Sunday, December 30, 2007

sales crisis

I am beginning to think I can resist anything except temptation! It is the post Christmas sales - and I am struggling with at least not having a look... but I know if I do have a look then I will end up buying stuff. But then again, I do need some new work clothes ...

And so it goes on - but I suppose that is the nature of a circular argument.

I have not been as diligent as I would like - I have bought some new gym pants (which I needed) and a couple of exercise DVDs (which I didn't). I did manage to restrain myself from buying some new runners - which were very cheap but I didn't need - so it's not all bad. I suppose that to justify the DVD purchase I will need to take up yoga and pilates - guess it won't do any harm.

I think perhaps it is time to focus on the positive - normally I would have been at the sales buying lots of stuff that I thought I needed but didn't really.

I am noticing that it is very easy to beat myself up on this gig rather than acknowledge the positive changes that I have made.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

doggy business

I am now a proud pet owner. The object of my affections and I have just got ourselves a suitably second hand dog - an ex racing greyhound. And what a dog he is - a wonderful pet - doesn't bark, doesn't smell and doesn't shed hair. He is good natured, relaxed and generally fabulous. And big. And handsome (well, so me and my one eye like to think).

There were a couple of things I had left out of my calculations:
1. dogs eat meat (well this one likes to). I find this challenging as I don't like meat, raw or cooked. But a lot of the processed stuff sounds like it is very dodgy, full of stuff that dogs should not be eating (beaks and feet anyone?)
2. the cleaning up and removal of the other end of the meaty equation. Yep, dog crap.

Most people seem to use plastic bags to pick up their dog's output - but we have reduced our plastic bag consumption significantly and I am not about to start using more just so I can re-use them to pick up dog crap. There is something just not right about that.

Anyone have any brilliant ideas?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Xmas update

Am doing ok-ish on the Xmas gift front. Have been frequenting the Oxfam shop and have so far purchased as gifts cards for:

  • a goat
  • a chicken
  • counselling for abused women in PNG
  • microfinance for women in India

All good. And after much pondering am giving my bro and the Object of My Affection's parents vouchers for dinner out - with us. Strikes me as a good present, but not a thing.

And found a fabulous vintage necklace for my friend Susan.

On the downside, have purchased a couple of books - but have bought only a small number of actual 'stuff gifts' compared to what I would normally do. Not perfect, but a big improvement.

No doubt about it - would have been better if I had been more organised. There is a lesson here ...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Xmas trials

I suspected Xmas was going to prove a trial - and I think it is about to be so. I am not given to Christmas extravaganzas, but still, it is customary to give a gift, and I confess that despite my occasionally scroogish disposition I do rather enjoy it.

So - a third world goat coming up for the in-laws - heaven knows they don't need anything. And my fabulous friend Susan will (hopefully) get something from an antique shop. And then there will be movie gold passes - and ... damned if I know what. Racking my feeble brain for something my nearests and dearests will appreciate that is not consumer crap. Much as I would like to give everyone an Oxfam goat for the sake of convenience - suspect it would not be quite the thing.

The object of my affections happily is not into stuff (not much anyway) and has declared he wants nothing for Christmas - and that could be just what he gets at this rate.

All/any brilliant ideas welcome.

In the meantime, in between wringing my hands in agonies of Xmas present dilemmas, I shall be prancing out to the odd party in one of my two fabulous second hand frocks. It ain't all bad. And here is a boast - one of said fabulous party frocks is a rather splendid Ralph Lauren number - only worn a couple of times I reckon. Got to be happy with that.

And this is my yuletide wish - no more stuff for me for Xmas!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

maybe a girl should dress like a bloke

I hold the fashion industry accountable for a lot of this crazy consuming in this crazy consumeristic world. The fashion churn is huge, and it is easy to fall prey to the constant demand for change.

I was going through my wardrobe the other day, throwing things out (for recycling). And I realised what an enormous number of clothes I seem to own. Compared to the very small volume of clothing that the Object of my Affections owns, the difference is exponential.

It is just as well that he has hardly any, because otherwise mine would not fit in the wardrobe ... but it did make me think that if women dressed more like men (well, the sort that don't buy a lot of clothes) then consumption globally would drop dramatically.

Mind you, the world might not be so interesting to look at ...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the joy of shopping

I have rediscovered the joy of shopping - and it is all about serendipity - the great satisfaction of finding something when you least expect it. The small amount of shopping that I have been doing is usually at op shops or second hand shops. As it is coming up to Xmas party season and I am in fact going to a work 'do', I was a bit perturbed about what to wear. It is a frock affair and the only frock I have that still fits is about 10 years old and not exactly at the cutting edge of fashion. Was thinking that I might perhaps have concede defeat and buy something new.

BUT, went shopping with my friend on Sunday and ended up buying this most fantastic dress from a second hand clothes shop. A fancy designer number, which though not especially cheap was about 30% of what it would have cost normally (and I would never have bought it new because I just wouldn't have been looking at high end clothes). So am very happy and will be better dressed than I would have otherwise. Ha!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the working spending thing

I think that part of the reason we buy things is to make ourselves feel better about working - a sort of reward for all the hard yards put in day in day out ...

This seems to be part of my desire to buy stuff - 'I deserve it' seems to be part of the rationale - and a desire to have some fun with money rather than just saving it and paying the mortgage, which really is not that much fun really. (Or have I missed something?)

There is a distinct lack of logic about all of this, but there you go.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

some things you just need

I recently bought (through necessity) some new glasses. Some things you just don't want to do second hand - and glasses is one of them.

There is something very personal about glasses - sort of like toothbrushes and underwear on the 'no share', no second hand stakes. Is it because we wear them every day and are by their nature not communal?

Monday, October 22, 2007

doing less and doing it less often

I was doing some housework the other day and I was wondering do we need to do all this stuff so often? Do we need to clean the shower/toilets etc as often as we do? Do we need to vac the floor as often?

Do we really need to shower every day - wash our hair as often as we do - all of that stuff. If we did it less often, we would use less water, less energy, less resources and save ourselves a lot of hassle into the bargain.

I am not advocating a rapid descent into squalor and a great lowering of personal hygiene standards - but do we really need to do all this stuff so frequently? Who says?

I used to wash all my work clothes (shirts etc) after one wear - and then it dawned on me that all I do is sit in an air conditioned office all day - don't exactly work up a sweat - so maybe I can wear them twice! Not sure if I am game to try for three times, but gee the old sniff test is still pretty reliable. So much of our behaviour seems to do with conditioning rather than common sense.

I now wash my hair once a week rather than twice, and guess what? It looks fine, doesn't hang in lanky strings and that is all it needs. All it takes is to question your habits and give it a try. Pretty low risk really.

And I can think of way better things to do with my time rather than washing and drying my hair every day and incessant cleaning and clothes washing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


A few weeks ago I was reading a 'women's magazine' in a cafe which had an article on how to reduce your consumption and do your best for the planet. It had a few pieces of vaguely worthwhile advice e.g. 'fly less' and was about as shallow as you would expect in a publication of that sort.

The irony of an article on how we can help save the planet featuring in a magazine dedicated to consumerism - mainly via the fashion industry - and bulging full of ads exhorting us all to buy more stuff was not lost on me.

I concede that a fluffy fashion magazine is not where you are likely to find either intellectual fodder or a strong political message, but still ... The actions sure did not match the words.

Guess it is the same with all of us - no point wringing our hands about climate change and all the rest of it without changing our behaviours. It's the cause and effect thing.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

the book issue

I thought when I began this exercise that the biggest challenge I would face was on the book front. I am an inveterate book buyer and reader - always have been, always will be. To the point that I have run out of places to put the darned things.

So - several things have happened.

1. I have rediscovered the joy of the library. I was going before I started this Compact gig, but now I am a library consumer big time. Tend to get a bit carried away with the number of books I can actually read at any one time, but hey - life's a challenge! And I can take them back and they don't hang around my house forever and a day. (Yes, I know the logical response here is - why don't you give some of your books away? I am trying - and succeeding on a minor scale - but find it a bit like cutting off a limb... Some things are a work in progress).

2. And I now buy my books from Op Shops. Does this lead to a completely different reading experience or what! Books I would never have bought, books I read years ago, books no longer in fashion ... It's great! And somehow I find it easier to part with the Op Shop books, so I am quite living on the verandah yet.

A win all round. It's working for me.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

in search of a soap shaker

Does anyone out there know where you can buy soap shakers? I want to give up on the detergent thing and remember soap shakers from when I was a kid. Can I find one anywhere? No!

I think there would be a good market for them.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

slipping in the temple of consumerism

The object of my affections and I have just got back from holiday - went to Singapore for a couple of days and then on to Malaysia. Very fabulous all round apart from the overnight return flight which has left me feeling somewhat bleary eyed.

So there I was in shopping mecca. Two things happened:

1. I had a slight crisis of faith wondering whether what we are trying to do is making the slightest bit of difference. There was stuff and frenzied shopping everywhere. I was led to wonder whether or not I bought one pair of shoes a year or five really made much difference in the scheme of things. Am pleased to report that I gave myself a stern talking to and reminded myself that this is about personal values and how I want to live my life. It seemed to work, howver ...

2. And I think this is related, I bought some things. Nothing major, and certainly didn't go wild, but I did buy some new items that I would be hard pressed to classify as necessary.

At this point, I will confess that I am obsessed with pashminas. I think I have a pashmina fetish. I have many, and yet I needed more ...

