Shona.

Shona was a five foot one powerhouse of a woman that never stopped. She knitted, sewed and crocheted for her whānau while raising six children, working outside of the home and keeping her gardens immaculate. She was exactly the kind of home maker that the world expected her to be in the 1960s and 1970s and she was my maternal grandmother.

My memories are of a tiny woman who laughed, drank a sneaky gin when no one was looking, baked up a storm, smoked almost continuously and told loud, dirty stories that stung my sheltered ears. I knew the grandmotherly version of her, but this story is about a different Shona. The version of Shona that was driven by necessity and need and sometimes by the desire to escape her difficult reality.

Shona, age unknown.

She was a pou in her whānau and she is a big part of why I create today, because of what she passed on to my mum, who then passed those skills on to me. She took charge of her own household when she was just a child as her dad (my great-grandfather) was an alcoholic who used to beat her mum and throw her out on a regular basis. As the second oldest child and possessing a special kind of determination, she took charge and took care of her siblings. A well-known story in our whānau was that at nine years old, when her mum was “away” she took the fabric that my great-grandmother had purchased to make pyjamas and nighties for her siblings and proceeded to sew them all up herself with no patterns and just a treadle sewing machine at her disposal. Basically, no one could tell my grandmother that she couldn’t do something. That just wasn’t something she would accept. That same sewing machine was one of a few precious taonga saved from a house fire a few years later when Shona’s dad went back into their burning home to retrieve it (along with a bundle of handsewn sanitary pads).

I own both a sewing machine and an overlocker. Both of which I rarely use. Finding the time feels like a luxury I can’t afford. From manual treadle sleepwear at age nine to electric machines collecting dust in just two generations.

My mum was raised in Mangorei Road in New Plymouth with her sister and four brothers. They lived just inside the town boundary and they were poor. There isn’t any way to sugar coat it or a nicer way to put it and there isn’t any shame in poverty being a part of my mum’s early life (or my own early life). It is what it is and it’s a part of my history.

I worry sometimes that my own children will never know this kind of poverty, this struggle. It’s confusing. I don’t want them to lack, but I do want them to know what it’s like to go without. To understand what that is like.

Shona was married at around age 19 and started having babies almost straight away, her children all being born between 1954 and 1962. It’s no surprise that all my mum’s memories of Shona are of her furiously doing. She didn’t read, unless it was a pattern or a recipe and if she did sit down then she was knitting. Obviously, I was most interested in knowing about the knitting but what I learned surprised me at first, though on reflection I know I shouldn’t have been

Shona would buy op-shop sweaters and unravel them to re-knit the wool into jerseys, cardigans, slippers and socks for her whānau. My mum remembers standing up with her arms outstretched while Shona would unravel the wool and wind it around them to get the kinks out. Sometimes she’d dye this unravelled and re-purposed yarn in the laundry tub before she knitted it up. What we now call upcycling and eco-friendly, she did to keep her growing family clothed. Mend and make new turned into a 21st century trend. She made all the jerseys for her children and no one was off the hook; my grandfather, my mum and her siblings all helped by knitting sleeves on jerseys while the technical work and cabling was left to Shona, who could make almost anything without patterns or instructions.

Kmart jerseys and Postie Plus leggings on my daughter, while I spend $70 and three months on one single handknit cardigan.

My mum, as a teenager, in a jersey knitted for her by Shona.

She knitted my granddad’s work socks and every winter she’d knit slippers for the entire family. My mum had a prized handmade Andy Pandy toy and my aunt had a Milly Molly Mandy doll. This feels particularly sweet to me given that my nickname from my father has been Milly as long as I can remember, which comes from the Milly Molly Mandy character. That this was a part of my mum’s childhood in the form of a handmade gift that my aunt owned feels like another tohu to me in a whole series of signs and coincidences.

I read Milly, Molly, Mandy books when I was a child. Library loans always. For my own children I shun Enid Blyton for hard cover Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and living room bookshelves overflowing with modern fiction with culturally diverse stories and “strong female characters”.

