Reusable cloth nappies

I’m always aiming to be zero waste, and had thoroughly researched cloth nappies on the internet from probably my whole pregnancy! About 5 months before my baby was born, I spotted a cloth nappy bundle on my local Facebook selling group. It was the works – nappies, covers, liners and boosters for £45. In the few days it took me to arrange a time to meet up with the seller, she was so desperate to sell them as she was moving house – she’d dropped the price to £25! It turned out they were brand new, she’d bought them from another lady who’d never used them. Then she’d been gifted a year’s supply of disposables and never used them. I couldn’t believe my luck! All in all I got:

4 small Motherease Airflow wraps in white (RRP £12.99 ea)

4 medium Motherease Airflow wraps in white (RRP £12.99 ea)

4 large Motherease Airflow wraps (RRP £13.99 ea)

10 Motherease snap-in booster pads in natural (RRP £2.50 ea)

14 Motherease one size cloth nappies in natural (RRP £10.99 ea)

4 rolls of paper liners (RRP £7.99 ea)

TOTAL Price new £370.70

So, I’ll be saving money against disposables in no time at all! I also picked up a Tots Bots lockable nappy bucket (RRP £12.99) and 2 mesh bags (RRP £8.99), plus about 10 white Tots Bots Bamboozle nappies (RRP around £15 ea, which we haven’t even tried yet!) off eBay for 50p and got another on Freecycle. I use one for nappies and cloth wipes and one for disposables.

I did write in this post about how the cloth nappies weren’t working for us all in the first 6 months until weaning started. Motherease are meant to be one size, but you have to fold them over initially. This makes them incredibly bulky and my baby is very slim. They were absolutely huge on him in the first few months – really looking quite ridiculous on him. Looks aside, he couldn’t seem to bend his legs properly and every time we tried them, he wouldn’t sleep. We couldn’t cope with no sleep and it wasn’t doing him any good, so we stuck with disposables regrettably. I cringed every time I had to look at the plastic piling up in our bin. We had to request a larger bin 😦 It was a very hot summer here in the UK and he seemed to overheat in these bulky nappies, which I’m sure was a contributing factor too. All that aside, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have fancied having to scrape all that liquid newborn poo off them either.

Basically, we started using them at about 7 months; prompted by the terrible smell coming from the so-called ‘Pampers Pure’ disposables. They smelt like pine disinfectant straight out of the packet and worse once my LO had wee’d in them!!! When he got a combination fungal and eczema infection all over the nappy area, I decided it was time to try the cloth again and we haven’t looked back! We do still use one disposable every night, as it’s not recommended to put them in cloth at night, whilst they’re still having a night feed. So this may change in the future – although he seems to be a heavy wetter, so I think it’s going to take a lot of boosting.

I actually love the cloth now, they’re so easy to wash and require no rinse cycle at all. I just follow Motherease’s own instructions and wash them on a 60 degree ‘hygiene’ wash in my Miele machine. They come out perfect every time and I sometimes tumble dry them in the winter, to get them dry in time. We also live in a very hard water area, so I think if I didn’t tumble dry them sometimes they’d end up like cardboard, as the towels do. Although, I’ve just bought a heated airer which is pretty miserly on the old electricity, so I’m hoping this will possibly eliminate tumble dryer use.

14 nappies could last up to 3 days, but once they’re wet – 2 days worth is about all I can fit in one cycle in my machine. So we basically wash every 2 days. The wraps dry almost instantly. They come up perfectly every time; I wash using a spray stain remover where needed, Fairy Non-Bio (because it suits us and eco detergents are NOT recommended), 50ml white vinegar as a fabric softener and 1 tbsp soap crystals as a water softener and stain remover in wash.

We’ll have to see where this cloth nappy journey takes us over the next year or so!

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How I made over £2,800 selling my stuff!

You may remember that about a year ago, I wrote a post telling you how I’d made over £800 selling every day items on eBay. Well, here I am a year down the line and spurred on by my initial success – I just kept selling stuff over the course of a year. I’m here to tell you that I have an extra £2,800 back in my bank account (before deductions like postage, fees etc).

