Happy Birthday EDR!

It’s just over a year ago that I started writing this blog… as is tradition, I mark anniversaries and special occasions about a week late on this blog, and I’m six days overdue. Here’s the inaugural post from 15th June 2019.

It strikes me as a bit idealistic and naive, reading it now, a year on; especially considering the many challenges 2020 has brought us so far. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle to be more sustainable within our culture the way it is now, with so many messages telling us to spend and consume and upgrade. In terms of our household, we have made some progress, though not as much as I’d hoped (but then I’m a perfectionist with a strong drive mentality and I give myself a hard time every day for not doing enough to save the world, alongside the usual mum guilt). So as the weeks pass and last year’s posts pop up, I will be revisiting them them and updating on how we’ve done with each change and exploring the possible next steps we might take.

This blog may not have made me rich yet, but there’s 180 of you out there following me, so thanks to all of you for your support! I’ve learnt this year that building a sizeable blog following takes a huge amount of time and commitment, and there’s some promotional activity I don’t really want to engage with (I have no desire to write sponsored posts, for example!) and I haven’t got time to spam the hell out of Twitter for follows and views and all that. So it’s a slow burn, but I hope that those of you who read it find it helpful and interesting, and maybe funny sometimes – I make myself laugh, anyway.

I started this blog after the XR London protests last year, but I was already primed to be thinking about an output for my writing, thanks to a long and brilliant chat with my friend John as we walked along a hillside on the island of Paros, Greece. So thank you John also for giving me the encouragement to get started with writing! I’m exploring a bunch of other writing avenues at the moment, and one day someone might even pay me for writing something, and that will be cause for celebration at Everyday Radical Towers, for sure!

I’m going to mark the start of year two of the blog by writing something a bit ranty about Primark tomorrow – not exactly what you might imagine, so watch this space.

Thanks again for the follows and shares and comments and likes and encouragement and challenges and everything, dear readers! Let’s crack on with saving the world, one yoghurt pot at a time.

xx

Revamped website! Widgets! (And an update on the email hoarding situation)

Web design and technology is not my strongest skill – I like writing and researching and thinking, mainly. But I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while that the Everyday Radical website was looking a bit rubbish. Like all writers, I would love more people to read my work (I think some of it at least is a valuable contribution to the eco issues debate, and people keep telling me it’s quite good). But having a super basic blog home page doesn’t help with that mission. So I am learning VERY SLOWLY how to use WordPress to its full potential. I’ve got a long way to go, and very limited time these days, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve redesigned the blog so it looks a bit sexier. And also, WIDGETS! (These are little WordPress features that you can add to your site to aid navigation, provide links to your social media etc.) I thought they were very complicated, but actually they’re quite straightforward.

New on the blog page, down the right hand side – over here >>>>>>>>

You can click to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. The “follow my blog” button is easier to find and there’s a list of recent posts, and an archive menu by month too. And categories! So if you read a post about washing up, for example, and you want to read some more of my ramblings about kitchen-related eco switches, you can find the category and find all the blog posts. This was pretty fun to put together, sorting through the archive. Weirdly, the dish washing posts are some of the most popular posts I’ve written. My readership must be washing up liquid geeks.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about the new look, and the new features. Let me know what you think. More to come when I learn how to create pages – not the same thing as posts, it seems!

Briefly too, on the subject of technology. I wrote about my email hoarding tendencies back in January, with a promise to change my ways due to the carbon footprint of storing thousands of emails. Also there was a significant mental load of having 5500 emails in my inbox, it felt like a massive to do list that would never get cleared. I promised you guys I would get it down to less than 100 by the end of March.

So as of today, it’s at 302. Which feels like progress… I also deleted a massive amount of archived work emails form years ago which I will never need. But I also have to confess that I moved a LOT out of my inbox into sub folders. I’m not going to tell you how many but I’ve just counted them up and I’m a bit shocked, as there’s still an enormous bunch of stuff sitting on servers whirring away because I’ve got some odd hoarding disorder and I can’t bring myself to delete them. Most of them I am saving for a reason (quite a lot, for example, are idea leads for this blog), but the reality of how much I still have left is a bit of a wake up call. I am really interested in the psychology of hoarding, so perhaps I need to have a bit of a closer look at myself! (Digital hoarding is a thing, by the way – not much studied, but definitely a thing, which is probably on the increase).