While she knitted and repurposed, she also sewed the whānau clothes after a woman next door taught her how to properly tailor and fit clothes made from patterns she’d trace off of garments they already owned. She used a treadle Singer sewing machine until she managed to purchase an electric sewing machine. The new machine became a prized piece of equipment that only Shona and my mum’s older sister, my Aunty, was permitted to use.

I studied fashion design once upon a time. Thousands of dollars to learn pattern drafting and grading and I can count on my hands the number of garments I’ve sewn my children. But hey, I still have the sewing machines.

My grandparents kept a large veggie garden that fed their family and food was simple and from scratch because that was all there was. She preserved fruits and made pickles and jams from any surplus and they would regularly go roadside blackberry picking so she could transform the berries into jellies, jams and crumbles.

Our whānau has the privilege to choose a vegan diet. Weekly trips to the local supermarket and specialty extras, just because.

Money was always tight and so Shona worked nights in a local fish and chip shop and the whole family, kids and parents, would clean the local school together to bring in some extra cash. On top of all of this mahi, she loved to host whānau and friends. She’d make giant pots of pork bones and puha and the house would be filled with people who would enjoy the fruits of her labour.

The list of ways that Shona created and made is endless. From making her own laundry soap to growing plants from cuttings, she found ways to build a comfortable home for her family when there was nothing to build that home from. Learning about her has reinforced how much I have to be grateful for. At the risk of bursting what seems to be a romantic image of semi-country life with a focus on handmaking and creativity, this life and the pressure of maintaining what she’d built while financially stressed and raising 6 babies, all born in quick succession, took a real toll on Shona.

When my mum was about eight years old, my grandma, who was experiencing extreme depression, overdosed and was admitted to Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital where she stayed for 6-8 weeks. While she was receiving treatment, my mum and her five siblings were divided up amongst whānau so my grandfather could maintain his two jobs. The family was dealing with a serious trauma but they couldn’t risk the loss of income his work brought in. I don’t know much about Shona’s time at Tokanui but I know the place has a dark history and that she was there during a time when mental illness wasn’t well understood and stigma was extreme. She received electric shock therapy and eventually returned home. She told my mum that the ECT made everything feel “sharp and annoying” and she was irritable and bothered by little things. I am not sure, but I believe that this wasn’t the only time she was hospitalised with what my mum was told were “nervous breakdowns”. I have my own memories of talking with her when she was in her late 60s and memories that the ECT had for a long time suppressed, had started to flood back. She was left with a trauma that hadn’t ever had the chance to heal and she spoke to me about things she’d experienced with what felt like fresh pain and anger.

Society now is shifting and we’re looking at mental health, our responsibility as kaitiaki for our environment and the fast pace of life in a whole new way. Things like slow food and slow fashion are riding a wave of popularity that feels so cut off from this not-so-distant history. People are talking about mindfulness and mental health and wellness openly and stigma and shame is being rejected.

I am glad that these things are happening, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be mothering in 2019 and not 1969. This gratitude aside, I am not going to forget what Shona’s story has taught me. None of what she did was a choice for her. She made and grew and produced all that she did because she had no other option but to do so. She did it and did it and did it until she couldn’t anymore and then the world slapped a long-term band-aid on her pain so she could go back to doing it some more. There are women all over the world, mothers all over the world that don’t have the choices I have. I feel even more uncomfortable with the privilege I hold as a mother and a maker than I did when I first started learning about my grandmother’s life but I have a better understanding of what that privilege means now, a better grasp of the weight of it. I have choices. I can moan about pay inequity or the amount of plastic packaging on vegetables while women around the world don’t have the funds to feed themselves and their families, let along buy a bag of capsicums. My choices are easy and they come with the mental energy to talk with friends about eco menstrual products and why men always feel the need to take up space in public forums (But seriously, why? Question time is not an invitation to ramble). This doesn’t invalidate my experiences or mean that I am immune to being broken by the expectations and pressures of my life, far from it. But it certainly is a healthy reality check which gives me whole new perspective on the power I have and what I do with that power.

