2017 Goals// Minimalism & Upping my Hippy Game

I’ve always liked New Year’s resolutions. While you can start adopting new habits at any time of the year, I find that the approach of January gives me a much needed kick up the butt to motivate me to make some plans for the year ahead, both big and small. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having lot of resolutions as there’s a lot that can happen in a whole year ūüôā Even if I don’t get round to completing these until December, I’ll still have something to aim for in the meantime. Here’s my rambly 2017 “to-do” list:

FOOD

  • Eat at home at last 5 days a week (eating out is great for lazy people but bad for the wallet!)
  • Try new recipes
  • Make rough weekly meal plans
  • Reduce/eliminate fizzy drinks
  • Meal prep/Make batch meals and freeze them – I love the idea of not having to cook everyday!
  • Eat more greens!
  • Make pizza from scratch
  • Bake bread from scratch
  • More vegan baking!
  • Give juicing a whirl (zing!)

 

FINANCE

  • Cancel credit card
  • Start a proper saving account
  • Research being a freelance translator!
  • Work more towards a higher level of financial freedom – very much inspired recently by Mark Boyle’s book The Moneyless Manifesto

 

MINIMALISM/ENVIRONMENTALISM

  • If I am on my phone to assuage severe boredom, I wanna read ebooks or blogs instead of mindlessly scrolling on social media
  • Don’t go on Facebook everyday
  • Try digital sabbatical weekends, or no electricity days (challenging but fun idea!)
  • Declutter more
  • Try no-shampoo methods
  • Improve clothing repair skills, eg learn to darn socks
  • Buy no new clothes

 

MISCELLANEOUS ZANY GOALS

  • Go to one non European country
  • Knit a¬†baby blanket
  • Do yoga stuff!
  • Go on day trips more & explore Ireland!
  • Occasionally go for walks in Salthill, as it is literally right on my doorstep…
  • Read 52 books, unlike last year…
  • Watch more foreign films

What are your 2017 goals?

Bite Size Vegan//Dublin Vegfest 2016

Dublin Vegfest was amazing! This was my first vegan festival and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it! I can’t wait to get the chance to go to another vegfest¬†sometime soon. I made the long and arduous trip up to Dublin with¬†GoBus (which is so good BTW, wifi AND plugs? Who needs the train?) and got to visit Cornucopia¬†(on Wicklow Street) for some yummy veggie food, stock up on Lush shampoo bars and grab some great second hand books about animal agriculture (Eating Animals¬† and Farmaggedon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat) in Chapters bookshop on Parnell Street while I was there too, so all in all a very fun trip was had!

The vegfest was out in Griffith College, just a short bus ride from the city centre. There were so many stands with amazing vegan food but unfortunately I didn’t have much time and only got to try some delicious and decadent dark chocolate brownies even though I’m not usually a fan of dark chocolate. I got some gorgeous smelling ‘Morning Mint’ palm-oil free soaps from Bend in the Barrow which I love using! I am a sucker for nice soap, and soaps are usually¬†really easy to come by unpackaged.

It was absolutely packed in the exhibition room with all the food stalls so I headed to listen to the speakers with my non-vegan buddy in tow. I went to the festival mainly to see Bite Size Vegan, one of THE best vegan Youtubers out there, but I really enjoyed listening to Fiona Oakes and Kristen from Will Travel for Vegan Food too.

Fiona Oakes was first up and she was such an inspirational speaker. She is truly selfless and has dedicated her whole life to vegan activism and running an animal sanctuary. She kept saying that she didn’t even really like running and yet she has achieved so much in marathon running just for her love of animals and passion for veganism. She told some interesting stories about the lack of willingness from the mainstream media outlets to discuss her veganism, which is the whole reason she does marathons in the first place.

