I knitted mittens!

When I broke the news to my nearest and dearest that I was going to take up knitting, everyone smiled supportively with the exception of one, who did much ROFLing and declared knitting to be the domain of old ladies.

Firstly – there’s nothing wrong with old ladies (indeed I aspire to be one myself one day), and secondly, WRONG! Knitting is the new black.  It’s the bee’s knees.  It’s the way forward people!

As you know, last year I got some kids’ needles and wool and started practising my knitting.  I was a bit rubbish at first, but persevered until I mastered the knit and purl stitches before joining the big boys and signing up for knitting class…

I cannot deny that I’m a sociable creature, so if there’s a chat and a cup of tea on offer then I’m pretty much in. Luckily for me, the class I joined offered just that and, contrary to what had been suggested, it wasn’t stacked out with octogenarians – rather, a few mums like me who were thrilled to be dodging domestic duties for a couple of hours. That in itself is going to make for a good night out.

In the class you pick a project for yourself and work on it. I had selected to knit a pair of men’s mittens (whoever knew these were ‘a thing’?!) from my own knitting book.

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I decided that my dad would be the lucky recipient as I knew he’d be kind enough to overlook that a) they wouldn’t be perfect and b) they are mittens.

The great thing about going to a knitting group is that, if you get stuck, it’s only until your next class. It meant that I didn’t need to get disheartened about my project when I got into a muddle, because there would be someone to rescue me soon.  If you’re lucky, you also build a network of knitters who can offer advice from within the group – in my case, one of my friends started coming along with me, plus I coincidently knew someone who went already.

Another advantage is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for knitting around – of the ‘gorgeous yarn’, ‘great colour’, ‘let me stroke your needles’ variety. It’s catching, and it stimulates the imagination as to what you might create next.

In my class there are a range of skill levels – starting with those learning to cast on, right up to those who can make actual wearable garments.  This provides visual evidence to us beginners that knitting is a skill that can actually be mastered if you stick at it.

It took me a while to make my mittens (3 months of working on them here and there), and it’s fair to say there were mistakes on the way.

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I learned a lot:

  • You Tube tutorials are amazing for showing you how to learn certain techniques – pictures in a book just don’t stand a chance against them.
  • It’s important to check that you actually know what the abbreviations actually mean.  I got caught out with WS facing (WS facing each other or WS facing me? I’m still not sure!)
  • Tension matters.  If you don’t pay attention to tension (that rhymes!) then you could end up having to knit three mittens so that two of them end up the same size.  I’m not saying that happened to me.  That happened to me.
  • Don’t leave your knitting out around small children.  The children put the knitting in danger (and, obvs, the needles aren’t an ideal plaything for the kids).
  • You don’t actually have to buy the colour of wool suggested in the book. The mittens would have turned out the same in a nicer colour – a different colour isn’t a jinx. Apparently.
  • Your knitting will bring out the knitter in others. It turns out that some of my friends knit, and since discovering that, I have had text conversations about circular needles with one friend and spent a Saturday night in the pub talking about it to another.
  • Knitting magazines are addictive.  Walk away and share back editions with your friends.

So… I finished the mittens and they were duly presented to my dad, who appreciated them. Once he stopped laughing.  In a kind way.

Before signing off, it’s worth saying that the reason I’ve taken up knitting is that it’s part of my grand ambition to create a more ethical and sustainable wardrobe. (See here for my post on learning to sew).  I want to create clothes that I know have been made without exploiting workers abroad. I want to select my own materials – the wool was from Yorkshire – and I aim to cut down on the pollution caused when materials and garments are flown around the globe.

I’m hoping that because I have spent precious time selecting my materials, choosing what to make and then putting hours of care into creating an item of clothing,  I will use the item until it falls apart.  I’m so over buying things on a whim and ditching them after a few months.

I also hope to do more knitting for others.  Personally I love handmade gifts and all that they represent.  To show someone that you have put a huge amount of thought and time into a present is a gift in itself. That’s what I told my dad anyway….

I made a dress!

Finally, and, as a result of popular demand (a few requests on Twitter) I’m posting about the dress I sewed.

I know! Me!  I made a dress!

