Reduce Consumption

Our current model for growth is based on ‘take, make, use, discard’. With a growing population and dwindling resources we should be moving to a ‘circular economy‘. This is based on reusing, repairing and recycling. This model is more labour intensive, but as such has the potential to provide many new jobs!

Our modern lives involve materials which have been extracted for the earth. We buy, sell and transport these resources all over the globe. As populations rise and demand increases the way we do things is becoming increasingly unsustainable. Between 1970 to 2010 our natural resource consumption more than tripled .

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year”. This year that was 22nd August.

Something needs to change… but it isn’t necessarily a change for the worse. Resourcefulness leads to invention. Below are some ideas to think about.

Repairing

In the UK 26 million tonnes of waste are produced every year, of this 14 million tonnes are sent to landfill.  Many items we routinely throw away can be fixed. It was only a few generations ago that this was common place.

A campaign called Right to Repair has been setup to push for new products to be repairable.

As repair shops become more difficult to find repair cafes are appearing in their place. The idea is to fix things but at the same time pass on skills which are quickly disappearing. SEA have setup the Seaford Repair Cafe to help .

There are local companies which can help with repairs:

Swap shop.

Swapping / Loaning / Sharing

If you’ve ever visited the library you’re already on your way with this one. Getting into the habit of borrowing from friends, family, neighbours rather than buying will not only save money but resources too.

Buying an item you use once a year doesn’t make much sense. Springing up in some communities are “Library of Things“. These are places where you can loan a tent, tea urn, wallpaper stripper or even a ukulele! It’s not something we have yet – but you never know.

Swap shops are also a great way to exchange items you no longer need. Clothes swaps, Toy swaps, book swaps. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic most swaps have been cancelled this year – but we will ensure we share details when these are available again.

Upcycled chair.

Upcycling

Upcycling is the process of taking something which is no longer needed and making it better!

Furniture, clothes, old jars, keys, bike wheel… the list is endless. The idea is to create something unique using your own artistic flair or improving the design so it works better for you.

There are lots of great books and websites with ideas:

Bench

Making

Making things can be really a satisfying thing to do. There are an amazing array of courses available by very talented teachers, books and videos online.

Whether you have previous experience or are starting from scratch you will be amazed what you can achieve.

Living with less

We live in an age when we have so much stuff. Do we need it all? Do we need the most up to date phone or pair of trainers? Think of the resources that go into the stuff we buy. Spending less money on stuff that we don’t need means we have a bit more money to spend on the things we really want.

This doesn’t mean we have to get rid of our belongings and live a minimalist lifestyle. We just need to rethink what we buy. Does my child have to have a new school bag at Christmas when their old one is perfectly fine?

And if you enjoy shopping, you don’t need to give this up – look for secondhand. We have endless charity shops where who knows what you’ll find – a designer dress for £10 and the money goes to a charity rather than a corporation. Clothing can be a bit hit and miss but luckily we have Ebay, and many charity shop online stores where you can find exactly what you’re looking for:

Why buy new furniture when you can look for the exact style you want secondhand. You can find a fantastic unique piece of furniture and depending how old it is, it will probably be better made and a lot cheaper too!

If you’re looking for something and want it quick – try Facebook Marketplace or local Facebook selling pages. Freegle is a website where you can give things away or ask for things you’re looking for. You never need to buy new again!

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