Simple plastic-free swaps at home

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It can be tempting to switch out every single plastic item in your home when you see organized Instagram pics of nice pantries and bathrooms, but my first rule of sustainability: Use what you have. Don’t spend your money and time on switching out every plastic product in your home thinking it’s the most sustainable thing, because it’s not. Buying new will always require new resources and production.

The best way of transitioning to a more plastic-free lifestyle is slowly over time. Only replace your old plastic products when they are no longer fit for use or when you have found a way to mindfully dispose of it (I’m not talking recycling here, but rather gifting it to someone who loves plastic Tupperware and has no problem using it…).

Therefore, the simplest swaps are going to be those kinds of products that you need to switch every few months or so:

Dish brush

Instead of buying another plastic one, next time you need a new one, opt for a plastic-free version. I really like this kind that has detachable heads you can switch out.

Sponge

Instead of a regular sponge to wash dishes or clean around the house, you can upgrade to a loofa. There are also other alternatives made from coconut, cotton and similar fibers.

Glass containers

Switching out all your plastic containers for glass ones might seem like something of a must when you scroll through Pinterest, but there is no need for that. Just start by saving the glass jars you buy jam and stuff in. Wash them and peel off the labels and soon enough you’ll have a great selection of glass containers without having to pay anything extra for it!

Solid bars

Solid hand soap and dish soap are easy swaps. The only thing it requires is a good soap dish (I just have a thin slice of loofa) so that it dries off in between use and doesn’t go bad. Today you can find solid bars for almost anything so if you want to go full out you could also go for laundry bars, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars.

Do you have any favorite simple swaps for a more plastic-free home?

How to minimize your waste when you don’t have the time or money to go zero waste

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Let’s be honest, it takes quite a lot of time to live a zero-waste lifestyle or even just a plastic-free one. If you don’t have the privilege of living a life that allows you that time or you simply live in a small area without the option of shopping at a bulk store it can feel discouraging to see perfect zero-wasters line up their glass jars online.

But… you don’t need to be perfect or have access to a package-free bulk store to make positive changes. There are several small things you can still do in your life to minimize the packaging you use.

Buy only what you need

And nothing more than that. About one-third of food is wasted globally and this is contributing to climate change as food waste that in many countries end up in landfill which emits methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas (just like carbon dioxide) which contributes to warming the planet.

Outdoor markets

Such as farmers markets. Many cities have these daily or weekly during certain seasons or all year round. They often display produce out in the open so if you bring your own produce bags they will most often let you use them. One thing I’ve noticed on my local market is that later in the day when the vendors are about to close they will sell the produce cheaper as to get rid of it.

Bring own bags

This was quickly mentioned above, but just bringing your own bags for produce and for shopping will save loads of plastic bags that are both unnecessary and risk ending up in nature and in our oceans. Also, you don’t have to buy expensive macramé produce bags, just by bringing an old plastic bag you have at home will save the planet from more plastic!

Buy big packs

This might seem contradictory of number one, but it’s not necessarily. For pantry staples or hygiene products you use a lot and you know will keep for long it can be wise to invest in the biggest packaging. When you buy a big pack you will save a bit of packaging compared to having to buy three small packages. It will also generally save you money. Before you buy a big pack, just be sure you can eat them on time and store them safe from pest animals. Food waste is generally a worse problem than packaging…

Invest in some reusables

By investing in and using reusable cloths/pads/cutlery/whatever instead of disposable ones. You can save a lot of resources AND money. The tricky part is you need to have the money to spend, to begin with. A menstrual cup and/or reusable cloth pads is one of the easiest and best saves. Feminine hygiene products are used often and cost a lot. A menstrual cup will cost you around 30€ and last you for years, saving you both money and the earth from tampons that won’t dispose of. As for glass jars and bottles, instead of buying new ones, save the jam jars and smoothie bottles you get from the grocery store and just reuse them instead!

Why should we strive for zero waste?

The reason to avoid packaging is that it requires emissions and resources both to produce and to recycle. In addition, many live in areas without proper recycling and some materials, like styrofoam and soft plastics, are not recyclable or are of such low quality that it can only be recycled very few times. Plastic is a non-renewable resource which means that sooner or later we will run out of it, so I try to minimize plastic first and foremost.

Don’t feel bad if you do not have the option of choosing the (often more expensive) package-free option. Going zero-waste, in my opinion, is something to engage in after of simultaneously as you increase your bigger impact posts like transport, food, and housing.

June: Capsule Challenge

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So, summer is here, don’t really know how or when that happened, but I’m excited. My June challenge is a capsule challenge and initially, I had planned on a 30×30 challenge. This means I would have 30 garments to use for all of June. But then I kinda joined a May30x30 on Instagram, so it didn’t really feel like a challenge anymore.

