Tag Archive | recycling

Cringing for Christmas

Nature’s decorations!

Why do I cringe at Christmas?

Is it the expense? No – although it is a consideration.

Is it because I have to find pressies for relatives I hardly know. Not really – I like choosing and giving gifts.

Is it the thought of the potential for overeating a mass of stuff that’s totally unhealthy but that I enjoy so much? Partly – but I get over it!

Is it because I am a Humbug?

No. It’s none of those things. The real reason I cringe at Christmas is because of the burden the earth has to bear.

So this is a plea that your family – you and the children – consider ways to make your Christmas less of a burden for the earth.

Part of their education is about the planet. To understand it better. To build knowledge of its species. To appreciate how they are part of it and how to relate to it in sustainable ways. We cannot abandon our responsibility to that just because it’s Christmas.

It doesn’t mean a kill-joy Christmas. It just means finding a better balance to what you do. And asking a few questions:

  • How can we moderate the waste we make?
  • How can we give without the earth bearing the brunt of it?
  • What can we reuse, recycle, make, rather than buy? (Wrapping paper as well as presents perhaps)
  • What throw- away articles can we do without? (Wipes, serviettes, paper tableware, for example)
  • How can you make a Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth? Make more of it instead of buying it!
  • Ask before you buy: do I really need this?
  • And consider how much more stuff the kids really need? Love isn’t bought or given through presents.

Giles Brandreth has a lovely idea that he expressed in the media recently. He’s going to tell his grandchildren that he doesn’t want any more stuff. What he’d like from them instead is for them to learn a poem off by heart for Christmas.

Learning poetry has a beneficial effect on the brain, helping with language development and flexible thinking – so he’s perhaps giving them a gift in releasing the kids from present buying whilst boosting their development at the same time!

But whatever you do for Christmas, creating or learning poetry or whatever, please do it with consideration of the earth.

Wishing you Happy New Year energy!

One for me - a landscape to look at on those wintry days I can't get out

One for me – a landscape to look at on those wintry days when I can’t get out

I get sick of words sometimes! Yea – I know I’m a writer but everyone gets tired of their job!

I often spend ages looking for the right ones, sometimes it takes a whole mile of tramping out in the wild to rustle up enough inspiration to even think when writing so depletes it. Let’s face it any work depletes it!

And finding the right words to express yourself is extremely difficult. Even great philosophers have a problem with language, because some concepts are so intangible and difficult to express the language can limit what you mean. It can be a barrier to pure thought. Certainly hard to write what we mean at times.

And we expect kids to do it?!

Anyway, sick of the linear form and released from the writing treadmill (yep – it can be as much a treadmill as any other job), I’ve been taking some time over the holiday to try and restore some creative energy, so turned my hand to more practical, hands on and visual forms of representing the things I love, or expressing love to others through making them gifts.

Several bags and cushions later I feel much refreshed. And practising some of the other ideas I’ve preached here throughout the year I bought nothing, just reused stuff we had, some of the fabrics dating right back to when the children were here and we’d collected materials from the recycling centre. So glad I didn’t pass them on as I threatened to do on several occasions I felt over cluttered!

And I was able to express my love for others, my love of textile, and my love of the land, in a different way from words, even if I did write this blog to tell you – the experience turning me back to writing and thus being just the refresher I needed.

I hope you were able to refresh over Christmas among all the other demands and now face the new year nicely rejuvenated.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my wonderful readers whose support means so much words still fail to do justice to it!

5 things I’d ask for Christmas

It’s too early for Christmas but my cactus doesn’t seem to think so.  cactus dawn 11.15 003

Nor do the shops. Nor the telly!

Far too early surely to have these endless tedious adverts as the supermarket giants try to outdo each other, or Radio Drivel blaring out of shops in town.

I don’t know how the staff stand it and it’s already been going on a while.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable about us being encouraged to climb onto this Christmas treadmill earlier and earlier, as if we have so much to buy we’ve no chance of fitting it into a week or two’s preps in December.

I have great difficulty marrying some of my values, those that uphold the value of the earth and our responsibility towards it, within a culture of Christmas that promotes nothing more than consumerist vandalism basically.

I know many families like us must be fairly easy to give presents to; we always have things we need not having the disposable income so many have. More difficult I find to give to those who have so much it’s generated a culture of satirical junk destined for the dump much of the time. Wish we could bypass this madness.

I love giving presents. But I’m not hoodwinked into believing that more is best or is a sign of more love. Something home made or carefully thoughtful fills me up, however little. Tasty treats we wouldn’t normally have are a delight.

But when I see stands and stands of pointless putrid rubbish, designed for the sake of buying for those who have so much it’s impossible to know what to give, it rather fills me with despair. Especially in the light of so many being in such desperate need, even for basics, even for a roof over their head. I know people who spend more on decorative trappings, to be binned after the season, than we’d probably spend on food in a week!

So I would ask as you do your Christmas preps to perhaps rethink this. To consider five things: –

  1. how much less you could buy this time,
  2. how much less waste you could create,
  3. how much less energy you could use,
  4. how you could make your Christmas more recyclable,
  5. and how you could give to those who have less than you do.

And I’ll do the same and see if we can come up with a Christmas that is less pollutive and truly based in giving more than having!

Do share your ideas in the comments – I always love to read them.

What can you give back?

barley beautiful 003I’ve been outside staring at the beauty of the land so much I’ve not got another post done! I was standing looking at the soft evening light settling over the barley far more beautifully than this photo tells.

Then I realised that is another post; a post about appreciation of this glorious earth.

We could all do with appreciating that far more than we do. Even from the centre of a city and not surrounded by exquisite barley fields as I am, there is a need to take a moment to appreciate that under all that concrete still lies the earth.