Nothing I sold was extraordinary, as you have been able to track through my series of posts entitled ‘things that have gone this week’, where I’ve tried to keep some kind of record. I just logged each item in a ledger book, out of pure interest – I do this with all my moneysaving exploits and it allows me to keep a reasonably accurate log of how much money I’d saved. In-case you’re interested, since 2012 I have an extra £34,340 in my bank accounts through my combined money saving exploits – as documented right here!

I guess I’d just encourage every one to really look hard at what they’ve got lurking in their cupboards and question whether they really need it. Clothing is a weakness of mine and makes up a huge proportion of what I’ve let go – probably 80% But gone also are books, DVDs, shoes, household items, jewellery, technology and craft items. It just shows as well that these things can be sold at the right price, if they are in good condition. I’ve also donated bag fulls of items which aren’t listed in my ledger and I have no objection to charities benefitting from things I no longer want and/or need. However, that £2,800 is very welcome back in my bank also as we’re on a pretty fixed income which is going to decrease from now on as I will not be working due to having a baby.

My primary motivation with this session of decluttering was to a) clear space so that the baby could have their own room and b) get some cash so that we could afford to buy the things that baby needed. We were never looking to buy it all brand new, for so many reasons but even so we have needed to spend £1,300 on items for the new arrival. Some of that was made up by vouchers from sites like Swagbucks, Valued Opinions and Pinecone etc. But as you can see, my decluttering has left us with some spare to buy the things that will inevitably be required over the coming months and years.

So it’s over and out from me, for now on the decluttering front as I literally don’t have any more to sell or get rid of right now. But I will certainly be selling things the baby grows out of in due course!

Things that have gone – 22

Decluttering continues apace – an imminent new arrival will give you added motivation I have found!

This week I’ve sold items, given them away on Freecycle, passed them onto other people after I spotted specific requests for that item and given items to charity shops.

  1. Book – given to family member after I finished reading it
  2. Book – sold, Facebook group for that subject area
  3. Turf- specific request spotted on Freecycle, given away (would have just left it to decompose otherwise!)
  4. Cat radiator bed – sold via Facebook Marketplace
  5. Ornamental Flute-  sold on eBay
  6. Oasis blouse – sold on eBay
  7. Bag of clothing, books, DVDs and craft items – sent to charity shop
  8. Glass worktop savers- given to someone after specific request seen
  9. Wooden chopping board- given to someone after specific request seen
  10. Selection of cleaning products, scourers and cloths (I no longer use these items, since switching to greener methods)- given to someone after specific request seen
  11. Baking tray- given to someone after specific request seen

I literally have only 17 items left on eBay now, some of which I will give away if they don’t sell soon. And then I would honestly struggle to find something around the house to sell or give away, since I have pretty much got it down to items I need or use regularly (she says now). I am sure I will re-evaluate that point of view a few months down the line!!! But for now, I am happy and have totalled almost £3K back in the bank from this frenzy of selling over the last 18 months. I think that’s about what eBay reckon most people have tucked away in their houses/ lofts, storage etc.

Minimalism and social media

If you’re going to be successful and stay on track as a Minimalist, then it pays to be very aware of how social media can influence you. Not only is it a way to keep in contact with friends, it can be a real emotional drain, financial nightmare and a massive time sink. My tops tips for keeping social media within healthy limits are to minimise everything! That way you can keep it manageable. (This post will be primarily Facebook related, since that is the main site I use).

