Clutter N’ Stuff

I will be quite open about this post. It is designed to make you feel guilty and buy fewer xmas presents. It is designed to have the same effect on me AND I hope my husband who is currently squirreling away items in his Amazon basket like there is no tomorrow.

This is part of my on-going saga – is it to you as well? – it is to me – of blogs about my activism.

This is a fairly recent one in terms of its articulation to myself and others. The articulation – like that word I have to say – of this theme, which I am warming up to, started when my husband accused me of single handedly ruining the planet by having the air-con on. I have to confess to a touch of flabbergasted-ness.

A lot actually. I humphed and pumphed and when he then said he did more for the planet than I did, that really got me going because I thought he was really quite crap.

It was good he did say that though, because once I stopped sulking, my creative juices started flowing. I realised that this was yet another area it would be good to set out my stall on. Or is it with. hmm. I am starting to over use that stall expression. Also starting to sound a big NGO-y.

So I thought, well what DO I do for the planet?

I have always found the act local, think global quite confusing really. What does act local mean. It can all be very overwhelming with so many massive global problems you can feel that there is no point doing anything. One thing is true though, we do all have way too much STUFF.

I think I may have cracked what it means, to me at least. I do NOT include air con in this.

I will not talk about use of electricity. It has become a very sensitive subject at our plot. I haven’t yet worked out a way to compare what I think I DO DO for the planet with the damage that I do with the air con. Does anyone know how I can do that? And then manipulate the data in case it is not in my favour??

I thought I was rather clever asking for LUKU for my birthday and xmas present. That shut him up – for about 5 minutes. LUKU in Tanzania is electricity, which you buy and credit your meter with. Preferably before you run out in the middle of the night on the hottest night of the year. I think my present combined should be the equivalent of many nights worth of kilogrammes of power.

I AM rambling,I know I am rambling.

It seems to me when I started thinking about it, people have their “thing”, like recycling or beach clean ups and the like. So my things are local and organic food so supporting sustainable food production and clutter.

Let me rephrase that AND clutter is a totally and completely separate thing. I am in love with my first “thing” and positively obsessed with the latter.

So first I buy all local produce

All fruit and vegetable and meat is local so all from Tanzania. Not all from Dar es Salaam but Arusha, Morogoro and other parts of the country. I buy local brown rice and local sugar and local plain yogurt by the gallon.

Most of everything else I get in terms of food stuffs are organic and come from far and wide. Ok so organic is good as that will have been locally produced in a non-harmful way – I hope. Far and wide is not good. I try and buy it all from the UK and bring it back with me when I travel. Ok airplane is not good, but I have an empty case so may as well fill it with organic stuff right?

In terms of food preparation, it will be my life’s work from now on not to waste food.

I have a JIT system which works sometimes and often not quite. I am still perfecting it. It means that at the end of each day, the food for that day has been eaten by someone in the house for whom it was intended or one of the dogs. if it is the dogs then that means that it didn’t quite work out.

Enough is cooked for next day lunch and then that is it. I love looking into the fridge at night and see it with only the minimum of necessary items in it.

Now onto clutter

Which is really shorthand for unnecessary and excessive household and personal items.

Now that I have been thinking about my contribution to the planet, I realise that I have put up with a lot of shit about my clothes and other items for quite some time from family and friends.

What have I put up with you ask? Well the fact that I don’t buy many new clothes, my slippers are 25 years old as is my dressing gown.

So many birthdays and xmas’s have passed and I have clearly missed many opportunities for upgrading said dressing gown etc. BUT I don’t want a new one and more importantly I don’t NEED a new one. I keep things for ever. My training shoes are 10 years old. My family got me a new pair I think 10 years ago when I couldn’t repair them any more.

Part of it is that I really Can’t Be Arsed  – CBA – but mostly and now with increasing confidence I think and say that most purchases are TOTALLY unnecessary and frankly just add to the long list of items you can’t flipping find each day.

I feel guilty and ashamed for actually trying to get my father to buy something new, when he always repairs things. I grew up and he always repaired everything. Sadly quite badly at times, but good on him.

Is it because I am now over 50 and I think good on him, when at the time it was quite irksome, that some item would only turn or open if there were two of you or you took a run at it? I am thinking of spending thirty years trying to open the living room door in the last example.

Maybe it is, but he is a role model for me and I now feel quite proud that I am like him. Everything functional and practical. No excess clothes or household items. He has a place for everything so he can ALWAYS find what he needs. ALWAYS and WITHOUT FAIL. He stalks us if we have borrowed a pen or scissors because he knows that we are rubbish at putting things back in their proper place. Well I vow to become a younger female version of him.

I am not sure why I came late to understanding that giving away old clothes was recycling but there we go.

With this I am also a product of good practise I think, plus I got the ruthless de-clutter gene as well. My mother used to clean out all the cupboards twice a year and all the clothes which no longer fitted us were duly bagged up and taken to poor children who needed them. When I was very young, I thought it was all one word – poorchildrenwhoneededthem.

Whatever, I got used to not keeping anything if it was too small, a poor choice or unwanted – every 6 months. I do the same with all my own clothes and those of my child’s.

For years I have also gone one step further, having spent years working where people really have nothing, I will only buy a new clothes item if I have got rid of an item. So a sort of replacement system. It works for me.

BUT I have only managed to get my hands on my husbands clothes once in ten years… Once in ten years. All I can say is thank god he was invited to visit the local prison earlier this year and so took a lot of his t-shirt collection which he was saving for??? I’m not sure. He wouldn’t tell me whenever I asked him..anyway a lot are gone…hurrah.

So ok on clothes.

I was mortified recently when I was scolded by a friend for buying Primark clothes for my child as the reason they are so cheap is because they are produced in sweatshops by children. And I used to work for Save the Children for god’s sake. What is wrong with me, once a child right’s person, always a child’s rights person. But I didn’t know. I should have but I didn’t. That is the think global bit. Didn’t pass that bit at all.

Household items

Well I do come a huge cropper here. I am ruthless and have trained my child to give away anything not needed on a regular basis. We do room clear outs twice a year as my mum used to. However I do lose the will to live with all the other STUFF in the house.

Don’t even talk to me about the store room or the other store room. They have been on MY LIST to clean out for three years.

You see I live with a squirrel. No sooner have I chucked something out, than the items grow continues to keep every box every household item has come in since 1999….and every bit of paper as well. The spare room looks like a bird is building a nest with all the nesting materials.

And then there are the cables, and the sons and daughters and grand-children of cables. The just in case there is world war 3 cables, the no electricity needed cables, the broken but might get repaired cables…you get my drift.

I have noticed that this summer when I was in the UK, I didn’t get terribly excited by stationery and accessories, particularly stationery. I still like to touch all the stationery items and enjoy the colours, even going so far as to knock over a few carefully crafted displays in the excitement of the squiggly design or the bright colours. This year though I had no desire at all to buy anything. I even had a couple of kilos spare in my suitcase coming back.

So what is your “thing”?

This is my last post of 2016 – hurrah. I hope you have a lovely break and I will be back in January.

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