Back to the climate impact point though. Sending and receiving emails and storing files on the cloud all has a carbon footprint, due to the servers that it’s all held on and the power they use, the energy used to run computers themselves and send and receive messages. Sure, per message it’s microscopic, but it all adds up. So I repeat my challenge to you all, folks – use your lockdown downtime (if you have any!) to clear out your mailboxes and your saved files and unsubscribe to mailing lists that you’re not really reading (they just encourage you to buy stuff you don’t need anyway). You will feel mentally cleansed, I promise you, and help to save the planet too. Every little helps, as they say (and I bet you’ve got some emails in your archive from them too!)

Now for something completely different… (plus a lapse in my rules about stationery purchases)

This is just a quick post, completely unrelated to the Everyday Radical mission, but I wanted to share an exciting thing which has happened.

I have been working on crafting my skills as a writer in various different formats recently, and I submitted a piece of flash fiction – which may possibly be an excerpt from a forthcoming novel, in about ten years’ time – to the very excellent collaborative writers’ blog, The Finest Example (the guys who also published my article about “zero waste” as a troublesome concept).

And here it is, A King in Darkness. I’m very proud of it and super stoked that someone else thinks it’s worthy of publishing (yes, imposter syndrome having a field day here!) So if you like it, please flatter me and say nice things and share it far and wide! Also you might want to follow my other blog, Secret Scribbles in London (not so secret any more, kids!), where I share flash fiction, poetry and ramblings about my life. I have 10 followers, it’s practically a viral internet sensation already!

Just a small aside, to keep some relevance to the eco theme in case my shameless plugging is too annoying. I’ve written here about my deep and long-lasting love for stationery (which I have now learnt to spell correctly, at last). I have not, since that post, bought myself any new stationery at all. But I bought a new note-pad today for £2.49 from Ryman, because my note-pad I use for meal planning and budgeting and other fun adulting activities has just run out. The keeping of this “housewife” pad definitely contributes to reducing our food waste, so technically today’s purchase is saving the planet. And I’m a published author now, so it’s allowed. I didn’t buy any new pens though. So I still get to be smug about being zero waste. (Incidentally, they have Terracycle collections in Ryman branches now for recycling used up pens, so don’t bin your biros, folks!)

Photo by Artsy Vibes on Unsplash

Where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing

Gosh, it’s nearly two weeks since I last posted. Sorry, people. I am a very good example of how NOT to maximise the success of a viral post… (this is the ragey post I wrote at the beginning of October which got retweeted a lot and nearly 1000 views – seems it resonated with a lot of people who are fed up of mothers and women in general being judged for every single thing they do).

Anyway… since we last met, dear reader, my very limited spare writing time has been taken up by some freelance work for the NHS, writing and rewriting a few business cases. I am enjoying it a lot – it’s not exactly got me hankering for the old days of 50+ hour weeks in a front-line operational job, but it’s good to get the brain cells whirring again (and earn some actual money, of course, which is always nice). So if you follow me on social media (Twitter or Facebook – no Instagram, ever), you’d have known there was a blog hiatus on the horizon, sorry if you missed it. I’ve also got another super secret writing thing going on, but it’s super secret and staying that way. Literally not one single human that I know in real life knows about it, so there.

I’m finding it a bit frustrating at the moment, to be honest, having so little time for writing. But it seems I can’t simultaneously do paid work, unpaid work, have a clean house and sleep, let alone keep a toddler alive and fed (and feed a husband too, of course). So something has to give at the moment, and it’s the clean house and the unpaid stuff, of course.