If you follow my blog you’ll know that I’ve had a bee in my bonnet – pardon the pun – about sustainable fashion for a while now.  It probably dates back to the Rana Plaza disaster of 24 April 2013 which shocked me, and made me stop and think about my consumption of clothes…and then made me feel guilty.  What could I do about it though?  Give up buying clothes?  A-ha-ha-ha! As if…

By December 2013 my guilt was still hanging around, and I thought what if, just maybe, I could stop buying new clothes for 2014? The whole of 2014?  I did it though.  With the exception with an emergency replacement bra purchased in July, I didn’t buy a single other item of clothing for myself, and it was so darned easy!  (Of course it was easy, I had a wardrobe full of stuff I’d accumulated over the years without giving much thought to where it came from).

In my last post I explored ways that I could start adding to my wardrobe that might be considered ethical, or at the very least, not completely unethical.  Anyway, I reckoned that if I could learn to sew, I might just be able to make some of my own clothes, and source ethically made material to boot. Again, at the time that seemed ridiculous.  I had no sewing experience except for lessons at school when I was about 8. Those were so traumatic for me that my mum had to go in and speak to the teacher.  Even if you look back on my blog, I mention in passing trying to hand sew the hem of a cloth hankie in this post, and I gave up because I was so rubbish.

However, there’s a crazy gene of determination that runs through my family.  Those affected get a wild look in their eyes when they decide something needs done and the best thing to do, frankly, is step aside and let them get on with it. I thought it’d skipped me, but I became possessed with the desire to learn to sew and, ignoring the sniggers of friends and family alike, I signed up to a sewing class and learned the basics. I loved it, but the sewing school promptly stopped offering classes and subsequently closed. (I haven’t read anything into that, I’m sure it was just a coincidence…)

In the meantime I acquired a second hand sewing machine, watched the Great British Sewing Bee a lot and made a small bag for lego figures. I know I should copywrite that idea, but I don’t mind if you want to make one too – it’s too special not to share ;-)

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Finally, after some internet searching I selected another sewing school to shut down attend. I picked a dressmaking class because…er…I wanted to make dresses. For some reason when I picked the class it didn’t occur to me that I’d actually be making a dress in the class.  When the realisation struck I was part delighted, and part overwhelmed by the responsibility of selecting a fabric. Cue more smirking from the other half what did you think you were going to be doing?!

I turned up on the first day of class with my lovely red fabric all washed, ironed and ready to go.  There were six of us there to learn together – all female, quelle surprise! The teacher was a fabulous lady who had not long finished a textiles degree, or something of that ilk. Much more importantly than actually, you know, being able to sew, she had a perfect temperament, and not once did I see her get stressed. Even when she pointed out I was about to sew backwards…and I managed to do it anyway.

The class took place over four weeks and in that time I learned how to cut out fabric using a pattern, how to pin (and how to stab myself with pins), I sewed seams, corners, hems, pockets and elastic, and I even got to use some interfacing stuff.  I learned (from experience) which side you iron it on, and that if you get it wrong then you actually end up ironing it onto the tea towel you’re using to protect it from the heat. I also learned that if you’re using a tea towel from home, don’t use one that you’ve dried in the next room to the kitchen because you’ll end up making your dress-to-be smell of onions.

While all that stuff was invaluable in terms of sewing experience, I had a fab time chatting away to other people that were equally as thrilled as I was to watch their fabric turn into something that hints at being wearable one day.  On top of the perk of sewing class getting me out of the post-bedtime tidy-up, it was great just to take some time out to immerse myself in something so completely different.

Despite being the dunce of the class – the others being motivated to develop a talent they actually had in the first place, opposed to me pursuing the goal of sustainable fashion – I thoroughly enjoyed building on my very limited skills and…did I mention…I made a dress!

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In the last class we finished up a bit early and sat about in our new dresses drinking fizzy grape juice in champagne glasses, and eating cake. There was joy in the room!

I was determined to actually wear the damn thing, despite the fact that it has the odd bit of clumsy stitching. It therefore got its first outing to the theatre, and its second to a kids’ party. I have received compliments on it – probably because it’s bright red and the first new thing I’ve modelled in over a year! Despite my decision that I’d be modest and not tell anyone of its origins, I’ve found myself blurting out ‘I made it!!!!’ if anyone so much as smiles at me while I have it on.

