Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday links

I'm a big fan of the older crowd - I am inspired by their stories and wisdom. Fabulous Fashionistas is a British documentary about six such inspiring women, with average age of 80.

Tim Minchin gave a great graduation address at his old (and my old!) university. You can read the transcript here or watch it here. I would tell you my favourite parts but it's all good. Fantastic advice for life.

Australians are the richest people on Earth! Based on median wealth, that is. However, most of the growth in income goes to wealthiest, not those who need it the most. There is an increasing body of evidence (admittedly, small psychology studies) showing that wealthier people tend to be less nice people.  The world's richest woman (and fellow Western Australian) Gina Rinehart is an exception, if her lawyer is to be believed. He recently told the NSW Supreme Court that she's " selfless that she could not retire or pour her billions into philanthropy." (Sydney Morning Herald "Rich people couldn't care less", "The biggest victim here is Gina, says her lawyer"; ABC Dr Karl's Great Moments in Science "Greed is not good")

Meanwhile, "Moneyless man finds happiness", about the guy who started Freeconomy and has lived without money for the past five years. The comments say it all. (ABC Environment)

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, a look inside a temperature-controlled warehouse that stores clothes and accessories for the ridiculously rich, including Ivanka Trump and Gwyneth Paltrow. (Mail Online)

More "fashion": scrunchies and perceived obsolescence. (Waste Not)

Also, in case you're wondering, Buy Nothing New Month has been very easy so far. I browsed a few op shops but didn't buy anything. Unlike last year, I am allowing myself to buy groceries but I am not buying any staples or bulk items, just fresh produce. I think I need to follow up with "Get Rid of Heaps of Shit" month. There's so much more to share but I have to go deal with a silverfish problem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Buy Nothing New Month 2013

Suddenly, it is October. That means two things: it's almost a year since I started this blog, and it's Buy Nothing New Month. I only realised this yesterday when I received an email from BNNM. Browsing last year's posts on BNNM I realise how much my shopping habits have changed since participating last year. I think have spent far less time shopping and bought less stuff. I tend to make most of my purchases when I am travelling (having made work-related trips to Sydney and Adelaide this year).

Over the past six months, excluding food, drink, hygiene products and medications, goods I have purchased include:

  • organic cotton fair trade baby booties
  • locally handmade books made from vintage maps
  • locally made teatowel
  • Australian-made baby ugg boots
  • toys made of recycled plastic
  • locally made baby pants
  • books
  • cut flowers
  • an Austrian-made wooden trolley with blocks
  • a Swell bottle
  • two pens shaped like hip bones (for my geriatric friends)
  • a helium balloon (oh no! Least ethical purchase this year?)

Clothes and accessories
  • very versatile, Aussie-made black shirt (to replace a shirt that was beyond mending)-very versatile, Aussie-made blue wool dress
  • vintage shirt ($5!)
  • NZ made shirt (to replace ten donated shirts)
  • three pairs of Aussie-made trousers (to replace trousers that had worn out)
  • fair-trade scarf
  • scarf by up-and-coming Aussie designer
  • locally-made necklace
  • locally-made earrings

Other stuff
  • books (I'll post about some of these, and local book shops, later)
  • German-made wooden broom (expensive luxury I will have for decades)
  • fresh flowers (not often enough)
  • organic coriander seeds (a school fundraiser for a work mate's daughter)
  • a replacement battery for my bathroom scales (I couldn't find a better alternative)
  • lipstick (cruelty-free, Aussie made)
  • eyeshadow pencil (By Terry, from Mecca Cosmetica. Possibly tested on animals)
  • hair elastics (made in China)
  • Vogue magazine (featuring Advanced Style)
  • Frankie magazine
  • four car tyres - the most expensive and potential most toxic thing on this list?
All were purchased from independent stores, markets or directly from the designer (unless otherwise stated). Only one item (the vintage shirt) was purchased used.

