Freecycle: The Wonders and Pitfalls

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Why have I not discovered Freecycle sooner? It’s free stuff, as in ‘pay nothing’ and someone gives you something. It’s great. Until you realise you’ve been ‘gifted’ a fridge that’s missing two shelves and needs a whole new door – cost £106 – or to be taken to the tip – cost £22 if the council take it away. We ended up paying £22 to get rid of something that was supposedly ‘free’. Fortunately we saw a ‘reconditioned’ fridge in our local furniture store so we were able to buy a fridge and support a local business, which is something. Admittedly I did also get the council to remove a couple of old mattresses (too stained to be reused) at the same time as the fridge so I would have paid that money anyway, but still… it’s the intentions of the giver that are questionable. I shan’t be so trusting in future and will insist on looking at the thing first.

However, we also managed to get hold of a freezer via Freecycle and that has been great. Nice people gave it to us, no problems. Works fine. The moral of the story: some people use Freecycle as a means of getting rid of junk because they can’t be bothered to take it to the tip (or don’t have the means to so decide to trick someone else into doing it for them!). Whether they couldn’t or wouldn’t I’m less than impressed o_O In future I will take all Freecycle offers with a pinch of salt.

Verdict: Freecycle is a wonderful idea and when it works it’s an example of the very best of humanity and the very best of eco-friendly principles in action. But there are a lot of chancers out there, so although I will remain a committed user of Freecycle, I will be more careful to inspect something before I take it into my home.

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All Aboard the Number Two

What a brilliant idea. That’ll get the job done. I was thinking only the other day how human waste is an unused, ever-renewable resource***. We must be able to utilise it more. Ingenious!

*** I really, really must get out more.

Hurrah for Public Transport (and Preparations for a Homemade Christmas)

There has not been so much blogging lately as I am snowed under trying to balance studying with sorting out our lovely new old house (if you know what I mean). An aged house such as ours has its own particular set of problems for any new inhabitants inheriting all the ‘quirks’ that the previous owners never fixed. But it’s fun o_O

I am also trying to make preparations for a make-do-and-mend, pre-loved, home made, Un-paving Paradise Christmas with all the family. I have already made a shawl, wrist-warmers, napkin rings and am onto the recycled cotton crocheted flannels (which will be wrapped with home made soaps and bath bombs) and pine cone decorations. Last year I made two pairs of these lovely slippers, and will also make a couple more pairs for friends and family for this year. It’s a simple, but very effective pattern. My middle child still wears them and loves the fact that they were created especially for her, which is as much the value of a home made gift as the gift itself 🙂

It being half-term here in this Lost Corner of Middleshire, we took the children to the National Space Centre. It’s a fantastic place. The planetarium alone is an amazing experience. A particular favourite was the ‘rocket’ in the cafe, which every so often would begin to rumble and emit vast quantities of dry ice lit by red lights, to much shrieking delight on behalf of the children stood underneath. Also, if you book online in advance, you get a free annual pass. Read more here.

We travelled by train and stayed overnight as it’s a long way away, which led to some interesting questions with regard to the eco credentials of train travel: why is it more environmentally-friendly to use the train, but costs more? Shouldn’t the fact that there are 100 people travelling in just one carriage be more economical for the traveller? Why, even when you have discounts such as the Friends and Family Railcard and you book weeks in advance, is rail travel in Britain so expensive?

Waste Less Live More-Discover It

It’s so much fun discovering new ways of doing things!
I think we just have to try to not take the burdens of the whole world on our shoulders and not worry about where we have got it wrong, but focus on the little changes that gradually add up to bigger changes. These then begin to influence those around us to make little changes for themselves. 🙂

My Make Do and Mend Year

Waste Less Live More Week has flown by.
Today is the last day, and it’s time to #Discover It.
Discover itDiscover new ways of doing old things-different ways of getting to the same place; different places to shop; different things to do with the kids…

I thought that as this blog came about from a year of Buying Nothing New, I would encourage you all to discover alternatives to buying thing new (I know I’m kind of preaching to the choir here, but maybe you might find a little nugget of inspiration!)