The reactions have been amazing. I think so few people make their own clothes these days that it’s big news to be wearing your own work. It makes me feel really proud, so much so that sometimes I even forget I’m holding my bag over a dodgy seam.

Dress number 2 is very nearly finished. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the first one but in a different fabric plus without the pockets which are a bit tricky – I just wanted to have FUN! So far I’ve just bought fabric from my local fabric shop to enable me to get a feel for it, but my next step will be using this great post from Make Do and Mend-able to source ethical material.

I’ve got the sewing bug and ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me now!

Sustainable fashion

Part of this post has been sitting idle in draft form in the depths of my laptop for weeks. I’ve been keen to complete it and crack on with blogging but, due to life in general and the hours my children are keeping this academic year, I have been struggling to find the time for something as indulgent (and concentration-demanding!) as writing. Apologies therefore to those of you who are kind enough to have been checking my blog.  I am hoping to get into more of a rhythm but, for now, no promises…

Today I’m writing about sustainable fashion – a topic close to my heart. My year of not buying any new clothes ended as 2015 began, but I’ve yet to make any purchases of the garment variety.

I found opting out of clothes shopping for twelve whole months surprisingly easy, but recently (and now that I’m ‘allowed’ to expand my wardrobe) I’ve started wandering through the ladies’ departments in shops again and – oh my goodness –  suddenly I’m tempted to go wild, and my self-imposed limit of 6 bought items seems rather paltry.

I know there are a few of you who read this blog who hardly buy any clothes at all and that’s a way of life. I don’t naturally fall into that category, although I wish I did!  Previous to my challenge I purchased clothes freely, and while I don’t consider myself to have had an ‘addiction’ to fast fashion, I probably bought (at the very least) ten new items in a year. I now want to find a comfortable middle ground.

I could do with a few new items – all but one pair of my jeans have now worn through at the knee plus my dress size has changed, making some of my old staples look rather comical. Don’t get me wrong, I could probably get through another year on what I’ve got, but I’d like to make a few sensible fashion purchases. I don’t want my quest to live a more sustainable life to feel like it’s some kind of endurance test.

I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights though. I am proud of opting out of the fashion industry for a year and, as I had hoped, that experience really made me think about where my clothes come from.  I need to make the right choices for me.

Shopping from ‘ethical’ retailers – or perhaps I mean ‘less unethical’ retailers – is an area in which I am likely to dip my toe into soon.  There are lots of lovely blogs out there about sustainable fashion, including my fellow Scottish blogger Wendy, from Moral Fibres. I have a bit of research to do, but I like the look of People Tree plus I want to find out a bit more about Fat Face – a favourite store of mine which seems to have scored well in the ethical stakes recently.

Another option for me is to make my own clothes. Learning to knit and sew are two of my goals for 2015, and I have been working really hard on them.  I have completed a pair of mittens and a dress so far. I’d love to sound modest here but, if I’m being honest, then I’m absolutely delighted with my achievements!  I had to work hard on both, and many hours of concentration went into them.  Stitches were pulled out, and frequent requests for help were made, but I did it and I can now realistically look towards making more of my own clothes. I’ll go into more details and show pictures of my ‘works of arts’ in my next couple of posts.

Finally, I’ve not mentioned shopping for clothes in charity shops which is of course another way of boosting my wardrobe. I’ll admit it’s not an option that I find especially attractive for a number of reasons, but I’m open to changing my mind if anyone’s got links to blog posts that might entice me!

For the moment, I’m still thinking and not buying but I’ll keep you updated.

Highly relevant to this post is the book that I am currently reading, ‘Clothing Poverty’ by Andrew Brooks.

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I must confess that as I read this labour of love by Dr Brooks, my desire to take part in buying from the high street diminishes with each page I turn. The book follows a pair of jeans as it evolves from its various components, towards the shelves from which it is sold, and then the journey it endures after being discarded by its owner. It’s fascinating and thought provoking stuff.

If this is a book you fancy reading, then you may be interested to know that Zoe of @ecothrifty and Eco Thrifty Living is hosting a Twitter book club throughout the day on 29 April, and the book will be discussed using the hash tag #susbc (sustainability book club). Everyone is welcome to join in. I apologise for leaving you so little time to get hold of the book and read it, but perhaps you might be interested to take part or follow the conversations, even if you are yet to acquire it or are part way through its digestion? You can read Zoe’s fab post on the topic here.

