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October: Buy Nothing New Month

This October take your waste-less living to another level and take part in Buy Nothing New Month.

It’s a pretty simple concept that started here in Melbourne. The rules are easy. For one month, think about your purchases and ask yourself the following:

“Do I really need it?”

If you do, then:

“Can I get it second-hand or borrow from a friend/neighbour/family member?”

“How long will I use it for and what will happen to it afterwards?”

Best of all, this challenge is LEGITIMATELY free. You’re not buying anything new. You might find out you love it.

In fact, over the past 2.5 years, I’ve rarely gone shopping or bought anything new, excepting of course food, hair/skin products.

These are pretty much the only things I’ve bought new since 2015:

  • Underwear
  • Shoes (long-lasting sustainably made that will last YEARS, although most of my shoes are second hand)
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Gifts (I do try to source gifts second hand but it’s not always possible/accepted by the gift recievers)
  • Occasional statement piece of clothing (again 95% of my wardrobe is thrifted but sometimes I cave when I need a piece quickly and don’t have time to source through op shops/marketplace/gumtree/carousel/ebay etc)
  • Seed and Sprout lunchbox
  • Mason Pearson Hairbrush
  • A baltic amber necklace

 

Most of my home is furnished with second hand finds. Our voracious appetite for things is fuelling this market where you can get essentially new items second hand. There’s been occasional extra items I’ve purchased to fill a specific urgent need like a few storage boxes for moving when I couldn’t source enough second hand in the limited time frame we had. Honestly it’s not hard and is a little addictive trying to find fabulous pieces at a fraction of the price. Like my $3000 coffee machine I picked up for $340! I must write a post about that sometime…

So what are the rules of Buy Nothing New month?

Basically you need to make a pledge to buy nothing new this October. The exceptions are: Food, Drinks, Medications, Hygiene Products. For everything else you can borrow, barter, swap, or buy second hand.

I’ve taken the pledge. You can too. Click here to pledge. Happy Saving!

 

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Straws suck

Straws suck. Literally. They’re filling our oceans, they’re not reusable or biodegradable. They also make your very expensive cocktail taste like plastic. They suck.

Say no to straws!

Something I notice a lot when out and about in Melbourne is how often straws end up in our drinks. Particularly as a woman, it seems like I couldn’t possibly drink without the help of a plastic straw. Is it to avoid smudging our lipstick? Is it just so ingrained into a bartenders routine that it becomes automatic?

Regardless, after watching a movie on Sunday afternoon (with my stainless steel drink bottle) we headed to Melbourne bar Ponyfish Island for a drink. We had a few minutes to decide what to grab and noticing the straws on the bar I finally thought to try out my casual “no straw” request.

“What can I get you?” asked the bartender.

“Can I please have a G&T – no straw, thanks,” I smiled up at the bartender.

“Sure thing,” she smiled back. “Also props on asking for no straw they’re so bad,” she said.

This was pretty much the greatest response I could ask for. We then had a short fun chat about how crap plastic straws are and the frustration of ordering stainless steel ones online – only for them to arrive wrapped in plastic!

My friends found it a little hilarious how much we were laughing and gossiping about straws, but ultimately we bonded, the bartender might think twice before putting in a straw, leaving it to the customer to add one, and even anyone overhearing might think twice about using them.

It might feel kind of nerve wracking but it’s really just getting into the habit of simply asking BEFORE that dreaded BPA non-biodegradable plastic straw ends up in your lovely G&T. It’s my new mantra when lining up at any bar – whether it’s a booze or juice one. Try it.

 

 

Friday fails

Sometimes we fail. More than sometimes. When trying to live a life where you waste less, especially in a world where plastic is EVERYWHERE, fails are going to happen.

Every week (well, almost) I’m going to write about a few different fails that have happened the week before. There’s a few different types of ‘fails’, like the accidental kind that just happen from miscommunication or other people not understanding your waste-less mission. There’s also the unorganised kind of fail. The kind that could’ve been avoided with better planning. I’m going to try and document each type of fail as it happens each week and try to come up with a solution to fix it next time. So here it goes!

The accidental fail

Asked for water and before I knew it a bartender cracked open a plastic water bottle and passed it over, even though there was a jug of water sitting on the bar.
The fix? Will be specific about asking for a GLASS of water.

Likewise ordering an iced coffee in a cafe to “have in” but it turned up in a plastic single use cup with a lid and a straw 😦 The fix? Asking when I order if it comes in a reusable cup and if I can use my own straw.

 

The unorganised fail

Getting stuck at the checkout and realising I don’t have a green bag. Reluctantly stuffed everything into a single plastic bag, which I’ve reused as a bin liner. The fix? Trying to double check I’ve returned my reusable bags to my handbag once I’ve unloaded it at home after each shop.

 

Buying into #zerowaste

So you’ve decided to quit your wasteless ways and are now a reformed consumer. So what’s the first thing you do? Is it to buy a whole lot of expensive #zerowaste items like KeepCups, Tiffens, produce bags and more? Is it to rid your life of every bit of plastic in the house?

 

If you answered yes to either of those questions, here’s something to think about. The past has already happened. You bought an endless amount of plastic containers back in the day and you still have a cupboard full of cleaning spray bottles. Whilst it might spark much joy to throw out every item that doesn’t fit with your new reformed waste-less life, it is ironically quite wasteful. In our house, we have continued to use items in as many creative ways as possible, doing our best to extend their lives. As we’ve used up chemical spray-and-wipe’s we’ve refilled the bottles with our own homemade cleaners. Only when an item breaks or is unsafe to continue using (chemical reasons) do we look to replace it with a more sustainable choice.

It is this deliberate choice that has prevented us from wasting a lot of money on expensive eco items. It has also given us time to consider what we want in each of our items. For example, as our last plastic drink bottles broke/became leaky I had the time to choose exactly the right glass water bottle I wanted. One that fit perfectly in my handbag, was leak-proof and had an aesthetic appeal that gets many people asking me about it. Any piece that can start a conversation is great.

It’s also worth seeing what items you already have that can do double duty. My fiance’s grandparents bought us a beautiful set of six double walled latte glasses for Christmas three years ago. One day two years ago I began carrying one with me everywhere as my new “takeaway” cup. Again, it’s been a great conversation starter having a quirky glass cup, there’s no plastic taste and it saves disposable coffee cups from landfill. Being double walled it doesn’t burn my hands, and in two years I’ve only broken two glasses. It rarely spills, the only real downside being occasional spills in my bag. That was solved by procuring a KeepCup lid that fits perfectly on the top. I’ve also heard those silicone wrist bands for every cause could make a great heat band around the cup. Any time I’ve forgotten my glass at work, a mug from the office kitchen served the same purpose.

On the downside, I’ve now moved house three times with a broken hairdryer whilst I think of the best way to dispose of it ethically and sustainably. Any ideas? I’d love to hear them! Especially if you’ve been using creative ways to reuse plastic items.