Monday, October 15, 2007

make more, buy less

I heard that phrase somewhere recently and it really struck home with me. I have in the past been a consumer extraodinaire, an addict of the thrill of the purchase, someone to whom shopping and just plain buying was second nature. I bought all my wants, ripped off the packaging and recycled it dutifully thinking I was doing my bit for the environment and still getting my goodies.
Did all this buying make me happy? Well I won't lie and say it made me sad, although I am sad now when I look back on it and remember my wastefulness. But that is the power of hindsight.

It wasn't until I left my fulltime job in the fashion industry and gave birth to baby number two that I began to really think about making more and buying less. Partially this was driven by the sudden reduction in income, a major life changing situation as many new SAHMs will know. Where I had prevously seen something I liked and just purchased it with barely a second thought, our new financial situation made me think through these decisions. Did I really 'want' it? Did I even 'need' it? These became much more important questions and they triggered a new awareness about how indulgent I had been in the past and a promise to never go back to that way of living. So at this point I decided to turn to the 'making'. Why buy something if I could make it myself! The weekly grocery list was the first to be revamped. I crossed off all the premade treats and scoured my cookbooks for cheap healthy alternatives. I came home from the supermarket laden down with bulk packs flour, pasta and sugar, determined to conquer a kid friendly muesli bar that didn't come individually wrapped in plastic and boxed as well.
I cooked more of our dinners from scratch, using as many fresh local ingredients as I could. I nagged my husband for a sewing machine so I could make the kids clothes. And as all this was happening I came to the realisation that I like 'making' in fact I love 'making'. The joy I get from finding an old sheet and turning it into a summer dress for my daughter or eating a salad made with peas grown fresh in our garden far outweighs the pleasure of shopping.

Added to this is a certain sense of duty that I want to pass on to my children. We are responsible for our actions, we are responsible for how we live and our imprint on this planet. It brings a smile to my face to see my kids jump up when they hear the washing machine click into a drain cycle so we can run out and divert the grey water onto our little vegie patch, or when we are at the shops looking for new shoes and Lottie pipes up with 'why can't we just make some mum'.
They already think differently to me. Whereas I had to make a huge shift in life to consume less they are learning the value and pleasure that comes from 'making' from a young age.

I still have a very long way to go. I have a terrible weakness for buying fabric that needs to be tackled next. This new way of life is a constant work in progress but it is a journey I am enjoying and one that I only wish I had started on a long time ago.


Lissy said...

Such a simple thing to do but such a great way to think...I shall have to think of what more I can do :)

Kristi said...

What a wonderful post!! There really is a pleasure in making things and most of the time, those things have more quality than something you can purchase. My trouble is when I start getting in a time crunch. Convenience wins out far too often. I know it would win a lot less often if I was more organized!

Thanks again for your thoughts on this, I am going to take on your challenge and try to be less wasteful!

Heids said...

Wow Ingrid...what a fabulous post to commerate Blog Action Day - I love most of all the effect your efforts have on your kids - an important reminder to us all of how impressionable little ones are and how vital our behaviour is in giving them a solid base of values from which they can develop themselves...sorry...that all sounds a little preaching - I was just so struck by your post!

Cathy said...

good on you Ingrid, you have inspired me immensely to make more things - the one thing I really like to make more of is - time!!!

You would be very proud of me, today I made 10 headbands for a school fete out of recycled uniforms!!!

You go girlfriend!!!!

Jenn said...

This has long been one of those things that I've strived to do (and mostly failed abysmally) but reading your blog and seeing your fabulous creations is really inspiring. Baby steps here though!

Corrie said...

well done and beautifully said! I'm so glad you wrote about your weakness for fabric as i dont' feel so bad now!

I totally hear you on all fronts and it feels good making clothes for the family (well not hubby...yet) and food and we're not fans of pre-packaged food except for emergencies or lazy nights!


starashan said...

Your journey sounds pretty similar to mine. When my income went with babe no.3, I started sewing more, making my own clothes, and the kids too. I always had a vege patch, but I went at it harder. I love that the kids know where food comes from, and that they ask me to make them all sorts of stuff. I am trying to be a lot more frugal, and don't buy much stuff. Except, like you, fabric is a real weakness. I rarely buy it new though thankfully, though it's really tempting, given all the amazing independent fabric designers out there...

This was a lovely post to read- thanks :o)

Jen said...

Well said!

And I completely understand the thrill of MAKING something with your own hands.

Claire Falkingham said...

I has to keep coming back to read this post, it touches a nerve with me Ingrid - I totally get where you are coming from, and I'm really trying to instill this in my Little P, there's so much pressure on tweenage girls to buy, buy, buy, it's crazy. I'm a firm believer in valuing people over things and money. I hear you on the fabric though!!