If you’ve got any other book recommendations you can make about sustainable fashion, I’d love to hear about them

Lent 2015: Day 36

My supermarket-free Lent has been so easy that I’ve almost not noticed it this year.  This is mainly due to having found a good local shop that meets most of my needs, and also partly due to being so busy that I’ve not been able to get out there and explore alternatives. However yesterday, I took my eye off the ball and… used a supermarket by accident!

‘How could this be?’ wondered my other half, who knows how meticulous I am at this time of year to ensure that I avoid anything supermarket-related.

Indeed it was a silly mistake. I had had a morning full of chores to get through, with my youngest child in tow. I was using my local community to the full – visiting the library, buying tickets at a local venue for a show put on by a local group, and I had my wee one scooting happily through the streets as I ran walked alongside.  My supermarket-free blip happened when I needed to take a prescription to the chemist. There was one on my route so I popped in and was sitting waiting for it when it dawned on me that I in a Cooperative Pharmacy!

By the time I realised, it was too late – the prescription was being prepared. I had to laugh though as I had just been congratulating myself on my super-efficiency in powering through my chores, and thinking how lovely it was that I’d found a new chemist that wasn’t keeping me waiting, unlike my usual Boots Chemist that always makes me return for the goods in 15 minutes. Even though I wasn’t personally paying for the prescription (in Scotland prescriptions are free), the Coop would have made money from my visit. FAIL!

Mistakes happen though, eh? As ever, I’ve picked myself up and carried on. In fact, just this morning I found myself in a local coffee shop enjoying a lovely cup of tea and a cupcake – that’s dedication for you!

It’s been a while since my last post so I’ve still to update you on the results of my supermarket-free Mothers’ Day presents. Here they are:

Granny
Cards (homemade by the children): very well received

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Present: lunch out in a local venue. We had a lovely time – the food (and wine!) were great, the service was excellent and there was even a garden for the kids to explore, so everyone was happy.

Grandma
Card (made by me, idea from a post on makedoandmend-able.co.uk ): the recipient was so complimentary that I’ve made about 4 more since for birthdays, and am slightly addicted!

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Decoupaged giraffe

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This went down especially well, possibly due to the fact that I managed to round up all of the grandchildren to help stick the paper on. Involving all the kids seems to have added sentimental value, and happily distracts from the fact that Grandma is now stuck with a decoupaged giraffe she can never chuck out…

Foodbank donation – a nice touch and more practical than the giraffe.

Great Gran
Card (I’m sorry to say this was actually made by me although it looks like it was made by the kids): Well received.

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Present – a selection of small gifts from the local gift shop, also well received.

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How’s everyone else getting on with going supermarket-free? Less than a week to go now!

Lent 2015: Day 22

I’m the first to admit that my supermarket-free blog posts of late have been a bit of a bore! I lay the blame at the feet of the fabulous Nisa store that opened within my area within the year and is pretty much meeting my every need.  I did however send my eldest off to school with this bottle of apple juice as I’d run out of the supermarket juice cartons I usually put in the packed lunch. Both children started sniggering when they saw it….

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‘Mummy that looks like wee!’

I have ventured into a few local shops in the last week. First up was this Polish shop which was rather lovely, complete with a thatched roof display (photo taken from behind an aisle as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself!)

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I also used the Post Office service in the local grocery store, having to banish any thoughts of using the Post Office inside Asda.

As mentioned in this post, I’ve been thinking hard about how to negotiate a supermarket-free Mothers’ Day, with the added complication of actually making this year’s presents thoughtful and personal! I have three presents to co-ordinate (two grannies and a great granny).  So far I’ve decided to make all the cards and ideally the kids will help me, which will mean they will be even better received and – let’s be honest here! – the quality can slip without anyone minding…

One present is to be Sunday lunch out in a local, family run hotel. A friend recommended it and we’re all looking forward to that. Sorted.

I have hummed and hawed over the second present and have decided that the kids and I will try out some decoupage!

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Having never tried it, this is ambitious. My plan is that the children will help me tear up the paper and I will glue it on, but realistically they are going to want to indulge in a little gluing too.  This may be where the problems start, but for Mothers’ Day it has to be the thought that counts, right?

