’ll do a little reassessment to see if these items will continue to work if it’s cooler in September. Then I’ll create a new Project 333 wardrobe for the months of October, November and December, to include warmer items. When I move on to this new 33 wardrobe I’ll look through the clothes I chose not to include in my summer 33 and see how many of them I still want to keep.

I’m not sure if Project 333 is something I will continue every single season, as Courtney Carver and many other Project 333ers do, but I am really finding it a useful tool to assess my wardrobe and find out what I enjoy wearing the most. It is also interesting that no one has noticed or commented on my limited wardrobe!

Have you tried anything similar? What would you think about giving it a go?

100 Happy Days #6

Photos of the little things that made me happy last week…

DSC_0157

Enjoying a sandwich on the way home.

I tried out a new hairstyle, the fishtail plait. Not sure I got it quite right but it was fun to try.

I tried out a new hairstyle, the fishtail plait. Not sure I got it quite right but it was fun to try.

Enjoyed a sausage sandwich for breakfast at work - I forgot to take a photo until it was nearly gone!

I had a sausage sandwich for breakfast at work – I forgot to take a photo until it was nearly gone!

Relaxing in the TV room on my lunch break...it was lovely and cool and peaceful as everyone else was outside!

Relaxing in the TV room on my lunch break…it was lovely and cool and peaceful as everyone else was outside.

This is my Lush conditioner - it smells so lovely!

This is my Lush conditioner – it smells so lovely!

I've had a large pile of stuff to get rid of in my room for months...finally decided to bag it up ready to go to a charity shop!

I’ve had a large pile of stuff to get rid of in my room for months…finally decided to bag it up ready to go to a charity shop.

What have you been enjoying taking the time to do?

100 Happy Days #2

Continuing my project to notice and enjoy the simple things in life. Here is a selection of the things that have made me happy in the last couple of weeks.

IMG_1289

A cup of raspberry leaf tea in the morning.

 

Congratulations card on ending my internship for a new job.

I was offered a new job a couple of weeks ago, and received this congratulations card from the staff at the charity I was interning for when I left.

 

The latest edition of Om Yoga magazine.

The latest edition of Om Yoga magazine.

 

I finished knitting a jumper for the first time!

I finished knitting a jumper for the first time!

 

I discovered this book in an Oxfam charity shop last weekend - a great and really interesting read, I highly recommend it!

I discovered this book in an Oxfam charity shop last weekend – a great and really interesting read, I highly recommend it!

Clothes and Project 333

I’ve written about Reusing Old Clothes and Shoes before, but this week I wanted to think about how to deal with your clothes collection in general. In addition to costing a lot, buying lots of clothes and having more than you need can mean that you’re effectively using a lot of the world’s resources on what you wear every day. I always think that by buying an item you’re saying to the company, “I’m okay with you using non-organic cotton/too much packaging/synthetic materials” etc, so it’s worth thinking about what messages you’re sending out with your purchases!

I’ve been looking at all my clothes for a while and thinking about which ones I wear most often and which sit at the back of the drawer or never make it out of the wardrobe. There are some things that I’ve donated without a second thought, but there are lots of thing left that are ‘maybe I’ll wear this one day’ items.

Since I’ve become interested in Minimalism, I’ve read a lot about Project 333. If you haven’t heard of it before, this project essentially involves you picking 33 items and wearing only those for 3 months. Here are the basics of the project from website Project 333:

The Basics

  • When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

I keep thinking about it, and to be honest I feel at the moment that this might be a step too far for me – although it’s been very successful for many other people!

But I do still want to work out which items I can get rid of without missing them. A method which I’m currently following is turning all the hangers in your wardrobe the wrong way round. Every time you wear an item of clothing, turn that hanger back the right way. This way you can see which items you wear and which you don’t. I would recommend reviewing this at the end of a season or after a few months, as then you’ll be able to know that you haven’t worn that jumper for the entire winter, for example, and therefore you’re unlikely to wear it again.

Of course, there’s no point in reducing the number of clothes you have if you just keep buying more to replace them! As I mentioned in my post Minimalism, I’ve been keeping a ‘wish list’ of items I want but don’t need, in order to try and cut down on impulse purchases. It’s worth applying this to clothes too – it really makes you aware of how much you buy needlessly!

Have you tried Project 333 or something similar? What do you think is the best method for cutting down on your clothes collection?