(I’m not going to stop knitting)

A table covering, sewn and crocheted by Shona as a gift for my mum.

Slow Days

The lead up to the Christmas and our end of year break was Chaos with a capital C. Our shop was busy with people gift shopping and seeking out ingredients for the perfect holiday meals and we were slammed.  My day job seemed to slow down at the end of the year but just before everything was due to close and autoreplies were turned on, things amped up so that they last few days were an intense sprint. Some kind of cruel joke by “the universe” to teach me for feeling like I can relax a second before 5pm on December 21st.

So really, things combined to create a whirlwind of all the things at once. It was wild and exhausting and on the 23rd of December, at 8pm, I locked up V1 and promptly went home to spend two hours doing accounts and payroll before I could really switch off (literally switched my computer off – I shut down my laptop and didn’t pick it up again until around the 2nd of January. I didn’t intend this, but I was just really busy sitting on my butt and doing the odd spot of gardening between beach swims and neighbourhood walks).

Where was I ? Right. The switching off happened on the evening of December 23rd and it was glorious. Of the ten days we had off, we spent five of them in Napier including a very laid back and relaxed Christmas Day, not including the part where my Dino-Pai woke up at 4am because of who she is as a person. I am very thankful of who my Surly Teen is as a person because he took care of her and did his best to prevent her from waking us up before 7am. 7am is the Christmas Day rule in this whare. Mean? Possibly but also essential.

Someone said something along the lines of “she’s a bit of a firecracker huh?” in reference to my Dino-Pai and the answer to that question is one hundred times yes forever and ever amine. She is amazing and I am very tired.

The someone was my baby brother who was in NZ from Perth where he currently lives (I say currently like it’s just temporary and he’s going to return lolololol please?). He made a detour on his travels to come spend a night in Napier because we weren’t going to see him at all and I am very grateful for that. He is a good baby brother, even if he’s actually 31 years old and definitely taller than me. You can take the baby brother out of NZ but you can’t take the baby brother out of my heart. 

On our return we have spent lots of time sitting and eating and also gardening because I love the gardening. I don’t really have much success with growing things but I can say that I am getting it. As a whānau we’ve kept at least two house plants alive this year and I planted basil in the garden the other day and it is still alive. Today is my first back at work (V1 mahi, not my day job) and it’s quietish, there’s a giant fan to keep me cool and the sun is shining. I know the delicious slow(er) days are coming to an end soon (I start back at work on Monday but just part-time for now) but I am going to try and hold on to that slow feeling for as long as I can. After a year of 6 day work weeks I’m determined to try and stretch out this feeling for as long as I can.

P.S I have finally caught up with The Handmaid’s Tale and holy shit it is dark dark dark. I cried and cried and cried and I feel like my insides are very raw right now. I think I will stick to reality cooking shows from here on out.

October. It’s over.

I’m aware that this heading is an odd one, given that we’re nearing the end of November but I am nothing, if not consistent in my lateness. I am looking forward most of the time, but sometimes it’s good to look back to appreciate growth, change and learning.

I’ve copied and tweaked something I shared on instagram about October, as well as something I wrote on Facebook earlier this week. Apologies for being repetitive if you already saw these things there, but I wanted to record (aka overshare) here too. I’m feeling creative and clear again now, but the heaviness of these recent times lingers on and reminds me how good it is to feel well.


October

I lost all my creative energy and motivation in recent weeks. The whole month of October felt like a blur of stress and anxiety. It was filled with bad sleep, intense feelings of panic and a constant sense that I was about to drown under the pressure I was under.

I find it so completely amazing how important creativity is for my mental health but how it becomes inaccessible as a tool when I’m pushed past a certain point.