I’m also going to make a donation to the Foodbank as part of this present after reading this

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For the third present, I plan to visit a gorgeous local gift shop nearby and select something there.  The presents I was given last Mothers’ Day came from this shop and I have cherished them all year.

My final supermarket-free anecdote for today is to tell you that our kettle broke three days ago and that I haven’t managed to replace it until today.  It turns out that three days without a kettle is something of a challenge in itself.  Boiling water on the hob takes ages and because there is no ‘click’ to alert you that the task is done, it is really easy to forget all about the pan which is bubbling away, filling the kitchen with condensation.

On the first day of kettle-gate, my other half offered to pop out to a nearby shopping centre to pick one up. This mission failed as the only shop in the whole place to sell kettles was Tesco. It took us another two days to find the time to source a kettle from somewhere else. Incidentally the kettle that broke came from a Tesco store, so maybe our habits are slowly changing for the better!

Supermarket-free Lent 2015: Day 13

Unlike last year, when I felt my supermarket-free Lent was an uphill struggle at times, I’m finding this year pretty easy so far. This can be almost fully attributed to the excellent new Nisa store that opened in my area around 10 months ago (mentioned in my last post). It has met almost all of my needs so far, and is only a little bit further away from home. Admittedly it’s not close enough for me to walk with children in tow, but I do my big shopping with the car anyway so it’s not causing me difficulty.

I had hoped by this stage to have reviewed some of the local shops in my area, of which there are plenty, but (as ever) life is really busy and I’ve not been able to do any exploring yet.

I wrote in this post about how we’d got used to swapping our Tesco Clubcard vouchers for money off at Pizza Express. With this option being much less attractive now that the Clubcard points are out of bounds, this weekend we ventured out to a family run pizza run restaurant instead, in the centre of Edinburgh. It was our second choice as we have a really excellent locally-run pizza place near us, but it is closed on a Sunday lunchtime.

I was really hoping (and indeed expecting) that I could rave about our great experience here on the blog but…we were disappointed. The pizzas were too salty and difficult to cut, we were seated so close to the toilets that people had to squeeze past us, it was cold to the point that I had to put my coat back on, plus they always used to have balloons and activity packs for kids but they didn’t this time.

I feel a bit sad about it as we’ve had great experiences there within the last couple of years. I didn’t give them feedback during our visit because I didn’t want to complain as such. The staff working there were lovely, and I was enjoying family time. My conscience says that I should probably offer them kind and constructive feedback though, otherwise they will almost lose customers to the bigger chains who are able to team up with supermarkets to secure an income.

I have increased my cooking as expected. Today for example, I made a big batch of tomato sauce for the freezer which I can use as an emergency meal with pasta or as a pizza topping. I also made bread in the breadmaker and…er…a jelly from jelly cubes – that doesn’t count, does it?! I’m still not completely on top of the veg box but am finding ways of using up more of it, and our meals and snacks are getting healthier all the time!

Finally, I am finding that by going supermarket-free again I am thinking in more depth about where my food comes from and the quality of supermarket food. By having a break from the supermarket, I have the freedom to challenge myself on the bad habits I’ve fallen into, without feeling automatically defensive because I’m not adhering to my ethics as much as I think I should…

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Supermarket-free Lent 2015: Day 8

I am amazed that in the last week, I’ve done so little shopping. Admittedly, we have been living to some extent on what is already in our cupboards, but I must’ve spent significantly less than I usually would in the same period.

Throughout January and February, I was becoming alarmed at how often I found myself in the supermarket.  We always seemed to be short of something, or I needed to find something easy for dinner. Somehow I never left the supermarket with the couple of items I was just popping in for. I really was wondering how on earth I was going to manage being supermarket-free this Lent.

However, with double portions of fruit and veg being delivered to our doorstep (as a result of me increasing our veg box order), we are all eating a lot more of this lovely fresh produce as snacks. The pears and apples that are in season just now are delicious, and I’m finding that I’m having to limit how many the children eat to prevent sore tummies. This makes me realise that the Pom Bear/Oaty Bar ilk of treats I’m used to stocking up on, have been somewhat unnecessary!

I have also now visited my first physical shop – twice in fact! The farm shop I grew to rely on during my last two supermarket-free stints has closed, and a bigger better shop has opened in its place. Initially, this sent me into a bit of a panic because the new shop looked decidedly like a supermarket.

