Our sustainable journey, a year in review

Wow just over a year ago we officially launched The Eco Society website, sharing our first lot of blog posts about how we started our journey and some tips on where you too could start.

Simon has been telling me for ages to write a “where am I now” blog, but I never felt like it was the right time. I haven’t been the best at writing blog posts of late, life has been a bit distracting with a number of things going on which has left me with a feeling of mixed emotions, resulting in lack of productivity and motivation.

But today I am sitting on the couch with my laptop on my lap writing a catch-up post about where we are on our journey. We must remember this is a journey and we can’t do everything all at once, and that getting rid of everything deemed “unsustainable” and replacing it with “sustainable” items is NOT sustainable. Use what you have first and then when you need to replace it, do so with a more environmentally friendly option. 

Where to start…. Well, the basics like not using single-use straws, drink bottles, coffee cups and bags are super normal, other than the odd incident where we’ve been caught short with no other options. I feel we are nailing food shopping, even though we get lazy sometimes or want treats. We’ve also been pretty good with things like beauty products and other daily items. We’ve also been practising what we preach, only replace something with a non-plastic/low waste alternative when we have run out or used it up.

Wins

What’s our biggest achievement… I really had to think about this, but I guess it would be our eating habits. In March I wrote a post about “why we choose to eat less meat to live more sustainably”, and at this point, I was acknowledging that we knew eating meat wasn’t sustainable and that even though we still ate meat we were eating far less than we use to.

Zero Waste Vegan Salad The Eco Society NZ Plastic free shop

My fav new zero waste vegan salad 

I still wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian as we are not strict about not eating meat, but our diet is heavily plant-based and we love it! We no longer buy meat to eat at home, other than on the odd occasion when we have visitors. We eat a lot of Thai or India curries which are always vegetarian and would typically look for the vegetarian options at cafes. We are not fussy, however, about eating meat when with others, be it eating at someone’s house, or if there are a lack of non-meat options at cafés & restaurants.

My favourite change was switching to a safety razor. I love my razor, even though my legs might look like they disagree sometimes. This was I change I wanted to make for a while but was patiently waiting for my old plastic blades to run out before making the switch. It’s not as scary as it seems, even though I do occasionally nick myself, which in all honesty I would do with a plastic razor.

The most surprising change is that I now use shampoo bars. We bulk buy and refill with the ecostore for all our cleaning and personal hygiene stuff, which is something we were happy with and didn’t feel like we needed to change that habit. However, we had a bit of travel coming up and I couldn’t be bothered lugging around shampoo & conditioner pump bottles, so I brought some shampoo bars and I loved them so much I just kept using them. Hubby still likes his liquid shampoo and that’s fine with me.

zero waste bathroom shampoo bar amber glass bottle safety razor New Zealand

My  Zero waste bathroom - Fair & Square sample box, Ethique, shampoo & conditioner, Parker Razor from Biome, Little bit Daily Soapdish and our 'Handwash' amber glass bottle.

Fails

There are still a few areas that we need to improve, namely food waste and recycling. 

I’m ashamed to admit that we are not good with our food waste, and it’s something I’ve been really disappointed in our efforts so far as I hate food waste so much, but we can’t seem to get on top of it. Typically it’s food going off, because… well, we are lazy and I think we are in a bit of a rut. We’ve outgrown our little one-bedroom apartment and the kitchen is the area we tend to neglect. We will soon be moving into our first home, which is bigger and with better kitchen space. We will also finally have an outdoor space where we plan to have a little balcony garden and compost, which I’m hoping with will inspire us to cook more and in turn, do better with our food waste.

I’m always harping on how recycling is not the solution, but we still a reasonable amount of it. It’s very rear for you to find plastic in our recycling bin, but there is a lot of glass because we like beer and wine, a few tins (mainly coconut milk and canned tomatoes) and a lot of paper. I don’t even know where all this paper comes from but it’s there. It’s probably not as bad as we think it is, but I would like to have less recycling because I have very little faith in the system.  

There is one more thing… a bit of a confession… I’m addicted to hot chips! I have mentioned this in one of our podcasts, but for those who don’t listen, I love hot chips, always have and always will. They are my weakness. The kebab shop down the road is my go-to and they know my order, hot chips in the compostable packaging, not the pottle lined in plastic. Even though the packaging goes into the compost, it’s still single use and something that will happen less once we move (hopefully!!).

Work in progress

I finally addressed the whole toothpaste thing in an Instagram post and was surprised at the feedback it got, most people felt the same and was happy someone talked about it. We talked about how we still buy standard toothpaste in a plastic tube because we believe fluoride toothpaste is best for our ongoing health.  After that post, I ordered some fluoride toothpaste tablets that came in a tin. Unfortunately, we don’t like them very much even though I really wanted to like them. They just don’t taste good, but I promise I’ll keep trying.

Reef Safe Plastic Free Zero Waste Sunscreen New Zealand

Various sunscreens for summer, Raw Elements available at Barkers.

Sunscreen still defies me and remains one of the hardest things to find a plastic-free alternative for that is also reef safe. I have tried three different types, two which defiantly don’t work and are hard to put on, and the third I’m still testing out.  It’s really important to protect yourself from the harsh NZ sun and I will not compromise my husband’s or my own health here. I hate that there isn’t a better option, but I have faith that one day soon there will be an option (maybe a new business venture!?).

There have been a few things that I have tried over the year, and if you are a regular follower, you might see that I talk about something new and then never talk about them again. That most likely means it didn’t work out, but I feel bad saying I don’t like it, so I just don’t talk about it. This year I’m going to try to talk about the things that don’t work for me and the reasons why.

Wow, that was a big blog post, but it felt so good to write it. Hopefully, I can get more into writing again this year and I have a few topics I want to tackle, including the “cost of going green”, but if you have some ideas, please let me know and make some requests.

And remember, we are not perfect and as people say, “progress over perfection”.

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