Bragging rights

I am constantly exasperated by the fact that we are bombarded with the message that success and happiness can be equated to owning the latest ‘stuff’. Large corporations, of course, have a vested interest in perpetuating this idea – after all their raison d’être is to sell us more things and thus make a profit. This is the reason for fashion – you really don’t look better in this year’s colours  than you did in last year’s… however much  clothes shops tell you that you do. Similarly, the latest i-phone is completely unnecessary to you because all you ACTUALLY want to do is send e-mails, look at a couple of web sites and make a phone call or two… why on earth you would want to queue up overnight to be the first to obtain the latest model is beyond comprehension.

Are you successful because you have a huge TV, a fast car or the latest video game? Are you happy because you own a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a BMW? Even if the act of buying these things gave you instant gratification, do you not find yourself hankering after the next purchase as soon as you have got the first one home? If the answer is yes, then you are being suckered by retailers and manufacturers.

So… what really does make you happy? And what should you be bragging about to your friends? Well, my experience is that I can find happiness in all sorts of places…. on the beach, cuddled up with my sweetie, collecting fresh eggs from my hens, picking herbs in the garden, watching an eclipse or writing my blog. And what do I have to brag about in the way of possessions? Well there are a few…

Solar, wind-up radio mended again!

Our much-repaired solar, wind-up radio… still going strong

Me and my props (including the snails)

The masterpiece (a rare picture of me posing with it)

The new wand seems to be a rather brighter grey than the old cleaner

Our old Dyson vacuum cleaner… with several new components helping to extend its life

A work bag made from yarn left over from another project

A work bag made from yarn left over from another project

Ready for action

My handmade string shopping bags

The complete set up

My repaired antique swift and secondhand wool winder

The Snail of Scrappiness

The Snail of Scrappiness – a gift from a friend (the lovely Kate)

All mended!

Our twice-repaired Kelly kettle

And I could go on and on… you may be identifying a theme here. All these things have a history and memories associated with them. Every single one of them makes me smile when I look at it. Every one I want to preserve and continue to own for years to come. Every one I want to share with you.

So, what about you? What objects that you own REALLY make you happy? What would you like to brag about?

OK… here are a few more of mine…

Positive action

All this recent talk of civil disobedience may be off-putting because it sounds like you are being ‘naughty’, but nothing could be further from the truth… it’s really about using peaceful actions to make a real difference.

You don’t have to break the law (compost those kitchen scraps rather than feed them to the hens!) to have a real impact on the world around you. I’m not talking about on-line petitions or lobbying your MP, I’m talking about hitting people/politicians/corporations where it really hurts: in the wallet. As Anna Lappé – an expert on food systems – says

Every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want*

Your money - your choice. Who do you really want to give it to?

Your money – your choice. Who do you really want to give it to?

We make choices every time that we hand over money for anything. The first question is whether we should make a purchase. We would conserve the earth’s resources much more effectively if, at least sometimes, we questioned our needs. Would it be better to pay to have a particular item mended rather than replacing it with a new one? Easier said than done in many cases, but let’s try.

And having decided to hand over our money, what do we buy? An item that will last a long time and is repairable is surely more sustainable than something we’re going to have to replace quickly. Anything that you’ll only want for a short time because it will go out of fashion is surely playing into the hands of the manufacturers and retailers.

We also have a choice about whether to buy something that is produced locally, or sold by a local retailer. We can think about how products are transported, and how far. We can consider what they are made of, and by whom. There are so many issues that we can take into account, and it can seem overwhelming, but you are making a statement with every single purchase.

Even when money is short, you have choices. It may be cheaper and more sustainable, for example, to buy fresh food direct from the producer than from a supermarket. Where we live, this is true for eggs. Fresh eggs sold at the gate, from free-range hens in small flocks, are cheaper than any supermarket eggs… even the ones from battery hens. We make assumptions that supermarkets will be cheapest, but they aren’t always – check out your local market and you are likely to find very reasonably priced fresh produce.

So before you hand over your hard-earned cash, ask yourself whether you’re giving it (ultimately) to someone who you’d really like to have it.


* Thanks to Linda for reminding me of this quote and thus inspiring me to write this post

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