Sunday, October 30, 2011

Style and Sustainability

I came across this article on Style and Sustainability today.

'Green' clothes are expensive and hard to come by - the only place I know to 'touch and feel' clothes that come with some sort of sustainability credentials is the local World Vision shop where they stock a small range of Etiko branded shirts and shoes.  But I think they are worth it.

What do you think?  Do you wear 'green'?

Less Waste: Washing Basket

My washing basket had a big crack in the bottom, and things were starting to catch in it.  I was concerned that I would tear something trying to get it unsnagged.

It seemed such a waste to throw away a whole basket.  I only have one washing basket: it helps me keep on top of the laundry if I can't leave baskets of clean clothes piled around the house.  The basket isn't that old, not even five years, and I've done my best to bring it in out of the sun (instead of leaving it under the line to collect the clothes when they are dry) so that it doesn't get brittle and break.   I chose a strong, solid basket designed to carry on one hip, which makes it easy when there is a baby on the other.

Then I had an idea.  I covered the crack with some duct tape that we already had in the cupboard.  Hopefully that will do the job and I can use the basket for a few more years.

It seems such a small thing, to be concerned about not throwing away a simple washing basket, but the truth is that there are so many things that I do throw away without thinking, that small changes like this start to form a pattern for big change.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sticking to Budget

I have never seen myself as having a spending problem because we've never been in debt, other than our home loan.

I do know I have a problem sticking to budget, but we put extra payments onto our loan and they cover any over-spending.

Hang on.  Alarm bells!  Just because we aren't in debt, and just because we have the money, doesn't make it okay to overbuy!   That money would be a whole lot better off reducing our mortgage debt.

I have a fairly simple budget, with a set amount ($260) each week which is for 'spending': groceries, clothes, gifts, coffees, books, movies, bus tickets, aquarium membership, small donations etc.    Money for the home loan, miscellaneous expenses (doctors, mechanics, trips to visit family, house maintenance), school fees, and bills automatically come out of the account each fortnight.   I keep track in a spreadsheet how much cash I have taken out each week, and how much I have spent on the credit card, and at the moment I'm over budget.

Averaged out over the 42 weeks of the year already past, I'm about $30 a week overspent.  This means I have only $130 a week to spend for the remainder of the year before I rework my budget for 2012, and I haven't even thought about Christmas yet.   Hmm.

The problem is that I've been in this same position at this time of the year for the last three years, ending the year about $1200 overspent.   So even though the amount I spend in a week in total is less than some people I know spend just on groceries, I'm consistently spending too much.

The Man says that maybe I haven't allocated enough money, and maybe the cost of food has gone up more than I think.  I still think that maybe I'm buying stuff I shouldn't be, including food.   I'm still struggling to not buy things just because I want them and they are a good price. I avoid shopping, I consider whether we really need it or not before I buy it, and try to stick with just using cash.

I'm thinking through some more strategies to keep on top of my spending.

What's your best strategy for keeping within budget?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eating for (more than) two

I have lost 8 or 9 kg since the Small Boy was born, almost a year ago.

I had put on over 10kg in the four years between babies, and it was frustrating me because I couldn't quite work out how.  I know I probably could have exercised a bit more, but it wasn't like I was sitting on my backside all day.  I wasn't eating a lot of junk food or takeaway, but probably snacked a little more than I should have, though not that much more.

After the Small Boy was born, I was less than happy that I'd ended up 3 or 4 kilos heavier than my already-too-much pre-pregnancy weight.  I wasn't ridiculously overweight, but it was enough to be bothersome to me, and the trend was upwards and that was a problem.

A few months after he was born I happened to read an article when I was flipping through a magazine, and I was finally able to recognise my problem.  (The Old Me would have torn out the article and kept it for later, but I just left it in the magazine and changed my way of thinking, and my way of eating.)

This is what I learnt: stop eating for Just In Case.

I have no idea if I took away the message the author had intended, but what I realised was that I was eating for in case I got hungry, not because I was hungry.  I have stopped eating a mid-afternoon snack most days because I'm not actually hungry in the mid-afternoon.   If I don't feel like much lunch, it doesn't matter, I'll just eat something small.  I'm also trying to make just enough for the evening meal, rather than feeling like if I don't make enough we'll be hungry.  If anyone is still hungry after they've eaten, well there is fruit in the fridge!

Monday, October 17, 2011


After six weeks of waiting for a new laptop, and then some time deliberating over whether or not to continue my blog, I've decided to resurrect One Less.

I'm going to make a few changes, with a view to self-hosting in the future.  I'm still going to write about my  journey from hoarder to minimalist, but I'm going to expand that to what intentionally living with less looks like from the perspective of a Christian wife and stay-home mother, who is concerned for the environment but has been bought up in a society where 'green' equates to 'mung beans, armpit hair, and chaining yourself to trees', and is from Australia.  

Nice to see you all again.