I’ve got a bee in my bonnet. A plastic one.
But it’s not just plastic. It is all unnecessary consumerism-gone-mad purchases.
I’m a bit alarmed by the Easter merchandise.
You don’t need a purpose-made basket for collecting chocolate eggs.
You certainly don’t need an Easter-themed hand-towel.
So why are the shops and garden centres and newsagents stuffed full of this stuff?
I know, I know, they have to make a living too.
But where is this stuff going to end up? And who made it? Under what conditions?
I’m not saying you can’t have fun. Buy eggs. Cadbury’s and Galaxy have plastic-free packaging. Decorate real eggs. Grow cress out of their heads. Make Easter cards or simnel cake, if that brings you joy.
But please, please, don’t buy tat that you will use once, or others will use once, and then toss into the bin. Even taking tat to a charity shop seems a bit, well, uncharitable.
If you want to join me, then make a pledge to yourself. I will not buy anything new, unless I know that I will use it regularly, treasure it, and keep it for a long time.
I took this pledge at the beginning of 2018. I didn’t tell anyone, because I didn’t know whether I could stick to it. But I have*, so now I am going public.
It has stopped me buying unnecessary summer clothes. I have a full wardrobe. It has stopped me buying shower gel. Soap is fine. I’ve torn up a very old towel so that I don’t use so much kitchen roll. And discovered white vinegar and baking soda are better than most cleaning products.
*I did err by buying a mini macro lens for my iPhone. I regret this now. It falls off my phone and I don’t have a steady enough hand. But you have to fall off the wagon once, don’t you?
And whilst I am in confession mode, we have bought a piano. That is a fairly big purchase, but it is one that I hope we will treasure for many years to come, as both my daughters play enthusiastically, and have proved their commitment for five years.
Because the iPhone macro lens failed, I have put an SLR lens on my Christmas list for next year. I might take it off. We’ll see. I have managed to wean myself off those oh-so-easy purchases on Amazon, by using a wish-list, and then at the end of the month evaluating whether I really need that item. This so far has saved me £17.96 and four unnecessary purchases.
At the other end of the spectrum from instant-gratification-and-quickly-ditched purchases, I did a little audit of the things in my house I have owned the longest. I should make it clear that I am a chucker rather than a hoarder (by chuck I mean charity shops) and I have moved country twice, therefore shedding much baggage along the way. This has helped me know I can live without a lot of stuff.
The things I have had the longest are:
- My gran’s watch (20 years)
- My food processor (25 years)
- My yoga mat (22 years)
- A collection of Jane Austin books, from my other gran (30 years)
- Photos (some older than me)
- My recipe book (25 years)
It turns out that these also happen to be my most treasured possessions. I get a little tingle of pride from the things I have looked after for a long time. They are feel-good possessions.
The more recent acquisitions with equal status would be things my children have made, or gifts from friends. A little elephant pendant given to me by friend Saritha, who died of cancer. A huge jam jar my friends Lucy and Lasse gave to me filled with home-made blackcurrant jam, and since used for storing baking beans, kitchen utensils, flowers…
I recently discovered a wonderful site called RE-found objects. There are upcycled colanders and graters used as light-fittings or lamps; recycled plastic buckets and basins; reconditioned garden tools and pots… Friends and family, don’t look, because your next birthday present might be from there.
I am re-thinking everything. We’re having a party in a few weeks, and I’m hoping we can manage without disposable cups, plates, cutlery, straws. I can borrow a couple of tea sets and some extra glasses. I’m going to see if I can borrow fabric bunting, and we won’t have balloons. Instead we’ll have flowers in jam jars. I know some will think I’ve gone bonkers, but it won’t be the first time.
Check out this post from The Physic Blog, which has lots more ideas about reducing plastic waste in the garden.
Are you trying to reduce waste? What would you really want to save from a fire? Have you tried to reduce your purchases? Have you got any tips? Are you going to take the pledge? I would love to hear your thoughts.