I don’t know how to fix that, when one of my mechanisms for wellness becomes out of reach for me and I see the same pattern with my capacity to eat well and get off the couch but I am so glad to be on the other side of the last six weeks.


You can’t make this shit up.

You know those conversations you have sometimes that leave you feeling blindsided by the outlandishness of them? Words shared with people who are too entitled, too know-it-all, too intrusive, too presumptuous, too intent on putting us in “our place”. These korero are like fiction or theatre, they are that kind of ridiculous and so in the interests of collective laughter, unpacking, sharing and rage, some friends and I are documenting these “you can’t make this shit up” stories. Feel free to write or share your own and join me in righteous outrage.


A woman sits alone on a park bench in the sunshine. She is knitting and listening to a te reo podcast on her headphones. A man with a shaggy beard and his hood pulled over his head notices her from across the park and sits next to her.

“What are you making?” he says.

The woman sighed and removed a single head phone.

“A blanket,” she said, holding the grey stripes up like it wasn’t plainly obvious.

“How long will that take you?”

“A few months I guess”

“How long for a knitted jersey?”

“A few months I guess”

“How long for socks?”

“A few weeks I guess”

“Do you knit on contract?” His voice is different now, interrogative, like this is a police interview and he is playing the bad cop.

“No,” she said, pulling on her wool and shifting in her seat.

“Not even for money? Like a commission?” He seems incredulous that a perfect stranger isn’t interested in knitting a sweater for him.

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“I don’t have time.” She puts her headphone back in and turns away.

He sits a minute longer before he gets up and walks away, staring intently at her with a mixture of disgust and anger.

She turns her work and starts a new row.

Making September: the other side.

I began September full of ideas and intention and I’m ending it on a similar note, though with a few completed projects on my hands (feet, body).

My September list included the following:

  • A pair of socks
  • A start on a shawl
  • My Uniform cardigan
  • Edie’s Lush cardigan
  • The Uniform tunic
  • Something from the “She Wears the Pants” sewing pattern book R gave me for my birthday.

My completed projects for September included the following:

  • A pair of socks
  • A striped tee from the “She Wears the Pants” book
  • That is all.

Hmm. Not so successful. But! But. I have progress to report on some of the other things. Here goes. Deep breath.

A start on a shawl. Nope with a capital Nope. I didn’t start a shawl and I didn’t decide on a pattern and I haven’t decided on yarn or colours. We’ll revisit this later.

My Uniform cardigan. Well, I knitted the yoke, the body, the bottom hem and the button band before I received the second skein of yarn to work the sleeves. The mustard tones are just ever so slightly darker in the second skein and I’m just letting it sit on the shelf to see how much I’m bothered by it. What I really need to do is wind the skein and knit a few rows onto the sleeve to see how it looks. The yarn is variegated so it might look fine. Right now I’m kicking myself for such a rookie mistake and possibly being extra particular about it but I’ll need to let it sit in my brain and simmer for a bit I think.

Edie’s Lush cardigan. Almost there. I have about 1.5 sleeves to go and a button band before she’s done. I got this idea in my head about three weeks into September that I was going to make a sweater in seven days and so I put aside the Lush project so I could make a sweater in seven days. Spoiler alert: I did not make a sweater in seven days.

The seven day sweater. I made almost a sweater in seven days and some massively stress work stuff happened which threw me right off. Turns out that stress+anxiety do not feed creativity and I felt very much not myself as a result of the stress and anxiety. Also, I have discovered that I have enough yarn to do just an elbow length sleeve but I don’t really like wearing elbow length sweater sleeves so, conundrum. My options at this point are take some rows off the body so I can make full length sleeves which, well, no. It’s already cropped so I can’t make it any shorter, or I do some kind of colour block thing and add length to the sleeves and maybe the body too? Possibly this could work and also be another way to use up stash yarn so I’ll revisit this make in my October list.

The Uniform tunic. The patterns that came with this book are about 4% too small so I’m patiently awaiting the reprinted patterns to be delivered. Nuff said.

