Conscious Living & Working Conference

I am delighted to say I will have a display at the Conscious Living & Working Conference. It will take place

on 20th September 2019, at the Law Society in Dublin

This conference is an exciting and innovative opportunity for us to look at the issues of climate change, our work and our lives. We believe that, despite the negative news that surrounds us, opportunity now presents itself to all of us to really out the choices we have and understand how we can make a real and lasting difference.

Book your ticket here

I am looking forward to this day and all the discussions that are going to take place.

Interview on NewsTalk

I was delighted when I received an email from a producer of the Alive and Kicking show by Clare McKenna on NewsTalk radio station. They were inviting me to the show to talk about living low waste and what steps everyone can make to lower the waste they produce. I could not say no.

The show was on today, 8th September 2019. Clare was great and I had a chance to talk about the ups and downs of a zero waste life.

If you would like to listen, click on the link below:

https://www.newstalk.com/podcasts/alive-and-kicking-with-clare-mckenna/live-waste-free-life

Collaboration

I am delighted to announce that I started a collaboration with a project called The Future Living.

The Future Living enables householders and businesses to track, analyse and improve waste patterns. It is based on a technology platform that analyses the relevant waste suggesting how to dispose correctly and offers advice on buying patterns in order to improve peoples environmental footprint.

For further information please visit The Future Living Website

Project 333

My aim for this year is to simplify my (our) life and own less. I think my behaviour as a consumer has changed already, but to step away further from consumerism I am going to try not to buy anything new when I need to replace something.

Taking part in a wardrobe challenge will help me to stay away from buying clothes even if they are second hand. I don’t tend to buy much, but this challenge will minimize that even more and will push me closer to the overall aim to living with less.

You may have heard of the expression “capsule wardrobe” and that minimalist tend to have a very small wardrobe. I am fascinated by the idea of owning less clothes. I don’t really like doing laundry and folding clothes is an especially  hard one for me.  I hope that with owning less I will have to maintain less too.

I decided that I am going to take part in the challenge called Project 333, where you have a set of 33 pieces of clothes, shoes, accessories and only wear those for 3 month, from the 1st January till 31 March 2017. Exciting!!!

I have chosen my 33 pieces, it wasn’t that hard because I have been working on simplifying my wardrobe for the last while anyway.

These are the pieces I chose:

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As you can see there are only three pairs of shoes which is honestly more than what I usually wear. I don’t wear high heels at all. For a while I thought that is needed to be this or that, but now I don’t care. I feel comfortable in flats or very low heeled shoes and that’s what matters. So the shoes part was quite easy to tackle.

My 33 piece in details: (only 30 in the picture + 2 skirts +1 pair of sunglasses)

There are 5 bottom pieces and I have two skirts that are being altered, so I would like to include those too, so that’s altogether 7.

I have two pieces of outer wear: a babywearing jacket, and a denim jacket. The babywearing jacket is great because it can double up as maternity jacket too if I use the zip in panel on the front. At the moment I don’t use any of the panels on a daily basis as little M is a bit heavy to be carried around for hours daily.

Because the weather is not that cold here in Ireland, I will be able to wear only a hoodie and t-shirt in the spring, no need for a spring jacket.

I put 2 “fancier” tops in my 33, however I very seldom wear these, because I don’t usually go to places where I would need to wear something smarter/fancier looking. But just in case I have to, I included them.

I really enjoy wearing leggings with tunics and having tunics with a hood is great. I can layer this with a long sleeve top and the denim jacket for colder days, or just wear it with a tank top if it’s warm.

It was quite easy to put the accessories together. I need one scarf and a hat when it is very windy and going out for a walk. I don’t need anything more, because if the weather is to bad I will just drive.

I don’t wear jewellry other than my engagement ring, but that doesn’t count in the 33 🙂

Mr M also decided to take part in this so here is his list. I did not take pictures of his stuff. Yayy!

  • 6 shirt (for office wear)
  • 2 casual shirts
  • 6 pairs of trousers (mix of jeans, corduroy, chinos and office smart trousers)
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 9 T-shirts
  • 1 wooly jumper
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 softshell jacket
  • 1 heavy fleecy hoodie
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 pair of sandals

That’s it. Simple, isn’t it?

