General ramblings

A month to go…!

July 31, 2013

Crikey, where has the time gone?

11 months have flown by and there is just one little month left of My Make Do and Mend Year.

People keep asking me what I am going to do when the year ends.
And I really have no idea.

I know that we will not go back to our old ways of mindless consumption, and any new purchases we make will be carefully considered and second-hand options explored thoroughly first.
I think the biggest thing I/we will take away from this year is to consume more thoughtfully.

I have blogged before about the ethical dilemmas of pretty much any type of shopping, (here and here) once you actually start to learn/think about how the product arrived in the shops.
How were the raw ingredients grown/harvested? What has gone into it? What vast array of chemicals have gone into the product-from pesticides applied to cotton as it grows, to the dyes and chemicals used to colour and treat the material. Who made it? Were they paid living wage to make it? How did the finished product arrive in the shop?

And it’s not just finished products, it is ‘raw materials’ too.
Making stuff ourselves does not unfortunately exempt us from the ethics of shopping and consumption.
I recently read a great series of posts from The Hessian Sack, all about The Foolishness of Craft. They are hugely thought-provoking and informative, and I would recommend them as food for thought.
For example, cotton is one the most energy intense materials there is. It takes bucket-loads of chemicals, gallons of water and chemicals, and farmers endangering their lives spreading lethal chemicals onto the crop, for us to have our pretty cotton fabric for making a skirt/dress/bag etc. So although, handmade things are generally much ‘nicer’ in terms of the production of the product-you know who made it, you know they have a house, and can feed themselves, and are not working in sweat shop conditions, but the cotton itself has a pretty hefty environmental footprint.
And wool is not much better. Much of it comes from Australia, where sheep are kept in super flocks of 1000’s and the welfare may not be quite what we would hope for. The wool is then treated with harsh chemicals to clean and dye it and it is then shipped halfway across the world.
Panorama also had a programme on last week about illegal logging, and how you can’t really be that sure if the wood you are buying has not come from a rainforest.

By buying second-hand, you are effectively removing yourself from that whole process and not adding to the demand for any particular product.

AND you are saving stuff from landfill.

AND you get something unique, or that you can customise and make your own.

AND it is cheaper!

Hurray for second-hand shopping 🙂

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  • Reply Kim Hatton (@kimmykorma57) August 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Hiya Jen,
    Ive been a regular to Charity Shops for years now,and am very loathe to go back to buying new…unless its in a sale.
    I have bought loads of furniture over the years,and made it loveable again,and get so many comments on them.
    Am off to get my first sewing machine today…from FreeCycle of course,…so am going to embark on an adventure of making things for my home and pressies…I might need to ask your advice now and again,as Im a novice at sewing….but hey ho,Im willing to give it a go.
    Keep up the good work…
    Take care
    Kim x

    • Reply Jen August 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Yay! Great news you managed to get a sewing machine on Freecycle!
      The main thing with sewing is not being afraid to give it a go, so just have a play and be prepared to unpick!
      Good Luck 🙂

  • Reply Ellie July 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    And your much more likely to get something a bit unusual and characterful whilst stepping away from the whole clone house from brand blah catalogue. We’re about to move house and middle daughter (9) will get her own bedroom for the first time not sharing with littlest. She is embracing the whole retro/vintage feel and we’ve a 2nd solid pine chest of drawers to shabby chic, a wire frame lampshade we’ve downloaded a ‘how to’ sheet to recover with some funky fabric. She is also super excited about her sewing machine having its own table space in her room where it can stay set up for her to work on her little projects. Some compensation for eldest son, who at 17 is a voracious consumer and has no affection for anything preloved, and littlest daughter (6) who warily eyes ‘new to you’ clothes whilst enquiring if they are ‘brand new from the shops’ Hmmm !!!

    • Reply Jen August 1, 2013 at 9:00 am

      You win some, you lose some! Your daughter’s room sounds fabulous 🙂

  • Reply frugalhappylife July 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I’m am so on the second hand band wagon. I started buying charity shop clothes because I was losing weight and didn’t want to spend big money on new clothes that I would be moving on from fairly soon. But now I’m hooked. Even on holiday I’m checking out the local charity shops. I was looking in a high street store the other day and on sale a T-shirt was £22. I went next door to Cancer Research and got two blouses for a total of £8.75 and they are good brands too!. I love it when I find gems, and my 5yo daughter loves checking out the books too.

    • Reply Jen August 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

      I like the fact that the kids run off the play with the toys while I have a browse. And it’s not the end of the world if one gets broken! Although we did have a complete meltdown yesterday when I wouldn’t let SmallSmall leave with 2 cars…

  • Reply Hattie July 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Only ONE month?! Woohoo! You deserve SOME kind of a treat, even if it’s a scrupulously ethical one. You must have some ideas?!

    • Reply Jen July 31, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      New pants Hattie! I’m gonna go C-RAZY…

  • Reply Julie July 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    You have given me so much to think about (in a positive way). I’m really happy browsing the charity shops, and funnily enough, I’ve had more compliments about my charity shop bargains than other more expensive ~whispers “new”~ things. Thank you. X

    • Reply Jen July 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      That’s really kind Julie, thank you! So pleased you are rocking the charity shop chic..!

  • Reply booketta July 31, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I have frequented charity shops far more this year. Particularly impressed with Oxfam’s knit and sew groups who work some of the contributions which need a little treatment for sale in the shops.

    • Reply Jen July 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      That’s a really great idea Jane. It should be more widespread-I hear a lot of things get binned/recycled in the charity shops if they are in any way damaged.

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