A busy month

June has flown by and I’ve somehow not managed to blog at all, until faced by the prospect of not even having a single post this month, I decided I’d better pull my finger out and get typing! My absence has partly been due to technical difficulties (ie. a rubbish computer!), but partly I’ve just been busy with more outdoor, sunshiney activities than blogging.

Anyway, here’s a quick roundabout of some of my activities…

  • Curb cooked a thank you lunch for the volunteers at our local repair cafe. I’ve always been curious about the cafe, so it was good to see it in action. The idea behind the cafe is to encourage people to fix broken household items, rather than throwing them away and buying more. We cooked a Mexican themed meal, which was accompanied by smoothies and a fruit crumble to finish.
  • Last week, Curb also had a stall serving snacks at Southampton’s first upcycled fashion show. It was awesome to see the creations that local volunteers had worked so hard on, as well as to experience a fashion show – albeit without any supermodels! Among my favourite outfits were two dresses, one made from a re-purposed table cloth and the other from net curtains. It was inspiring to see what can be done with a bit of imagination and a sewing machine.
  • Almost a year after I started volunteering at the food bank, I finally got round to having my induction!! It was nice to meet people from the other food banks, and I did actually learn the odd new thing or two, but let’s face it, when is health and safety aspects of lifting trays of tinned food ever going to be exciting?!
  • In July, Curb is taking over the Community Corner at our local wholefoods co-op, Rice Up. We’ll be displaying posters and information about what we do to raise awareness of food waste and ways of preventing it.

I’ll have to try harder to balance being in the garden with being in front my laptop next month, although I could simply combine the two…!

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Introducing the GO Box

Polystyrene food containers, along with their partners in crime – disposable, plastic cutlery – are a pet, food related hate of mine, so I was pleased to find out a start up called GO Box have come up with a more sustainable solution. It essentially works like this:

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I was interested to read here that

The biggest potential impact might come from the food saved inside the containers—not the containers themselves. How much half-eaten Thai food goes straight in the trash? It’s possible that knowing a container has to be returned might be just enough motivation for more people to remember their leftovers.

I’m not sure if this idea will take off, but it’s nice to know people are trying to make what is currently a horribly wasteful practice more environmentally sound.

Remember my Advent Challenge?!

As you can probably tell, I’m a bit behind with my blog and am still catching up with last year’s events! Way back at the start of December, I embarked on the Advent Challenge. The basis of the challenge is that you give away one item you own every day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. I decided 24 items would be too easy for me, so I went for two items per day instead. I tend to get on a roll when I start a clear out, so I didn’t actually track down one item each day, I just had a couple of tidying up sessions and then counted how much stuff had amassed. It was a lot! I ended up exceeding my 48 item target – I gave away 57 items, plus around 10 pieces of jewellery that I was too lazy to count!

Some of the items that have now left the building include:

  • A freebie inflatable happy hand from the World Cup in Brazil. Cool at the time, not so cool once the party is over!
  • A face mask and an eye mask I haven’t used in years. I happily handed over the latter to a friend; it’s nice when can rehome your stuff to somebody you know.
  • Kitchen items: poaching pods, an assortment of crockery I never use, a shot glass from Seattle, a lunchbox and a timer.
  • Two handbags and a rucksack.
  • Six scarves… I still have quite a few scarves.
  • Two picture frames.

Although I come from a family of hoarders, I’m fairly ruthless with my stuff; if it doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, isn’t needed anymore, it goes, usually to a charity shop, but sometimes to FreeCycle. So I was quite surprised at how many things I had hanging around my house that didn’t need to be there.

Actually, I had already got together some unwanted clothes prior to the Advent Challenge, because around October or November I start thinking ahead to Crisis Christmas. Many Crisis volunteers bring donated clothes along with them to the centre, and they are very gratefully received by the guests. My collection started small, with a few bits from my own wardrobe and a few from friends in Southampton:

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By the time December came around, and I’d mentioned to people I was aiming to get a car load of clothes to take with me to Crisis, I ended up with quite a haul. The photo below doesn’t show very well how much stuff there was; one holdall is hidden behind the others and the box on the back right was packed with socks and hats, which were kindly donated by a family friend.

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Then a few days into Crisis, my dad added some more clothes:

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Knowing you’re giving away your things to people who will appreciate them far more than you definitely makes the process easier.

Doing the Advent Challenge highlighted that while I’m probably better than a lot of people at not keeping stuff I don’t need, I could still free up some space in my cupboards. I intend to continue weeding out this month and taking what I call an essentialist (more realistic than minimalist?!) approach to my possessions. It’s actually pretty liberating.