Values - A Simple Living Plan - February, March & April

Back in February I set out my plan for the year ahead based on my values. Broken down month by month, my plan revolves around simplifying, choosing considered purchases for my home and my wardrobe, cutting down on needless waste, getting some jobs done around the house and being more organised. I promised to share my progress so below are the first three months of my simple living plan and all the things I've managed to tick off the list and some that I haven't got around to! 

February - 

Home: Buy and put up wallpaper in bedroom. 

Job done. After changing my mind a dozen times I finally settled on William Morris 'Willow Bough Minor' for our bedroom wall. I had samples galore but as it's a tiny room I felt it needed a more delicate print than some of his other works. The wallpaper is printed and made in the UK by a company that is ethical and environmentally aware. I bought mine from here as it was a great price and also the Sanderson wallpaper paste which is the recommended product to use (I opted to buy this as I read in several places that the paper fell down if you used an alternative product!). I love the feel my bedroom has now, it's cozy, calm and a place to unwind.  

Wardrobe: Buy new trainers to replace ones that have a hole in the sole. 

Bought. I'm not very interested in shoes - I can't wear high heels or even a tiny heel as I basically fall over. I'm usually a Converse girl but I wanted to find an alternative that was in keeping with my values - ethical, simple and practical. I found some Navy blue ones made of organic cotton at Muji and priced at £25. They are super comfy and I'll wear them pretty much everyday. (They have vanished from the website so I'm not sure if they are stocking them anymore but they may still be available in some stores).

Get organised: Clean out kitchen cupboards and gather/buy glass storage jars. 

Job done. I bought a few larger jars at Ikea for pasta and grains and also a few smaller jars with wooden lids by Weck for seeds, nuts, coffee and tea. I've filled up the jars of nuts from the nut stall at Leeds Market who package everything in paper bags. We're also buying our coffee beans and loose tea from the market at the wonderful Teapot stall. I've switched the bags of pasta for ones that come in cardboard too. 

Zero waste living:  Switch from once a use plastic bottles to eco friendly water bottles for packed lunches.

Bought. Not only has this saved me from throwing out 100 single use bottles or cartons every year it's also going to save me money in the long term. I opted for a stainless steel one from Chirpy in Leeds. Made by 24 Bottles  it's BPA free, phthalates free and toxins free. I give it a good wash everyday in some warm, soapy water with a bottle brush and I like the fact that you can replace the cap easily if you need to. 

March - 

Home: Re-paint living room walls and ceiling. 

Job done. We have new flooring going down in the living room very soon. Before that happens I wanted to give the living room a bit of a spruce by re-painting. It's still an off-white shade but this time I've opted for clay paint from Earthborn. These paints are breathable, virtually VOC free, vegan and as eco as you can get for paint. Having read up a lot on VOCs I was particularly keen to cut out as many as I can as I don't want these toxins in my home. I ordered a few samples and eventually opted for St John, an off-white with a slight hint of grey for the walls and the ceiling has  been painted with Earthborn in white. The claypaint is virtually odourless and only needed one coat which is my kind of painting. It's super lovely to work with too. 

Wardrobe: Buy new jeans to replace shabby ones. 

Bought. I hate buying jeans but I love wearing them. As much as I'd like a pair of handmade or organic denim jeans, I simply don't have the budget to pay for them. After doing some research I opted for a pair of Waterdance trousers from Seasalt. The quality is superb and I love how they have an elasticated back making them super comfy. I'll wear them till they fall apart. Seasalt have a sound ethical policy too which makes them one of the better brands on the high street. They have actually recently opened a branch here in Leeds in the new Victoria Gate shopping centre (which makes my eyes spin with the bling and it gives me a migraine so I've only ever been in once and I haven't even stepped inside John Lewis!) so I'll probably stick to ordering online. 

Get organised - Buy under bed storage for duvets and bedlinen. 

