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reduce waste

Using Things Up: Declutter Your Life

Over the past 3 years our purchasing of consumable goods has decreased dramatically. In the past I loved buying skincare, make-up & haircare products. I was attracted to the next shiny “must have” cream, spray, lotion….. The old items would be pushed to the back of the cupboard, out of sight & would sit there for months/years. Resulting in a bathroom cabinet full of stuff, 90% of which were not being used.

Since we started reducing our waste & simplifying our lifestyle we ensure we use up every last bit of product we buy. We don’t want items sitting in our cupboards for months or even years. As you know we live in a small 1-bedroom apartment so space is limited. In addition, we don’t want all the space filled with things, empty space is so calming.

We are finally getting to a stage that we have used up most items in our bathroom cupboard & are left with the items we use regularly. We have given some of the lotions to neighbours & have used up the other products ourselves. It feels so satisfying to completely use up a lotion. We cut the bottle in half to scrape out every last bit. No wasters in our home;-)

The idea of buying something to use for a special occasion no longer is an option. I would buy an expensive lipstick or candle and only use for a special night! Life is too short for that! No more red lipsticks though….1 is enough;-)

My make-up and skincare routine have been simplified. I know the products I love & I use every last bit before I repurchase. Simplifying these areas of my life has been great, I have less decisions to make every morning as nothing changes, I’m ok with that. Too many options for me is a bad thing. Keep it simple. Id rather save my brain cells for other more important areas in my life.

Decluttering our life has made a huge impact on how much space we have in our home & has saved us lots of money. We purchase what we need. Often we purchase items which are multipurpose like castile soap & bread soda, the only cleaning agents you need. I should also mention coconut oil as we use it for cooking & for skincare.

One area that I need to address next is the box of travel size lotions & potions I have collected over the years from hotels & travelling. These need a new home & we need to start using them up. That is one of my new habits is not to take the travel size toiletries from the hotel! I never use them and they are super wasteful.

Have a look in your cupboards & see if there are items which have the same function, try using the old one up first & promise not to impulse buy again. It takes time but the money & space you will save will be worth it. Put the money towards a holiday or dinner with friends instead. The best of luck with the decluttering.

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

Life with No Television: Our Reasons Why & What has Changed

Over the past couple of years, the amount of time we spend each evening watching TV has reduced. We both love watching TV, George loves a good TV series & movie, I love any reality TV show that exposes talent like American Idol, Britain’s got Talent, Dancing with the Stars & The Voice. TV can be a great distraction after a stressful day, it can fill in time when you are bored & can be used to switch off the mind and just veg out. However, watching it every day and using it as a form of procrastination and avoidance is where it turns into a health issue.

There were days we would both come home from work, eat dinner and put on a good show and watch about 3 episodes and go to bed. Our evenings were spent watching TV. We were both with each other but not really connecting. There was very little conversation and we were falling into a routine of our evenings been taken over by the TV screen.

When I look back now, I cannot believe we were like that because we are the total opposite now. How did this change come about? I don’t believe it was one incident but many different things happening over a period of about 2-3 years.

A couple of years ago we watched a really cool documentary called “No Impact Man” about a couple in New York who made major live changes for 1 year to drastically reduce the amount of waste they produced & energy they consumed. This show had such a huge effect on us & is definitely one of the major reasons we decided to reduce our waste.

They recommended that we all should have at least 1 night a week with no electricity which would have a drastic effect on the amount of energy we would waste, they called it Eco night. We adopted Eco night and every Wednesday we do not use any power for the evening. We light candles, read books, play boardgames, have long baths and go to bed super early (Winter). We love them. As a result, no TV watching can happen on this night and this routine of not watching TV gradually extended over time.

Eco night in action

The above couple were very inspiring but we needed to figure out why we wanted to reduce the amount of TV we were watching. We had a conversation regarding where we wanted our lives to go over the next 5-10 years and it was pretty obvious; we needed all the time we could get to work on the areas that needed work.

