Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Many little things, by many little people... a Challenge

This is one of my numerous Fair Trade jute bags. I use it to carry all my school books and folders, so it's pretty important to me.
Here's the message:
Many little things,
by many little people,
in many little places,
can turn around the face of the earth.
Over the couse of last year, the handles got very worn, but the rest of the bag is in reasonable nick. Time for some Make Do and Mend, with canvas I bought about 17 years ago. Never been sure about the colour, but beggars can't be choosers...
So, what's inside? My French teacher's record book - very useful,
and a new (to me) 50 cents folder with a RECUP THEME!!!
There I was at Veti Relais, and they were having a Rentree special, and I got this recup' file with recup' pictures and recup' messages - I was very content. If you need to know what recup' means, do pop over to my definitions post. Look at the buttons! They called to me...
Something else that has called to me recently, but took a bit more thinking about, was dottie angel's challenge to herself and others.
Tif at dottie angel has challenged herself (being one birthday ahead of me) to a 42nd year of thrifty living and creativity. Here are the basic details:
I immediately identified with the idea, but like Tif, wondered if I could pull it off. Or if my husband would find it annoying. Or if my mother would worry about me depriving myself (note to mother - no chance, don't worry!)
However, the following day was my big tidy-up day (which readers know about). I found myself tidying much used, much cherished things, and also sorting some slightly depressing clutter which it might have been a mistake to buy. The cherishable, useful stuff was all second hand, handmade, fair trade or recup', and the few depressing things were new - bought last year but somehow not having quite worked out the way I'd hoped.
This seemed to be a pointer in the direction of Tif's challenge, and I decided to follow up on the other bloggers who've taken up the challenge. My sweet friends Pomona and Denise have gone for it (in fact, I first found it on Denise's 'other' blog). By reading through their blogs, familiar or new to me, I was inspired by the varied ways that people are interpreting this challenge, and realised that I could make Tif's challenge my own, too.So my challenge to myself is that for one year, from Tif's birthday of 20th September onwards (phew, I never went shopping this week...), all my non-food, non-hygiene, non-stationery (I'm an independent teacher - I have to provide myself with stationery) shopping for myself and the house will be thrifted, hand made or fairly traded, and that I'll recup' anything that's wearing out or has no more use in its current form.
In some ways this isn't going to change much - most of us, or all of us, who have accepted the challege, already work like that anyway. But there will be little things - I will save time and money by avoiding my 'guilty pleasure' shops Gifi and Casa - these are the French 'cheap but surprisingly nice' homestores, which can surely only achieve their prices by being quite the opposite of Fair Trade. I will delight in my mother's birthday gift of a Country Living Magazine subscription, and not go out and buy others... (except that the French often sell their back copies of good mags second hand by the bundle, woo-hoo!)Our TV, washing machine and a good amount of furniture have already come second hand or free from Toulouse's transient population of overseas inhabitants (often from people sharing out the goodies when they go 'home'). Our dishwasher and cooker were second hand and I recently was given an old glass jug to replace the broken one in our coffee machine. Thus, the essentials of French life can be achieved without going out and buying new. We have a computer crisis looming which may require a bit of new shopping by Ben, but we are also investigating the possibilities of our small town's 'green' computer rehab shop. In an emergency we will buy electrical goods new, but now we've lived here nearly five years we know enough to live almost completely without the highstreet.

This is not meant to be a depressing year. The aim is for a certain shedding of non-essentials, but for a lot of fun and challenge and celebration of all things long-lived and handmade! I think it could be a great year... Will anyone else join us as we have a go at changing the face of the world, one little thing at a time?


dottie angel said...

hurrah!! so happy to read your post and learn about you and your thrifting ways... i feel most inpsired and most keen to get on with our handcrafted thrifted year together :)

Tif x

Lola Nova said...

Thought I might pop in and greet a fellow challenger. I love your line - "a lot of fun and challenge and celebration of all things long-lived and handmade!"

jus said...

Hi, I've just found you by way of some whimsical clicking...we have shared friend's in Denise and Serenata it seems. Your blog's lovely, I'll definitely be back to read at leisure once the school run is over, x

Mami said...

I just remind that my clothes used to be made by my mother,skirt,blouse,dress,suits,knit even under-wear,and father made toys in my childfoot. i love all of things. They are clever. People dindt go out for shopping in thouse days. Nowadays shopping becomes a kind of family leisure.Also I love shopping though.
I agree with 'Say no to plastic bag' Your thrifted handmade way is wonderful thought.

Sarah said...

I'm impressed with your decision Floss, well done! I too am going to join in this challenge, as I've been turning this direction for a while now without actually thinking about it. I have made many gifts just this week without having to go out and buy. I even baked for a friend with a new baby today, and I don't like baking. I'll have to sit down and write my pledge out soon.