I am wondering whether this was part of the 'holiday syndrome' where I tend to be a bit more relaxed about some things than I generally am. Is it because part of the charm of being on holiday is that normal work and life are suspended? Is this all part of relaxing, letting the proverbial hair down? Don't know really. But I can say, that I was restrained in my purchasing (I knew I would have to 'fess up here - you people keep me honest!) So, I did buy a few things but a lot less than I would have in my former life.

Will have to have some better strategies in place for next time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

now we're getting personal

Ok - it's time to face the undie issue. Knickers. I noticed the other day that my underwear is looking decidely past its best, which is not a suprise given it is well past the first flush of youth. And I confess, there is a fair amount of man made materials in my 'collection'. So it may last for years without wearing out, but just look shabbier and shabbier. Which is not a good look should I ever suffer the misfortune of being run over by a bus or find myself in other knicker revealing environments (ok, this would be the changing room at the gym - my life is not that exciting).

What to do? I don't need new underwear as what I have is functional, but there is going to come a point in the foreseeable future when the shabby nature of my intimate apparel is just not going to make me feel good.

How long should we hang on to our undies? Buy them at 20 and have them last the distance with you? I am sure it is probably technically possible but it sure is not an attractive thought.

What to do?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

hanky panky

This winter has seen the return of the hanky. I have reverted from user of tissues to user of handkerchiefs. And I must say I am not enjoying it much.

Tissues are a much more agreeable option than hankies - they come in small packs, you use them once and then you dispose of them. Hankies on the other hand can only be described as deeply unattractive after the first use - and quite frankly they don't get any better. Dragging a crumpled up, nasty looking hanky out of my bag to blow my nose on does not cheer me up. And if I was not to use a hanky and not to buy tissues - then the only avenue left is toilet paper. And that is even worse (although I must say I have been reduced to this on a couple of occasions).

But I guess everything has its price, and using hankies which are washed and last for many years has got to be the best solution, unless anyone has any better ideas. (And please don't suggest wiping my nose on my sleeve - happy to say I gave that up a very long time ago).

Thankfully spring is here and I am hoping that the need for hankies will be over soon. Till next winter anyway.

Friday, August 31, 2007

resisting a bargain

I find it hard to resist a bargain. Always have, always will. My dear old grandad used to say 'nothing's a bargain unless you need it', he was of course right - and he was also an avid bargain hunter. Maybe it's in the genes.

Anyway, I am proud to say that I did resist a bargain. Was sorely tempted to buy a watch that I have been admiring for some time - and there it was - 30% off. A bargain! The temptation ... the force of will required to walk away ...

But I did. And was inordinately proud of myself (there was some teetering on the brink involved).

This is of course despite the fact that I have three watches already ...

Friday, August 24, 2007

small things

I am rather proud that I have fixed something. Or, to be technically correct, the Object Of My Affections fixed something at my direction (and insistence). The knob on the microwave broke (yes folks, I own a microwave with a turning knob), which made it rather difficult to operate.

After a few weeks of dealing with a no-knob device, patience began to run out - not that we use it much - but now and again I heat something up in it.

My immediate reaction was to think it was time for a new one - after all, it must be nearly 10 years old - which as we all know is very old in appliance years. And then - a brainwave - glue the knob back together. This may seem obvious, but it took me a while to come to that conclusion. I did have to buy some super glue, but the knob is now back in one piece and usable.

So now the elderly microwave will hopefully last a few more years. I am proud. Made me realise we really don't live in a fix-it society.

Friday, August 10, 2007

a spending spree

This is a bit tragic, but I am excited - have been shopping today. Ok - it was op-shopping - and a very satisfying experience it was too. There are a couple of op shops round where I live, but it is not a particularly affluent area - so consequently most of the stuff ain't great. Does ok for books, but that's about all really.

Anyway, I dragged the reluctant Object of My Affection across a couple of suburbs and I got to shop. Bought a great pair of italian suede shoes for $15 - got to love that - a little handbag, a bunch of books and a few CDs (all of which are a complete mystery - will give them all away if I don't like them). Happy as a lark.

Ok - so now is the hard part - did I need any of those things? No. Am I glad I bought them? yes!

I haven't really shopped at Op shops (apart from a bit of idle looking around for books) since I was an impecunious student. Think perhaps it lost its charm because it made me feel poor, which was ok when I was 19, but not so much fun now. And it is a fairly time-consuming business as well - you do have to be dedicated.

I am also mindful that one of my aims in life is to have less stuff rather than more ... yes, I know it doesn't really stack up.

Anyway, it was fun. It got me over the shopping bug, and I am re-using a bunch of stuff that other people didn't want. Overall a happy outcome.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

food business

Thanks to Bryan at My Fair Share who very kindly donated me a copy of ‘The ethics of what we eat‘ by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. A thought-provoking book about what we eat, the methods of food production and their environmental and animal welfare impact.

And if you suspect that the truly ethical option is to be vegan who only eats organic food, then you are about right.

It is a well written, accessible book that will make you think differently about a lot of things. Not too preachy. In the spirit of the Compact I would like to share the joy. If you would like me to send it to you, leave a comment with your email address.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

weighing up the rice issue

I bought some rice the other day - Basmati - to go with a very fine sweet potato curry. Happy to report my cooking is improving...

So - the options in the supermarket were rice from Pakistan or rice from Australia. Once I started to think about it, I did not find this a very easy choice.

1. Australian rice - no doubt a fine product, but I don't think we should be growing such grossly water intensive crops in this parched land that is suffering from major water supply issues.

2. Pakistani rice - shipped a long way to get here. Food miles = v.high. But maybe (?) purchasing this rice would support people on lower incomes if the production involves a lot of manual labour.

Neither, I might add, were organic - so another set of issues there. In the end I bought the Pakistani rice, but I am still left scratching my head as to what is the best course of action.

Give up rice?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

it ain't gettng easier ...

When I started on this bold adventure six months ago (thinking I would give it a crack for four weeks), I thought it would be hard. And it wasn't - for a while. I think that was when I thought that there was an end in sight.

Since those few glory weeks I have had a few angst ridden stuff-lust attacks, I have teetered on the brink of temptation, and I have slipped a couple of times. And I have made a few
(very few) considered purchasing decisions. And I have taken a long, hard look at myself and had to admit that I - having never thought of myself as much of a shopper or as being overly-acquisitive - am (was) in fact a signifcant consumer.

I thought that as I went along it would be easier. But it ain't. What is surprising me is the need to be constantly vigilant - and how scarily easy it would be just to slip back into old ways of thinking/behaving/purchasing. It shouldn't be a surprise at all - here we are swimming against the tide in a consumer frenzied society, constantly bombarded with billions of dollars of advertising and struggling against years of social conditioning.

This gig is a commitment - not only of action but of thought. Both need to be constant.

Friday, July 27, 2007

on the nose?

In the spirit of non consuming I have been using one of those rock crystal deodorants for a few weeks. Luckily it was found lurking in the back of the bathroom cupboard, so I didn't have to buy one.

But now the question is: does it work? I am beginning to have my doubts. It does not stop sweating, which is a good thing as far as I can tell, given that is what bodies are meant to do. The issue is whether it stops the whiff factor - this is always very hard to deduce oneself, and it is not the sort of thing I would ask a casual acquaintance - and am not sure if I want to ask my friends.

And I KNOW I won't get a straight answer out of the object of my affections - he likes to play with my mind with these sorts of things.

I am not feeling bold in deodorant world - am thinking I may have to go back to more conventional means of keeping on the side of social acceptability. Any suggestions?

Friday, July 20, 2007

a domestic crisis of significant proportions

I regret to say I have been having a domestic crisis, having discovered some sort of wildlife (small mite-type bugs) in my wardrobe. I have hauled out every item from the wardrobe and am having to wash or dryclean all of the clothes - and I mean ALL of the clothes (the bugs are only visible on a few, but ...). Horrible. Tedious. Time consuming and all round vexing.

I realise that my bad habits are coming back to haunt me. I have not cleared out my wardrobe for a very long time - despite good intentions it was just too much of a chore and a bore. So now there is a large number of clothes to be dealt with. And I can't even give stuff away until it is cleaned. What a pain.

This is not joyous in the heart of winter in Melbourne where it seems to be raining unnaturally frequently. And consequently the washing machine has been getting a good workout, as has the dryer (although I have been drying as much as I can on the rack over the heating vent or outside). Have been trying to do the right thing and now I am hogging water and power like there is no tomorrow. And using insect spray. Great!

Not happy at all, but can't help but think I have been the author of my own misfortune. Which does of course make it all the more irritating.

And am now having to ask myself searching questions like: How many pashminas does one woman need? Answer: Not nearly as many as I have.

So, a disagreeable lesson has been learnt and Operation Wardrobe continues. Any advice will be favourably received.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

when is it time to say goodbye?

I am beginning to accept that a parting of the ways is inevitable for me and my trusty boots. After having worn them religiously for 18 months or so, they are starting to give up the ghost. I got them re-heeled a couple of months ago and was very pleased with that. Now I am getting part of the soles replaced. And I know that in a couple of months time something else will have worn out.

When do I decide that enough is enough and let them go gracefully to boot heaven? Or do I keep on trying to patch them together, only managing to extend their life an extra few months at a time?

Feels a bit like deciding to have a trusty old pet put down (all right, that is a gross exaggeration, but you get the picture).

In the meantime I have bought some more time.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

hope in a jar?

In my recent efforts to use up the contents of the bathroom cupboard, I have been using an expensive(ish) moisturiser.
Issue 1 was the fact that I didn't realise it was there.
Issue 2 was it had cost in the vicinity of $50 - expensive in my books.
Issue 3 was the promises about how much younger and more fabulous it would make me look ...

Well, I used the jar up. Outrageously it didn't last four weeks - and guess what? I look exactly the same. Well, maybe four weeks older.