As per always, I had bigger ideas than my time, hands and life allowed. I’m okay with that though because if I didn’t have ridiculous long lists and all the ideas I’d wouldn’t do anything. It’s just how my brain works and I don’t think I can change it.

But on to my socks! Socks I finished and wore and love. As you can see I tried to match the print in the yarn (it’s a repetitive self-patterning yarn) but was about 1cm off and so when I look at my feet I have to shift one foot slightly forward just a bit to try and convince myself that it doesn’t matter that much. It’s not working friends. It does matter that much. I will never use any yarn with a repeating pattern again if there are two sides/sleeves/feet/sections. It’s just too much to handle.

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Taking stock

I have borrowed this idea from Pip of Meet Me at Mike’s because she says it’s okay and also because I love the way it reads. Kind of like a poem but also very practical and informative.

Making : A sweater. In seven days. I hope.
Cooking : Nope.
Drinking : Coffee always and forever I will never quit you I am committed I promise.
Reading: this piece about mom (mum) hate.
Next read: I don’t really have time for reading so I don’t plan anything because I will just feel sad and stressed about having no time for reading the end.
Wanting: to have time to read.
Looking: like a birds nest? I’m embracing my hair’s natural texture. It is a LOT.
Playing: A dinosaur survival game on my phone because Pai loves dinosaurs and I like survival games. Often early in the morning before anyone else is up.
Deciding: on what to sew first from this book.
Wishing: for a break.
Enjoying: early morning wake ups, strangely enough.
Waiting: for Spring to really Spring. So so close.
Liking: my WIP sweater.
Wondering: if I’ll really finish it in time.
Loving: my big kid. He is growing up into such a great human you guys.
Pondering: what makes a writer a Writer with a capital W and not just a person who writes things. I think I need to unpack this a bit.
Considering: fabrics for sewing projects.
Buying: nothing! I’m trying to be very intentional about purchases which is difficult because impulsive is my middle name. Yep, I’m Millie Impulsive Not-a-Writer*.
Watching: the Great British Bake Off, obvs.
Next watch: No idea – want to suggest me a thing?
Hoping: to finish the sweater very quickly.
Marvelling: at my little Pai’s tendency to write notes and lists. She is my girl, that’s for sure.
Cringing: when people say “self-care”. I believe in it as a concept, I just think this phrase has become so overused and synonymous with candles and baths and yoga which is all well and good but sometimes what you really need is 10 hours sleep, a bag of chips (a really big bag, or lots of little ones. Both of these options are okay) and no one to ask you for anything for six hours in a row. Also I don’t really like baths.
Needing: new jeans. Nice crisp, black, high waisted ones preferably. To wear with the sweater that may or may not be finished in seven days.
Questioning: if I should have my hair cut.
Smelling: peach body butter.
Wearing: a vintage knitted cardigan and always wanting to pretend I knitted it.
Following: all the knitting people on instagram. I made a new insta account just for my creative things because I didn’t want to bore all my regular people and now I just use instagram for the yarn porn and yarn people (as far as I know there are no yarn-porn-people).
Worrying: about a work thing and hoping it will be resolved soon.
Noticing: that I’m next level on the edge of burnout tired.
Knowing: that my current life chaos won’t last forever.
Thinking: about spring planting things.
Admiring: my work people. They inspire and support me like woah.
Sorting: some garden bits, some home bits, LOTS of shop bits.
Getting: hungry.
Bookmarking: Nope.
Coveting: people with the shiny smooth hair. Coveting the hair, not the people.
Disliking: that tomorrow is Monday. I would like another Saturday, thanks.
Opening: my mouth and putting chips in it.
Giggling: with my girl.
Feeling: glad it’s almost closing time.
Snacking: YES
Hearing: Baby by Warpaint

*not actually my real name.