It is helpful to see what I have purchased over the past year, and what a long list it makes when all put together! It also emphasises room for improvement (buy fewer books! Find alternatives to batteries and hair elastics! Stop buying make-up when you only wear it once a fortnight or less! Don't buy magazines and not read them! You don't need any more jewellery - you hardly ever wear it! Stop wearing out all your favourite trousers!!!)

I hope to learn some new lessons, and form new habits, this Buy Nothing New Month.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday links

American ex-pat Traveling Mama was scolded by her daughter's Danish school for slipping a cookie into her lunch box. Isn't that a great message to send kids - sugary foods are for special treats only.

Speaking of sugar... "Sugar Love: A Not So Sweet Story." - National Geographic

A beautifully edited movie about the sad consequences of plastic pollution - People Should Know About This Awful Thing We Do, And Most Are Unaware on Upworthy

The Noise of Stuff. It stops me from sleeping sometimes - Ooomf

Everyone buys too many clothes... - Perth blogger Treading My Own Path

The American Edit agrees, and quotes the same Vivienne Westwood piece, "Buy less, choose well..." - The American Edit

On a similar topic, "Unseeing what's really on sale" -  Victoria Mason Jewellery

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday links

Now the federal election is over, I feel able to share some (not-too-political) reading. Most found via blogs or twitter (where I am @cerebral_e or @Elissa_Campbell).

Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy. The comments on this article make me so glad to be Australian, where my Gen Y yuppiness is easier to bear (Gen Y being defined by the author as the generation born between the late 1970s and early 1990s). Wait But Why via @PearlyProductns

The future "social cost" and economic costs of carbon far outweigh any short-term financial cost of cleaner energy.  Counting the Cost of Fixing the Future - New York Times

The fascinating story of James Miranda Barry, who lived her life as a man so she could be a doctor in 19th century England. I'm glad I didn't have to resort to this. Her Courageous Life As A Man by Natascha McElhone (yes, the wonderful actress) - Intelligent Life magazine

Listen, Girlfriends has started a series of blog posts on ethical fashion.

On the same topic, some links to reads about combating the fast fashion movement - The American Edit

Why I broke up with the supermarket, by Aussie blogger Down To Earth Mother. I have to agree with her and I love that she buys her toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap.

A nice story on one of my favourite Aussie blogs about one of my favourite Perth stores, Remedy. They stock Australian-made and fair trade goods, which are invariably lovely - The Design Files.

I am terrible at making decisions and have always had FOMO. That's why, when I find a brand or business I like, I stick to it. Routines can help save your energy for the important decisions. Reducing Decisions to Focus Better - The Art of Non-Conformity

Russell Brand says some very sensible things, sometimes - The Guardian via @Monika_Dutt

A few links to stop you from buying too much stuff:

When did goods get so bad? - Raptitude

Beware, the Diderot Effect. I have fallen victim to this on more than one occasion - Treading My Own Path

5 Reasons You're Earning More But You're Still Miserable - Daily Finance

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Plastic Free July - the autopsy

Plastic Free July has come to an end. I didn't completely avoid single-use plastic but I made some small improvements.

"The Big Four"
It was easy to avoid plastic bottled water and plastic shopping bags, as I am already in the habit of taking my Swell bottle and cotton tote bags everywhere I go. I used my KeepCup for takeaway coffees (except for a coffee my boss bought me on her way to work one day - it came from Muzz Buzz, who irritatingly serve their coffee with a plastic lid AND a plastic straw). I had the most difficulty avoiding plastic straws and accidentally used four straws throughout the month, at restaurants. I also avoided using a plastic plate and cutlery at a work dinner, by getting the non-plastic versions out of a cupboard and washing them when I was done.

Food packaging
It is almost impossible to avoid plastic packaging at the supermarket. Plastic Free July gave me an additional excuse to buy some of my favourite local brands - Sunnydale (and yoghurt!) comes in glass bottles that the dairy collect and reuse; Two Fat Cows ice cream comes in cardboard tubs; my favourite bakery bread comes wrapped in brown paper.

