The first half of this year has whizzed by and I thought now would be a good time to take stock of the changes our household has made that we have stuck with, but also to acknowledge a perhaps inevitable but unexpected side effect of my pursuit for simplicity…
Here are a few of the areas where we have made changes that have stuck…
Switching disposable for reusable
I was reluctant to jump on this straight away as it seemed like it could just be an excuse to buy a load of new things, but as the year has gone on we have slowly replaced many disposable items with their reusable alternatives and without exception have found we prefer the reusable versions. So far this has included silicone cupcake cases (used several times a week now in my son’s yumbox) aluminum straws, cloth baby wipes, a diva cup and cotton makeup removers
We are yet to harvest our first batch of compost, but we’ve already bought a second bin and I am completely sold on the magic process of turning waste into fertalizer, just watching the level of the bin drop as it breaks down is a revelation and it has reduced the guilt I feel about the odd limp carrot I find at the bottom of the fridge which now serves a purpose in the garden if not on our plate. The rats did find our first bin, but we have added some metal reinforcement to the outside below ground and relocated it to the centre of a flower bed (rats apparently dislike open spaces) and had no further problems. We bought a worktop bin and use compostable bags to line it. I have even switched Alice and I to compostable tootbrushes.
Replacing technology with the basic version
I am a tech lover and an early adopter, but I found certain electrical items I was buying were wearing out so fast that it frustrated me. I was being sold a dream, which a few years later left me taking a trip to the dump and back to square one. I used to love my electric toothbrush, but after getting through two in the last 4 years I actually found it a relief to go back to a basic bamboo brush.
I read an article (online ironically) about how smartphones are designed to compete for our attention and for how the poor old paperback it’s not a level playing field and almost immediately I went cold turkey on my night-time browsing and rediscovered the joy of the novel.
Thinking about waste
Once you get in the mindset of thinking about waste you can’t stop. I used to just chuck things in the bin without a passing glance, but now I get infuriated by excess packaging and plastic bags. I am less lazy with recycling which means taking on the dull task of washing out jars and pots with residue in them so they can be recycled. I don’t have all the answers yet with waste reduction, but being aware is half the battle. Sometimes cutting waste has had unexpected upsides, my mum often gave the children small plastic food bags with treats in, but I persuaded her to swap them for paper bags, which delight the children even more as they are surprised every time by the contents!
Spending less time online
This has been the change I didn’t anticipate. When you start minimalising your life and being more mindful about what you buy and do, it becomes almost inevitable that both blogging and online time takes a hit. There is so much information out there competing for our attention it felt wrong and slightly indulgent to add to the noise. With what? Posts about my life? Posts that hint at things you should buy?
Maybe I’m just getting old, but I particularly struggled with the increasingly symbiotic relationship between blogging and consumerism. If you think in any depth about what you are sharing and the systems you are supporting you start to hesitate with every instagram photo and every blogging collaboration. In the last six months I’ve worked (almost continually) with just three brands who I feel comfortable promoting and I’ve said no to others.
After 11 years of blogging, the last 4 of which I became sucked into the pro-blogging world, I finally managed to claw myself back to a place where I am no longer concerned about how often I post and being healthily ambivalent my blog’s success or lack of it.
Saying no to things
This continues (a little) from what I was saying above… Earlier this year someone introduced me to the idea that the first step in waste reduction is not reuse or recycle it’s ‘refuse’. This was quite an empowering revelation to me, every time I was offered something ‘free’ to review I begun to consider if I really actually wanted to have it kicking around my house in a few weeks when the novelty had worn off.
Saying no to things is actually not easy because it goes against what people expect. Among the many things I have said no to in the last few months are free carrier bags (lots in stores too small to have to charge) branded mugs, goodie bags, food samples, a video camera, toys, magazines (entire subscriptions) bluetooth headphones, plants, beautiful personalised baby muslins and jewellery.
I haven’t cracked refusing yet, accepting gifts is in our nature and I’m still training myself and those around me that as a family we don’t need more of anything… except perhaps plants for the garden!
If you have any thoughts on this post I’d love to hear them in the comments, we are only halfway through the year and still on our journey to make family life simpler and more environmentally friendly.
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