101 things you could let go of right now

I love lists.  Don’t you?  That immensely satisfying feeling as you cross off the things you have done.  Decluttering is perfect for list makers.  You can break up the clutter by room, by cupboard, by person, by subject area.  Oddly enough, I have done none of these things.  I have just started in one part of the house and worked my way round, over and over again.  Then I came across this blog by Joshua Becker 101 Physical That Can Be Reduced In Your Home .  Oh the joys, I am so doing this today.  I have already crossed off those things I have already reduced to the bare minimum or we don’t have.  But so much more to go.  I’m all fired up and ready to give the remaining clutter the heave ho.

Could you take this list round your home?  How much could you cross off today?

  1. Glassware
  2. Cookbooks
  3. Kitchen gadgets
  4. Kitchen appliances
  5. Pots / pans
  6. Mixing bowls
  7. Tupperware
  8. Water pitchers
  9. Magazines
  10. Newspapers
  11. Books
  12. Over-the-counter medicine
  13. Make-up
  14. Barretts / hair clips / ponytail holders
  15. Cleaning supplies
  16. Personal beauty appliances (hair dryer/curlers, electric razors)
  17. Bottles of shampoo/conditioner
  18. Photos
  19. Photography supplies
  20. Sewing supplies
  21. Craft supplies
  22. Scrap-booking supplies
  23. CD’s
  24. DVD’s
  25. Decorative items
  26. Candles
  27. Figurines
  28. Crystal
  29. Vases
  30. Audio/visual components
  31. Audio/visual cables
  32. Computer equipment
  33. MP3 players
  34. Furniture
  35. Video game systems
  36. Vdeo games
  37. Video game accessories
  38. Shirts / shorts
  39. Pants
  40. Coats
  41. Dresses
  42. Hats
  43. Clothes hangers
  44. Shoes
  45. Winter gear
  46. Jewelry
  47. Purses
  48. Coins
  49. Pillows
  50. Towels
  51. Linen sets
  52. Candle Holders
  53. Televisions
  54. Items on your bulletin board
  55. Magnets
  56. Artwork
  57. Mirrors
  58. Home office supplies
  59. Pens/pencils
  60. Old batteries
  61. Tools
  62. Hardware
  63. Rolls of duct tape
  64. Coolers
  65. Manuals
  66. Phone books
  67. Coupons
  68. Sporting good supplies
  69. Sports memorabilia
  70. Aluminum cans
  71. Glass bottles
  72. Automobile fluids
  73. Automobiles
  74. Scrap pieces of lumber
  75. Brooms
  76. Rakes
  77. Shovels
  78. Garden tools
  79. Plant containers
  80. Empty cardboard boxes
  81. Board games
  82. Puzzles
  83. Decks of cards
  84. Unused wedding gifts
  85. Baby clothes
  86. Baby supplies
  87. Old schoolbooks/papers
  88. Army men
  89. Bath toys
  90. Toy balls
  91. Toy cars/trucks
  92. Toy musical instruments
  93. Stuffed animals
  94. Plastic toys
  95. Childrens’ old school papers
  96. Suitcases
  97. Soda
  98. Alcohol
  99. Processed foods
  100. Christmas / seasonal decorations
  101. Cable channels

something a little alternative

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It all started when I lost my lovely wooden washing up brush.  No I don’t know how you lose a washing up brush either, but the fact is that I did.  As it happens I was not quite as in love with it as when I first bought it as the head had a tendency to come out just as I was giving it welly.  So I needed an alternative.  It needed to be:

  • effective
  • biodegradeable

Ta Da!!!

I bought a cheap loofah, cut it up into hand sized chunks and now I have an effective, biodegradeable and dead cheap pan scrubber.  And best of all, not one member of my family, including the very teenage Dancer and Singers have batted an eyelid.  Which, for them is pretty impressive.

