Going plastic-free (ish) for July

5-coffee

You may or may not know that I am passionate about the environment and do my best to recycle and live as sustainably as possible (which it turns out is more difficult in Switzerland than it was in Germany). Yesterday, I read a post by Steph in which she calls on her readers to participate in Plastic Free July. <- Click that link to read all about it; I had never heard of it, but it’s a real campaign, not something she made up. I loved the idea and decided I want to join in.

You don’t have to go completely plastic-free, thankfully – that would be next to impossible in the country where I have yet to see milk in a glass bottle. As long as you commit to doing something to reduce the single-use plastics in your life you’ll be doing your bit. And who knows, you might find you don’t actually need the thing you decide to give up and carry on your commitment beyond July.

For myself, I had to think quite hard about what I should give up. I already do a lot of the “easy” things people suggest for getting started. I always have a reusable bag with me when I go shopping (and our supermarkets have paper bags anyway, which I am aware have problems of their own but in the context of single-use plastics they’re not really relevant). I have reusable net bags for loose fruit and vegetables, so I don’t need to use the plastic bags provided. I almost never drink bottled water – the exception is when I’m in holiday in a place where you can’t drink the tap water. I very rarely buy take away coffee – since I work from home I can just make my own hot drinks and if I buy one from a café I’m usually sitting in the café, drinking from a normal cup. I make sure to buy paper cotton buds instead of plastic ones. I buy washing powder in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags – also planning in checking out a local zero waste shop soon to see if they have any washing powder I can purchase with no packaging at all. So what does that leave? Here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. No ordering online for the whole of July. While some things come packaged in nothing but cardboard, I can never guarantee that they will and in some cases I know for a fact they won’t! I buy most of my books used from Better World Books (for every book sold they donate one to Books for Africa or provide support for other literacy non-profits) but they always send them in (annoying!) plastic packaging. New Look ships their clothing in plastic bags. And many other companies also use plastic somewhere in their packaging. So for the whole of July I will do my best not to order anything online.
  2. No ready meals in plastic containers. This also includes the ready-made bakery items at the local supermarket – the bags provided for them are paper but they have a plastic window for the employees to see the products. Looks like I am going to have to majorly rethink how I eat lunch in July (I often grab a sausage roll from the shop round the corner)!
  3. Look for alternatives in non-plastic packaging and buy those even if they are more expensive. If there are no alternatives and the item is non-essential, go without. I already know I’ll be making two exceptions: 1) milk – it’s an essential to me; I need it for tea! Plus Jan eats cereal for breakfast at weekends 2) bin liners – the waste system here involves buying stickers to put on your bin bags. The stickers go by volume, so you have to buy the “proper” bin liners in the right size. There’s no way I’m going to be not taking my rubbish out for an entire month at the hottest time of year!

I will be updating you all via my blog (and possibly Instagram) throughout July sou you can see exactly how well (or badly) I do. And if you know of any easy things I missed out let me know in the comments and I’ll try to incorporate them if I don’t do them already. I Also check out Steph’s post if you haven’t already and, once July rolls around, the hashtag #sustainablestephs on Instagram. I would love it if everyone who read this would commit to doing one thing, however small, in July. If we all work together we can surely make a difference!

 

Three Days, Three Quotes third time lucky, day 3

It is the third and final day of my third time doing this challenge. I was nominated by Irish Procrastinator.

The rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you – Danke, merci, gracias!

2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Today’s quote has been attributed to various people, but it is thought to have originated from a Scottish author named Ian Maclaren, real name Rev. John Watson. I feel like I see versions of it everywhere, all the time, but it’s no less true for being ubiquitous.

Ian Mclaren quote

I know it’s hard to be nice to people who are rude or mean to you, but it’s always good to try and remember that we have no idea what those people are currently going through. And even people who appear happy and smiley may be anything but. Nobody has a perfect life and the absolute least we can do for each other is just be kind!

I am ignoring rule 3 and not nominating anybody, but if you would like to do this please feel free to consider yourself nominated!

Three Days, Three Quotes – third time lucky

I was nominated for this challenge a third time, this time by Irish Procrastinator (ages and ages ago!). She is currently taking a break from blogging, but hopefully she will see my contributions at some point.