And then I thought I will check if little M’s clothes would fit the challenge, but I am happy to say that YES! He has:

  • 6 long sleeve body suits
  • 3 short sleeve body suits
  • 4 vest
  • 3 hoodies
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 coat
  • 1 rainjacket
  • 4 harem pants
  • 1 pair of dungarees (1 in the making too)
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 hat
  • 1 scarf

This is 26 altogether.  He does have bandana bibs, so if I include 2, we are still good 🙂

The clothes that are not included in my 33 are now put up on the two top shelves of the wardrobe. As I was putting them away, I already saw some that will have to go sooner or later. As Lindsey from Treading my own path says – sometimes we think we are someone else, like a fantasy person. A person that likes high heels, or a person that likes to wear real sexy pieces. Like this one:

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This is a top with only this metal chain thing on the back, quite revealing. However I only wore it once in my life. I love the idea, but after having a child and breastfeeding, let’s be honest – I won’t be able to wear anything without a bra. So why am I actually holding onto this? To remind me that once I was younger and more daring? Or to remind me the opposite? And anyhow the memories are not stored within a piece of clothing, at most they only trigger those memories. Therefore this piece will have to go.

As I understand minimalism is not determined about the exact number of our possessions, minimalism is about owning only what is enough, that satisfies our needs. When the amount of unused (unloved) objects in our house and their maintenance become a source of stress and annoyance, we need to do act. This is where I am at. I think my time that I could spend with family, do something for communities or just for myself is more precious than spending it with the continuous maintenance of the excessive stuff.

I am really looking forward how his challenge will go and in the meantime I will continue re-evaluating other areas of our house and the objects in them.

Are you too stepping on the journey of living with less?

The end of the first year of Zero Waste Living

As this is the last day of the year, I think it is appropriate to do a little bit of reflection on the year 2016 regarding our Zero Waste efforts.

When we started we did not think that we would go hard core on Zero Waste, we just decided to do a ‘little bit’. But then we started seeing waste and plastic everywhere and searched for and found zero waste alternatives for almost everything.

Researching zero waste produce and items in the beginning was time consuming. Now we know what we buy and where, it became our new routine and are new normal. Eg: not leaving the house without a cloth produce bag and shopping bag, in case I see something I want to buy, or pick up a bread roll on the go.

I thought I would never use homemade deodorant or mouthwash; vinegar to clean the windows and mirrors. Now, I would not like to use the ones from a normal supermarket anymore. If we have to buy something ready made like dishwasher detergent, we search for an environment friendly option with least packaging. I prefer to know that the ingredients are safe to use and homemade options save money too.

We have also learnt a lot about problems with plastic, problems with using products containing palm oil or micro-beads, so when it is possible we stay away from using them. We learnt a lot about fast fashion and how to avoid being in the cycle of it. We started to embrace second hand and hand made by us products. We have mended and fixed some of our items rather than throwing them out. Turns out that sewing is a very useful skill to have.

The things we are most proud of:

  • Our achievement of very little waste and with that unsubscribing from organised waste collection.
  • Being invited to give talks on Zero Waste Lifestyle
  • Being included in a TV program that will be broadcast in January.

The most challenging aspects of Zero Waste lifestyle:

  • In Ireland there are no Zero Waste shops and only very few shops would sell unpackaged dry foodstuff, such as pasta, lentils, chickpeas etc…Therefore it is sometimes impossible to buy certain products without packaging.
  • It can be difficult to be different. Sometimes we find ourselves in awkward situations like when you have to ask people to bring their baby’s dirty nappies home with them, because we don’t have a bin…
  • It can be annoying that you say ‘no straw with my drink, please’ and they surely bring one, or ‘I will have a sandwich for here, please’ and the person behind the counter wraps it anyway.

The most fun things:

  • Making lots of new friends with very similar set of values
  • Meeting  Shia of Wasteland Rebel in Germany, she is a great inspiration
  • Not having to bring the bin out

We are quite happy how the year went and we are going to continue what we have been doing and aspire to produce even less waste. There are so much inspiration out there on Instagram, Facebook and in the world of Zero Waste bloggers.

Plans and upcoming events, fun challenges for the new year:

  • In March 2017 we are going to welcome Bea Johnson for a talk, here in Dublin. I am really looking forward to this.
  • In June we are going to get married and organising a low waste wedding is a challenge, but we are up for it!
  • My plan (not necessarily the whole family) is to embark on the journey of living with less, minimalism – if you like.
    • To aid this we are going to try and buy nothing new for a year. We probably have to make some exceptions with the wedding,  whatever we need we will try and get second hand.
    • From tomorrow (1st January) Mikey and I are going to take part in Project 333. This is a Capsule wardrobe challenge where you can only wear 33 pieces of clothing for a 3 month period. More about this later.

So what are your plans for the New Year? Are you making any resolutions?