What was I thinking? When I bought it, did I honestly think it would make the slightest bit of difference? Probably not - well certainly no more than any other moisturiser - cheaper or more expensive. And given that I believed then, as I do now, that what you put on the inside of your body is more important that what you slap on the outside, well - I do have to wonder.

I think I was consciously deluded - which has got to be more reprehensible than being generally deluded because I knew I was being suckered. I knew it was a load of bull and yet I fell for it anyway.

It ain't always easy, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pressure cooking

Is pressure cooking the answer? In my efforts to improve the quality of my diet and move towards a healthier lifestyle, I have been eating and cooking more beans and pulses. But beans take a mighty long time to cook, and then there is the soaking - a time consuming process. So beans, when I cook them, tend to be canned. Not ideal. Thank goodness for lentils I say. But that aside, I have had a flash of brilliance - a pressure cooker is obviously the answer! Food cooks a lot quicker - you use less gas/electricity - and because no steam comes out (and so they say, very little cooking smells) there may be no need for the extractor fan. Reduced energy use all round, faster and better food.

Apparently pressure cookers have been reinvented - most of the new ones don't have weights on them and apparently they don't explode all over the ceiling anymore. Taken the fun out of it really.

Anyway, I am thinking of buying one. And it will be new. This is not the sort of thing I would like to buy second hand, because they need to be in very good condition to work well. But on the plus side the ones I am looking at are apparently very high quality with a long guarantee.

But then again, I am minimising the purchase of new goods. Which way do the scales tip?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

the plastic bag issue

Like most of us, I have been conscious of the plastic bag issue for a long time now, and try never to go shopping without a number of green bags. All good. Until I realised that I was still putting fruit and vegetables into the plastic bags that go into the green bag ... Doh! So I stopped, and they now all roll around in the shopping basket until I get to the checkout. (I would like to say this was at the very beginning of my compacting journey, just in case you are thinking I am a complete dunce!)

This morning I was thinking about this, and it occurred to me that the main reason all the shops have those rolls of plastic bags for us to put our fruit and veg in is because it makes it quicker for them to process produce through the till.

Yes, there is some convenience to the customer, and it makes it a bit hard if you are buying small items (beans etc) without a bag to put them in. But the main benefit is for the supermarket.

Well, if it takes an extra minute for them to add up my bill, then so be it. We will all have to live it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

the reckoning

It's the end of the financial year, and it seems a good time to do a bit of a review of progress so far.

I started the compacting journey in late January, thinking I would give it a good crack for a month. It seemed a good idea at the time. Little did I know what I was getting myself into (apart from my first foray into the world of blogging!).

So this is how it has gone:
1. buying stuff. Hugely reduced. I give myself 8 1/2 out of 10. I cannot believe I have not bought a CD since January! It was generally 4 or 5 a month. I should also note that I haven't stepped foot inside a CD shop since - I strongly suspect I would crumble in the face of temptation ...

Book buying was another major weakness - I have had a couple of minor slips, but again it used to be 4 or 5 (or more) a month. Have increased my library usage significantly and buy books from the Op Shop (and can even bear to take them back). Have figured out that I don't have to read the latest releases when they are hot off the press. This has been a struggle point for me, but on the whole doing quite well.

Clothes - don't go looking, don't go to shops much. Have bought a couple of items which I feel ok about. They have been conscious choices of quality items that I will wear a lot and will hopefully last the distance. Also bought some recycled items and make an effort to seek this stuff out.

Lipstick and perfume - girly weaknesses. Bought none. And judging by the amount I already have, I won't have to for another 20 years. But I still want to ...

Shoes - one pair second hand. No funky boots. Last year's funky boots are doing fine service after a re-heel.

Jewellery - two items second hand.

2. Cleaning products - bought some dishwash, vinegar, bicarb, and borax. Still working my way through the stuff in the cupboard. Why did I ever imagine we needed so many different cleaning products. Ridiculous. I would like to wash the dishes with soap (gee, just like the olden days) but have been stymied by not being able to find one of those shaker things you put it in. Don't want it getting slimy in the bottome of a container. Anyone got any brilliant ideas?

3. Energy use - thinking about this a whole lot more. Make a big effort to turn off lights and to only use heating when needed (and to keep it at 19 or 20 degrees). Not bad.

4. Water use - I am a bloody hero (in my own mind, anyway)! Have been showering with a bucket since December. First the water went on the garden, now it flushes the toilet. Also catch water from the basin in a bowl and add that to the bucket. Looking at a more serious investment in a tank.

5. Rubbish - has reduced. The worms eat all the vegetables, and the rubbish (which was largely packaging I suspect) has gone down. Not wasting so much food.

6. Food - didn't buy much processed food, but am cutting that down. Starting to buy some organic (I would like it to be all, but this is a point of domestic disagreement ...) Am taking my own lunch to work, so not buying any packaging with that. On the odd occasion I do buy lunch, I make sure it is wrapped in paper.

7. Mind change - huge. From 'see it, want it, buy it' consumer to considered consumer. No more spontaneous purchases. Thinking a lot more about my actions and their consequences. Starting to feel that my values and my life are getting back in sync. Got to be happy with that.

So there you have it. The benefits have been enormous - have met some fabulous people and started to change my thinking about a whole lot of things. There is still a long way to go, but I am well on the journey.

There is no going back.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

does second hand perpetuate a problem?

I went to the preloved clothing sale on Saturday and bought a new handbag, a couple of tops, a pair of shoes and a watch. All second hand, in very good condition and at bargain prices. I guess the desire to spend some money had to come out somewhere/somehow. It got me thinking about this whole second hand thing - yes, in buying second hand we are not creating a new market for goods, energy is not expended in making new stuff, and we are reusing things. All good.

On the other hand, it gives free license to continue in consumer mode, which is not really a good thing and perpetuates the pursuit of the material. And in buying second hand stuff, are we salving other people's consciences so that they can happily go out and buy more?

There is something that is not really stacking up for me here - but am not quite sure what it is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

this could be vintage nirvana?

I have just come across an article about a market (Melbourne) for women's 'pre-loved' clothing on Sunday 24 June. At the Hawthorn Town Hall. The woman who runs it also runs markets for selling 2nd hand kids clothes. This is the web site:

Worth a look.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Clothes just aren't built to last any more

Clothes just aren't built to last any more.

I have come to this conclusion after years of trying to 'build' a wardrobe.

I've done all the right things, I swear. I've looked after my clothes. 'Invested' in 'classic' pieces that were meant to become the 'backbone' of my wardrobe. Classic cut jeans and denim jackets. Good quality jackets and blazers that were supposed to last forever. Shirts that were well-cut. Good quality boots. Top quality underwear.

None of it seems to last more than five years. Buttons and fasteners break. Seams rip. Fabrics tear. And I am convinced that the factory made 'Made In China' label that you see on nearly everything these days should really come with a codicil: "Poor Quality Garment: Destined for the dump in 2 years flat.

I compare my modern clothing to the items I have found in Op Shops that were made here in Australia (and elsewhere) pre-1970s. A few funky shirts that would make Austin Powers swoon. Some really old miniskirts that may even be Mary Quant originals from the 1960s.

The difference in quality is astonishing. Even the cheapest of my old shirts (made from 100% polyester!) are double-stitched, and the seams have generous allowances. Darts are properly finished, and patterns match up beautifully.

In short, they're well-made, and made to last. And the proof is in the pudding, because here am I, in 2007, 30+ years on, still wearing these great clothes. One of my funky 70s shirts is now in its fourth season since I've had it, and is wearing as well as the first day I got it. Still great, still comfortable, still a favorite.

But the clothes I bought new in 2003 - they're long gone. Fallen apart. Made In China, in some sweatshop where a person almost certainly wasn't paid properly and had no interest or pride in their work. Who can blame them, making shirt number 500 for the day, all exactly the same?

So what is a frugal Greenie supposed to do?

Here are a few tips:

  • I start by buying what I can from Charity Shops, second-hand. The older the better. Clothing that is pre-1980s at the very least, because it was in the 1980s that the big shift to sweatshops happened, and the quality of clothing took a big shift down.

  • I also buy classic items that are less likely to date. Modern fashion, forget it. My wardrobe consists of classic cut jeans, classic jackets, classic shirts, skirts and dresses, and all the best quality I can afford.

  • I avoid the 'Made In China' label like the plague. No, I'm not racist. I simply know that when people are poorly paid, they have less interest in ensuring that the garments they produce are well-made. In short, they have less pride in their work, and that is reflected in the quality of the item. That's without even getting into a whole stack of human rights issues!

  • I buy men's clothing in preference to women's, when I can. Men's clothing is generally better made, better cut, and cheaper. The quality is better all round, and the fabrics are usually of a heavier weight. Even the most petite woman can save herself some serious money by buying men's socks, men's handkerchiefs, and boy's t-shirts.

  • I avoid factory-made garments as a rule, whenever possible. Handmade clothing is so much better. Charity Shops have a surprising number of hand made clothes, especially dresses. They are easily spotted by the lack of tags, individual styling, and great fit.

  • Lastly, as part of my 'No More Stuff' vow, whenever I buy something that is new to me (and usually it is secondhand), I remove an old item from my wardrobe. That way, I don't build up the number of clothes I have, and my 'stuff' doesn't get out of hand.

Monday, June 18, 2007

and now I have purchased ...