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So it got me thinking, I do like a good think, it beats a good workout anytime.  What else do I “misuse”?  There is a whole other post waiting to happen on things like vinegar, bicarb, cornflour, toothpaste and banana skins (yup banana skins).  I’m thinking more about long lasting stuff you have already …

graphite pencil

The scientifically minded among you will know that graphite is a crystalline allotrope of carbon (hey Dr Carpenter and Mr England – bet you thought I would never remember any of my Chemistry A-level!).  Consequently it is much used as a lubricant in industry.  You do not have to manage a factory to use graphite.  How often have you found yourself with a stuck zip?  Run a pencil up and down the zip and 9 times out of 10 your zip will magically unstick leaving you free, at last, to go to the loo.  If you have more time than sense you can also use graphite to unstick sticky drawers, but it would take an inordinate amount of pencils and it would be several hours of your life you will never have again – try a candle instead 🙂

tights

This is one of the few occasions where I think our American cousins have a better word.  Don’t you think “pantyhose” sounds so much better than “tights”?  As I prefer stockings the point is moot, but nonetheless ….

I have been known to use a NEW pair of stockings as an alternative to muslin when making jelly and had run out of muslin.  It was not a good look.  The kitchen looked like an abattoir (bramble and red and blackcurrant juice everywhere) and in addition to three traditional jelly strainers I had four stockings hanging from hooks from the beams.  Unlike muslin,  stockings and tights … stretch … a lot.  As a last minute, desperate option they just about pass muster.  Personally I would recommend you keep a good supply of muslin to hand.

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On the other hand.  Do you use soapnuts?  Do you regularly lose the little bag to put them in?  Pop socks/ stockings / tights are perfect.  They even help you remember how many times you have used the soapnuts.  I tie a knot each time I have used them.  When I  have a row of four knots I know it’s time for a new set.

newspaper/paper bags

Yes you can use newspaper to clean windows.  But I have some far less messy uses.

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Green tomatoes.  I have a very strong memory of the pervasive tomato smell in my grandparents conservatory.  There were tomato plants everywhere.  But even in the south of England there can be a shortage of the essential light and warmth required to turn them a rich red.  Green tomato chutney is indeed wonderful, but if you , like me have as many apple and plum trees as I do there is a limit to how much chutney even our greedy family can eat.

My grandmother and my great aunt would carefully wrap the tomatoes in newspaper or paper bags and store them at the top of every wardrobe in the house.  By late October …. ripe tomatoes.  Newspaper is also essential in the storage of apples.  Wrap them up and make sure they are kept in a secure (from mice and/or rats) cool dark place.

Apparently they make a good deodouriser though I’ve never tried that.  Although they are the only way to dry out wet wellies and shoes.  Scrunch up and stuff boots loosely.  Leave overnight.  Hey presto.  Dry wellies.

There are more, but the Singers need to be picked up from the station and dinner will not cook itself ……

presents and plastic

So it is the 2nd of September.  That means two things.  I need to make sure I have my mother’s birthday present (tick) and we are day two into the month of no (or at least as little as possible) plastic.

Mother’s present was quite easy.  As I don’t think she reads my blog I can tell you she should be enjoying a rather nice lunch with my stepfather in a rather nice restaurant in London.  No plastic was involved in the purchase, preparation or sending of said present and I sincerely hope that there is no plastic involved in the serving of her present either.  Though unfortunately I cannnot vouch for the kitchen in which it will be prepared.

As for the September challenge.  We have hardly done any shopping and have already failed.

Sunday newspapers – the supplements come in a pre-sealed plastic bag.  I imagine it makes the assembly easier, however I remember Sunday newspapers as a child and there was no plastic bag then.  My father gets the LA Times which is vast and there is no plastic there either.  Letter to Sunday Times on its way.

Quayside market.  Wonderful produce from local producer.  One beauty of a swede.

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Gorgeous selection of onions.

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Beautiful variety of tomatoes.

