I have decided that it is time to make a stand and go public - I have been a make do and mend adherent for some years now, and have tried to tread lightly on this earth and shop ethically, and sometimes even quietly congratulated myself on the integrity of my purchasing decisions, when really it would have been better not to purchase at all. I have also had my lapses, most notably at the shrine of the great Cath, and have recently been looking longingly at the Toast catalogue.
But Dottie Angel, bless her, has been a braver woman than I, and issued her Ultimate Challenge. For one year she has promised 'to buy only secondhand or hand-crafted goods for her house and her closet' (I think that means wardrobe), with the honorable exception of tights and underwear (quite understandably).
And several other brave and ethical souls, such as Lola Nova, whose wayside finds amaze and delight me, and Floss of Troc, Broc and Recup' (the name of her blog says it all, really), as well as A Bun Can Dance have also taken the pledge. So Pomona, who likes to see herself as a latter-day eco-warrior, out to save the world singlehanded before breakfast, must join their illustrious ranks.
So from 1 October - and I promise that I won't cheat in the week that is to come, but I like a nice round number and easy-to-remember date - for a year, no, make that a year and a day, for this is a quest to make the world a better place, I will only buy secondhand or handmade - and also aim to buy only what I truly need, rather than merely desire.
We are allowed to make some provisos, so for work and educational necessities, we may have to buy new, but I will seek out alternatives first. (Abebooks is a good port of call for secondhand books.) And for things like underwear and tights, or other unforeseeable necessities, then I will buy ethical. Which may be more expensive, but (a) I will save on the rest, and (b) when you buy cheap clothing, etc, it tends to mean that the true cost is paid by someone somewhere else in the world, working in appalling conditions for pitiful pay. Gossypium, People Tree, Greenfibres, Bishopston Trading, and Howies all supply ethical clothing - and although some of these are not as cheap as shops that I will not even mention, I have found that their garments are far better made, and last much longer - in other words, it is not disposable fashion. But I am pretty well stocked up on most things, so I can't see any imminent purchases.
As a little light relief after the serious stuff, here is a naughty dog sitting next to a very rustic (homemade and recycled) fire pit made from an old grate and two paving stones.
And to move on from the hair shirt side of things, I want to show you (and remind myself of) the potential of secondhand and recycled artefacts - all these things are pretty and covetable and a joy to live with - and not one was bought new.
I can't remember where the wicker armchair came from, but we found it somewhere years ago and dragged it home; I spotted the rush seat chair outside an old cottage that was being renovated, and the mystified builders allowed me to take it away. The crochet blankets are all charity shop finds - I haven't mastered the art of crochet yet, but I think Attic 24 is the place to go (apparently Lucy's tutorials are just the thing). The cushions were presents from my sister - one of the best presents ever, as they were made from old jumpers.
The lovely green and blue basket is my briefcase for work - you can tell what a high-powered executive I am just by looking at it, and is just right for my sandwiches and knitting. This, too, came from a charity shop.
I wrote about the large bag here - it was originally a dirndl skirt I made for Princess Bunchy, and the small bag was made from the leftover fabric.
I can knit my own socks (note to self, try to make both legs the same length next time), and gloves. But, of course, this all takes time, which is why in the past when people had to make their own clothes they didn't have nearly so many, and remodelled and mended them until they really were no longer fit for any sort of use.
And if you look at the gloves, they need a little mending and making do, too. As they took me so long to knit, I will certainly repair these -a stitch in time will save me at least nine hours' work knitting another pair, probably more, as I am not a very fast knitter!
And here is a thrifty little basket, full of scraps left over from my thrifty bunting, and a handy darning mushroom. There is a lovely post on A Bun Can Dance about a delightful pale blue darning mushroom. Mine was a present from my dear mamma about the time I was married. She always used to darn my father's socks, and this was one of the few sewing skills that I thoroughly learned when I was a child. My mother was taught by nuns who could invisibly darn cotton sheets - my skills are a little more clumsy, but I have darned elbows in jumpers and knees in woolly tights, and bolstered my image as a thrifty, industrious little person in the process.
As you can see, there is plenty of food for thought here - and much potential for pontification on my part; you can be sure that I will be keeping you posted on my journey, and do visit the other participants to see what they are doing, too. There is a list on Dottie Angel's blog - why don't you join our merry little band, too? Surely together we can save the world, or at least make it a better place!