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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Simple Life

We've relocated to the parents' new house in Hampshire - very grand and ideal for playing sardines in - and Dot has received her second glut of lovely pressies. Most not terribly green, I'll be honest, but among them some organic cotton sleepsuits from M&S and Next, of all places (the nearest US equivalent to Next I can think of is...well actually I can't think of an equivalent). Who would have thought it - organic cotton in Next. The last time I shopped there I was in the Upper 4th (last year of junior high) for a kneelength, cowl-neck black cardi. Which, come to think of it, would be rather winter 2006 if someone hadn't nicked it off me at uni...

Anyway, haven't had much time for greening today but over the past few days we've managed to read a few of our favourite Sunday newspaper supplements. This has been a salutary experience.

I've only been through two periods of serious abstinence in my life. The first was when I went travelling in SE Asia in 1998. I took 10 garments in my rucksack for five months away, during which time I spent a total of less than £1000 (including food, hotels, transport - everything). The second is now, when I've vetoed myself buying anything other than essentials (repeat after me: reduce, reuse, recycle), again have a very limited subset of outfits on rotation and am trying very hard to spend no money (for Xmas, I gave Dot a sock puppet I made with the help of the MIL's button tin and some old felt. It's a big hit.) And w
hen I'm upstate in our lovely cottage, (as it was in the butt middle of nowhere in Laos) it's really easy to do - possibly because I'm not reading fashion mags (too much paper), don't have to look good every day for work (though I'm not letting myself go, you understand) and there are no shops to tempt me.

But after a couple of Sunday supplements, you go from being perfectly content with washing your face with Dove and wearing the same five outfits on rotation to wondering if you might not just be able to afford a £200 (that's $400, people) pot of face cream and feeling a whole new wardrobe is more or less essential. There was an article in the Sunday Telegraph magazine comparing what kids want for Christmas to what their parents are actually buying them which made me feel faintly nauseous. Another article in the same magazine talked about how kids' expectations have risen in direct proportion to what's advertised on telly (forty years ago they were happy with a home-made hobby-horse, apparently).
I reckon the same thing has happenned to us all.

So my green behavior for the rest of the trip is going to be to try and avoid the fun bits of the papers so I don't feel tempted to go out and buy things I don't need.

The truth is I think I prefer The Simple Life. It's definitely much better for the environment.


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