Christian · Ethical living

Bake, write, give, play, pray

I like shopping. I like buying new things. I like having stuff. But I know I consume too much and I want to live more simply. But this is not something that comes naturally to me.


So I’ve written a list of five activities for Black Friday (by the way it’s also Buy Nothing Day!) to position myself away from the pull of purchasing and possessing.


1) Bake a cake – did you know that bananas are the UK’s most wasted food? I’ve used our squidgy bananas to make (hopefully!) delicious banana bread. Creativity – even if it’s a simple cake – is a fantastic antidote to consumerism. 


2) Write a letter – I’m going to write a letter (with a pen not a keyboard!) to a friend to thank her for her decades of friendship.


3) Give – I’ve found some books to share with the Community Book Swap and will take some clothes to a local charity shop.

4) Play – Small Boy and Little Miss are full of creativity, imagination and enthusiasm. They don’t seem to want or need that many toys for their games of ‘pretend’. I’m going to enter their worlds joyfully and with a grateful heart. 


5) Pray – I will spend some time praying for my family, my local community and the work of Tearfund

Ethical living

Plastic-free experiments

I thought it was time to experiment with some new plastic-free alternatives.

I’ve steered away from DIY toothpaste as I want something with fluoride. When I saw discovered online company Anything But Plastic was selling Denttab Toothpaste tablets with fluoride I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve bought six-months supply because it is cheaper that way. I clean my teeth twice a day and alternate between the toothpaste tablet and usual toothpaste in a tube. I’m still getting the hang of it! You need to make the paste in your mouth with the tab and it’s quite a different feeling to toothpaste.

IMG_20180928_204457For the last 18 months I’ve been using a foundation from Green People. It’s great but expensive and in a plastic container. Lush are selling Slap Stick, foundation without any plastic. I went to my local Lush to find out what shade would suit me – there are 40 to choose from! But Slap Stick foundation is only available online although there is a helpful guide to choosing the right one for your skin tone. I picked 8N which is more or less the right shade. I’m still getting used to it but I love the concept. IMG_20180928_204646Crocheted make-up removers – I was kindly sent some of these for free from The Willow Tree Yarnery. They’re not as soft as cotton wool but they do the job!


And in other news, I always have one (or two) notebooks on the go and, thanks to a friend’s extremely generous birthday gift, I am now the proud owner of an Elvis and Kress notebook (which is refillable). It’s made out of decommissioned fire hose and is truly sustainable luxury.  A special thank you to my kind friend for such a wonderful present.

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For some reason, I thought that I’d never find a pair of jeans I liked in a charity shop. Recently I’ve bought as-good-as-new Monsoon and Fat Face pairs from local shops. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to make just one pair of jeans so second hand denim is definitely a good ethical choice and they are so much cheaper too! I may be spending more money on food but I’m definitely spending less on clothes.

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One of my earliest blogs on living justly was about the chagrin I felt on purchasing a pair of Converse trainers. I’ve been waiting until they needed replacing before buying an ethical alternative. They are looking pretty grubby now and I was pleased to receive an Ethletic pair for my birthday.


Once again, I am conscious that consuming better is still consuming and there is plenty of plastic (particularly small insect-related toys) in my life! But hopefully my small changes make a little difference and maybe inspire you, and others, to try a plastic-free alternative.

Ecological concern · Ethical living

What’s on my plate?

I have some exciting news! Family Pilgrim now has an allotment!

We put our name on the waiting list earlier this year and I emailed last month during National Allotment Week to cheekily ask if we had progressed up the list – and we had! We saw it for the first time last week and now have the key. Small Boy, Little Miss and I visited this afternoon with Grand-père and Grandma. It’s a beautiful site although our plot needs some work. We saw a speckled wood butterfly this afternoon and there was a lovely chorus of bird song on our initial visit. We are reading, researching, planning and plotting – hopefully next summer we will have grown some of our own food!

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I’ve just finished reading Wilding by Isabella Tree (such a great name) about Knepp – a place I’d like to visit soon. She writes that 97% of wildflower meadows in Britain have been lost since the Second World War. This is one of those sticky stats that I can’t shake off. It saddens me to think that the countryside my children are experiencing is so different from that which my grandparents grew up in.

I’m looking to buy items produced from alternatives to intensive agriculture (one of the reasons why we have the depletion of wildflower meadows and therefore fewer species of bird, flower and insect) and appreciating our ‘from farm to fork’ food from Church Farm even more. I’ve started looking at Dove’s Farm products and reading about their farming methods.

I’ve just tried oat milk as this is meant to be the most sustainable form of milk but I really didn’t like it! It didn’t work in coffee or my porridge. I will try and drink less milk but I won’t be buying oat milk again!


