Well, it’s a gorgeous autumnal afternoon on day two of our Buy Nothing Month and I’m sitting here with a cup of tea and an almond and chocolate muffin, feeling pretty good. So how is it going? And what temptations have we encountered so far?
It’s going well, although this might have something to with the fact that we live in the back of beyond and retail temptations don’t really exist out here – unless you count the fab village shop and of course, the ever present lure of internet shopping. We are all looking forward to the challenge and even the kids have volunteered to forfeit their pocket money for the month, in order to be more involved in the experiment. I have cancelled our weekly newspaper fix and the film club that we belong to.
I am being extra cautious and sparing in the kitchen with store cupboard ingredients like coconut oil, agave syrup and dairy items such as butter and yoghurt as these will run out quite quickly and we will not replace them during November. I guess there will come a time towards the end of the month when we eat lots of soups and flat breads!
Yesterday, I made big batch of pastry using flour, coconut butter and cold water and turned it into a gigantic pumpkin pie (to make use of all that pumpkin flesh left over from Halloween) and a batch of mini tartlets filled with leek and cheese or tomatoes and herbs, which should last a day or so. On presenting the massive pumpkin pie at dinner last night, amid cinnamony wafts and proud smiles, I discovered that I am the only one of us who likes this traditional treat. Anyone who visits in the next day or so will not get away without being sat down for a cup of tea and a large slab of pie.
Today for lunch I unearthed a packet of couscous from the back of the cupboard and made a salad with tomatoes, herbs and chilli from the garden. Dinner will probably be pasta with similar seasonal veg. I must confess that my cupboard is probably fuller than the average store stump as we do an Infinity Foods bulk order once every few months, so I have a stock of items like tinned tomatoes and large bags of flax seeds, almonds etc.
We usually sell our eggs to neighbours and passers by but this month I will be using them or maybe bartering them at the dairy farm round the corner. I am really interested in nutrition and will keep a close eye on the kids to check that they are getting everything they need this month in order to thrive. I used to feel that my girls were very picky eaters but since I have relaxed my attitude to this, they in turn have relaxed and are mostly happy to try things before rejecting them. My eldest is happiest with raw fruit and veg and her sister prefers pies and potatoes and more carby food. It is an interesting balance but I now love being in the kitchen, when a year or so ago food had become a bit of a sore point.
Over the last two days we have discovered that we ‘need’ a few things for the house – a lightbulb, new washer on the tap, over mitt etc. and although these items have been on the To Buy list for a while, now that we can’t just go out and buy them, they are causing more frustration. Perhaps I might get around to making my own oven glove this month. Watch this space…
Did you know that in the past 30 years, one-third of the planetâ€™s natural resources base have been consumed? Or that in the US less than 4% of the original forests remain? These are scary facts, but ones worth remembering if we are to make any positive changes in our attitude to consumption.
â€¢ In the past 30 years, one-third of the planetâ€™s natural resources base have been consumed.
â€¢ In the United States, less than 4% of the original forests remain.
â€¢ Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.
â€¢ The US has 5% of the worldâ€™s population but consumes 30% of the worldâ€™s resources and creates 30% of the worldâ€™s waste.
â€¢ If everybody consumed at rates, similar to those of the UK we would need 3 to 5 planets to support us all.
â€¢ There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals on the market today.
â€¢ Only a handful of synthetic chemicals have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE have been tested for synergistic health impacts.
â€¢ In the US, industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year.
â€¢ The average person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.
â€¢ We each see more advertisements in one year than a people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.
â€¢ In the US, national happiness peaked sometime in the 1950s.
â€¢ Average house size has doubled since the 1970s.
â€¢ For every binfull of waste you put out, 70 binfulls of waste were made upstream to make the waste in that one bin.
It’s Samhain, the ancient pagan festival and the eve of the new year according to the Celts. So, what are we up to in the office? Well, we are having a big sort out and making sure that all loose ends are tied up before we enter the next phase of the yearly cycle. This will hopefully create space for lots of new exciting developments to come into fruition, like our sparkling new website, which will be launched in the New Year. In the meantime, we have just finished a beautiful edition, which is published in a couple of weeks. It’s our craft special and is stuffed with projects to get stuck into during the winter months. You can order a subscription to make sure you don’t miss out!
Time for fun
As well as finishing off the latest edition of The Green Parent magazine we have also been having fun, we spent a frosty night in a yurt set in the middle of a beech wood and held a pumpkin party last night attended by a coven of small witches, cats, ghosts and even a fox! We played murder in the dark, went on a treasure hunt in the woods, carved pumpkins and bobbed for apples. Lots of fun was had by all.
Full of energy
We also have a new companion in the office for a few days – a Bedlington terrier puppy called Jasper, who was rescued by a friend a couple of weeks ago – we are looking after him whilst she is away. His puppy energy is very engaging and he is full of joy, leaping about like a lamb in the fallen leaves. I am feeling slightly less energetic myself, having been woken for a walk at 5:30 this morning. Yawn! The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful though and it feels great to get outside when all the rest of the world is silent. At the moment he is sleeping by my feet in a box, between walks. Bless him!
Tomorrow we begin our Buy Nothing Month (BNM), an extension of Buy Nothing Day, which takes place on 29th November. We will not spend any money for a whole month. We had a BNM last year and it was rather successful – a chance for us to explore our relationship with money and really assess our needs and wants. Last year we experienced more time together as a family and a greater sense of resourcefulness, especially in the kitchen. Given that my biggest financial indulgence is good quality organic food I am hoping to be able to take this resourcefulness a step further this year. So what are we going to do without?
â€¢ No food purchases apart from our standard family-sized box of vegetables and fruit that is delivered every week. We will use the last harvest from the veggie garden and clear our storecupboard items. I will get more creative with food that we have foraged for and will probably spend a good proportion of my time in the kitchen!
â€¢ No newspapers, books, magazines, or similar items. We will make our own family news for a month, concentrate on reading our accumulated library rather than buying more and spend time trusting innate knowledge rather than looking to books, etc for answers.
â€¢ No clothes purchases – easy one really since we only shop in charity shops and with ethical clothing brands periodically. However, I will make more of an effort this month to repair clothes rather than giving them away or textile recycling them. These will become last resort options.
â€¢ No trips out that cost money – this will be quite tricky as part of our home education schedule is a day out every couple of weeks or so, either up to London to the museums or to local historic sites. I expect to use the bikes to explore deeper into our local area instead.
â€¢ No gift purchases – there are a couple of friends’ and family members’ birthdays coming up in November. We will be making presents and cards for all the lucky gift recipients!
There are probably other areas too – I shall cover those as they come up during our month of freedom! Hope you enjoy reading about our experiences during the coming weeks…
And if you fancy joining us, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Welcome to the new blog from the Green Parent office. Here we'll talk about what's going on in the small and quite leafy headquarters of the UK's leading green lifestyle magazine. We'll share news that interests us and talk about green issues and natural parenting. We'll share advice and information from our own experiences of living a green lifestyle. And we'll even tell you what we are reading, eating, drinking and thinking. Hope you get plenty of food for thought here.