A New Life

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In the 6 years that I have been writing this blog there have been numerous posts about mending and repairing clothes to extend their life.

Tonight I want to show you a couple of projects I completed on the weekend.

This was a long-sleeved shirt which was worn at the cuffs.  The traditional repair of this problem is ‘turn’ the cuffs, that is, to remove the cuff and replace it with the worn outside to the inside, thus doubling the life of the shirt.  Unfortunately, this had worn right on the edge and was visible from both the right and wrong sides.  So, I decided on a different course of action as it is a much-loved shirt.

Using an existing short-sleeved shirt as pattern, I re-fashioned it to a short-sleeved shirt.

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The excess that was cut off did not go completely to waste, either.  I removed the buttons and added them to my stash because, to quote my late father, “you never know when it might come in handy”.  I think that growing up in the Great Depression drove much of his thinking in that respect.  I do not hoard stuff but I do recognise that some things are likely to have a potential future use.  It is all a matter of balance.  I also managed to cut 6 x 5″ squares for future patchwork projects.

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My next project is a perfect example of when those salvaged bits do actually come in handy.  A elastic in a pair of GMan’s shorts had stretched to the point where even the associated drawstring was not sufficient to comfortably keep them up.

I unpicked the stitching and removed the elastic and salvaged the drawstring.  I just needed some suitable elastic and I would be able to reconstruct the shorts.  I found some that I had kept from some underpants that had worn out!  Of course, the fabric from the underpants had ended up in the rag bag.

Here are the shorts with the elastic removed and the drawstring and ‘new’ elastic ready to be re-assembled.

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So, thanks to my stash of salvaged elastic the shorts have been repaired and are as good as new at zero cost.

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What’s the Obsession?

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I am intrigued.  I read various posts from Facebook groups, blogs and various forums on the internet and am constantly amazed by some of the questions posed and resultant discussions.

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There are many questions about saving money and bargains to be had.  But is it really a bargain if you did not intend to buy it and more so if you have no idea of what you are going to do with it?  An example is, “Help, I bought a box of bananas for $5, what can I do with them?”  Invariably, there are lots of useful responses and I sincerely hope that the person manages to use them wisely and does not end up wasting their money.

It is even more odd when I read, “What else can I use shampoo for?  I have 4 bottles in the cupboard.”  I am tempted to reply with, “Use it to wash your hair”.  It seems that people stock up on an item and then want to use it up as quickly as possible.  I want to make things last as long as possible.

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I think too many people are seduced by the crowd – shop for a bargain, stockpile, use it up, downsize, declutter.  Whatever the catchcry of the day, they seem to feel the need to jump on the bandwagon.  It is no wonder they feel confused.

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My advice is to think independently, decide what works for you, make your own choices, forge your own path and don’t be sucked in by the crowd.

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The only things I buy are what I know I will use.  I buy larger quantities of items where I have to travel some distance or out of my way simply to avoid having to do that every week.  I have enough food to feed us for weeks, or in some cases, months.  Fruit and vegetables are bought locally each week so I try to buy only what I need in an effort to eliminate any waste.  If there is cheap produce, I will buy it if I have the time and skills to prepare and store it.

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What is your experience?  Do you stockpile or keep the bare minimum?  Have you changed your shopping habits/philosophy over time?

Use It Up

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I have always taken a fairly minimal approach when it comes to make-up.  In this post from 2014 I showed my collection of make-up.  This has been streamlined a bit further.

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I gave an almost brand new lipstick to my daughter the other day.  It was a colour I used to wear but find a bit pale these days.

I currently do not have any mascara as I used to buy it from Aldi but they no longer stock mascara.

My blush (also from Aldi) and lipstick are almost finished.  The eyebrow pencil is but a stub but will last for quite a while yet.

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I need to make the effort a buy new blush, lipstick and mascara but I will be making sure that the existing ones are completely finished before I start begin using any new make-up. I see no reason to waste these by throwing them out.

A Packed Lunch

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I pack our lunches (and breakfasts) each day for work but I am usually in a rush so the camera is the last thing on my mind.  This morning I had a little more time and I remembered to grab the camera.

001This is what GMan took today.  Banana, apple, 2 Vitabrits and psyllium husk, 2 slices bread, almonds and raisins, baked beans, grapefruit.

He always has 2 pieces of fruit, dried fruit and nuts for snacks.  Lunch can be baked beans, flavoured tuna, salad, soup or leftovers.  He generally has Vitabrits for breakfast but I had prepared a grapefruit yesterday so the Vitabrits were kept for tomorrow.

Sometimes I feel like I am packing the same old thing every day but we are happy to take our packed lunches and save around $10/day each on bought lunches.  That is $200/fortnight that we can use for other expenses.  The other benefit is that it is all packed in reuseable containers and ziplock bags so we are minimising any waste.

We are lucky that we both have access to refrigerators and microwave ovens at work.

Do you take a packed lunch?

Fundraising Clutter

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I want to preface this post by saying that I have nothing against the concept of fundraising.  Many charities receive little or no regular funding so donations are essential for them to be able to carry out the wonderful support and services which they provide.  It is also helps to raise awareness of issues such as medical conditions of which many people have limited knowledge.