  • Discover alternative retail outlets: charity shops; auction houses; flea markets; vintage fairs; jumble sales; reclamation yards. These are all fab places for finding ‘new’ things. And don’t forget Freegle and Freecycle, as well as events like Swishing (clothes swapping) to pick up some totally ‘new’, totally free stuff
  • Discover how to make: once you can sew, or…

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CROCHET RAINBOW AMIGURUMI UNICORN – ECO FRIENDLY?

We have a little girl in our household with a birthday this week, and this little girl has a penchant for unicorns. What does the trying-to-be eco-friendly household do when it comes to birthdays? We make things. Yay!

 

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I found a wonderful pattern for a crocheted amigurumi unicorn. I am not exactly a beginner ‘hooker’ but I am not yet proficient, so I need simple patterns. This pattern is just that. It is quite fiddly in places, particularly when stuffing, but that may be because I have only made one other stuffed toy previously, many years ago. Like many crafty types, I have a rather large stash of yarn, so I decided that instead of buying stuffing I would chop up some soft acrylic aran yarn in cream and use that as my stuffing. I made the body out of Twilleys Freedom Echo DK in ‘natural’ shade, which is manufactured in England from recycled cotton. I made the mane, tail and horn from Sirdar Smiley Stripes DK in ‘Honolulu’ shade, which is manufactured from 80% bamboo and 20% wool.

 

I am uncertain of the eco credentials of bamboo. It is a great crop in that it grows quickly and is incredibly versatile, which makes it renewable and useful, but bamboo can’t (I assume) be grown in the UK, so it must have travelled thousands of miles, if it has come from China, and accumulated a fairly substantial carbon footprint along the way. Also, I have no knowledge of the conditions in which it is grown;, for example, has rainforest been destroyed in order to grow bamboo? Is the harvesting of bamboo destructive to the surrounding ecosystem? Are pesticides or fertilisers used that disrupt the local ecosystem? There are often no easy answers when it comes to making better environmental choices. The more I learn the more I realise how complex it all is… So I presume that 80% bamboo and 20% wool is better than a man-made fibre.

 

I am also thinking of trying out this recipe for a rainbow unicorn cake (using fresh ingredients instead of cake mix). So cute!

 

DIY Peg Bag

A fortnight ago the cheap and nasty peg bag that came with the pegs I bought last year ripped. Instead of automatically buying a new one, which once upon a time would have been my default mode, I decided to make one. I looked on the internet for ideas and came upon this post. It gave me the inspiration to have a go myself. Mine is not as good as the original, but it is perfectly functional and very sturdy, unlike my previous peg bag. I didn’t worry too much about getting it all perfectly counted because I want to crack on with a birthday present that I am making (and we’re moving house in a fortnight!). It was made using Sirdar Simply Recycled Aran cotton in turquoise and coral, bought from Black Sheep Wools, which I had leftover from making crocheted placemats (pattern here). I used a small hanger from my daughter’s wardrobe to go inside.

 

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The colours look a little dim on this photograph, but you get the idea. It’s actually a really bright blue and orange. It’s not the world’s best crochet… but it will do the job 🙂

#makedoandmendhour 17th July

Some truly inspiring ideas here!

My Make Do and Mend Year

Here we go then, this week’s #makedoandmendhour!

Pics we shared:

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1. Brilliant bug house! Made from an old CD cabinet, broken fence panel and discarded bricks! From @kykaree
2. Alarm cable inner strands awaiting upcycling by @SueArcher6
3. Bottle top bead curtain! Linked together with fishing line, by @smalldustytown
4. 36ft of free shelving from ladders found in a skip by the lucky @Magpiemosaics
5. Awesome darning job on an old blanket for an invisible mend by @Magpiemosaics
6. Old bike tyre being called into action to hold up an apple tree in @Sweetmyrtle’s garden
7. @jhwilts is busy crocheting a rug for her camper van
8. Pickled nasturtium seeds! From @SueArcher6
9. Hanging baskets upcycled into a birds nest thingy by @junelpenney
10. Top darning by @BeckyAnnison
11. @bluebirdanielle shared tales of homemade wine for £1/litre. And no hangover..!
12. The fabulously talented @Maker_of_Things has made a heated towel…

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