The earth that provides every resource you could possibly need from food to the elements that make up the technology we’re so addicted to we miss seeing the natural world because we’re glued to screens!

And even if you cannot stand and stare as I do sometimes, you can instead channel your appreciation into the way you lead your life, the way you shop – or not. The way you waste, reuse, eat and drink, save or recycle, throwaway or make do.

And show your kids how to do the same, how to look after the earth which provides it. Your appreciation will in turn become theirs.

So maybe you can find your own bit of nature to stare at this weekend and appreciate what it gives. Then maybe think about ways your family can give back!

Random….. helping the planet but sadly not the rats!

birdtable 014

Thought I’d use this picture for my random weekend post: I’m trying to help the planet by putting the dog’s veterinary collar to reuse. But I’m afraid the rats will be losing out as I’ve erected it to stop them shinning up the bird table and nabbing all the birds’ food!  Good idea? What d’you reckon?

(Funny blurry picture from the window  – I never clean them!)

Remember ….. the earth!

It is that time of year for remembering those who gave their lives so that this country could be free. And indeed remembering those affected by all conflicts.

The number of people still living and remembering the world wars is dwindling and with them dies an attitude that we could do with practising today.

I remember sayings like ‘waste not, want not’ and ‘make do and mend’ being bandied about by older relatives when I was tiny. They were just sayings the ‘oldies’ came out with like ‘little children should be seen and not heard’ which I think we disregarded!

But as much as that latter saying does need disregarding, the others are worth remembrance. Not necessarily to remind us of war, but to remind us of another kind of destruction we are engaged in now; that of the planet. Mostly through our waste and greed.

The respect these people had for their resources during the wars, although born out of the necessity of the times, is something we could definitely do with practising, before there’s no time left to do anything about it.

To older generations who lived with so little, as food, petrol, various provisions and resources were rationed, the thought of wasting food or throwing away something that could be mended, was abhorrent. They became the founders of real recycling!

And we could certainly learn something from their thrifty attitude. Not only because we’re all so penny-squeezed, struggling to afford heating, some even using food banks, but for the wider reason beyond the personal.

For the reason that we soon won’t have any resources left to heat our homes whether we can afford it or not. We will have a desolated planet, no food will grow if we don’t stop polluting the air and the earth. There’ll be no resources left.

The daft thing is we can all make such a big impact on slowing this rate of destruction down, just by the smallest of adjustments in our everyday consumption and attitude.

For example:

–          Next time you buy something unnecessary (paper towels are an example) just remember that every time you buy something you destroy something!

–          Remember to switch stuff off. And what about limiting yourself to just one set of xmas lights rather than smothering your home in them with vulgar irresponsibility. Natural decorations are just as beautiful.

–          Remember jumpers? Put one on (Charity shop for it) and turn the heating down, or off in rooms you don’t use.

–          Suggest your workplace does the same. I cannot believe how stiflingly hot shops, offices, libraries, schools are. It’s criminal and sets an irresponsible example.

–          Be mindful of every gadget you use – it is costing the earth! Change your mindset on needing that latest technology.

–          Get creative, make instead of buy. Make from scratch or with whatever is to hand rather than buying wasteful kits covered in packaging. There are many thrift and making sites for ideas.

–          Be conscious of packaging; change your shopping habits to avoid it. Remember those during the war never used it!

The action you take to preserve the planet, or trash the planet, will be the action your children take. And eventually it will be their planet. Consider this: how do you want to leave it for them and their children? What do you want to teach them about preserving resources?

And if you really want to investigate how much you can do without read Mark Boyle who lives without money as a way of demonstrating how we can live in less pollutive ways.

And this weekend it’s worth remembering not only what people went through during the wars, but also their attitude to respecting resources. Perhaps we could make their attitude our own and show our children how to do the same.

Old swimming costumes and education!

001 I’ve just been cutting up a swimming costume. I’m reusing.

Materials like the one it’s made from make great garden ties for the roses and other climbing plants. It also means I don’t have to fork out for expensive garden string Garden Centres would have me believe I can’t do without!

Tights are another favourite for this job but since I don’t wear them I watch the girls like a predator and as soon as there’s a hole coming; ‘can I have your tights?’ Unfortunately they like holes and wear all their stuff to death anyway so then I move onto my husband’s socks.

Socks are good, in fact, any stretchy fabric’s good for string replacement; strappy tops, T-shirts, stockings. Whenever things get past their original use they get another one. Vests and T-shirts make good cleaning cloths. From the legs of jeans you can make those tubular storage bags for carriers. From the top part my daughter used to make hand bags.

You can grow plants in old boots and shoes and a whole variety of containers. I remember the children made jewellery from old tools and the bits from a dismantled video player. We made bird-scarers from old CDs. And we always kept a multitude of boxes and tubs in all sizes and shapes for model making or covering and making our own storage or shelving.

Once you get your mind working that way the list goes on.

The first advantage of all this is it costs you nothing so you can work less hours and spend more time with your children.

The second advantage is that it stimulates the brain which develops intellect and thinking skills and makes kids resourceful.

The third advantage is that it helps you buy less, so there’s less to tidy away (big advantage!) but more importantly it’s essential for the planet; less industry and less waste and therefore pollution.

And finally it is fundamental to respect. Respect is paramount to living. And education.

We live on this planet, greedily use its resources, yet completely take them for granted. When do we ever consider as we tap away on our laptops and tablets, which we probably discard and replace every few years, that they have cost the earth? And I don’t mean that purse wise, I mean planet wise – in their making, through the materials needed, by their eventual waste.

Every resource we use needs to be respected because basically every time we buy something we pollute something.

And our kids are going to be left with the legacy of that. That’s why respect for every resource needs to be embedded in our children’s education.

Now, how many more uses are there for an old swimming costume!