Random thoughts on sustainability

I wanted to title this ‘sustainability myths’, but then decided that I’m not sufficiently educated to be dropping supposed truths around. Not a scientist or anything. Just a woman with a whole lot of environmental anxiety and desire to do better in at least some areas. Here’s some thoughts on sustainability, then. I’m pretty sure more is coming.

Individual action is worthless

It will be if nobody does anything. There’s 8 billion of us. Even if 1/3 does something, it will be a huge improvement. An even bigger improvement will be actual policy, system changes, and leaving Jeff Bezos aimlessly floating in space.

Glass is better than plastic

It is if it is reused, and reused, and reused. And then reused some more. And then reused again. Glass is incredibly impactful to produce. It’s a little less impactful to recycle. The best course of action is – yeah – reusing it in a closed loop for as long as possible.

plastic is the least problematic thing in this photo

Plastic is the devil anyway

It’s not plastic, it’s the way we use it. We’re accustomed to treating pretty much anything made from plastic as disposable when in fact a lot of the things are quite durable and can be reused for long, long, long periods of time. Remember that dude with a vintage supermarket plastic bag? The article is from 2015, and at that point the bag was 34 years old, so now it’s what – 43?

(How come 2015 is 9 years ago, Jesus.)

My brother is apparently trying to give that grandpa a run for his money, because he reuses his supermarket bags all the time. Nowadays they aren’t as durable, though, and I hear they only last about a year and a half until they rip. It’s worse here, because the local ones are either paper or biodegradable plastic, which is very fragile. You can reuse it, but not for long. I designate most of mine as garbage bin liners.

But why am I fixating on plastic bags? Food containers. A lot of foods manufactured here, especially the ones that aren’t supposed to be preserved for a year or more, like hummus or marinated tofu, come in PP plastics. Well, most of the containers I bought for my lunches are also PP. Who’s to say I can’t use the hummus container to pack my pasta? No one, that’s who.

When I was younger and plastic straws were still de rigueur, my grandmother used to wash them. And we’d reuse them. As I’m still kicking, I suppose the practice wasn’t that detrimental to my health. I have stainless steel straws now because I am not a fan of bio plastic or paper, but I’d wager if I were to stumble upon a pack of plastic ones, I’d just wash them using the little brush that came with my stainless steel pack.

And then of course there’s the old plebeian custom of washing and reusing small baggies, like the Ikea ziploc ones. My friend left a couple the last time she was visiting – I’m still using them. I bought pasta in a plastic bag – I’ll use it to store bread, pack fruit, or freeze something. There’s still an ancient – I mean it, it’s like… 20+ years old – milk plastic bag kicking around the house somewhere – I think it holds reusable hankies. The only bags I don’t reuse are ones from meats and the very flimsy ones that one would pack veg in at the supermarket. The first one is unhygienic. You’d end up using more plastic on your hospital trip after you try to reuse that one. And the second one would require more energy to wash and reuse than to dispose of.

Turtles choke on plastic straws, stop using plastic

Turtles choke on things we pollute the oceans with. Said pollutants are not necessarily made from plastic. A cotton ribbon carelessly thrown into the ocean will be as deadly to a bird or a turtle as a piece of plastic. Same goes for a metal bottle topper. The answer to happy living turtles is not ‘ban plastic’, it’s ‘stop throwing shit into the oceans’.


Sunday inspiration 000

I thought I’d share something beautiful once a week or so. Mostly it will be pictures I think. Maybe an occasional creator or a music artist. Here is but a fragment of everything I tucked away into my private inspiration Telegram channel.

Artwork from Batman 1992.

Sketch and…

… original photograph. Wasn’t planned at all. I just saved them both in the same week.

Where I’m writing from. (No, unfortunately.)

Not my cats, but this is how it is, day after day.

Cillian Murphy for Dazed magazine in 2006. Shut the front door. Ugh.

How I’ve been feeling lately.

Every time I see this photo set by Nona Limmen, I go into witch mode.

From a series called “Passengers” by Denis Kopeikin.

Rene Buri.

What inspired you this week?

Gratitude Reading

I have enough: Books

One part of me realises the futility of this exercise, but we’re going to try. Maybe it’s the part that tends to lie to me.