Her dedication was really awe-inspiring and she goes to such extremes to prove that vegans can be just as physically capable as meat eaters, if not more so. She said that when her story was featured in a mainstream newspaper, nothing about veganism was mentioned as there was an advertising campaign featured in the same paper that month which was focused on meat. It was sad to hear that her efforts to give a voice to the voiceless was still being stifled by mainstream media who are at the beck and call of advertisers and the meat and dairy industries.

Kristin Lajeunesse from Will Travel for Vegan Food also gave a great talk. She lived and travelled in a van eating at every all-vegan restaurant in the United States, which sounded like such an exciting adventure! After an interactive game where people shared their recent courageous experiences, she told us some anecdotes about her journey around America. Some people shared really cool stuff about their lives, for example, a few people were giving up their jobs to pursue vegan businesses and restaurants which did sound incredibly brave and admirable.

bite-size-vegan

The cherry on top of the vegan cake was of course Emily from Bite Size Vegan. Her neck tattoos were so cool! It was kind of surreal to see one of my¬†favourite Youtubers in the flesh! Her talk was eye-opening and she spoke very candidly about the state of animal agriculture in Ireland. Emily rightly pointed out that a lot of the graphic footage from factory farms and slaughterhouses online is from the US, but that not all treatment of animals elsewhere is necessarily ‘humane’ or any better. She gave an incredibly detailed and well-researched speech presenting the facts about animal agriculture in Ireland and how the ways in which animals are treated that she discussed¬†and showed us were all in accordance with ‘humane’ EU regulations and guidelines. Animal cruelty is standard practice worldwide and the vast majority of animal products involve a disgusting amount of animal suffering to be produced.

Something that I was unaware of before that Emily brought to light was that a lot of meat bought in Ireland is actually imported so the treatment of the animals in their country of origin might be even worse than the ‘humane slaughter’ acceptable in Ireland.

While she showed a harrowing video at the end of the talk of the gruesome realities of animal farming in Ireland that was really hard to watch, the good news is that my friend who accompanied to the festival is now a shiny new vegan! So the world can count one new vegan ūüėÄ He was a huge meat eater before so there really is hope out there for anyone to see the light and embrace this wonderful tree-huggin’, tofu-fryin’ way of life.¬†She¬†has since uploaded the video to her Youtube channel which I would definitely recommend watching!

I unfortunately did not get a chance to see Vegan Mammy‘s cooking demo but I did catch a glimpse of her outside the venue when it was over while¬†the aforementioned newbie vegan was lining up for a delicious vegan burger from Moodley Manor. She had her two lovely vegan kids¬†with her and they looked pretty darn healthy to me! ¬†ūüôā

The overall vegfest experience was brilliant and I can’t wait to go again next year and to Cork Vegfest too! It felt brilliant to be surrounded by so many like-minded people as it is easy to feel alone if you don’t know many other vegans or are the only vegan in your family. It really made me want to go to more vegan festivals because it was such a fun experience and am now very tempted to book flights to London for the upcoming vegfest there next month! Can’t wait for Dublin Vegfest 2017!

 

 

Consumerism & The Simpsons

I recently finished reading Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation ¬†by Chris Turner as part of my 52 Book Challenge, and would definitely recommend it for any Simpsons fans out there! It also had a lot of interesting things to say about consumerism, materialism and American society. We all know that The Simpsons is one of the smartest shows on TV (although the more recent seasons haven’t exactly been a must-watch)¬†and this book takes an in depth look at the main characters and discusses how the cartoon captures and brilliantly satirises modern consumer America. Here I’m documenting some of my favourite quotes from the book and some of my thoughts on them.

 

  • Turner writes that Homer’s line “Mmmm…something” is “one of the most succinct summations anywhere of the insatiable desire lodged in the sclerotic aorta of the consumer ethos.” We as a society are made to feel by the advertising industry that that we should be constant consumers who should¬†always be wanting more, because if you feel you have enough, then you won’t go out and spend money on pointless clutter.