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I searched for it on the internet however, and discovered that the Nisa sign above the door is actually good news for me.  Nisa stores are franchised, and are essentially local businesses (local businesses – yay!) that get support to help them compete for their share of the market – you can read more here.

The store is great!

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It has a variety of products, including its own bakery counter and a small café area. The prices seem competitive and, although I haven’t taken the time to work out whether I would pay more or less in my local supermarket for an equivalent shop, I found that I didn’t spend a scary amount.

Also, I hardly bought anything on impulse – partly because there were less of the extras and wild deals that I’m so used to in the supermarket, and partly because I used a wheelie basket and ran out of space to put anything else in it! (The trollies took £1 coins and I didn’t have any). In addition, I had the kids with me, and they were getting in everyone’s way dragging the basket around – fun for all the family – so I wanted to get out as quickly as I could!

My final thought for tonight is that Mothers’ Day is on Sunday 15th March. Last year I wrote this post which makes for depressing reading (I wonder if I blew the whole issue a little out of proportion!).  I wrote with a heavy heart about buying my Mothers’ Day gifts and cards from chain stores. It seems that they lacked the personal touch – I have no recollection of what they actually were! This year I need to do Mothers’ Day differently if I want to spare you another self-deprecating post…I need to get planning!

Lent 2015: Day 4

So far my experience of supermarket-free Lent has been most uneventful – I’ve got through it without doing any shopping whatsoever! I have of course upped my veg box delivery (which includes fruit and eggs), and I’ve had milk delivered by a local dairy for the last year – both of which have helped me to avoid physical stores so far.

Things are getting a bit desperate though in some departments.  We are, for example, down to our last loo roll (!) and the freezer’s supply of convenience-type foods is about to run dry. As anticipated, we’ve done a little more cooking than usual, but we aren’t yet feeling any pain from being supermarket-free.

I threw out some Tesco vouchers today that will go out of date during Lent.  I wondered if that might hurt a little, but actually the vouchers were to encourage us to buy products we wouldn’t use, so would have been binned anyway.  I think that because we shop with local businesses to some extent, our Clubcard can’t obtain an accurate picture of our lifestyle, and therefore predicts our needs incorrectly. I feel like I’ve foiled a spy, which makes me happy.

I am slightly dreading being supermarket-free negatively impacting on the kids’ lives in some way, for example, if they are asked to bring a specific item to school, or if we have to duck out of some supermarket-related social activity (I used to spend happy hours in the café with friends when they were babies!).  This hasn’t, however, been a problem the last two times I’ve done the challenge, plus now we have older children, my group of friends have found better things to do with our time! Hopefully the kids and I will emerge in April with our social lives unscathed…

As far as I’m aware, and due to planning on our part, we don’t use any extra supermarket services, such as banking or film hire. I’ll admit though that we are partial to saving our Tesco Clubcard vouchers and swapping them in for money off at Pizza Express. This was a weekend treat that saved us money, and meant that we could eat out on a whim if we didn’t fancy cooking.  I think we’ll miss that over the next 40 or so days. I must look into how this deal benefits Tesco, and decide if it’s a boycott that I should continue once Lent is finished.

I hope everyone else who’s going supermarket-free over Lent has got off to an enjoyable start. I’ll be back with a shopping update over the next few days.

 

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the last toilet roll

Lent 2015: Day 1

Phew! Day 1 of my Supermarket-free Lent challenge is almost done and I’ve made it through. There’s not much to report since today was never going to involve any shopping anyway. The kids and I ate out with friends for lunch, and the rest of the food we consumed was in the house anyway.

The main thing I’ve done by way of preparation for this challenge is to double my veg box order. I know! It’s crazy, given my very recent blog post about how I’ve been struggling with the veg box, and that I was questioning whether it even had a future in my household… I realised though that without a guaranteed supply of fruit, veg and eggs being delivered to the door, it was going to make going supermarket-free harder and more time consuming than I already anticipate it will be. I’m just going to have to do a lot of cooking over Lent, and I’ve decided to accept that and put the hours in.

