Buy Nothing November – An Update

Leave a comment

It is nearly 2 weeks since I first posted about Buy Nothing November. You can read the first instalment here.

Since then we have bought 2 more physical items which have come into our home. The first is a rat trap which fairly self-explanatory and does not need a photo.

The second item is a timber storage box. I had been perusing secondhand sites for a few weeks as I was looking for a seat for my mini-mudroom. That is probably too grand a description as it is actually a corner of the workshop near the entrance to the house via the internal staircase. Anyway, I turned my attention from benches to storage boxes and found this timber box in a neighbouring town for $50. The storage space which a box affords is an added bonus to the original purpose of providing seating.

I will provide a final update at the end of the month.

The Great Reshuffle – Part 1

Leave a comment

As a result of the new storage cupboard being completed we have begun re-arranging some things.

We emptied the contents of an old two-door pantry which was at the end of the garage. It was predominantly camping gear, however, all of it did not fit so some had been on top of the cupboard. We made a critical assessment of everything and removed a few items that were no longer required then transferred everything to the new storage cupboard.

There is much more space so we can easily locate things. Additionally, there is space for the camp fridge which had previously been elsewhere and a pet carry crate which are both on the floor of the cupboard.

There is a plastic laundry basket which holds the towels for use in the adjacent bathroom as it is quite remote from the linen cupboard upstairs.

The old pantry has a new home in the open space under the house where it will be put to good use. More about that another day.

At Last

1 Comment

I think it is about 3 years since we first contacted our builder with a view to having our downstairs bathroom renovated as well as some additional cabinets and cupboards in the garage and adjacent workshop.

He was busy (as usual) and we were not in a mad rush but somewhere in between Covid19 threw an additional spanner in the works. The work was finally begun about 3 months ago and the finishing touches completed the job today.

Here is the result.

A very small bathroom off the garage with shower, hand basin and toilet.

A large floor-to-ceiling storage cupboard in an unused alcove next to the bathroom.

A utility bench with sink and cupboards in the workshop. This will primarily be for GMan to use when setting up his home brew but will also be useful when entertaining downstairs.

We are delighted to have this work finished. I have been hanging out to move various items to the new cupboards which will allow better organisation in several other existing cupboards.

There will be several future posts as we do some re-organising.

Something Small

Leave a comment

The work on the downstairs bathroom renovation is progressing. The only thing left is the small mirrored cabinet to go above the handbasin. It is essentially a functional bathroom now so today I took some towels to the downstairs storage for use in that bathroom.

However, I noticed that the handtowel is simply hung on a hook rather than through a ring as we have in the main bathroom.

So I decided to add a loop for hanging the handtowels. I used a small piece of salvaged cotton tape to create a loop.

Here is the towel hanging on its new hook.

There will be a full reveal of the bathroom when it is completely finished.

Buy Nothing November

Leave a comment

As per the title, it is Buy Nothing November. Have you heard of it? It is the pushback against the mega-retailing phenomenon known as Black Friday.

Black Friday (the day following Thanksgiving in the United States) sales started to become popularised as a day for retail sales in the 1980s. This insidious spread of rampant consumerism has now spread its tentacles to the UK and Australia as well as other places of which I am unware. Of course, online retailing has jumped on the bandwagon in a huge way, too.

I found out about Buy Nothing November via The Story of Stuff on Facebook. Their actual post is copied below.

The Story of Stuff Project 

Welcome to #BuyNothingNovember! For years, the Story of Stuff Project has been actively promoting Buy Nothing Day, the alternative to Black Friday. But the holiday season, in general, has an outsized impact on the planet, so this year we’re expanding the call-to-action for the entire month of November. Throughout this month, we will be sharing facts and figures about the link between consumerism and climate change, and the ecological crisis at large. Refusing to buy new, nonessential goods is a direct-action protest against the corporate conglomerates who are destroying our home. Apple, Amazon, Coca-Cola — these companies are only allowed to be so large because we give them permission, with our dollar. It’s time we show them who is really in charge here. #BuyNothingNew

We generally keep our buying of stuff to a minimum and are certainly not enticed by the crazy Black Friday sales. I had no prior knowledge of this particular month and we track all of our spending so it is going to be quite easy to see what stuff we actually buy during November.