VintageVicki said...

I love the idea of the challenge - good luck with it. I tried a similar thing last year - the idea was to reduce the amount of new stuff I bought - especially clothes. Essentials could be replaced but the silly extras were not allowed unless they were handmade or recycled.

Presents for many people were handmade - jams, chutneys or flavoured gins/vodkas.

Hello btw - found your blog via another. Look forward to hearing how you get on.

LissyLou said...

Good luck floss - i don't think i could do it xx

Sarah said...

Bravo Floss!

Michela said...

Hi Floss!
You have all my admiration, as well as Pomona and Denise! Having lots of crafty abilities I'm sure you will win your challenge!
...this could be a good reason to enter my giveaway ;-)

Pomona said...

I'm feeling guilty now - I haven't done a post yet, but as you know, this is exactly the way that I think. I just have to set out my ground rules and remember to stick to them - which is why it is a good thing to go public! Good luck - we're all in this together so we can cheer each other along from the sidelines.

Pomona x

A Thrifty Mrs said...

What a terrifc idea. I'd love to try and do it too.

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hi Floss
Wooop De Doooo ! So excited that you are on board and I loved reading your post with your reasons and exceptions. It's going to be a great year of fun and supporting each other with ideas. Thank you for the link too! Don't you find that you are continually considering how you might replace X should you need to, or how you could make a version of something else? It fascinates me and I'm so inspired by all you other lovely bloggers who are taking part too.
What fun!
Denise x

The Curious Cat said...

Such a good idea! well done on you and dottie angel - my friend who writes the blog 'sew darn pretty' is doing something a little similiar but it is more fashion orientated - she is promising not to buy any fashionable clothes and make all hers copying the latest high street styles for 1 year!

I'd love to do this but I'm not really in the right place for it at the mo. Maybe when I have the sewing machine set up and in working order though! Good luck with it all - do keep us posted on how it goes and what kind of things you come up with! xxx

Apron of the Month Club said...

Wow Floss, you are creative. I always enjoy visitng your blog.


Lululiz said...

Floss, you are a girl after my own heart. You know me and my passion for charity shops, boot fairs, etc etc. I am a huge believer in recycling, reusing, repurposing, whatever you want to call it, redistributing, mending, making and crafting.
Now tell me about those gorgeous cushions hiding behind the bag in the first couple of pics. They look fab!

Catherine said...

I love this idea! I will give it a go also!

Catherine said...

By the way, I had also meant to say in my comment that I have just found your blog and love it!

Serenata said...

I mentioned on Denise's blog yesterday that I am hoping to do this as well. Just need to get my head round it all first - have a busy couple of days ahead, but then hopefully... I already do much of this so can't wait to make a proper committment - it is just the magazines I have started to enjoy that is the difficult thing... I've never been a magazine person before so it is a new found pleasure LOL
Oh and my Unplug Christmas Book arrived today - not had a chance to look at it yet.

Josie-Mary said...

What a great idea Floss, I wish you luck, I know I couldn't do it.
Your bag is great, I love the pink handles :)

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I admire you for doing this. Don't know that I could it - Not that talented.
Your question about the Hickory nuts - They would be to much work to try and eat, and don't know if they are even tasty. They are extremely hard and have very little nut meat in them, but the squirrels love them. The Hickory Nut tree is not an exotic tree here - way to many around. The nuts can do damage to a lawn mowers, break windshields, dent cars, etc. But the wood is used for smoking meats - Ever hear of Hickory Smoked meats? Very common in the US.
Thanks for visiting and your kind words.

Gena said...

I just found your blog by way of ???? I can't even remember. Anyway, I've been reading some of your past posts and I just saw the books you've bought. I must say that I LOVE Unplug the Christmas Machine and I have read all of the Mitford books. They are so charming, warm and wonderful. You will want to live there.

We, too, are trying our best to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Some days are good, some not so much. I will be visiting you often to see how you are doing.

I live in the southern USA, in Georgia. I would love to visit France. My 15-year-old daughter will be living in England in just a few years.

Have a wonderful weekend.

bekimarie said...

Good luck although i'm sure you won't need it.
I really admire your determination!
Beki xxx

Florence and Mary said...

WOW what a challenge, I can't wait to see how it goes for you, keep us updated.

Victoria xx

BusyLizzie said...

Brilliant idea, I read the Thrifty Mrs's recent attempt for a week & was impressed by the concept..... I have lived & breathed a recycled & 2nd hand life for over 25 years, but I could improve! We just replaced a fridge that we have since 1983.. so you can tell that I don't visit the High Street easily!!! Lizzie

Jackie said...

Hi, Where can I find the "Many little things" bag? thanks,
bliss farm antiques