I have been plugging away at the eco switches in the background. I’ve been to SWOP today for Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner. I confess I’ve given up on shampoo bars for now – fed up of looking like a scarecrow. I could have persevered but I didn’t want to spend tons of money on different bars to see what worked for me. I feel that refills is the next best thing – although it has occurred to me today to tweet SWOP to ask them what happens to the 5L bottles they get from their supplier and whether they’re sent back and refilled. I maintain that there’s no such thing as truly zero waste, I don’t think…

And dishwashing! The obsession continues. I took the plunge and switched to Splosh dishwasher tablets, and I’m really happy with them. They come in this snazzy little tub:

The tablets are covered in a water-soluble film, which looks a bit like plastic but definitely isn’t, and they are cruelty free. They came in a box padded with a bunch of things that looked alarmingly like styrofoam, but this apparently is a starch-based packing peanut, which is biodegradable.

I also bought hand wash, washing up liquid, kitchen and bathroom cleaner refills, to use in bottles I’ve kept, and refillable Splosh laundry liquid. I’m happy with the laundry liquid but it seems to be disappearing pretty fast, so I’m considering halving the amount I’m using per wash to see if it’s still effective, as I would with the dosage recommendations for powder or tablets.

My Splosh account tells me I’ve already saved 19 bottles. I was a bit concerned about the refill pouches, but the blurb on the website is convincing – the combined effort of using very concentrated products and pouches reduces plastic use by 90%, and the pouches can be returned for reprocessing with only a 2.5% waste rate from this process (they call this “zero waste”, but of course it’s not… but it’s miles better than new bottles every time, made out of virgin plastic then plunged into the over-burdened recycling system to end up goodness knows where). Splosh say that their customers have saved 257,511 plastic bottles from going into the waste system this year, and they’re aiming for one million next year.

I’m pretty happy with the Splosh switch. Nothing’s perfect, of course, except living in a cave and eschewing all modernity (tempting sometimes!) But it felt like the right choice, after quite a bit of research.

Next switch – not sure. Check out Tortoise Happy‘s blog if you want some inspiration while waiting for my next post. She’s doing well in her challenge to make 12 eco-switches before the end of the year.

There’s loads I want to write about – XR, climate change and feminism, eco-anxiety, Christmas… Anyone want to sponsor this blog so I can spend more time on it? (*wishes for fairy godmother*

Until next time – keep on truckin’.

(Here’s the Splosh refills all neat in the cupboard like a row of books).

Autumn is coming! September resolutions, and a competition!

It’s nearly autumn…. aaaaahhhh… I love autumn.

And you don’t need to be going back to school with a shiny new pencil case to make some September resolutions.

This blog is all about making small, sustainable lifestyle changes to help the environment. Some of the switches I’ve made so far include:

  • ditching shower gel and going back to the bar with The Good Soap.
  • I’ve also switched to refillable Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner from the Shop Without Packaging, which is an amazing shop that I feel very fortunate enough to live within a bus journey of.
  • I’ve ditched furniture polish and swapped to damp dusting, and started using refills of cleaning products.
  • I’ve ditched clingfilm and embraced my Tupperware collection.
  • I’m making much more effort towards plastic-free food shopping.
  • I’m having a serious stab at Buy Nothing as a lifestyle change – this is my September/”rest of year” resolution.

There’s SO much more I could be doing, so much more we could all be doing. The choices seem overwhelming, and there are opposing views on so many things – are paper bags really better than plastic? Are compostable bags actually compostable? Do you need a degree in biochemistry to understand this stuff? Should we all go vegan, or is it enough just to boycott South American meat and buy local and organic? Should we all stop flying and using petrol/diesel cars? The challenges and the decisions are huge.

Can we as individuals really do anything to turn the tide on plastic pollution and climate change? Personally, I believe that we must put the pressure on our governments and corporations to lead the change, through voting, petitions, protests, and withdrawing our custom from environmental offenders. And by joining XR protests and being prepared to get arrested? Maybe.

So after the hiatus over the summer, I’m refocusing my attention on these thoughts and decisions and relaunching the blog. I have an absolutely HUGE list of things to research and write about, and I hope I can help people to think these decisions through, maybe make some changes in their own lives, and contribute to the voices already calling out for change.