I have been shopping and bought a new coat and trousers (first clothing purchased since December). The trousers were a carefully planned and desperately needed purchase, but the ooat wasn't (spontaneous, but it is good quality). It got me thinking about the sustainability of this gig - at some stage, you really have to get new clothes - whether they be 'new new' or 'recycled new'. Two of my pairs of trousers were in dire need of replacement - one pair had just come to the end of their natural life and were not really fit for polite society any more, the other pair (I am rather embarrassed to confess) were cheap, and as it turned out, nasty. I should have known better. And I've had my old coat for 5 years and it's looking somewhat tired.

I have been looking diligently in the local op shops. Maybe it is the area I live in, but they just don't stock corporate-suitable clothes. And if I am to be honest, the musty used clothes smell just doesn't do it for me. Tried a recycle shop - but there was nothing that suited that day. How much effort should I put into searching out non-new clothes? Apart from which I am not too excited about paying a reasonable amount of money for clothes that definitely look pre-loved before I get to them. And I don't really like shopping that much anyway.

So, the upshot - a coat that should last 5-10 years and new decent quality trousers. I am pleased. And considering the sales are on, feeling pretty restrained. Or have I been extravagant? Is this good or bad behaviour?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

cured at last?

Today being a public holiday, my beloved and I went out. For a drive. Not something we generally do. We went to a small country town with the biggest antique shop I have ever seen. I love old stuff - I love junk - I love antiques. And this place was bulging full of it. And I looked at it, and admired it, and considered buying a couple of things, and then thought 'I don't think I will use it.' I didn't buy anything - and I am fairly astonished. There I was in a vast haven of guilt free shopping, and I didn't want to buy anything. I am reeling from shock.

However, I have decided that I do need to buy some new clothes for work. A new suit is required. So I shall buy one. I will buy what I need and no more.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Handbags and happiness

Case study 1: The Trendsetter

For some, it's the handbag. Latest fashion. It's this season's must-have. You've probably seen female after female walking around the city proudly clasping them. The females also have the latest boots (to match the handbag). And the latest smock-style dresses. The latest cape-jackets. The latest hair accessories. The 'right' leggings. The make-up. The jewelry.

It will all be out of date and in landfill within 18 months, declared 'out of date' by the Powers That Be.

Case study 2: The Geek

For some, it's the PDA. The latest model. Plays everything. Has everything. Does everything. Very small, neat, compact. Fits into your pocket - maybe so small you don't even notice it's there. A smart phone. iPod. Laptop. Palmtop. Geeky toys your geeky friends will wow over.

It will start doing 'strange things' within a year or two. Maybe the screen will stop sensing your stylus taps, or get too scratched for clear viewing. Or the screen might just go blank one day. Or the model you have doesn't have enough memory any more. Or it just isn't as spiffy as the one your workmate has. Toss it out, shove it in the drawer, sell it on eBay for next to nothing - it's garbage now, whichever way you look at it.

Case study 3: The Mountaineer

Maybe your 'thing' is adventure sports. You have lots of clothing with 'Kathmandu' emblazoned across it. 'Gondwana'. 'Feathertop'. High-tech mountain gear. Not that you do much mountaineering but - hey - it sure looks good. It even makes your beer gut look trimmer.

Once again, you've got to keep up with those infernal Joneses. Keep that funky, sporting wardrobe up-to-date with the latest outerwear, and toss anything that is looking a bit worn in the trash. Or maybe give it to St. Vinnies charity shops. But probably the bin.

Oh, those Joneses!

The truth is, we all have our weaknesses, whether they are clothes, toys, equipment, or even spoiling the kids with the latest kids stuff.

The reason the Downshifting movement has come into its own is because the bane of modern society is, simply put, Too Much Stuff.

We're drowning in clutter. We're knee deep in belongings that we don't really want, don't really use, and probably never really needed in the first place.

Somewhere along the line, we convinced ourselves (encouraged by copious amounts of advertising which has played upon our lack of self-worth) that we needed things to be worthwhile, beautiful, clever, fun, or amusing. Things would win us friends and help us to influence people. Things could help us do what our small, lonely, self-doubting humanity might not.

The Trendsetter (case study 1) convinced herself that if only she had the 'right look' (as marked by various fashion magazines, shops etc.), she would be more beautiful, more appealing, more popular with her friends, and probably more likely to find a partner. Oh, and happier.

Sadly, in our shallow society, some of this is probably true.

The Geek (case study 2) convinced him/herself that if only s/he had the 'right toys' s/he would have some sort of funky BOFH status among his/her other Geek friends. In this subset of society, comparing clever gizmos is a major pastime, and having better gizmos than your peers is sometimes, sadly, a definite status-gainer.

Maybe the Geeks should really stop to question if they should perhaps consider deeper and more meaningful ways to strengthen relationships than having toys?

The Mountaineer (case study 3) convinced him/herself that if only s/he has the right clothing and equipment, s/he'll look and feel fit, attractive, and ready to tackle the great outdoors.

How many hours are spent earning enough money to pay for that equipment and clothing? Are there enough hours left to enjoy the great outdoors?

Maybe a better way for the Mountaineer to trim that beer gut and live their dream is to wear any old thing and just get out there into the world!

All of these case studies are people who think that they can find virtue, or value, or self-worth, in belongings.

But the truth is that self-worth can only ever be found inside oneself. No amount of stuff will ever make a person more worthwhile.

Somehow the more we clutter our lives up with clothing, toys, possessions, 'stuff', the more we lose sight of what is real, and deep, and meaningful.

All around us, in our overly 'stuff'-filled society, people are searching for meaning. Attending meditation workshops. Trying yoga, Pilates, swimming, gym work. Struggling to lose excess pounds and shed excess emotional baggage. Grasshopper-leaping from religion to religion in search of 'the truth'.

But here's the rub: Happiness can't be bought or sold.

You can't find fulfillment through clothing, toys, or equipment.

You can't buy contentment from a Church or a short course.

Truth can't be sold door to door, or ordered online, or purchased in a catalog.

The paradox of happiness is that sometimes it is easier to find your bliss when you shed the 'stuff'.

Our society has fallen into the trap of thinking that happiness is all about the handbag. But the handbag is empty. It will never make you happy.

Neither will that latest geeky toy or that piece of outdoors equipment.

But if you go outside, and listen to the wind in the trees, and smell the flowers.
Or if you hug someone you love and are hugged in return.
Or if you give some of that 'stuff' you have to someone who really needs it, and tell no-one and ask for nothing in return.

Then you might just find happiness.

(x-posted from the writer's own Blog Cluttercut)

water matters

Having spent most of the summer with a bucket in the shower and bowls in the basin and sink to catch water for the garden, I was a bit confounded when it did rain a few times. The garden, such as it is, survived the summer and autumn crisis and no longer needs the extra water, but I still have a need to conserve it.

The water crisis sure isn't over.

So now I am using the water from the shower to flush the toilet. Haven't got round to doing the greywater plumbing thing - am just tipping it in. I figure that each bucket of shower water that gets used is a lot less litres of clean drinking water down the toilet...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

changing mindsets

I am noticing that I am not much interested in buying things any more - the habit of not buying is reinforcing the attitude that I don't want to/don't need to. It has been like going through a re-education processs - almost a reprogramming.

There are things that I will need to buy (new trousers are failry urgently required), but the buying with little or no thought seems to have been conquered.

We will see if it lasts.

Friday, May 25, 2007

feel like sharing?

If you'd like to write to this blog and share your comapcting experiences you're more than welcome. Email me on and I'll add you to the list of writers.

Or you could join the CompactOz Group - see the link on the side.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting on the secondhand bandwagon

Last week I got smart.

I'd never asked before, but at my son's playgroup, I casually raised the issue of outgrown clothes.

All the mothers then started talking about how they were advertising their kids' outgrown stuff on eBay, and how they had garbage bags full of great stuff gathering dust in their garages.

I then said (casually, although this had been my plan all along), "Well, if anyone has any good stuff for girls that they're interested in selling that I could buy for Dawnie, that would be great!"

Next thing I knew, I was inundated with offers for great secondhand babywear! Go me!

It now looks like I'll never have to buy new again for my little girl. And the other Mums in the playgroup are now doing swaps and sales between us, saving even more new stuff from being bought!

Of course, this is what mothers used to do in the "old days" - before eBay. It just took a little incentive on my part to get the ball rolling again.

I'll be buying secondhand items for a quarter to half the price that they would cost new. The mothers who sell them to me will clear out their old stuff, saving themselves the hassle of advertising on eBay, and earning some useful cash for their families. Everyone wins.

Our society needs to lose the silly idea that buying secondhand is somehow shameful. I think buying secondhand is clever. Instead of wasting our money on clothes, we can save our money for something far more important, such as our kids' education, or helping them to buy a home of their own in years to come - long after any clothes are gone in the dustbin.

Finding my boundaries

I'm the mother of a 2 1/2 year old toddler (a boy) and a 3 month old baby (a girl). I'm happily married to a high-earning professional, am a high-earner myself, and we're in great financial shape.

But our lifestyle doesn't reflect our finances. For the past six years, we've been living in a small two bedroom unit, in a very modest suburb in Melbourne. While we were comfortable for the first couple of years, to say that we're crammed in like sardines is an understatement. We need larger digs.

But now we're faced with a clash between ethics and practicalities.

I'm hankering after a three bedroom home with a playroom. Nothing huge - certainly nothing on the McMansion level - but just something where we don't have to step over the bottom of the bed to get to the cot, because the room is too small to walk around it. I'd like the kids to have a bedroom each. And a playroom would be wonderful - a place where they can make their own noise, and I don't have to pick up every single toy at the end of the day, so I don't trip over them on the way out the kitchen at night when I get a drink.

