A lot of us have had the time for reflection. To consider our shopping habits. What else can we do to make sustainable changes to being a more conscious consumer?
Recently our blog covered 10 easy steps to plastic free for Plastic Free July. It has become quite apparent that yes it is incredibly important to the fight for our planet that banning single use plastic and campaigning for less plastic in shops are all equally important to the cause. However it does NOT stop there or even start there.
Before 23rd March and lockdown due to COVID-19 this is how my shopping looked. Wandering around at quite a slow pace, purposefully only picking out things that I deemed as appropriate purchases for my eco and sustainable lifestyle! Using the time when the kids were at school as the perfect time for meandering around with the luxury of time and space.
Which was was going well. I truly felt like I was making in-roads. Starting in the ‘Veg’ aisle, pretty easy place to begin and where I successfully collected only veg that was not packaged. I did spend a lot of time there ‘tut tutting’ at the amount of vegetables that were covered in pointless damaging harrowing looking plastic suffocating all that lovely veg!! With a basket of ‘plastic less veg’ I was pretty smug!
Fruit aisle too was pretty successful, enabled a collection of a great array of pieces of fruit that were not emblazoned with plastics and or anything else unwanted. Basket filled, easier elements of the shop complete. I revved myself up for the next aisle which was not going to be such a walk in the park!
Okay I know what you are thinking, I am a little bit on the extreme side I get that but hear me out, this is very important!!
Next I needed to get some household items. In the household items I saw many products that do what they need to do in your house. However in this particular shop there was no eco branded products and I kind of already expected that so that was okay. I had already got an eco supply of toilet paper from Amazon on a subscription basis so that felt good and although the toilet roll arrives in larger plastic bags at least I was doing one part of that purchase right, bought in bulk every 3 months and that sort of made me feel better about it, knowing that I would not have as much waist as usual. You know the days when you have to nip to the shop for some and there are only ‘4 packs’ available.
Anyway back to the shopping trip… down the ‘household aisle’.
So I needed to purchase some clothes washing products. Usually we go for the non-bio liquid option in this particular shop but I decided I had had enough of plastic bottles and opted for the large box of powder instead, last longer and then once finished the cardboard box can be recycled, better surely?! Well yes it should be, unless you and your daughter have an allergic skin reaction to the chemicals in the powder. Which is very worrying. It is non-bio so certainly I did not expect that. I know we have sensitive skin but surely?!
So in this particular instance I believe doing the right thing very much backfired on us. What other option, well simpler option was to shop separately for this product – and ended up getting an eco clothes washing liquid from Wilko’s which is sold in pat recycled bottles. So better. Or if we feel plush we get the ecover bottles. Now we discovered a refill shop over the bridge we go and do that whenever we can.
Now heading to the cupboard food aisle . What can we get to stick in the pantry?
Safe to say that it was almost impossible to find many products that did not come in some kind of double packaged offering. Rice in plastic bags, rice in boxes with plastic inside. Cereal in bags within boxes, what is the actual point in all of this?! We really can’t get our head around it all. What is wrong with how we used to shop? Before everything was emblazoned with offers and deals that don’t offer you anything more than extra products to recycle or even those that can’t be recycled or stuff that you can’t use because the best before date runs out before you get to use it (but it was such a great deal to buy 2 for the price of 1) although not if it costs the earth (literally in some extreme cases!)!
It seems more about the offers, the adverts, the incentives to get you to purchase products that we just don’t need. Things that have been over manufactured, over thought, over designed and over egged! Why?!
Cans of tinned tomatoes and beans that are great, at least that is better than plastic – I have collected and recycled so many tin cans over the last year, that my collection has got a little shall we say ‘out of control’ so no better time to start using them but when lockdown commenced and homeschool got started! Great I have a new purpose for the copious amounts of baked bean tins. So we proceeded to use the tins to make, bug houses, bird feeders, pallet planter displays, our pizza oven/bbq was converted to a rocket stove for a diy hot tub and we made an awesome little rocket stove out of several cans that proved an absolutely brilliant little make and yet here I am sat now on August 8th 2020 and I still have hundreds of cans that are collecting again in the garage – the amount of food that we eat that is in these great little cans is too much. Now I feel that NO I can’t keep buying them, in fact it makes me feel a little sick every time I open up another one, just thinking about what and how that will be and why.
If we truly consider what it is all about. Why these things are produced? It is about having products that can last, that can be more useful for longer. But things to be preserved it costs, not necessarily just money. Yet it costs the planet, well needed resources, well needed gases. The amount of energy that goes in to making and recycling tin cans is quite colossal in itself. Another problem. Although we have found lots of upcycling projects to create with them, which honestly have been wonderful, it still does not sit well that they are overproduced for our huge need to preserve food. Well this leads me back to seriously questioning our need for keeping foods like this in this way. Why do we need to do it!? Why?
What is it really achieving? Can’t we just grow what we need and use it when it is in season, when t is right there for us, grown in our own soil, literally and I suppose I mean figuratively too. Like in our own country, our own backyards, our allotments, our own farm, our communities. Why is this a nice thing, why is it like a new incentive. A new like cool thing that we could do or get involved in. It surprises me still that we don’t all just see living a simple less consumption minded society would relive so many of the problems that we have created.
Having fresh ingredients that we could freeze ourselves in our own tubs, not new created plastic packaging that has been sold to us on a lifeless shelf, screaming to us, ‘buy me buy me’. How about drying or smoking or curing foods. Canning or jarring up our own food in recycled glass pots and reusable tubs.
Shopping at the local butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers. Whatever it takes to strip our lives back from the crazy consuming world we live in. Part of it is just having time to sit back and realise this, part of it is allowing yourself to be more aware of it rather than just continuing on the hamster wheel of our fast paced lives.
