21 January 2017

New Year Zerowaste Resolutions

I'm walking past the shop windows and chuckle every time.
How everyone is trying to cash in on all those New Year resolutions. We want to lose weight; we want to get better sleep. We'd like to start eating healthier.
And shops offer us a variety of things to help with it. Exercising equipment, nutrition packs, better sleep pillows.

What I supposed is the best New Year resolution for a zerowaster or a someone who wants to waste less and become a zerowaste person?

I'll share my steps, and maybe you'll like them.

Step 1: Inform

Everyone seems to forget about this step, and it's the most important one. Whether you have a family or live alone everyone should be made aware that you're going zerowaste and what that means.

This will help them get used to the idea that you will at some point ask them to throw away some unused items of sentimental value, or that from next week coffee will be made in a different way.

Your friends and less close family will also know not to gift you with items that will only become clutter at a later stage.
Ask them instead for:

  • gift cards, 
  • attraction tickets 
  • recyclable presents.

Step 2: Declutter and minimise

Decluttering means getting rid of all the items that are not being used very often, or as you may find with surprise, haven't been used at all.
Minimising is all about replacing larger things or less eco-friendly with smaller but equally useful and better for the environment.

File:Living room 01335.JPG

It seems like a truly daunting task. After all most of us collected items for years. It would be unreasonable to think it's possible to clear everything out in one day. But you have to be ruthless.
Don't give in to this very well known feeling of remorse, because you're sad to part with something that has nostalgia attached to it like a tag. Remember: 
It isn't items that help us keep the memory of loved ones.
You're free to throw those items away, and the memory will stay. Even better think of donating. It will help you part with something because their life will be prolonged. And they will still be useful.

But most importantly, if you want to declutter quickly, the clue is to get organised about it.

Start with the room that has the highest number of potential trash. 
It will boost your morale once you look at it after transformation.

For me, this room was my kitchen. I had four frying pans. I really only need one pan and one small pot.
I had a huge coffee maker which was given to me by my father, so it was hard to part with it. But I always thought that filter coffee tastes better anyway, so what was the point? When I could have saved so much space by using a coffee dripper:

iNeibo Stainless Steel Coffee Dripper + bonus coffee scoop and a brush

iNeibo Stainless Steel Coffee Dripper

But let me get back to the point. It is all about deciding on the value of certain items and putting them into categories:
  1. Useful and used often
  2. Useful but not used often
  3. Not useful
Now this works for all things. Be it kitchen equipment, beauty products, clothes and tools.

Start with not useful. It's an easier task and will prepare you for the harder ones.

If you have already decided that something isn't useful, let's say your children have grown and you still have a box of old toys it's an easy call. You or your kids don't need it. Chances are that if they keep onto some beloved teddy bear or toy soldier, then they still have it, and not in that box.

Now look at those things and put them into:
  1. Trash
  2. Working (could be donated)
  3. Working and valuable (could be sold)
  4. Not sure
Trash is simple. Just make sure you put whatever possible into recycling as opposed to landfill :)

You may also want to donate all your things and not bother with selling. It's entirely up to you. 

If you want to donate, you have several options. Either use one of your high street local charity shops or get in touch with charities online.
You can also think of Freegle, FreecycleStreetbank or Olio.
They are community sites designed to help people give away and ask for unwanted items.

If you're not sure, then I suggest you get several storage boxes label them well and put those things in them. 
Mark each box with a date as you put items into it, and then set a reminder for six months in your calendar.
Then store them. Attic, storage company, garage... 
If you haven't used those items even once in 6 months, then chances are you don't need them.

I've mentioned Streetbank before. It is very useful when you're dealing with tools. I know the hardest decisions are to get rid of this specialist hammer that I have and which could be of use at some point, but so far I didn't need it. 
Streetbank is designed to share too. So maybe someone offers that hammer and you don't have to keep yours? Or you could share yours, so you'd keep it, but it'd stop being just a piece of unused garbage with potential :)

For sales, you have a multitude of options, from the most popular Ebay and Gumtree, to more localised like the Shpock app.

Step 3: Reorganise

Now that you have gotten rid off all the unwanted items you should be left with a lot more space.

Decide on the purpose of spaces in your home first.

Which part of the kitchen should be used to store food and what type of food?

Where is your office space and which part of it will be devoted to stationery?

Where in your home will you keep cleaning equipment?

Once you get those ideas clear, start moving things. You will end up with a space where if you stick to the plan you will never have to search for anything again! That's a holy grail of busy people, and you can achieve it!

Get some boxes and use clever storage solutions, such as vacuum bags or under the bed storage.

And get rid of anything that can be turned into a digital version.

My way of doing the latter in an organised manner is to scan every document which is older than one year and could be useful for some obscure credit purposes such as old bills, house rent agreements for places I no longer live in and so on. I only keep tax papers and payslips. Most of my photos are in digital. I really don't them in dusty old albums I rarely look into. It's easier to find them on my computer too.

Any paperwork which is older than 1 year and has doubtful value lands in the recycling bin straight away.

I also remember to switch to paperless whenever I change media providers or get a new credit card, for example.

Step 4: Change your buying habits

Now that you have gone through all the hassle of cleaning stuff it's definitely easier to plan for the future. You should have the idea what may become clutter in three months and simply stop yourself from buying it.

Also when you need to get something new start opting for:
  1. Reusable items, lasting items,
  2. Disposable, but eco-friendly items,
  3. Planned meals, without wasting food.
Steel straws instead of plastic ones
Compostable toothbrushes instead of plastic ones
OEM Cloth Menstrual Pads (S-XL)
Reusable hygiene items instead of single use ones

Wheat bran edible plates 24 cm / 9.45 in 10 pack
Edible plates for barbecues instead of paper or plastic ones

Always remember that we are there for you. You can rent or borrow certain things without having to buy them.

And most importantly:

It is supposed to be better for you, have some fun with it. 
Enjoy your new life. 
Instead of buying miniature figurines, maybe go for dance lessons? But if you really want this figurine, don't feel bad about it. Get it. Enjoy it. 
And maybe give it away in a year :D