The One with Another List

A couple of years ago I posted about some of the things I was trying out to live a more sustainable, greener lifestyle. I cannot believe that post is so old now! It feels very recent that I started to consider what choices I was making and where I could improve things, whilst working to accept the ways in which I was not able to or would not change.

So, since I have the old post open I will go over the next steps I wrote then and see how I am doing.

Then: I switched to renewable energy. My next step was to put standby loads on remotes.

Now: I am actually no longer on a fully renewable plan as it became too expensive / far more expensive than a standard plan, which is a shame, and I forgot about my goal to be better on turning standby loads off. Oops.

Then: Switched soap and started moving to greener cleaning products. My next step was to use more reusable cleaning tools, such as microfibre clothes.

Now: I since discovered that washing microfibre cloths in the washing machine releases microplastics into waterways and therefore is not very good for the environment at all. This was a bit disheartening as I had started using a microfibre, washable sponge for my dishes and incorporate microfibre cloths into my daily light cleaning, such as dusting surfaces. So I stopped using those. And switched to biodegradable cellulose sponges for dishwashing, combined with a dish brush for scrubbing. I also use plain cotton towels, the cheap face clothes you can buy, for some of my light cleaning and again, cellulose sponges. I could definitely be better still but I admit I don’t really like putting the dirty cloths into the washing machine, I worry about the chemicals of them lingering in the machine. Although I do use the more eco friendly brands now I still don’t want that kind of stuff on my skin. I am thinking I could just hand wash them, but that feels like a lot of effort? 

Then: Switched to cloth menstrual pads and liners, reusable face cotton rounds, cardboard ear buds. Next step was none, though I did mention sewing my own liners.

Now: I actually have been experimenting with sewing my own liners! I am not very good yet but I will get there. (Hopefully.) For bonus sustainability points I have also been ripping up old pajamas for the cotton flannel to make said liners, and also to make more face cotton rounds. As well as this, I made myself a wash bag, basically a cotton bag with a waterproof lining and a zip, which I can use for my dirty washing when travelling instead of a plastic bag. I already use reusable wash bags for my cloth pads but I wanted to learn how to make my own so I could customize the sizes for other uses. Right now I have a giant one for long trips, but I haven’t yet made the smaller one for short trips, so I just use the giant one for all trips. It’s not ideal as they are a bit bulkier than a plastic bag. But it works nicely and can just be chucked in the machine with the washing. It’s actually more convenient than trying to find a plastic bag to use, since there aren’t many in the house since I mostly reuse the same ones or use other reusable bags.

This leads nicely to…

Then: I was working hard to carry and use reusable bags for shopping. My next step was to become even better at this, and to help myself by keeping a stash in my car.

Now: I do keep a stash in my car! Though I am still not good about replenishing said stash once I’ve used them up/used them and taken them into the house. I find it difficult to use them when travelling too, as I don’t tend to carry one around with me. I probably should start sticking one in my bag before every trip, just in case. Also: see above as I have also been thinking about the other ways I use plastic grocery bags and starting to move away from them too.

Then: I started using a bamboo toothbrush. My next step was to perhaps experiment with alternative toothpaste.

Now: I still use a bamboo toothbrush – I like it! I have realised it is unlikely that I will replace my tooth paste though- I take pride in the good condition of my teeth and worry about that being affected. I have been thinking about floss lately though; I do need to find a greener solution to that.

Then: I was becoming better at taking a reusable cup to Starbucks and wanted to buy some steel straws.

Now: I bought steel straws! Though with everywhere now using paper straws it doesn’t feel so important anymore, which is nice as I found it difficult to carry them around. I admit to struggling to always use a reusable cup too. I tend to have Starbucks when I am on the go – buying a drink before taking a train for a overnight trip for instance. And it’s in these instances that a reusable cup just doesn’t feel feasible – I don’t want to be carrying around a bulky and dirty used cup when I am already loaded up with my luggage. A reusable cup also requires planning, you have to know that on that day you will be going to buy a drink at a coffee shop. Sometimes I am more impulsive? I just find it inconvenient really, which makes me feel bad, as I know how bad coffee cups are for the environment. I haven’t really found the answer here to be honest. 

Then: I had switched to a steel water bottle and wanted to buy a smaller one

Now: I have bought a smaller one and I use both sizes regularly, depending on what I am up to and well, how much water I need. I really love how steel water bottles keep my water cold. I do find them a bit noisy though, but that’s a very minor complaint. 

Then: I changed my lightbulbs to LED bulbs and there were no further steps noted.

Then: I was trying to be good about recycling and I wanted to make the effort to recycle glass and my old clothing.

Now: I have not made much effort in glass recycling. I have also discovered that my local council won’t take shredded paper. So let’s note some of the things my local council won’t accept- shredded paper, plastic type 5, plastic type 1, hard plastics, black plastics, any and all glass, UHT cartons… It’s just pathetic, really. These limitations can be super frustrating. On the plus side! I did gather up some old clothes and I took them to H&M for recycling and earned a shiny £5 voucher in return. (I am not sure that H&M are that trustworthy, but at least I tried.) I also segregated some old clothes, mostly old pajamas, for tearing up and reusing the material for liners, face cotton , wash bags, any sewing project really. Then, I took some items to charity. And finally, I have been experimenting with selling some stuff on Depop.

