As some of you may know, one my big “anti passions” or pet hates rather, is the whole rubbish mountain that my generation is currently producing. It is much easier to say throw out an old chair, then to get some new home decor fabric and to quickly revamp it. Whenever I put my weekly rubbish out, I am quite mortified at how much we have thrown away – especially as I consider myself as someone who avoids “rubbish”. And we seem to regularly be going to dump to, well “dump” our stuff.
I avoid shopping plastic bags like a plague (and yet have a whole stash of them to line our bins, how did that stash appear?!), I hoard our old clothes (the ones you can’t pass on) make rag dolls, toys, or shopping bags with and get crafty with loo rolls all the time. Yet it isn’t enough. Everything you buy arrives in double and triple packaging.
Buying new things and throwing out the old is made easy for us – buying a new washing machine is often cheaper, less hassle AND quicker than trying to fix and old one. Revamping old furniture is at risk of becoming a “lost art”.
As parents, I think we have a responsibility to teach our children to think about what they are doing. If something gets broken, you fix it, you don’t just replace it (how many of us have heard the classic “Mummy, let’s just buy a new one”).
We need to teach them the skills to fix things, rather than to just throw away. This includes the “age old” traditions of sewing and upholstery – two skills that a deemed old fashion if not a bit twee, and yet play such an important role in protecting our environment. An old tweed coat should be patched, then worn, once no longer wearable, you can make lovely doorstops, handbags or hot water bottles out of it. Not only are you reusing and old item by doing this, but you are reducing what you buy in the first place, as you are making things, rather than purchasing. And old chair should be stripped down, repainted, varnished and re upholstered.
The idea is to not buy something in the first place (reduce waste), if you can reuse what you have got.. and ONLY as a final resort, recycle. All to often people think “recycling is being virtuous enough”. It isn’t. And in our consumerist society, we need to teach this to our kids.