Conscious Consumer : 5 tips to curb your spending habit

Conscious Consumer : 5 tips to curb your spending habit

Whether we believe we ‘buy into it’ or not, many of us unwittingly fall into the trappings of the consumerist society we were born into.

It’s interesting to consider when we actually started to believe that the acquisition of ‘stuff’ would bring us happiness and wellbeing: was it those cartoon adverts as a child that glorified the most recent toy craze or glossy teen magazines that highlighted next seasons fashion must haves?

For most of us purchasing ‘stuff’ is a daily ritual, one that rewards heartache, sadness, good behaviour, birthdays, loneliness or just plain boredom.  But does it really bring us the satisfaction and ‘wholeness’ that we crave?

Recently Ive started to realise just how trapped I’d become in the idea that more stuff would make me happy.  When I started realising just how short-lived the enjoyment of a new purchase was it became clear to me that this was not the way I wanted to live my life anymore.

I looked at my life and saw that I was working more, so that I could buy more.  I wanted to be able to work less and live more, I wanted to have fun! I craved less clutter around me and more space to just be me, so I decided to really try to cut down on my unnecessary spending once and for all.

I tackled this by implementing these 5 techniques I’m about to share with you.  It’s my hope that you too may look a little deeper into the reasons that you spend unnecessarily and free yourself up to just live more!

Without further ado, here are my ‘Top 5 Tips To Curb Your Spending Habit’!

1/ Stop following social media accounts or reading magazines that promote fashion and makeup hauls and idolises unnecessary spending!  Look at what media you are consuming and consider just how much of it is actually just advertising that aims at getting you to buy more.

2/  Find out what your emotional shopping triggers are : are you on the way to work and feeling low about your body? On the commute home and rewarding a hard days work with some retail therapy?  Find other ways to reward yourself or show yourself love, like taking a long bubble bath or putting aside a little money each week and take a beautiful weekend trip somewhere instead.  Reward yourself with experiences instead of things.

3/  Don’t dangle the carrot under your nose : give yourself a transition time where you don’t go into shops or even look in the window shop.  Don’t allow yourself 30 minutes to shop before work if you know that’s when you’re most likely to spend.  Go for coffee with girlfriends instead of heading to the shops together.

4/  Start a spending log for a month and see clearly how much you are actually spending unnecessarily.  I use ‘Dollar Bird’ which is a free android and apple finance app that allows you to easily log and itemise your spending.  Seeing what you spend on clothes and unnecessary purchases and totalling up the costs is a great catalyst for change!

5/  Don’t let yourself buy anything right away : if you’ve walked into a shop and have your hands full with hangers and bee-lining for the cashiers, ask the cashiers to hold onto your items for half an hour or even better give yourself an evening to consider those purchases!  Often time is enough to consider if you need all or in fact any of your purchases.

It’s my wish that all people have the opportunity to experience the freedom of owning just the things that you absolutely love.  It’s amazing to relieve yourself from the stresses of debt and money-making and really live for life again!

Please do send me a comment about your experiences of reducing your spending and moving towards more conscious spending.

Until next time,

Bex

 

How I went from meat-eater to Vegan overnight

How I went from meat-eater to Vegan overnight

Rewind to Saturday night, one month ago, where I find myself standing in the middle of a packed Bourke Street staring at a computer screen held by a black-clad person in a Guy Fawkes mask.  I’m just out of work and on the way to meet Tom for a movie and a burger but instead I find myself standing there transfixed by a little laptop screen that depicts the horrific treatment of some very terrified looking farm animals.

I’m in a hurry but time stands still; I’m completely unaware of the people around me, of the person behind the mask holding the laptop, of passers by and their reactions, until a sweet middle aged lady wearing a black vegan t’shirt comes up to me and *ping* time starts rolling again.

We chat, she tells me this is footage from Victorian abattoirs and my heart recoils. My previous tactic of being able to push this kind of footage off as ‘US slaughter house footage’ just doesn’t cut it with this experience any more, and my heart is left raw and open to change.  I remember the scared ‘moos’ of the babies and mama’s being separated in the fields near Tom’s parents home and driving past the cargo lorries full to the brim of cows and sheep on their way to market or the abattoir.