As mentioned in my last post, I lost my job. I also have a lot of debt. And a thing for spending money. Now that I’m on mood stabilisers, I am doing much better, but I’d wager it will always be a problem. A while ago I read a quote in Your Money or Your Life (a book that everyone should get and reread like gospel at least once a year):

Indeed, some people would say that once we’re above the survival level, the difference between prosperity and poverty lies simply in our degree of gratitude.

While I can understand how that might not always work that way (enter survival mode for example, which is not always connected or even intertwined with financial matters – you can be sprouting dolla dolla bills from your arse and still feel like you’re hanging by a thread), it is a statement with a substantial amount of truth to it. And gratitude, especially for small seemingly nonconsequential things, will make one a better person and will improve one’s day, even if slightly.

So here we are. Treat these as extended gratitude lists about one thing in particular. In no way am I bragging. For some people the amount of certain things I own will be overwhelming. For others dumb, for somebody else interesting, enviable, or confusing. I’m not a fan of “it is what it is” – but it is what it is. I’m not a minimalist. And whilst at this point in time I can imagine myself having only two mugs (more on them later), I can’t imagine having two books. Let’s talk about them.

I have a lot of books. Most of my library is inherited from parents, grandparents, and their parents, but I bought quite a few myself. I remember having a weird dream (as in wish) of finishing all of the books in my home library, but that is simply not possible. Well. It is. But it is not probable. Highly unlikely. Because at least in this moment in time I have little desire to read up on *zooms in* the history of soviet civic aviation. I also wouldn’t touch that particular philosophy textbook with a six foot pole. Never again. *shudder*

Plus my library is not finite. I may have titled this post ‘i have enough’, but I know that at one point in time I will go out and buy more. I feel calm right now, and also oddly satisfied with the selection available to me at the moment (big thanks to z library for that, I might add), but it does not mean that I don’t want to own all the six volumes of Heaven’s Official Blessing, or the next Rowling book, or a bunch of manhwa, or the next Hunger Games, or yet another dystopia, or a cookbook, or a spellbook, etc., etc. E-books are a big part of my reading habit, largely because shipping endless amounts of overtly commercial fiction printed in the English language to the lands I inhabit will never be financially sustainable, but I will always and forever prefer paper. I’m very tactile, I’ve come to realise. I like tangible things. A big part of the charm of listening to music for me, for example, is CDs, records, and even tapes. I like the sounds the record player makes. I like pressing buttons. I like the whirring sound of the CD or the tape.

But back to books.

My lifelong affinity to all things paper tells me that I will never not want to buy paper books. Few things compare to the satisfaction of turning the last page on a paperback, and then just sitting with it for a while, flicking pages, recalling some paragraphs. Touch screens and swipes just aren’t the same. Tucking in receipts, pieces of paper with notes, an occasional real bookmark, maybe a postcard, a bus ticket, or a photograph, then finding all of this years later. What am I supposed to do with a Kindle that feels the same way? Glue stickers in layers and then peel them off?

But at this point in life, for my purposes, and for my current goals, I have enough. I have enough classics to occupy me for years. I have enough modern literature and non-fiction, bought, downloaded, and bought and downloaded to keep me entertained and out of a bookshop. One day I will be back, and fingers crossed this day will come soon, but for now I’ll stick to my shelves, pretending that I’m browsing a store or a library. Certainly my delusions are powerful enough to handle this assignment.


a round-up of thrift, may 2024.

May has not been fun. If you’re new here, these posts are where I talk about all the ways that I used to save a cent here, a penny there. For an indepth intro please see the very first post. As always, I ask you to keep in mind that I know ten thousand and one way to save money – the reason I’m in a pickle and say things like ‘didn’t buy a new bag/ piano/ car/ life” on this list is not lack of knowledge, but a certain deficit of screws in the head. I know how to save money, I just don’t, because I’m a lunatic. Would provide receipts, but who the heck are you to ask for them.

Without further aggressive ado, I give you the narrative of May. Because there’s no real list of thrift.

As mentioned, May was not a fun month. I’ve had a good couple days around Easter, and it all went downhill from there. So let’s list the good things that happened. They are not plentiful. Apart from the anxiety-sponsored “everyone’s alive and not gravely ill, so that should be good enough” – and it is – I give you the following:

I saw a cardiologist. For free. Got prescribed meds that are pretty cheap by the standards of heart and blood pressure medication.

It may have been April, but I think it was May – I had several good conversations with my friend.

My therapist saw me for free for the entire month of May when I told her that I am unable to continue our sessions because I can’t pay. That’s a lot of savings.