P.S It’s Earth Day today! I haven’t done a separate post as I’ve already written about the National Day of Unplugging and Earth Hour, but if you’re interested then check out this website.

Minimalism

I’m taking a slight departure from my usual style of posts today to write about minimalism, because it’s something I’m very interested in; plus, I think it ties in with being environmentally friendly.

Please don’t be scared off – when I mention minimalism, I’m not thinking about the stereotype of having a sleek, monochrome house without any possessions. I don’t want a show home. I still want to own the things that I need and that make me happy. My focus is on looking at all the things I own, and donating, selling, recycling or (more unfortunately, if there’s no alternative) throwing away the things I don’t need or want, all the things I’ve kept out of habit or obligation.

So why is this eco-friendly? Well, if you don’t want something but someone else might be able to use it, then passing it on will mean resources aren’t used up on making something new.

Another side to minimalism is buying less – in our consumer-focused society, it’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to own more and more things, which is also bad for the environment. Thinking more carefully about what we buy can help us realise what we’re doing to the environment when we buy things needlessly.

I’m tackling this by buying more things secondhand, so they have less of an impact on the environment, but I’ve also decided to keep a ‘wish list’ of all the things I’m tempted to buy. I’ll write them down and look at them again in a month or so and see if I still want them. This should hopefully cut down on impulse purchases, so I won’t end up with so many things I don’t really want.

If this is something you’re interested in, there are so many places you can go to to get started! In particular, there are lots of blogs around. I’d recommend Courtney Carver’s Be More With Less. This focuses on the savings – both money and time – that you’ll make by following a more minimalist lifestyle, freeing yourself to do what you enjoy without feeling choked by unwanted possessions. Also have a look at Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist, which again focuses on the joy of having less possessions.

This might not be the first thing you think of when you’re considering going eco-friendly – but I think it’s interesting nevertheless. If we could break out of our consumer habits and stop buying so many items that damage the planet then we’d be doing a whole lot better! What do you think?

An Old Year and A New One

A rather belated happy new year! Apologies for my lack of blog posts in the last few weeks – hopefully this is about to change!

I thought I’d use this post to look at what I’ve achieved since starting this blog, and what I hope to explore in 2014. Please feel free to comment with any ideas or suggestions that you might have, and let me know what you’ve been doing to go green!

I look around wherever I go, and sometimes I despair about the amount of plastic I see everywhere, the unnecessary packaging and plastic bags, and how much further I still have to go before I’ll feel that I’m really living a ‘green’ life. But anyway, I’m getting there and I thought you would be interested in a little summary of what I’ve done (and how easy it would be for you to do some of these things too!)

  • I no longer use shampoo in plastic bottles – instead, I’ve tried out three solid shampoo bars from Lush: Jumping Juniper, Trichomania and Ultimate Shine (which I’m currently using). They take a little bit of getting used to, but they come in a range of types and scents and I’m happy to know that this is one place I have reduced my plastic consumption in! I’m also planning to start using Lush’s solid conditioner bar Jungle when my current conditioner runs out. You can apply the same principle to soap too – buy it made locally, from natural ingredients and with as little packaging as possible.
  • I don’t use disposable razors or toothbrushes anymore – I have an epilator and an electric toothbrush. This cuts down on plastic waste!
  • The only items of clothing I now buy brand new are underwear (including tights). Everything else I have been buying second hand from charity shops.
  • Same with books and games – I buy them secondhand whenever possible (and they’re generally cheaper this way too!) I’m trying to borrow more books from the library too.
  • I have three stainless steel water bottles (of different sizes), which I use instead of plastic bottles and disposable plastic cups. Mine came from One Green Bottle and Klean Kanteen, but if you search around there are lots of other options too!
  • I avoid plastic bags whenever possible, using my reusable ones instead.
  • I rarely use tissues – I got some lovely hankies for Christmas to add to my hanky collection, so I use those as much as possible instead.

So that’s some of what I’ve done so far – but I’d still like to do more! This year, these are  a few of the things I want to try and focus on:

  • Food
  • Packaging
  • Minimalism
  • Experiences rather than material gifts
  • Small items I haven’t explored yet: e.g. sponges, nail varnish (and nail varnish remover), cotton wool, straws, paper etc.
  • Underwear – organic cotton or items made of recycled materials.

I’ll be trying to get back into regularly posting once a week again, and continuing to go green! What are your green plans for 2014?