Plastic Free July Challenge: How did it go for me?

So the Plastic Free July challenge is nearly at an end. I was planning to make a vlog about it but unfortunately, I was too busy to do one. But I managed to write down all my notes, thoughts and practices during this month and post them all together here in this blog.

I heard about Plastic Free July a month ago from a Facebook group I’m in about Zero Waste Lifestyle. It caught my attention and thought I can elaborate more on the subject.

I have heard about the concept of reducing waste and refusing plastic the first time when I watched Ahmad Alshuqairi’s show that broadcasted a couple of years ago. He met with Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, and showed us how she made drastic changes to her lifestyle and was able to produce only one jar of waste that she couldn’t Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, or Rot.

I admired this lifestyle a lot and I wished that the whole world can adapt it to make our planet cleaner and eliminate plastic usage for good. Blue Planet II is a great show to see how marine life is affected by the plastic waste we are producing. It is strange how this lifestyle was actually the norm around 100 years ago before plastic was invented. You may ask anyone in the elderly community about the way people shopped, the natural ways they preserved food,  the limitation of clothes, and the contentment of a simple way of life.

In Nottingham, there are attempts to bring back the old way of shopping goods, which is buying in bulk and using environment-friendly packaging. One example is Sarah Maloy’s Nottingham Zero Waste Collective pop up shop whom I interviewed in my guest blog this July.  Another example is the Dash Vegan shop on Triumph Road. They offer packaging-free products and alternatives.

This July, I made a pledge to myself to try to reduce, or even better refuse, 3 plastic items to come into my home. Looking how this summer is so hot due to climate change, and how much plastic there is in our oceans, I can do little changes at first, and gradually be plastic free as much as I can. But before I tell you what they are, it’s worth mentioning that there are 3 plastic/non-biodegradable things that I stopped or even don’t purchase at all due to cultural practice.

Here are 3 plastic items I don’t use:

One: Kitchen/Bathroom Cleaning Wipes

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For cleaning my home, I always use cleaning cloths and sponges. Cleaning cloths could be either old vests or T-Shirts made into rags or old towels. I use the normal yellow sponges you get from the shops, but once I am done with them, I am going to buy the reusable ones. I use also black and white newspapers sometimes to polish glass (Good way to reuse them!). Soapy water and other cleaning products are what use with the cleaning cloths and sponges. I never was convinced with the single-use cleaning cloths you use for bathrooms or kitchens. I admit I use hand wipes when I am outdoors, but I am willing to use reusable ones when my current ones run out. One thing that I never do, is throwing wipes in the toilet. Never ever!

Two: Plastic Water Bottles

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I never had a problem with drinking tap water. Where I live, we are blessed with good quality water. When I am out for a walk, I have my water bottle filled from home. I reuse a large glass bottle I have and fill it when we as a family go out. A great benefit of glass is that it keeps water cold. When we are at restaurants, we also order tap water.

Three: Plastic Straws

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After watching a video where a Marine Biologist extracts a plastic straw out of a turtle’s nostril, I vowed never to buy single-use plastic straws again. What’s wrong with drinking from the glass/cup immediately? I don’t need them. One of my daughters insisted that she needs a straw to drink her milk (7-year-olds “rolling eyes”), so she uses now a reusable straw and cleans it after every use. The pain that turtle went through just isn’t worth it.

Here are 3 items I pledged to try to reduce or refuse For Plastic Free July: 

One: Shampoo Bottles

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I am not a shampoo/beauty products hoarder in the first place. I buy one bottle of shampoo/conditioner/shower gel when I need them and I don’t buy others until they are finished. Same with soap. But you can’t help knowing that these bottles and packaging materials are sometimes not recyclable, and they will most likely end up in land fields or in the sea.

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In terms of soap bars, I collected soap scraps I have at home and made them into new bars. Sucess!

I researched for Shampoo/Conditioner alternatives, and found a couple of options:

  • Buying original Aleppo soap (made from olive oil and lye) which you can use not only for your hair but for your body as well. Most of these soaps come in environment-friendly packaging.
  • Buying Shampoo/Conditioner Soap Bars which lathers on wet hair and is mostly made out of natural ingredients. They are normally sold to you in paper bags.
  • Taking a clean empty jar or bottle with you to a Zero Waste Shop, fill it with shampoo/conditioner there and buy by weight.
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I did all three of the above as a matter of fact. The Shampoo Bars were good for me but difficult for my children as they found it very fiddly to use. So, liquid shampoo and soap for my kids are more practical for them.

But they do not come cheap. A 55g shampoo bar costs around £6 comparing to a £3-4 250 ml bottle of shampoo. It is advertised that they last around 3 months. Well, I will do the math in 3 months time!