One third of the month is almost gone so it is probably time to review what stuff we have bought.

I am not including groceries and fuel which are both consumables nor ‘experiences’ such as gym fees, dining out and entrance to entertainment venues.

We have purchased and brought 3 things into our home. They are:

A pump for a 20 litre drum of chemical. It took a bit of research to find where we could source one but we succeeded.

A new lockable door handle for the freshly painted door between the garage and the workshop area.

A small bundle of fabric from the thrift shop. I have already used most of the orange fabric and the remainder will be used up as I continue making Boomerang bags.

I am pretty pleased when I consider how little ‘stuff’ we buy.

Wardrobe Refresh

3 Comments

It is now over 2 years since I finished full-time work. I worked in a corporate office but not in a customer-facing role so my wardrobe could mostly be described as business casual.

My collection of clothing has gradually evolved to meet my changed lifestyle. Almost all of my purchases have been secondhand.

I generally have kept all of my clothes available in my wardrobe for the entire year but had begun to wonder whether this was really the best option.

Today I removed everything from my wardrobe, tried it on and decided on a course of action. Most of the summer wear went back in the wardrobe. I ended up with 3 other piles.

One pile was things to be donated. There were 4 items – a skirt and top that I made about 6 years ago and I have simply lost interest in them, a pair of trousers that were not quite right and a dress that had been given to me but I decided did not really meet my needs.

The second pile was my winter jackets, coats and trousers which are now in a plastic box on the top shelf.

The third pile was 5 dresses and 2 jackets which are simply too tight. I have put them away in a separate box. I will review these in a few months and decide on their fate.

There is a shirt, dress and pair of trousers missing from this photo as they are in the wash. This is my summer wardrobe along with a couple of pairs of shorts and a few tops which are folded up the drawers.

I think I have enough. Time will tell.

Upcycled Packaging

Leave a comment

My last couple of posts have focused on avoiding packaging when grocery shopping. While avoiding packaging and waste is ideal, we still need to consider all potential waste and whether there are other options for it.

Upcycling is one of the strategies for removing items from the waste and recycling stream.

I would not buy Pancake Shaker mix but I ended up with a container of it which had come from my mother’s pantry. I decided to use it rather than waste perfectly good food but was then left with an empty plastic container.

I decided to cut it down to make a scoop.

After marking the proposed cutting line with a felt-tip pen I then carefully cut it with a Stanley knife. These are the 2 pieces I ended up with.

The offcut will go in the recycling and the scoop will be handy for GMan when measuring our flour during his breadmaking adventures.

There are many opportunities to reuse or upcycle all sorts of packaging. Do you have any examples?

Back to the Beginning

1 Comment

One of the very earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about folding plastic bags. It was back in 2011 and you can revisit the post here.

As part of my sustainability strategy, I reuse everything as many times as I possibly can. Even though we do not intentionally acquire any new plastic bags they do seem to accumulate. This is due to several factors, including other people giving me things in plastic bags, the longevity of the bags and finally, an enormous number of both new and used bags that have resulted from cleaning out my mother’s possessions.

Plastic bags are not the only ones that I seem to have. There are also paper bags. I know that these can be recycled and/or composted but it is still better to reuse them where possible. I give consideration to the resources that have been used to generate these bags and feel that they deserve to be used as many times as possible.

I seemed to have different types of bags stored in various locations in my home so I recently decided that there needed to be a better and more co-ordinated approach. Hopefully, this will assist in ensuring that what we have can be easily accessed and used as required.

Additionally, the bags I use every day are in the kitchen drawer – ziplock bags and reused bread bags as well as lightweight plastic bags hanging in a dispenser in the laundry cupboard.

I made the new dispenser as the old one had really seen better days. All of the materials were recycled bits retrieved from my stash.

Finally, I created a small pack of bags for the glovebox of each car. A few small ziplock bags, paper bags, lightweight plastic bags and a small foldable carry bag all contained in a medium ziplock bag. The plan is that this will cover all possible unforeseen contingencies when we are out and about.