  1. First of all, cull your friends list as much as possible. I used to have hundreds of ‘friends’. Then you realise you’re sharing your life with people who you only met once or who you knew 20 years ago, when you were at school. You have no idea who they are now or what they could be doing with your information. So get rid of them! I now have 9 friends on social media, I cut it down to all but my closest friends who I see regularly. It might mean that you offend some people, but just have a gentle chat with them or send them an email to explain that it’s nothing personal and you’d actually rather see them in person. It’s actually much nicer when you meet up with someone and they don’t know everything that’s happened to you recently, that way you actually have something to talk about! I used to see so many photos from friends that made me feel bad about my life – surely unintentional on their part. But if you can’t afford or aren’t able to take world trips, seeing that kind of thing can send you down. Seeing other people’s posts of their partner, family or children can actually be really hurtful if that’s not a part of your life right now. I am a lot less depressed now that I choose not to compare myself with others through this media.
  2. Limit the audience for your posts, photos etc and keep everything really close to your chest. Nothing I share on social media is in the public domain because I don’t want total strangers finding pictures of me via Google. This is also helpful when it comes to employment as well, as most employers apparently now Google their employees to check up on them. I have been horrified at how little some parents seem to know about this. I have seen really personal information about people’s children or hospital treatment via ‘friends of friends’. When I have contacted them to let them know, they have been surprisingly off-hand about it! People who share that level of personal information about you are not true friends! Remember, you have no control over your information once you put it into the public domain, or even into that of your friends.
  3. Unlike every brand and page you can, keeping only what is really relevant, edifying and interesting to you. Most brands will use their page to promote stuff they want to sell you. You really don’t need to opt into that kind of subtle advertising on a voluntary basis! Cut it out of your life and you’ll find yourself wanting a lot less. You’ll also find your feed is much less cluttered.
  4. Be wary of pages that people create, or selling groups. A lot of the time they just want to sell you something. Whether it’s craft items they’ve made, deals they post about, or second hand items. You’re opening yourself up to a feed of stuff you don’t want or need, but they’ll try to make you think that you do. A lot of people now actively target social media users and when they post about an item their child, or they really want – they reply with a link to that item, a supposed great deal. Talk about temptation! All you’ll be doing is handing them a big chunk of affiliate cash, along with the company. I just don’t think people need this kind of thing in their lives. Bloggers and other personalities like this are the new form of advertising. The trouble is that this side of advertising isn’t regulated at all.
  5. Every day, Facebook pops up with ‘memories’ for me nowadays. They choose things from your timeline that they think you’d like to see. Sometimes you don’t want to be reminded or certain events, so I take this opportunity to review and edit my past (as it were!) That way, I won’t be reminded of it again next year.
  6. If you’ve created pages that you no longer need or use, then delete them. This takes a little time, perhaps a week or so but that tidies up your homepage.
  7. Check your profile page and remove all your personal information – your friends already know where you live, what your phone number is, how old you are, when your Birthday is or your relationship status etc. Don’t put this kind of information into the public domain. Click the tabs for ‘about’ and get rid of your work history, education and so on. I mean really, it’s all just a way for people to show of and your real friends don’t care about this! Get rid of links to your personal websites and pages on other social media. You’re just creating a trail that anyone could try to follow. I know that sounds sinister, but my other half had a talk at his school from the Police and what they shared was enough to make you want to get rid of social media altogether. I don’t think many Police use it!
  8. Try as I might, I can’t delete the ‘people you may know’ section – it’s another example of a nasty way that Facebook tries to lure you in, to friending people you don’t really know.
  9. Consider whether you really need Facebook at all. This applies equally to other social media. I got rid of LinkedIn that so many people told me I needed to have, as a professional. All it did for me was generate spam friend requests from desperate people. I didn’t need to spend all my time deleting and blocking randoms! My life has never been calmer since getting rid of it. I’d actually love to get rid of Facebook, but from time to time find it useful- for staying in touch with friends on the other side of the world, or because it makes it easy and quick to contact brands with complaints or compliments!
  10. Check boxes to make sure that friends can’t post photos or other statuses about you, before you get to review them. That way you act as your own editor. You may not want photos of your children at someone else’s house being posted.
  11. Remember to check all of this regularly, it’s easy for time to slip by and you forget what you put up there! As I was writing this, I edited my profile down a bit more too. It’s a good reminder.
  12. Stay safe online – don’t message people you don’t know and be especially careful in public groups, where all your posts are automatically public. Delete the Facebook app from your phone if you have it and turn off your chat feature, so you don’t get distracted. You’ll find your life a lot calmer if you don’t have constant notifications in real time. They will all still be there later and they probably aren’t that important!
  13. Consider unliking brands etc and only liking them again if you need to, like say you want to contact them to complain. That way they won’t clog up your newsfeed.
  14. You can use different settings for each of your friends, so if you have someone who’s overly political on Facebook- set it do they don’t appear in your newsfeed and infuriate you on a daily basis 😉
  15. I’m not sure if you can do this now, but you might consider using a nickname for Facebook. This is quite important if you are in a profession such as teaching or healthcare, where you don’t want pupils, patients or clients trying to ‘friend’ you.
  16. Consider setting a time limit for social media, so that you don’t spend so much time on it. Some people even give it up for Lent, you could try a self-imposed ban – perhaps at weekends or on Sundays? Spend some quality face-to-face time with people or pets you love instead.

