My Year of Eco Challenges – Challenge 9 and an update

I have already announced my 9th challenge and this time it doesn’t start until the beginning of June.  Just to recap, in case you missed it, the next challenge is to slow down fashion!  I plan to try and create an outfit which is ‘in fashion’, but I don’t plan to buy anything. I am just going to use what I already have in my wardrobe.   I asked you all to join in with this challenge, suggesting that if seeing if you can be in fashion without buying anything new doesn’t do it for you, that you could just wear the same pair of shoes for a month, or slim your wardrobe down to a capsule wardrobe.  I’m not doing it alone. To see the full challenge and see who else is joining in read here.
I haven’t written an update on how my challenges are going in ages, so here goes:
  1. Shampoo – I am still not using shampoo. I have pretty much given up waiting for my hair to adjust to life without any interference and am now washing my hair once a week with olive oil soap. This seems to be doing the job just fine and it is a very inexpensive plastic free way to wash my hair as the soap comes in cardboard boxes.  I also haven’t used any conditioner, bubble bath or shower gel since I gave up shampoo!
  2. No supermarkets.  I am now used to spending an hour one morning a week doing the food shopping in my local grocers, butchers, Chinese shop, multipurpose shop (the type that sells everything from batteries to wool, to seeds to babywipes…) and charity shops. In between times I pop to the corner shop every so often, I pick up my locally caught fish and I get eggs dropped off at my house every few weeks.  I do have to admit to slightly breaking the rules once – I bought some food in an M&S at a hospital I had to stay at overnight (don’t worry all is ok). I had taken food with me, but it wasn’t enough and it was M&S salads or WHSmiths sandwiches and I didn’t want to buy a sandwich…  I have got into a good routine with my weekly shop and it is quite enjoyable, but I am considering changing it as although a large proportion of the fruit and veg at my green grocers is unpackaged, I still have problems with cucumbers wrapped in plastic and I used to buy organic food, whereas I’m not any more in my local shops…
  3. I haven’t bought anything new or secondhand for myself (within my rules). I have actually bought one thing for myself though – a glass water bottle.  I did have a plastic one, but I have had it for a while and I got a bit paranoid about using a plastic reusable bottle for too long as although it is BPA free, I’m not too convinced that means all is well. The kids still have plastic ones though as I wouldn’t feel safe giving them a glass one and I’m not sure how safe the metal ones are either.  Plus they had metal ones which they managed to dent within minutes of getting them (no perfect solutions here that I know of…)
  4. Giving things away (including my time) – I have lost all track of exactly what I have been doing here and most likely I haven’t been giving something every day but I have been giving when and where I can. I volunteered to become the secretary of the PTA at school, which has involved quite a lot of my time as we are meeting up every two weeks and I write minutes and agendas. I had a clear out of my kids books the other day and gave some that were in good condition, but that my son had no interest in to his pre-school. I give food away that I won’t use from time to time on my food sharing group.  I need to put a notepad and pen back in my bag to give to any homeless people I come across.  I haven’t been into town in ages, so haven’t seen any for a while. I’m sure there are more things, but I don’t want to devalue them by writing about them. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – my giving things challenge has become less about specifically giving something each day and more about a change of attitude. Instead of feeling reluctant when opportunities to give come up, I try to take them… I have also found that people have been giving me things quite a lot e.g. clothes, food, plants, seeds and it is great to be able to make use of things that other people don’t want or need.
  5. The Rubbish Diet emails may have finished, but I haven’t forgotten about it (as you might be able to tell from my last blog post). It is great to be able to compost the majority of my food waste and I’ve stopped throwing away jar lids and milk bottle lids.  I’m going to find out if I can recycle jar lids in metal recycling and I know I can recycle plastic milk bottle lids at The Green Centre in Brighton.  I’ve also been wondering if I can recycle can lids in the metal recycling (for some reason my local council doesn’t collect lids of any kind for recycling). One of my key problems is plastic bags – particularly on nuts and seeds, which I buy a lot of. They don’t say they can be recycled and I’m not sure if I can give them to a supermarket for recycling. Hopefully though by the time I’m done with going single use plastic free for July, I won’t have this problem anymore and I’m very intrigued to see what my bin will look like once I have ditched those bags.  I also need to look into the Green Centre more as it does take quite a few things that the council won’t take for recycling and there is also Magpie recycling in Brighton (but they charge for collections).
  6. I religiously did not use toilet paper for a month (see more here), but when the month was over I gradually went back to toilet paper.  The water pistol method worked really well to begin with, but after a while it didn’t work as well. The water pistol was a bit leaky and unreliable and I also ended up finding I needed to use a towel as well, which created more washing than I wanted…  I now need to find an alternative that I will be able to stick with for the long run.  I have been considered the Roman method of a sponge on a stick left in salt water in between times, but there is also the option of using old newspapers (I could ask at my local corner shop if they have any going spare…)
  7. In March I set up a food sharing group for my local area. So far it is working well. I have given away and received food via the group. I have given away chickpeas, noodles, bisto and rice milk and offered a few more things that haven’t been taken.  I have received some herbal teas, some fruit, some peanut butter (kind of outside the Facebook group, but I wouldn’t have been given it if I hadn’t set up the group) and some pumpkin seed butter.  I have also been given some veg seeds for planting.   There are also around 7 of us who through the group are clubbing together to buy free range organic eggs from a local farm.  We take it in turns to pick up the eggs and we have done 3 trips there so far.   The egg buying did get a little complicated as we weren’t sure how often to buy eggs and how long they keep for.  I have started trying to publicise the group – a friend has very kindly designed some leaflets. I spoke to a local journalist about the group and hopefully there will be an article in the paper about it at some point (although I haven’t heard anything from him in a while…).  I have been asking local places if they would be able to print out the leaflets for me as well as to leave them out for people to take e.g. the library and the children’s centre. I have forwarded a copy to the local newsletter that goes out to every household in the area and asked them if they will publish it.  I am waiting to hear back from quite a few people but hopefully the group will get some good publicity soon!
  8. In April I pledged to mend at least 5 things, if not 10 and I am happy to report I mended more than 10 things (and I blogged about some of them here and here). I also had a going single use plastic free to do list, which I didn’t manage to complete (see the full list here). I did go to Hisbe – a new local ethical supermarket (it doesn’t count as a supermarket just yet) and they do sell unpackaged nuts, pasta and rice.  I still need to go and check out Ecostream – a shop in the centre of Brighton that sells unpackaged foods.  I didn’t buy any dental floss as I couldn’t find any fully plastic free options and there were a few more things on there I haven’t quite got round to, but I am working on them! There have been some great chats going on, on Twitter about going single use plastic free and we have been trying to use the hashtag #pfjuk (Plastic Free July UK) if you want to find out more!
I need to remember to focus on my slowing down fashion challenge as at the moment, all I can think about is going single use plastic free for July as it seems like such a mammoth task still!  I have been having a play with some curtain edging though and will post about it soon 🙂
I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much!