But is it luxury to want more? Am I being greedy, or practical? What is enough, and how much is too much? I'm sure all those families out in Sylvania Waters in their McMansions are convinced that they need their 'parents retreats', 'cinema rooms', 'spare rooms', 'guest rooms', 'pool rooms' and so on. What we need, in our society, is often in our minds rather than a facet of reality. Compare Australia to Bangladesh, where a family will be happy to have one room where the roof doesn't leak.

Maybe we just have too much stuff. We did a Year Of The Cull last year, in which we sold so many possessions that we were able to live off the profits for three months - the sales paid our grocery bills for many, many weeks. And still we have no lack of what my husband would call 'junk' in our home. I'm inclined to agree with him.

So - do we move to larger digs, or do we baulk the trend, and raise a family of four (plus cat) in a small (9 squares) two bedroom unit? This question is all about finding my boundaries - convenience versus absolute minimalism.

I think we'll be bowing to convenience, and moving. Does it count as buying something new? I'm sure it does.

But I know one other thing - as a promise to the planet, if we move to a larger home, I'll be installing solar hot water and a rainwater tank. And if it has garden space, I'll be plonking in a few fruit trees.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

using it up

I am currently working my way through stuff in the bathroom and laundry cupboards. So, all those half used little bottles of shampoo from hotels and mini toothpastes and samples of face cream are being put to good use. The hotel shampoo thing has always been a dilemma - do you bring it home and use it (or not) or leave it to be chucked out? Better to use it, I thought, except that I didn't ... I just seemed to accumulate them.

Well, now I am mending my ways. I am using stuff up. Seem to be getting a bit more space as well. Funny that.

Friday, May 18, 2007

the big issue

This has been bothering me for some time. There is a guy who stands outside the supermarket I got to selling the Big Issue. I think the BI is both a good publication and a fantastic initiative, and like everybody who sells the magazine this guy could obviously do with some more trade.

But I don't buy it because, well, I'm compacting and I am trying REALLY hard not to buy things. But funnily enough in this instance it is not making me feel so good.

To buy - or not to buy?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

the whole carbon thing

I was looking at second hand books on the web the other day, and was rather astonished by the purchase and handling costs from local suppliers. So I checked out Amazon and found I could buy what I wanted much cheaper from the States - even with the currency conversion and freight costs. And then I got an attack of the guilts about the ethics of carting something around the world just so I can save a few bucks. Doesn't seem right somehow (especially as I am after a couple of Peter Singer's books on Ethics and Globalisation).

Upshot - no books, old or new for me. But on the positive side I am getting more patient and acknowledge that I don't necessarily have to have them Now.

Goodbye instant gratification.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

NoMoreStuff available as RSS feed on LiveJournal

A very quick note to all readers: NoMoreStuff is available as a syndicated feed for users of LiveJournal.

Simply go to and add NoMoreStuff to your friends list, so that you can read our blog at LiveJournal.

Too easy!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

managing desire

I have noticed that being a compacter does not result in automatically not wanting new things - it helps, but I still see things I want to buy. Not buying things immediately has made me realise how transient the desire for things can be - what seems irrestible one day may generate only a flicker of interest a week later. Not giving in to instant gratification has a really positive effect.

When I do think I really must have something, I write it down. I have a list of 'highly desirable items' that I may buy one day. Whenever I add something to the list I see something else there that I figure I really don't want all that much any more. Knowing that I can purchase these things should I really want to (at a date to be specified) stops me feeling deprived.

It has been over three months and I am pretty pleased with how I am going - and astonished at how much I used to buy. And I was never an enthusiastic shopper ...

Friday, May 4, 2007


It's interesting how expectations change as society (and levels of affluence) changes. What I find interesting is the expectations and assumptions that we seem to take on unconsciously. Like why is it not seen as acceptable to give second hand gifts to new babies of friends and relatives? And why do we all need so many clothes and so much stuff in general?

One of the great things that has come for me out of compacting is the questioning of things that I just took for granted, and the re-evaluating of what I really need and really want. Am finding that they are both considerably less than I would have thought a few months ago.

we've set up a Google Group

We've set up a Google Group and if you're thinking 'it's about time too!' I don't blame you. It is pretty much a blank canvas at the moment, but get yourselves in and get going.

You'll need to sign up as a member to post to it - but it seems quite easy.

Here it is:

Sorry - can't make the link live, not sure why.

Monday, April 30, 2007

is it a girl thing?

Is excessive consumption gender related? Do girls consume more - and if so, why? I have been wondering if this translates into the gatherer vs hunter thing with women more inclined to collect and store stuff. I reckon we win hands down on the clothes and homewares front, but am not sure about anything else.

Have found it interesting that the response from a lot of guys when I talk about the Compact is that they don't buy anything - their wife/partner does it all.

What do you think?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

indestructible socks

I would like to preface this post by stating categorically that I am not a footwear fetishist, but I have recently been thinking about socks.

A few years ago I set about removing a bunch of irritations from my life - one of the first to go was pantyhose - damned awful things they are. So, I pretty much gave up wearing skirts and now wear trousers most of the time. Which brings me to the socks. Another thing that really annoyed me was not having socks that matched, so I bought a whole lot the same. I don't know what they are made of, but they are pretty close to indestructible.

So - is it a better idea to buy something manmade that will last for a really long time, or to buy natural fibres like cotton or wool which have a much shorter life? The benefits from a compacting point of view is that I may not have to replace them in this lifetime, but who knows what the process was made for making them? But then, how much more resources (particularly water) would be used to make many pairs of replacement wool or cotton socks?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

storing fat

I have been thinking that hanging onto stuff you don't need is like getting fat. Both are the result of overconsuming, are easy to accumulate and take a lot of time and effort to get rid of.

Perhaps not a particularly attractive analogy, but interesting when you think of surplus possessions as stored energy (everything we purchase took energy in some form to create) that slows you down, gets in your way and all that.

Am glad I'm on the compacting diet.

Monday, April 16, 2007

you could be famous for a minute or two (maybe)

The following comment was left a few weeks ago:

Hi - my name's Nick Galvin. I'm a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. I'd love to get in contact with some of you (Sydney) compacters for background/a possible story.


So if you're in Sydney and want to get the compacting word out, drop Nick a line.

shoe remediation

I am trying some shoe remediation. When I took a lot of stuff out of storage, including the now liberated furniture, I also happened across a whole bunch of shoes that I have not worn for a VERY long time. (This all came about due to a long distance relocation).

Some of the shoes had mould on them, and man do they stink. I threw out the badly affected ones and wiped the others that were worth salvaging with tea tea oil and warm water. Seems to have knocked off the few bits of mould, but the evil smell remains. Am now trying liberal applications of baking soda (it will be interesting to vacuum the suede boots!). Next plan of attack is white vinegar and water on the leather ones.

We will see - it has been quite a lot of effort but I really don't want to throw them away (outrageously, I think a couple of pairs were only worn once or twice).

And I have had them so long, happily they are now back in fashion, which is a definite plus.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

a small succumb

I have been on holiday and bought 3 books and a toy for my friend who has just had a bub. I thought I might feel racked with guilt but I don't. I would have been hard pressed to have got any of the books second hand. Re the toy - it is wooden and will last a long time.

Maybe I don't feel guilty because I think in general my consuming behaviour has changed considerably. And I concede that there are things that I will occasionally buy, but not much and not often.

And on the other side of the equation I have liberated some stuff that I have not used for a really long time. Sent it off for auction - so wherever it ends up, it will hopefully be used and appreciated. So maybe the scales are even on this one.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

But do plants count?

It has been a rough summer.

We're at the end of the worst dry spell I can remember. It was a struggle to keep my tree ferns alive, and my memories of this summer will be scattered with images of traipsing through the house with buckets of water from the shower, and mourning the loss of the greenery around my home as plant after plant and tree after tree has shed its leaves and died.

The government is calling this a 'drought'. I prefer to use its correct term: climate change.

Now that the weather is finally cooling down, we're left with the decision of what to do with the space where our lawn was. We already covered the area with mulch a few months back, to protect the soil beneath, and now the plan is to transform the space into a waterwise garden. No more grass, no more watering required, and a host of beautiful, hardy, drought-tolerant plants that will look beautiful and add value and colour to our property.

The transformation won't come cheap. Plants are expensive, and even though the area that was lawn is only small (maybe 10 metres by 6 metres at its widest point), the landscaping will cost money.

So - do plants count in my vow to 'buy only what is necessary'?

I will argue a solid 'yes'. What my family and I are trying to do is to become sustainable, and while our ever-thirsty lawn wasn't sustainable, a water-wise garden most certainly is. Many of the plants we are intending to put in will also be useful ones - herbs and fruit-bearers, as well as natives that will support and encourage wildlife. All of these things are good for the planet. And that's what my 'No More Stuff' pledge is about, after all.

Sometimes we have to buy things to become more sustainable. An example might be good quality, classic shoes that will last many seasons, so we don't have to buy new shoes every year. Or buying a compost bin, so your kitchen scraps go on the garden rather than in landfill. Or a greywater hose to make your garden bloom even in the harshest of dry spells. A water saver shower head would also fall into the 'good to buy' category.

So yes - I will be buying plants. But I'm glad to say that I'll be selling our old lawnmower, and I hope that our impact on the planet will be reduced by our garden transformation. I also hope that we'll be soon welcoming in native birds to our garden, and making the soil in our patch of the planet just a little bit healthier and happier.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rebekka - the muffin recipe for you

This is the recipe for the Turkish Delight muffins that were facilitated by the muffin tin from Rebekka. Off topic, but closing the circle ... and yes, they were very good.