The rules, once more:

1. Thank the person who nominated you – thank you kindly, my dear.

2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Today’s quote is from the song “No Time to Sleep” by Tina Dico. I find it quite thought-provoking.

Tina Dico quote

I’m breaking rule number three again and not nominating anybody but if you would like to do this (again) consider yourself nominated!

If you would like to listen to the song, here you are:

35 Before 35: Progress report 2

Now that we’re approaching the fourth month of the year (eeeek!!), I thought it was time for another update on how I’m doing with my 35 before 35 list. My last update was in August 2013, just after my 30th birthday. Now, with 4 years and 4 months left to go, here’s how far I’ve got…

Number 3: Learn Spanish

After doing nothing for months and months and months, I recently started using Duolingo again. So far, all I’ve done is repeat the lessons I’d done previously to refresh my memory, but new words have been added since last time I logged on so it wasn’t all just refreshing. Better than nothing, anyway.

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I’m really not good at reading non-fiction. No matter which book I choose to read, it takes me so much longer than reading a novel… I even read German fiction faster than non-fiction in my native language! Last time I updated, I had read 2 non-fiction books… now I’m up to three! I finally finished reading Crimea by Orlando Figes, a book about the events leading up to the Crimean War, the war itself and the aftermath. It ended up being quite relevant to current events… but I had started reading it some time last summer! Very interesting, but I’m so glad I’ve finished! Oh, and if anyone can recommend any books on Ukrainian history I’d be very grateful! The Crimea was the closest I found…

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

Last time I updated, the task was only to read 20 books in German, but I’ve been doing so well I decided to increase the number. I had read three German books in August 2013, and now I’m up to ten having recently finished Bis in den Tod hinein by Vincent Kliesch – a crime/thriller set in Berlin. You can see which other books I’ve read in German here.

Number 16: Spend New Year in Madeira and see the fireworks display

If you haven’t read about my trip to Madeira yet, you’re obviously very new to this blog 😉 For those who don’t know, the boyfriend and I spent New Year 2013/14 in Madeira… and yes, we saw the fireworks!

The famous Funchal fireworks
The famous Funchal fireworks

Number 18: Bake 10 different kinds of biscuits

Last time I’d baked one, now I’m up to three. Since August 2013, I’ve baked Honey Gingerbread Biscuits and Chocolate Brownie Biscuits. The latter went down very well with my colleagues!

Number 20: Attend a world cup rugby match

Not done yet, but the rugby union world cup is taking place in England next year, and I’ve already asked my dad to try and get us tickets once they go on sale.

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

In August 2013, I’d read six books. Now I’m up to 7… or technically six and two thirds. I’ve read 2 out of 3 books from the His Dark Materials trilogy! Currently I’m reading Middlemarch by George Eliot (also on the list) and not enjoying it at all! I’ve barely started though, so hopefully it will improve…

Number 31: Watch 15 films I haven’t seen before

I hadn’t even started this last time I did an update and now I’m up to a whole 5 films. Woo hoo! Two of them are thanks to my little brother (age 7), who forced me to watch Planes at Christmas and Thunderbirds when I went over in February. You can see what else I’ve watched here.

Aaaand that’s all I’ve done since my last update. I do have an idea about which biscuits to bake next, though. Stay tuned….

 

The twelve trips challenge

I first read about this challenge on On The Luce’s blog and immediately knew I wanted to join in. Only recently, I was saying to Jan that my goal for next year is to travel more, because I feel like I’ve hardly done anything this year. And what better way to start than by committing to taking one trip per month for the next 12 months?

Ireland viewed from a plane
Ireland viewed from a plane

The great thing about this challenge is that trip is defined as whatever you believe it to be. Three weeks travelling around China? A day spent hiking in some nearby woods? A visit to a part of your own town that you’ve never been to before? All trips! You can make them as big or as small as you like… personally, I’ll be going for a mixture of the two! I have neither the time nor the money to take a big trip every month…

Hiking in the woods in Baden-Baden? Definitely a trip!
Hiking in the woods in Baden-Baden? Definitely a trip!

The “Take 12 Trips” challenge has already started, so I’m going to make October the first month of mine and make our day out in Triberg trip number one.