I decided to go back to school & complete a project management course with UBC part-time in the evenings and weekends for 3 months, George wanted to write a book. Studying and writing need a lot of time & both of us had full time jobs. We got up earlier in the mornings to work on our projects but we also needed all the time we had in the evenings too. This was the first real eye opener for us as to how much time we were wasting in the evenings watching TV. We got so much accomplished with our projects because we had no time for television. We wanted to carry this insight forward and apply it to other personal projects that we always wanted to do but couldn’t find the time to do them.

For example, I started a cooking blog and challenged myself for 1 year to see if I could keep it up, could I commit to something for that long and would I be consistent. The blog itself was very basic and I had 2 followers (my sisters), I don’t even think I made it public it was a personal challenge to see if I could do it. Anyone who writes or blogs knows that a lot of time and effort needs to go into keeping a blog going. This is what I started doing in the evenings instead of watching TV. Of course, there were times I was not in the mood at all for any of my projects and I watched TV but I always felt bad after it.

We both started reading more books on productivity, both for work & personal use. Basically, all of these books advised against watching TV and outlined how much time is wasted watching TV when you could be using your time much more wisely to achieve something you always wanted to achieve.  We started listing the important daily activities that made us feel good. Examples we listed were; exercise, getting outdoors, cooking, reading, writing & self-care. We incorporated these feel good activities into our days and gradually overtime the TV melted into the background.

We basically banned watching TV from Monday to Thursday. Eventually we really didn’t see the point to having a 36” flat screen smart TV in our small apartment. It was the focal point of our living area but it no longer was the focal point of our lives. We set a date for when we would put the TV up for sale, after the last episode of Game of Thrones in June 2019. We posted the sale that evening on Facebook and the TV was picked up the next day.

What our dresser looks like now without the TV

I have to say I panicked a little bit when I came back up to the apartment and there was a huge empty gap on the TV stand. Doubts went through my head if we had made the right decision. We have a baby on the way, would we not need a TV to relax after a hard day or will the child miss out with not having a TV? By the next day I was over my fears and was determined more than ever that this was the best decision for our family. In truth we don’t want to go back to our old ways of mindlessly watching TV…. especially when we have a child. We don’t want to be watching TV when we should be in bed resting and catching up on lost sleep. If we want to see a movie, we will go to the theatre to see it. If we want to see a TV really badly, we have a Netflix account that we can use on our laptop. We don’t need a HUGE TV taking up space and tempting us to turn it on.

We have no TV for almost 2 months now, it’s been great. The best thing for me is that the huge black screen is not facing me when I sit on our couch, instead it has been replaced with plants which are so much nicer. I feel the atmosphere has changed in our living space, it seems brighter and more spacious.

In addition, when we watch a TV show (Ozark) or movie at the weekend it’s a treat & we really enjoy it. We don’t feel bad or guilty about it because we have worked on all our other projects during the week and this is like a reward for getting our shit done.

We would not be able to write blogs, write books, read, cook, exercise, draw, paint, connect with friends if we still were the TV watchers we once were. We are so much happier without the TV. I believe the root to why we got rid of the TV was the fact we decided we wanted more with our lives. We wanted to achieve more in our personal time, we wanted to work on dreams & goals of our own. With the advice & guidance from productivity books it was clear if we wanted to achieve our goals while working in full time jobs, we needed our free time after work & the weekends.

Sit and think about what you want to achieve in your life, how can you break that down into daily tasks. How many hours would you need to spend on those tasks? Where in your life can you make up that time? Look at your TV and ask yourself how much time I spend watching it…….is it time to make the change?

Thanks for reading everyone,

I hope you found this helpful.

As always, we would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have.

Have a great week,

Theresa xxx

Our Less Waste Journey: What Will Change with New Baby?