Turkish Delight Muffins
  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 x 55 g Turkish Delight chocolate bars
  • Whipped cream and mint leaves to serve

Chocolate ganache
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 200 g dark chocolate, chopped

1. Grease 12 hole muffin tin (1/3 cup capacity)
2. Sift flour, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl
3. Whisk egg, milk and melted butter in a large jug till combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix, being careful not to over-mix, until just combined. Finely chop 2 x chocolate bars and fold into chocolate mixture. Divide mixture among holes of prepared pan.
4. Cook in moderately hot oven (190 C) for about 20 minutes or until cooked when tested. Stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.
5. To make chocolate ganache, place cream and chopped chocolate in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until mixture is smooth and combined. Transfer ganache to small bowl and stand at room temperature until mixture is a spreadable consistency.
6. Spoon ganache over muffin tops and decorate with remaining chopped chocolate bars. Stand muffins until ganache is set.
7. Serve with whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.

holding out

Happy to say I got over my bout of stuff lust, and haven't bought anything. Am wondering now about how this will work for me in the long term - I am fairly confident in thinking that my attitude towards consumption has changed significantly over the past couple of months - but realistically there will be times when I do buy new shoes/clothes etc. I am beginning to think that part of the answer lies in 'considered consumption' - thinking carefully about whether I do really need it/why I am buying it etc. And the other part of the equation is buying stuff that is high quality and is going to last a long time - and that I am going to want to keep for a long time. Don't know if this is the answer, but it seems a start.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

confession time

I've been avoiding the blog for a week now because I've caved in.

My great-aunt passed away at the age of 95 after a great and influential life, and I was in the city after a meeting, walked into David Jones and was so upset over it, I went and bought myself a really expensive dress to wear to the funeral. It was the first one I saw, tried on, and the whole process took 15 minutes.

Do you like how I've tried to justify the purchase first??

My husband's first response was "are you going to let your blog know that you've bought something new??"....(ie - not happy jan!)

I've felt so guilty about it so much since that I just don't think I'll get much enjoyment out of it. I've not even gone grocery shopping this past week to try and 'make up' for it.

And yes, I did wear it to the funeral so I can't return it.

On the up side, the guit far outweighed the 3 minutes happiness it gave me, so I won't be rushing back to the shops in a hurry.

the muffin saga

I have made the muffins! This is something I wanted to do a while ago, but did not have a muffin tin. I had a couple of generous offers via the blog - one from Brisbane (a bit far for a pickup) and one from Melbourne. And then I began to find the world is a very small place ...

I contacted Rebekka (with the Melbourne muffin tin) and we agreed to meet. In the process of making the arrangements it was clear that we both worked in the CBD, in the same street - and in the same building! We hooked up on Friday afternoon and the said muffin tin was handed over.

Yesterday I made chocolate turkish delight muffins - and they were very good. Even taking into account my extremely modest culinary skills.

So, thanks Rebekka, it was all due to you that our friends got a decent dessert last night.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stuff lust

I am suffering from a serious case of stuff lust. I want to buy things - stuff - new stuff. Stuff I want - stuff I am beginning to imagine I need ...

So far I am holding out ok (I did buy a piece of jewellery, but it's antique so it doesn't count) but it does seem an almighty wrangle. I am fighting years of social conditioning, billions of dollars of advertising and god knows what else.

I am beginning to wonder if the acquisitive urge is hard wired - where does it come from, this desire to have more?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

New old bikes

This bike recycling project in Sydney is good.

Alana, can we add their link to our sidebar? I think we're a match.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

everything old is new again

I am sitting here wearing my new old shoes. I have a basket that I used to keep shoes in. I haven't looked in it for quite a while - well, yesterday I did and found a couple of pairs of great shoes that I had forgotten about. I mean completely forgotten - I had forgotten I even owned them.

Well, I feel like I have scored big time, I am now wearing them (very comfortable they are too, and just the sort of shoes I like - I am obviously a woman of taste and discretion). But it has made me wonder - how come I could forget that I ever owned these shoes? How come I could see the basket every day and not look in it for a couple of years ... How did I ever get so blase about possessions?

Probably because I have too much, and it is just too easy to get more.

Anyway, I am happy to report that the only books I have bought have been second hand. I have not bought any clothes or CDs or other stuff. Feeling pretty good about it all really, and I have new old shoes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

almost famous

The Shopping Sabbatical has been mentioned in an article in the Windsor Star (Canadian paper)

Thanks Alison.

Monday, March 12, 2007

to use or not to use, that is the question

After having bought new body and earth friendly (I hope) moisturiser - I found a tube in the bathroom cupboard. Petrochemical based. And body lotion (several bottles). Now - what is worse - do I use it (not too keen on that option) or do I throw it away to landfill?

Can't imagine that the second hand market for already opened skin products is booming ...

Friday, March 9, 2007

A new mum who doesn't buy?

Here I am, two weeks out from the birth of my baby daughter, an oddball in among all the other young mums I know.

I admire their latest purchases for their kids - the teeny tiny sandals, the cute little onesies, the miniature biker jackets. I laugh (or cringe) at the myriad of talking toys (all requiring batteries), the educational plastic whatsits, the TV tie-in plush dolls.

I don't buy any of it.

One of my friends (due mid-year) commented recently how parenthood seems to be merely an excuse to buy thousands of dollars of often unnecessary equipment these days.

Do young parents really need a change table? Our baby daughter is changed on the kitchen table, just like I was by my parents when I was a bub.

Do babies really need 45 outfits (for every occasion), mini leather jackets, fifteen 'my first teddy bear' toys, and enough bunny rugs to stretch to the moon and back?

Every department and budget store worth its salt seems to publish 'baby must-have' lists that stretch almost as endlessly - one free book provided to me when I had my son even listed a Toyota Landcruiser on its 'must-have' list!

These lists seem designed to turn even the most budget-conscious parents into uber-consumers, and happy young parents into gibbering, quivering wrecks of parenthood, who forever wonder whether their child will suffer if they don't buy exactly the right electric swing and baby walker for their little bundle of joy.

Confidence and happiness gets twisted into insecurity, and security is sought in the purchase of yet more items that promise to fill the gaps and make parenthood a sure success.

Which is what consumerism is ultimately about, of course. Consumerism sells insecurities, then markets a dream in the form of products as a 'cure'.

As a society, we're spending more and more time at work, earning the dollars to buy the latest, the greatest, the prettiest and the best - but in the meanwhile we're losing touch with what's real and meaningful. Our kids might look great in the latest fashion, but what's the point if we're slinging them in child care 5 days a week to pay for it all?

Having the image of being the perfect, 'family beautiful' might be great on the outside, but we really need to question our priorities if we don't put our kids, their health, and the health of the planet above wearing trendy outfits on the ladder of importance.

With my baby girl I'm stepping away from the dream that is sold to us in catalogues and on TV. She's proudly wearing 90%+ hand-me-down clothes, and the only new items she wears are her nappies and baby socks (impossible to get second-hand).

I'm not saying I don't feel the pull of consumerism, luring me to the malls and the stores and the baby boutiques. I do. But as a member of The Compact, a serious Downshifter, and a longstanding Greenie, I know that my baby is just as happy in last year's baby fashions, and that the love and care and thought we spend on her is worth far more than any stupid Toyota Landcruiser.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

no to plastic bags

One thing I am fanatical about is not using plastic shopping bags. But sometimes Even I fail in my efforts when I am caught withought my shopper bags and use the ones the store give out..Lazy huh?

Not anymore...

I saw this website on the San Fran Compact blog spot and I really wasn't happy about that poor turtle having a blue plastic bag for lunch.

Even if you can't commit to the compact 100% - please say no to plastic bags. It really is unacceptable to use them in this day especially when there are so many alternatives!

Skin products again

I bought the moisturiser - Daintree - plant based apparently (the tinted one came in glass, the other one in a plastic tube - I did consider that at length, but decided to go with it). We will see. But after the purchase I was reading an article on the ACF's website about cosmetics which stated that a woman could absorb up to 2 kg of chemicals a year through toiletries and chemicals. Yikes - that is a truly disgusting thought.

And I suspect that most women are on autopilot when it comes to skin care products and cosmetics - it is just something that we do. Although I don't wear makeup (apart from lipstick - there are some things you just need in life), I truly hate to think of the volume of petrochemically derived moisturiser that I have slapped on my skin over the years. No more. Am beginning to think that if you wouldn't eat it, then maybe you shouldn't put it on your skin (and thus into your body). Almond oil is starting to look pretty good.

Monday, March 5, 2007

No umbrella

I love how being a compacter pushes me to do things differently.

I left work today and found myself standing in the lobby, staring at heavy sheets of rain. I didn't have an umbrella. I didn't want to get soaked. What to do?

I actually thought about stealing a brollie, reasoning that, after all, umbrellas are like lighters and pens, objects that belong to the commonwealth. I've bought dozens of umbrellas in my life, and where are they now? You have them. Give them back.

So anyway, I knew there was a shop round the corner with a stock of umbrellas. New umbrellas.

What I did was, I dashed from one covered section of sidewalk to the next. This meant going the long way from the office to the car, but I figured that this way, I'd stay dryish and wouldn't absolutely have to buy an umbrella.

I got damp, but not soaked. By the time I got close to the shop, the rain had lessened. And by the time I got close to the car, it had stopped completely.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

mending and fixing

It's just uncanny that Alana was talking about society being disposable and throwing things away. I have just spent the weekend going through the three huge plastic tubs of old clothing that I have getting things out that I've not work for a few years and seeing what can be salvaged and worn this year. I've managed not to go near the clothing shops and buy anything since 03rd January. It's been three months and is an absolute record for me, but I too am feeling the 'need' for a lovely pair of winter boots even though it's a stinking 32 degrees here in Sydney with about 150% humidity!