Following that, Jan and I have plans to go to Austria and Switzerland at the beginning of November.
And beyond that? I’ll have to start having a think… do I want to count a visit home for Christmas as one of my trips, I wonder? And where will we end up going for our traditional New Year’s holiday? Stay tuned…

Wallfahrtskirche, Triberg
Wallfahrtskirche, Triberg

Who wants to join me in taking 12 trips? The challenge is the brainchild of Clare at Need Another Holiday… click on the name of her blog to find out more.

*Update: Since I am now on Twitter, you can follow my progress with this challenge both here on the blog and on Twitter, where I will be using the hashtag #Take12Trips*

The list! The list!

OK, before I get on to the actual topic of the day, which is my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, there is something I have to share with you.
According to my stats someone found me last night be searching Google for penis shaped friendship bracelets. I can think of only one thing to say to that, and that thing is WHY?!!?

And now, without further ado, I shall move onto the list.
I am also going to make a page with it on, so in future you will be able to see my progress without having to search for this blog post. Errm, that is, of course, if anyone’s actually interested in my progress. Other than me. Right. Anyway. The list!
I have split it up into sections for ease of reading and stuff…

The Places I will Go
1. Take an intensive Spanish course in Spain
2. Visit 5 places in Germany that I’ve never been to before
3. Eat frog’s legs in France, fondue in Switzerland and goulash in Hungary
4. Go to Europapark (theme park near Freiburg)
5. Go for a ride  in a hot air balloon
6. Go to the Christmas market in Ettlingen
7. Go to 5 other Christmas markets (not including Karlsruhe)
8. See the Northern Lights
9. Go on the London Eye
10. Go to Berlin with my boyfriend
11. Go to Luxembourg
12. Buy a 24 ticket for the Karlsruhe transport network and spend the day visiting different towns
13. Go on a boat on the Rhine
14. Go on an overnight train journey and spend the night in a sleeping compartment
15. Have a picnic in a town I’ve never been to before

Reading, Watching, Listening

16. Read 50 books from the list of books I want to read (which you can find here).
17. Read 15 non-fiction books
18. Read the Little Vampire books in the original German
19. Read War and Peace
20. Read all of the Anne of Green Gables books
21. Read 5 biographies/autobiographies (these will not count towards the 15 non-fiction books!)
22. Read 5 German children’s books
23. Watch every episode of ER – to make life easier for me I will count it down by season.
24. Watch 27 films from the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die” list
25. Watch a film in Spanish
26. Go to the cinema 10 times
27. Watch 5 films from the year I was born
28. See a Shakespeare play (not Oddsocks!)
29. See a German play
30. See Eddie Izzard live
31. See a musical
32. Discover 3 new (to me) bands that I like and buy an album of theirs
33. See 3 bands/artists live (not at Das Fest)

It’s All About Us
34. Kiss my boyfriend under the mistletoe
35. Cook a 3 course meal for my boyfriend on 3 different occasions
36. Bake Jan a birthday cake
37. Go for a nice meal together at a restaurant we wouldn’t usually go to; get dressed up for it
38. Kiss outside during a thunderstorm
39. *Secret* (No, it’s nothing naughty. Just something I want to surprise Jan with. Keeping it secret until after I’ve done it in case he decides to read this)
40. Get a flat with my boyfriend

Getting Creative
41. Complete a cross stitch picture converted from a photograph that I took
42. Complete 3 other cross stitch pictures
43. Hand make 10 birthday cards and send/give them to family/friends
44. My photo challenge! Assign a theme to each month of the 1001 days & take 50 pictures during that month.
45. Make something and sell it
46. Make a dreamcatcher
47. Take a photo for each letter of the alphabet and make an alphabet book with them (A is for…)

For My Health
48. Eat a portion of fruit every day for 2 weeks
49. Do not eat chocolate, cake or sweets for 1 month
50. Be in bed before 10pm 50 times
51. Walk home from the train station instead of taking a tram 10 times
52. Take vitamins every day for 30 days in a row
53. Go to the dentist

Learning and Education
54. Take 2 more OU courses (apart from the one I already have booked for October)
55. Learn calligraphy
56. Learn basic Russian
57. Learn basic Japanese

