It has been 6 months since I started my sustainability journey proper. I thought this was an exercise in simply changing our routines but it turns out this has been a journey of attitude.
Once I started thinking about the 5 R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot) in one area it quickly started to infiltrate into other areas.
Often it feels like I’m not doing enough; I should be doing more – and faster! When I focus on “de-plastic-ing” one area, I have an overwhelming need to try to convert in all areas simultaneously…. I have “eco guilt”. So I’m taking some advice from ispyplumpie and I have decided to make an eco “done-list” to show myself just have far I have come in a short space of time and reassure myself I am on the right track and dispel some of my eco guilt anxiety. Here it is:
I did a full inventory of my bathroom toiletries the beginning of the year.
*So far, I have been using up what I have. Almost gone are the tiny little bottles of moisturiser taken from hotels (if I only knew then…)!
*My husband and I now have safety razors – no more disposable razors for us, we’re converted!
*I am trialing some plastic-free deodorants. I’ve just finished a ginger and mint Posy (my pits have never smelt so good!) which I liked and comes in cardboard packaging. My next trial is nuud deodorant in sugar cane tube… sounds weird but the product itself gets good reviews.
*I have changed my bottled shampoo and shower gel for bars, switched to Zao mascara (not completely plastic-free but it contains natural ingredients and is refillable) and found a lovely natural face cream from ‘Eve of St. Agnes’ that comes in a metal tin.
- My dishwasher is almost plastic-free. I make my own non-toxic dishwasher tablets & rinse-aid (vinegar bottle has a plastic top) and Waitrose stock dishwasher salt in a cardboard box.
- I use water, vinegar and Doterra essential oils as a general surface spray. It smells delicious and uses only natural ingredients for green cleaning.
- Greener laundry – I use eco-balls in the washing machine, refill natural fabric softner from SESI (a brilliant social enterprise scheme providing food and household detergents – there is a refill station in my town, Abingdon, at Added Ingredients) and, as we live in a hard water area, a limescale remover which I have found in Tesco in a cardboard box.
Since November 2018, I have bought no new clothes and have actually been quite refreshing so far! I have signed up to an online course to educate myself on the fashion industry. It is run by Fashion Revolution:
FASHION’S FUTURE: THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS . I’m 3 weeks in and it is fascinating, if quite disturbing! All fashion consumers should take this course.
I used to buy a packaged sandwich or sushi everyday for lunch at work. I have managed to have only 3 lunches that have come in single-use plastic packaging since 2018. I try to make my own lunch everyday (granted some of the raw ingredients have come in plastic (this is a different battle). If I haven’t bought my own, I will buy a tin of soup and a bread roll (without the bag) from the shop.
General food shopping has been difficult to change but we grow some of our own fruit and veg, I utilise the brilliant ScoopZeroWaste, a pop-up refill shop for my dry ingredients and I have taken full advantage of the Unpackaged trial event at the Waitrose in Oxford.
Having followed the bbc’s War on Plastic documentary series advidly, I am praying the bug business and governments get on board with reducing plastics and facilitating refill culture. Consumers will, I have no doubt, push to get this but ultimately it is them who must act.
Second-hand beauties, make do and mend, upcycling, refashion and the holy grail of the 5 R’s are my values now… and I couldn’t be happier with my outlook.
I think the best advice I could give to anyone starting their own journey is to think about the Why. Why do you want to change? Reduction of plastic in the ocean; fairer trade and ethical working conditions; stopping climate change. Then the What. What is your driver? A bid to Zero-waste; is money a big factor? Is it organic, natural products; to live toxic-free? Whatever it is, this will help to guide you to your starting point.
For me, at first it was money and clothing. I was spending too much on fast-fashion; I was sucked into the cheap throw-away culture of our high-street. When I do start to replace items in my wardrobe, it will be more a more educated place. I will be putting my “green pound” where my mouth is!
This had lead me to plastic reduction, natural products and generally re-using. My focus is a sustainability which, at its truest meaning, must not be satisfy the 3 pillars of economy, society and environment.
Writing this has really motivated to continue in the same way. It doesn’t matter that I am not living a perfectly sustainable life; imperfect and trying is just fine!