I asked around for some tips and some people thought I should continue for another 30 days, which would have been a fun idea but the weather had changed a bit too much. Some other fun tips were to stick to only one kind of pattern or color, but if you know me you know I barely wear any color or print so that would have been reeeeally tough.

Finally, I settled on the challenge. I would first do a 10×10 (ten garments for ten days) and then a 6×6 (the more extreme of six items in six days). However, I will not be counting shoes this time just to give myself some kind of freedom.

Have you done any capsule challenges? What are your thoughts on them?

May challenge: 30-day yoga

May might be 31 one days, but I will be doing a 30-day yoga challenge with Adrienne on Youtube so I figured I will leave it at 30 days only.

There are many perks to doing yoga. It gets your body moving, making you both flexible and strong, as well as giving your mind a workout. It can be like moving meditation, focusing on the breathing and feeling of the moment.

So for the challenge, I will be doing one yoga video a day with Adriene on YouTube (which is completely free). I am doing this to cultivate a habit for myself. I love yoga and have for a long time, but I am quite lazy with finding (or rather taking) the time to actually practice. Living small has been a problem before, but now I have enough space to be able to move comfortably while practicing which is a big plus.

Are you a yoga fan like me?

My tips for making 2019 your most sustainable year yet

jazmin-quaynor-105210-unsplashAs the year comes to an end, many feel like a new beginning. If you want to make 2019 the best year yet, why not try to make some positive changes for yourself that are also beneficial for the environment?

Set realistic goals

Want to make a bigger change for the environment? I say start small. Maybe you heard that going vegan is the best choice if you want to decrease your impact and you decide to go vegan over night. For some it might work, but for most it is not realistic to change ones diet in a heartbeat. Being vegan takes some knowledge on your part and often time. To learn how to cook new ingredients and how to get proper protein etc. A more realistic goal might be to decrease the intake of meat, egg and dairy for a while, while incorporating more vegan recipes into the repertoire. The end goal can still be to eat fully vegan, but by easing into it, you lessen the risk of feeling overwhelmed and quitting.

Start small

This one connects to the previous one, but is slightly different. By focusing on doing one thing at a time you will have a bigger chance of having it stick. If you try to go vegan, start doing yoga every day and running three times a week, you will most definitely get really tired and not be motivated to stick to the rigorous routine. Decide on one or a few small things to change. When they start to become a habit, challenge yourself with a new change.

Don’t stress it

You are only human. If anyone (or society) makes you feel bad for not being perfect, remember that no one is perfect and that all movement in the right direction is good. You didn’t make it out to run three times this week like you said you would? Well, a maybe if you think back just a few weeks you hadn’t gone for a run in months! It is all about perspective. Try to see the bigger picture, without using it as an excuse to not continue striving towards your goals. Because that is what goals are. Something to strive for and work towards. If you are able to reach it within a few weeks, maybe the goal wasn’t big enough to begin with.

Educate yourself

If you want to lead a more sustainable life in 2019, both for you and the environment, take some time to educate yourself. It is hard being conscious, because there are so many people saying different things. By educating yourself, making sustainable choices will be easier. It will take less time at the store to decide what vegetable to choose since you already know which ones have lower impact.

Do you want to make 2019 your most sustainable year yet? Why not join my some of my challenges? Or create your own goals calendar for the year?

2019: monthly challenges

sarah-dorweiler-357715-unsplashNew Years resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Committing to something for an entire year takes a lot of devotion and engagement, which I tend to lack. Instead, this year I will be doing monthly “challenges” to push myself to do and learn more, and in some cases just to push myself to do stuff that I have long been meaning to do but tend to forget when life comes along.

Having a monthly goal, or challenges as I choose to call it, is more sustainable since committing to 30 days of something gives a clearer horizon and you may not feel deprived in the same way since you can just “return to normal” if it’s not for you, without feeling like you failed. So just setting up reasonable goals that you can actually do. You might have heard about SMART goals. SMART goals is all about creating motivational and tangible goals that you can actually reach. SMART was first coined by George T. Duran in 1981 stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

So by giving myself a clearer horizon by limiting the time to one month, it feels more attainable. I will also only focus on things that feel relevant to me and my journey, that are very specific for each month and that I will be able to see a result from.

Monthly challenges

January: Veganuary

This is a global challenge and yearly challenge from https://veganuary.com/ to inspire people to eat more vegan. All of January I will eat (or do my best to) eat vegan. To push myself to try something new, to try new recipes, ingredients and how to eat out.

