Friday, 24 January 2014


I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring the books “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent” written by Tom Hodgkinson.  I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 28 – Reject Waste; Embrace thrift – SHOVEL SHIT
It seems that in our consumer, advertising, capitalist society, where having is everything, a backlash is developing, and that backlash is thrift.  An increasing segment of society, either through necessity or sense, is beginning to count those pennies, to aim for less waste.  It’s about being creative with your money and your household, not spending unnecessarily.  By being thrifty with your cash, you might just end up needing to work less.
So what should we do?  Buy less stuff with wasteful packaging – have you seen the packaging some toys come ensconced in?  Re-use glass jars and bottles (for your home-made jams, chutneys, wines and beers); make compost;  This is one of the permaculture principles, trying to create or work within a system where little is wasted.

How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?
I look at how much waste we produce from our small household and it really is frightening.  The recycling bin is collected fortnightly and is always full of plastic bottles, paper and card.  The general waste bin is collected fortnightly and is usually full.  The glass recycling box is collected weekly, and is rarely even half full, which means that thankfully we aren’t drinking too much!  The council recently introduced a food waste caddy.  It took me a while to work out what to do with it.  “I don’t have food waste!” I exclaimed to a friend. “If it doesn’t get eaten by us, then it either goes in the dog, for the birds or on the compost.  The only thing we throw in the dustbin is the occasional chicken carcass.”  Eventually I decided to show willing, and share our vegetable peelings between the compost caddy and the council food waste caddy.  I think a lot of it is down to buying too much stuff.  This month I am sorting through old magazines, clipping out articles to keep and file, and ditching the rest – an incredible number!  I have two children who use paper at a rate of knots, but I’m not much better, I’m forever writing things and printing things, getting mail-order deliveries with the cardboard boxes that entails.  I could definitely do more to reduce the amount of waste I produce personally… and another resolution is made!

In the garden I’m pretty good at re-using.  We have three compost bins, two leaf mulch bins and a wormery, and an awful lot goes in them and then gets spread around the garden when it’s ready, but I still seem to fill the garden waste bin that gets collected every three weeks by the council, so I’ve still some work to do to make use of all the grass and hedge clippings we produce.

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