the written word

papersSo I felt good after the pantry clear out.  It is more spacious, I can see what we have and there should be no more duplicate purchases.  But it’s not just that is it?  It’s not just what I buy but how I buy it.

Bea Johnson uses Whole Foods which is all well and good if you (a) have one or something similar near you and (b) if you are happy to shop in a supermarket.  Neither of those are the case for me.  It is true that one of the advantages of shopping at the butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer and direct from the producer is that there is going to be less packaging as well as less food miles and a greater knowledge of the provenance of the food itself.  But packaging there is, and sometimes quite a lot.

Then what about the dry goods and toiletries?  I can buy in bulk from Suma   but refilling of existing containers is impossible if you are buying mail order.  I believe one of the local farm shops allows refilling of bottles of washing liquid etc.  But I live in the countryside and if I have to drive some distance to four or five different locations to do my shopping my carbon footprint is growing from fuel use as fast as it is shrinking from waste reduction.

I feel I almost need to create a criteria triangle with the most important at the bottom.  In no particular order they are, I think:

  • local
  • ethical
  • low/zero packaging
  • low/zero additive
  • purchased as close to source as possible and not from supermarket

We have just finished putting the paper edition of The Durham Local Food Directory  together.  Ignoring for a moment the apparent irony of having a paper directory as well as an online one (there is a good reason and we did think long and hard but that is for another post).  It has not passed me by that it is somewhat ironic for one of the founder members of Durham Local Food to be in a quandry.  But the point is that it is about more than food it’s about clothes, books, furnishing, garden equipment, paint, loo roll, cutlery it’s about every single thing that comes over my threshold.


It seemed at first rather overwhelming, then it became exciting.  A challege.  Just how much of a difference can I make.  The risk is that I will try to do it all at once.  That is my usual MO and tends to lead to failure and abdonment.  I need to take one area at a time.  I am tempted to start with food, but I am already fairly food aware.  I need to tackle something that I have overlooked in the past.  Something close to my heart, something that will make me sit up and rethink.  I will start with reading matter.

  • books
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • flyers
  • business cards
  • print outs for Messy Church/Sunday School
  • advertising
  • office paperwork
  • cards and letters
  • photograph albums (I write in mine so I think that counts)
  • journals

We read quite a lot.  Much more than I realised.  I don’t want to stop reading but can I change the way I do it?  Task for this week.  The written word.

books one

How do I consume the written word? Can I do so in a less wasteful manner?

11 thoughts on “the written word

    1. I’ve got a kindle! But it’s not just books and magazines. There are to do lists, reciepts, flyers, business cards, junk mail, cards, letters, agendas, minutes …… so much paper.

  1. This is such an intriguing journey you are on, I’m happy to tag along! Now I’ve got to go tackle my half-hour of de-junking that I’ve been trying to do each day!

    1. Little and often. Like excercise! I’m about to achieve the latter by walking the dogs and then the former by tackling the makeup drawer. Enjoy your de-junk!

  2. Hi sweetie, can i come with a suggestion for your “to do” lists and grocery shopping? You can type it in your cell, and while creating the grocery list, if you do it together with the rest of the family, instead of a paper you can have one of those magnetic white boards on the fridge, those that you can whipe and write again.
    For flyers and so on, i keep them and use them as food for scrapping, filling for wrapping and stuff like that… business cards, i guess you can just store them if you use them, reject them or make a nice paper work out of them! hehehe
    Newspapers? I read on line, but whatever comes to my door is what I use to start the fires!
    I am loving your new blog!

    1. No go with the digital and to do lists. It is really something that I am going to have to think hard about because I am so wedded to my system. See tomorrow’s post! I use the backs of envelopes for menu planning and subsequent shopping lists so I don’t feel so bad about that and we have a blackboard where everyone writes up something they have finished and needs replacing. Wine seems to appear rather a lot!

  3. eBooks, library, used books, book swaps, use backs of paper to write on, white-erase board, heck: old-fashioned slate and chalk, re-use paper mailers, re-use physical file folders (I have been doing that since highschool and *still* have most of those!) and…as Bea does, active discard! LOVE your blog, by the way!

    1. As I reply I am going through the post saving the envelopes and paper with blank backs 🙂 Learned from my mother’s knee. Blackboard in the kitchen for shopping lists. But I don’t want them in my house in the first place. This week is paper week. It’s interesting.

  4. Love seeing your approach to a zero waste lifestyle. I, too, like you like the embrace of structure. I see you have tried establishing your hierarchy of goods and addressing how practical it is to get them. I have a whole foods near me but it really lacks some features important to zero waste. Two options I only find at whole foods are the glass jars of milk and the fresh bread placed into my own reusable bread bag. Additionally, I go to the farmers market for all my produce due to whole foods limitations dilute to incessant packaging! I love seeing you and your approach as we dedicate ourselves to zero waste!

    1. We can get milk in glass jars from the milkman but only if I pick them up from the village. He doesn’t deliver to the back of beyond like us. But it’s a start. The local bakery is happy to drop bread right into my shopping basket. But how do you deal with the endless reciepts everyone gives you?

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