Making September: Plotting

I’m starting to get a bit attached to this whole make your own clothes thing. It’s a bit odd because in 2010ish I studied fashion design and learnt all about drafting patterns and clothing construction but after I was done with school it never felt like something I wanted to spend heaps of time on. As I get older (and maybe, hopefully, wiser) I think more and more about where everything I use and buy comes from. Since clothing is something we can’t do without and since I love experimenting with personal style and putting together outfits but I’m ethically opposed to hyper-consumerism, I’ve started to think more and more what a handmade or ethical wardrobe looks like. Brands like Kowtow feature for sure, they’re sustainable and ethical and beautiful. The thing with clothing that’s produced so thoughtfully is that it comes at a price and so I often leave behind dresses that called my name because my wallet says no.

Which is where handmade comes in – I have the tools and the skills to make my own clothing but I’ve never really felt motivated to do it more than a handful of times until now. I’ve made my first handknit sweaters this year – a flax sweater by Tincanknits and a boxy sweater by Jojilocat and I have a whole list of things to add to my handmade wardrobe as time and energy allow.

As far as knitting goes, I want to make socks and a big snuggly shawl scarf type thing (though that might be a slow burn over the spring and summer as I have my eye on something like this which is way beyond my skill set at the moment). As far as socks go, I’ve started my first pair and so far so good. It’s kind of magical how you if you keep following the pattern, even though it feels very counter intuitive and the opposite of what you should do, it suddenly works and you have something sock shaped! I love the idea of a drawer full of handknit socks but as I’ve never worn them before I’m planning on finishing this first pair and then seeing how they feel before jumping all in and casting on a pair for every day of the week.

I’ve also abandoned any and all pretence of being a monogamous knitter and cast on a lush cardigan for Edie. I’m not usually into such delicate knits but I could see myself in one of these with a cropped length (always) so perhaps I’ll add that to the ever-growing list of one day makes. For now, I’ve made the lace panel (my first attempt at knitting lace and knitting from a chart) and I’m excited to get on with the steps once the lace yoke has been blocked.

I’m still stitching my way through my uniform cardigan, my first make from the Uniform book. The one I’m starting with is a 4 ply/fingering yarn so progress isn’t fast but I’ve now just got sleeves to go and so perhaps I’ll finish inside the month. We shall see and in the meantime I’m dreaming of other combinations of shape and length and hemline and fit and wondering what I should make from the book next. I think something in worsted weight yarn is in order, so I can have something complete before the end of next winter. I’ve got sewing plans for least one version of the Uniform tunic as well so I’ll need to dig through my fabric stash (which is pretty minimal after much culling and not much sewing) and see if I’ve got anything to work with before going on a hunt for good cotton or linen to use.

Related to sewing and handmade clothing: It was my birthday a few days ago and my partner in crime and wonderful human I share my life with gave me gift vouchers for Holland Road Yarn Shop (which is in my neighbourhood and I’ve been going to their weekly knit night when I can. I’ve learnt heaps from the other knitters there about the new tricks I’m attempting with each new pattern I begin) which I promptly used to purchase a full set of KnitPro Nova needles which I’d been dreaming of. I think now it’s pretty clear that this knitting addiction isn’t going anywhere and so I thought it was time to invest in some good tools and these needles are my favourite so far. The other standout birthday gift from him (which I’ll write more about at some stage because it’s just ridiculous and amazing) was a book called She Wears the Pants and is by Yuko Takada and is basically all I’ve ever wanted in a pattern book and I’m just so amazed that he knows me so well and got it so right. I’m itching to get into lots of the patterns in this book too.

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I have no idea how far I’ll get with all of these plans and no doubt my list is much longer than is realistic in my life but hey, if I didn’t over-commit to things I probably wouldn’t do half as much so there you go. In other birthday news, a friend gave me a sleek black notebook that is essentially a more beautiful way to organise myself complete with a to-do list format and little boxes to tick when tasks are complete. It is perfect for my organisation and finishing things brain. I think it will help with my overly ambitious creative list.

