I do not know what I was thinking, embarking on year-long project that has reporting requirements. Who did I think was going to do the reporting? I clearly do not know myself at all. BUT, better late than never (I really hope there is some truth to this adage because it is the one constant in my life).
Here is my account of what I have bought and acquired in the months of April and May (then I will be caught up until July, right?). If you are new here you may be wondering what I am up to - here is a recap:
Why not buy new? In a word, externalities. All of us, my darlings, who can access the intenet on an electronic device, are more or less the 1% of the world's population who benefit unfairly from the sweat, habitat destruction, pollution, ill health, exploitation and death of the 99% whose lives are degraded in some way so that we can have machines to wash our clothes and make our toast, and have access to cheap t-shirts and chocolate.
One day I woke up and the invisible wake of destruction that trails behind my trips to Target suddenly became unbearable, so I have started on a different path to providing for my needs and wants, and those of my lovely children, dog, two cats and two budgies.
Here are my guidelines:
1 Make do with what I have. 2 Try to find what I need second hand - there is a world of stuff out there that needs to be rescued and used again. 3 Buy from a local craftsperson. 4 As a last resort, buy from a local, independent store, so that at least my money stays in my community.. How I fared in April and May: Bought new: Three hot water bottles. Here is an example of impulse buying. I was in the hardware store looking for preserving jar lids because I had run out. They didn't have any in the size I wanted, but right next to them were a stack of adorable Easter-egg pastel coloured hot water bottles (why next to the preserving gear? I can only imagine I was in the designated nana aisle). It was nearly Easter. I wanted to Easter gifts for the girls that were not all about chocolate. So I succumbed, and yes, the hot water bottles are being well-used, but afterwards I realised that home made wheat bags heated in the microwave would have been a much more sustainable choice than rubber, which relies heavily on slave labour in developing countries, replacing food plants as a cash crop. Plus, I boil the kettle for hot water bottles, more electricity. Anyways, in five years' time when these wear out, wheat bags it is. Various kitchen goodies from the kitchen shop in town, and gifts from the Oxfam shop. Two family members had birthdays, and you know, even though they have birthdays on the same day every year, it was still a surprise. What I bought was sturdy and practical and gorgeous, and mostly not even made in China, but it brought home to me that important thing about how to avoid buying new stuff. Forward planning. Yes, not my forte. A hockey skirt for Rosy. One of those unavoidable child-related purchases. Well, avoidable if your child doesn't happen to play hockey, I suppose. Tights and socks - after my Ethical Underwear post I ordered the world's most expensive sport socks from my local outdoor goods shop. They were Australian-made cotton and wool Humphrey Laws socks - the most wonderfully comfortable socks in the world. I bought one pair for each of us, and have to pry them off Posy to wash them, she loves them so much. But $17.95 each. Yikes. Still, my hope is they will last a long, long time, as wool socks tend to. Will do a product review in two years' time:) Rosy also needed more grey tights for school. It is very difficult to find a pair of ethically produced grey tights.. eventually I gave up on-line and went to the independent school uniform shop in town, where I was able to buy.. New Zealand-made grey school tights. Happy days:) Now that Rosy's feet have finally stopped growing (I hope) I bought her a pair of Aussie ugg boots from a shop in town for her birthday. I also bought Rosy two pairs of jeans and a pair of boots from a well-known franchised high street shop in town. What can I say. While she is on board with the whole second-hand thing and has gamely accompanied me to op-shops and second-hand clothes markets this year, sometimes a teenager really just wants some new jeans and boots. This is perfectly ok of course, and I have no wish to impose my project on the children beyond the line at which they want to participate. Wool - after much deliberation, my friend Jane and I chose the perfect skein of natural New Zealand sheep's wool to crochet all the squares together for my afghan rug project. Yes, it is done, all 160 squares of it, and now my next task is to crochet around each square in the perfect shade of brown, then sew it all together. The only problem was, it wasn't the perfect shade of brown, so we had to go back the next week and swap it. So now it is the perfect shade of brown, and I have crocheted around 26 squares already, many to go. But, the really great news is I visited the little wool shop in town for the first time ever. Usually I go to Spotlight, which is an abomination of a store. Why did I ever go there? Our local yarn shop is adorable, run by a knitting expert, with yarns to die for, and now I'm really inspired to knit socks with merino and possum wool. You can even buy locally knitted socks there - apparently the shop owner has a team of knitters ("mainly stressed executives") who whip up hand-knitted garments to sell. Now there is a truly local sock. Bought second-hand: um, nothing? I haven't been inside a second hand shop for two months. This is good, because otherwise no doubt I would have bought several more darling jugs, because you can never have too many jugs, right? BUT, I could have done some second-hand birthday shopping if I had been more organised. I will definitely schedule some op-shop visits this month, as I need to organise, well, Christmas.. Gifts from the Universe: After reading my Ethical Undies post in which I mentioned that I don't buy second hand tights and socks, but do give and receive them among friends, my friend Katherine brought me a bag of black tights! She is such a sweetie. Her daughter's school uniform has changed this year, so the black tights are now redundant for her, but perfect for me. I wear black tights to work every day under dresses and skirts with my lovely warm long boots. Winter footwear - thick hiking socks over tights inside long boots = toasty warm feet even in a frosty school playground. This is excellent as my old tights were starting to fall down due to overuse. I was hunting for new ones on-line when Katherine brought me a bag full:) Returned to the Universe With Thanks: A pile of Rosy's redundant ballet uniform to a friend. Sundry kitchen gear to The Man who is setting up an apartment in a new city. I also asked The Man to take the big flat screen TV away with him, as no-one here except Posy really watches TV much, and I had a hunch she would watch less if the TV experience wasn't quite so exciting. So The Man moved the small TV out of the bedroom into the living room for me, because you know, technology and unplugging things and plugging them back in again etc. I am particularly pleased about this, because I never watched the TV in the bedroom anyway, and it is tiny, and must surely be using less than half the electricity of the big one. Posy does indeed watch very much less telly, but that is possibly because The Man also gave her his old phone, minus the phone function, and she has discovered You Tube. Oh, the funny cats. Reflections: Most of the real positives of these past two months have been the ways in which I am becoming more comfortable thinking outside the big-box store. One day I invited my friend Jane to come into town with me on errand day, because we both hate doing errands, and if we chat constantly we forget how tedious it is to stand in line at the bank. Anyway, we have been exploring little independent shops, such as the wool shop, and it is so much fun exploring town together instead of rushing straight to Target, which is surely the world's most boring shopping experience. Plus, buying my way out of a problem has become less of an impulse. I had a day's notice to provide a white shirt for Posy for her flute ensemble performance (you know, as happens with children's announcements). Posy's suggestion was, "We could just go and buy a cheap shirt at Kmart." My response was to phone a friend, then another one until I found a shirt to borrow for the day. I am very proud of myself:)
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (17) and Posy (13). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much.. and now extra frugal adventures with Partner Paul..