Depop has definitely been a game changer for me. Sadly not in selling; it is still super difficult to sell old clothes. However with Depop at least there are no listing fees like eBay so you don’t lose anything trying (the post also stays live until you remove it compared to eBay where it expires and then you have to pay again to relist.) ( Note it’s been a while since I sold on eBay so this is just from my memory and I could be wrong, but that is what I remember.) I have been loving buying from Depop though. There are some really good items on there. And so finally, I am moving away from fast fashion towards the second hand market. Here in the UK the main place to buy second hand items are charity shops, which requires dedicating some time to go out and shop. I rarely go out shopping and usually choose to online shop, in the evenings after work usually, which makes fast fashion so much more appealing and is why I never really got into second hand shopping. But Depop allows for the convenience and ease of buying fast fashion but with second hand items, at least that is how I feel. And again, I love eBay, but the interface of Depop is much nicer for clothes. I have found some amazing items on there. The main thing that annoys me is that not all sellers list the materials of the clothes they sell and they may not response quickly to enquiries about that, or at all, so I have missed out on items because of that. (And you then rely on the seller being honest, which is a thing too.) Also items tend not to be returnable so you better hope it fits. This makes buying certain items, like pants and skirts , a bit of a gamble. But still, it makes second hand shopping much easier, much more convenient and thus much more fun. I am enjoying it greatly and have found myself turning to it when I need something instead of going to my usual online shops and buying new items.

Some other things…

Now: I have switched to a safety razor! 

These always terrified me, I had visions of innocently cutting open an artery in the shower, but they aren’t actually that bad at all. I haven’t cut myself even once. I started with this (stunning) MÜHLE rose gold one with a closed comb and I didn’t like it. A closed comb came up in my research as the best for beginners as the blade isn’t as exposed, but I found that to be the main downside – it got clogged up really easily. Thankfully I could just switch the head to an open comb and that changed everything for me. Benefits: I rarely have to change the blade, it’s super easy to clean, it never gets clogged up mid shave like my old disposables did (or the closed comb), it is sharp and stays sharp even after multiple uses and I get less ingrown hairs with it. It’s an absolute dream, basically, and I feel stupid for not buying one sooner. The only snag is I have no idea how I am eventually going to dispose of the used blades. I am currently just….keeping them. I don’t know what else to do. They are too sharp to go into the trash and since I can’t recycle glass, I can’t use the put them in a glass jar trick as I saw recommended when I researched. It’s a puzzle…but for another day. The blades are small and thin enough and I change them infrequently enough that it’s not going to be a problem for a while, thankfully. 

Now: I tried using beeswax wraps for my daily sandwiches.

I am not convinced I like them though. I normally use plastic sandwich bags. I find Tupperware bulky and a faff to clean, so I would use a bag a few times and then stick it in the recycling. I know that is not sustainable though. So I looked at my options- paper bag would still be pretty wasteful. There are silicon food storage bags, but apparently silicon is horrible for the environment and eventually the bag would need throwing out/replacing most likely so I figured that’s a no go, then there was beeswax wraps. This seemed to offer the lightweightness and laziness I wanted – wrap it up, chuck it in my bag, rinse it off after a few uses. And yes, that was all good. But I found the wrap added a sort of dry texture, perhaps a film?, to my sandwiches. I could like, taste the wrap. I also found that the sticky wraps stuck to all the lint in my bag and would pick up hair and dust like crazy too, so it did not really feel like it was protecting my food from outside influences, but rather attracting them to it. I have considered making a cotton pouch to put the beeswax wrapped sandwich in, but that feels like a lot. So I don’t really have a solution here either. I am going to keep experimenting though.

These may be the only things I have done since that last post. I am perhaps moving at a snails pace here , and in some ways , not doing so good with this whole goal of mine. Some changes are easier than others, sometimes they feel better, such as the safety razor and cloth pads which have both been incredible, and sometimes it just feels like a total pain, such as the reusable cup and recycling.  It’s also disheartening when you thinking you are making the better choice but then you find out it’s actually not that great, such as realising that microfibre clothes release microplastics into the environment. And there is always the question- are the eco friendly products I have switched to just clever marketing?  It feels like everything has a “down side” and/or a corporate intent, especially with how ‘trendy’ it is these days to be ‘sustainable’. I mean, who knows if H&M are really recycling the clothes I give them, that the cleaning products I use are actually better etc. Also, does it even matter that I do these things, when I also do “bad” things, like driving?  And it can feel demotivating and a little depressing, that. What are the right choices? Is there such a thing? Does any of it make a difference at all or is it all counteracted by my “bad” choices or the “bad” choices of other people or the fact that this sort of sustainability/green lifestyle stuff is incredibly priveledged, really?

Nonetheless,   I will keep going as always and see where this journey takes me. It remains an interest of mine and something I want to keep learning about anyway.