The timing was perfect.  I met my first ‘Cube Of Truth’, the name given to the protest tactics of Vegan movement Anonymous For The Voiceless, when I had been seriously considering not only my health but also the morality of my choice to eat meat and dairy.  Recently I have been on a gentle journey of aligning my actions with my values and this was naturally starting to transcend into my diet choices too.

So fast forward to the present moment and I am a month into this new adventure.  I’ve eaten so well, adjusting surprisingly easy to these new changes. Just as with most big changes I’m experiencing moments of complete insecurity and concern, questioning my choice and fearing the work that will be involved.  When I relax however and let this fear past I get to see the reality of the situation, that I don’t need to live by anyone’s definitions, that I get to choose in each moment what I do and don’t eat or wear, and that I am unimaginably strong and capable of fulfilling any commitment I make to myself.

Some of the benefits that I’ve noticed so far are:

  1. I’m eating better! I have to plan my food more and can’t just grab junk food from the city at a moments notice.
  2. My digestion is settling down, I feel less bloated and sore after meals.
  3. I’m craving dark leafy greens.  Who knew that when you eat more veggies you crave more veggies?!
  4. It’s really relaxing aligning your actions with your values, there’s so much less guilt.

It’s been pretty miraculous just how simple this transition has been; far less stressful and awkward then I previously thought.  It feels wonderful to say no and remove myself from having anything to do with the suffering of those beautiful animals, and I’m starting to see that I can live a happy and wholesome life without consuming animal-based foods.

I can’t wait to share more about this journey in the near future,

Until then,

Bex

Conscious Consumer : How can I stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’?

Conscious Consumer : How can I stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’?

It can be so so easy to walk into a clothing store in any western country, buy a cheap dress, walk out and not think anymore then ‘What a bargain!’, but do we ever really consider the true cost of the clothing that we buy? Behind closed doors across the other side of the world there is a hidden cost to this cheap ‘throw away’ clothing.

Our capitalist society and consumerist tendencies have resulted in a record low price per garment, creating a throw away culture that results in completely inhumane working conditions for garment workers in third world countries like Bangladesh, where the women are earning as little as $15 a month and having to work 14-16 hour days.

garment-worker-bangladesh

Many of these women are not able to parent their own children as their earnings will not allow for education or childcare, so they have to leave their children to be raised by family members in the villages.  These workers have little to no rights and work in extremely dangerous conditions, resulting in factory disasters like that of Rana Plaza in 2013 where over 1,000 garment workers were killed as their factory roof collapsed on top of them.

img_4636.jpg

Alongside this Farmers throughout the world are being sold genetically modified seeds and pesticides that are creating the fibres that we wear, polluting our environment in a multitude of ways.  Chemical dyes, pesticides and chemical treatments for fabrics and leather pollute waterways throughout third world countries and western countries too, causing huge outbreaks of cancer and disease as well as a huge increase in childhood disabilities and birth defects.

And at the end of this, where does all of our clothing go?  At the height of my clothing consumerism I would go through my wardrobe every few months, completely overwhelmed with the amount of clothing I had collected.  I’d sit and chuck my clothing into ‘Keep’, ‘Donate’ and ‘Throw’ piles, whilst feeling no guilt as I was only chucking away the broken pieces of clothing.  For me there was little thought to the throw pile going to landfill but also do we really know what happens to our donated clothing? Much of the clothing that gets sent to secondhand shops will end up in landfill too anyway.  In Australia alone, more than 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather end up in landfill each year.

howmuchclothingwasted.jpg

Over the past few months I have started to educate myself.  This has come as a direct result of my actions to downsize my wardrobe in readiness for our Tiny House build.  I could see so clearly the impulse purchases that I make, the low quality of much of my wardrobe and the amount of money I actually spend on these garments that I am expected to purchase constantly so as to be fulfilled, loveable and basically have ‘well-being!’  I have purchased far more then I need, pushed into consumerism by a society that is built on it, with little thought to the materials used or where the garments were made.