 

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  • “For Homer, consumption is a kind of worship.” We see this in ‘Homer the Heretic’ (Season 4, Episode 3), one of my all-time favourite episodes, when Homer¬†starts his own religion based on fulfilling his¬†own whims, like staying wrapped up in bed on a winter morning like a big toasty cinnamon bun.¬†Consumption has definitely become a modern religion for a lot of people, with such¬†rituals as¬†reverently liking¬†contrived¬†Instagram posts and binge watching Youtube haul videos.

 

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  • Homer is a “man whose virtue emerges from the trump card of Baby Boomer values: he means well. Intentions, not results, are what’s important, and Homer’s sporadic bouts of good intention are enough to outweigh his longer spells of neglect and his enduring incompetence.” This made me think of companies who ‘greenwash’¬†their products and also of people’s attitudes to alleviating their guilt by recycling.¬†Most of the time we are polluting a huge amount,¬†and doing a tiny bit of perceived ‘good’ by recycling what is unnecessary waste in the first place.e.g. biodegradable coffee cups.

 

  • Turner discusses the episode ‘HOMR’, when Homer becomes intelligent after having a crayon removed from his brain: “Given the choice, Homer opts for a return to the blissful ignorance that has made his life so rich and rewarding, for the easier, unexamined life”. This made me think about veganism especially, and how meat-eaters have it easier in a way as they live in blissful ignorance of the suffering that animals go through to be on our plates. When¬†you try¬†to be a committed vegan, there is no way of unknowing what you have learned about the animal agriculture industry, which can be hard. Although this episode didn’t address food choices directly, Lisa, the sole vegetarian in the family¬†and¬†the show’s¬†moral compass¬†is saddened that Homer is taking the easy way out and reverting to his old, dumb self.¬†Homer eats a standard American diet rich in meat, dairy and junk food, and happily continues on his “unenlightened” path.

 

homer-crayon

 

  • Turner discusses a great character, Frank Grimes, and how his untimely end represents the end of hard work and sacrifice in American society: “Consumption has become the primary focus of the American project and the lead architect of America’s value system. This is increasingly true of most of the other affluent democracies, but it’s a shift whose impact has been most dramatic in the United States, where those original producer-oriented values were most deeply held and most widely celebrated.”

 

frankgrimes

 

  • On the punny names of stores on the show: “Our own consumer culture more or less defies satirisation. It mocks itself so effectively it can’t be mocked, and it vaults into self-parody far too regularly and effectively really to need outside help.” There’s a shop in Galway dedicated to selling teddy bears for Pete’s sake. Need I say more?

 

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  • Springfield is “a grotesque mirror image of America in which smug consumption and empty-headed cultural plenty mask – only thinly – a desperation that verges on total panic.” The consumerism of American society is by no means exclusive to the United States and has definitely made its mark on all Western countries.¬†I often feel sad for people who I see weighed down with shopping bags and tourists who are whiling away the hours of their holiday here browsing for meaningless trinkets. I feel like people engage in this behaviour simply because it is “what people do” and people love nothing more than to be told what to do because that validates them and tells them¬†that what they’re doing is right. I think if you took shopping as an activity away from a lot of people, they would panic and be utterly lost, as they can’t imagine another way to spend their hard-earned money or time off than by trawling through the shops for cheap tat produced in sweat shops that ends up making them depressed in the end because they never use any of it. Mini rant over!

 

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  • “Our corporate leaders mean to be socially responsible, but this darn profitability thing keeps getting in the way.” I have recently tried to support local businesses more, as it feels so much better buying from small local shops instead of large supermarkets for example, as you are keeping your money in the community and feel less like a cog in the corporate machine if you opt out of buying from large chains.

 

  • “Everyone means well, yes, but everyone’s hands are tied. Taking responsibility – taking action – would be great and all, but at least they mean well.” This relates to consuming less but¬†also to veganism, when people try to justify their choices to buy ‘grass-fed’ or ‘organic’ meat which has been ‘humanely’ slaughtered, as if their ‘meaning well’ minimised animal suffering, when it could have been completely avoided in the first place by eschewing all animal products.