I hope these tips help you to simplify your online life. If you implement them all you’ll find you’re spending a lot less time on social media, since there’s nothing much to read. Some more tips will be coming soon. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Start Conversations with Brands about Zero Waste

One of the best ways to start engaging other people in your lifestyle choices is by having conversations with them. It’s probably best to not make it the first thing you say, but over time these things can and do come up. I talk about my lifestyle here on my blog, but recently I started to think about how I could make a bigger impact. More than just sharing posts on Facebook. I’ve started to write letters and emails to target specific brands. Brands that I’m already using and I like, but that could do with making better choices about the packaging they use.

It doesn’t always go well, I get a lot of excuses and well we’ve tried this and we think plastic is the best option. But I hope that if I keep engaging with them, over time and possibly suggest alternatives that they might start to listen. I don’t expect them to change for just one person, but imagine our consumer power if we all started doing this. They would have to listen, for fear of losing business! So this post is to encourage you to get out there and start engaging in conversation with brands. Don’t just sit back and feel frustrated about the lack of Zero Waste opportunities where you live. Let’s start campaigning for change!

Here are my top tips for composing a good letter:

  • Keep it friendly
  • Say how much you like their product (I only write to brands I enjoy using/ eating)
  • Say what makes you unhappy and tell them why. I’ve used my Council changing to fortnightly bin collections as a starter. I tell them I’m concerned about how much packaging goes straight in the bin, especially now my bin collections have halved in frequency
  • Ask if they’ve considered alternatives or suggest some, if you know of any.
  • Use statistics to back up what you’re saying – we live in an evidence based society, so they’ll love to hear about some relevant research. It makes you sound more credible and authoritative
  • End by saying you’d appreciate knowing their thoughts
  • It’s also a great idea to write and congratulate brands that are doing things well, even a short post to their Facebook page will boost them. I recently wrote to a supermarket who switched from using glass bottles with plastic lids for their spices, to glass bottles with metal lids. I told them how much I appreciated the change and why. I encouraged them to make more of those kinds of changes.

What are your top tips for initiating change? Have you tried writing letters to brands? Get in touch.

Minimising time spent on social media

I’ve realised that the internet is a big time sink for me lately, whilst there are valid reasons for some of this time (related to health and not being able to socialise as much as others), much of it is mindless. In a bid to adapt my daily routine to something more healthful, I am trying to clean up my time spent online!

A short amount of thought revealed that much of my time is spend on social media (namely Facebook which is the only site I use) looking at mindless rubbish that others post, little of which is truly interesting to me and most of which is massively irritating! I would never watch things on TV that I found to be banal, dirty, disgusting or went against my personal beliefs. So why on earth have I spend so much time absorbing it via Facebook? I had even set up 2 accounts, in an attempt to remove myself from much of this and distance myself from mere acquaintances as opposed to true friends. The reality was the the acquaintances account was simply an opportunity for me to nose into the lives of people that I have no contact with in the real world. I realised that this content was impacting on my mental health and cluttering up my mind.