As a consumer we hold so much power!  Here are my top 5 tips on how to stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’:

  1. Mend what you have – Consider what you already have in your wardrobe and mend clothing that needs some love.
  2. Buy less – By not purchasing cheap clothing regularly, I can reevaluate what I actually need in my wardrobe and what I love to wear regularly.
  3. Buy second hand – Save money and buy clothing that is already ‘in the system’!  Look on Ebay for your favourite Levi jeans secondhand or check out your local consignment, vintage or second hand shops.
  4. Vote with your wallet – Support fair-trade companies with ecological practices and guidelines.  Purchase a few high-quality garments that will last.  They may cost more in the beginning but they would have been produced in a way that is ethical and ecologically minded.
  5. Educate yourself – Watch The True Cost.  The True Cost is a documentary that highlights some of the negative effects throughout the world as a result of ‘fast fashion’.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!  What are you doing to reduce your consumption and make sure that your purchases support ethical practices?

If you know of any fantastic ethical and ecological clothing brands based here in Australia I would love to hear from you! It’s so important to me that we create a community of like-minded individuals so that we can support and empower each other to make these important choices.

Until next time ❤

Bex

SaveSave

My experience of ‘Plastic Free July’

My experience of ‘Plastic Free July’

It’s now a week into August and I felt the importance of looking back on how much has changed for me over the past 5 weeks, as I took on Plastic Free July here in Australia and began to open my eyes to how my actions can impact the environment around me and the world at large.

Plastic Free July came at the perfect time for me, as earlier this year I started to become more interested in downsizing and the environmental aspects of the living choices we make.  This came about naturally whilst stepping into the designing phase of our Tiny House build.

I started educating myself one the Zero Waste movement that is happening at the moment, learnt about some easy swaps that I could make in my life to hugely reduce the amount of plastics and trash that I create, and started to take notice of just how much unnecessary waste that I have been creating.  Overnight I implemented simple changes that would eradicate the majority of the waste that I was creating and I wanted to share the changes that I made with you today.

  1. Plastic Shopping Bags : I gave up plastic shopping bags completely and started to carry 2 light reusable shopping bags with me at all times.  This shift was so simple and incredibly satisfying.  There really is absolutely no need for single use shopping bags.  I even went further and started asking all customers in the shop I work at if they want a plastic bag instead of automatically supplying them with one.  I found that 1/3 took a plastic bag and our use of them DRASTICALLY reduced.  (If it was my shop I would get rid of them completely.  I got in contact with the owners and as of yet there has been no interest in change here.)
  2. Plastic Produce Bags : At the beginning of the month I bought some organic cotton produce bags and a few weeks ago I made some myself using an unused pillow case.  These little drawstring bags easily replace the need for plastic produce bags at the grocery store.  I have a couple in my bag at all times and when Im going for my weekly shop I bring 5 or 6 with me to fill up with dry goods or fruit and veg.
  3. Keep Cup / Reusable Coffee Cup : I have started taking my glass Keep Cup with me everywhere, and if I don’t have it then I don’t get my morning Soy Chai! I found out that the disposable ‘compostable’ cups that my local coffee shops use are actually not as magical as you think they are and would generally go into landfill anyway, so the solution is a reusable coffee cup.
  4. Plastic Food Packaging : If I can buy it loose (veggies/fruit/drygoods) then I do and I just use my little produce bags instead. If I can buy it in glass jars then I pay the extra money for those products.  Finding plastic free food can be tough and my partner and I actually drive for an hour to go to Terra Madre in Northcote, Melbourne as their prices are by far the best in town for a health food shop.  They have a bulk food section and many products in glass instead of plastic.  I go to local bakeries for our bread now and put it in a reusable bag.  If I have to use plastic packaged items (very seldomly) then I wash out the packaging and recycle it in our bin or at our local Coles supermarket that takes soft plastics for recycling).
  5. Stopped Buying Unnecessarily : I’ve stopped buying clothes unnecessarily and if I need to purchase something I try and pick the natural materials instead of synthetic materials that are far more common.  I have cut down my spending so much, and become so much more aware of the implications of fast fashion and how wasteful and morally wrong the fashion industry can be.