 

  • “Even as it mercilessly mocks consumer culture and the corporate world, The Simpsons is an avid participant in both of them…Is the show a Trojan horse, invited inside the corporate gates and proudly displayed in the middle of the primetime courtyard, only to unleash a punishing barrage of satirical arrows on the authorities that brought it in? Or is it rather a court jester, invited inside the castle at the monarch’s leisure and permitted to poke a little fun at his opulent wardrobe and expansive girth so long as it keeps the people happily paying tithes? Could it be both?” I was addicted to the game The Simpsons Tapped Out for a solid two years(!) and I¬†have Simpsons pyjamas and Simpsons games aplenty, so I’m part of their merch machine too! This was a great point that Turner made that although The Simpsons satirises American consumerism and social issues, it is itself swept up in a huge media machine that makes a lot of money off the back of cheap mass produced merchandise. Who doesn’t need a Homer Simpson tie rack though?

 

They were just some of the quotes that I thought were noteworthy from Turner’s thought-provoking book. As a minimalist, I minimised the book when I finished reading it but now I can look back on this post and reread some of the quotes I liked from it instead of having to keep the physical copy cluttering up my space ūüėÄ And I can watch the show of course and a good healthy dose of cynicism!

Hypocrisy, Temptation & Minimalism

Hi everyone! Just a quick update as I’m “busy” working on my (soon to be completed) thesis. I’m a mega hypocrite! I caved and got a¬†brand new phone. I’m a consumerist pig dog! I always try to buy second hand and sometimes buy¬†new and high quality so I won’t have to spend more money in the long run but I know this makes me a hypocrite as I’m not just making do with the old phone¬†I had. I’m eating my words from a¬†previous post on minimalism and the internet¬†but nobody is perfect and it is difficult to practice what you preach all the time. ūüė¶

I admit, the release of Pokemon Go may have had something to do with this extravagant purchase…But honestly as lame as it sounds, Pokemon Go is something which sparks joy for me and adds value to my life ūüôā¬†I also started using Instagram again even though I quit it a few months ago because I think it is really fun and inspiring, and I can share pictures of my Zero Waste adventures and vegan snackity doodahs. I’m trading in my old phone for credit too so I’m disposing of it responsibly and I did get a second hand phone cover from Ebay for what it’s worth. ūüėÄ

George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that “Sure, we are hypocrites. Every one of us, almost by definition. Hypocrisy is the gap between your aspirations and your actions. Greens have high aspirations ‚Äď they want to live more ethically ‚Äď and they will always fall short. But the alternative to hypocrisy isn’t moral purity (no one manages that), but cynicism. Give me hypocrisy any day.”

Of course 100% Zero Waste isn’t possible, but we can still strive to do better and to be more eco-friendly. Temptation still exists when you are trying to be more minimalist and less materialistic. But doing something and making even a little effort is much better than doing nothing and claiming it’s a waste of time to do anything positive because¬†our actions¬†will inevitably be cancelled out by negatives.

As I said, just a quick post to tell you of my latest Zero Waste/minimalism fail. I’ll get back on the horse and be more eco-friendly than ever real soon, I promise ūüėÄ Now back to that thesis-writing…

5 Baby Steps towards Zero Waste

If you don’t know how to start Zero Waste, read on!

I just thought I would do a quick post AHEM mainly to procrastinate from college work, but also to share easy baby steps that anyone can do to cut down on their waste. These are some of the first steps I took when I decided to be more eco!

