A little inspiration… from a hamster and a fish

I just love local Perth artist Little Sketchy - meet Hammy the Hamster.
I just love local Perth artist Little Sketchy – meet Hammy the Hamster.

Seeing Hammy on his little boat reminded me of a saying that has always inspired me.  I’ve seen many version of this quote and its been attributed to many people, including the Dalai Lama. No matter who said it first and how, it’s just as inspirational.

“Many drops an ocean make”

As much as you might like to, you don’t have to change the world. You don’t have to fix the problem. All you have to do is something. Just a small change. Just be one voice. You are never alone, and with enough voices and people making small changes just like you, we can change the world together. And if not.. well… at least you made a ripple.

Have you seen Finding Nemo? I’m amazed at just how inspirational that movie is. Particularly this scene:

Nemo was just a drop in the ocean, just one fish. But when he rallied others to swim with her, she became an ocean. All the little fish together became as powerful as a shark.

I often find myself muttering a sing-song “Just keep swimming.. Just keep swimming…” That’s really all you need to do. Just make one small step at a time. Try and convince others to make one small step at a time too. Small actions can achieve great things.

There’s quite a lot out there saying that long-term change is best achieved through setting small goals, or through building small habits. Once that new habit becomes second nature, you can add one more little habit to it – it’s called habit stacking. And that’s how you get your ripple.

I’m on a mission to simplify my life and to save the environment (including living a zero-waste life). That’s a pretty big ocean. Here are some my drops; here’s how I keep swimming:

  • Swap a disposable item for a reusable one, one thing at a time – buy a reusable bag, a reusable coffee cup, a reusable water bottle.
  • Say no to buying that item you’re looking; you don’t need it.
  • Choose one thing to declutter.
  • Put away one thing where it belongs.
  • Tidy/organise one space.
  • Ask for one drink to be served without the straw
  • Choose one item from your to do list and do it or ditch it.
  • Fix one thing (and be glad you don’t have to buy a replacement)
  • Remember your reusable bag on this shopping trip.
  • Put the plastic-packaged item you’re holding back on the store shelf and reach for another product with cardboard/glass/recycled packaging instead.
  • Learn to make one thing from scratch.
  • Have one conversation about reducing waste

 

What are your drops in the ocean? Are you taking small steps towards anything big? Have you ever made a ripple? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

 

 

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How I accidentally became a zero waste minimalist

The ideal situation is not to consume.
“That’s the fundamental answer, don’t buy this stuff to begin with. But if you chose to buy, as many do, the best thing is to buy things that you can reuse.”

This article is a great synopsis of my zero waste inspiration.

I first became aware of the problems of consumption and waste when I did a Living Smart course. Of the 8-week course what really cemented itself in my mind was the short video we watched on the first day – The Story of Stuff. I really do think those 20 minutes marked a big change in my life, or at least the way I thought about it.

My great awakening was in 2012 when I discovered Plastic Free July. My supermarket visits changed completely. All of a sudden I saw myself in a sea of plastic, surrounded by ‘trapped’ and inaccessible food. I was overjoyed when, a couple of years later, I found a growers market that sold LOOSE cherry tomatoes!

I immersed myself in inspiring blogs like Treading My Own Path and The Rogue Ginger and started talking with friends about how they avoid waste.

After Plastic Free July came Buy Nothing New Month (October), but I was unprepared and shopped up a storm. At the start of 2013 I was pondering my new year’s resolutions when the guilt of having shopped through October came back to haunt me. I decided to embark on a delayed Buy Nothing New Month. But I’m the kind of person who tends to get carried away with new projects, and soon it became ‘Buy Nothing New Year‘, from February to February.

Buy Nothing New Year was surprisingly easy, but probably because I allowed myself the exception of buying new things for my wedding that year. And when I visited Brisbane, Queensland and found an amazing dress – the last one, and just my size! – I instantly created a new exception: the postcode rule. So with wedding and travel purchases allowed, I made it through Buy Nothing New Year with a changed attitude toward consumption and a new addiction to buying secondhand.

In late 2013 I made my first career change and got a job in waste management. Now, getting people to waste less and recycle more is my full-time job. Ironically, the demands of the job all-too-often push me to sacrifice my values for convenience, especially when it comes to plastic-wrapped, palm-oil laden frozen pizza… but some change is better than no change, right? As I learn to reduce my consumption and waste I also learn to forgive my transgressions.

Now, I’m most of the way through Buy Nothing (at all) Year. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home at a conference. I’m proud to consider myself a loyal shopper at the Wasteless Pantry in the hills of Perth, Western Australia. I never leave home without a reusable shopping bag, fruit and veg bags, a travel cutlery kit, a bamboo straw, a reusable water bottle and usually a reusable coffee cup too (which sometimes doubles as a doggy bag!). I’ve discovered minimalism. I question every purchase and usually decide to go without or borrow instead. I’m on a massive decluttering spree. And I’m considering my options for how I may work less so I might waste less (bye bye frozen pizza!) and live a life closer aligned with my values.

I’m on a journey. It’s such a cliche, but it really is a journey. It takes time to find new inspiration, switch to different products, change your habits and learn new ways of thinking and doing things.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever reach the end of this journey. Probably not… but that doesn’t matter, because I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I’m excited about how far I still have to go.12795299_10154264709819384_5244616622338831609_nPS:
That dress I bought in Brisbane during Buy Nothing New Year survived my massive wardrobe declutter and proudly hangs in my minimalist wardrobe with a dozen other dresses. I love it. 

 

 

 

 

Can you give up these 7 things for lent?

You don’t need any of them.

You won’t even notice they’re gone.

Once you give them up, you’ll wonder why you ever used them in the first place.

I’m proud to say I have given up 6 of 7 of these items for good! How many have you given up? Which ones could you give up?

This post by Zero Waste Guy has inspired me to give up the 7th item for good. I have been trying, but it’s a habit I’m still learning: STRAWS.

I will remember to ask for ‘no straw’ with my drink orders for lent. I’ll pop a stainless steel straw and my bamboo straw in my handbag so I never have to worry about one being in the dishwasher. And I’ll track my new habit with a daily ‘to do’ to “avoid straws”.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. There are 38 days of lent remaining. I can do this.

4x-Stainless-Steel-Metal-font-b-Reusable-b-font-Cocktail-Drinking-font-b-Straws-b-fontbambu_bamboo_straws_056570_1024x1024classic-glass-straw-styles3

 

I’d love to hear from you! – What are you giving up for lent?

x Ania

Buy Nothing Year – The Rules!

Buy Nothing Year really should be called Acquire Nothing Year, but that’s not as catchy.

The goal of Buy Nothing New Year is to have less stuff. To have fewer distractions, less to clean or maintain, less clutter, less to worry about. Buy Nothing New Year is about realising that I do not need more stuff to be happy. It’s about reducing my environmental footprint by consuming less resources and generating less waste.

Saving money is not the goal, but it is a rather obvious benefit of buying nothing. Because it is just a side-effect, not the goal, this means I can’t just hop on freecycle and still acquire loads of stuff this year. The same rules apply to stuff at any price: retail, cheap or free. It’s still stuff, and the rules apply equally.

STOP-Buying-Crap

The rules for Buy Nothing New Year

My Buy Nothing New Year goes from 21 July 2015 until 20 July 2016.

What’s allowed:

In a word: consumables – the stuff that I need to live and that won’t stay in my life permanently. But even these I’ll try to keep to a minimum.

Specifically, I am allowed:

  • Food & drink but I will try to use up my pantry and freezer contents first, wherever possible.
  • Toiletries and cleaning supplies only once all supplies are used up.
  • Cosmetics, but only foundation and mascara (I have too much of everything else).

I will also allow some non-consumables:

  • Dog stuff – things like a new dog bed, harness, collar, toys… but within reasonable limits. Really, I should only buy new things once the old things no longer do their job (e.g. her harness is starting to wear through and her bed is flat and lumpy).
  • Gifts – because the challenge is about acquiring stuff, not just buying it, this one applies to giving and receiving gifts. As hard as I may try to convince people not to buy me stuff, and to buy my friends and family experiences instead of material possessions, gifts will remain a part of my life.
  • Furniture and house renovation items – hubby and I have lived in our house for 5 years now, and we’ve been waiting until we finish renovating before buying furniture. Renovating and furnishing our home is one of my main priorities, so it would not make sense to put it off for a sixth year. I really hope to have a new kitchen and floor tiles before this challenge is over.
  • Materials needed to repair, upcycle or create items that will prevent me from buying new stuff.

What’s not allowed:

  • Kitchen equipment or supplies like glad wrap or aluminium foil (dishwashing tabs count as ‘cleaning products’ and are allowed).
  • Clothes, shoes, handbags & accessories.
  • Unnecessary makeup, cosmetics, cleaning products or toiletries (this includes more than you think! More on this later…).
  • Decorative items and nick-nacks.
  • Books or jigsaw puzzles (though I may borrow them from friends or the library, provided they are returned or passed on).

The exceptions:

If I genuinely need something, like if a shoe fetishist were to break into my house while I slept and take off with every single pair I own, then I may allow myself to buy something. But  it wouldn’t be much of a challenge without a few restrictions, would it?

If I decide that I need something:

  • I will ‘shop on paper’ and write it down. Unless the purchase is urgent (damn you, shoe thief!), I will only be allowed to buy items off the list after 20 July 2016. This will allow me to re-evaluate the list after some time has passed. I bet half the items I ‘need’ will turn out to be ‘wants’.
  • Before letting any new item into my life, I must rehome three other items. This means completely removing them from my life, not just throwing them on a decluttering pile to be dealt with later (my tendency thus far!). This will guarantee that, no matter what happens, I will have fewer things in my life at the end of the challenge than at the start.
  • I will first try to borrow the item, then try to buy it second-hand, and only buy new if I can’t get it any other way. This will keep my environmental footprint and waste generation to a minimum.

That’s it for now! What do you think? I’d love to hear what rules you would add to the challenge, or what dilemmas you think I might face! Is there anything you might try doing too? Or did you maybe read something and think “Impossible! I could never  do that!”?

And so it starts

Are you a night owl? I’m cursed with a brain that wakes up when the sun goes down. It makes for all sorts of interesting ideas, thoughts, musing and decisions made in soft glow of the moon and my laptop screen. And so it was that last night, as my husband slept in our warm bed, I decided to start a year-long challenge:

The Buy Nothing Year

I’ve done it before. Kinda. 2013 was Buy Nothing New Year, where I pledged to cut waste and ditch consumerism by only buying secondhand… with some exceptions.

I got mariied that year, so of course wedding stuff had to be excluded, because planning a wedding is hard enough without any extra challenges! And we went to Brisbane, home of one of my favourite shops. I made an exception then – holiday purchases don’t count. And then there are gifts – we can’t stop buying those, can we? (although I did manage to buy most gifts secondhand).

I’m happy with how my Buy Nothing New Year went. I caved, I struggled, but I made it. And it changed my relationship with stuff, permanently. At the very least, I became very good and finding the things I wanted secondhand (this doesn’t always mean used!).

But it did feel like cheating. While I hardly set foot in shopping centres, my ebay and op shopping went through the roof. And I did have all those excuses (I mean exceptions) to fall back on. Inspired by an exceptional blog post by Blonde on a Budget, I decided to do another Buy Nothing New Year, but properly this time.

When I thought about it some more I realised that I already have everything I need to be happy. In fact, I have too much. Stuff it (pun intended), let’s just go all the way, let’s not buy anything at all. And why not declutter too!

No exceptions! Apart from food… and toilet paper… well, maybe some exceptions. But this time, the rules will be decided upfront, not changed and softened while I stand in a Brisbane shop admiring a dress on sale.

Stay tuned for a post explaining how my Buy Nothing Year will work, including all the rules and goals I’ve set for this challenge.

I hope you will join me over the next year as I try to make do with what I already have and get rid of what I don’t need. Take on your own challenge for a year, a month or a day, join in some discussion, or just read along. Either way, I hope to see you around!

x Ania