The Sustainable Year: March 2022 Update

To keep myself accountable on the last Friday of every month I post about what I’ve been doing to reduce my consumption for the good of my mind, my savings and environment. You can read more about my commitment to a more sustainable year in 2022 here.

What have I done in March?

I’ve done some careful garden planning this Spring, to make the most out of the vegetable patch. I’m attempting to grow vegetableswe eat a lot of but not too many varieties so things don’t get out of hand. I’m using the square foot gardening approach to keep track of what I’ve planted and to maximise how I use the space.

If you’re going to grow intensively though you need to take care of your soil, and that’s where home made compost has come in. I got a compost bin two years ago and this year have had the first load of compost from it. It was exciting (yes, exciting!) lifting up the hatch at the bottom and finding it full of lovely soft, dark, crumbly material. There was enough to give both my veg beds a good feeding and I was delighted that two years of patient composting has paid off.

Gardening is so unpredictable, with pests, weather and cats who think the veg beds are litter trays causing chaos, but I’m really hoping that I can grow a good amount of food for myself this year. I’m trying out some companion planting that should help to protect each crop from pests.

What’s worked?

  • I’ve been learning to draw again (it’s been a few years since I last did any drawing) and to use watercolour pencils so was able to make a couple of home made cards using materials I already had.
  • I havn’t totally avoided buying clothes, but very nearly; I bought a white shirt for £1 in a charity shop as I needed a new one for my Morris dancing costume.
  • I wanted some learn to draw/paint books so brought second hand ones.
  • Also regarding learning to draw I’ve been using up spare pages in old sketch books instead of buying new ones, so they don’t go to waste.
  • I’ve been continuing to base meal planning around food we’ve already got (our two freezers are always full of batch cooking and bargain bin finds) so we’ve had no food waste.
  • We’ve been introducing more vegetarian and vegan meals into our diet week by week, trying out some new ones and enjoying some old favourites (veggie meatballs with home made Ikea style gravy!)

What’s been challenging?

Well I’ll be honest: I’ve had a spending spree in March, buying art materials and new make up. OK, spending spree is a bit of an extreme term, but it’s a spree compared to usual. The make up was to replace old stuff that needed to go, but the amount of packaging on some of the items was shocking. I don’t regret buying it as it will last me for a long time (I don’t wear much) but it’s a reminder to me to take packaging into account when I order things, which I don’t always do.

Something challenging this month is that I was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome in my arm so I’ve had to rest it as completely as possible, including stopping all knitting and crochet. When I can do some crafting again I’ll have to limit it, which will mean going from knitting or crocheting a lot every day, to doing it occasionally. This leaves me with a lot of yarn that I won’t be able to use so I’ve cleared out all the yarn I don’t particularly have plans for.

Putting it in bags was easy but moving it out of the house feels hard; crafting has been part of my identity for 20 years, and giving away much of my stash is an acknowledgement that from now on it will be an occasional hobby. That feels freeing in a way, like a change needed to happen, but it’s taking me awhile to come around to letting it go.

It’s a reminder that when decluttering there are often strong emotions involved, and you need to show yourself understanding and be patient.

How does this link to sustainability? Because for me reducing how much of anything I use means needing and wanting less, and that need or want for anything beyond necessities starts in the mind. Depending on things for our identity keeps us attached to things.

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