Eat Me! Drink Me!
58. Find 10 restaurants in Karlsruhe that I’ve never been to and have a meal there
59. Bake 10 different cakes
60. Make jam
61. Have sparkling wine for breakfast
62. Go vegetarian for 2 weeks
63. Make lemonade
64. Drink a cup of green tea every day for a week
65. Eat fish twice a month for all months of the 1001 days
66. make gingerbread people
65. make mango chutney
66. Find a recipe for garlic soup and make it
67. Find 6 recipes that use avocados and make them
68. Attend a wine seminar
69. Eat one meal with chopsticks every day for one month

Because other people are important too…
70. Host a pancake party
71. Host a tea party
72. Give (at least) 50 euros or pounds to 3 different charities
73. Visit someone I haven’t seen for a while (= more than a year)
74. Bake cookies, put them in a nice tin and give them to someone as a birthday present
75. Write a letter to my grandparents
76. Send 20 postcards for no particular reason

Getting Organised
77. Get all my photos from Hamburg, Prague, belgium, Paris and Rome printed and put them in albums
78. Sort out my underwear drawer. Thow away anything that is holey, losing its elastic or just generally looks shabby.
79. Sort out the clothes I still have at my dad’s. Give anything that is too small or I’m obviously never going to wear again to charity.
80. Find all my recipes and put them in a folder. No more searching the entire flat every time I want to make something!
81. Do my taxes
82. Find all my bank statements and put them in a folder

Money, Money, Money
83. Pay off my overdraft
84. Buy a pair of red shoes
85. Buy a printer
86. Pay Jan back
87. Start paying off my student loan

The Flat
88. Get a new quilt to go with my new bed
89. Get tubs/jars for everything in the kitchen that evil moth beasts might be interested in
90. Get curtains for the bedroom
91. Wash the dishes on the same day I use them for 3 weeks

I like making  lists!
92. Identify 101 things that make me happy
93. make a list of 101 quotes that I like. The list can include song lyrics.

Other stuff, or the I couldn’t be bothered to think of more categories section
94. Build a snowman
95. Buy a colouring book and colour in the whole thing
96. Do a jigsaw puzzle.
97. Join trip advisor and write 10 reviews
98. Go bowling
99. Buy myself flowers
100. Release 10 bookcrossing books into the wild… the proper wild that is, not official bookcrossing zones!
101. Leave the computer off for an entire weekend. Not when on holiday – it has to be a weekend where I am actually at home!

That is it. And I must tell you it took ages to come up with 101 things!
If you decide to do your own 101 things in 1001 days list let me know in the comments box so I can come and look at your ideas 🙂

I will be starting to 1001 days on 13th August 2009, which makes my end date Thursday, 10th May 2012.

I need your help!

Inspired by the wonderful Hails, I have decided to take part in Project Zero, aka. the 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge. I shall be posting my full list as soon as I’ve finished compiling it – which will hopefully be soon as I want to start it on my 26th birthday, 13th August 2009. But in the meantime I need your help with one very specific item on my list.
For one of my tasks I have decided on this:

Assign a theme to each month of the 1001 days (e.g. numbers, water). During each of those months take 50 photos related to the theme

I worked out (or rather Google told me) that there are about 32.8 months in 1001 days. That means I need 32 different themes. So far I’ve come up with 17! So I need your help. Give me some themes!

The rules are as follows:
1) Nothing that I have to set up first, so no teddy bears’ picnics or anything like that. Because that would mean taking all 50 photos on that day, which kind of defeats the object.
2. Nothing that would mean having to take picture  of people… so nothing like portraits or babies. I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing with the photographs, but just in case I decide to post them on the internet I don’t want anything that may compromise other people’s privacy.

Other than that anything goes. And just so you know, once I have the themes the rest is up to my interpretation. So if for water I decide to take pictures of a water melon, and ice cube and a lake I shall. Anything goes, as long is it somehow reminds me of the theme.

Post your suggestions as comments please. Once I have them all I plan to use the list randomizer at random.org to select the order of the themes.
Here are the themes I have so far, just to get you started. The remaining 15 are your responsibility.

1. Blue
2. Doors
3. Water
4. Food, Glorious Food
5. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
6. Man’s best Friend
7. From the Heart
8. Socks and Shoes
9. Looking Up
10. Snail Mail
11. Let There Be Light
12. Spots and Stripes
13. Numbers
14. Some like it HOT
15. Flags
16. Flowers
17. Signs