I found a kitten. I took her home. She’s a new family member. It’s not a frugal move, but it’s a happy one.

I lost weight.

And now I give you parts of the shitshow. Just the big ones.

My brother is now aware of the true state of my finances. This drives me up the wall and kind of makes me want to light things on fire.

My car got towed for “unlawful parking”. Quotes, because it was not unlawful, but if you ever tried to dispute a parking ticket, or any kind of ticket, then you know the action is futile. So naturally I have a fine now, and I also had to pay for the towing and the tow parking lot. Had I paid the fine within three days, I would have paid 50% the amount, but I could either pay the fine or get my car back. I chose the latter, because the accrued fees on that parking lot are insane. Plus as we have discussed elsewhere I need a car to get to and from work.

Because of that towing fee I couldn’t meet my financial obligations on several loans. Thankfully not all of them. But it is still unpleasant.

I’m currently running around without my medication. I’ve been microdosing and having withdrawal symptoms for about two weeks now. Today before bed I will literally take the last half-dose of the one remaining night medication, which I’ve been taking very sparingly. Everything else ran out already.

Oddly, I think that helped with the last point on the list, because I’m already feeling rather low, and there’s really, like, nowhere to go from here. So I did not turn hysterical when I got fired on the very last day of May.

Yes. I am currently without gainful employment.

We will talk about this later.


a round-up of thrift, april 2024.

I was really discouraged in April. I am still discouraged in May. And today I looked at June, and I’m even more discouraged now. Is there really any need for me to be writing these posts, where it seems like anything I do simply does not work?

But I guess, forced by circumstance or actual healthy reasoning, some of my choices are changing. Even today I came to the office, and my first impulse was to go get a take-out coffee. Doesn’t matter that I have 7 euro left to my name (yes, 10 days into the month, one week after salary).

But I didn’t do it. I didn’t get that coffee.

Though obviously one coffee is not going to save me from financial ruin.

So what else did I do?

If you’re new to these posts, please read the first couple paragraphs of the month of February. If you’re of the lazy kind, then at least know this: I know how to save money. I don’t need advice. If I implemented every single money saving tip I know, I’d be one rich motherfucker by now. Unfortunately I am not exactly right in the head, so it is what it is. We’re working on it.

1. I’ve got a whole kitchen set up in the office, I’m telling you. Cooking at home continues to be difficult, and my pancreas doesn’t like to subsist on ramen and crackers (who’d have thought, huh). So I bought a bunch of instant porridges and flakes, a big tub of yoghurt, some pre-washed veg, and garlic salt, and this is my lunches most days. Breakfast is a supermarket muffin that is sometimes accompanied by a cheese sandwich. Supper is eggs or beans on toast. This has allowed me to almost completely avoid the deli counter, obliterate take-out, and minimise bakery visits.

2. I brought water from home. Sometimes people responsible for office water delivery forget to order it on time, and we run out before fresh bottles arrive. I used to buy a bottle in these cases, but this time around I brought a big-ass bottle from home. And I filled it with boiled water.

3. Speaking of water, my father bought a new electric kettle. I don’t really want to get into the whole story – and yes, there is one. But my stove-top kettle is out of business once more. I can’t deny the convenience of an electric one.

4. Last month I was thinking that I would run out of detergent pods, but I still have three left. I’m still not buying detergent, because after the pods are gone, I’ve got two samples, and after that is gone, I’ve got laundry sheets, and after laundry sheets are gone, I’ve got washing soda, and after washing soda I’ve got soap nuts. So I won’t be too surprised if next time I need to buy laundry soap comes around in 2025.

5. I rounded up all my instant noodles on one shelf, and although I don’t have an exact number, it looks like there’s at least 20 packs. As we’ve established above, I can’t have them daily, so ramen became a delicacy that I enjoy on Saturdays. It sounds ridiculous I’d wager, but I LOVE cup noodles/ instant ramen/ ramyun/ etc. It’s a thing I look forward to, and it gives me a decent dopamine boost, thus distracting me from desire to spend money. I’m thinking of pushing ramen to Sundays and bringing back cereal Saturdays. I used to eat cereal and watch Elementary on Saturdays, and it was a nice ritual.

Anyway, since there are at least 20 packs, I’m set for a couple of months without additional expense.

