Tag Archive | shopping

Educating: for Halloween?

No part of education is more essential than learning how to live sustainably, surely?

I guess it’s not something we’ve prioritised in education up until this point, most folks still living with the antiquated idea that education should only be about academic learning.

It used to be – when academic learning could only be accessed and practised in academic premises such as schools, colleges, unis and the like, back in the day when there was a large percentage of the population who couldn’t read or write. And the powers that be decided it would be better for civilisation if they could.

Well time it changed; we need something even more important for civilisation now, we need to understand how to live sustainably on the planet. And practice it.

As Halloween approaches and I see the bin-bound crap that’s advertised as a necessary part of celebrations, I cannot help but cringe.

I’m also gobsmacked as to how on earth so called ‘educated’ people can buy it, succumb to the emotive blackmail that suggests we should!

It’s partly ignorance. But also partly a decision to be blind to the consequences of buying consumerist tat, blind to the climate crisis. It’s also partly our past demand that has created a situation that has educated people into habits of shopping as a recreational activity!

We need to re-educate ourselves to do it differently.

Because it boils down to a simple equation: if we’re shopping as a recreation we’re trashing the planet as a recreation.

Hardly acceptable, is it, when put like that? Or the behaviour you’d expect from the ‘educated’. Find something else to do!

How about instead we think creatively about how to re-habit our lives away from buying stuff for landfill, towards ingenious ways of making changes that reduce it.

That we re-educate ourselves, and build a new style education for the youngsters, that has love as a priority; love for the earth that is, rather than love for more stuff – and what actions could support a different way of being.

That any shopping we do, whether for Halloween, Christmas, or whatever celebration, is done through charity shops, car boots, Ebay or similar sites, and avoids as much stuff as we can that isn’t necessary, is single use, and destined for landfill!

That needs to be our educational priority as much as any other surely?

An education not just for Halloween!

(Have you discovered Jen Gale’s realistically doable approach in the Sustainable(ish) Living Guide? Great for ideas and support in making change)

My pre-Christmas plea

Is it not all too over-the-top?

I love Christmas.

It means the family are together again.

There’ll be love, warmth, cameraderie, jokes, fun, probably a few irritations and a little bit of power struggling in the kitchen no doubt! Soon resolved as the tensions of being together again after living independent lives slip away and bonds refresh and regroup.

But I also can’t help cringing every year at the prospect of the burden the earth has to bear as a consequence of our festivities.

When I start a bit of shopping – and compared to most it is only a bit, I get immensely anxious at the quantities of packaging, plastic, lights and useless tat I see in vulgar quantities for people to buy, and the equally vulgar attitudes with which people disregard the consequence of doing so.

I don’t want to be a humbug here. I also like to wrap, decorate and buy. But each year the consumerism seems more over-the-top than the year before and I have a very real sense of the earth groaning under the strain of it.

So this is a plea. Can you think about that and practise moderation as you buy trimmings and wrappings and disposables?

Please, please, please create Christmas traditions in your family that incorporate habits which consider the earth as much as the people on it.

Make love of the earth an important part of your Christmas preperations!

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.

Got your bag?

bags 003

Just some of my many lovely home-made bags

‘Have you got a bag mum?’

The inevitable question as the girls and I go on a charity shop treasure hunt. I delve into my shoulder bag and produce one. Chelsea’s made me many a gorgeous bag over the years, with trimmings and adornments. The latest has velvet handles!

I don’t always remember and sometimes succumb to a plastic one. I console myself that from a charity shop it is at least one that’s being reused and not one that’s ending up in a hedgerow, a river, or the mouth of a whale.

The fence alongside the local landfill sight is trashed with them, limp litter – and the adjoining land. They’re splattered there by the wind and the bushes hang with plastic shreds – not pleasant. If you’ve never seen a landfill site you should go find one – it’ll hopefully make you think about your plastic consumption.

It’s taken all these years and imposing a silly charge, to get people people’s attention about this plastic bag waste. To bring our attention to the bad habit of expecting that every time we shop someone will put it in a bag for us. And that’s all it is; a mindless, lazy, indulgent habit. My mother and all our mothers before her would have been in the habit of never going shopping without a bag.

Now, these habits we have, that we’ve rarely considered before someone shoved a charge in our faces, is costing the planet and its other inhabitants far, far more than five pence. As many of our habits do, like shopping for things we don’t really need, never mind taking a bag to put it in.

I want to break that habit. Not because I mind paying for a bag. But because when I walk the tideline, or admire the land, I don’t want the plastic I see there to be my fault.

And we are all at fault over this!

When I’m in the city shopping centre, and nearly everyone I see is carrying a plastic bag, I cringe at the thought of where it’s all going to end up.

Probably in landfill.

Whilst we shop, mostly for things we don’t really need, great tracts of the lovely countryside and seas we so like to visit and enjoy are polluted as a result.

We have so many habits we need to change. This is just one small start of the over-shopping, over polluting problem.

So yes; I have got a bag.

Have you?

Budget, bunny bottoms and an occasional shop

I’ve just been on a trip. It wasn’t planned. My foot got caught in a bramble and catapulted me down a bank side. Not enjoyable, although I did have a nice view of a bunny’s bottom as it bundled for cover in terror.

It’s my own fault. I go about gawping at all the natural delights without watching where I’m putting my feet. Rabbit holes have caught me out before now, and trails of ivy across the wooded path where I sometimes walk.

But I still love being out there. Now the weather’s improving it’s all the nicer and I get out often, looking for both inspiration and soul refreshment. Over winter there’s been times I’ve often resorted to coffee shops and city centres for this purpose. But the snag with that is the expenditure and the hoards of people all shopping. cafe books 002

When did shopping become a pastime, rather than a necessity? Probably when corporate politics saw the potential to fleece people without them even needing anything!

We used to shop out of need. Now we shop out of greed. For, let’s be honest, much of what we shop for is non-essential. We could do without much of it.

I’m not against shopping as a pastime if it’s what you like. I like charity treasure seeking with the girls! But as long as it is what you like and not something you’re doing as a slave to commercial trends and con merchants.

We can be so conned and from so many sources. Conned into believing we need much more than we do, or we’re not as good as others if we don’t have stuff, or if we haven’t got that kind of ‘disposable income’ we’re somehow inferior.

I’ve decided to resist this. I’ve decided to look seriously at anything I’m tempted to buy and ask; do I really want this or am I conned into believing I do with clever marketing? (Supermarkets are masters at this). What can I use/do/create as a solution rather than buy as a solution?

The beauty of this approach is that it lessens my dependency on the expensive antidote to doldrums that shopping can become making me a slave to big income when moderate income will do, it makes me far more resourceful and stretches my mental skills, it’s a good example to my young people and shows them how to be thrifty and I also find I’m not as poor as I thought because not only am I keeping money in my purse, I’ve changed my attitude as well.

For once basic needs are met; food, shelter, warmth, etc, feeling poor can be as much a state of attitude as a state of finance. We can be rich in love even without money, for example. Rich in what we already have, without needing anything else. And if life feels flat and we’re thinking about buying a solution, creating a solution or seeking an experience instead of shopping can change that feeling by giving a sense of achievement far more fulfilling that a quick shopping fix. I think so many young people are dissatisfied because of slavery to shopping fixes that soon wear off.

And of course, the less we buy, the less we pollute the earth. So not only does it make us more resourceful, it pays greater respect to the resources the earth already has given, and lessens the impact on what’s left of it.

So, I’m on a drive to minimise spending and maximise resourcefulness.

Although I’m not sure how many brambles and bunny bottoms will be involved! I’ll keep you posted.