Reduce, reuse, recycle – in that order.

I alluded to this in my previous post but I’ve been thinking lately about practical ways to reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. Of course, this is primarily about plastic but I recently learnt (probably the last in the world to know) that the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle should be actioned in that order. Which makes total sense to me now that I’ve been prompted to think it over but ashamedly, I never really had before. Recycling and reusing are both important and great but the first and most important step is to reduce. Reduce the amount of waste you produce and there is less to be reused and recycled which means a much lower impact on the environment and papatuanuku. I’m guessing you and yours have all heard the horrific statistic that if our plastic use continues as it is there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. If that doesn’t hit you like a punch in the guts then I don’t know what will.

As a whānau, we stopped getting plastic bags at the supermarket ages ago and have a good selection of reusable shopping bags that have been serving us well for three years +. BUT. But. As a vegan whānau, we buy and eat a lot of fresh produce, which seems to come, more often than not, in separate plastic packaging. We have just been given a bundle of reusable produce bags and I invested in a few more so here’s hoping we can bring home our beans and carrots in mesh bags, transfer to the fridge and tick another thing off that reduce list. Same deal for our bulk goods. Usually we buy our nuts and seeds from the bulk foods section at the supermarket and put everything into those little plastic resealable bags and I justified this because we reuse those bags for everything from kids lunches to electronic storage. We use and wash and use and wash those little bags until they come to pieces at which point we put them in the rubbish bin. In order to end this little cycle of reuse, reuse, reuse and then trash I picked up some cotton bulk food bags. I think I’ll need to invest in a few more over the next few weeks but I wanted to try a few bags for ease of use and how well they hold ingredients like flour or small seeds before I buy more.

So far I’m really enjoying taking my own bags out, I feel a bit smug at the supermarket bulk bins when I fill my cotton bag with almonds and I’m more than a little bit proud when I can walk out with a reusable shopping bag full of kai stashed in more reusable shopping bags. When I get home I empty everything out into leftover jam or tahini jars and because I’m a person who loves to get rid of things we don’t have a collection or\f jars and lids to use so I’m having to save them from the recycling bin so I can reuse them which is pretty cool. My efforts to REDUCE have directly led to a way to REUSE things rather than RECYCLE which is worth celebrating.

At this current count, that’s two new ways we can significantly reduce our waste, rather than focusing on recycling and reusing. A shift of priorities for sure, but for me, an important one. When it comes to reusing and recycling, we have pretty good habits. We recycle as much as possible, including collecting our soft plastics to drop off at the special bin at the supermarket and feeding as many food scraps as possible to our worms living in the backyard worm farm. We also buy second hand wherever possible and lots of our clothes and homewares are new-to-us but living their second or third life in our home. This is all good stuff, but it really was such a lightbulb moment to understand the intention behind the order behind the three R’s. Maybe I’m the last to figure this out, maybe I’m the only one to be excited about such things but I’m not embarrassed. If I’m the last then better late than never and if I’m the only one well, I’m okay with that too.

My efforts over the next few weeks will include making as much from scratch as possible (baking, knitting, sewing) to avoid unnecessary waste and trying to grow a few veggies in our tiny backyard which is currently home to strawberry plants, broad beans and lettuces. I hope to add peas, beans and zucchinis to that list this spring and summer as they’ve always proved to provide a good harvest and are veggies we eat constantly.

I’m sure this will lose it’s novelty and perhaps I’ll sigh when I get home with my bag full of bags with goods that need to be transferred to jars but for now I’m into it. Despite my comment about smugness above, one day I’ll take some time to put my currently incoherent thoughts around resources (physical, mental, emotional, financial) and energy for these kinds of choices, i.e. don’t go judging those who don’t bring a reusable bag or 14 to the supermarket because you don’t know what they have going on (or not going on) and we all come at things from different places. For now though, I’m just going to try and hold on to my current commitments and hope that my energy for this stays put.