Job done. I already had some storage boxes that were full of CDs yet we didn't have a CD player anymore! They have all been given to charity and I've re-purposed the boxes for towels and duvets. 

Zero waste living - Switch to natural deodorant instead of plastic roll-ons. 

Bought and stank the house out. Yip, this was an experiment that didn't work at first. I reeked, a lot. I know I'm someone who sweats and truthfully I do have to buy sticks of the more industrial strength variety. But I know that these contain things that are not great for my body and that's really why I wanted to change. I started by trying an active deodorant balm - lemon and geranium from the Natural Deodorant Company. It smells lovely when it goes on but I found I had to top it up several times during the day. Overnight I must sweat too and by the morning I was stinking. I tried it for a few days but it just wasn't working for me at all and I had to go back to my underarm stick.  My husband decided to give it a go and it's working brilliantly for him. He's since bought his own and is delighted with the product.  I wanted to try again and I read good reviews online for a Neals Yard Remedies spray on deodorant in lemon and coriander. It comes in a glass bottle, combines eight essential oils  and is made with 100% natural ingredients. It's fairly pricey at £8.50 a bottle but I have to say it's working for me. Today it's hot here in Leeds and I'm not sweaty or stinky! Finding the right one is obviously a challenge and you need to give it time for your body to adjust to the changes. It's worth trying a few small samples out before you buy a bigger bottle or jar. 

April - 

Home: New desk for moody teen's room to increase space for study. 

Failed. This will have to be moved to another month as we haven't found one we like but we have decluttered a lot of stuff in the moody teen's room to make way for the new desk so at least that's been done! 

Wardrobe: Buy two new shirts/tops to replace shabby ones. 

Bought. Once again from Seasalt - two Breton sailor tops and made from 100% organic cotton. Two for £40 and they are washing brilliantly well. I'm trying to buy organic cotton wherever I can after watching the documentary The True Cost all about the fast fashion industry. Did you know that fast fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world after oil? That information seriously shocked me. The documentary is currently showing on Netflix and I urge you to watch it if you regularly shop at Primark, H&M, Zara etc. It'll open your eyes to the damage that fast fashion causes.  

Get organised - Install wooden hooks in bathroom to hang more towels on. 

Partly done. I've ordered two Birch peg rails by Iris Hantverk. We'll hopefully put them up this weekend. 

Zero waste living - Switch from plastic toothbrushes to eco friendly bamboo versions.

Switched. I bought one by Nordics from Big Green Smile. The handle is biodegradable and compostable although the bristles have to be removed before you compost and popped in the regular bin. The brush is also suitable for vegans. At first it tastes and feels like putting a piece of tree bark in your mouth but after a few days you get more used to it and the woody taste disappears. I have found that it doesn't like sitting in a cup with any water residue in it and it is starting to go black where it has sat in a little water. So I'm making sure now that the cup is dry before I put the brush in. Alternatively it's a good idea to use a toothbrush holder that keeps the bottom end exposed to the air. 

And that's how the past three months have gone. I've made some positive changes to my home, my health and created a lot less waste. In fact my monthly recycling collection by the council has already gone down considerably and that included all the Easter Egg packaging last month. It proves that small steps can lead to big results long term. So here's what I've got planned for the next couple of months: 

May -

Home: New double bed for moody teen's room. He's now a 6 foot giant so the bunk beds really have to go! 

Wardrobe: Buy one linen top for spring/summer wear as I haven't really got any clothes for warmer weather.

Get organised: Cancel magazine subscriptions and clear out old editions that I have piles of and never read. 

Zero waste living: Switch from bottles of shampoo to shampoo bars. 

June - 

Home: Desk for moody teen's room. 

Wardrobe: One pair of trousers for spring/summer  to replace shabby ones.  

Get organised: Clear out old cleaning supplies. Find storage box to contain what I do have. 

Zero waste living: Switch from paper towels to reusable bamboo towels.