Go on…it’s in the sale…


I’m going to come right out and say it, ‘I love social media’. I love being connected to friends who have moved far away, I love witnessing kids grow up, marriages start and adventures be taken. I love online forums and groups which keep me up-to-date on events and even teach me how to make the best use of my slow-cooker (an important life skill!). Social media has, in many ways, made my life richer but as I’ve embarked on my year of not buying clothes I’ve realise that social media is also making me poorer, actually poorer!

Technical whizz kids have made it possible for adverts to appear for all the stuff I love, apparently it’s down to those pesky web cookies! This source of temptation is easily dealt with by the lovely people at Ad-blocker who stop adverts in their tracks. The problem for me is that I’m advertised to constantly by Facebook through groups and links to my friends likes. I find it oh too easy to click on tempting adverts for the Fatface or Boden sale (yep I’m that girl!). These adverts frequently create a desire in me for something I didn’t need five minutes ago.

To give myself a fighting chance I’ve had a social media purge. I’ve unfollowed various brands and shops, hidden adverts and told facebook not to show me anything relating to clothing! Alongside this I’ve started unsubscribing to marketing emails, everything that’s trying to sell me anything. I know I could make all of these go into a spam file but it’s actually quite satisfying to completely rid myself of them. Plus when I’m asked why I’m unsubscribing it’s fun to write ‘taking a break from buying’!

So now my news feed is cleaner, my inbox is lighter and strangely enough I’m not finding myself wasting hours scrolling through the latest White Stuff sale.

I have everything I need even if a red ‘sale’ banner would try to tell me otherwise!

The surprising freedom less choice brings


Last month I picked up my blog again and wrote about my journey into living with less. Particularly my challenge to not buy any clothes for the next year…oh boy! You can catch up on the story here. I’m a few weeks into my experiment so I thought I’d share the first practical step I’ve taken in order to start the year well.

First step – Getting rid of clothes

So this sounds totally counter-intuitive but stick with me! Ever looked in your wardrobe and thought ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ even though it’s bursting at the seams? Yes? Me too! The problem wasn’t really not having enough, it was having too many options to choose from and too many items, if I was honest, I didn’t really like. Over the past few years this problem has been helped by having my ‘colours’ done by the lovely ladies at True Colours who helped me work out what colours actually suit me. I discovered I’m an ‘Autumn’, should opt for clothes that ‘skim not cling!’ and have said goodbye to black…well nearly!!

I decided that if I’m going to spend the next year only wearing the clothes that are currently in my wardrobe it would be good to know that I love everything I own. So I took everything out, tried everything on and if I couldn’t say I loved it (Marie Kondo recommends asking ‘does it spark joy?’) then off to the charity shop it went.

Reducing my clothing horde when I’d so publicly committed to not buying any more clothes seemed a little bit foolish, what if I get bored of what I’m stuck with? Well I’m realising that I have definitely fallen into the trap of following the 20-80 rule, wearing 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time. 

I live in a part of the world where excess goes unchallenged and unchecked and it’s so easy to ride the train of over-consumption. Wouldn’t it be great if the things I own get used, enjoyed and worn out, rather than neglected and forgotten?

My hope is that during this year I will learn to treasure and use what I have, to be more creative and to enjoy the surprising freedom that having less choice brings!

Next week I’m going to fight the onslaught of digital temptation, wish me luck…

A quest for less

Have you spent time really looking round your living room? Taking in each item, the mementos from travels far and wide, books demonstrating your literary journey, DVD’s of films you love? 

Recently I’ve been increasingly aware of the space we call home. This is certainly down to spending more time in the house due to being on maternity leave. Also adding a whole extra human into our terraced house has made it feel just that bit smaller! If I’m honest my knee-jerk reaction has been to say ‘we need more space, we need to move’. But what if the answer is in owning less stuff rather than having more space?


I stumbled across the modern minimalist movement earlier this year when my husband came home with a book written by the Japanese ‘tidiness expert’ Marie Kondo. Together we started to ‘Kon Marie’ our drawers and cupboards. We’ve donated, sold and thrown away and in doing so found great joy in owning less and letting what we do own breathe. Since then I’ve read books and blogs, listened to podcasts, watched documentaries and TED talks all by people who are trying to live with less. We still have lots of stuff and a way to go but we are on the journey!

