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.