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

How we are doing…

The last few  weeks were very busy here between travelling, conferences and voluntary work, I just could not find the time to blog. If you follow me on Instagram you could probably see our adventures.

I have some good news.

I am very honoured to be invited to West Cork to give two talks at the end of November. It is fantastic to know that people want to hear how we reduce waste and aspire to live sustainably.

Come along if you can…

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We have seen further reduction in the volume and weight of our landfill waste which is great. Feels good.

This is our landfill waste of September:

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Cute jar isn’t it? It contains less than 100g of waste.

I was very happy to find out that a local organic farmer started to sell his veg boxes in our town too, so I had to sign up. There is no delivery, you have to pick it up, but I don’t mind that, I organise my day according to that and do the rest of the shopping on that day.

The veg box only contains locally grown produce. Look at these! Aren’t they just tasty looking? And they are really good value too. Only €10 for a small box.

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I managed to buy coffee without packaging in Dublin city centre. Not the most convenient location, but we will see how it goes. Maybe I can source something local too. I got the jar full of coffee beans when I had to go into the centre anyway, so it wasn’t an extra journey. I don’t have a coffee machine, I had to learn how to make coffee in a sauce pan. It is very easy and now I don’t need to buy another thing into our kitchen.

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Our wedding preparations are well under way and we are thinking “green wedding”: e-invites, second hand purchases and minimal waste. I will write a separate post about this later. Till then here is a picture of these cute wooden letter that we got from adverts.ie

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I have started  volunteering with the Cloth Nappy Library Ireland. This is a picture of me at the Babymarket in Blanchardstown. I will be in Navan this weekend at the same babymarket, in the Ardboyne Hotel. For more info check out Baby market here.

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I will be back soon with another post on how we will tackle the holiday season with minimal waste. It has started. I saw it. The retail parks are full of cars and there’s a queue to get in to the shopping centre.

Till then check out my Zero Waste A-Z page on the top. It is a work in progress list of things and shops. And no, I dont go to these shops every week 🙂

Wardrobe simplified

I have been meaning to write a post about my wardrobe, or the content of it, and how I’m consciously trying to reduce the number of clothing items I own.

I have been reading blog posts and books about living with less and simplifying for the last while. I realized that I too experience what they call “decision fatigue”. I wanted to change this.

We started decluttering our house approximately 2 years ago and I have been through 3-4 bigger decluttering sessions, only in my wardrobe. It was crazy. And I don’t even consider having had a huge wardrobe. I know people who own a lot more clothes than I do.

Now it is different. I think now I have enough pieces to wear an outfit on a normal day, and I have some occasion wear (very few).

These are my hanging pieces. I still think this could be further reduced, but at the moment I am not going to. Almost half of these pieces are either maternity or a few sizes bigger than I am now.  I am keeping these, because we would like to have another baby, so I will use them then.

There are some smart blouses that I like, but don’t wear them, because I am staying home with Little M, but hopefully in the foreseeable future I will start working again and then they will be in use. They are good quality, timeless pieces, so I would not like to donate them and purchase new ones later.

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These are my tops, folded in the drawer like it is suggested in the Konmari book.

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And my t-shirt, tank tops and PJs

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At the moment I own:

3 skirts

1 pair of dungarees

1 pair of jeans

1 summery loose yoga pants (present from Mikey from Vietnam)

3 pairs of legging (2 croped, 1 normal length)

The  top shelves house my hot summer and cold winter piece. Even if I could be ok with just the general wardrobe piece, I would still need these when we are travelling. SOmetimes I really envy those who live in a warmer climate and don’t need a set of winter clothes too, but here in Europe (Ireland), it is not possible.

On the bottom shelf I have my hoodies that I wear all year around.

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and now onto shoes:

On the top: winter boots, and the smart shoes that I own. I haven’t worn the occasion wear piece for at least a year or two, but I could not wear my everyday shoes for those occasions, because they are very casual.

I am continuously re-evaluating pieces in the wardrobe. Some of my shoes I am not going to replace once they reach the end of their life.

Now I am very conscious when I need to buy a new piece. I try to move away from synthetic materials and choose natural fabrics.

When I can not buy something second hand, I chose to buy organic and ethically produced, but most importantly I buy less.

This is not a capsule wardrobe, and I am not aiming for one. I just one to have enough, the amount that I am comfortable with.

I like to have a variety of clothes, but now, that I experienced the difference between enough – too much and the time and energy to maintain both, I can easily say the less is the better.