Not only has Plastic Free July opened my eyes to the environmental factors within the waste industry but it has also inspired me to educate myself further on the implications of fast fashion, the food choices that I eat, the chemicals that I put on and around my body and the containers that I put my food in.

It’s been an incredible shift and Plastic Free July was the catalyst that opened me up to exploring these areas of my life.  I’m endlessly grateful for this time of learning!

I would love to hear from you how you are taking responsibility for the environmental footprint you leave; are you implementing some ‘zero waste swaps’ into your life? Please do leave a comment below!

Until next time ❤

Bex

Conscious Consumer : What is BPA and why should we avoid it?

Conscious Consumer : What is BPA and why should we avoid it?

As consumers we are sold a huge array of harmful products on a daily basis, with very little (if any) knowledge of the adverse effects that these products can have on our body and on our environment. Have you ever wondered what all those ‘BPA-free’ stickers on plastic goods are? It’s most common to find the stickers on food-grade plastics, such as some tupperware containers and water bottles, but we’re never really told what it all means and why we should steer clear of any BPA plastics.

Bisphenol-A or ‘BPA’ is a chemical compound that has been used for generations in the production of plastic.  Believe it or not Birphenol-A actually started it’s life as a form of synthetic hormone in the birth control industry, but was replaced by stronger medications that had more fast-acting effects.  Since the late 1950’s and with a clear understanding of it’s original purpose, the plastics industry has used this dangerous chemical compound within their products, which the consumer then uses constantly throughout their days.

But whats all the fuss about BPA? BPA is an ‘endocrine disruptor’ which simply means that it mimics other hormones and disrupts our delicate hormonal/endocrine systems.  There have been numerous scientific tests over the years that have proven time and again that BPA quickly leaches out of plastic products and is absorbed into our blood streams.  In fact in a recent study BPA was detected in 93% of people tested.  BPA is proven to be connected to devastating illnesses such as autism, ADHD, prostate cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer just to name a few.

After many years health advocates have managed to get the word out into the public domain and have persuaded some companies to remove BPA from their products.  However our government health agencies (who have huge ties to the plastic/oil industries) still are not doing all they can to clamp down on these dangerous products that are flooding the market today.  According to the European Food Safety Authority for example “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group including unborn children, infants and adolescents”.

The more I learn about the plastics industry the more I see that it really is important to do our research and not automatically believe that the companies we buy from or our institutions have our best interests at heart.  Do we expect our government institutions to be trustworthy when so much of their funding comes from the very industries that we need their protection from?

Though it’s important to know this information, it’s also really important to realise that we are empowered to make changes that will directly support our health!  Here are some tips on how to eradicate BPA plastics from our daily lives:

  • Stop using plastic water bottles that often contain BPA and carry a steel or glass water bottle with you instead
  • Make larger quantities of food for dinner and package it into your lunches in BPA-free tupperware containers.  You can get fantastic glass ones that work great, or even a mason jar will do the job.
  • Never microwave or reheat in plastic!
  • Buy beauty products that are in BPA-free containers, preferably glass.  You can also make your own moisturisers, balms etc.  There are a ton of resources online.
  • Stop using cling-film and plastic utensils, switch to reusable containers and bamboo takeaway utensils instead
  • If you have children, switch to BPA free babies bottles, you can also get hardened glass bottles these days too.  If you can, Breastfeed!  Did you know that babies formula milk comes in tins or tubs that are lined with BPA plastic?

I’m so grateful for all of the incredible resources that we have available to us thanks to the Internet.  I really hope that this blog becomes a useful and inspiring online resource for people to live a creative, healthy and environmentally conscious life.

Until next time ❤

Zero Waste : My zero waste essentials ‘starter kit’

Zero Waste : My zero waste essentials ‘starter kit’

So it’s nearly been a month since I started ‘Plastic Free July’ and really dove head first into the world of zero waste.  This month I’ve been making a conscious effort to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic I use, but in particular single use plastics that will automatically go to landfill. It’s actually been a really enjoyable and empowering experience, which has been a nice surprise!

It can be scary to make these sorts of changes; for me one of the fears that I had was the social interactions that I may face when trying to steer around using plastics.  In reality what I’ve found is that people have been very supportive (if a little intrigued) and totally willing to weigh my jars and put my bread in a cloth bag instead of plastic.

