Sustainable Living, Well-being

One Month of Sustainable Living

So this is the end of my first month of trying to be a little more sustainable, or at the very least buying less.

It’s not been particularly difficult, primarily as I already have so much stuff that I have to use up that there has actually been no need for me to think about buying things, which I admit is a bit of a cheat.

It was also far easier for the first part of January as we were in Albufeira and there is nothing to buy and I mean nothing.  It’s a small town that focusses on the summer tourist trade, so the shops that are open sell the same tat all year round.  Tat that you wouldn’t want to buy, or need to buy on your summer holidays, so in the middle of winter it becomes really pointless.  There’s not that much need to a pair of flip flops, or a sun hat in the winter months, let alone a back scratcher!

Coming back to Bristol was more of a challenge, particularly as we arrived back towards the end of sale season and so the bigger, final discounts were starting to appear.  This is not made easier due to the fact we live right in the centre of town, Primark is my local store!  It’s made me realise just how often I ‘popped’ to the shops to fill time.  There have been a couple of times when I’ve been pacing around the flat at a loose end, having to force myself not to walk out to the city centre and just have a mooch around the shops.  Instead I’ve had to force myself to walk in the opposite direction towards the harbourside.  Either that or occupy myself in a more productive manner!  What is it about shopping that draws you in?  

Me:  I’m bored

Me:  I know, why not walk to the shops and spend money you can’t afford on things you don’t need.

Me:  Good idea, I’ll put my coat on

What is that about!  

There have been more frequent visitations to coffee and tea shops, rewarding myself for getting out and walking, going in the opposite direction rather than to the shops.  It also has the advantage of being infinitely more sustainable and also a tonne cheaper!  Especially at the local library where its still just £1 for a cup of tea!!!! The library has become a real life saver! I do love going there and perusing and can lose myself there for hours. Already, this month, I can see how it’s going to play a bigger role in helping me avoid the city centre!

Visiting the coffee shops is a cheaper alternative to shopping

I have brought some things.  A few kindle books, a couple of second hand books and a few things related to improving my general health.  I suppose that I’m generally trying to live a cleaner, healthier lifestyle and unfortunately, there were a few bits and pieces that I wanted to buy to help me on my way.

So I brought:

  • a dry body brush
  • a tongue scraper
  • a couple of essential oils

There were also a couple of more outrageous purchases one of which was an accidental tub of body butter from the Body Shop when I wasn’t thinking.  This was disappointing for several reasons:  I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic containers I buy, I’m trying to use up what I have before I buy more and I’d really like to try making my own using essential oils and other ingredients!

I did also buy a pair of slippers.  These were a need.  I’m not a great fan of slippers, I’d rather walk around in my socks, but especially on the tiled floors of Portugal I just wasn’t getting my feet warm at all and it was becoming quite challenge and a real nightmare.  When we returned to Bristol I was dying for a hot bath, just to get my feet warm for the first time in a month.  So slippers.  My need for warm feet was a priority!

I’ve also had a great time making things using materials that I already had.  I made three pieces of Valentine’s day bunting, using material and felt I had in Portugal and binding I had in Bristol, all of which were donated to the local charity shop.  I also made a crochet brooch, a carnation, using thread that I already had in my stash.  

Valentine’s Bunting using existing materials

I do appreciate that as the months go by it is going to become more of a challenge as I need to start replacing things that I use up, which will then present me with a range of dilemmas, but also options to investigate!  Randomly, I have found not buying magazines a real challenge! Like many things, I don’t suppose I really registered quite how often I bought them until I thought about whether or not I needed them. At the moment, I am finding it very satisfying to see how I can make use of what I already have rather than automatically thinking I need to go out and buy something new. 

Healthy living, Mindfulness, Sustainable Living, Well-being

One Year of Sustainable Living

I’d intended for this blog post to be about 20 things I was going to do for 2020. I started 19 things for 2019, but admittedly, lost enthusiasm half way through the year. But, I thought, 2020 has a nice ring, so thought I’d dust my list off and try again. But then I started wondering as I pondered over my list, trying to find 20 things to do this year, ‘Is this actually the way to go’?

As my alter ego, Poppytoft, I like to do crafts, to make things, specifically using knitting, crochet and sewing. I enjoy designing quirky clothes for children and coming up with ways to customise existing clothes and give them a new lease of life. A week or so ago, as I was walking through Seville, I saw a small girls cardigan in a shop window and as ever my immediate thought was ‘I could make that’. But then from somewhere I had a second thought, ‘could I make it using sustainable materials’? I have an insane ‘stash’ of wool and fabric at home, there is absolutely no need for me to go out and source something new. You name it, I probably have it in my craft cupboard. But what if I haven’t got the ‘perfect’ fabric? There are at least 5 million charity shops in Bristol, and several in Albufeira, all of which sell pieces that could be used as fabric or could be upcycled into a new piece. I’m fairly confident I could manage to source all the material, wool, ribbons, even buttons, from the charity shops of Bristol, it will just take a bit of creativity.

The Stash: Part 1
My first make, from ‘The Stash’

But then that got me thinking. If I can design and make new clothes from old for children, then what’s stopping me doing that for myself. I can’t imagine that I’m the only middle aged woman in the world who is looking for imaginative ways to update or upcycle dated pieces. I have way too many clothes in my wardrobe, there is absolutely no need for me to buy anything new – not for a very, very long time. Yes, I might be a bit tired, or bored of some, but I am also able to change them, or update them and bring them back to life.

I think like many people, I have become increasingly weary of ‘stuff’ and where that ‘stuff’ will eventually end up. I moved home a couple of years ago, downsizing in the process. There is nothing quite like downsizing to make you re-evaluate exactly what is necessary in your life. Much of the ‘stuff’ I had, I wondered why I’d actually believed I’d needed it in the first place. There were some boxes I’d moved from Stoke-on-Trent to Bristol and remained in the shed, un-opened, for 8 years, so, clearly, the ‘stuff’ in those boxes wasn’t necessary. We tried as far as we could to donate, recycle or sell our things, but ultimately a lot of it just did end up in the bin.

Then this got me thinking a little more. If I could create clothes and accessories using what I already have, where else could I apply the same logic and stop buying? I already started cutting down on things during 2019. Instead of having multiple body lotions to choose from after a shower, I’ve been using (and buying) one bottle at a time and am far more particular about the packaging. I’ve started using a hair shampoo soap ( I currently use Lush Montalbano) and am working my way through bottles of shower gel to be replaced by soap when they are all empty.

In addition to this, I am also interested in finding more healthy ways of living. Not only am I concerned by the amount of packaging that I am using and trying to recycle, but I’m increasingly concerned by the chemicals I am consuming, either through food or through my skin. You read all of these ingredients on bottles, but are many of them actually beneficial? What are the long term implications of putting these chemicals on, or in to my body. Is there a way I could actually make my own lotions and potions, thereby reducing the amount of packaging I use, but also understanding more fully exactly what it is that I am using? Just this morning I listened to a podcast, Highest Self Podcast Episode 227, which discussed the impact of chemicals within our food and our surrounding environment on our long term health.

So, rather than doing 20 things for 2020, I’m going to attempt one really big thing. I’m going to try to live as sustainably as I can for the year and minimise the amount of new things that I buy. I would say I am like many a sustainable campaigner at the moment, I think I know about it, but in actual fact, I suspect I have no real idea and that I have much to learn! I haven’t got a clue how this will pan out, but if nothing else, if I am in the least bit successful, my husband’s bank balance will be much happier at the end of 2020!

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on