Umbra Bubble Glass Foaming Soap Dispenser

I’ve been meaning to write about one of my recent purchases for a couple of months. I was lucky enough to find this Umbra Bubble Glass Foaming Soap Dispenser in my local T.K. Maxx. They were selling them for ¬£3.99 instead of the RRP of ¬£14.99! It’s a fab little device and I thought it could work really well with the Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castille Soap I’ve been buying. I’ve found that actually it makes any soap go further, as I’ve recently found some Faith In Nature products in T.K. Maxx and just the tiniest amount of their coconut liquid soap goes on for miles. If I fill this and put it in my kitchen, it lasts for about a month which is pretty impressive since I wash my hands a lot to maintain good hygiene in the kitchen.

I hope you can see from my photos, there is a tiny little bubble symbol about 1cm up from the bottom. This is how much soap you need to put in, then you top it up with water to the top line. I use cooled, boiled water to make sure that no micro organisms multiply. The main container consists of a frosted glass vase-like structure. It has a rubber trim around the base so that it will not slip or tip over. The top is made of black rubber – it’s large and easy to press, even with wet hands!

I am sure that Lakeland usually sell Umbra products too, if you are looking for somewhere else to find them ūüôā I can tell you that I’m on the look out for another couple, to go in my bathroom and cloakroom. I hope to share a few more of my purchases that have enabled me to go Zero Waste or be more economical in coming months. I’m a Minimalist, but there are some purchases that are really helpful on this journey.

Minimalist bloggers pushing the same old consumerist culture

I’m always keen to follow bloggers whose content I enjoy reading and find helpful. However, I’ve recently become really disillusioned with a whole bunch of them. It seems like every single post they make is all about self-promotion and pushing their latest wares- be it book, film, DVD or e-book. It all amounts to the same for me- namely visual and mental clutter!

I think I feel disheartened because the whole idea of being Minimalist or Zero Waste, to me- is about being counter-cultural. That means going against the flow, the norms and what society expects of us. It’s one thing getting the message out there and it’s quite another pushing product, that ultimately has one purpose- to make people money. I understand that everyone has to make a living, but I’ve always thought that the most humble and honest way to do that is through living out that lifestyle whilst living a ‘normal’ life, holding down a ‘normal’ job.

The internet has brought about the rise of blogging, social media and things like Facebook or Instagram. Whilst these can be useful tools, they are also now pillars of Western consumerist culture. Tonnes of brands use them to make more money and we have witnessed the rise of bloggers and vloggers as celebrities. As I write this, I am preparing to go and ‘unlike’ a bunch of formerly helpful and informative bloggers. Sadly they have succumbed to the lure of cash and our consumerist culture. I will be a lot less irritated without these¬†surreptitious adverts creeping into my inbox or newsfeed.

I hope this blog is an honest and personal exploration of the concepts of Minimalism and Zero Waste- advert free! I sincerely wish never to go down that consumerist path.

Fresh Perspectives

It’s funny how clearing clutter can give you a fresh perspective on clearing more clutter! This week I was able to give away items that previously I had felt unable to. Clearing other items had probably provided me with some momentum. But, there was something about coming back to these items years later. Even though I’d carted them through 3 house moves and knew deep down they were superfluous, it was only now- at this point in time- that I was able to finally let them go. I guess once you have pared everything down, there are less other items to distract you. At some point you are faced with really getting down to the nitty gritty.

I’d been holding on to a stack of awful books that tied in with various TV series that Trinny and Susannah had done, back in the day! What a stupid collection to be holding on to- I can say that now. But I still remember my excitement at the purchase of each new book- naturally I found a great deal and devouring the contents once home. They really were all about style over substance however and I never really found their suggestions practical. They encouraged massive consumption of clothes and there is now a proliferation of these books¬†in the charity shops. I don’t even think they can sell them- so far out of favour have these two fallen. So they probably end up being recycled.

I offered my set of 5 on Freecycle and a lady was so thrilled¬†to receive them. She was going to give them to her teenage daughter and even gave me a thank you card, along with a hug. I expect they will really appeal to her daughter, as I was a teenager when I so enjoyed reading them. It’s really nice to know that they have gone to a great home.

Alongside those I also gave away a stack of CDRs which I have no use for since everything now goes onto a hard drive. I also gave away 3 card-making books, as much like with recipes- if I want inspiration- I now look online.

What strange items have you had a hard time getting rid of? Did you manage to give them away and why do you think it was so hard for you?

Shopped- The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets

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I’ve just finished reading this book- SHOPPED: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets

– it’s been on my reading list for years and I spotted it in a charity shop! I wish I’d read it sooner, it was eye-opening. It has a lot of points that are relevant to becoming Zero Waste or Minimalist. I’d encourage you to read it, but I will try to give a flavour of it here.

One of the things which I knew a small amount about, was the buying practices of the supermarkets. But here, you can read about it- in all its horrifying detail. Waste is built into the supermarket system. They specify produce by size and weight and all that doesn’t meet specification is destined to be wasted. Even though it is perfectly good food. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was amongst one of the high profile people who highlighted this last year. Most of the reason they specify this, it because they want produce- for example, apples, to fit neatly into their plastic packaging.

All of the so-called offers you get at supermarkets, are usually funded by the suppliers themselves. Even though they know that it won’t gain them loyal customers, as British shoppers are so accustomed¬†to moving onto the next ‘deal’. They are powerless to do anything about it, or they will be de-listed by the supermarkets. Since the majority of people do all their shopping at the supermarket, this could be catastrophic for the supplier.¬†However, supermarkets are aiming to deal with less and less suppliers, as they streamline their systems to make the most profit. This means suppliers are going out of business anyway.

In their drive to reduce their costs, they do not care about quality- they just care about appearance. They want the fruit and veg they buy to sit on the shelf for days on end, looking just as pristine as day 1 when it was harvested. They have even developed particular varieties of fruit and vegetable, that have nothing to do with their superior taste and everything to do with their appearance. For example, Elsanta strawberries have no flavour, but are very firm and hence won’t get bashed around in transit. Furthermore, they encourage the use of way more chemical pesticides than farmers think healthy just to keep up this specification.¬†Supermarkets don’t really support local produce, hence so many areas of the UK are facing the extinction of local varieties and dishes. They just don’t fit into the mass production model.

I have been shifting a lot of my spending to independents in trying to go Zero Waste. I aim to buy all my fruit and veg from my local green grocers now. Although occasionally I run out of carrots or something like that, but I can still buy these loose in the supermarkets if need be. But after reading this book, I want to try and shift all my spending. We’ve virtually cut out 75% of meat from our diet lately, partly for health reasons and partly for cost. But when we do buy meat, we try to use our local butcher. He also sells local, free range eggs. I am trying to find a local fishmonger, but it seems that they are all but extinct. We have a great local health food store where I can buy all kinds of loose dried fruits and nuts. They also sell locally milled flour and lots of other groceries. I will aim to spend more with them, although it will undoubtedly cost us more and we don’t have an infinite budget. However I feel so much happier knowing I am supporting the livelihood of local people and they are not part of the wasteful supermarket system.

Over to you, where do you do the majority of your shopping? Do you still have the option of independents?

Costa Coffee incentive to use your own cup!

I was really pleased to learn today that Costa Coffee are getting on the Zero Waste bandwagon and encouraging customers to bring their own re-usable cups into store, rather than disposable takeaway ones.

They will give 10p to Keep Britain Tidy every time a customer purchases a drink in a re-usable cup (sadly only between 21st April and 21st June 2016). I hope other coffee chains soon follow suit!

You can read the full story here: http://www.costa.co.uk/responsibility/environment/