Tag Archives: Consumerism

Frugal January

17 Jan

We are having a frugal January, which means cranking up our simple living and spending as little as possible.

This isn’t the same as the buy nothing challenge we did last year because I found that incredibly difficult – as soon as I’m told I can’t have something I just want to rebel and buy lots. It just makes things difficult if you are invited out by friends but you feel guilty the whole time you’re there because you’re spending money.

 

So instead we are just spending as little as possible, and we’ve done really well so far – even having spent a hideous amount on new glasses we are still well inside our budget for this month.

 

We’re taking little steps to help us along the way. For example we’re eating veggie this week because we want to buy a joint of meat for a dinner party we’re having on Sunday. On Wednesday we ate before we went out to meet some friends in a (casual) restaurant and just shared a cheap starter when we were there, and we’re staying at home or playing games with friends instead of paying to go to the cinema.

 

oixvcala3u0ccafo4b4mcacbit7acamhvsyaca661hvfcat9uobqca81yco0caki4mqbcal53kg8cai3bulacacmw4aqcae4shafca3vfh2vca13bhu2cauu2d4hcak6eue4caf1muc5caa2sfljcav95vtd1The key for me to not buy things is just not go near shops. I don’t have a particularly materialistic attitude and don’t covet things unless I actually see them! Having said that, even when in a stationary store yesterday I managed not to buy the amazingly beautiful pink suede organiser/ diary.

I saw, I coveted and I conquered!

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Proposal

12 Dec

Our office is probably the best example of a non-ecofriendly work space around. Although it’s a small space we leave both our copiers, all three computers, two printers and a scanner on all the time, even when they aren’t in use.

We are paper eaters too– I don’t even want to think how many trees we consume each year. If the church congregation need to know something, why just tell them once? Instead we could print it out on several different leaflets and drum it in that way. Lights and heaters are left on everywhere too.

  Read the rest of this entry

Reclaim Christmas! Shop less. Live More.

12 Dec

If you know me and you don’t get a Christmas card from me, don’t be offended. I’m not a scrooge, and I don’t hate you either. I just don’t do cards for people that I see at Christmas time.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas cards are a great incentive to pull your finger out and get down to writing all those letters to your far-away friends that you have been putting off for months. Then they are really worthwhile. But why write a card to someone you see every week?

 

To Mabel

Have a great Christmas

from Josh and Rachel.

 

Hmmm, that’s really worth wasting some card for…Did you know that 333,333 trees are used for Christmas cards every year?

If I can see you it seems much more meaningful to give you a hug and wish you a Happy Christmas to your face, rather than handing you a piece of card.

 

So, when you’re sat writing your Christmas cards, think before you write. Am I just doing this for traditions sake?

 

Check out this site for some more ideas on how to reclaim Christmas.

 

Okay rant over… 9 days to go before we are on holiday! Eeeeeeeek!

Mending Skirts

6 Sep

I recently picked up a colourful patchwork skirt from a little boutique in Aberystwyth for a few pounds. It was heavily reduced because the zip was broken but I realised it could quite easily be fixed so snapped it up. I bought a replacement zip for 57p and my mum helped me sew it in today.

 

 

I’m not very patient with all things sewing, but I’m trying to get into the make do and mend mentality so am trying to learn some of the basics. I think it’s sad that so few people now have even basic sewing skills, and because clothes are so cheap people will go out and buy a new shirt just because a button has fallen off.

 

Anyway, my mum is an amazing seamstress and does lots of quilting and crafty things (in fact you can see one of her most recent creations next to the skirt in the picture above) so I’m getting her to teach me the more difficult things that I can’t pick up on my own.

And here is the finished article- reduced by £15 just for a zip which I picked up for 57p! Bargain!

What is Poverty?

12 Jun

What flashes into your mind when you hear the word poverty? Dirty children scrabbling through rubbish heaps, poor Africans living in mud shelters? I have a friend who is currently living and working in Zambia, and I know that she could sum up poverty perfectly, because she sees it every day. People who are devastated by AIDs and who just have absolutely nothing to their name (except beaming smiles and a great sense of humour – it’s funny how the poorest people are often the happiest isn’t it?).

 

Anyway, I was reading the Guardian yesterday and apparently we live under the poverty threshold for the UK, which frankly I find crazy, and set me thinking, what is poverty?

I couldn’t remember the figure that the Guardian stated, but according to ‘The Poverty Site’ (2005/06 figures) the poverty threshold for a couple with no dependant children is £182 a week. Josh and I currently live on around £120 a week (or £96 in a 5 week month) which puts us quite a long way under the threshold. However, I would not consider us to live in poverty on any level. We can afford to eat local organic food, we have more possessions than we need, a car, a lovely flat and we live in one of the most beautiful places in Wales.

Fair enough a lot of the ‘stuff’ we have were gifts, like wedding presents, and I do believe that God has provided us with money when we’ve really needed it and prayed about it (like the time we got £200 anonymously through the post when we were worried because we couldn’t afford to get Christmas presents – awesome!) but that doesn’t really mean that we haven’t been able to afford to live on what we earn.