In my rummaging around, I managed to find a lovely suit I've not worn for two years missing a few buttons, and a top that I bought 5 years ago that I've worn to work today. The girls in the office all seem to like it. I also found a great jacket with the hem out and a denim skirt I do something with. So my project for this week is to replace buttons and sew up the hem of my jacked and fix the skirt up. Luckily I have a bit of a mending kit and a button jar happening...not too sure how flash my sewing skills are, but I'll do my best.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Fixing things and moisturiser angst

I am not a fixer. I don't know many fixers. We don't live in a fix-it society - we live in a replace it society. I had dinner with family a week or so ago and there was talk of darning socks. Yes, some people still do it (granted, I doubt many of them are under 70!). I don't know how to darn, and quite frankly I don't want to find out - but it got me thinking about generational differences in attitude to how we use things. It seems that people bought up in times of plenty always expect to have plenty, and the concept of fixing things is pretty foreign to us. People who grew up with less seem to value things more. A broad generalisation? Probably.

On another note, my shoes broke today. At first I thought it might have been a glue job, but closer inspection revealed that the sole had broken in half. Not a glue job. Chucked them out. And I don't need to buy any more because I have enough shoes. But, having said that I really like the look of the boots that are coming in for winter. I suspect I am desperately going to want a pair. Am totally aware how much I don't need them and how superficial this desire is, but there you have it. I shall wrestle with my conscience until one of us wins.

On another tack - I will soon need to buy some moisturiser. Generally it is a cheap supermarket thing for me because I suspect that they are all pretty much the same, despite the promises of instant youth and beauty. Now I am beginning to think that I should be using organic (better for me, better for the environment, yada yada) and product that is packed in glass rather than plastic. Had a look at some - and nearly fell over at the price. But - a big bottle, it will last longer and the packaging impact will be less... I didn't really think this business was going to get quite so complex. Anyway, will make sure I wring the last out of the plastic bottle of petrochemically based supermarket moisturiser before I cough up for the good stuff. And you know, I somehow doubt that it will make the slightest difference to how I look.

I reckon it is time someone sued those cosmetic companies for false advertising - if they were to be believed there wouldn't be a woman around who looks a day over 23.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Is it wrong to do the right thing?

I have purchased - and it was stuff that I do not need immediately. I have just bought a box of 6 compact energy saving light bulbs and a low water flow shower head. The way I figure I will need lightbulbs eventually - and it is better to have some that are environmentally friendly on hand. And of course, you can't buy used ones. And the shower head has to be a good thing in terms of reducing water use. But it is purchasing ...

I think I made the right decision.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

our email address

If you haven't been able to find it, our email address is:

end of the month and not a muffin in sight

Have lasted through February and not bought anything apart from groceries and a couple of newspapers (and have been paying strict attention to those). Have only desperately desired a book - which I couldn't find second hand but which my wonderful friend Naomi found (a used copy) and donated to the cause.

The only other challenge I have really faced is my sudden burning desire to make muffins. Not a big deal but I don't have a muffin tin. The only other alternative I can think of is those paper cases they make cup cakes in - but I would have to buy those. Suspect a second hand muffin tin hunt could be fairly time consuming. Perhaps I just need to turn my attention to something else ...

In the meantime I can report that I am making an effort to bring my lunch to work (alright - this is only the second day, so maybe I shouldn't get too excited) and am trying to avoid purchasing overly packaged food.

I have been surprised by how much time I have spent thinking about this and the connections which are so obvious but which I never really considered before (consumption, energy use, packaging, brands, the creation of desire, greed vs need etc)

And tomorrow is 1 March and I propose to buy nothing - except my lunch.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

some more media articles,11913,1596540,00.html

Someone asked me to attach the original SMH article from 06th Jan this year, and I also found this Observer article from October last year, so here they are.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Happy now

Hey all you booklovers -

I have to thank 'runawaymind' for suggesting the Bookcrossing site. Bookcrossing is all about where you read a book, register it, and release it to someone else. I read about this a couple of years ago, but was not aware of the site. Thanks for putting me onto it.

And I really like the Enough site.

On another tack, I now see the link between the increasing size of houses (another form of overconsumption in terms of energy and materials use in terms of construction, as well as the increased energy use for heating/cooling etc) and the whole consuming culture. I guess houses have to get bigger to fit in all the stuff that we insist on buying and having. Quite bizarre really.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cleaning stuff

I bought some 'cleaning vinegar' the other day. My new plan is to go down the vinegar and bicarb cleaning route - am not overly confident re results but it has to be a better way to go - ie buying less cleaning products, less packaging, less toxins, less energy used in the manufacture (I hope). According to the label, cleaning vinegar is made from sugar cane - hopefully it is using something that was a waste product. Am not sure how or if it will differ in effectiveness from normal old vinegar in the cleaning stakes. Tragically I am now beginning to wonder if I have been sucked in by labelling ... Has anyone used this stuff? Must dredge out my copy of 'Spotless' by Shannon Lush and get the heads up on how to make all this work.

We used to use carbolic soap in my student days to clean stuff - not even sure if you can still buy it. Anyone know?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

No logo?

I've just read the response to my last entry from Alison who gave me a very interesting website to help get more information on what is enough.

I guess every day is teaching lessons in choice, responsibility and impact.

I think what made me so sad in Cambodia was that many markets were pandering to the tourists' need for cheap copies of 'luxury goods' such as LV handbags and CK t-shirts. They think that we just want logo after logo, and the demand is definitely there for it. Instead of buying the truly beautiful traditional silks and local craftwork that would help this destroyed nation grow and thrive AND maintain it's cultural heritage, travellers insist on buying cheap and nasty copies of luxury goods as their souvenirs. I guess it's just a small reflection of a greater problem.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trying to break the habits of a lifetime

SOOO pleased to have found the Sydney Compact! My husband and I have
been trying our best to compact for over 6 weeks now since we saw the
article in the SMH earlier in the year which is stuck up on our fridge.
Basically our tiny unit was just becoming overwhelmed with 'stuff' and
we were sick of just frittering away our money on nonessential things
we really didn't need, nor made us happy.

In that time we have joined the library and discovered a whole new
world of DVDs, magazines and books, he rides to work on a (previously
unusable) bike that we fixed up, and I walk. We've also managed to save
hundreds of dollars in just a short time as a result. Not really our
aim, but a great reward for our efforts I guess.
I have caved in a few times since we started in buying presents for
friends birthdays, a new book that I HAD to have to compete a set and a
new pair or slippers (I did wear the previous pair until they were
rags!). Hubby funnily enough has bought nothing (unless you count

I was a relentless consumer in the past and what I am finding it
difficult to deal with is the fact that I adore fashion, books and
beautiful things. However recent trips to Cambodia and South Africa
pretty much changed my perspective on life and what I need, so I am
hoping that compacting will take me that one step further....

Using what you've got

Am beginning to realise that if you buy something - or have bought something - then you have a responsibility to use it all. I have recently started cutting tubes of stuff (toothpaste, whatever) in half so I can use the volume that gets left behind from normal squeezing. And tipping bottles of moisturiser or whatever upside down for a couple of hours so that I can get it all out. There is often a surprising amount left behind. I figure even if I only get an extra one or two applications out of it, it means that overall I will be consuming a smaller number of products.

The only issue is it makes me feel like I am poverty stricken - need to keep reminding myself that it is for the good of the planet rather than financial necessity.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The snowball effect

We should definitely link all the media reports, blogs, and such. We've got to help the snowball grow.

Fran Kelly interviews John Perry on Radio National's Breakfast Show.

Maggie Alderson's Compacter's blog in Good Weekend.

Slippage and seepage

I slipped in the weekend. I didn't buy any consumer goods, but I did buy a juice for lunch on Saturday that came in a nasty plastic cup. Took a while for the penny to drop. And then - I regret to say, I did exactly the same thing on Sunday. Duh! I was a bit astonished when I realised my mistake, as I have been actively trying to not buy food in non recyclable plastics. Have been paying strict attention to the numbers on the bottom of containers - 1,2 and 3 can be recycled, 4 and above can't. Anyway, won't (hopefully) do that again in a hurry.

I have also started to notice the financial benefits. It wasn't part of my reason for participating, but am finding that money definitely stays in my wallet longer. I hate to think how much money has seeped away to be spent on things I didn't really need. Knocking impulse buying on the head is definitely a good thing.

The Compact is getting quite a lot of airplay now - Fran Kelly interviewed one of the original San Fran Compact members on Radio National this morning, and Maggie Alderson has committed to the Compact and is writing about it in her weekly column in Good Weekend.

Buying nothing at Westfield and marketing blitzes

I now have no reason whatsoever to enter Westfield's at Bondi Junction- or the hellmouth, as my architect friend calls it. I'm not buying anything new. And I'm not going there to shop for groceries.

Yet I was in there yesterday because a friend wanted to meet there for coffee. I met him in the food court. Taking the escalators from street level to food court level, I saw an electronic goods store, a Borders bookstore, a sports goods store, an outdoor wear store, a CD store and at least two cash machines. I also saw giant billboards featuring beautiful women selling clothes.

I heard somewhere last week that Americans see or hear a marketing message every seven seconds, on average. I imagine that it's probably the same rate, or close to it, for us.

I'm going to try and keep tabs on them, then guestimate how many messages I get per week. I don't have a TV, so it'll only be outdoor advertising, radio ads and ads on the net.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Feel free to blog along

Would be great to see a few more of you in the blog space - if you want to contribute (and sign up for the Shopping Sabbatical) email Jacinta at or comment on one of the entries (you don't need to be a member for that).

Otherwise there will be a lot more of the world according to Alana ...

if not me then who?

