I'm on the home stretch of my year-long shopping ban now - just over one month left! Thirty-eight days, to be precise. It only seems like a few weeks since I blogged about being in the last 100 days of the challenge, and now more than half of that time has flown by too.
I'm not particularly impatient to finish the no-shopping challenge. In the beginning I would have predicted that I'd be desperate for the ban to end so I could go out and buy myself some new things, but now that I've seen the error of my fast-fashion ways, I have no such plans. I know I've said this before, but I'm still flabbergasted I've found it so easy to stop buying shoes and clothes, and that it's had such a marked impact on my attitude to consumption and my happiness levels.
If anything, I'm looking forward to the ban being over so I can start my next challenge - 12 months of buying only secondhand or handmade, mostly on a needs-only basis. I say "mostly" because I foresee myself noodling about in a secondhand store or at a makers' market and spotting something I absolutely love, but don't really need. I feel like leaving the door open a crack for an occasional purchase like that is OK. (In reality, most of the things I fall in love with in secondhand stores don't fit. It seems small women donate far more stuff to op shops around where I live, but you never know, I might get lucky.)
Ending my relationship with fast fashion is only one of the things I'm doing to live more eco-consciously (though it's probably the biggest thing). I've also been progressively swapping single-use products for reusable ones and further reducing energy and water use. So far I've:
- returned to using handkerchiefs instead of tissues;
- bought stainless steel drinking straws - I keep one in my bag to take everywhere and one at work;
- bought a set of stainless steel utensils to keep in my bag to avoid using disposable ones;
- swapped cotton make-up removal pads for washable ones;
- bought bamboo 'cotton' buds instead of the cotton/paper ones I was using (after switching from the standard plastic-stemmed ones a while ago);
- stopped buying single-use exfoliating facial wipes (a plastic tub of 30). I got a similar product in a gel pump-pack (still plastic, but recyclable and less waste over all);
- started using biodegradable bamboo floss picks instead of plastic ones. I don't like them as much, but I'll get used to them;
- bought some organic cotton pantyliners, which are an improvement on the non-organic brand I used previously. but they're still packaged with plastic, so...
- ...I've recently purchased some washable pantyliners/pads. I decided it was time to get over the "ick factor".
- become obsessive about turning lights off when not in use (I've always been very conscious about not wasting electricity, but now I'm a zealot);
- started collecting clean "waste'' water in the kitchen and using it to water my plants (eg the water from my hot water bottle or from steaming vegies);
- stopped using plastic wrap altogether in favour of plastic containers with lids or reusable ziplock bags (which I already owned);
- started getting my lunchtime sushi to eat-in rather than take away to avoid the plastic container, rubber band and those bloody soy sauce fish (seriously, even when I said "no soy sauce", they still give me a handful because they're on autopilot).
This is in addition to things I was already doing, like:
- using recyled loo paper;
- using BYO shopping bags and produce bags at the supermarket and for shopping generally - I have one of those fold-up shopping bags with me almost all the time;
- turning appliances off at the power point;
- trying to buy only as much food as we need to avoid waste;
- taking quick showers;
- using a quick, cold machine wash for laundry (and only washing when necessary);
- using stainless steel or reusable water bottles; and
- avoiding unnecessary packaging.
Things I still need to do:
- I have a terrible Pepsi Max habit (yeah, I know), and I prefer the 600ml bottle, but it's totally ridiculous to swap to reusable straws when you're using it to drink from a single-use plastic bottle. I need to swap to cans, or - ideally - give it up altogether;
- Find an alternative to buying cherry tomatoes, berries and herbs from the supermarket in plastic punnets. I'm not sure how to fix this yet. We tried growing our own herbs without success because of a lack of a sunny position and I'm told that they don't do well inside (but maybe I should have a go anyway?). Farmers' markets are probably a better option, but they aren't convenient for a number of reasons, especially if we need to stock up mid-week. We have a local organic shop but even they have plastic packaging! We always recycle them, but I want to reduce first;
- I need to investigate green energy options. I thought I had green energy already, but it must have got dropped during some energy company to-ing and fro-ing a few years ago;
- Buy meat from the butcher instead of the supermarket to minimise packaging. I'll take my own containers to the butcher to avoid packaging altogether. My local butcher had a gourmet make-over a few years ago and of course everything is now more expensive, but it's not a bad thing if we eat less meat (which we've been moving towards anyway).