Some foods appeared to be in cardboard boxes but a layer of plastic was hiding inside. A couple of times I forgot and bought bread in a plastic bag. (Oh, and while I'm confessing, at the beginning of the month, I accidentally accepted a few plastic-wrapped lollies offered to me). Overall, I didn't challenge myself too much because I didn't run out of much, I didn't buy any meat and the only groceries I bought were fresh fruit and veges (avoiding the plastic bags, boxes and trays), bread and milk. If I had run out of breakfast cereal I would have gone somewhere like Loose Produce to fill my own vessels with bulk ingredients.

I eat at cafes and restaurants frequently and although I didn't consume any single-use plastic when eating out (except the aforementioned straws), I'm sure the establishments go through a lot of it in meal preparation.

Toiletries and cosmetics
There are very few toiletries and cosmetics without plastic packaging (except paper-wrapped soap). Even eye-liner pencils have plastic lids. My Aesop products come in glass bottles but they still have plastic lids and the company does not offer refills. Some health-food and bulk-food stores sell toiletries and cleaning products in bulk and you can refill your own bottles - something to consider in future. The Plastic Free July website has suggestions for making your own. Also to consider in future - Juju.

I sometimes use single-use plastic at work. It's much better in the community than in the hospital (where infection control is a huge issue and there are many medical procedures taking place) but I still used the occasional plastic thermometer cover and a lot of alcohol hand gel (from plastic bottles). Obviously, I'm not going to reuse plastic sterile disposable equipment or stop washing my hands.

Are there worse alternatives?
I pondered this a few times during the month. I saw ice cream in styrofoam boxes, which can't be better than plastic. I bought cheese in wax - is that better? If single-use glass and aluminium are not recycled after use, are they any better than plastic? Obviously it's better to consume less packaging overall. 

My "dilemma bag"
This is all the single-use plastic I used this month. Except the bread bag, it falls into two categories: used blister packs from medications (I had three bad colds this month) and plastic wrapping from mail. I never realised how much of my mail comes wrapped in plastic, much of it unsolicited.

Lessons to take home (in a reusable bag)
1. One month isn't a long time to go without single use plastic. I think this is because I don't buy many groceries and my toiletries all last me six months or more. It would be far more difficult to do this with a large family or for a longer time period.
2. It would also be difficult if you don't have the luxury of spending $5.29 on a litre of milk or $5.70 for a loaf of bread.
3. I did not participate in any Plastic Free "communities" online or in person. I'm worried they would be full of smug rich people like me.
4. I will keep using the KeepCup and avoid takeaway coffee cups, which are usually not recyclable in addition to having plastic lids.
5. I need to get some of those medical journals and newsletters cancelled and write to the editors suggesting they switch plastic bags for paper envelopes.
6. Juju! If I get one, who would like a review?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Links

I have been thinking about what I would do with all my stuff if I moved away for a year or two. I could rent my apartment fully-furnished but what would I do with all my clothes? Books? Magazines? Liquor? Art? Fancy pieces of frippery? I would take very little away with me, which would leave the options of storing it, giving it away, loaning it out or trying to sell it. Giving it away is the most appealing option in terms of cost, time and effort. It definitely discourages me from accumulating any new "stuff". I've written a few posts on this subject before and I always go back to The Story of Stuff for inspiration (I highly recommend watching the original video if you haven't seen it before).