I am bothered by the amount of stuff generated by fundraising for good causes.  The past 25 years has seen exponential growth in this type of fundraising.  Almost every week there is some designated ‘day’.  We have pink ribbon, white ribbon, blue ribbon, red nose and daffodil days to name but a few.

There are several issues around this whole concept that bother me:

The amount of unnecessary stuff which is generated in the name of merchandising.  These include ribbons, lapel pins, pens, medallions, mugs, teddy bears, silicone wristbands, keyrings, bandanas, fake flowers and caps.  This is not an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of the sort of stuff that has become part of the push for the donation dollar.

This stuff is:

Mostly made in overseas sweatshops and imported

Has to be purchased initially by the charity which reduces the money available for use in provision of services and support

Is rarely of any real use to the purchaser

Takes up space, gathers dust and eventually is consigned to landfill

Possibly the earliest proponents of giving away something in exchange for a donation was red poppies on Armistice Day.  I believe they used to be handmade using red crepe paper but then progressed to mass produced.  Now there is a choice of poppy themed merchandise.

The next forays into a designated ‘day’ that I am aware of were ‘Daffodil Day’ (Cancer Fund)  and ‘Red Nose Day’ (SIDS and Kids)which began in 1986 and 1988 respectively.  They both began with a single product and quickly expanded into a range of merchandise.

Since when did the need to buy stuff rather than simply make a donation become the accepted norm?  Do people feel that they need to ‘advertise’ their support?  Or is it simply designed to raise awareness rather than funds?  Whatever the reason I disagree with the waste that is generated by the selling of merchandise on these special ‘days’.

My strategy to avoid the stuff is simply to select those charities that I wish to support and make a regular donation directly from my pay or at at time of my choosing.  On the rare occasions that I make a donation on a specific ‘day’ I give money with the express wish that I do not want any merchandise.  This is usually met with a strange look or comment but I simply say, “No thanks” and leave.

How do you feel about this issue?

Remember, this is not against individual organisations but rather the mass marketing of ‘stuff’ in the name of fundraising.

Rubbish Revealed and Reviewed

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Many aspects of organisation and sustainability could probably fall into the ‘sexy’ category.  They are fun, presentable and generally OK for public discussion.

But underpinning all of this is rubbish.  The stuff that gets shoved into garbage bags bought specifically for the purpose, then dropped into the ubiquitous ‘wheelie’ bin and dragged to the kerbside.  A truck lumbers past, the automatic arm grabs the bin and upends it into the depths of the truck.  We are relieved of the detritus of our lives for the week and will do it all over again next week.

It is time to get down and dirty.  This photograph shows the bag of rubbish for 10 days from our 2 adult household.  267 grams of waste for 10 days – that is less than 15 grams per person each day.  It is not zero waste and I am not sure that I will achieve that anytime soon but I do work hard to keep our waste to an absolute minimum.

Here are the contents of the bag.  Let’s examine what is in it.  You will probably have a hard time identifying some of the items so I will help you out.

2 pasta packets – I refilled the jar containing pasta in the pantry.  I am using up my stock but I will be making my own pasta with my pasta machine once the existing supplies are used up.

Foil tablet sheet – there is one each month from essential medications.

Foil pack from cat medication – one every 3 months from worm/flea treatment for the cat.

Non-recyclable lids – I always recycle any plastic bottles but as far as I am aware the lids are not  suitable for recycling.  I must check and see if this is still the case.

2 pairs of broken glasses – these are a one-off thanks to The Duke getting rid of some clutter.  I send any OK glasses to be re-used in Third World countries but ones that have broken are no use to anyone.  Check with your local optometrist for information about the recycling program.

Silver foil wrap – this is what was removed from the balloon topiary stands when I recovered them last week.  The new covering is recycled brown paper made from carry bags.  The bows are scraps of fabric from a recycled dress.

The rubbish bag is packaging from a parcel I received.  This will be sealed with a rubber band before I put it in the bin.

There are also assorted other small bits which I cannot easily identify but by now you get the picture – very little goes to landfill from our home.

We only put our bin out every few weeks or if there is something that would be unpleasant to leave for any length of time.  This means that most weeks the truck does not need to stop outside our property.  This saves fuel and the noise of the constant starting and stopping.  Consider putting out your bin only when required rather than every week through habit.

TO BE CONTINUED – There are so many other things I want to say about rubbish but I will save it for another day later in the week.  In the meantime I would love to hear you thoughts about rubbish and how you deal with it.

Waste Not

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Like last week there were Granny Smith apples left over on Friday so I brought 3 home and this time I made an apple pie.

I stewed the apples with a few whole cloves and used the sweet pastry recipe which is here.

Pie base with apple added

Completed and brushed with milk – ready to go in the oven

Ready to serve

I also squeezed an assortment of less than perfect citrus – lemons, oranges, mandarins and grapefruit.  I added some sugar and made up a drink using 1/3 juice and 2/3 soda water.  It was nice and refreshing.

Both the drink and apple pie used ingredients that would otherwise have been watsed.

What have you cooked or made so that ingredients do not get wasted?