Our last camping trip of the summer was to the Yorkshire coast and we visited the Seafood Social – a social enterprise cafe serving local fish and chips in Scarborough Market. The food was delicious – best fish and chips I’ve had! It was a pleasure to support this project. I can recommend it if you’re ever in Scarborough!

 

Ecological concern · Ethical living · Social justice

The Circle Game

I have been intentionally living more justly for over a year (I even avoided ordering avocado in a restaurant the other day!) and recently realised I now only buy clothes from three sources:

  1. charity shops – I found a bright and colourful pair of trousers for £4.99 from Age UK on holiday last week causing Small Boy to exclaim ‘Mummy, I love your parrot dress!’
  2. Marks and Spencers (for underwear, socks and leggings) – I like their commitment to ethical cotton and some items are best bought new
  3. ethical retailers such as People Tree, Nomad and Rapanui.

Using organic cotton and passionate about supply chains, each Rapanui product has a code which can be scanned to discover its origins. As Fashion Revolution declare we must keep asking ‘Who made my clothes?’

Not only are Rapanui transparent about the origins of their products, they care about the end. When Rapanui clothes are no longer able to be worn, they can be sent back to be recycled and you receive £5 in store credit! They believe the circular economy is the future for the fashion industry.

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I have worn slogan t-shirts since I was a teenager (although I’m not sure I’d wear some of the one I wore as a teenager now!) and I’m currently wearing this long-sleeved t-shirt designed by my church.

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Women’s baseball jersey designed by Wellspring Church and available from Teemill

This was created and bought through Teemill, an online print-on-demand company pioneered by Rapanui . Charities, companies and individuals design their own t-shirts, sweatshirts and bags which are then created to order.

Little Miss and I have matching ‘Adventures are for girls’ t-shirts designed by For Joy by Kathryn Jane. Purchased through Teemill, this t-shirt inspires me to be a little bit braver and to help Little Miss have her own adventures.
Small Boy then wanted a t-shirt which was ‘the same as Mummy’s’ and I discovered Cheeky Monkey, Loyal Penguin on Teemill so we now have matching monkey tops. Our Penguin Friend has a similar one!
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 Rapanui and Teemill t-shirts are made in a wind-powered factory and printed in the UK using low-waste, environmentally friendly inks. What’s not to like?

And just in case you’re wondering, I’m not being paid by Rapanui or Teemill to advertise their t-shirts. I just really like their ethics!

 Rapanui do plain t-shirts as well as a creative statement tee isn’t always appropriate. Mr Pilgrim has some black ones which are now no longer fit to wear so we will be sending them Back to Rapanui  to be turned into new ones!

“And go round and round and round 
In the circle game”
Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game
community · Ecological concern · Ethical living · Social justice

Shaving, scrubbing and plogging

I am becoming an expert in consuming better – it’s so much easier than consuming less!

[I’ve updated the Consuming Better page and managed to put it on the front page. Please leave a comment here if there’s an ethical product you’re interested in me trialling!]

I’ve learnt that some sustainable choices are far better than the standard option e.g. the Mooncup (it’s more convenient, saves money and is sustainable), while other choices are a little more inconvenient or expensive yet it’s worth it e.g. cloth nappies. But some ethical options have been a waste of money e.g. the razor made of yoghurt pots which kept falling apart!

I didn’t want to return to single-use plastic razors so I decided to brave a safety razor – a metal razor with replacement blades. I bought a lady’s long-handled one from Edwin Jagger (it’s beautifully made) and after some initial accidental wounds (!), I am getting the hang of it – just in time for the warmer weather!

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Not my legs!

I’ve also invested in EuroScrubbies – 100% cotton cleaning cloths (which last for years) to use instead of kitchen sponges. Mr Pilgrim asked me to research alternatives because of the microfibres shed by conventional washing up sponges.

I’ve also bought my very own litter picker which had its first outing recently when my church ran a Helping Hands morning in our local area. It’s amazing how much rubbish there is when you start to look for it – lots of cigarette butts, drinks bottles and sweet wrappers. Small Boy was very keen to use it as well! Not sure if I am fit enough to start plogging but I think I can start with plalking!

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books · Ethical living · Social justice

Amazon-free for one whole year!

My last purchase from Amazon was 10 April 2017 (a secondhand copy of BoCo the Diesel for Small Boy). I decided to go Amazon-free because they don’t pay a fair rate of tax and because of the way they treat their employees. Read more about the Amazon boycott on the Ethical Consumer website as well as this article from last year by an undercover journalist.

