Sissie snuggling in her blankie

Sissie snuggling in her blankie

Last year Patty and Perkin loaned us a dvd; the film was called Lars and the Real Girl. Have you seen it? It’s rather odd, but very endearing and a story that, at the end, you really wish was true because you want to believe that there actually are communities that care enough about their members to overlook their odd behaviour. However, this post is not really about the film, it’s just that the main character – Lars, a sad and troubled man – has a beautiful baby shawl that his mother (who died at his birth) knitted for him whilst she was pregnant. He wears the shawl as a scarf, giving him comfort and acting as a security blanket. I found this rather touching (despite it being fictional) and it inspired me when I found out that Patty was expecting a baby.

I don’t really enjoy knitting the sort of lace shawl featured in the film and, anyway, all those fine threads are just asking for little fingers to get tangled in them, so I made a much more serviceable blankie for little Sissie. It’s got a simple knitted pattern to add a bit of interest and I made it with Sirdar’s Simply Recycled yarn, which is more than 50% recycled cotton and easily washable (another important consideration with items for babies). Apparently, Sissie is rarely without her blankie… I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t have made two of them so there was a chance for washing!

A new blankie from left-overs... it will be creams and yellows with a cornflower blue border

A new blankie from left-overs… it will be creams and yellows with a cornflower blue border

Another of my friends is also expecting a baby. This one is due in the autumn, so a warmer blankie seems in order and this time I have decided to exercise my new crocheting skills and make one out of granny squares. The yarn I’m using is left over from someone else’s baby projects and was bought for a few pounds on e-bay… as usual, it feels good to be turning waste into useful items. It also feels good to avoid jumping on the baby gifts bandwagon. So many new-borns are showered with brand new stuff, which is then hardly used. Perkin and Patty specifically asked family and friends to avoid this consumer-madness, so my gift was made specifically with this in mind… even down to the choice of yarn. Avoiding waste is an approach that permeates their lives, from gardening to running their delightful holiday cottage, so it is natural for them to want the same ethics for their family.

A little bit of internet research reveals how much new parents do spend on a baby, even before it’s born. An article on Netmums from last year states:

…new parents are spending 13% more on their new baby than they did three years ago and are forking out an average of £2,538 before their baby is born. One reason is thought to be that they are copying celebrities who are photographed with the latest ‘must-have’ strollers and baby clothes and equipment. In a poll new mums admitted they were inspired by ‘A-list’ lifestyles and many also said any money sense flew out of the window when it came to buying for their baby. The survey found that newborns in Britain have a £600 wardrobe, £180 toy collection and a nursery costing £463 in furnishings and decorations.

EEKK! And that doesn’t cover all those presents that come with the birth of a baby and the spending afterwards. Well, I’ve been assured that Sissie’s blankie was most welcome and that her pre-birth spend was nowhere near that amount. I’m sure the same will be true for the other imminent arrival and since she is going to be a third child, there will be lots of hand-me-downs as well as the blankie from me.

I hope that Sissie, like Lars, will continue to value her blankie into adulthood (although for different reasons) and if it ever wears out, I can always make her a new one… possible recyled/upcycled from something else!

Sissie in her blankie in the garden at High Bank

Sissie in her blankie in the garden at High Bank… perhaps they found her under a gooseberry bush!

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

%d bloggers like this: