Mid-2018 Minimalism goals review

At the start of the year I made a post here about my goals for decluttering and minimalism in 2018. I had planned to declutter slowly but I’ve been feeling a lot better mentally and this has led to a lot of fast and furious decluttering – over 1700 items! As a result, I have virtually completed all of my goals for the year that I originally set so it’s time to set some new ones.

Review of my original goals

• The jigsaw puzzles I felt were becoming a chore so I donated them all including the puzzle board.
• The bath and body products have nearly all been used up and I am switching over to eco-friendlier alternatives with fewer chemicals.
• I am now down to only 7 notebooks and those that are left are almost finished, plus I have started writing again so it looks like I will actually need to buy a new notebook sometime soon!
• I tried to complete my cross stitch projects but honestly felt so burdened by the thought of having to spend so many hours to complete large pieces for a hobby I haven’t been enjoying for around 18 months now that I actually threw away my projects and then gifted all my threads to a family member who was very happy to receive them.
• I sold my D-SLR for £200 – the rising cost of electronics in the UK worked in my favour as a year previous I had only been offered £100.
• The colouring books were all either recycled or donated as I found it wasn’t a hobby I enjoyed after all.
• My final goal was to continue decluttering my books; well I have donated many books this year but I still have a few to read before I am down to owning only my absolute favourite and most important books but they are definitely thinning out. In total I now own only 39 books, down from over 600 before I began my minimalist journey 6 years ago.

Results

• It now takes us only 5 minutes maximum to pick up the entire room
• Free from other hobbies which were distracting me from my one true love, writing, I have now slowly started scribbling away here and there
• My partner feels happier and calmer in our new space, although he now claims that my share of the chores is far too small!
• I have begun eating healthier, including finally kicking my addiction to sugar since I have so few distractions now. I’ve also reformulated my work out plan to something I think will suit my lifestyle better and we started going to the sauna/steam room quite frequently which has been bliss!

New goals

• Notebooks – Finish using them all up until there is only 1 left.
• Books – I think my books can definitely be cut in half again.
• Headphones – For some reason we seem to have at 6 pairs floating around when 3-4 would be enough.
• Wardrobe – I think there are items in there I’m hanging on to that I could probably thin out. Especially socks, for some bizarre reason I own more than 60 pairs of socks…
• Jewellery – I rarely wear jewellery so why I still own a jewellery box at all is beyond me.
• Bags – I still own far too many bags when I typically only ever use one.
• Mementos – I’m debating getting rid of these altogether since I never look at them unless I’m decluttering – if they are so important why are they still shoved in a box under my bed?
• Toy animals – I’ve narrowed these down a lot, getting rid of 3 huge bin bags of them, but I still own far too many.
I guess mostly my goals now are about refinement and working towards the kind of lifestyle I have been wanting to achieve for a very long time. With fewer distractions, it’s getting easier and easier to focus on the things that really matter and incorporating lifestyle changes. I hope by the end of the year to be much closer to where I want to be.
How is your journey with minimalism going in 2018? Share with me in the comments below.

 

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Reducing food waste – Taking on ‘customer dumping’

Both myself and many people I know who have worked for various supermarkets have talked about this issue, but we have never seen it discussed in a public forum. I decided to change this by writing about the issue in the hopes that once more people are aware of it, it will lead to less food waste.

As the food waste movement gathers momentum a whole array of different ideas has been presented to help tackle the issue from supermarkets selling wonky veg, to tips and tricks to use up items of food that have gotten lost at the back of the fridge. Recently supermarkets have rightly come under fire for the amount of food they waste and several have now pledged to reduce the amount of food they are throwing away. Yet there is an invisible form of food waste happening in supermarkets which customers are unaware of and which supermarkets don’t like to talk about. It’s also entirely preventable. This issue is customer dumping.

Customer dumping is what I refer to when a customer picks up 2 bottles of milk from the chilled isle and five isles later in the chocolate isle, changes their mind, and dumps one on a shelf. Or they pick up a packet of chilled chicken from the refrigerated isle and leave it in the frozen isle.