  1. Buy a reusable water bottle. It should preferably not be made of plastic but if you already have a plastic one, use that instead of buying a new one. Or if you want to take even smaller baby steps, you can reuse a plastic water bottle and refill that every day with tap water until it starts to go smelly. (What’s up with that?) You don’t have that problem with stainless steel bottles, so win-win! ¬†You can buy stainless steel ones¬†in Evergreen.¬†I have a purple 500ml¬†Punc one, and my boyfriend has a green 750ml one and we¬†use them¬†all the time! You’ll save a lot of money because you won’t have to buy bottled water all the time. It’s also really fun to smuggle them into the cinema. ūüôā
  2. Invest in a Mooncup. You can get them in Evergreen too and also in Boots.They are reusable menstrual cups for that time of the month. They are about 30 euro but last about 8 years, so you will save a lot in the long run. They replace sanitary pads and tampons so you can have a Zero Waste period! Every girl’s dream, right?
  3. Replace kitchen roll with tea towels. These are something people already have for drying the dishes so you can just repurpose some for spills and other kitchen roll duties, instead of having to waste money on disposable kitchen roll, which saves paper and saves you having to get rid of the plastic wrapping it comes in .
  4. Use¬†reusable bags instead of constantly buying new bags for life. Keep some in your handbag or pocket for grocery shopping, and impromptu trips to the shops so you don’t have to shell out 22c for a bag, or in Dunnes you pay 70c for a ‘bag for life’. Zero Wasters talk about getting cloth totes, but of course you can use what you already have, as everyone probably has a shameful cupboard stuffed to the brim with plastic bags.
  5. Buy fruit and veg package free. This is the easiest place to start food-wise as most supermarkets have fruit and veg packaged and unpackaged so you can opt for the latter the next time you go grocery shopping. You can put them straight into your basket and onto the conveyer belt at the till and wash them when you get home or I prefer to buy from small markets (Take that, corporations!) and there you can use your own cloth bags if you have them. You can buy just one apple if you want, instead of a whole bag of them. This is great if you are shopping for just yourself and you know you won’t finish a whole bag of fruit/veg before it goes bad or if you want to try out a new smoothie combo and you don’t want to commit to it for the whole week ūüôā

Hope this is helpful, these were the easiest things¬†I could think of! You can’t go Zero Waste overnight but you can make small changes and build new habits and take it from there ūüôā

Plastic Free July Challenge

Hi everyone! I’m doing the¬†Plastic Free July¬†challenge this month to help keep me on the Zero Waste track.¬†Plastic Free July aims to tackle plastic pollution and raise awareness about the¬†amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives. You can sign up for as long as you want, one day¬†or the whole month, and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or simply try the refuse the Top¬†4 plastic offenders: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

By 2050 its estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans! I always have this in mind when people talk about how healthy fish is. All the more reason to go vegan ūüôā

Even if you recycle religiously, by buying stuff packaged in plastic or accepting any plastic we are sending out the message that plastic is acceptable, and as we can see from the levels of global plastic pollution, it is clearly unacceptable and completely unnecessary.

Refusing is the most effective way of tackling plastic pollution, NOT recycling. Recycling is a last resort, not an excuse to consume all the plastic you want, guilt-free, in the name of ‘convenience’.

If you don’t know where to start with Zero Waste, try¬†tackling the Top 4:

  1. Plastic bags: Surely every household in the country has a cupboard full of plastic bags they’ve accumulated over the years. Make a special effort this July to always have one in your bag or coat pocket when you leave the house if you need to pick up groceries.
  2. Water bottles: This really is a no brainer. Just bring a reusable bottle with you, it’s not that hard. Put it in your handbag so you’ll be more likely to remember it.
  3. Disposable coffee cups: Bring a travel mug from home in the morning, get a coffee/tea in a ceramic REAL cup on lunch or when eating out or invest in a reusable cup. You can buy Keep cups in McCambridge’s on Shop Street.
  4. Straws: Refuse these unnecessary monsters! You usually only get automatically given straws with to go drinks like milkshakes or when eating junk food anyway. You definitely won’t regret avoiding fast foods for a month! If there is an option to get a straw, go without. Bring your own straw-less drink to the cinema, because smuggling is fun. (Side rant: When did little kids become obsessed with straws? It seems like whenever I see a child in a restaurant all the adults have no straws but the kids couldn’t possibly drink without at least ¬†one straw? What? Rustles my jimmies, it does.)

