This story was originally published by Bead and Reel
There’s nothing quite like moving to make you realise how much stuff we have, and even worse, how much wasteful stuff we have. I’m fairly appalled at all the unnecessary things I’ve acquired even in just the past few years since the last time I moved (except for books – you can absolutely never have enough of those).
Through the process of giving away so much of my stuff and downsizing to a much smaller, simpler home (more garden, less furniture!) I’ve really been forced to re-evaluate both my lifestyle that led me to collecting so much stuff (all of the things needed to run a retail business has not been awesome for minimalism), and also deciding the kinds of stuff that I do want around going forward. One thing I know for sure: I want less disposable stuff.
So, here are some sustainable switches I’ve made recently, and I’d love to hear what you’re working on cutting out of your life right now too!
FIRST, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE STUFF WE CAN’T SEE
I think it’s so important to first know why we should be making different choices (I mean, you can do it just because I told you to, but… there are definitely some better reasons out there, maybe?). And while it’s great to get rid of clutter and skip single-use plastic, if we’re still filling our bodies with invisible toxic things, we’re really not doing much for our own sustainability (or that of our planet).
Magnifeco by Kate Black was the book that really got me seriously thinking about sustainable beauty + fashion (and all the awful things we put on our skin), and I absolutely cannot highly enough recommend it no matter where you are in your sustainability journey. It’s informative yet accessible, factual yet digestible. And, it was definitely the kick in the (fair trade, organic) pants I needed to start making more mindful choices about what I was putting on my body (and into the world, too).
I originally bought one for myself, read it and then gave it to a friend, bought another one for myself, gave it another friend, repeat and repeat, until I had eventually gone through so many that I decided to just bring it permanently into my fashion boutique Bead & Reel so now all my friends can have it.
Plus, we already agreed that you can never have enough books, and this one is not only informative but it’s also printed with strong environmental commitments by an independent publisher and supports a fabulous female author, so you can feel good about having it on your shelf (or in your microwave…. see below).
I don’t use straws at home but they can be so challenging to avoid when out in the world – and they are so harmful to little sea critters and end up rotting in landfills and are actually totally unnecessary (at least, the single-use plastic ones are!). One simple switch is to skip it all together and you know, drink something straight from a cup, or BYO and start saying those 3 little words every waiter wants to hear, “No straw please,” and then use your own.
I personally now use metal straws, but there are a variety of non-plastic options including glass and bamboo and paper and silicone options as well. Plus, they are so much prettier anyway (and, isn’t a photo-worthy meal the most important part of eating these days?).
If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can consider starting your own local campaign to ban plastic straws. Lots of cities are working on it (and hey, congrats Seattle for doing it!).
WRAP IT UP
A few months ago I switched to beeswax food wraps to ditch plastic bags and wraps in my refrigerator. And, before the Vegan Police jumps all over me for using and promoting beeswax, let me just mention: I researched my options extensively and I believe this truly is the least harmful choice. Single-use plastic is totally terrible for so many lives and ecosystems, and this one-time purchase can be kept and used for years. So, there, I’ve said my bit to hopefully quench the inevitable objections heading my way (the super fun thing about having a blog is that no matter what you say on any topic, you will always have someone letting you know you’re wrong! So I’m just bracing for this one).
But back to the wraps. I’m so happy with them. My only minor – very minor – complaint is that when you have many of these lovely wraps piled up in your fridge they all start to look the same on the outside, since apparently all food ends up a 4″ x 5″ rectangle in the end, no matter what shape or dimension it started off as. But you can come up with a clever labelling or organising system that helps you determine what’s inside each rectangle or you can just take an entire few extra moments and open each one until you find what you’re looking for. Hopefully the hassle of doing that is still less than the hassle of… not having a usable ocean.
DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE PRETTY?
Packing up my bathroom for the move was very overwhelming. I had somehow accumulated so. much. plastic. nonsense. And half the stuff I didn’t even use, or like, or it had expired like, 3 years ago.
One of my sustainability commitments this year is to simply use less beauty products (I mean, we’re all so pretty already anyway, right?), as well as being extremely mindful about the kind of beauty products I am using, too. My products went vegan + cruelty-free quite a while ago, but I now I’m adding plastic-free to my checklist.
Fortunately, the entire Bead & Reel Clean Beauty collection is made from recyclable or reusable options like glass or cardboard, as well as all the products themselves being non-toxic, handmade, vegan, cruelty-free, and from female founders, of course.
While obviously I love everything I carry at Bead & Reel, and picking a favourite would be like picking a favourite child (or cat), which is impossible, if you’re curious which beauty products are my not-favourite-favourites, feel free to write and I’d be happy to share 😉
When I first moved into my new place and noticed it didn’t have a microwave my first thought was, “but how will I eat?” and then I realised that there are these things called stoves and ovens and you can still heat food, and I thought, “huh, how novel, let me try that.”
Anyway, I decided to stick out the “no microwave” test and one of the really neat side effects of not having a microwave is that I now buy way less pre-made food and therefore way less single-use plastic packaging. Also, this tends to lead to me eating healthier foods and I actually appreciate my meals more when they don’t take 30 seconds to make (but maybe that’s just me).
I’m not saying you have to toss your microwave (but, if you do, let me know – we can trade tips!), but, it might be a fun experiment to see if you can use it less (or just not at all, and then you could have more book storage space!).
THRIFT IS THE NEW BLACK
So I realise as a retailer I should be encouraging you to buy more new things forever and ever, but I just can’t, because that’s not what I believe in.
I think new sustainable fashion absolutely has an important place in our lives and economies, and I am proud to carry the styles and brands that I do since I consider them versatile, long-lasting, and empowering, but, in fashion and beyond, second hand should really be the first place we start.
While I recently took a hiatus from our second hand Rescued Collection, I still hope you’ll explore your local thrift stores and online shops next time you need something (or “need” something). I’ve managed to find wonderful second hand version of everything I’ve bought for my new home, and it’s often more unique than the things easily available at your nearest shopping centre.