Like or not, we as human beings compare ourselves to others. It seems to be in-built and it negatively affects our happiness. If you want to read more on this subject then I suggest several of the books written by Oliver James. The trouble is that people paint the picture that they want to be seen on Facebook (and probably other social media too, like Instagram). They post pictures and comments that can make it seem like they are leading a perfect life, even if the reality is very different. Even if they are posting seemingly every day things, via my professional training and personal experience, I have come to realise that these can be harmful to others. The mere fact that you have a job, can be a knife in the side of someone unemployed. People who plaster their relationship information all over social media, can be upsetting people who are single. People who post endless pictures of their children cause endless heartache to those who are infertile or who have lost children. All of the above can be a never-ending reminder of perceived failures to a person struggling with mental health issues. Certainly those who are posting these aspects of their daily lives are probably completely unaware of this, as it just seems to be the mundane and the every day to them.

I have also begun to ponder about the total over-sharing of personal information via social media. We know so much about our friends and acquaintances, probably far more than we would ever know, even if we hung out with them constantly. We know their religious, political and other personal views, sometimes in detail- as people share articles of interest and comments. I have also found that when you do meet up with people, it’s like they already know everything of interest that you would normally have shared in conversation- often killing it dead. Personally I think it should be re-named as ‘Rub it in your Face-book”, as that is what it currently feels like to me- just an exercise in Narcissism.

Hence, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I just culled my second account and also knocked 10 friends off my other account. Thus taking my friends down to 21. I also cleaned up my likes and groups, to keep my newsfeed minimal too. Honestly I’d love to get rid of it completely, but I find it valuable for work and there are some friends I’d like to keep up with in that way.

The next step is to work on a more balanced and healthy daily routine, with less time spent online and more time spent in healthier pursuits. I have recently taken up colouring again- adult colouring books and mindfulness anyone? I’m sure I will blog about that soon.

What are you perspectives on the good and the ills of social media? How do you balance it with being a Minimalist?

Virtual minimalism

IMG_0696

Virtual minimalism, what is that I hear you ask? Well it my term for minimising in the virtual world. Last night I realised how upsetting I find Facebook. All those things that people post which are probably fake, but make their life seem pretty perfect. I’m dealing with a lot of very complex health problems right now and they are impacting on every area of my life. Facebook just serves as an unfair comparison and a reminder of everything I can’t do/ have/ want etc. So, I decided to spring clean it!

For a little while, I’ve had 2 Facebook accounts- under the misguided impression that this would help me to better manage the above issues. I also didn’t want an awful lot of people who are really just acquaintances knowing the intimate personal details of my life. So the second account was meant to keep these people at a distance- it didn’t really work, just complicated life further and served to waste even more time. Time on Facebook pretty much only served to make me sad, angry or both! So, the second account just got deleted- just like that. Problem 1 solved.

Next, to my main account- I deleted half of my ‘friends’. Anyone who I didn’t really feel that friendly with. People who are either friends or family members, but I keep in contact with through other methods and aren’t themselves very active on Facebook. People whose posts bothered me, upset me. People who actually were just acquaintances through shared interests etc, but I can still keep in touch with via groups on Facebook. Next, I went through my likes and got rid of almost all of them. I promised myself I wasn’t going to randomly like things, the last time I tidied up- but guess what, it crept back in again! All those companies you’ve liked to get freebies, companies I’d liked because I’d done mystery shopping work on Facebook but actually didn’t ‘like’ at all. Musicians, bands and artists who I’d liked once, but haven’t released another good song or who just clog up my feed with rubbish. Gone are all the moneysaving groups that proved to just be full of spammers and didn’t help me save a penny. Gone are the annoying mystery shopping groups which were full of nonsense and nothing helpful. I could go on and on and on! Needless to say, only useful things are left.

Now this is only one tiny area of my on-line life, but boy has it made a big difference. Particularly if you’e like me and check Facebook several times a day. I believe it will help me to see more of what I like- Tiny House and Simple Living blogs. I also think it will definitely mean I spend less time on Facebook which helps minimise that area of my life and allows me to find new ways to spend my time! 🙂 Bonus.

In the future, I would like to tackle my folders, photos, downloads etc and trash all the rubbish stuff. I think I will try to organise my bookmarks and also go through my emails (which are endless) and dump the junk.

How will you virtually minimise? I’d love to share tips.