I come across many minimalism blogs (mostly American). People are trying to embrace a minimalist lifestyle for various reasons (financial, environmental and mental health, to name a few) across many aspects of life. Here's some recent finds on this theme:

  • Remember The New Joneses? They set up house in Melbourne's Fed Square during Buy Nothing New Month last year. For one week they had to find second-hand sources for life's necessities (and luxuries). The video explains it much better than I do.
  • Ignoring the terrible grammar, I agree with most of the points in this article from Apartment Therapy.
  • Erin from Design for Mankind questions her excessive (yet pretty normal for most women I know) wardrobe, illustrated by the beautiful sculptural fashion of Nadine Goepfert
  • Wardrobe de-cluttering guides are pretty ubiquitous but I like this practical one from econest. (And if you do decide to buy some "new" threads, she follows up with this great guide to op-shopping from former Vogue Japan editor, Peppermint Magazine contributor and "Queen of Vintage" Leeyong Soo.)
 Here's some other reads for the week. Mainly clothing-related, for some reason.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Plastic Free July

 I just discovered Plastic Free July via the Peppermint Magazine blog. And, as a joiner, I joined the challenge. It's an initiative that was started by the Western Metropolitan Regional Council (incidentally, comprised of the most elite Western suburbs councils) in Perth.

I'm sure you all know that plastic is bad news. It takes thousands of years to break down and creates havoc with the environment. I won't go into the science here but I obviously think it's worth reducing my personal plastic consumption.

Cut and pasted from the Plastic Free July website, here are "The rules":
  1. Attempt to consume no single-use plastic during July.
  2. Remember it's not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don't worry about being perfect.
  3. Collect any unavoidable single-use plastic you buy. Keep in a dilemma bag and share it with us at the end of the challenge.
  4. It's up to you regarding how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month or longer! However long you choose will still make a contribution.

I figure that it will be easy to avoid the "top four" single-use plastic items  - plastic bags, coffee lids, plastic bottles and straws. It will reinforce other habits like using tote bags for shopping, not drinking non-fair trade takeaway coffee, not buying drinks from fast food outlets, avoiding soft drinks, etc.

Avoiding other single-use plastic is much more challenging. My prescription medication comes in plastic packaging, for one thing. Many toiletries and cosmetics involve disposable plastic - I won't buy any replacements this month but I will need to think hard about non-plastic alternatives.

Looking at Step 3 of "The rules" above - I really hope that no one puts used nappies, continence pads, sanitary pads or stoma bags in a "dilemma bag". (Those who read my other blog will know that I have a healthy obsession with body fluids.)

I'll post an update later in the month.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday links

Times Haiku: Serendipitous Poetry from the New York Times
This New York Times piece talks about the power of citizen lobbying and the hurdles that citizen lobby groups must overcome. In the words of Captain Planet, "The power is YOURS."

One of my first posts on this blog was about the Peter Singer book, The Life You Can Save. In his recent TED talk on Effective Altruism, he argues the ethics behind that book. I think it's worth 20 minutes of your time.

Bigger Than Yourself is starting a letter-writing campaign to Australian fashion labels, asking about the ethics behind their clothing production. She's starting out with popular brands Sportsgirl, Review, Portmans, Alannah Hill and Witchery and she's had a few typically vague responses. I'm going to write to a few of the brands I no longer purchase because I'm not confident they're sweat-shop free.

Three Australian-based, ethical fashion/lifestyle blogs I discovered this week: Indigo Bazaar, Green Flings and Eco Warrior Princess.

One of my food heroes, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, is heading to Australia for a River Cottage Australia. Unfortunately, it's on Foxtel. I may need to find a friend with Foxtel...or wait until it comes out on DVD. I'm hoping there will be a River Cottage Australia cookbook.

Another of my food heroes, Michael Pollan, was on ABC Radio National this week along with celebrity chef Peter Kuruvita and "Salt Sugar Fat" author Michael Moss. They talk about taking back control of cooking (from food corporations) as a source of pleasure and self-reliance. (Thanks to @timsenior for the link.)