In order for these items not to be thrown away by the supermarket for health and safety, a few things need to happen within a relatively short period of time:

  1. An employee sees you dump the item and therefore knows it has only been out of the fridge/freezer for a short period of time
  2. AND/OR An employee has been working in that particular area relatively recently and can say with confidence that the item wasn’t there within a short window frame
  3. AND/OR The item must still feel cold enough that it can safely be returned

Food which falls outside of this has to be thrown away as it cannot be guaranteed to be safe for sale. It’s a procedure designed to prevent people from becoming ill from food which has defrosted, or potentially defrosted and refrozen again. Just like at home you have to store your food appropriately to prevent food poisoning, supermarkets have to ensure that any food sold has been kept in appropriate conditions prior to sale and is fit to eat.

Not only does this mean the food cannot be sold, but it is also not safe enough to donate either. Additionally, for the case of meat and fish, animals have died in order for that product to reach a supermarket shelf, only for someone to change their minds and dump the item, making that animal’s death a pointless waste.

Often times customers dump things everywhere and anywhere and unfortunately staff don’t see until it’s too late for the food to be saved. From both my own experience and having spoken with family and friends, the majority of food items dumped don’t get seen in time for this to happen. A supermarket is after all, a rather large place and it’s impossible to both do your work and watch what all the customers around you are doing.

A good rule of thumb when shopping is:

  • If it’s chilled return it to the chilled area.
  • If it’s frozen return it to the frozen area.
  • If it’s neither chilled nor frozen, leave it in a room-temperature area.

Of course it’s always nice if you return your unwanted semi-skimmed milk to the semi-skimmed milk section, but if you’re short on time, anywhere in the refrigerated chilled section will do, as it allows employees to know the item has been kept at the right temperature and it can then be moved from say, the cheese to the milk area during tidy up.

Are you guilty of dumping food? Will being aware of this food waste issue change how you shop? Share with me in the comments below.

Am I bad for the planet?

I recently did an online quiz to calculate my carbon footprint and the results were shocking. My footprint was around 5.1 tonnes per year and as a result we would need two planets in order for the whole world to have the same lifestyle as me. I had been expecting to hear that we would only need one planet for everyone to live the way I do! In comparison to the average Brit who has an 11 tonne footprint though, my footprint was less than half of this which is positive at least. Still, it got me thinking, am I really that bad for the planet? And how can I improve?

What am I already doing?

  • Recycle as much as possible
  • I often turn things off at the plug when not in use
  • I only shower 2-3 times a week (I lead a sedentary lifestyle right now)
  • We don’t have children
  • I walk everywhere
  • I do not own a car
  • We wash our clothes on 30
  • We air dry our clothes
  • We don’t bag fruits and vegetables unnecessarily at the supermarket
  • We freeze or eat leftovers
  • I have many items of clothing which are ten years old
  • If I no longer want an item of clothing I donate it
  • I wear my shoes until they cannot be worn any longer
  • I mostly only buy second hand books
  • I no longer smoke
  • We are minimalists and therefore don’t believe in excessive consumerism
  • Our pets are fed and sleep on bedding produced locally rather than from miles away
  • Many of our food staples are very local and only travel a couple of miles to reach us
  • I have begun incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diet
  • In general I try to use everything until the end of its life or otherwise donate it

What am I not doing?

  • I usually take one round-trip flight per year of around 3-4 hours each way
  • I go through around 1-2 plastic bottles a day because of my addiction to sugary drinks
  • I still drink bottled water occassionally
  • I have begun forgetting to take shopping bags with me to the supermarket
  • I am almost always on my laptop or phone
  • I am always cold so the heating is always on

How could I do better?

  • Try to quit or at least reduce my addiction to sugary, fizzy drinks
  • Get even better at turning items off at the plug
  • Quit bottled water altogether
  • I could quit flying altogether (This shouldn’t be too difficult as I’ve developed a phobia of it!)
  • I could have a technology-free morning/evening once a week
  • Grow some of my own food (I have actually already applied for an allotment a few weeks ago)
  • Begin carrying a stainless steel straw with me everywhere again
  • Get back in the habit of always taking shopping bags with us
  • I only buy take out coffee on day trips somewhere but often this goes hand in hand with forgetting my reusable mug so I can try to remember this in future
  • Go back to using Dr Bronner’s soap

Well there you have it, I have some ideas on how to improve. What about you? Have you calculated your carbon footprint? What steps are you taking to change your lifestyle to a more planet-friendly one? Share with me in the comments below and thanks as always for reading.