A lot of us have had the time for reflection. The time to sit and ponder. To consider our shopping habits. I for one have not really wanted to visit the shops, very much less inclined to do so. SO we get to be inventive about how we shop, how we interact and how we develop and change our loves to become more sustainable. To change the mindset being one of a more conscious consumption type of way and considering even more with responsible travel. Especially holistic home hub and how we can live happily at home in our own space without the need or ability to go out. Making friends with nature. Interacting with our families using traditional methods. More so than any other aspect is our ability to be ‘at one with ourselves’ and what we have. Not needing more…
I digress slightly… but I believe very valid questions to ask. Can we?
How can I get away from purchasing these things? Can we survive without baked beans, tinned tomatoes? These are serious questions I have asked myself recently.
It turns out that once you start this journey and start thinking about what you can do to change things, it all seems a little overwhelming. Almost paralysing at times as to what you should and should not do.
Although I am also on the flip side very aware that it is not just my responsibility, it is not just individual responsibility. Yes that does contribute to the movement. The important thing is the conversations that people are starting to have. The brands that are now adopting these ways of working. The fact that people are thinking more, being more conscious with their consumption means that we are all taking on a little bit of the responsibility.
So this is where you get the chance to explore the simple changes you can make for your own new eco life.
This includes just a small number of changes you can easily make to get you started on your own eco & sustainable journey for conscious consumption.
What is next?!
What else can we do to make more sustainable changes in our lives to being more of the conscious consumer than anything else? How do we stream our lives back to something more appropriate?
I am at a crucial point now where I think that I have to make serious changes to how we live our lives for the better, for the long haul.
15 things we have changed
- Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles get refilled at a refill shop.
2. Soap bars are used for the rest of the sinks in the house instead of soap dispenser bottles – which if I have will keep and refill at the shop too.
3. Using shopping bags – fabric ones or life time shopper bags or old plastic ones.
4. Using a reusable menstrual cup rather than single use sanitary products. Easy to use with a bit of experience an much better for environment and my body.
5. No need for deodorant sprays or roll ons as now I have swapped to using a Thai Deodorant Stone and I would definitely not go back!
6. Instead of buying perfumes in bottles I now have a roll on with essential oils and oil blend that I can reuse and certainly I find this is so much more calming for the mind and I smell lovely too. And or I was gifted a wonderful necklace trinket that you put drops of essential oil in then wear round your neck, again smelling good.
7. We use recycled paper card for my business needs. Printing my own business cards etc.
8. Using bamboo takeaway cups and or when we go out for the day we use a two cup flask so I don’t even need to buy hot drinks (when we do it is a treat and usually at a cafe of some sorts) unless out and about using actual crockery!
9. Using Smol tablets – recycled packaging for washing clothes and dishwasher.
11. No packaging vegetables order from Riverford.
12. Have your own compost heap to put all food extras on to (we have 2 going on 3!)
13. So the milk and fruit juice deliveries we get three times a week is great, we are doing our bit, to reduce plastic waste and the bottles that the milk and juice arrive in get recycled back in to the system.
14. We now use wooden and or bamboo toothbrushes that will degrade over time. Still got some work to do do find an appropriate toothpaste option that will work for my small children. They are not quite so easily converted to charcoal or that kind of drastic change, yet!
15. We get eco toilet rolls on a subscriber basis that come in large packages, so some less plastics involved. I think this however could definitely be improved. Perhaps plastic packaging free is the way to go. Although these seem to be quite a lot more costly and for a single mum who is currently not working is possibly not the right time to change either.
List for what to change next for AAD!
Next things on the list to change and adapt to include but are not exclusive too:
1. Toilet paper brand that does not use plastic packaging – have some excellent ideas and sources already figured out, perhaps i’ll share with you soon!?
2. Find eco / recycled paper brand for my printer – this has been a long going project for me, must make it happen now.
3. Toothpaste options – still with the kids it is a real tricky change but…
4. Veg and fruit from local – less air/travel miles
5. Eggs local delivery – farms very close to us
6. Not buying tin canned goods – get most things dried from refill shop and or fresh Vegetables not in packaging
7. All dried goods from refill shop
8. Less packaging for all goods bought – really gets me mad when things are sent in so much unwanted and unneeded packaging that can not always be recycled and if it can that is even more annoying if it didn’t have a purpose and was made for it
9. Honey from local supplier in glass jars – very much reusable
10. Keep a supply of bags in the car for any impromptu shopping trips and remember to use them, rather than having to buy another bag or be given one of the plastic bags
Still so many changes to make, but getting there every day. It has led me to realise that if I can find these things perhaps others would love the chance to have these things available to them. If it was easy and I could do that for you, well that is a bonus isn’t it. Makes life so much easier and you can live that conscious consumption dream too, with little effort on your part.
So I decide that is exactly what we should do. Amie Alissa Design should branch out as a Refill shop. Why not? I want to find the appropriate things to make me feel like I am living more holistically, sustainably and socially better for everyone and we are sharing the messages, in fact it really makes sense to do it.
Welcome to our new shop – ‘The Refill Shed’ your local stop for conscious consumption. Making your eco life easy. Either visit the shed or we will visit parts of the local community a bit like the ‘local fish van’ but less fishy! We will be offering delivery services in the Low Villages and Barton Upon Humber. Also super excited to announce that The Refill Shed will be available for your local events. Providing essentials for all.
What better thing to do to start off by getting the supplies that we need and then offering the service to others. Making others lives easier and more sustainable and economical viable too.
Well that’s it for now…
We look forward to seeing you again here soon. If you can’t wait please see below Patreon link!!
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