Finding a Way to Love the Junk

I started this year with a bullet journal, i’d wanted a way to keep myself organised and be crafty and creative whilst doing so. However, a few weeks into it I realised that what I wanted wasn’t an organisational journal but a scrapbook style journal. A couple of hours of research later (and by research I mean scrolling through Pinterest) I found a much better fit for what I wanted to do, Junk journalling. Of course i’m still going to keep up with my bullet journal, no point in wasting a perfectly good notebook, and it does keep me organised. It’s also a great place to jot down blog ideas.

Junk journalling is the practice where you take items such as old tickets, recipes, business cards etc and use them to create a work of art on each page of your journal. It’s a great way to reuse bits of waste and un-recyclable rubbish that you’ve collected over the years and can also be used as a good way to remember certain occasions, holidays, and days out.

You can also use thing such as clothing tags, old envelopes, and buttons to make 3D or textured pages. I myself have used parts of old birthday cards, lace and even feathers to create nice sensory pages. Its a nice and relaxing past time that costs nothing except for the price of the original book, and even then you can make you’re own journal by sewing the pages together, that way you can make your journal as big as you want.

For those of you looking for a relaxing, waste reducing hobby I would highly recommend trying out a junk journal. It’s so easy, whether you think of yourself as creative or not, it’s a great way to look back over the year, and its another way to reduce your waste footprint.

Here are a few pages from my current junk journal.

Small Habits, Big Changes

So it’s a few days after New Year and i’m visiting a few of my dear friends and saying at one of their houses. Now neither of my friends consider themselves minimalists, and whilst they are both trying to reduce their impact on the environment neither of them are as stringent in their low waste living as me. However for the few days that I stayed with them I noticed some low waste habits that they have without even thinking about it.

The first happened early on in my visit, we were returning from the supermarket having picked up ingredients for dinner (with a reusable shopping bag of course) and we noticed that my friends neighbour had left a small, wooden, wine rack by their bin. The wine rack was in perfect working order and whilst neither of us drinks wine my friend picked it up and said, ‘I can use this’. Up-cycling other peoples unwanted items is a great way to reduce waste and save money, in fact my friend regularly takes in old, unwanted items and reuses them.

The second came once my other friend joined us. The friend who we were staying with pulled out a box of clothes and invited us to rifle through them and take anything we wanted as she didn’t wear them any more. After this visit i’ve now gone home and had another rifle through my closet and plan on offering my friends the same opportunity to get some free clothes before I donate the rest to charity.

Both of my friends also regularly knit and sew, making their own jumpers, adding patches to damaged clothes etc. Which, other than being a fun past time, is another way to both save money and reduce your impact on the world. I myself have used old T-shirts, dresses etc to make pillowcases, shirts etc.

It’s these small habits that can soon enough become second nature that will lead you to a fulfilling low waste life.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Low Waste New Year

Now I realise that i’ve sort of missed the boat when it comes to making a ‘how to have a low waste Christmas’ post so i’ll leave that one until next year. However now that Christmas is over I thought i’d talk about what a lot of people are beginning to think about. New Years Resolutions.

You may already have some ideas about what you want to do next year. Save money. Loose weight. Take more chances. The same vague, slightly flakey resolutions that everyone makes year after year, and be honest the same resolutions that you don’t keep year after year. I know I don’t.

That’s why this year I’m making a concerted effort to keep my resolutions, and to make them specific, low waste resolutions. My main resolution is to reduce the amount of plastics and packaging that I use, especially when I am out and about. So here are the top 5 plastics and packaging that I pledge to cut out in 2018.

1. Straws

Plastic straws are a good example of single use plastics. These straws can be found littering landfill sights all over the country as well as the ocean and will take over 100 years to degrade. Do we really need them? The answer to that question for me is no. There is no reason for me to use straws as i’m perfectly capable of drinking straight from the glass when I go out with my friends However if you use straws because you have very sensitive teeth or any other reason then why not invest in a pack of reusable, easily cleanable, metal straws. They are long lasting and actually better for your health than plastic straws as there has been a link between drinking through plastic and cancer.

2. Hot beverage cups

When you’re out and about, especially in the cold winter, it’s always nice to stop and grab a hot drink. However the one-use disposable cups that these drinks come in are the drawback of this treat. Thankfully, most coffee houses will allow you to bring in your own reusable travel mug to fill up, in fact some companies such as Starbucks will give you a discount if you provide your own mug. I myself keep my university travel mug in my car so that I can take it with me when i’m out for the day, to further reduce costs I make my own tea in it so that i’m not tempted to pop into an expensive coffee shop when i’m out and about.

3. Plastic bottles

As i’ve said before plastics are non-biodegradable and as such should be on everyones no-use list. However one of the most common uses of plastics when we are out and about is water bottles. Now you may be one of those people who buys a bottle of water when you’re out and about and then reuses it for a couple of weeks, but as I said in the straw section reusing plastic bottles can be very detrimental to your health. I myself have invested in a metal water bottle which keeps my water cooler for longer and is built specifically to be reused. There are also drinks bottles out there that can double as hot drink containers.

4. Plastic bags

Plastic bags are probably the most widely known polluting plastic and many countries, including my own country of the UK, have either banned or imposed a tax on using plastic bags. To use a plastic bag in a UK shop you have to pay 5p, which may not seem like a lot but still acts as a deterrent. I keep two cloth shopping bags inside my backpack at all times so I have something to hold any items I may buy when I am out and about. These reusable cloth bags fold down very small and can be kept in your pockets if you’re not one to carry around a backpack or a purse, and the one off payment of around £1 is much cheeper than shelling out 5p every time you want to buy something.