Fat City: What can stop obesity? is a long, but eloquent and thorough, read by Australian physician Karen Hitchcock. (Illustrated by a faceless fatty, I see.) She discusses the individual and societal factors leading to obesity, and the costs to the individual and to the public.  She concludes, "If you come to me, your doctor, and you ask me to make you thin, for now I will have to cut you or drug you, as these are the only weapons I have to ward off the sirens." We (not just doctors but everyone) need to tackle obesity at a societal level because as Dr Hitchcock says, our options are limited at an individual level.
Please comment if you find these links of interest and would like to discuss their content.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday links - Budget edition aka "How to Get Rich Quick"

The Australian Government announced its 2013-2014 Budget this week, which led to the usual flood of analyses in the mainstream and social media. With inevitable spending cuts announced, there were a lot of cries of "poor me". There are certainly many Australians living under the poverty line, but the ones that cry poor the loudest always seem to be those with large incomes - large incomes but large expenses. These stories from my local paper are just two examples. (Blogger Nathan Lee has a term for these types of complainers - the "Plasma Proletariat".)

This article gives a good idea of where your income sits compared to other Australians, based on income and household size (and both families mentioned in the articles above are in the top 20%) - We Are All Dead, via @kylie_pc

We tend to live nearby and socialise with people who earn the same amount as us and, increasingly, high earners marry other high earners. This gives us a skewed perception as to what classifies as an "average" income. - Peter Martin

Want to see where your income sits on a global scale? An Australian earning $100 000 net pa is in the top 0.14% of earners in the world. An Australian earning $21 000 net is still earning more than 90% of the world's population. - Giving What We Can, Care Global Rich List

Meanwhile, some of the world's poorest people will be affected by the Australian budget. - Oxfam

Rachel Hills writes about The Privileged Poor this week - "When you're declaring social bankruptcy over drinking cleanskin wine instead of $17 cocktails... there is a little less room in your heart for those for whom poverty means having no choice at all..." "The result is a false dichotomy: either you are 'poor' and poised on the edge of bankruptcy, or you are 'comfortable' and you never have to think about money at all. But being middle-class doesn’t mean never needing to make a choice about what you spend your money on. It means having the wiggle room to choose in the first place." - The Daily Life

So, now that we've established that we're rich (based on the fact that most of the traffic to this blog comes from my Facebook page, which means we're Facebook friends, which means we probably have similar incomes and standards of living - see the Peter Martin article above) how can we feel rich?

I have a few ideas that I'm trying.

Not trying to keep up with the Joneses is a start. As Roosevelt said, "comparison is the thief of joy." If your salary increases, do not feel compelled to buy a bigger house, drive a flashier car and accumulate more gadgets (and more debt). Think of government benefits (eg the baby bonus) and tax cuts (eg private health insurance rebates) as privileges, not entitlements. Measure richness in concepts other than income, possessions and status - like friendships, health and freedom (including the freedom to make poor financial decisions). Spend time with people out of your income bracket - volunteer with newly arrived refugees, or old age pensioners.

I was reminded of this video today, the High Price of Materialism, which is relevant to this theme. - Center for a New American Dream

I hope you feel rich now.

Disclaimer: I am a rich single, employed home-owner with no dependents and I have never been poor.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

March - April update

This is a regular update where I summarise my progress with my 2013 ethical resolutions.

I'm doing pretty well with some of my resolutions. I've kept up regular charitable donations and made additional one-off donations, I'm doing my best with Michael Pollan's food rules and my meat free days, and I only buy free-range or organic meat. I don't always stick to this when I'm dining out and someone else orders - this is somewhere I can improve. I continue to use my Shop Ethical! app whenever I am buying an unfamiliar grocery item or brand.

However, I definitely need to eat at home more often (and I'm hoping for some inspiration from the new Michael Pollan book, Cooked). I am yet to host a clothes swap party or have another self-inflicted "Buy Nothing New Month". I still need to buy a bicycle (which my parents are giving me as a birthday gift). I haven't tried growing anything on the balcony and I obviously haven't been blogging here once a fortnight. I have had a guest staying with me the last couple of months so my electricity use has actually doubled and presumably my water consumption has also increased. My exercise levels have stayed pretty stable and I continue to suck at getting enough sleep.

