The papers say I don’t use toilet paper, shampoo and toothpaste!

Hi there and if you have come to my blog from one of the newspaper articles published recently – welcome! I wrote this article when I named the Inspirational Saver of the Year and they did a press release about it and I was in all the papers online.
I was in The Daily MailThe Mirror, and the Mirror again, Money AOLThe SunThe ExpressThe ArgusThe Daily StarThe Daily Star again and apparently the Metro (offline) too. I was also on Juice FM, BBC Radio Hereford and BBC Radio Shropshire.

More recently I am a finalist in the MAD Blog Award and I have been in the papers again – the Mirror,  the Mail,  the Argus and on a Danish website here. I was also on BBC Sussex on Monday.  If you have a few seconds to spare I would really appreciate it if you vote for my blog Eco Thrifty Living to win in the Thrifty category here. I felt it would be useful to republish this article to clear up any misunderstandings! 

If you have been reading the articles about me, you probably imagine that I don’t use toilet paper, shampoo or toothpaste and neither does the rest of my family either. Well actually I do use all three of those and so do the rest of my family.
  • I spent one month not using toilet paper because I felt it was very wasteful and not good for the planet and wanted to see if I could live without it! I decided after that month that for the time being the answer to that question was no I couldn’t!
  • I tried cleaning my teeth with bicarbonate of soda for a couple of months. My teeth felt very clean, but I had to have a filling at the end of the two months and worried that it might have been because of the bicarb, I stopped using it. I have no conclusive evidence that, it was the reason for the filling though!
  • I have experimented with going without shampoo on and off over the last few years.

The main reason I tried these swaps was because of their impact on the environment (not to save money) and the dubious ingredients in some of them. I have spent time trying to concentrate my efforts on going plastic free and zero waste and these for me were the tricky ones, the ones I have tried giving up but I haven’t found something that works for me yet. If you are interested you can read about the many ways I have tried to reduce plastic in my life here.
I have managed to save money in lots of ways though, ways that have given me a better quality, healthier and happier way of life and they are all listed here
An example of that is wearing secondhand clothes. Some people might think that shopping in charity shops for clothes is fine when it is ‘just for fun’ but not when you can’t afford to buy new clothes and that labelling that eco is just poncy. Well actually buying clothes in charity shops is better than buying new ones because:
  1. New clothes are filled with chemicals like dyes, antibacterial agents, anti wrinkle chemicals and so on. The reason they recommend washing new clothes before you let babies wear them is to get rid of some of these harmful chemicals before they come in contact with their skin. Why stop at babies, should the rest of us be subjecting our skin to these chemicals? Second hand clothes in contrast have been worn and washed a few times and have less of these chemicals left hanging around.
  2. Manufacturing new clothes means growing cotton, which is water and pesticide intensive and the people growing the cotton work for little pay in dangerous conditions. Or it means creating synthetic fibres which come from fossil fuels and when you wash them send out plastic fibres into our waterways and ulitmately contribute towards the problems of plastic in our oceans.
  3. When the fabrics are treated i.e. dyed or stone washed or whatever else is done to them, water is used and polluted by these chemicals. The workers again often work in unsafe conditions and for little pay.
  4. Workers suffer yet again when the fabrics are manufactured into garments. With the rise of fast fashion, some workers have been forced to work in buildings that are unsafe for long hours to meet short deadlines – read a little about the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
  5. We have overflowing wardrobes in this country. New clothes are so cheap in some places that actually they can make charity shops look expensive! Lots of clothes go unworn though and either languish in the back of wardrobes or end up in landfill because they haven’t been made to last. Instead of spending money on cheap new poor quality clothes, I would much prefer to buy better quality secondhand ones and at the same time give money to charity!
Fuelling the fast fashion industry is terrible for the environment, supports companies that pay workers very little money and expect them to work in poor conditions and actually may be directly damaging to our health due to the chemicals added to new clothes.
Although I was advised to never read the comments on the articles published recently, I just couldn’t help myself! A lot of the comments are aimed at the misleading titles of the articles, which don’t make sense in isolation anyway, but some were valid. Someone said that I was a middle class woman living like a poor person (or words to that effect) and someone said that they didn’t like the eco tag attached to what I am doing as it is just what people who don’t have much money have to do anyway. Other comments pointed out that I shouldn’t have been spending £11,000 a year on that stuff anyway.
When I started this blog I was in a pretty unhappy situation. I wanted to leave my job and be a stay at home mum, but I felt trapped. I had a steady job and there was a recession going on. If I quit my job without another job to go to there was no guarantee that I would get another one if I needed it. Although my husband also worked going from two salaries to one was quite scary as we had relied on our two salaries before having two kids and even more so afterwards. It wasn’t a very sensible idea to quit.  So I didn’t I stayed at work for a year more than I would have liked while I worked out ways to spend a lot less money than I was previously. I was so delighted when I realised that not only could I save myself bucket loads of money but the ways I was saving the money was better for me and better for the environment (like buying secondhand clothes). 
It is so easy to feel trapped in a job because you need the money, but by being eco-friendly and thrifty some people may find they don’t need as much money as they thought they did. For those who are already living as frugally as possible on tight budgets, it is worthwhile knowing that it is better for your health and the environment to buy secondhand clothes than cheap new ones or to use inexpensive homemade cleaning products than cheap toxic ones.
To address the £11,000 a years worth of savings – some things I would have spent money on and some things I wouldn’t have. For example I probably would never have spent over £1000 on books a year, my kids and I would probably just have read less books – my figure was based on what I would be spending on books if I bought the amount of books we currently borrow from the library. Swapping things, buying them secondhand, borrowing them and getting them for free on sites like Freecycle mean I now have access to more stuff like clothes and books and things in general than I did when I bought them new. I am living a more abundant life now than I was when I was earning money!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and please feel free to come back and visit again!

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