As well as my fellow bloggers and tweeters outlined in this post who are joining in with supermarket-free Lent, I am delighted to introduce you to Katherine H of secondhandtales.wordpress.com plus @jennifer_nini of ecowarriorprincess.net, who has committed to give up the main supermarkets in Australia*. WooHoo!  Welcome aboard guys.  I am secretly hoping that in the near future giving up supermarkets for Lent will be a ‘thing’ and people will take the challenge even once, just to get them thinking about the impact of the supermarket on our society and environment.

I’ll sign off for now but will be back within the next few days with an update.

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*She lives there.  It doesn’t count, if you don’t live there, ok? ;-)

Lent 2015 Challenge

After a bit of frantic googling on my part, it seems that Lent starts soon – on Wednesday 18th February – or, in fact, just…Wednesday.

If you’re trying to work out what I’ll be giving up, it’s a no-brainer – supermarkets. Again. This will be my second year of doing a supermarket-free Lent, or a #supermarketfreelent as I tend to think of it, due to my high level of interaction on Twitter during this time. Also, in 2013, I gave up supermarkets for 28 days. I should therefore be an old hand at it, and looking forward to a relatively easy experience. This is not the case!

There’s a very real possibility that my use of the supermarket has actually increased, compared to this time last year. I’m too scared to get out the credit card statements to check. The reasons aren’t due to a lack of desire to cut down on using the supermarket (which I’m desperate to do!), but rather, for the factors outlined in this post about my veg box – I have less time for cooking and for proper food planning. This of course leads to an increased dependence on convenience-type foods which, in my case, involves more trips to the supermarket.

Feeling generally ‘time poor’ at the moment means that I am completely and utterly a part of me is really quite anxious about ditching the supermarket. On the other hand though, my shopping habits need to change, so I am going to be embracing Supermarket-free Lent. I hope that it will have the knock-on effect of improving my household’s diet.

There are many reasons why I want to stop supporting supermarkets. I am sceptical about many of their trading practices – see this recent Guardian article about Tesco’s alleged delay of payments to suppliers – and the way many of the big supermarkets price milk. Also I hate excess packaging, the confusing deals which leave you unsure if you are actually making a saving, the air miles that goods often travel to reach the shelves, and the ‘perfectness’ of the fruit and veg (indicating fertilisers and food waste). Further, I don’t know where supermarket profits end up but I suspect it is far away from my local community. I wouldn’t consider ‘donating’ to assist a supermarket financially, but should I be any more comfortable handing over my cash in exchange for goods?

For this challenge, I have enlisted some support via Twitter as I’m sure I will find it easier to stick to, having some company and support (plus the accountability of others reading my blog).

Are you in? If so, do join our wee group! So far we are:

Me, Westywrites, also to be found @westywrites I am a blogger who writes mainly on sustainable issues but I also sometimes throw in the odd post on anything I fancy. I am the CEO of a household of four which, for the purposes of this challenge means I have full control over shopping and diet*;

Trudie Holden of a alazygirlgoesgreen.com blog and @trudlenoodle ;

‘Practical Lou’ of beautifulorpractical.wordpress.com blog and @PracticalLou ; and

Mrs M of mrsmscuriositycabinet.com blog and @meg_e_r

Entirely supermarket-free people (not just for Lent, for most of the time!) who I do a fair bit of communicating with on the old internet are:

Zoe of ecothriftyliving.com blog and @Ecothrifty and

Lindsay of treadingmyownpath.com blog and @treadmyownpath

I must also mention Richard of @agreenthought who contacted me with this post to say that after deciding to give up supermarkets for Lent last year, he’s now supermarket-free!

See? There’s a wee community of support, just waiting for you. Plus you might want to consider following @Local4Lent who do this challenge every year too, with their own Twitter and Facebook community. They are a great source of support and I guest-posted for them last year (although I’ve lost the link!)

If you are considering the challenge but want to read some more, happily thanks to my previous experience I’ve done a bit of writing around this subject. Check out these links for some recommended reading on why you might give up the supermarket; advance planning and reading about how I got on last year.

Anyway, I don’t want to be pushy, I’d just love to invite you to read along as I write about this topic and if you find a bit of inspiration on the way, or support your local shops every now and again, well, so much the better!

 

 

*This translates to me being a stay-at-home mum who gets stuck with the shopping and cooking. While I have control over provision of diet, sadly it’s not up to me if anyone else actually eats what I serve up. Sometimes by the end of dinner the hoover has consumed more nutrients than the kids…