Before decluttering my wardrobe, I was always very stressed about the mess and the ” I don’t have stuff to wear”. This has changed.  I can now easily choose an outfit to wear every morning and spend 2 minutes tidying every night, and that is all the maintenance my wardrobe needs.

Now I would like to hear about your experience! Do you find you have too many items in your wardrobe? Or have you been decluttering too?

What a busy month

August was a crazy busy month. Really. A few people from the Zero Waste Ireland Facebook Group got together and we organised some events for the upcoming Zero Waste Week.

You can check out the events listing here

There are going to be informative talks, film screening and to kick the whole week off we will start with a coffee morning.

It is going to be fun!

We purchased a very nice, stainless steel bokashi bin and started to put things in it. This meant, that we could now unsubscribe from the waste collection services (another bill down!!)

If you want to know more about bokashi bins and how to reduce food waste check out Stop Food Waste Website. It is full of great information.

One more on the food waste front Olio was launched in Ireland too and now people can share their surplus food through the Olio app. I will be back with more info on this, but in the meantime you could download the app and see how it works.

As it is the last day of the month, I have weighed our landfill waste and I have to say I am grinning from ear to ear. It is a new record of 133g!!

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I did not do a detailed photo this time, but the content is about the same: stickers, receipts, plastic windows, plastic bits of pre-zw purchases and other non recycleable plastic bit or current purchases.

So this is us this month, I hope next month I will have more time for blogging.

Thanks for dropping by and if you get a chance please share our Zero Waste Week events. I hope to see some of you there.

Plastic Free July …the weighing in

This is just a quick post to report on how much waste we produced in the month of July. I have weighed and counted all items.

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You might think I have too much time on my hand to sort and weigh all the rubbish  but my aim is to be able to look back and see how much we actually produce and also I am hoping to be able to host some talks on reduced waste- waste free living, so I need some numbers to show people what is possible.

We had to buy a few new things in July so they came in some packaging. I hope that this is not going to be a regular occurrence. We bought a new lawn mower and a shelving unit for making a pantry. There are no pantries in these housing estate houses which is a shame, so we reserved a corner of the office to keep all our preserved food in a shelving unit (it has a door) I was searching online for weeks to see if I can get a second hand one, but no luck with anything in reasonable distance.

So, let’s see how we did in July:

Tetrapack

14 Tetrapack milk cartons

1 small Tetrapack cheese carton

It is very difficult with milk here in Ireland, because it seems impossible to buy milk in glass bottles, let alone bottles that can be returned. This is crazy, since there are cows all over the fields and there are lots of dairy farms according to the internet. There are lots of small farms that make their own cheese etc…but none of them in a distance that I would like to drive every week. So until this changes we have to buy tetrapack. Tetrapack is recyclable but as far as I know it is a very costly and complicated process. I have no information on how much of the cartons that we bring to the recycling centre will actually be recycled. One can only hope.

Some would ask why we don’t give up milk altogether. I know that there is a huge environmental impact of animal agriculture, but at this stage we  don’t want to give up on milk or any other dairy products completely. We have reduced our dairy consumption somewhat already. I have been trying to research plant based milks, but they also come in tetrapack. And because nuts are not locally grown here I wouldn’t like to buy more to make nut milks. Then I heard/read about oat milks and this is what we are going to try.

Glass

10 brown beer bottle

1 white bottle (whiskey)

I am OK with bringing the beer bottles back to the recycling centre.

The rest of the glass that we buy gets reused for preserving and storing food.

Paper

800g

In the paper bin there are miscellaneous pieces of paper, soft cardboard. Most of the brown cardboard gets torn up and added to our compost.

Plastic

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I have separated the plastic into two groups. Old, that have been in the house and usually pre zw purchases; and new that we bought or received (gifts etc…) in July.

Old plastic: 295g

New plastic: 33g

And then I separated the non recyclable plastics:

non recyclable plastic: 81g

recyclable plastic: 247g

Please note that I have no information on whether the recyclable plastic actually gets recycled or not. It is brought to the recycling centre anyhow.

And this leads to the final group which is the

landfill waste: 290g

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Still there are lots of receipts and stickers. There was one toothpaste tub that M used up. We are not going to buy this or any other mainstream brand anymore. I have found one brand that is organic and uses no palm oil or microbeads in their toothpaste which is great.

So this is us in July. I hope we can further reduce what we can in August.

 

back after a break…long post

This blog has bee quiet since we came back from our holidays, but we did not give up on our zero waste efforts. There were lots of things happening in the background. Maybe that is the reason why I was away from the blog. However, I have kept documenting our zw journey on Instagram.

