General ramblings

Sustainable Resolutions

January 5, 2016

I may  have missed the boat here as the 1st January has been and gone, but we can all make simple changes every day, and these changes can create a whole new way of living that is can a really positive impact.
It’s been a while (3 years..!) coming, but I’ve finally realised that the most valuable thing I have learned from a big resolution, our year of Buying Nothing New, is that individuals can make a difference, and baby steps can change the world.

I was recently asked to contribute to an article for The Simple Things Magazine, about Whole Year Resolutions:

Simple Things edit
I love the intro:

How much more meaningful to commit to a project for a year, giving yourself time to learn and grow. It’s not about abstinence or breaking bad habits but rich new experiences and a re-shaping of your world view.

Here are five ideas from me that could re-shape your world view, and help to change the world.

Whole Life Resolutions

1. Buy Nothing New
I couldn’t NOT put this as number 1 could I?!
Our year of Buying Nothing New was far easier than I ever thought it would be, and it totally changed not just how we shop, but how we live.
If a year of Buying Nothing New is too daunting to contemplate, then have a think about a month, or even a week if your spending habits are especially hardcore!
I’ve got lots of super helpful resources coming up that will help if you are thinking about taking on this challenge, but for now here’s a couple of useful blog posts to get you started.

Inspiration and Resources:
:: Top Ten Tips for Buying Nothing New
:: Where to Find Free Stuff

2. No New Clothes for a Year
Clothes audit
I recently embarked on this challenge, and can report that 4 months in, I’m still going strong!
I haven’t bought ‘new’ clothes from the High St since embarking on My Make Do and Mend Year, but I was still managing to find plenty of excuses to pop into the charity shops and pick up bargains with alarming regularity. My wardrobe has really expanded since I started buying my clothes preloved, but I was still feeling like I had nothing to wear. I decided I wanted to do something drastic to force myself to love the clothes that I had, and this was my answer: no new clothes, even secondhand ones, for a year. I figured it would force me to tackle my mending pile, and find ways of altering or embellishing the things I already have.
I set up a Facebook group for anyone else who wanted to join in, and there are now over 230 members! So it’s not just me being a crazy person..!
Some people in the group are doing the same as me, and abstaining from all forms of clothes shopping for a year, whilst others are shopping second-hand.
And again, it doesn’t have to be for a whole year, a month is enough to break those ingrained habits and make you re-assess your spending.

Inspiration and Resources:
:: The No New Clothes for a Year Facebook Group
:: Love Your Clothes
:: Project 333

3. Zero Waste
Slimmed Bin1
I will be honest here, the concept of Zero Waste scares me, and feels totally unachievable. During our original Make Do and Mend Year, we went on a Rubbish Diet, and made significant in-roads into reducing the amount of waste we were sending to landfill. We made two changes: composting our food waste; and saving all our stretchy plastic to take to the supermarket to recycle with the plastic bags, and those two changes were enough to reduce the amount in our black bin by two thirds.
For me, it’s more about being on a journey towards Zero Waste. I doubt if we will ever get there, but that doesn’t mean that the changes we are making aren’t having an impact.
We are a long way off the likes of Bea Johnson (Zero Waste Home), Lauren Singer (Trash is for Tossers) and Erin Rhoads (The Rogue Ginger) who all throw away less than a jar full of rubbish a year, but I am much more aware of what is going in the bin now. And more than that, I keep taking baby step after baby step to try and reduce it. And I think that’s all any of us can do.

Inspiration and Resources:
:: Zero Waste Home
:: Trash is for Tossers
:: The Rogue Ginger
:: The Rubbish Diet
:: My Zero Waste
:: Zero Waste Week

4. De-Cluttering/Minimalism
#MinsGame 10 and 1102
I took part in the #MinsGame last year, and committed to getting rid of one item on the 1st day of the month, 2 items on the second, 3 items on the third, and so on, up to 30 items on the 30th. In total I jettisoned 465 items. And barely made a dent 🙁
Getting rid of ‘stuff’ can really change your life. It will definitely change your home, and I also think it will change the world. Once you’ve realised just how much all these things are weighing you down, and how much effort you need to put in to get rid of them, I can guarantee it will make you think twice before bringing yet more stuff into the house!

Inspiration and Resources:
:: The Minimalists
:: Becoming Minimalist
:: Be More With Less

5. Plastic Free
Laundry powder1

This is another one of those ‘destinations’ that seems a very looong way away. I love the idea, and I totally aspire to a Plastic Free Life, but then I make myself a cup of tea, and take the plastic milk bottle out of the fridge, and it all just seems too hard.
BUT we have made some simple changes: I started using Lush Shampoo bars, and making my own deodorant, to reduce the amount of plastic that was coming into house, and these are simple easy habits that have stuck (in fact, I now use my own soap for shampoo 🙂 ) And recently I’ve just made my own washing powder too!
Again, it is possible, but think about it as a journey, and that each baby step is having an impact.

Inspiration and Resources:
:: My Plastic Free Life
:: Plastic Free
:: That’s a Wrap

Anyone embarking on any Whole Year/Whole Life Resolutions? I’d love to hear what they are!
And if that all seems a bit much, follow along on Instagram with my #365WaystoChangetheWorld, and pick and choose the baby steps you want to take 🙂




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  • Reply January 7, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Oh I love these Jen! I want to go zero waste too, but it seems unachievable at the moment. I just can’t imagine dragging my two toddlers around all the different stores I’d need to go to to avoid waste during our weekly shop. But I can certainly take steps to be low waste.

    • Reply Jen January 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Baby steps Angela, baby steps!

  • Reply Karen Butfield January 6, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Love this post but find the whole thought of it all scary but like you say baby steps and it is a journey! Will keep reading with interest. ????

    • Reply Jen January 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      It’s definitely all about baby steps Karen, and focussing on the things you CAN do, rather than the big scary seemingly unobtainable end point 🙂

  • Reply Books and Knits January 5, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I’ve made myself two resolutions for the year. Firstly I’m in need of a serious declutter, so will be freecycling, recycling and reusing where ever I can. Also I’m going to learn about herbalism. I’ve already started with making a herbal vinegar (, and I’ve just received the ingredients for my next herbal project.

    • Reply Jen January 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      Sounds fab Charlotte!

  • Reply Kathryn Houldcroft January 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I love the copy from the Simple Things magazine and I like to way you’ve condensed this into five aims. I really like the idea of learning from resolutions, rather than abstaining from something.

    • Reply Jen January 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks Kathryn-it feels less doomed to failure if it’s a positive, something to be gained thing!

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