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20 pledges for 2020: I’m cutting down on waste to help save the planet — but it isn’t easy in a capitalist society

20 pledges for 2020: I’m cutting down on waste to help save the planet — but it isn’t easy in a capitalist society

For my 2020 pledge, I decided I would try to avoid buying anything new for the whole year. This challenge is already testing my limits but I have also found myself on an educational path.

Six weeks in, I have to admit that I do not have a clean shopping slate. I bought socks and thermals — but in my defence, the former were for my husband and the latter for my sister. I am not sure if they were trolling me but both (not being a party to my pledge) in particular asked me to buy these items for them.

Okay, I also bought myself a vintage shirt, non-plastic food covers to replace cling film with and cotton face pads to cleanse the face without the need for additional products. 

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Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Apart from the vintage shirt these latter purchases are also part of my new outlook on the things I consume: considering materials used in production; the use they have; and what happens once they become waste.

From trying my best to avoid buying lunch wrapped in plastic to opting for plastic free cosmetics, I am trying to progressively reduce my waste.

My phone is 20 months old and previously that would mean I would be ready to buy the new shiny phone with the improved camera. Instead I opted to renew my sim-only contract and stick with the handset I have as it’s functioning perfectly well. 

At the weekend I chose to replace the broken pipe for my 12-year-old vacuum cleaner rather than buy a whole new machine. I never knew that Dyson sells parts for even their older models, which came in very handy.

Overall, I am changing my approach to things I own and may or may not need to buy, which is reducing my eco anxiety and saving me money.

leftCreated with Sketch.
rightCreated with Sketch.

As my spending confessions demonstrate, avoiding consumption as a whole is not 100% viable within the framework of our modern lifestyles, but we can attempt to make changes in our approach to material things, the waste we create, reconsider our habits and learn from each other where we need more sustainable life hacks.

This is also why I am keeping a close eye on the experience of all my fellow pledgers. How can I avoid using plastic further? Can I plan my next holiday by train travel? What local produce can I opt for instead of fruit flown in from thousands of miles away? Can I start growing my own parsley and spring onion (my parents have an annual supply of potatoes from their allotment, maybe I have learnt a thing or two from them)?

Modern day consumerism (i.e. capitalism) fuels our desire to have more and more. We are somehow convinced we need all this stuff. The planet is at the desperate point where we need to convince ourselves that we actually do not.

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