Environment or economics? How should we shop in the 21st century?

I was brought up by a Mum and Dad who both had their feet firmly on the ground, at a time when 2020 sounded positively space age!

Mum and Dad embraced all the 1970’s and 80’s had to offer – home ownership, car ownership, annual holidays in Spain and general convenience in almost all aspects of life – from transport to feeding their family and furnishing their home. Obviously they had a budget but life was lived to the outer limits of that constraint and the house was mostly decorated in browns and purples, as fashion dictated.

If you weren’t around then, please read ‘The tent, the bucket and me’ by Emma Kennedy. It’s hilarious and perfectly describes growing up at that time.

No matter how modern life became, my Dad would repeat the following little gems of wisdom as often as they would lend themselves to a situation. Here they are:

*A little bit of what you fancy doesn’t hurt*

*Everything in moderation*

*You can only do your best*

…. And here’s the absolute killer…

*Only you know how you feel*

So putting those principles into how we might shop/live today….

A little bit of what you fancy doesn’t hurt

This is so true! We are all human and sometimes we can only do so much. Personally I cannot live on muddy vegetables alone, my sweet tooth will not allow it. Chocolate comes in wrappers and that’s a fact but what we can do is be selective with our shopping habits. We make choices all day every day and if we apply this to groceries it’s mostly obvious; buy unpackaged whenever possible, choose organic if you can afford to and here is my new thing – never buy sized eggs! With eggs these days, not just about happy chickens running around a field, its also about nature and freedom. Eggs are not laid to size but unfortunately chickens are treated in accordance with their product. Please start a revolution, buy unsized eggs – if a recipe demands large or small or medium, exercise your own judgement and live dangerously!

Everything in moderation

Start small. For example, I’ve discovered a shampoo bar I really like (the Good Wash Co. – http://www.goodwash.co.uk )  but not an alternative conditioner. By this small change, I’ve cut down half the (hair washing) plastic already and hopefully I will find that other alternative soon and hey presto! We have started taking periodical visits to a local (ish) Zero Waste Store (Ripple Living in Cardiff – http://www.rippleliving.co.uk – well worth a visit if you live close enough). We don’t visit every week as the fossil fuels used to get there would completely defeat the object. I admit, my first visit was actually stressful – I simply hadn’t thought it through. Firstly, it was a Saturday (big mistake), secondly I hadn’t really thought about what we needed and lastly… this is the big one… I didn’t take any clean jars with me. What a numpty! My most recent visit was much less stressful and my confidence has definitely grown! We are now saving jars in readiness for the next visit and while I would love to have one of those show stopping larders at home (check out http://www.thehousethatblackbuilt.co.uk ), driving to Ikea to buy matching jars that we don’t actually *need* seems like a waste. I confess I am hankering after an old fashioned Dymo label maker right now but asking my Husband to mark things up with his fancy pants modern label maker is making sure he keeps interested in this whole thing plus blimey, they really do stick! One has gone through the dishwasher (yes, it uses less water than washing by hand so I can justify that) at least 5 or 6 times and it still refuses to budge! We can’t buy everything zero waste and sometimes the zero waste alternatives are not suitable but, in our own little way, we are giving it a go. Try it, you might like it – but be prepared that your first visit might leave you reaching for a plastic wrapped treat!

You can only do your best

Around the house we try to re-use, upcycle and recycle as much as we can. I love old industrial type objects and my little collection of vintage wooden rulers has pride of place, displayed in an old Dundee Marmalade jar dug up from a building site. I confess it sometimes sits in an Ikea Billy but Ikea have a realistic and generally good policy so I’m happy with that. We make things and sometimes we paint things just to have a bit of a change. We probably need a new kitchen but in reality the cabinet units are actually fine so we are investigating making good next year with new doors and worktops. If we are feeling flush we may have new tiles but, like everyone else, we have a budget. We’ll do what we can with what we have and that really sums up everything we do. For so long ‘budget’ and ‘making do’ seemed to be excluded from our vocabulary but these days they are back and they are fashionable. People are environmentally aware and financially savvy. None of us are Barbara and Tom living the GoodLife (another 1970’s reference there for you) but we can all do our best.

My childhood obsession with wooden folding rules continues

Only you know how you feel!

My goodness, I have applied this to so many aspects of my life over the years and I dread to think how many times I’ve repeated this little mantra to friends when they’ve  faced a tricky decision! In all honestly, we haven’t produced any children so we could happily go on abusing this planet for our own gain and hang the consequences but we have two nieces, a nephew and many of our friends have children who we completely adore. It’s not really about us, it’s about them. This is *how we feel*. We are certainly not perfect but we are trying to make a difference.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings. If you would like to say something nice or constructive, please leave me a comment. If you want to say the opposite, please start your own blog J ��

2 thoughts on “Environment or economics? How should we shop in the 21st century?

  1. Loved reading this! As a child of the same time, those statements certainly resonate with me 😁. Lovely insight to how they play on through modern times and behaviours …..can’t wait for the next one 👍👍👍


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