5. Sandwich packaging

What happens when you’re out and about and you get hungry? Do you have time to stop for a sit down lunch or do you just grab a pre-made sandwich from the shop? Sandwich packaging may not jump to your mind as super wasteful, most of them contain cardboard so they’re recyclable right? However you need to be careful about how much packaging you are buying. Whilst lots of sandwich packets do contain cardboard they also often contain thin, non-recyclable plastic windows which will mean that your entire lunch packet will end up on a landfill. When out and about try sitting down for lunch or investing in some tupperware and bringing lunch with you, this will also cut down on costs.

There are many other ways to cut down on your waste in the new year but hopefully these 5 things will help get you on your way. If you want to join the low waste resolution leave a comment below about what you are going to give up for new years.

Keep it Low Waste in your Pants

I believe that I covered most of the bathroom in my last post about Lush products, but as someone with a uterus I just couldn’t leave out sanitary products. Now, being on your period is probably the time of the month when you are least worried about waste and more worried about keeping clean and tidy. But you have to admit that throwing away umpteen sanitary towels or tampons is not exactly eco-friendly. The question is what do you do about it? Now I don’t know about you but growing up tampons and sanitary towels were the only two options presented to me if I didn’t want to go bleeding all over my clothes.

However with a bit of research I have found some low waste alternatives that actually turn out both cheaper in the long run and healthier for your between-me-down-there.

1. Contraception

The main thing that i’ve used has been my contraception. There are certain types of contraception that will, if not stop, then severely reduce the amount that you bleed each month. I have a mirena coil, which other than only needing to be changed every 5 years (low waste and low hassle), has the added advantage of practically stopping my period. Now whilst it was uncomfortable when I first had it inserted, it was provided free by the NHS and family planning, and it doesn’t require me to remember to top up my contraceptive every day.

2. Menstrual cups

The Menstrual cup is a good alternative to tampons, it consists of a reusable silicone, is shaped like a bell and comes in a variety of sizes. It’s inserted the same as a tampon and removed every 4 or more hours (depending on flow), rinsed and reinserted. Due to its material it can be easily cleaned with boiling water or the same sterilising solutions used for baby bottles, and it can be reused for up to 5 years or until the silicone starts to degrade. Whilst Menstrual cups are initially more expensive than tampons, their long life makes them much cheaper in the long run. Menstrual cups also provide a safer alternative to tampons as studies have shown that whilst toxic shock syndrome can occur with tampons it is virtually non-existent with Menstrual cups.

There are a wide variety of sizes of menstrual cups from various sources.

3. Reusable pads

For those of you who suffer from vaginismus (vaginal tightness) or simply don’t want to use tampons or menstrual cups then reusable sanitary pads are another good, low waste, alternative. They usually come in packs of 3-5, are brightly coloured or patterned in order to help reduce staining, and can be washed in regular washing machines. A lot of them come with cloth cases to keep and carry them in and poppers to attach them to your underwear, which prevents the accidental and painful sticking of adhesive to skin and hair. Whilst they don’t have as long a life as Menstrual cups they are multiple use and are often made of biodegradable fibres such as bamboo. If you don’t fancy buying these pads then there are very simple pattens online for you to make your own out of scrap fabric.

A lot of reusable pads come with cute and bright patterns
You can buy multipacks of reusables just like regular sanitary pads.

Low Waste is Lush

I had planned to dedicate my next few blog posts to breaking down sustainable living room by room, starting with the bathroom. However when I tried to list the main ways to reduce waste (no pun intended) in the bathroom I couldn’t overlook the shear amount of Lush products that I use for almost every part of my regime.

Now I like using Lush products for a variety of reasons:

  1. Lush uses all natural ingredients in their products which is great for someone who like me, is allergic to almost every synthetic skin care product on the market.
  2. They support many good causes, from their stance against animal testing to their charity pot hand and body cream, which donates 100% of the money made by it to the small charities that they advertise.
  3. Finally and most importantly for this blog, they use minimal, entirely recycled and recyclable containers for all of their products.

To go into more detail, Lush advocate for the recycling of their product packaging by giving you the incentive of returning 5 clean pots to them for a free face mask. Their soaps, massage bars, shampoo and conditioner bars are all wrapped in recyclable paper and can be kept in reusable metal tins. Due to their use of natural products their exfoliants do not include the plastic micro-beads that are polluting our oceans and killing our marine life.

 

Lush gives you an incentive to recycle
A well used set of shampoo and conditioner tins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also found that whilst on the surface Lush products may just seem like a middle-class white girls dream (and on some levels they are), they are in-fact quite cheap whilst still being well made. I can prove this with some comparisons of my main Lush products and their supermarket comparisons.

The shampoo and conditioner bars that I use, ‘Honey I washed my hair’ and ‘Big’, cost £6.50 a piece. Which may seem expensive but when you consider that fact that they both last me around 2-3 months they are actually cheaper than their liquid substitutes. An average bottle of liquid shampoos or conditioner costs around £2.50 and lasts me 2 weeks at the most, this comes to £15 per product every 3 months opposed to £13 for both products every 3 months.

The face cleanser I use, “Let the good times roll’ costs £7.50 for a 100g pot and once again lasts me around 3 months. The other daily skin cleaning products that I have used cost around the same but only last about 2 months.

A tiny pot of the charity hand and body moisturiser lasts me nearly 5 months and costs £3.75 which by all accounts is much cheaper than most moisturisers of the same quality on the market. And it has the added benefit of improving the lives of others through donations.

Whilst I do hesitate to push companies or consumerism in general I do believe in critical shopping, as well as focusing on sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Lush as a company comes up trumps on all accounts.