Holiday highs and lows

It’s a long, hot summer. Here are some collected thoughts about living justly in the holidays.

There’s been some holiday highs:

  • Camping – Family Pilgrim enjoyed a week camping in Dorset. I’ve loved our camping trips this year and am already thinking about next year’s. We live more simply (no screen time!) and love being outside. IMG_20180724_090346
  • Beautiful parts of the country – we haven’t travelled very far this holiday but we’ve enjoyed seeing beautiful parts of the English countryside.
  • Butterflies – I am becoming a big fan of butterflies and loved seeing them on the Dorset heath. I have also taken part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count at home in the garden (with the help of Small Boy). We only saw ‘cabbage’ whites and it was tricky to judge whether they were Large Whites or Small Whites.
  • Crochet water balloons – ‘Bathies’ as Little Miss has named them are small woolen items crocheted to look like a balloon. After seeing the campsite littered with balloon pieces from water balloons, I decided to try crochet water balloons. We had fun yesterday trying to ambush Mr Pilgrim.
  • Swimming in the sea – Swimming in the sea is one of my favourite activities. I learnt to swim in the sea as a child and I always feel refreshed, revived and restored after a dip. Thank you Grand-père for teaching me to swim – and to swim safely – in the sea. I have now discovered that it is a great way to have some peace!

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  • Making ice lollies – we now have an apparatus for making ice lollies which saves money and single-use plastic. I also gain Parent Points with the children – but lose Dentist Points.
  • Eating Mr Whippy ice creams – We ate a lot of ice creams on holiday and I always chose My Whippy ice creams. A tasty way to reduce single-use plastic! Confession: I let the children choose their own ice creams so not only did I buy treats in single-use plastic, they were also from Nestle (I’ve avoided Nestle since I was a teenager because of the Baby Milk Action boycott): Smarties Pop-Ups, Nobbly Bobbly ice cream and Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles lollies. I can’t bring myself to say no when they have set up their heart on a ‘rainbow’ lolly.
  • Suspended coffees – we had lunch in a community cafe in Dorset which operates a suspended coffee scheme. We paid for two extra coffees which will then be available to someone in need another day.
  • Cycling – Mr P and I hired a tandem and enjoyed exploring the Dorset countryside and the coast. IMG_20180727_104131

Holiday lows:

  • Climate change – I’m (mostly) enjoying the weather. It certainly made camping easier and more enjoyable! But I’m aware that the cause of this heat wave is climate change and I’m challenged to once again think about my carbon footprint and how to reduce it. It’s not a big thing but I have stopped listening to the radio all day. It’s a big step for me as it’s a sign I am becoming more comfortable with silence.
  • Holiday hunger – food banks are seeing a greater demand over the summer holidays and many are experiencing low stock and empty shelves. There are two food banks near me and I added a few extra items into the shopping to help re-stock their shelves.

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  • Period poverty – I’ve been wondering about young women experiencing period poverty over the school summer holidays. What do they do if they have been reliant on the Red Box Project in the school? I know that many of the schemes are working with youth organisations who are seeing young people over the summer. Again, I bought a packet of sanitary towels (since I converted to the Mooncup and CSP, I never them buy them for me now) and dropped them off at my nearest collection point.
  • Loneliness – I was delighted to discover that one of the local churches decided to run its usual toddler group (expanded for older children) last week. It can be hard for parents and children when usual activities and groups pause over the summer. A morning spent making junk models and chatting to others can make a big difference to someone’s week.
  • People sleeping rough – I try to avoid buying water in plastic bottles but sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Please consider giving some bottled water to someone sleeping on the streets. This hot weather is very dangerous for people without shade, without sun cream and without access to water.

As the holidays continue, I am going to look for ways to love more and to act justly.

Plastic Oceans, Pelicans and Periods

I’ve finally got round to watching Plastics Oceans – a high quality documentary about the problem of plastics in our seas, rivers and oceans. Small Boy and I have also watched the Pelicans Octonauts episode a few times recently: ‘It’s your favourite one on now, Mummy!’ The same topic but for preschoolers – and their parents. Explore, rescue, protect!

If you are thinking about reducing your plastic use, here are some tips from Greenpeace.

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I’m so proud of my mum who has recently found a milkman and is reverting to the glass bottles I remember from childhood. Sadly, the cat who always loved the cream at the top of the full-fat milk is no more.


Ruth Valerio has written a blog article on periods and different options for environmentally friendly sanitary protection. I’ve been using a Mooncup for a while now and can thoroughly recommend it. Other menstural cups are available and the Earthwise Girls website provides a guide to the various brands. I’ve also changed to reusable cloth pads. A ‘zero waste period’ is less expensive, better for the environment and Mr Pilgrim no longer has to go to the supermarket late at night because I’ve run out of towels or tampons!

I’m also becoming aware of the reality of ‘period poverty’ for many girls and women not only in the developing world but here in the UK:

Hayley Smith from Flow Aid was quoted in the Guardian: ‘Teenagers and young girls are being forced to wrap or stuff toilet paper down their knickers, to prevent them from bleeding all over themselves while at schools. The cost of sanitary products are just too much for some girls and their families, and it’s leading to missing school and it’s putting their health at risk.’

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Find out if your local food bank, homeless shelter, women’s refuge or refugee charity would welcome a donation of tampons or sanitary towels. Understandably, charities in the UK state that reusable items are not the best option for girls and young women at school or women living in insecure accommodation.