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But I had failed to bring any small cloth or paper bags for the tomatoes and they were put in plastic.  Have now added one cloth and three paper bags to the little parachute silk Onya bag that lives in my handbag.

Then absolute  massive fail whilst my back was turned.  The Boss as a bit of a sock thing.  He likes them brightly coloured and not necessarily matching.  He bought a set of three pairs of very attractive stripey socks and….. let the stallholder put them in a solitary plastic bag all of their own.  I had THREE Onya bags they could have gone in.  He has promised to be more vigilant in the future.

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Today I have purchased some wine (glass bottles that will be used for homemade wine), fruit juice (cartons that will be used as firelighters) and carrots (bought loose). All brought home in one of my plastic free hessian bags.

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On all occasions I refused a receipt.  Nobody seemed too surprised or fussed.  So I wonder, would shops which issue receipts automatically consider having a no receipt option on their till at the buyer’s risk?

Tonight I will do the menu plan for next week and write out my weekly shopping list.  I will have to plan very carefully.  I suspect what we eat will be dictated by where I can buy the necessary ingredients without incurring the input of plastic.  Fortunately the hens are still laying so we will always have the egg option.  Although as I was planning on using up the last of the asparagus with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce tonight they had better get laying!

 

finding out the hard way

I haven’t bought a newspaper and I have looked at the possibility of subscribing on my kindle.  I can’t see a problem with that apart from one thing.  The Crossword.  This is a major feature of my newspaper reading habit.  I love crosswords.  I don’t want a book of them I don’t want to do them online.  I like to do what I can and then the next day look at the answers and try to work out how the heck they got from “Fighting observed in the capital”  to Warsaw.  That was an easy one.  How about.  “Cat heard in seaside playground”.  Answer Lynx.  Lynx (cat) sounds like (heard) links (seaside golf course).

Apart from the crossword issue the online sub is quite good for me because I am an anal newspaper reader.  One page out of line and I have to put the whole thing on the floor and realign and straighten and decrease all the pages.  When the Boss reads the paper he leaves it like this.

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It gives me palpitations and has been the cause of many a marital discord.

Magazines are a bit harder.  The Boss bought me a subscription for Country Living, I get a copy of The Garden with my RHS membership and I often buy copies of Mslexia and  Pretty Nostalgic, not to mention various other less artful or intellectual publications 🙂  I don’t have an iPad (as a writer I really need a proper keyboard and decent sized screen) and I can’t read them on my phone and I don’t want to read them , even if I can, in black and white on my kindle.  So my options are (a) buy the magazine and recycle to the Doctors’ surgery (I can’t compost glossy paper); (b) read it at the library if they have it; (c) buy an iPad or (d) don’t read magazines.

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At the moment none of them particularly appeal.  I would quite like an iPad but I don’t need one and to spend money I don’t have on something just so I can read magazines seems quite ridiculous and certainly not ecologically sound.

Books are far easier.  I have a kindle and I am quite happy reading on it.  Some books do not, in my experience, work well on kindles.  Cookery books for one.  I am an adventurous and happy cook.  I have an extensive (I really do mean quite extensive, but compared to my mother’s paltry) collection of books and they do all get used.  I plan menus each week in advance and pull out 2-4 books for each week’s menus.  Many of my books are out of print (the lovely Robert Carrier Taste of Morocco for example)

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and wouldn’t be available on kindle.  There is no point replacing what I already have with digital copies.  I have already polluted the earth and used up trees buying the books, it would be a double waste to ditch them and buy online copies.  So books I already have and want to keep (ie not the 400 going to Borderline) stay.

What of future purchases?  Novels etc. online definitely, or charity shops, or swaps or library.  No purchases of new novels.  But then what about gifts?  What about the book you read over and over and over and has your notes in the margins.  This isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

Thus far my posts seem to be endless questions.  Going low, or even zero waste is not any easy option.  There is more to it than recycling and composting and boy am I finding out the hard way.

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.

recipt

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?