One of the things that I really like about this Compact business is the emphasis on personal responsibility. It is great that we - and people with similar ideas - are starting to think about what we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. It may not solve global warming, pollution and landfill issues, but at least we are doing what we can and making informed decisions. Beats the heck out of doing nothing and expecting someone else to fix it all.

An update on my hand wringing book dilemma of a week or so back - my fabulous friend Naomi read the blog, and managed to locate a second hand copy on Amazon which she bought for me. What a gal! I am eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

Am surprised that having made this commitment, I am now completely disinterested in buying stuff. Just not part of that game any more.

Makes me wonder how much of shopping and buying and accumulating stuff is about distraction? From ourselves, from our jobs, from our lives?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Food wastage

Not buying anything except food has heightened my awareness of how much food we waste. Have realised how much food we buy in our house that gets thrown out. Although it won't feed the starving children in Africa, it has all used water and energy to be grown and transported. To be bought by me and then to sit in my fridge before it gets thrown out as not fit for human consumption... At that stage it gets fed to the worm farm. Strikes me this is not the way that it should be.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A close call

Hi Everyone and congratulations for sliding into the second week without buying anything, not even a book.

I'm a compulsive book-buyer myself, so I relate. I can see how I could twist my thinking into make buying books exempt from the Compact ... I could tell myself, there's something virtuous about books compared to, say, plastic garden furniture. A book-buyer is not a consumer, really. Sure, a book is a product, I guess ... but not really. I mean, it's more of an experience, isn't it? A book is good for you, so it's ok, right?

Anyway, you're spot on about the library, Alana. I'm a member of Waverley library and its catalogue is searchable online. It's a small collection, sure. But my UNSW student card is still active for another month, so I have access to the big university library too. So I've no excuses.

I had a close call on the weekend. I almost slipped off the wagon.

The light on my balcony is busted. It's like a cabin light, with a metal clamp that holds a glass cover over the bulb, to protect it from the rain and wind.

Anyway, the glass part is broken, and some rain must've hit the globe because it broke. Now the bayonet part is stuck in the socket and I can't get it out. I spent ages fiddling with it. I got really frustrated because I couldn't get it out. So I said 'stuff this 'and took the metal clamp part down to the hardware store. I was going to buy something useful to fix the light. I felt a bit guilty, but the guilt was less powerful than the irritation: I was going to fix that damned light, and I was going to fix it right then and there.

All I needed was the glass part. So when the guy in the hardware store told me I'd have to go to a lighting store and buy the whole fixture, I had a moment of clarity. I calmed down a little and figured, I don't need to fix this light right now. I haven't even made it a full week yet. Am I really such a emotionally-driven, mindless consumer that I can't go even a week without scratching the itch? Hell no!

For the rest of the month, whenever I go out on the balcony, I'll use candles.

I feel better already.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Interested to read all the comments re rubbish bags. Packaging seems to be a bit of a theme.

How come we have to put up with this packaging crap? Does anyone actually want it? Great idea for merchandisers and plastic manufacturers, but not for anyone else. They make all this junk that comes as a by product of whatever it is you purchase (or used to purchase!) and the end user has to dispose of it. And pay local councils handsomely for rubbish removal and landfill. And most of it will hang around for hundreds of years before degrading into a chemical cocktail. There is something wrong with this picture.

Oh yeah, and it takes a lot of energy to make all this stuff that is designed specifically to end up as rubbish.

And we let them get away with it and reward those that continue to over-package by buying their stuff...

And it ain't even hard - so far ...

Another week of buying nothing except food. So far, so good. I withstood the ultimate temptation (for me) - went to a bookshop one lunchtime and just browsed. Bought nothing. Sadly, that might be a first.

Am trying to get my head around the book thing - despite being a major book consumer (and consequently book storer) for many years, I have finally figured out it is the experience of reading the book I want. I don't actually have to own the thing itself. Whoah - we have a revolution in thinking going on here. Whether I can move forward enough to liberate some of the books I already have will be another matter. Perhaps I could read them again and then set them free.

I like the idea of passing on stuff I don't use to others who may have a use for it. Think this will happen by degrees - the prospect of turning the house upside down to find things to chuck out is not especially appealing. Think I will take the eating an elephant approach - slowly and bit by bit.
Week 2 and doing well. However! This month I have a couple of conundrums. Firstly, it is my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary. The only way I can possibly see of getting out of buying new on this occasion is something from the antique store. But that means trying to find something like an Armani figurine, which would be double the price of any bought brand new! Not to forget also that brothers and sisters are also contributing. So on this occasion I think it has to be from a store.
Second, my nephew's tenth birthday. The parents may have been ok with antique but the ten year old nephew, who I might add is the youngest in our large family, tends to be somewhat spoilt and a computer freek. What to get him?? I usually try to buy presents that are environmental or educational (I'm a responsible aunty). But this makes it a bit hard now. Any suggestions??
Other than that, today I finally went to my local Trash and Treasure market, which I've never visited and clearly have been missing out! It was great! I bought a brandy bottle and glasses set - coloured glass (antique) and a desert bowl with four serving bowls. Just gorgeous. Did I need them? This is yet to be determined...

Good luck for the next week...

Friday, February 9, 2007

the English Connection

Hi all

Having moved over to the UK for 12 months the idea of buying lots of things to set up home was not a good thought. but then, in the true spirit of a 'shopping sabbatical', I have become a frequent visitor to the op-shop. I have managed to get warm jackets, jumpers etc for all the family and even some toys with my ozi dollar going to charity rather than some corporation. Another great thing was when I arrived i sent an e-mail at work asking for anything people want to pass on to a poor australian. What could have been an expensive exercise (both financially and to the earths resources), we have managed to make a home out of begged, borrowed and ... well not quiet stolen... things.

As we could only bring 1 suit case of things over for a year it made you consider what was really needed. It realy gives you a chance to reflect on how much stuff we have but dont really need, and those things that we think you cant live without - surprise surprise - you can!.

my next challenge is to see how much food I can buy from the local village and farm gates rather than supermarket.


ps: its bloody cold here!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Instant gratification

There is a book I want to read. I refrained from buying it at the end of January (which I thought was very noble of me, given that we hadn't started yet). I went to the library and looked for it - no joy. I looked on eBay - no joy. Can't buy it until end of Feb - so I need to wait.

Realised that we aren't used to waiting in this consumer society - generally I want it, I buy it (within reason). Now I am having to exercise patience. Which I am also not used to. Suspect it is not a bad thing. But of course, not being able to get it easily makes me want it all the more ...

In the meantime, if anyone has a copy of Alan Bennett's Writing Home they want to sell or lend, please let me know.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Rubbish bags

I bought some food yesterday - and rubbish bags. Which gave me pause for thought. You've got to put your rubbish in something - and I try very hard not to collect enough plastic bags to do the job. So then you buy them - which seems a bit silly when you think about it. I did find some biodegradable ones, which made me feel better (at Safeway). It seemed the best option at the time.

When I was a kid (admittedly quite some time ago) rubbish bags weren't invented - everyone wrapped their rubbish in newspaper and put it in the bin. I generally don't buy newspapers and don't think I ought to start just so I can wrap the rubbish!

We've got a worm farm so the worms eat all the vegetable matter (well, most of it - they seem to be unnaturally fussy eaters), but it's all the other non recyclable rubbish that's the issue. Guess it will reduce significantly with buying less stuff.

There are layers of complexity in this not buying business that I had never considered.

Anyone got any brilliant rubbish disposal ideas?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Growing children

Hi everyone,

Good to be part of this - so thanks to Jacinta et al for organising this initiative.

My first blog entry ever and I have to say I've stumbled at the first hurdle. My kids went back to school this week (they're 7 and 8) and they've grown a lot - so I had to buy new shoes and new school clothes. Set me back about $80 each for the shoes and $60 for the clothes.

The shoes they wear until they fall apart (most kids do so it's hard to get them second hand). I didn't feel I could barter with the shoe shop but it is in the local shopping centre.

With the uniform - again I didn't have much choice - can't send them in clothes which are too small and covered with last years glue and paint stains PLUS on their report card they have a 'shows pride in school uniform section'. The clothes are only sold through the uniform shop and profits at least go back to the school. There were no second hand clothes the right size or in a reasonable condition.

Apart from this - we're just eating loads!!

As an aside I find that a lot of my money goes on what I would call 'services' rather than goods ie. public transport, swimming lessons, school book and school activity fees (kids go to the local public school) and after school care so I can work.

One thing we have done this weekend is to give a reasonably nice bike away to another family. My partner won one in a raffle late last year and he cycles to work each day in the city. So the 'old' bike was just sitting under the house. We've agreed to do a few contra deals in Feb with this family who were in the process of getting a brand new adult bike.

That's it from me. A suit purchase is looming so I'll have to see how I get on with that!

Good luck everyone - it will be good to read some of your experiences too.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Minor goof re the email address and other stuff

We didn't quite get the email address right first off - the savvy amongst you will have already figured that it should be - without an au. Oh well, must have been the excitement...

First weekend almost over - and nothing bought. Except - the newspapers. Yikes. That was something I hadn't considered. Gave up buying them during the week ages ago, after I belatedly realised they got stock piled and then chucked. But the weekend ones - well, that is another matter. But - we only got the Saturday ones, and not the Sunday ones. A 50% reduction. Not sure how best to deal with this - the online versions just don't cut in on the weekend.

Making me realise how much purchasing is done by habit and without thought.

Next step - either bringing my lunch to work - not a particularly attractive prospect - or resolving that any food I will buy will NOT come in those crappy plastic food containers. Paper only. Will see where that leads to on the culinary front.