I still have piles of things to give away but I haven't managed to move them out of my apartment. A friend has asked me to join her in a garage sale so I might try to sell some of the more valuable items and donate the proceeds to charity.

I feel as though I have been buying less but it still looks like a lot when I list everything I bought in the last two months. My (non-food, non-medication/-hygiene) purchases for March and April include:
  • scarf by Otto and Spike (on sale, from one of my favourite local stores, William Topp).  Otto and Spike use surplus yarn and wool from industry to make gorgeous knitted accessories in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick. They have a wonderful story that you can read here.
  • cut flowers from the farmers market. I love having cut flowers in the house but in the hot Perth weather they don't last very long. Native flowers are the best, especially when from my mum's garden.
  • a new ball point pen. My other pens had all disappeared and I need a pen for work. Mainly to write prescriptions, it would seem. It's probably made in China but I didn't have time to shop around for an ethically sound pen. My consolation with this one is that it takes refills and that it's from an Australian company.
  • cleanser and eye serum from Aesop. I've written before about my love of Aesop. The cleanser I use every day and will probably last me a year. The eye serum was a more questionable purchase - I didn't check the price before I bought it and I have only used it a few times (due to my sucky sleeping habits). I will try to use it more often and justify the expense. I will write about the beauty industry and anti-ageing products in future.
  • Aussie-owned, Aussie-made organic laundry detergent and some NZ-owned, NZ-made stain remover. The former unfortunately has an overpowering lavender scent. Again, I must take the time to learn how to make my own cleaning products.
  • Aussie-owned, Aussie-made products to combat silverfish that I have been finding around my bathroom (not the wardrobe, strangely). Obviously, I don't want silverfish to shorten the lifespan of my clothing. The Hovex products are not nearly as nice as my clothing protectors from Thurlby Herb Farm, which is a Western Australian company that supports its local community in South West WA.
I also bought a few gifts in April but as I have been too slack to wrap and send them, I had better not list them here in case the recipients read this blog post. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday links

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday links

I enjoy it when bloggers post lists of recommended reading, collated from recent online articles and blog posts. Often these lists have fanciful names. Mine doesn't. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February update

In February, I was busy living (ethically, I hope) rather than blogging. My resolution to blog here at least fortnightly was over-ambitious. However, I will continue to summarise my progress with the other ethical resolutions.

I increased my regular charitable donations to keep donations at least 5% of my income.

I am doing fairly well with my food-based resolutions (eating less meat, eating only free-range meat, buying from independent grocers and farmers' markets, following Pollan's Food Rules, using the ShopEthical! app) except that I started a job that involves a lot of driving and subsequently started buying a diet cola, sparkling water and takeaway coffees. To combat this, I purchased some coffee to make in a plunger at home (Organic Frida by Republica) and a water bottle that will keep my water icy cold, even after being left in the car on a 40C day.

Speaking of purchases, I made a few this month (as well as food, drink and medication). These were:

  1. A vintage beaded blouse
  2. Three make-up items from Aussie brand Australis (I will post about make-up in future), for a burlesque-themed party I was attending;
  3. My new S'Well water bottle (from one of my favourite local independent stores);
  4. Dishwashing liquid (must learn how to make my own);
  5. A vehicle logbook (Australian-made by an Australian-owned company) for my new job, for which I am driving up to 200km per day; and
  6. A baby-blue, second-hand pushbike car.
That's right - I was supposed to write about choosing a bicycle and instead I spent my vehicle-buying energies choosing a car.  Ugh. That's another post altogether.

Did you make any ethical resolutions for 2013? How are they going?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Buying (nearly) nothing new - January 2013

I recently read that all social media, especially blogs, are inherently narcissistic. I will be doing a narcissistic post at the end of each month this year in an effort to make myself accountable for my "easy, ethical 2013 resolutions". This month I will focus on "stuff" because that is where I made the most change.