The Red Box Project ‘quietly ensures that no young woman misses school because of her period’. You can make a donation to the recently-launched Red Box Project in Stoke Newington here.

I’m a Little Teapot

Small Boy learns a new nursery rhyme each week at school and this week it’s I’m a Little Teapot.

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I have just started using my teapots regularly as I have switched to loose leaf tea because tea bags contain plastic.

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Boil the kettle.

Wait.

Warm the pot.

One spoon for me.

And one for the pot.

Wait.

Pour the milk into the mug.

Find the tea strainer.

Pour the tea.

It certainly takes longer but there’s something peaceful about the pause, the ritual and the space.

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Further Adventures in Just Living: Fashion Revolution and Plastic Oceans

Do Something is the third and final section of the Who Made My Clothes course so here is my Fashion Revolution Pledge.

  1. Ask Who Made My Clothes? i.e. contact brands and ask them about their supply chains
  2. Buy fewer new clothes and purchase what I need not what I want. I have a ‘rest day’ coming up soon so am planning to peruse some of the local charity shops.
  3. Buy from ethical and fair trade brands. I have just found Monkee Genes and am looking forward to buying some – next time I need jeans!
  4. Sign petitions, such as this one from Labour Behind the Label, and email policy makers
  5. Spread the Fashion Revolution message (that’s what this blog is about!) Look at the easy-to-read Fashion Revolution white paper, follow them on Facebook and get involved with Fashion Revolution Day in 2018.

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July was Plastic Free July. Hopefully you read an article in the press or on social media about the problem with plastic, particularly single use plastic. If you want to find out more, have a look at the Plastic Oceans Foundation’s website.

Or you can watch this episode of Octonauts featuring pelicans and plastic debris as Small Boy and I did this morning!

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I’m making simple changes:

  • Saying no to plastic bags
  • Not buying bottled water
  • Switching to reusable sanitary protection – feel free to ask me if you want to know more about Mooncups and cloth sanitary pads!
  • Using a deodorant bar

Today a friend has given me some reusable nappies to try with Little Miss and I’ve ordered solid shampoo and conditioner. Hopefully, these will be successful!

 

Going Wild

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, Family Pilgrim are taking part in the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild.

Our wild activities have so far included:

  • Finding a tickly spider on a picnic
  • Watching ants climb a tree
  • Looking at sparrows having dust baths
  • Exploring slippery seaweed on the Cumbrian coast
  • Climbing trees, scrambling over rocks and paddling in Derwentwater
  • Walking through a tree tunnel in the woods
  • Being surprised by a barn owl flying past one morning
  • Observing a snail moving across a wet pavement
  • Giggling at a pink flower
  • Marvelling at the wild strawberries growing on our road
  • Searching for the Gruffalo in Whinlatter Forest

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Ruth Valerio writes in Just Living about ‘nature-deficit disorder’ – a term coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, which I am now reading (bought from an independent book shop – I’ve been Amazon-free since 10 April!).

The impact of [this] lack of connection with the outdoors has been memorably summed up by Richard Louv in his phrase “nature-deficit disorder”. We are the poorer where we are separated from the natural world, and it impacts us on all levels: psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.” (p.7 Just Living)

There’s something so beautiful watching children enjoy nature: the joy and wonder of Little Miss as she explores grass or touches a flower for the first time. Small Boy’s excitement as he hurtles down the stairs to get a better look at a robin on the fence. When do we become blasé about the wild around us?

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My heart is growing softer and more childlike towards the natural world. I found myself welling up watching Sammy the Turtle and rescued a snail from the hot pavement earlier this week. (I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by snails! – did you know they’re omnivores and can move at 1.3cm per second?)

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Ecological concern in one of the seven areas of practical response Ruth Valerio focuses in on the third section of Just Living. It’s the area where I have the most to grow as in common with many evangelical Christians, environmentalism as a ’cause’ has been a lower priority. I’m learning how this view is erroneous: God wants me to care for and delight in all he has created.

I’m a list-maker and so here’s my next activity list:

  • Subscribe to a magazine for a year such as BBC Countryfile with the aim of developing ecological literacy (I’ve already done this for free by using Tesco vouchers)
  • Make a bug hotel
  • Take a reusable coffee cup out with me
  • Visit the butterflies at the Natural History Museum with Small Boy and Little Miss

I’ve been shocked to discover that every straw I’ve ever used and every toothbrush I’ve ever had still exists – and I don’t just mean the collection in our shed saved for cleaning bikes. It takes 200 years for a straw to decompose and many of them find their way into the ocean. Read more about the problem of plastic debris in our oceans.

  • Buy loose leaf tea (there’s plastic in tea bags!) Who knew?!
  • Begin the zero waste journey

I’m also going to:

  • Get outside more and notice the wildlife around me
  • Learn about the theology of caring for creation

As I discover more about living justly, I realise there is always more that could be done and it’s so easy to feel a failure, or conversely feel smug or even judgmental. But living in grace (there’s nothing I can do to earn God’s love and nothing I can do to make him love me less) means neither polarity is accurate. I don’t have to try to earn love or Divine Eco-points – which can be cashed in at a later date for a blessing of my choice. Instead I choose to live gratefully, generously and with a global perspective, in the reality of God’s grace, neither berating nor congratulating myself.

So right now I’m going to step away from my computer, pick up my Bible and go and sit outside.