My favourite healthy quick and easy meal

One big concern about switching to a healthier diet is the amount of time required to prepare healthy meals. So today I wanted to share my favourite healthy meal which I rely on which is soup.

What’s so great about soup?

Soup is my favourite healthy meal because it is easy to make, it’s versatile, you don’t need a recipe, it can be made in only one pot, it’s frugal, healthy, you can sneak vegetables in that you (or others) might not otherwise eat and it can last for days if you make a big batch. What’s not to love?!

How do I get started?

Slow cooker – (That’s a crock-pot for those across the pond.) My favourite way to make soup is in the slow cooker because it allows me to prep at least 3 days worth of lunches in one go and then leave it to cook while I go do something else more interesting than stirring a pot! Simply chop up your vegetables, add stock or water and your herbs and spices then leave to cook. When it’s done simply use an immersion blender to turn your freshly cooked vegetables into soup and voila – you have an easy healthy meal.

Staples – Although soup comes in many varieties and flavours the basics of any good soup tend to remain the same and can be bought cheaply to create several different soups. I usually rely on butter, onion, garlic, celery, stock, salt and pepper and then add whatever vegetables I want to base my soup on.

Herbs & spices – You can switch things up with your soups by adding different herbs and spices depending on your mood which means that even if you use the same vegetables your soup doesn’t need to taste the same every time. Right now I am loving fenugreek to add a bit of a kick to my soups but I believe in experimenting and having fun! I usually get my ideas for which herbs and spices to put in by rummaging in our spices cupboard and smelling them.

What vegetables/flavours could I use?

The world is your oyster but you could try potatoes, leeks, broccoli, peas, red bell peppers, onions, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, lentils, mini pasta. If you get stuck for ideas you can always check out what’s available in the supermarket and then make it from fresh to avoid all the additives and preservatives.

What is my favourite flavour of soup?

My favourite flavour of soup is spicy parsnip right now but not so long ago tomato soup was where it was at!

What’s your favourite go-to healthy meal? Do you make soup? Share with me in the comments below and thanks as always for reading.

5 easy steps towards better health

For those of us who are, shall say, a bit prone to falling off the waggon with regards to taking care of our health from time to time I wanted to write about five easy steps you can take to improve your health on a small scale that will inspire you to make more changes and feel accomplished. If you haven’t guessed I’m all about progress, not perfection.

Remember, the longest journey always begins with the first steps.

Here’s give simple easy steps you can take towards your journey to health.

1. Drink one glass of water

Drinking eight glasses a day every might seen impossible and daunting, not to mention like you are giving up all other drinks. So why not begin by committing yourself to drinking just one glass a day? Or if you prefer, a 500ml bottle you can sip whilst doing other activities.

2. Eat one piece of fruit

Having a wholly clean or ‘perfect’ diet can seem intimidating and difficult, so why not start by eating just one piece of fresh fruit a day? Or if you prefer you could go for vegetable sticks with dip. Every nutrient counts. Maybe the rest of your diet will suck, but so far you’ve done two things to improve your health – good on you!

3. Take a vitamin

This takes seconds to do but you will reap the benefits and you’ve done yet another small step towards your health.

4. Switch to one decaf drink

All that caffeine does nothing for your body, so if you aren’t ready to quit caffeine, why not try switching one drink a day to decaf? The easiest one to do will be the last drink of the day since most people state their reason for drinking coffee in the morning is to get going. It will also help you get off to sleep better in the evening.

5. Get some sleep

You deserve it. And you’d be surprised how a good night’s sleep will make you feel so much better. So why not go to bed half an hour early or if you’re feeling ambitious, an hour? And with a bit less caffeine in your system you’ll likely feel sleepier and find this step easy than usual and drop off faster.

So there you have it, give easy ways to get started or re-start your health journey. Have you fallen off the waggon? Or are you just starting to do something about your unhealthy diet? Share with me in the comments below.