There is another option as well, which I haven’t experimented with yet but will do when my shampoo finishes, which is buying liquid castile soap in bulk and customising it as you like with essential oils. You can use it for your hair, body, hands and even as dishwashing soap. Will give it a go soon!

Two: Cling Film

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I was worried about this one, but with a quick check in my kitchen cupboards, I was able to:

  • Use my glass Tupperware
  • Put plates over bowls
  • Use parchment/baking paper to wrap sandwiches, fruit and veggies.
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I don’t know if parchment/baking paper is the best way to store food in the fridge, but I think it works for me. Unlike kitchen rolls, they don’t absorb moisture. So all my fruit and vegs are staying fresh for a long period! That’s a win-win!

Three: Fruit and Veg Packaging

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This is probably what I am finding the most difficult to tackle, as I normally shop at supermarkets where packaging fruit and veg in plastic bags, wrapping or boxes are very common. Even though there is loose fresh produce without packaging, but it is doesn’t apply to all.  I depend on frozen fruit and veg a lot, which obviously is in plastic packaging as well.  

To try to buy my fruit and veg with no plastic, I had to go to either a Farm Market or small deli shops. This led me to make several shopping trips to different destinations. I am still on the hunt for shops or supermarkets in Nottingham where I can do all my shopping in one place! Just like the one Bea goes to:

It was a busy and exciting Plastic Free July for me! I have still a lot of research and findings to do, but I think I’m on a good start. This is not the end of course! I will keep on looking for plastic-free alternatives that suit my family and I and smarter ways to sustain the only planet we live on.

At the same time, I think as a concerned community in Nottingham, we need to see how we can arrange to get a Zero Waste shop. There is a lady in Leicester who did it:

 

Did you take the Plastic Free July challenge? What swaps did you do? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoy your summer!

Interview with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective Owner, Sarah Maloy | #PlasticFreeJuly Blog

I am honoured to have Sarah Maloy, owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective, as my guest for my blog this month for Plastic Free July.

Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective
Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamzerowastecollective/

She had a Plastic-Free Pop-Up shop running for a couple of days back in April, May and June this year at the THINK in NG Meeting space in Nottingham City Centre.

I passed by her stall once and we had a chat, finding that we have a lot in common and the passion to make a better change to people lives and the environment. I noticed that Sarah had a copy of Bea Johnson’s book sitting on one of the shelves: Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life. We both expressed our admiration for this woman who started a blog that gradually lead to a worldwide movement.

We hope that we might inspire you while reading this interview with Sarah to use less plastic this month and think about other alternatives.

Enjoy!


Mona: Hi Sarah! What does “Zero Waste Life” mean in your perspective?

Sarah: Hi Mona and the Organising Ninja Gang! Well, a Zero Waste life to me means to ‘consume consciously’ so that you are taking steps to minimise the waste you generate in your life.  Blue Planet II highlighted the problems that plastic is causing in our world; polluting our oceans, injuring wildlife and also likely affecting the health of us all. So I empower myself with information so I can live more consciously. This means that I plan as much as I can, my meals and shopping for example, and I always carry my reusable water bottle, take my reusable cup, straws and produce bags wherever I go so I don’t get caught out and end up with any plastic packaging.

Mona: As a Nottingham resident, spreading awareness in our local communities about clutter and its negativities is a social responsibility for me. If you agree with this, how would you approach people who haven’t heard about Zero Waste Life?

Sarah: When I talk to people about following a zero waste lifestyle I generally explain that I am reducing the waste I create as I am concerned about our environment. I originally trained as a Biologist and I know that we are part of the environment and not separate from it. We have a responsibility to protect it as it provides us with so much; the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.  I often talk about Blue Planet II as a lot of people saw that.  I explain how sad that makes me feel, and that makes me want to take some action.  

Mona: There is a strong connection between the “living with less clutter” concept and the Zero Waste Life movement. I had a client where after a big clear out, they wanted to make sure they won’t accumulate clutter again. How can adopting a Zero Waste Life help them in that?

Sarah: When you become more aware of the waste you create, you automatically start to reduce it.  I started out following the 3Rs, in this order – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle but over 2 years ago, when I read about the zero waste movement and the damage that our waste is doing to the world, I added in some more – now I start with Refuse!  And also include Repair in the Rs, so, with a fantastic group of people, I also coordinate Nottingham Fixers, a voluntary community repair group who run repair cafe to help people fix their broken things rather than throw them away and buy new ones.   

Mona: I have visited your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop” at THINK in NG. The aroma of your products reminded me of shops in the good old days where goods are displayed in front of you. Do you think millennials would be interested in buying in bulk instead of buying conveniently from a supermarket?