SO. Competition time. Like and share the newly launched Everyday Radical Facebook page, or like and retweet this post and follow @TheEverydayRad1 on Twitter, for a change to win a £25 gift voucher from The Good Soap – bonus prize draw for new followers of the blog via WordPress too. Help me spread the word, and tell my your September eco resolutions!

Peace and love

xx

In which we have a little nap

You may have noticed a small hiatus in posts…

Life has slightly been getting in the way over the last week or so – including re-establishing the small one’s naps after camp, which is VERY important to me. I don’t care that much about routine, but he does – and I definitely care about getting some time during the day to do other things (mainly, this).

Also, I’ve got that shiny-new-pencil-case feeling about the beginning of September, I know we are not yet at the “back to school” phase but it always feels a bit like that to me. So I’m just clearing the boring to do list, and brewing some ideas for a bit of a relaunch of the blog.

I’ve got a ton of ideas of things to write about, but I’m also interested to know what people want to read about. Brexit, Trump, this bloody heatwave and the rainforest fires (not necessarily in that order) have made me feel kind of depressed and anxious of late, and I just want this blog to be my little protest in my little corner. Maybe it can become something bigger with a bit of support from you guys (and a bit of research about SEO – this is search engine optimisation, apparently, and you have to know about this stuff to get more people to read your blog), and maybe it can do some good out there in the world. Cos we sure as hell need it right now.

Meanwhile, until next week, let’s go nap naps. Then wake up for snack snacks… oh not, that’s not you… Well, you can have snack snacks if you want. We like rice cakes and peanut butter round here.

Peace and love x

The story so far – 1 month in

People buy birthday cakes for their baby’s one month birthday – this is actually a thing. The things I discover through Google image search… I’ll say it again, louder for the people at the back – over-consumption is the problem on this planet!

So I started this blog a month ago and I thought I would just do a little stock take of where we’re at so far. 18 posts, 34 followers, 1188 views over 768 visits from 27 countries and 39 comments. Definitely some people who I don’t know IRL reading, which is very exciting – good to know it’s not just my friends humouring me!

Some promised posts I owe you, which will be coming fairly soon: trying to find out what really happens to my recycling in Greenwich, watching people arguing on the internet about paper bags, giving up micro-rice, following up on #smokegate with Greenwich Council, No Buy July and getting over my hatred of eBay. Also the famous singing dumper truck, Ecobricks and my baby clothes stash of shame.

Some really interesting stuff has come up in the comments too, so thanks to everyone who’s engaging. Things I am thinking about and plan to write about in due course:

  • The Government’s 2018 Waste Strategy and what this means for the recycling industry.
  • The efficacy and impact of putting pressure on Councils about recycling, and on supermarkets about packaging. And petitions – are they worth the effort?
  • What’s the carbon footprint of driving stuff to recycling centres and does it negate the benefit of the recycling?
  • What’s the ecological impact of different plant-milks and what would the global implications be if we all became vegan?
  • Someone commented, brilliantly, that plastic is the cover and distraction from dealing with society’s real issue of over-consumption – what can we do about this, and the bad bits of capitalism? (is it all bad?)
  • Is food labelling meaningless? What welfare standards can we trust – not Red Tractor, for sure.
  • Should we give up takeaways?
  • Should I keep some chickens, or get a goat?

Other stuff to follow-up: home-made gift tags and cards (and toddler craft scissors…), chasing Center Parcs about their eco-sins, more research on eco laundry and dishwasher tablet solutions, the mighty Sir David Attenborough’s speech as Glastonbury which I still haven’t watched, and maybe buying a yoghurt-maker.

I also need to do some really boring research on how to use WordPress more effectively – if anyone has any knowledge to share about plugins, layout hacks etc., I would be grateful.

Also after recommendations for: vegan restaurants in South-East or Central London and brands of bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo/conditioner bars.

Should I do a Facebook page? (Nooooooo Intagram or Pinterest.)

If you’re liking what I’m doing, please do share, comment, retweet and all that stuff. I’m enjoying blogging and it’s great to see the audience increasing.

Peace and Love

xx