This year I’m hoping to experiment with removing more of the noise from my life, to create space to think, to enjoy what I have and to consume less in the process.

So where to begin….

The first challenge I’m setting myself is this;

To not buy any new clothes for a year

Why clothes?

Well that’s simple I’m choosing this experiment because I will find it hard, I really enjoy clothes shopping but I’m pretty sure I have enough! So for this next year I will try not to buy any new clothes. There’s one caveat, if something breaks and I don’t have a replacement I can buy one, for example my belt breaks or I split my jeans! But that’s it, no browsing ebay, stocking up during the Boden sale or popping a Tesco top into my weekly shop.

Watch this space!!

Cotton Wool

2019 Update – a couple of years after I wrote this blog I discovered Cheeky Wipes,  they’ve totally knocked it out of the park with their reusable pads. Bamboo on one side, soft minky on the other, they wash really well and they are a really generous size. I now recommend these to everyone!


I recently turned 30 so decided it was about time I got less haphazard in my skin care routine, apparently your skin is official ‘ageing’ from 25…oh heck!

With my new skin care habit came one I was less pleased with, ridiculous usage of cotton wool! Since I’ve started blogging I’ve definitely start to pay more attention to waste, and throwing several cotton wool pads in the bin everyday just didn’t sit right. I had it on my list of things to research when a comment popped up on my blog from the lovely Davina. She pointed me towards reusable pads and so I thought it was worth a go. 


I use 4-5 pads a day for toner and eye make-up remover, I probably spend £1-£2 a month. I bought two packs of washable pads from Love the Planet at £7.75 each. If they last me a year I’ll have saved money. 


The pads are huge and thick so instead of using three pads (one for each eye and then toner) I’m finding one pad can do the lot. Once you’ve used them you stick them in their little bag and pop them in the washing machine. I bought two packs because I’m not the most organised person when it comes to clothes washing! They wash great and so far haven’t gone grey or stained.


This is definitely one change I’ll be sticking to! 

I’m having some time off blogging over the summer but if there’s something you’d like me to tackle in the autumn please leave me a comment! Thanks for reading my quest towards ethical living.

My month of whining…

Well a month into my ethical wine journey I’ve discovered that I have many friends who care about the issue (or just enjoy drinking a fair bit of wine), that shipping wine is better than driving it and that I really don’t know much about the uses of sulphur!

Buying wine online
Before I round up I want to give a final mention to the online option for purchasing wine. During a previous challenge we switched to Good Energy, the lovely people there sent us a £50 voucher for Vintage Roots an organic wine company. We’ve never bought wine online so we were keen to give it a go. We purchased a few bottles of wine and some organic beer. The red wine won last week’s taste test, the white is yummy (and currently fuelling this writing!) and my husband certainly approved of the beer! All the wine I bought was Fairtrade and they have a pretty good selection, they also specialise in more niche vegan and no-sulphur options among others, so definitely one for ethically minded. 

Another online retailer doing something totally different is Naked Wines. Their business model is pretty pioneering and they describe it as follows;

‘Our customers, called Angels, fund talented, independent winemakers and get rewarded with delicious wines at wholesale prices in return.’


Basically customers pay into an account which Naked Wines invest in winemakers. It takes the Fairtrade model a step further from the basic ‘we pay a fair price’ to actually investing in everything from grapes, winery space, barrels, bottles and other direct costs. I loved that when our box of wine arrived (we cashed in another voucher) in contained stories of the people Naked Wines have helped build their own businesses.

A word of warning
Naked Wines were recently acquired by Majestic Wines (more actual detail here). Though they have pledged to not mess with the brilliant business model they have however said they will invest financially in Naked Wines rather than opening more stores. Why do I say however? Well if Majestic makes it’s money from bulk sales of prodominantly non-fairtrade wine and this is how they can fund Naked Wines winemakers, if you are ethically minded you might find that that cancels out some of the good. This may not matter to most people and I’m very happy to be proved wrong or corrected! The more I read about Naked Wines the more I love their way of doing business, creating great wines and sustainable, ethical businesses along the way. It would be amazing to see if this model can be replicated in other industries.