Timed toilet breaks, impossible targets and exhausting, “intolerable” working conditions are frequent complaints. Staff have been paid less than the living wage, and it even emerged drivers had faced fines for ‘early’ deliveries.’

In the last year, I’ve discovered a shelfload of Amazon alternatives – some of which I’ve mentioned before:

Better World Books – this is my first port of call – books are cheap and secondhand. Better World Books donate to literacy projects and I can offset the carbon associated with the postage.

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Photo by Eli Francis on Unsplash

But they don’t always have the book I’m looking for so then I turn to:

Hive which is also good for DVDs and CDs and they support local independent bookshops. I choose to support the Hellenic Bookshop in north London – my name is Dido after all! I also use Wordery and Eden.

On one occasion, I asked my mum to order an obscure book Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community from the independent bookshop in my hometown as it wasn’t available online. This took a while to arrive – they needed to print it! – but it was worth it.

I’ve discovered I can search online for books stored in libraries across the county, request them (this costs 70p for adults but is free for children) and then collect from our local library. I may have to wait a while for popular books but that’s no bad thing.

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Amazon is not just books, CDs and DVDs. My mum asked me to buy some antimacassars for a relative. After Googling antimacassars to first establish what I needed to purchase(!), I tried to find a place to buy them that wasn’t Amazon. Eventually, I found a firm in Wales and ordered directly from there. If you ever need to order arm chair covers online, I can recommend Aidan Sweeney!

Being Amazon-free does involve some investigative skills!

I don’t think my boycott of Amazon has made much difference to them but I think it does make a difference to the library, to Better World Books and to Aidan Sweeney!


If you do choose to use Amazon, have you looked at Amazon Smile – a great way of supporting charities through your shopping?

Christian · Ethical living · Social justice

What’s for breakfast?

On Martin Luther King Day last month, I listened to his ‘The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life’ sermon which contains the well-known quote:

Before you get through eating breakfast in the morning, you’re dependent on more than half the world. That’s the way God structured it; that’s the way God structured this world. So let us be concerned about others because we are dependent on others.

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(Listen to the sermon or read a transcript)

I’ve ordered Where Do We Go From Here: From Chaos to Community by Martin Luther King because ‘The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life’ sermon is so absolutely amazing and I want to – and I think need to – have more Martin Luther King in my life.


Today is the first day of Fair Trade Fortnight. I’ve recently discovered some new ways of supporting fair trade:

  • Shared Interest – I’ve started investing a small amount each month; the money is lent to small farming and handcraft groups in disadvantaged areas working in parts of the world where other lenders are less keen to operate.
  • Clean and Fair – I’ve ordered a five litre bottle of handwash and a 5 litre bottle of washing up liquid (plus a funnel!) of this new fair trade product. It contains FairPalm – sustainably-grown palm oil from West Africa (where palm oil plants grow naturally). This is good news both for West African palm oil plant farmers and orangutans in Indonesia. [Grand-père – I do listen to you!]

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  • Arena Flowers – A fair trade registered florist. With Mothering Sunday coming up, why not send an ethical bouquet?

‘Before you get through eating breakfast in the morning, you’re dependent on more than half the world.’

What can we do to ensure that those who are involved in creating our breakfasts are paid and treated fairly? What fair trade item could you buy this fortnight?

Watch this short video created by the Fair Trade Foundation featuring Samuel Maina, a Kenyan coffee farmer. I love his gentle challenge at the end; I will certainly be thinking about him the next time I have a cup of coffee.

This film features farmers and workers at a banana plantation in Panama.

Before you get through eating breakfast in the morning, you’re dependent on more than half the world. That’s the way God structured it; that’s the way God structured this world. So let us be concerned about others because we are dependent on others.

 

books

What’s on my shelf?

Lying in bed with the flu earlier this month frustrated that I was unable to do very much, I decided to do the Better World Books Reading Challenge. That way I could at least achieve something!

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From the Better World Books Facebook page

I’ve already read or am reading:

  • A childhood favourite – I finished reading my 30-plus-year old copy of Swallows and Amazons which I started last year and intend to read Swallowdale too
  • An author’s first novel – The Homecoming (borrowed from my sister)
  • A book recommended by a friend – I borrowed The Little Book of Hygge
  • An anthology of poetry – The Seasons: The Nation’s Most Treasured Nature Poems – I discovered this in our local library which is becoming a regular Saturday destination for the Pilgrim family. We enjoy reserving books online from any county library and then picking them up locally. Our library is small but incredibly busy (used by a varied demographic) with a great children’s section. I hope that it continues in some form in spite of forthcoming budget cuts. Love your library! If you are in any doubt over the importance of libraries, read this article from Voices for the Library.
  • A book by a deceased author – The 39 Steps My copy used to be belong to my Grandpa who first read it in the 1920s.