I am happy with my new arrangements and keen to gradually reduce the quantity of bags in the household through natural attrition rather than wholesale disposal or recycling.

Hang It Up

1 Comment

For those of you who have been following this blog for a long time or anyone who knows me well, it will come as no surprise to discover that one of my preferred organising methods is hanging things up.

Today I created a solution to a long-standing dilemma. As you would be aware from my last post, I sort my washing into light and dark loads, however, there is another small issue – the handwashing. I know that there are wash bags for delicates, designated wool cycles on the machine and so on but I choose to handwash my bras as well as any woollen or particularly delicate fabrics. Historically, these have always been tossed in the main laundry hamper and sorted out when I come to do a load of washing. Alternatively, they end up languishing on the laundry bench until I am ready.

In among some of my mother’s things were several small wash bags as well as a couple of much larger ones. The zip was broken on of these but I had a plan.

I set to work. 3 small hooks from the stash in the workshop. Installed just below the lower shelf in the laundry cupboard.

I then cut 3 small holes near the top edge of the bag and handstitched the edges to reduce any fraying.

Here is a close-up of my handiwork.

Can you see where this is going? 3 hooks, 3 holes?

The bag is now hanging and ready to hold any handwashing.

With the laundry hamper in place.

A full view of the cupboard which was originally a full-length space which was of limited use to me.

The 2 shelves were added by a builder when we had the laundry renovated about 15 years ago.

I added the upside down hook in 2015 to retain the small ladder.

Today’s addition is pretty much the icing on the cake in terms of storage solutions in this cupboard.

A Continuing Tale

Leave a comment

There is no doubt in my mind that decluttering is a long-term and ongoing project. This post from 2017 explains my thoughts in detail.

I have been a bit under the weather for the past few days with a head cold but am definitely much improved today. Since we were in lockdown until 6pm today, I took the opportunity to do a bit of cleaning, tidying and decluttering. I have really just done the bare minimum at home over the last 4 months while my mother was ill and following her death as there were many other more pressing priorities.

As I noted in another old post from 2015:

“Circumstances are constantly evolving as we welcome children into our homes, they grow and then finally leave home.  Later there may be the addition of grandchildren or the death of a spouse.  All of these things require us to adapt what we have and how we use it.  It is easy for the essentials of one phase of our lives to become the clutter of the future so it is wise to review our needs regularly.”

I am not sure of exactly what prompted me to write that 6 years ago but it is certainly relevant to my current situation. Not only have I acquired items that belonged to my mother but I am also reassessing what we really need.

We have been empty-nesters for close to 16 years, however, during that time the lives and needs of our children have become increasingly separate to us. They are now thoroughly independent adults in their mid-late 30s. Even the grandchildren are moving into their teen years.

The impetus for some of my recent decluttering has been multi-faceted.

Acquisition of items from Mum
Items becoming obsolete due to improved organisation
Need to use the available storage as efficiently as possible
Continuing realisation of how much/little I actually need
Desire to give to others who need items
Considering the possibility of relocating sometime in the future

I don’t have many photos for this post but here is one example of what I have achieved recently.

This is a photo of my laundry cupboard back in 2015.

I had one laundry hamper in the cupboard and another mesh foldable one in our bedroom.

About 3 years ago I relocated the vacuum cleaner to the bottom of the linen cupboard and the space on the left-hand side of this photo was home to the portable dehumidifier. This worked reasonably well except I was not overly thrilled with a basket of worn clothes lurking in the corner of our bedroom.

I recently acquired another mesh foldable hamper from my mother’s belongings and this prompted me to reconsider how things were arranged. The dehumidifier was rehomed to a cupboard under the laundry bench and I then put the 2 matching hampers in the tall cupboard. They are now designated as ‘lights’ and ‘darks’ so I can see at a glance when a particular load needs doing.

The cane hamper is now surplus to requirements.

The lid had long since broken and the lining ripped so I had fashioned a removable liner from an old sheet. I really did not think it would be a highly desirable item, however, I listed in on a couple of local Buy, Swap, Sell groups and had several enquiries almost immediately. It is going to be collected tomorrow.