Before this all started I had already been doing quite a bit of research into the plastic-free and zero waste lifestyles that many people are starting to document online, in particular Lauren from Trash is for Tossers has been a great resource over recent months.  It’s amazing to have the web as such a fantastic space to educate and support others who are wanting to adopt more of an ecological approach to life!

Today I want to share with you my Zero Waste ‘starter kit’: the essentials that I’ve been keeping in my bag at all times this month so I’m ready for the day and don’t need to find myself picking up plastics or excessive packaging throughout my city life.  I’ve come to realise that you really don’t need to purchase anything fancy to set up your ‘starter kit’, you can muddle together bits and pieces from around your home quite easily, though it can be a good incentive to buy some pretty essentials to start you off on your journey and keep you motivated! I’ve shared links to the products that I’ve used or products that are very similar.

Here’s what my current Zero Waste ‘starter kit’ looks like:

Large Glass KeepCup : $24

lime_12oz_2This was just the best purchase, not only as it is super cute with its purple and teal colours but I love the fact that it’s glass and doesnt have that funny plastic taste or smell that some reusable cups have.  My cup is about a year old now and still working really well for me.  It’s been living in my bag and comes to work with me every day.  I use it for my morning Chai and even get a discount at my local coffee shop for bringing a reusable cup with me.  I also use it through out work as a mug so I don’t need to use disposable cups or glasses there either.

 

Steel Water Bottle : $29.95

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 8.21.17 pm

I’ve had this Ishka 1L water bottle for a couple of years, it’s been all over the world with me! But it’s only this past month that I’ve been religiously bringing it with me everywhere that I go and the difference that it makes is obvious.  In the past Ive been caught out quite a few times and picked up many bottled drinks just because I hadn’t been prepared with my own from home.  That’s not the case anymore!  Really any reusable water bottle will do, there are tons of brands out there, I just fell in love with this super cute design.

 

 

 

Big Reusable Bags : $16.95

loqi-shopping-bag-seed-ash.jpgI just have a hodgepodge of reusable bags that I’ve picked up over the years but I’ve linked to some very similar bags that you could purchase too.  I love how small these bags fold down to, I have 2 that I keep in my bag at all times, but I also have a couple more sturdy canvas ones that I take with me if Im going on a large grocery shop for example.  They come in useful every single day, for wrapping my lunch in (they’re water proof so great for accidental soup spills!) and for carrying any purchases I make.  Having these in my bag at all times rules out my use of any plastic bags.

Cloth Produce Bags : $3.95

single-bag-1-300x300.jpg

I purchase 5 of these organic cotton produce bags when I went to The Source bulk foods near me earlier this month.  I have a couple more cotton bags that I have at home too.  These produce bags are perfect for filling up at bulk food places or for holding sandwiches or fruit in.  I’ve been keeping one in my bag every day which has come in useful for holding a sandwich I buy out or for an unexpected small grocery trip.  I have the rest of my produce bags storing food in our kitchen cupboard which then get reused and filled up again during grocery shops.

Bamboo Cutlery : $12.50

s-l1600I only got this set recently, for most of the month I’ve just been bringing a fork or spoon with me for my lunch and thats been working fine, but I found this set on Ebay and decided to pick it up as backup for days when i’m not able to be so well prepared.  The set comes in a handy little case that keeps the bamboo protected, which is great for just shoving in my bag!

 

This may seem like a fair amount of stuff to carry around with me all the time but it really doesn’t take that much space up in my handy stripe-y canvas bag I bring everywhere! Something that I’m considering is purchasing a smaller sized drink bottle as the 1L bottle I have does get pretty heavy when it’s full and it’s often possible to refill a bottle when I’m out and about.  I also want to say that this month Ive been making my own lunch at home and bringing it to work with me, this is mainly to save money, so if I was to go back to buying more lunches out then I would include a Tupperware container in my essentials list too.

I’d love to hear about some changes that you’re making to reduce the trash you create; what do you bring with you when you’re heading out?  Come say hello over on my Instagram account @thelittlehome.oz (link above) and let me know your zero waste essentials!

Until next time ❤