What will I change?
At the end of this month the change I am going to make is to buy organic and Fairtrade where possible. This will most likely mean sticking to buying online and if I’m caught with an empty wine cellar I’ll pop to Co-op to pick up one of their many Fairtrade bottles!

Thank you to everyone who has commented, drunk wine, asked questions and given me tips, it’s always good to know people are reading and responding to my ramblings!

Next week I’ll be back with some thoughts on cotton wool. I know what you’re thinking…it’s going to be off the chain!!

Wine test week


Last week I decided to test the theory that Fairtrade wine isn’t as good as non-Fairtrade. So I bought four bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon.

– Vintage Roots – Protea Reserve Organic, Fairtrade –  £8.99 

– Sainsbury’s Organic, Fairtrade, no added Sulphur – £6.50

– Co-op Fairtrade – £6.99

– Two Raven (non Fairtrade) – £6.99

The testers

I meet up every other week with a lovely bunch of ladies from my church and they didn’t take much persuading to be my wine guinea-pigs! The test was pretty simple, four shot glasses (yep it was pretty classy!) of numbered wine, vote for your favourite and your worst.


The results

So before I get to results it worth saying that few of us loved any of the wine but that probably means we should steer away from Cabernet Sauvignon rather than all Fairtrade wine. By far the least popular was Sainsbury’s Fairtrade, Organic, Sulphur free offering, this made us all wonder whether we’ve all got taste-buds which favour sulphur?! Maybe that’s a whole other blog but if you’re interested in the Sulphur debate check this out. 

The winner was Vintage Roots, they are an online organic wine company. I’m going to talk a little more about them next week when I round up, but the bottle we had was Ethical Consumer Magazine’s ‘Best Buy’ and it seems most of my ladies agreed. 

So what did this week tell me? 

Well I don’t think I’m totally ready to write off Fairtrade wine, I realise the bottle that won was the most expensive. This possible goes to show that the ‘sweet spot’ theory is right, the people at Naked Wine put it like this; 

‘When it comes to wine, a small step in price = a HUGE leap in quality and taste

By spending £8-£10 for a bottle of wine, you’re actually getting more than DOUBLE the quality of wine than a £6-£7 bottle …pretty impressive huh?

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Here’s how it works…

As the price of a bottle increases, more of your money goes towards the delicious juice in the bottle rather than tax, duty and other boring stuff that adds nothing to the taste.’ 

I think there’s really something to be said for shopping around and trying a few Fairtrade wines to find something that will equal it’s less-ethical brothers and sister in your own personal taste test. Maybe shelling out a little more to get quality in the knowledge that the wine-maker is getting a fairer deal. Co-op have some on offer this week if you want to start your own quest!

The final thing I learnt was if you don’t particularly like red wine you don’t make the best wine taster, I think I’ll probably stick to the organic beer!

Fairtrade wine and the weekly shop

I started this blog back in December by asking one simple question ‘how do my choices oppress others?’ or in other words ‘did someone suffer for me to live this way?’. These are questions I keep coming back to. 

I think most of us would want to avoid wine that is created in exploitative labour conditions. It seems the only way to be certain is to buy Fairtrade wine when buying from countries which lack enforced employment law. South Africa seems to be one of the biggest offenders on this one. War on Want produced this excellent report* highlighting the struggles, particularly of women, who are only given seasonal work, entitling them to few rights. They highlight the huge demand from the UK, the incredible buying power we wield and the pitiful amount of Fairtrade wine that is produced.

I made it my mission this week to see how easy it is to buy Fairtrade wine at the supermarket since that’s where the vast majority of wine sales are made.

My shopping trip

Co-op seem to be way out in front when it comes to stocking Fairtrade wines with an impressive selection of Co-op own brand alongside other names. I was disappointed when I visited a huge Tesco Extra to only find one bottle of Fairtrade wine on it’s many packed shelves. Sainsbury’s and Asda do slightly better but I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed by choice. 

There is plenty of criticism of the quality of Fairtrade wine from connoisseurs. This writer suggests you buy wine when it’s on offer from one of the Fairtrade wine-producing countries (South Africa, Chile and Argentina) and give the money you save to Oxfam which I suppose is one way to deal with it, though it doesn’t exactly challenge the status quo.