February: Meditate daily

February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

March: Digital detox 

For the month of March my focus will be on minimising my use of Internet, computers, tablets and phones. My only tech appliances that will not be on the decrease list are my e-reader and my camera. How much I will “detox” is unsure right now. Since Instagram is a big inspiration and I like to read interesting articles online I would not be able to do a full on detox, but I will be avoiding it as much as I feel is viable.

April: Shopping ban

This one is quite explanatory, I will not do any shopping for the entire month. Which of course excludes food, medications and hygiene stuff (I need to survive it!!). No new clothes, no new beauty products, no interior shopping, no unnecessary stuff I can live without.

May: 30-day yoga

I will do a 30-day yoga challenge to really feel the benefits of the practice and stretch out my body. I have done yoga on and off for almost 10 years and even though I love it during and after, I never seem to get into a routine that sticks, so this month I will challenge myself to stick to it and hopefully feel better both physically and mentally.

June: Capsule challenge

For the month of June I will commit to a capsule closet. I have yet to decide the number of items to be used but somewhere between 20-30 is where I am aiming. This years mini capsule challenge felt slightly too constricting for me, so I want to give a bigger and longer capsule a shot.

July: Plastic-free July

Plastic-free July is a quite well known challenge by now, which means that for all of July, the goal is to not consume any plastics. This means no plastic single use items like take away bowls or plastic cutlery. This feels like a tough challenge for me right now, but my hope is that it will teach me more about the low impact living.

August: Reading challenge

One of my goals this year is to read more and for this I purpose I will do a book club for myself, but I will also assign one month of the year for reading even more. When I was a teenager I would read several books a week, but when I started university and had to read large amounts of course literature, I lost the appetite for reading for fun. I want to find the fun in reading again and this is what I am hoping to achieve during this month.

September: Self care September

During September I will focus on taking better care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy. Since fall tends to be very dark and gloomy where I come from it feels like the perfect start to the darker times.

October: Slow-Fashion October

For October I will be challenging myself to be more circular when it comes to my closet. I will be mending broken clothes, tailoring bad fitting ones, upcycle that which is no longer my style or simply make new items. A personal goal for the year is to get better at sewing, so this challenge caters mostly to this. By using what we have better and not wasting fabric is good for the environment and my own economy, as I will feel less a need to buy new.

November: Food challenge

For this month the challenge will be to explore new foods. New recipes, new ingredients, new cooking techniques etc. The goal is to compile 25 new recipes to try out during the month, both breakfast, snacks and dinners.

December: Creativity challenge

When I was a child I was constantly drawing, cutting and pasting. I had subscription boxes for what we in Sweden call “pyssel” which is a somewhat broad word for doing any kind of creative hand-work. During December I want to get creative again, just like when I was a child. Maybe I won’t be gluing beads on a picture frame, but more knitting pot holders, painting, colouring and maybe practice my calligraphy.

Conscious book club 2019

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One personal goal I have this year is to read more. Another is to learn more about conscious and sustainable living. Therefore I will be doing a small reading challenge, call it a book club. Every two month I will read a book related to the sustainability topic, such as consumption, fashion, plastic etc. I will evaluate the book here on the blog and discuss the topics brought up by the book.

This changes everything – Naomi Klein

A book about climate crisis and economy. In this book Naomi Klein discusses capitalism and the connection between social, environmental and economic sustainability and equality. She means that we have to change our relationship with nature and each other in order to manage this crisis and that we have to do it now.

Overdressed – Elizabeth L. Cline

The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. This book looks into the fashion industry to unveil why clothing is cheaper than ever and who is actually paying the price for it. What do we do with all the clothes produced, as well as what all this production does to society and the environment.

Turning the tide on plastic – Lucy Siegle

With this years word being single-use this is a very current book about plastic. Facts about the plastic industry, how much plastic there actually is in the world and what it is doing to us all. How do we change our habits to avoid seeing more whales being washed ashore with several pounds of plastic inside?

Rise and resist. How to change the world – Claire Press

Clare Press runs one of my favourite podcasts around and I have been longing to get my hands on this new book of hers. In this book she meets passionate change makers that work towards a better world and explores how we can all help change the world with activism.

Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart & William McDonough

This well known book rethinks the way we make things. Must our production really damage the world? Or are there ways of increasing the effectiveness of our production in ways that harm the planet and the people less?

Doing good better – William MacAskill

How can we make a difference in this world? By using our time to help people? Or are we more effective letting our money do the job? In this book the author tries to understand effective altruism and how we can maximise our impact with our decisions.

Interested in learning more about sustainability? Why don’t you join me in my reading?