I have purchased two new "things" this month (not including food, drink, services or medication). One was a light globe to replace a blown globe in my storage room, which receives no natural light. I make no apologies for that. I am really proud that I resisted buying anything at the local handmade markets (my shopping Achilles heel), bookstores and post-Christmas sales.

My other purchase was a modem, after my modem stopped working last weekend. I tried to use an old one of my Dad's but it didn't work. I had no idea how best to choose electronics from an ethical perspective, other than avoiding them. I should have chosen to do without a modem. I could have looked for one for sale secondhand or on Freecycle. However, I use my broadband for work and study (plus watching TV and narcissistic blog posts) so decided to replace my modem within a couple of days of it dying. My first instinct was to head to the discount electronics superstore across the road. Instead, I paid a visit to a family-run computer store in the next suburb. The advantage? I saved time choosing which modem to buy, as they only had one model in each speed. I didn't waste time searching product review sites on my phone. I received great service. The whole transaction took about 5 minutes, instead of the 30+ minutes I would have spent agonising over the choices at the chain store. I supported a local business and I saved 30 minutes of my time. (I still have the two useless modems sitting around, waiting for electronics recycling collection time.)

I have been working at my "giving away 7 items per week" goal. I've only given away a few items but I've identified dozens that will be given away shortly. I am in the process of clearing out my wardrobes (that's right, I have a completely unnecessary TWO wardrobes for one person) that are shamefully full of clothes I had forgotten I owned and shoes I have not worn for years. Some of the shoes have only been worn once. I even hoarded some of the empty shoeboxes! I discovered bags full of clothes that I had intended to donate to charity in 2011 and had shoved in the top of my wardrobe, awaiting the annual charity collection. The charity collection never eventuated and the bags are still there, of no use to anyone. Most of the items will go to the Red Cross and I hope some will find a new home at Ready to Work, a local charity that helps disadvantaged women find employment.

Some of my sad, unloved shoes. They want a new home.
I have also been clearing out the kitchen cupboards of tools I never use and discovering products that I should use. It is helping to make my little kitchen work more efficiently and will help me cook more and follow Pollan's Food Rules.

I feel that I haven't challenged myself in January and will try to make more of a difference in February. My parents are getting me a bicycle for my birthday and that will be the topic of my next post. Yippee!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Give it away, give it away, give it away now

I have been asked to clarify one of my New Year resolutions:
Give away at least seven items per week

How is this an ethical move? It is not just about making donations - if so, I would be better off donating cash to help those in the developing world who would benefit most, or selling my items and donating the proceeds. It is not about getting rid of all my possessions and replacing them with "green" or "ethical" items (that would defeat the purpose). It is more about simplifying, having less "stuff" and thinking more about what I consume. It is about changing my priorities from "stuff", to "deeds". It is about having more time (because I am not spending as much time cleaning or looking for lost items or deciding what to wear) to do more important things. My home is not going to become minimalist - just less like it could appear on Hoarders.

Slow Your Home's "52 Reasons to Simplify Your Life" include these reasons that resonate most with me:
  • Less time spent cleaning
  • Less impact on the environment
  • Less time organising your belongings
  • Less likely to inadvertently support child slavery and unfair work conditions through buying cheap, disposable items
  • Feeling more content with what you have
  • Less time (and money) wasted shopping for things you don’t need
  • You need less furniture, which gives you more space
  • No more dreading drop-in visitors

There are endless blogs on the topic of simplifying, downsizing, minimising and generally consuming less. Some of those that I follow include Becoming Minimalist, Be More With Less, The Simple Year, The Clean Bin Project, Simplify Your Life and Buy Nothing New for a Year.

My first item given away for 2013 was my copy of "The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul" by A Guy Named Dave to my friend (also a guy named Dave) and his wife who are embarking on their own quest for a simpler life.  I will periodically update this blog with details of the items I have given away.

Have you tried simplifying your life? Do you have any reading recommendations on the topic?