Sunday, 2 January 2011

No Impact Week: My Current Consumerism

So today was about consuming less and thinking about consumption in general.

Well I've done quite a bit of thinking about what I consume over the years and while I do have the occasional splurge on things that are not especially ethical or sustainable (and lets be honest if we only bought things that fell into that category we would have very little choice and there are some items that just don't fall into that category), I don't spend every day shopping.

In the last few months I have invested in a number of woollen jumpers, first of all because I found some that were longer than usual, and women's shirts seem to be longer these days so I glad to find a jumper that covers them up. Then, after all this snow and very cold weather I bought a thicker jumper, which is made from British wool, but I have not yet found out where they are made.  This will mean I won't have to choose between shivering and putting the heating up high if the temperature drops again.

My other recent splurge was on books, which I will admit to having a weakness for.  I ordered several a few days ago, before deciding to do this experiment, as I expect to have more time than usual to read and reflect over the coming months and I thought I'd buy a few books before the VAT increase takes effect on Tuesday.

I like to buy a book by Thich Nhat Hanh from time to time as his brand of engaged Buddhism makes a lot of sense to me. I'd like to be an 'engaged Christian' following his principles, which I'm sure are very close to those Jesus' espoused (indeed, Thich Nhat Hanh once counted Rev Martin Luther King and the trappist monk, Thomas Merton, amongst his friends). So one of his books was amongst the ones I bought.  I also bought a book about candle making as I am keen to try to do this.

Last but not least were a couple of books and a CD by Marshall Rosenberg whose book Non-Violent Communication I've found quite helpful, but I think I shall need to immerse myself in his ideas before I can put them into practice in everyday life.  Learning to be less aggressive, even in subtle and subconscious ways, is an important part of being an engaged Buddhist or Christian, and so I do try to keep an eye out for help in doing that.

So that's a glimpse at my general habits as a consumer.

As for today, well once I decided I needed to buy painkillers, I thought I might as well buy the pizza for tonight's dinner. We also bought a couple of mushrooms and two peppers (reluctantly as they were from Israel) to go on the pizzas, one of which was just cheese and tomato.  As we bought them in Waitrose the packaging was recyclable cardboard and a thin covering of plastic film.  We also bought two cartons of Covent Garden soup, again the cartons are recyclable, a couple of packets of Yeo Valley cheddar (organic and from Somerset but the plastic wrappers are not recyclable here as far as I know) as they are always useful to have, four cartons of non-dairy milk, which I use daily (not 4 cartons, though), the painkillers, some inter-dental brushes, which are important for good dental hygiene according to my dentist and some part-baked bread in elaborate plastic wrapping, which is not good for the environment, but we arrived too late for the fresh baked loaves and besides which, it is still holiday time.  While we were there we also bought some organic mince for tomorrows dinner, which will use up most of the vegetables from the organic veg box we had delivered before Christmas, and, I nearly forgot, a local newspaper.

I'd nearly got back to the car, having paid for the above, when my mobile rang and daughter had sent me a text asking for a Pritt stick.  As this was obviously important to her and she isn't trying the No Impact experiment I went back and bought her one and also picked up a packet of blue tack as I know we have very little in the house and it comes in useful from time to time and somehow we never seem to know we need it in advance.

To prepare for today I needed to  
Type up a list of all the stuff you “need” to buy this week. Delete the items that you can live without for the week. For the rest of the items, figure out if you can purchase them second-hand, borrow them, or make them yourself.

Well, having had some lovely presents for Christmas just over a week ago and with a birthday in a fortnight, I can't think of anything I need just now other than food and a few everyday consumables such as laundry liquid and cleanser, but of course something could crop up as the week progresses and normal life resumes.


  1. Hi,

    I saw your post on the No Impact Man blog and thought I'd come visit. I'm guessing you're in England or someplace like that since I have no earthly idea what a Pritt stick is, nor "blue tack", and the word rubbish makes me grin. :)

    Anyhow, don't know what the library system is like where you are, but rediscovering my library has helped me completely eliminate spending money on books. They have a wonderful system where I can go online to reserve the book I want, then they'll send me an email when it arrives and I can walk a few blocks to my local branch office and pick it up!

    And speaking of books, if you're interested in a book that will give you a whole new perspective on spending, I highly recommend "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, It totally changed the way I felt about spending money, with absolutely no guilt involved!

    Can't wait to read more of your posts!

  2. Hi Rebecca, and thanks for dropping by. I was surprised to see Rebecca had left so many comments, because that is my daughter's name and she doesn't read my blog as far as I know.

    I shall try to respond to all your comments, but it may take me a few days.

    I do live in England, you guessed right.

    Our library system sounds similar to yours and as I work in a library I borrow a lot of books from them and reserve books from other libraries, but some of the books I want to read are not kept in libraries in my area. Occasionally I think a book will be useful to have long term after reading it in the library, although if no one else wants it I can keep books for months.

    I'll go have a look at what "Your Money or Your Life" is about.

  3. This book is not available in any local library, but I can buy a copy quite cheaply. I have put it on my wish list and may buy it next month. I found that Sounds True have a recording of the same title by Vicki Robin, and they do record some interesting people with interesting ideas.


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