Thursday, 26 January 2012

Packaging and water

Quiet, soft early morning of low cloud, the light growing cautiously, the rain spattering hypnotically on the roof windows up here in the garret.

This is a good day.  Susanna is coming around midday bringing a jar of raw honey from Redcoat Farm.  Alice is on half-day at the library, so she’ll be home in the afternoon.  It’s Thursday so the Badger comes home from Oxford for the weekend.

But first I must get up and have a shower and wash my clothes.  Nothing dries this weather, they’ll just have to hang over the bath, drip . . . drip . . . drip . . .

In our household, some of us have been thinking about water – how much we use, how much we waste – and packaging; what a lot of it there is and how hard it is to avoid, and discovering ways to wriggle out from under the mountain of packaging in which evil Mammon is burying our society.

Over many years I have thought long and carefully about ethical shopping, fair trade, compassionate farming, organics, animal welfare, and social justice.  I have thought about the impact of animal husbandry, and noticed that farm animals compete with the poor for water and land, and eat 35lbs of grain for every pound of flesh they yield.  I have pondered the journey of each pound coin, noticing that if I spend them in large chain stores they roll out of my community and into the pockets of rich shareholders far away, impoverishing the suppliers as they roll; but if I spend them in a small local family business the beneficiaries spend them within the community again, and so blessing accrues in the place where I live.  I have thought about Gandhi’s “Think globally and act locally,” and tried to buy goods where I knew who produced them and how – well, sometimes; oftentimes I just bought what was cheap and asked no questions, like everyone else.  But all this thinking filled my head up and I have never looked properly at water use and packaging.  Well – I went to showers more than baths and didn’t leave the tap running too long, but that was about all.  I chose paper bags over plastic when offered the choice and conscientiously took my own shopping bag so as not to need a plastic carrier, but not much more than that.  Now I have taken a deep breath and resolved to tackle the issues of water use and packaging.  One of my strategies involves a leaf-mould heap and a designated wormery.  Another strategy is purchasing toiletries from Lush.

Lush (check out the Our Values section on the website) is a brilliant firm.  They use natural ingredients, vegetarian, often vegan.  They don’t test on animals.  They have a fine environmental track record.
And here are two of their shampoos that I just bought: Ultimate Shine and Squeaky Green.

No packaging at all.  That's it.  That’s how they come.  And no water making up half the product.  Several of us in our household have Lush toiletries, so we got together to make up an order to save on postage.  The (recycled cardboard) box they came in was packaging of course, and the biodegradable packaging peanuts, but I didn’t waste them.  I used them to pack up some of the 365 items that I was Freecycling – three boxes of kitchen items for a young woman with three children moving out of bed-and-breakfast accommodation into her own home.

OK off I go - heading for the shower!

365 Day 26 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

You might think this hardly counts as an item.  The image is lifesize!  I wanted to include it because it stands as an example of the kind of pointless things I am inclined to hang onto.  That pretty little scrap of fabric . . . those dear little pegs. . . multiply that enough times and you need a drawer.  Go on multiplying and you have a problem.  In Goscinny and Uderzo’s glorious series Asterix the Gaul, in which the characters’ name are all jokes – Obelix the strong man, Cacophonix the Bard, Asterix the small man, Geriatrix the old man, Dogmatix (a dog, of course), Getafix the druid, inventor of magic potions; you can see them all here – the wife of the village chief (he was called Vitalstatistix) bore the shrewd appellation “Impedimenta”.  I can think of more than one woman who could have been christened Impedimenta with good cause.  Even though she was the best cook in the village, I have no aspirations to be “Impedimenta”, but I see it coming in the accumulation of nonsense like today’s item.  I didn’t throw it away.  It went into one of the craft kits (for children) I made up and Freecycled.


Penny said...

Hmm... now you've got me thinking about the mini pegs I've got in my cupboard...

Ember said...


Daisyanon said...

I am admiring the creativity, time and effort you put into to recycling and redistributing things.

I must confess that for me it is usually the charity shop or the bin.

Ember said...

:0)I have put a few things in the bin - and felt very guilty, because part of the game is to move things on mindfully and responsibly. I've been impressed - really bowled over - by how worthwhile it has been sending stuff to the charity shop and gift-aiding it. Barnados send me a letter every now and then saying how much they've raised from the things I've sent - and it makes me feel so good to see actual amounts written down and know that what was no longer useful to me has made a difference somewhere - especially as I have a low income and do not give a great deal to charity.

Daisyanon said...

Can you gift aid objects? I haven't heard of that. How do you do it?

Ember said...

At some (if not all) charity shops, if you are eligible to gift-aid your donations (ie if you pay more in tax than the value of your giving that year), you fill out a form at the shop and they give you a card with an allocated reference number. Thereafter, every time you take a bag of loot in for them to sell, they take your details from the card (that you have helpfully brought with you), affixing a ticket to the bag you brought in so that the staff who sort it know it is from you.
They keep a track of what they sell and how much they sold it for, and are able to gift-aid the amount raised from your donated items. :0)