6. I spent 0 on fixing my car situation (and I hope I did not just jinx it). I charged the battery from my father’s car, put air in my tyres using my compressor, and was good to go. The only thing I paid for was car wash, but I went to an automatic one and spent 5 euro, instead of going the usual route of human labour and detailing and paying at least two times more.

7. I, er- OK, this sounds asinine, but I tipped less. Technically the only thing I had to tip for in April was over-the-counter coffee and a baked good – and the baked good I pick and pack myself. I also had to pay for grocery delivery once I think, because I was sick and at home – or was that in March… I don’t remember, but that I tipped well as I usually do, because these bags were heavy as fuck, and I live up some flights of stairs in a building without a lift. Coffee in a bakery, though, is a different matter. All I did was leave 1 or 2 instead of 5 or 10 as I would otherwise, because hey. Coffee costs 35. Baked things like I said I pick and pack myself. So all I did was tip proportionally instead of greatly over-tipping like I usually do.

I should extrapolate, I think, and mention that the ladies pouring my coffee are salaried workers. They have a fixed salary, and also a percentage of the entire amount they sell on that day. So they are not reliant on tips alone for their income.

But the narcissist in me will gladly return to overtipping the moment she can. She just can’t right now.

8. I used the things I had at home for my journalling. I wanted a tag system for my book journal so I could easier find certain things, and I thought of buying stickers, because I’ve seen people do the sticker system, and it looks very nice. But I went with what I have and used markers instead. I also used colour pencils for my tracker instead of buying colourful pens like I originally wanted.

9. My food waste, although present, was much lower this month. The amount I will be satisfied with is zero, though.

10. I used weaker medication for very minor headaches. As someone who lives with migraines, my first impulse is to always take a stronger pill so that a small headache has no chance of turning into a full blown migraine episode. But thankfully – well… – after years of coexisting with headaches I am quite proficient in differentiating headache types and knowing which one will turn into a migraine if not treated with stronger medication, and which one will just annoy me a bit longer but won’t render me useless for a day or two. It is not a practice I recommend. Take your meds, and don’t skimp on them. But I do what I have to do for now, and it did save me an estimated 10 to 20 euro.

11. Speaking of meds, I stopped taking supplements for insomnia – because I ran out of them and I had no money to replenish, and I hope I did not just jinx myself, but so far, so good. I still take all my main meds, though, but as it often is, main meds are cheaper than fancy supplements. When summer is in full swing I might have to go back to them, but for now I’m saving another 20-30 euro.

12. I’m drinking tea I swore I’d never drink again. And- I like it. They must have changed the leaves, because I promise it used to taste like paper. Now it tastes like a honey infusion. Anyway, so I had an unopened box at home for reasons I cannot begin to tell you, because I honestly have no idea. But I ran out of Lipton – which I, too, swore I would never drink again… – and I couldn’t find any other black tea but this box. So I was like, fuck it, I want tea, let’s try it. And I did. And I liked it. So next time I run out of tea, I’ll buy a 100 pack of this stuff.

Maybe it tastes different because the box says ‘high grown’ instead of ‘ceylon’. I am not sure how much truth is there in their marketing tricks, but it does taste different.

13. I stopped myself from ordering take-out dessert by making chocolate mug cake at home. There was nothing sweet at home, and I was very, very close to getting a cake delivered, but I fixed myself a microwave mug cake, and it was enough.

14. I bought the cheapest ice cream. Still tasty.

15. I ran out of but didn’t immediately buy a new jar of instant coffee. I’m not a big instant coffee drinker these days, but I do keep low-caffeine instant on hand for dalgonas and stuff (because those two heaping tablespoons of non-decaf will send me running for the hills). Well, I ran out, and I haven’t bought a new one. No more dalgonas for me. Whenever I want a late-night coffee, I just make one in a moka pot using my decaf Lavazza.

16. I don’t drink my morning coffee at home. Rather, I wait until I get to work and have it at the office for free. (Well, I still buy my own milk, as I am not a fan of powdered creamer.) Pretty sure this also helps keep my cortisol a little lower, as it takes me about an hour to make it to work after waking up, which means I don’t drink coffee first thing, as I’ve been doing since… age 10, I think.

17. And I suppose the biggest thing I did in April that will affect all the upcoming months is I negotiated a raise. Even with said raise I’m discouraged for June already – but how much more discouraged would I be without it? So of course I’m happy I will be getting more money each month. I just really need to continue reducing expenses as well.