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Reflecting on a less wasteful year

This has been an odd year. For the first half of it, we were living in a thatched cottage in a Northamptonshire village. For the second half, we have lived in a thatched cottage in an Oxfordshire village. The two villages are so vastly different that I have a vague sense of disconnection – as if the two halves of the year have been lived by different people (the fact that the second half of the year has been six months of a persistent, but low-grade depression has been a contributing factor, of course).

But one thing has definitely been a constant: my exploration of ways to live a more ecofriendly life has spanned the year. And it is something I hope to continue improving. Here are some of the small changes I’ve made:

  • Ditching the clingfilm. I have made waxed fabric wraps – some with pine resin, and some without – to replace clingfilm in our kitchen.
  • Reducing waste – thanks to the excellent kerbside collection services provided by our local council, we have been able to make a dramatic reduction to our non-recyclable waste. Recently, we didn’t put our bin out on non-recyclable collection day, because it was empty. That was a first, and it gave me such a buzz.
  • Ditching the cotton pads. I made reusable fabric replacements for the cosmetic pads that formed part of my daily skin care routine. I also learned a valuable lesson about them: tie them into a sock for washing, and don’t put them in the tumbledrier – they are small enough to get caught in filters and stuff.
  • Making my own self-care products. I haven’t bought deodorant, body lotion or salve (the sort you use for minor abrasions/scalds) in ages. I’ve made my own. I am using up the stock of lotions and potions I have in my dressing table, and then I plan to replace those with ones I’ve made myself, too. I’m not yet brave enough to try making my own shampoos or body washes, because Mr Namasi has a tricky skin, and I don’t really want to subject him to failed experiments.
  • Growing food. I am a pretty useless gardener, but there is a community garden in our village, which I joined as soon as we moved here. This has given me access to company, new skills and freshly grown vegetables.

    Making more preserves
  • Making (more) preserves. This is not a new skill. I’ve made pickles, jams and so forth before, but somehow being in a country village has reawakened that side of me. And the sense of well-being I get when I open the larder cupboard to see a fully stacked top shelf is palpable.
  • Shopping differently. There is a buying group in our village that buys from a wholesaler of ethical products (foods and non-foods) with reduced packaging and so forth. I joined the group, and then found myself in the role of admin as the previous incumbent is moving away. We order every second month, and therefore tend to buy in larger quantities. The delivery is made as part of a set route, which has a positive impact on our collective carbon footprint.
  • Less stuff. This year, Mr Namasi and I opted not to exchange Christmas gifts. We also asked our sons not to give us anything. We had to downsize considerably when we moved here, and we still have more stuff than we need. We have decided to focus more on shared experiences. So we will explore the countryside and visit various places of interest.

Looking ahead to 2019, I’ve decided to really test myself. I’m going to see if I can get through the whole year without buying anything new. Of course, this doesn’t apply to food and other essential consumables. I am already a regular user Facebook marketplace, Freecycle, Vinted and online spaces of that ilk. I am also a regular visitor to charity shops. For 2019, I’m going to see if I can limit myself to those spaces. These are my options:

  • Make it myself. I have the skills to make a wide variety of things from furniture to clothing.
  • Repair what I have. I have the skills to repair many things myself. There is also a repair cafe in Wantage, where I can take any small appliances that break down, to see if they can be repaired.
  • Buy secondhand. Charity shops, Facebook marketplace, and any number of other spaces exist for this purpose.
  • Borrow from friends. So often, when we have an event to attend, it involves buying a posh frock that might only see one wearing before being relegated to the back of a wardrobe. Perhaps my friends and I can do the occasional swap shop thing to get more life out of a fairly expensive purchase. This applies to hats and evening bags/clutches/purses (choose your word) too.
  • Do without.
No more manis

One other thing I’ve decided to give up on – and hear me out on this one – is professional pedicures and manicures. The manicure thing isn’t going to be a biggie. My hands are too busy for prettying up, so I tend only to have a manicure once every couple or years or so, for a special occasion. The pedicure thing…. that’s a different matter altogether. I can’t abide unkempt feet, so I have always taken good care of mine. Every Sunday night, while Mr Namasi plays ice hockey, my ritual has been a soak in the tub, with a facemask, followed by a DIY pedi. Since I developed polymyalgia rheumatica earlier this year, I have been unable to twist my hips and knees enough to take proper care of my feet, and so I have treated myself to (more or less) monthly pedicures to supplement the limited work I can do on them. But my conscience has been bothering me terribly. You see, manicures and pedicures involve vast quantities of cotton pads and – for some inexplicable reason – clingfilm. I also have concerns about the various products used. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to achieve it, but I am going to have to step back up to the plate on my foot care routine.

I hope that this time next year, I will be able to reflect back on a 2019 that has been even less wasteful than 2018. Are you in? Shall we hold each other to account come year-end?

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Doing a little stocktaking

This morning, Facebook gave me an ‘On this day…’ snapshot as it always does, of things that I have posted on this date in previous years. Today, it reminded me of a blog post I wrote on 25 November 2016.

The opening paragraph read as follows (you can read the whole post here, if you’re so inclined):

The last couple of days have been very difficult for me. The brief version is that I have lost my beloved workshop space. You know the cliche ‘it never rains, but it pours’? This wouldn’t happen while everything else was hunky dory. Oh no! It has to happen while we’re trying to sell our house, and while Mr Namasi is trying to find work (in a less than ideal job market) before his notice period comes to an end, following the demise of the business he has been working for. And while I am waiting to find out whether ‘the big C’ has taken up residence in my body.

It seemed like an appropriate time to do a little ‘then and now’, without burying myself (or you) in the ‘what went between’ bit.

I have lost my beloved workshop space. We have since moved house, and I now have a workshop space at home. It is much smaller, and not terribly weatherproof, but it’s adorable and I love it to bits!

We’re trying to sell our house. As you can deduce from the previous paragraph, we sold our house. Not without a few glitches along the way, but it happened. And the proceeds from that sale are what keep the wolf from the door. I especially love our current house, the village and the countryside in which it… yes, I think nestles is exactly the right word.

Mr Namasi is trying to find work. Mr Namasi’s search continues. The job market is fierce, and I/we have lost faith in the recruitment industry. At the time of writing, he is in the process of setting up an IT consultancy business… but still open to the idea of a role within an existing company.

I am waiting to find out whether ‘the big C’ has taken up residence in my body. The ‘big C’ had not taken up residence in my body, and a minor – albeit extremely painful – procedure was all that was needed. Poor Mr Namasi was subjected to the sounds of his wife squealing in agony as he waited helplessly in the waiting room.

Karyn’s Kreations has been rebranded as Karyn’s [re]Kreations. A new logo has been designed. A van called Barney has been acquired, and I’m making a real effort to find avenues to take my pieces to market.

So please spread the word: I have stock to hand, including great Christmas gift ideas. I also accept commissions and offer 1:1 sessions and group workshops. And I’m raring to go.