Food and fuel costs are rising and we are having to make more cutbacks, but I still wouldn’t count myself living in poverty because I have to cut down on my car useage, stop going to the cinema so often, or stop eating luxury snacks or whatever.

 

Now, Josh is a Student and I am a volunteer, we have a few savings, and unless God decides he wants us to go on working for a church, or sends us to Peru or something, we pretty much know that in the future our earnings will rise. I can understand that for people that constantly earn less than the poverty threshold, the future must look bleak and the prospect of buying a house, for example would seem out of reach. But perhaps we should still try and get it all into perspective. The world poverty threshold is something like a $1 a day – these people have nothing. Maybe we can’t afford the latest gadgets, or the best clothes but compared to them we are millionaires, I think we need to get our priorities right.

 

Or am I totally wrong and do I just have my middle-class head up in the clouds? What do you think?

Is it ethical to own a dog?

10 Jun

I have always wanted a dog ever since I was a little girl. However my parents are not pet people so I had to make do with walking and playing with our next door neighbour’s dog as I grew up. Josh and I have always fantasised about our small holding, and having lots of dogs and children has always been a part of our ‘perfect future’.

 

However, I was talking to my friend the other day who was preparing a seminar on Vegetarianism and she made a comment that made my heart sink…”I’ve been thinking, it doesn’t really seem very ethical to have dog anymore, not now that food prices are rising. How can we spend thousands of pounds on a dog when there are millions of people starving all over the world?” I had never thought of it that way, but I knew that it wasn’t something I could dismiss.

 

Apparently there are 6.5 million dogs spread across 20% of UK households making them, after cats, Britain’s favourite pet.  Owning a dog will cost you around £1000 a year (and that’s not including those people who spend hundreds on sparkly collars and little cute jumpers for their darling Fluffy – I personally consider this barking). Now, according to my maths, this means that we as a nation are spending around £6b 500m a year on our dogs alone? (surely I have done my sums wrong here?!) Add to that the cost of cleaning up after dog fouling, which according to Keep Britain Tidy statistics costs the UK a further £22m a year. That is a lot of money. I couldn’t find any statistics on how much it would cost to eradicate world poverty but I would guess that this money would make a big dent in it. I know that there are lots of issues with solving world poverty including market crashes and the like – which I won’t try and understand – but it’s the principle. Should we be putting our pets before other people in the world who are living in awful poverty? I just read one shocking article in which someone declared that in a burning building they would rescue their dog instead of a total stranger, just because they didn’t know them, and therefore didn’t care about them so much.

And it’s not just about money is it? Our pets are taking up valuable energy and resources through the food they eat. Realistically the food we give our dogs is probably more nutritious than many in the third world will ever consume.

 

But I really want a dog! Many people rely on them as well for their work, of if they have a disability, and they are well known for their therapeutic qualities. I was thinking that maybe it would be okay to have a rescue dog, because they are alive anyway and have not been bred especially for you. Maybe this would be a more acceptable option than buying straight from a breeder…

 

…It’s a tough one and I haven’t really made up my mind. What do you think? Is it ethical to have a pet?

Breaded Quandaries

10 Jun

How much is a loaf of bread these days? £1.20, £1.30? It’s been so long since we’ve bought one I don’t know anymore, I just hear people complaining about the hike in its prices. It set me wondering if it’s actually cheaper for us to make our own, or if we would be better buying it from the bakery down the road. Ok, well I’m going to attempt to do the maths (which I must warn you may contain a glaring mistake, it really isn’t my strong point!)

 

Yeast (I can’t remember the price but I would guess around 5p per loaf)

Flour = 60p per loaf

Butter = 13p per loaf

Sugar and Salt = Around 5p or less per loaf

Milk Powder (although I don’t use this because we ran out and I’m too lazy to go searching for it around town) = around 10p per loaf

 

So this suggests that it is cheaper to make our own…I don’t really have a clue about how much electricity would cost to run the breadmaker, but I guess it’s costing us about £1.10 for a large loaf of bread?

 

The thing I love about making our own bread is that we know what’s in it. I’ve read horror stories about supermarket loaves which are just filled with fat and salt to make them stay risen because they haven’t been given the full amount of rising time due to production pressures. Even if we were paying the same price –or more- I think that knowledge makes it worth it. I guess that goes for all the extra prices we pay to get organic or local food.

 

…although I must admit that we had Subway last week, which I know if all very uneco-friendly and probably full of gunk, but I had never had one before and they are SO YUMMY!

Buy Nothing Challenge Confessional 1

8 May

I am a failure at the buy nothing challenge, its official. We were doing so well for the whole of the first week…until yesterday. We went out for a pizza and pudding, AND drinks. Gah! But there we are…It’s a new week and I’m determined to do better.

On the up side we didn’t buy a few items which we normally would have, including a new memory card (ours broke and now we are using one which stores about 14 photos). I also joined Ceredigion Freecycle. I haven’t had time to explore it properly yet, but hopefully it will be useful.