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I’m looking forward to reading a book published in 1978 – plenty to choose from! Any ideas?!

I’ve just ordered a second-hand copy of Julius Caesar (from Better World Books – did you know that they offer a carbon offset scheme?) for the ‘play or screenplay’ category because Mr Pilgrim and I are off to see the new production at Bridge Theatre. We’re being more intentional about spending time together alone and choosing to invest in our marriage and home-life. More about priorities another time!

Do you have suggestions for the other categories? Please share your recommendations below. Thank you! Dido x

 

Ecological concern · Ethical living

Meat, feet and retreat

Meat

Since we’ve started living more sustainably, Family Pilgrim has made some changes to what we eat and drink. Mr P and I have become much more aware of both the provenance of our food and the impact on climate change of eating meat, particularly red meat.

I‘ve realised that animal welfare is something that matters: I know that sounds obvious but how often do we think about who made our clothes or where the components of our smart phones came from or how the animals we eat were treated?

I need to ask questions about where the food on my plate comes from.

We’ve been buying vegetables, meat and fruit from Church Farm for about six months now. I’ve recently stopped purchasing all meat products from the supermarket and bought Quorn for the first time. If it’s good enough for Mo Farah, it’s good enough for Family Pilgrim! 

I’m becoming more intentional about choosing vegetarian options when eating out. Tonight I had chestnut roast at my work Christmas dinner.

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Currently, I’m not planning to become vegetarian but I do want to continue reducing our meat-intake. 


Feet

My Charity Shop Purchase of 2017 has to be these £15 green DMs from my local HomeStart shop.

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I’d been chatting to someone about how I’d like to get some Doc Martens and how I had loved them as a teenager. And then three days later when Small Boy and I were shopping, we spotted these. I was fairly sure they wouldn’t be in my size, but they were! 

They’re definitely an ice-breaker and Small Boy and Little Miss love delighting in fighting taking turns in putting them on!

The large purple hippo (a Christmas present for Little Miss) was runner-up in my Charity Shop Purchase of 2017 Award!

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Retreat

I’ve been feeling emotionally and mentally tired recently and my mind has been racing. A conversation with a friend prompted me to have a break from my phone and computer for 24 hours. I told a few people so they’d know to contact Mr P if there was an urgent problem and then put my phone on airplane mode from sunset to sunset. I think I might make this a regular thing as it definitely helped me switch off.

I’m also aiming to leave my phone downstairs at night-time and relying on an old alarm clock to wake me up in the mornings.

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Although to be fair most mornings Small Boy is a very effective alarm clock! 

Ethical living · Social justice

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday. I really like this article from Positive News listing alternative activities to shopping. I’ve added some of my thoughts…

Revamp your wardrobe

My new hobby of buying items in charity shops is fun and addictive! I’ve not spent a great deal of money and have purchased some gorgeous items – some of which are not quite my usual style. I’m wondering how long I can go before I actually need to buy a new item of clothing!

I’d encourage you to get to know your local charity shops. Declutter your wardrobe and search for your own bargains!

Read a book in peace

Read. Read on your own. Read to a child. Visit your local library. Buy a second-hand book from your local charity shop or from Better World Books. Buy someone else a pre-loved book. Give away one of your own books. Buy a book for a child in care this Christmas through The Book Trust. Read.

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Get outside

Go for a walk where you live. Look up. Look around. Go down a street you’ve not been along before. What do you see? Who do you see? Where’s the life?

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Support ethical businesses

Consume better (a list I’m compiling of how and where to do this). Make one change the next time you do your supermarket shop.

Buy second-hand 

Clothes, books, toys, a bike, a trailer tent and a bread machine – all items Family Pilgrim have purchased second-hand this year.

(And we’ve borrowed toys, clothes, books, tools and cloth nappies)

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Give items away to people in need. Be patient when you want something. Try and find it second-hand.

Buy gifts for refugees in need 

If you can’t get to the pop-up shop mentioned in the Positive News article, then donate to your local charity helping people seeking sanctuary.

Volunteer

Give your time willingly with no strings attached.

Support independent designers and artists 

Appreciate creativity. Be generous.

Buy Nothing

Give something away. Find out about Buy Nothing Day.

Support companies that are doing their bit. 

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From 1 Million Women

Have a look at Traidcraft’s thoughts on Black Friday (including some scary stats on how much money is spent over this weekend and how many people around the world celebrate Black Friday).

Enjoy today and this weekend: be generous, be kind, be loving, be creative, be you.