Sarah: We are social human beings and it’s in our nature to want to interact with each other, they can do that is a ‘slow-shopping’ experience at a bulk market such as the one I run with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective.  I also think that people are wanting to make a connection with their food when they buy in a ‘market’ type environment they are doing that. Finding out where our food comes from, knowing that it’s been grown in a sustainable way, shopping locally, are all connections that people crave, and for good reason.

Mona: The temptations of consumerism nowadays lure people into making the wrong purchasing choices, and that sometimes end with accumulative clutter in their homes and might end with hoarding issues, along with serious mental and health problems. I saw this in many homes and it is sad to see this happening. From an environmental point of view, what would be the shocking element to use to make people wake up from this?

Sarah: With all this ‘unconscious’ consuming the human race has become detached from our impact on the environment. In nature, things come into being, they die, decay and go back to the earth and support new things then to grow.  It’s a beautiful cycle that keeps on repeating itself as it is so successful and makes sense.  As humans we are taking from our environment and generating new things and then we are discarding them; we are not completing the circle. When I visit schools, I show the children a plastic bottle of water. I say that when you have spent your few minutes drinking the water from the bottle, where does this bottle go? What happens to it? Then I show them the landfill hole in the ground, some plastic bottles littering our streets and on our beaches some bottles on our beaches.  Then, there are also some shocking images of wildlife… but I always follow up with the positive changes we can easily make!

Mona: I support a minimalist lifestyle, and I coach clients who want to live a simpler, richer life. It is sometimes a drastic change and close family members, or friends can stop them and not support them in this journey. I believe that you face many challenges in your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop”. What are they?

Sarah: Unfortunately society isn’t really set-up to minimise our waste. Many of our food staples are packaged and it’s not always convenient to shop in our own containers.  I think the biggest challenge is to buy staples without plastic, like pasta, rice etc. Then there’s coffee and nuts and seeds. Packaging from these types of items were ending up in my bin so these are the things I decided to sell.  I think once people become aware of the single-use plastic around them they start to want more information about other choices they could make, such as ditching wipes and using a flannel. Or refusing straws, or covering their leftover food with a plate rather than cling film.

Mona: Last but not least, what final message would you like to send to our readers?

Sarah: If you’re concerned about the state of our environment, don’t despair, there are always things you can do. Plan for some simple plastic swaps such as using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup for when you’re out and about. How about walking when you can and not driving your car? Maybe go on a litter pick or join a local wildlife group. Or perhaps de-clutter and send some items to charity for others to use!

Good luck and go and make a difference!


Check out Sarah on her Social Media:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamzerowastecollective/

https://www.facebook.com/nottinghamfixers/ 

Instagram: 

@nottmzwc

@nottinghamfixers

 

Fasting & Decluttering. What do they have in common?

We all heard about fasting, which is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A lot of recent reports are praising fasting for its medical benefits. There is even a medical clinic in Germany that specializes in Fasting! Individuals fast for various reasons, either for religious, spiritual or dieting purposes. Of course it is hard in the beginning, but then your body gets used to less food and water and adapts to this new routine.

Whatever your purpose is, fasting is a form of decluttering. Why? Because you are minimizing your intake of food and water and detoxing your body from toxic and unhealthy substances.

Hunger and thirst, and therefore eating and drinking, preoccupy us sometimes from certain aspects of our lives, our relationships and our belongings. Same thing with clutter, it makes a barrier between yourself and the outside world.

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When you are willingly fasting in a correct manner, you suppress your hunger and thirst and eventually you become more aware of the surroundings around you. Since eating & drinking are no longer a priority during this period, you can be able to focus on other things.

And that is the same thing with house decluttering. It is a process of removing unwanted items in your crowded home, making room and learning to take in fewer things in your home. After this process, you will have space in your home and an emptier mind. Therefore, you will be ready to take in new challenges and new resolutions.

Fasting and decluttering both have common teachings and findings. Some of them are:
  1. Minimalism: Going through these journeys teaches you accept less, and cherish the true treasures and riches in life.
  2. Social Responsibility: Giving excessive food, clothes and other items in your home for donation while fasting or decluttering raises your awareness for people in need.
  3. Concentration: as clutter or food/water are shifted away from in front us, you will find the time and space to focus on other things, like contacting your relatives, going out for activities and experiencing the environment around you
  4. Inner Peace: They will lead to less stress and more calmness and relaxation in your life.
  5. Controllability: You will be able to resist temptations easily and be in control what goes into your body or home.

 

Fasting, like decluttering, must be done slowly on a long period of time with no exhaustion. Preparing yourself mentally and physically is a vital key for successful results. Consult a doctor or a professional organiser for an effective plan.