I want to put this quality problem to the test so a wine tasting seems like the only appropriate thing to do, come back next week to hear the results!

*the report’s from 2007 so a bit outdated I know 🙂

Wine and the environment

In last week’s blog I wrote that I was going to try and work out how to be an ethical wine drinker. It seems from the comments I’ve recieved online and in person there are lots of people who would genuinely like to know about this one. 

I embarked on some research and found that there are a few things to consider. This week I’m going to think about the environmental effect of wine making and next week the effect on people.

Ingredients – Is it organic? Back in the clothing challenge I looked into what ‘organic’ meant. Wine can, of course, be made organically by treating grapes nicely! Until 2012 the difficult thing with wine was that, in Europe, it couldn’t legally be labelled as ‘organic’ but rather ‘wine made from organic grapes’ allowing the process to involve non-organic treatments. These rules have now been changed to cover the entire wine-making process which in turn means a lot more organic options on the shelf (though there’s still some questions about this). Vintage Roots specialise in organic wines and I’ll come back to them next week. But it seems if you are concerned about the impact of wine-making on the environment organic is a good way to go. 

Where’s it from – carbon footprint?
I was fairly surprised to find out that the UK is the world’s largest importer of wine. Wine is arriving in various way to get into our glass. Distance travelled matters, but almost as important is mode of transport. Generally people seem to agree that shipping is better than roads which itself is better that air. A study in 2007 found that, for people living in New York, it was ‘greener’ to consume a glass of French wine that had been transported by sea, than a glass of Californian wine transported by road (this fact makes my head hurt a little)! Tesco have switched to trains and barges and claim to have cut CO2 by 80% by doing so. The problem is when you are stood in a shop looking at a bottle there is no way of knowing how it’s got there due to no legislation, making the decision really tricky. One option would be to avoid wines from Australasia and South America as they are most likely to have clocked up the ‘food miles’ but mostly you seem to have to take a bit of a punt or do a lot of research.

So this week I’ve learnt the best option for the environment is a seafaring organic wine, next week I’ll consider the effect of who’s put it in the bottle! 

What about wine?

This month I’m going to be exploring good wine! I want to find out what makes wine ‘fair-trade’ and how about all the others? Are there questions to consider before I pick up a bottle? 

This week I intend to research what the ethical issues surrounding wine are and then move on to which wines we should be drinking and of course the important question ‘are the actually nice’?!

I’m no wine connoisseur so please do give me your tips, pointers or questions you’d like answering on this month’s quest!

This probably needs to involve a taste test…

Saving the planet one bottle at a time

This week I thought I’d do a little bonus blog about household cleaning. This isn’t exactly something I’m particularly passionate about! However I’ve come across a brand that I love which has definitely made me feel more interested in the topic! 

We started using Splosh in September last year. The idea is pretty simple, by creating a reusable bottle for household cleaning products you save on recycling. By creating refills that can be delivered through the letterbox you save on transport costs. The products don’t contain water so are up to 95% less bulky than other options on the market, reducing CO2 emissions by lots!

Through the letterbox
I have really enjoyed the ease of using Splosh. I order refills through their simple app which take less than 30 seconds. The package which drops through my letterbox a few days later is about the size of a DVD case. Each box contains enough refills for 2-4 bottles depending on the product. You pop the sachet in your bottle, fill it up with hot water and let it do it’s thing. The products smell great and we particularly like their all-purpose cleaner. I’m not sure the washing up liquid goes as far but they recently emailed to say they are working on that.

The Splosh range keeps growing and now includes hand wash, kitchen cleaner, fabric conditioner and lots more. The bottles passed the acid test of been approved by my graphic designer husband, and even I have to admit there’s something satisfying about the co-ordinated, non-shouty bottles lining up in the cupboard together!

Overall the thing I’ve most appreciated is their customer service. When they realised that the cap on their toilet cleaner wasn’t quite right they re-designed it and sent an email letting me know I could request a new one free of charge. Little extras like that make me feel like I’m dealing with real people who are passionate about their company being the best, real people who are trying to make a difference.

Cutting out waste wherever we see it is definitely something I am more enthusiastic about since starting this blog so Splosh get a big thumbs up. Reduce, reuse, recycle…