So let’s see what we have been up to.

Most of our activity is focused on our kitchen and food: growing, preserving making and eating.

Our garden is a half a success. We managed to grow some peas, strawberries and the blueberries are just ripening now. We did not do so well with spinach, radish and carrots. Three of our herbs also got infected with rust (fungal stuff), so they need to be thrown out or burnt.

Look at all the peas. So far I have put about 500g (without pods) in the freezer and there lots more on the plants.

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We also got invited to two friends’ houses and gardens to pick berries as they were unable to pick and eat or preserve them anymore, and they didn’t want the berries to go to waste. Which was just the thing we needed. Lot of fruit without plastic!

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I have received my canning machine and purchased jars from a glass jar wholesaler so I could preserve the berries and other fruit and veg.

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I also got a stainless steel funnel, hopefully this will serve me for many years to come.

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And these are the canning projects in pictures:

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Red and black currant sauces and dilute drinks

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Pizza sauce in the making

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Cherries in jar

We will be so happy in the winter when I can make a cake with the fruits that we preserved and will not have to buy frozen fruit in plastic etc…

Some of the other foodie thing that I tried lately:

Home made Oreos: The recipe is from Momables and it is so tasty

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I keep making this flatbread to go with curry:

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No special recipe here, just flour, water, herbs salt and baking powder (or I use self raising flower). Quick and delicious, better than the shop bought stuff in plastic and we know what is in it.

I also tried to make tacos. They did not turn crispy as I expected them, but were nice to eat anyhow.

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At the end of June I weighted the rubbish that we produced in the month of June (except the rubbish we made while on holiday).

I poured the little container on the kitchen floor and separated the items.

I found that there were lots of receipt, cloths labels, random plastic bits from pre zw purchases, luggage labels, other plastic bags and bits and envelope and pasta box windows. We have done a big clearing out in the office which created lots of plastic window, so hopefully next month there will be less windows.

Altogether it weighted 140g. We were very pleased with this result.

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Here is a picture of our recycling drawer too:

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This is the recycling rubbish that we collected in June, except one bag of paper that I could not fit into the bin that we cleared out from the office. Also they had to be shredded, because some of the had sensitive data on them. There are still many items in there that were purchased before we stepped on our zw journey. Hopefully these will clear out soon. Some people say that it can take years. Some say that they had been on the journey for a few years and they still kept finding stuff around; stuff that they would not buy anymore.

I have to admit that this time I did not bring the mixed recyclables to the recycling centre, but poured them into our green bin. I did bring the tetrapack, glass and metal though. We do want to change from this routine to bringing everything to the recycling centre (once a month), because we are hoping/going to cancel the bin services in the autumn.

At the start of July I signed up for the Plastic Free July Challenge. In the challenge you can choose to give up the 4 most common plastics: straws, plastic bags, take away cups and water bottle. We haven’t been buying any of these for a good while now, so that would not have been a challenge for us, so we went with as minimal plastic as possible in all areas of our life. Now this is not easy at all. But we are doing ok, I think. I will report back next week.

Yogurt pots were one of the plastics that we were still buying, only  a few pots a month but they were still there. I gathered all my courage and started to make our own yogurt and now I don’t know why I waited so long. It would be even better if we could buy the milk in glass bottles instead of the tetrapack, but as it is impossible in Ireland, we will just stay with this now.

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I used Wellness Mamas recipe to make my yogurt in the oven and it was really easy. I did strain the last batch and it was very nice and creamy like that. And it didn’t take much time at all.

We did a few nice purchases too. We needed a new lawn mower, so we got a push mower. It is great, no electricity is used and it hasn’t got that many parts that can break, so hopefully it will be with us for long.

I also got some pre-loved clothes from adverts.ie and I am in the habit now to ask the seller to wrap my package in brown paper or reuse a paper shopping bag. It works well and no plastic!

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On the activism front I have started volunteering with the Cloth Nappy Library and had my very first Cloth Nappy event (Nappuchino) and there were a good few participants. I am going to hold one monthly from now on.

To mark the start of Plastic Free July, I organised a coffee morning in our hose and invited a few people from the Zero waste group and some other non-zwers. I was a busy morning but it gave me a little push to try and organise some more events like this. So now I am looking into organising a talk with the local library. Hopefully they will be on board.

As I said in the beginning of this post that we are very busy lately. Now you can see 🙂

I will keep writing a bit more often (let’s see how that goes) to report back on our process.

And don’t forget you can do a bit too, with refusing a plastic straw or with bringing your own cloth bag to the shops 😉