The decision to consciously live a simpler life has resulted in an awareness to reduce our waste. When we noticed how much waste we were creating from mindless shopping we soon began looking for ways to prevent waste. Reading blogs, watching documentaries & following zero waste folks on Instagram really inspired us. We have made some awesome changes in our lifestyle which has reduced our waste dramatically. Check out a previous blog we wrote about this here.

 

With a new baby on the horizon we really wanted to keep our waste low and make environmentally sound decisions around all purchases for our baby. In an earlier blog we spoke about what we bought for our baby & why (see blog here). We wanted to source as much pre-used items as possible that had great design & function for our small space. With a little research and planning we got everything we needed pre-used. We avoided all the packaging that usually comes with new items and we are reusing products that are still in perfect working condition.

 

We are super happy with the above and really surprised how easy it was to source all the items we wanted (Facebook market place) and what amazing value we got on each item. Now that all the major items are bought it’s the day to day purchases for the baby that we wanted to focus on.

 

Since we have no mini-human yet this Teddy Bear kindly volunteered to model the diapers & cloth wipes. Please note we bought 4 waterproof covers to cover the outside of the diapers to prevent leaks.

 

Diapers are a major source of garbage that ends up in landfills. Babies pop & pee a lot! None of these diapers can be recycled or used for any other source of energy. They take forever to decompose and often end up in places where they don’t belong like our oceans.

 

We made the decision to use reusable cloth diapers for our baby. We are lucky as we have a cool service in our city which drops off clean cloth diapers to your home on a weekly basis & collects all dirty diapers. They will bring the diapers away and wash them for you. All dirty diapers are placed in a bin which is lined with a bag supplied by Baby Cheeks, this is what they will pick up each week.

 

We do not have in-house laundry so washing our babies’ diapers in a washing machine other people have to use doesn’t seem very neighbourly to us! We would rather spend the money on the diaper service and keep everyone happy, and we avoid having to do all that extra laundry.

 

Living more simply has allowed us the privilege to afford a service like the above. We saved so much money on baby products that we wanted to put our money to a service like this which truly makes a huge change.

 

In addition to re-usable diapers we are also using reusable wipes. Again, we are using the above service to supply and clean the wipes. We will create a cleaning solution for the wipes to soak in (baby castile soap & water) and use these at home & on the go.

 

Another great way we plan on reducing our waste is by using baby castile soap which we bought in The Soap Dispensary on Main Street, Vancouver. We used a previous bought castile soap bottle and refiled with baby soap. Castille soap will have many functions for our baby; bath time, baby wipe solution & toy cleaner. It’s such a multipurpose soap & we have been using a scented one for the last year and love it. We use it in our baths, cleaning sprays & laundry detergent.

 

As much as we try to reduce our waste there are times, we don’t have control over what comes into our space, this is especially true with a new baby. People are so kind & generous with gifts of diapers, wipes, detergent, clothes, baby equipment etc. Even though we say we don’t need anything our neighbours & friends still want to contribute. I understand it but it just means we end up with all the above even though we tried to avoid it! Lol! In fairness most of friends listened to us when we said please do not buy anything for baby, we actually suggested to get us gift cards to our favourite reflexology place, Footwork’s or for the diaper service we wanted to use. It worked out really well;-)

 

Currently we do have a supply of non-reusable baby wipes & diapers. I’m sure these items will come in handy when we travel and are out & about. I’m so grateful for people’s generosity & will use these products when needed. We just have to accept that we cannot always control everything & to keep on doing what we are doing to reduce our waste.

 

Making the commitment to living simply has so many benefits like having more space, more time, more money, more freedom, less stress, less anxiety, less stuff…………. however, it isn’t always easy. What we have to remember how far we have come and look forward to all the other possible areas we can improve…. that’s what makes this journey fun. If it was not enjoyable, we would not care about it as much. It really is small changes every day & an awareness of our habits that make the process of reducing our waste easier than you may think.

 

If you have any suggestions on how we can avoid waste with our new baby please let us know. Please let us know things that have worked or have not worked for you and your sweetie.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa Burns xxx