I’ve reduced my plastic consumption drastically but there are still some areas where I can improve. I’ve gotten really lazy lately when it comes to actually cooking at home and doing a proper weekly shop and preparing food every day. ūüė¶ I am eating out too much and that is too pricey and there is surely a lot of waste behind the scenes! These are my plans for July – they’re not strictly plastic related but any Zero Waste step is a step in the right direction! ūüôā This Plastic Free July¬†I want to:

  • Make ZW cashew milk.
  • Make ZW oat milk.
  • Repair a jacket with a missing button.
  • Continue Operation Declutter.
  • Make DIY toothpaste.
  • Make another batch of DIY deodorant.
  • Make a Zero Waste curry.
  • Make more Zero Waste tomato sauce¬†for curries and pasta dishes. Zero Waste Chef has a great recipe!
  • Bake biscuits instead of buying Oreos (they’re accidentally vegan!). This is a big source of waste for me, although I’m saving the empty packets to send to Terracycle. Anybody know any Oreo alternative biscuit recipes?

 

I will keep you updated on my progress throughout the month. ūüôā Refuse single-use plastic as much as possible and have fun finding alternatives! What could be more fun than an eco-friendly challenge?

My Favourite Second Hand Finds

Following on from my recent post on second hand shopping, I wanted to write about all the great stuff my family and I have found in charity shops over the years. Of course a lot of these things aren’t completely necessary and not exactly minimalist but this just serves as an example of some of the gems you can find in charity shops. I haven’t included photos of everything but this is just a taster of what can turn up¬†if you are patient & browse second hand shops every once & a while ūüôā

Upstairs

  • Hanging rack for a wardrobe
  • Drum kit-just gathering dust in the house of a family friend! 100% Free!
  • Alarm clock
  • Box sets – last Christmas I got my little brother DVDs and boxsets that were all thrifted! He can then trade them in at CEX for store credit and continue their life cycle!
  • TV & DVD player-I’ve subsequently re-donated the TV as I don’t watch it¬†& I wanted to make my bedroom more minimalist.

 

Downstairs

  • Couch & 2 armchairs & footrest
  • Flowery chair
  • Royal Tara and Aynsley china vases & ornaments
  • Picture frames
  • Rocking chair
  • Utensil container
  • Glass chopping boards
  • Spice rack & containers
  • Cup rack and cups
  • Tea, sugar and coffee pots
  • Vintage style marmalade jar for storing tea
  • Plant pot holders
  • A nifty compost bin that actually says compost on it! ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

My fave finds

  • Christmas tree &¬†Christmas decorations-found in 2 separate shops for less than ‚ā¨10
  • Pasta maker for just¬†‚ā¨4-I can make Zero Waste vegan pasta now-whoop!
  • A cover for my Kindle-I’m actually going to sell the Kindle because I never use it, but those tablet covers are so expensive new!
  • Flowery curtains
  • Winnie the Pooh rug & badass¬†cushions.¬†I used to have quite a cushion collecting habit pre-ZW but now I realise I am happy with the amount of cushions I have ūüėõ

 

  • 2 wheeled shopping trolley for groceries-free from Freecycle – a great website for second hand goods.
  • Keep Cup-a Zero Waste kit staple- Only ‚ā¨1!
  • A wooden soap dish for ‚ā¨1 to replace the ceramic one I broke ūüė¶
  • Hot water bottle – I said I didn’t want anything for my birthday but this was something I actually needed-the best kind of presents ūüôā My mam snapped it up for just ‚ā¨2!
  • Last but not least-Scotty our Jack Chi! He was a stray who actually found us but he was 100% free!

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Be patient and you’ll find some second hand treasures! What’s your favourite second hand find?