Before I set off with my new year’s resolutions for 2018 it’s worth taking stock of how last year’s experiments went. I’ve always tried to live sustainably but it wasn’t until 2017 that i had the time and energy to invest in it. At first i was overwhelmed by the conflicting information out there and at just how much we’d need to change, but like everything in life, when done bit by bit it gets easier and easier and before you know it you’ve reached your target. That’s not to say that we are now totally sustainable, there are still many things that i’d love to change in our house but I’m part of a family not a dictatorship and so i continue to nudge people towards better choices and practice gratitude for the positive changes that we have made. Here are some of the planet positive changes that we’ve tested in 2017 and how they fared.
Well I had, and am continuing to have, a wonderful Christmas. I’ve purposely done less preparing this year and it’s paid off in terms of lots of downtime to slob around the house in my pj’s eating lots of delicious cheese and chocolate and binge watching Christmas TV and movies. I am generally a very active person with a million things to do so i’m genuinely impressed at my ability this year to spend hour upon hour doing absolutely nothing. I can’t even be bothered to think of some New Year’s resolutions!
I am writing this post with a note to myself to read it next November. Have you noticed how preparing for Christmas can drive you away from what it’s all suppose to be about? It takes gargantuan effort to resist being pulled towards the myth of a perfect Christmas and all the work that involves. On a rational level I understand that it’s just a marketing ploy to get us to buy one more thing to plug the gap between reality and fantasy, but emotionally you feel like the Grinch if you opt out of any element. It’s not just that striving to deliver gastronomic delights, carefully curated gifts and outstanding entertainment in a showhouse standard setting leads to horrendous waste – just look in your bin before and after – it’s that all of this extra work often makes us more tired, less patient and too frequently less kind.
This Christmas there is a new enemy in town; swaths of single-use wrapping paper. Why? Sure isn’t it recyclable? If you’ve read my post ‘Why Recycling isn’t the Answer‘, you’ll understand that recycling typically leaves us with an energy / resources deficit and isn’t a silver bullet to our waste problem.
Obviously the most sustainable gift would be one that doesn’t create any waste at all, like your time. Strangely this gift doesn’t go down very well with my kin. Next is the gift of experience. I’ve tried experience gifts over the years and they’ve been met with mixed feelings. Some have been tremendously well received while others have dwindled on the shelf of the unloved. They work very well if you know someone well and know what to get them. If you don’t the fall back is often a voucher but with virtually all companies adopting un-recyclable voucher cards I now avoid them like the plague. Instead if i have to want to give an experience gift i give an IOU, which the recipient can cash in once they’ve decided when they want their experience. I can get away with this because i now only gift to my kids and husband.
Now that I’ve successfully extracted myself from present buying at Christmas time – it was hard-fought but worth it – I now have acres of time to peruse gifts for myself! At Christmas time, budget dependant, I like to indulge myself by buying a slightly more luxurious version of something I need; undies, clothes, notebooks. This year it’s skincare.
I recently read a book about the whole concept of ‘nudging’ people towards doing what’s best for them and for society from a policy point of view. The book I read was titled ‘Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference’ by David Halpern and was based on the seminal book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ by University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein.
I promise not to bombard you Chrimbo posts but realistically if you’re hoping to make some presents this year you’ll need to get moving and so here is some early inspiration to help get you organised. One bit of advice; don’t overload yourself with making handmade presents for everyone. Just pick one or two, otherwise come December you’ll resent what seemed a very clever idea in November.
One of the first products I tried on my journey to zero waste was a shampoo bar from Lush and, despite it’s price, I was a convert. I loved the fact that I could buy it without packaging, save a sticker saying how much it was. Well that was over a year ago and now I’m back on the bottled shampoo, why?
Since I decluttered my upstairs I’ve been slowly rehoming all items I no longer need or love. This has turned out to be quite addictive. The joy of empty space has encouraged me to let go of more than expected. I do have one rule though; I will only rehome an item if I believe it’s going to prevent the purchase of a new item. For that reason what I rehome has to be in good condition and rehomed through the right outlet.