January Rundown

Hi Simple Year family!

January has been and gone already, can you believe it? For me it was full of tidying, decluttering and sniffling.

I find being ill doubly frustrating these days, not only because I am somewhat incapacitated, but I am also producing more waste than I would otherwise. The medicine and vast amounts of tissues all come packaged in plastic or printed card (or both) and, although I have a good selection of handkerchiefs, those don’t even last half a day. And, although there is much to be said for prevention, rather than cure, some viruses can’t be avoided or beaten quickly enough without modern, proven medicine.

This illness feels like the first failure of my simple year. However, while I was sneezing and coughing, the world has been busy talking about recycling and the importance of tackling litter, as well as re-discovering the magic of tidying up.

In this post, I will share with you some of the news stories that caught my eye, and that I’m sure you too will find interesting.

  1. KonMari is sparking joy on Netflix

Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up first published in 2014, is the host of the new eight-episode show called Tidying Up and might be directly contributing to the rise of the ‘slow fashion’ movement.

I remember reading her book for the first time, around the same time I discovered (and devoured) The Simple Year, as well as the zero waste movement. Her tidying up method inspired me to pare down all of my belongings, and to become more mindful about what I buy.

If you haven’t come across the KonMari method before, but you’re on your own simplification journey, I wholeheartedly recommend watching the show, and reading or listening to the book. There are also hundreds of hours of YouTube videos of people from around the world documenting their own tidying up journeys, which are probably the best testament for how inspiring people are finding KonMari.

In this short article, the author talks about the ‘Kondo effect’ and the shifting of trends towards slow fashion. This is something the Simple Year family has been practicing for years now – through ‘Project 333’, and repairing, rather than replacing, and decluttering. It makes me very happy to know that this movement is spreading!

  1. Supermarkets can (and need to) make a difference.

The Canadian Broadcasting Company recently published an article and a video piece about the slow, and inadequate way in which the national major grocery chains are tackling the plastic waste problem.

Although images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are often on the news, I found the footage of the illegal plastic dump in Malaysia absolutely shocking. Good news is: the big supermarket brands have the absolute power over what they stock, and how their products should be packaged. And, in my view, any producer who would say ‘no’ to changing their packaging to more sustainable options, doesn’t deserve to stay in business.

  1. The Big Brands and the Holy Grail of packaging

I saved my favourite piece of news for last.

A number of big manufacturers and brands, such as PepsiCo, P&G and Nestlé have announced they will be joining the ‘Loop’ project, delivered by TerraCycle. The idea is to do away with single use, disposable containers, and some of the products include shampoo, laundry detergent, diapers, cooking oil and icecream (good news for the Simple Year 5 family! ;).

Customers will be able to do their shopping as usual, online or in store and, once they have used the contents, they will be able to return the containers to Loop, who will clean and pass those on for refilling.

Is this zero waste, circular economy heaven, or what?


Tell me about your January; what goals have you set for yourself and how are you getting on?

6 Responses to January Rundown

  1. That Loop program is fascinating! That kind of program can go a long way towards making reusable packaging more mainstream, which is awesome. I always wonder with these kinds of things, though, what the shipping/transport carbon load is.

    I started using a zero waste shampoo and conditioner that comes in metal containers you mail back for refills. I did it because I don’t believe most plastic is being truly recycled in my area these days and am trying to cut out single use plastics, but I’m not actually convinced that shipping boxes half way across the country is much of a net benefit environmentally.

    • That’s amazing V! If you don’t mind sharing, I’m sure the readers in your area would love to know what company offers such a service.

      And well done on finding an alternative that works for you! It’s very inspiring to hear from everyone sharing their sustainable victories!

      • It’s Plaine Products. To be honest, I’ve hesitated to say because I think their blog based marketing is sketchy. A lot of reviews on blogs that look paid for. It reminds me of some of the MLM stuff that takes over the sustainability blogs sometimes.

        All the reviews seem glowing (and weirdly similar), whereas my experience has been good but mixed. The shampoo/conditioner smell delightful, and they work well for me. On the other hand, I’ve found bottles to be very inconsistent re: how well they work, and I don’t think they’re a good choice for someone who hasn’t already been using a more natural shampoo/conditioner. The price is quite high, but it worked out ok for us on price per use. I’d love to see more mainstreaming of options like this where the assumption is that the bottles will be reused rather than tossed. Since I live in a place with no bulk, this is my only reusable option.

        I’m not sure this solution truly does work in the long run environmentally, though. The carbon footprint from shipping isn’t small, but it is nice to find a non-plastic alternative that isn’t bars (which don’t work for my household).

  2. I don’t think the Marie Kondo craze is necessarily a good thing, second hand stores are completely inundated with crap and are suffocating with it all since the series was released and I do not believe that all those people who have cleared out their homes are not going to just go out and buy a whole stack of new stuff. Which of course will do so much more harm than good. I think we should be decluttering but lets do it mindfully and maybe re-purpose some of our stuff instead of throwing the lot out to landfill or second hand shops.

    • Is the junk collection in second hand stores now that much worse than it is every year when people go through their clean the house and declutter New Year’s resolution phases?

      The Kondo thing doesn’t really work for me personally, but I’ve actually been impressed by the mindfulness she promotes. So much of minimalism/decluttering advice out there is set up as a choice of two options: wild over-consumption vs. stark white modernist buildings with zero (or 30, or 100, etc) items in them. There’s so much pressure in the minimalism and zero waste worlds to throw things out (e.g. throw out all your plastic and get metal containers instead). Her approach seems very different to me in that she’s not saying “get rid of all your junk” instead she seems to be saying “objects have meaning and emotional weight, try to be mindful about only choosing and keeping objects that make you happy.” That honestly seems like a better lesson to me than most of what we see out in the world. Her show (haven’t read the book) also seems to promote reuse and taking care of the objects you do choose to keep, which are valuable lessons as well.

  3. The CBC Marketplace session on plastic in grocery stores along with another one re. micro plastic in water bottles helped to switch my spouse into reconsidering our plastic use. While we had been doing some things such as reusable shoppings bags and some jars/cloth bags at bulk store, we have upped our game. We now found several stores that sell milk in glass bottles, started using reusable produce bags and increased our bulk purchases. We have had to switch our grocery store as a result. The store closest to us has very little produce not wrapped in plastic (one of the chains mentioned in the Marketplace story). On the good side, the bulk store has an excellent selection of dry goods. Our glass jar use has grown a lot in the last month.

Tell me, tell me...