The Zero Hero Challenge 2019

Week Two - Buy Nothing New..

So I am nailing the buy nothing new challenge. It feels easy so far. I am sure there will be moments of weakness but so far, so good. I think stopping buying Grazia on a weekly basis has helped with the sporadic shopping. However!! The denim obsession is still very real. I even started looking at denim forecasts for 2019. Something I never thought I would do. I officially think I really do have enough denim to start a market stall now and you know what I might just do it.

A big surprise is that I have stuck to the other New Year changes I have been trying to make. I have been doing yoga every morning and it’s day 14 of a 40-day meditation challenge. Coffee hasn’t even touched my lips for almost three weeks. The quitting of dairy went horribly wrong yesterday with a scone with whipped cream and a hot chocolate (to replace what would have always been a mocha) came with whipped cream and marshmallows. Something (even though it has been pretty obvious I have quit dairy) my husband decided to order while I nipped to the loo. I wonder just how much attention he pays to the complex brain and actions of his wife!

There was a step forward in trying to live a more conscious life this week and it’s part of a plan to make some money (not a lot of money but I don’t want much, just enough to make sure I don’t have to worry about money). With all this Zero Hero fun it has got me thinking and the thought that I have been thinking is that I want to put on a Zero Waste Market – in fact a zero waste flea market that becomes an event for people to pop along to on a Sunday and one which includes vintage clothing, second hand clothing, school uniform swaps, eco-friendly products. But what’s more is I would like to team up with gardeners who will support people wanting to grow their own fruit and veg. I would like to have people there who can show others how to repair things they might otherwise just throw away. I need sellers who can show others how easy it is to find amazing things for your home in charity shops and at markets rather than go down the online shopping route. I would like the market to attract small businesses and local producers who aren’t using plastic packaging and who are producing goods in an eco-conscious way. I would like to have florists who sell locally grown flowers as opposed to buying flowers from the supermarket. Second hand book sellers would be ace. It’s not all about buying eco-friendly products, it’s got to be about repairing, recycling, reusing and sharing what we already have. That is my kind of zero waste and I think I am on to a good thing. It’s give me satisfaction, it make me feel like I am doing my bit and I love hunting down goodies in the charity shops. I used to love the flea markets in LA (and the sun!!) but there is absolutely no reason why we can’t have a great monthly market in our area (minus the sun!)

The market is the first step of a larger project but I am all about baby steps this year, little footprints, being kind to myself and being kind to the world around us. I would like to make a difference and help others at the same time.

The best thing about all of this is over the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months, I have found there are some soul sisters who want to do the same things and I think after running my company alone for the past three years I no longer want to go it alone. Working with wise women as a collective and trying to make a shift in the way we live while positively impacting the lives around us is a pretty mighty goal for this year. It’s hugely appealing and it’s a goal I am feeling really excited about achieving.

So if I throw it out there, there is no going back! 

If you have some cool things to sell, if you supply eco-conscious products or are a local producer and interested in having a stall at my first Zero Waste Flea Market, please get in touch. Cost of table is £15 and the first market will be held on the last Sunday of March… 

MOO(n) MARKET

The Zero Waste Flea Market 

Sunday 31st March 2019
at the
MOO (Muir of Ord) Village Hall
Seaforth Road, Muir of Ord, IV6 7TA
12-2pm
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Week One Done!

But that’s not why I feel so empty…

So I have made it through a week of buying nothing new. I have, in fact, got rid of quite a lot of things. Not in a wasteful way but in a clearing way. Things I don’t need, things I haven’t used for a while and services and subscriptions that I can live without.

I am really feeling quite proud of myself. There have been a few panic moments, I have done some browsing for things, I haven’t however bought anything and that is an achievement in that I have got through week one of fifty-two weeks.

To be honest, I feel that what I am doing isn’t really a big deal. How can I call myself a HERO for doing something so insignificant? I think I need to do more than just not buy anything new. I think I need to look at how I can make a difference within my local community. What I am doing is a tiny part of what I can do to perhaps motivate others.

What I don’t want to do is promote people not buying from an already struggling economy. What if everyone stopped buying new things? Surely, that is defeating the purpose. What I am trying to do is go against the fast consumerism and constant desire to have more. What I am trying to do is go against our culture of growth and attainment. I don’t need more, I need to focus on what I have now and that doesn’t just mean clothes and things. That means making more time for my children, that means finding a way of earning a living doing something that truly benefits them and others. For me it is about doing something locally that allows me to be close to the kid’s school, doing something that allows me to stay connected with nature. I also know that I need, for my own wellbeing, to be around some like-minded, inspiring women. I need to get out of the house and socialise. I guess this is a particularly heightened desire after spending two weeks at home.

Thankfully, meditation has come back into my life, I think I have the lack of Facebook to thank for the extra time I have gained and I hope it is doing me good. Time will tell. Maybe I am losing my mind but there is one thing that is coming up for me every time I meditate (actually, when I think about it the image is with me constantly at present) - I am seeing myself in a walled garden. I know where the walled garden is I just don’t know how I can make money from being in that walled garden. Maybe it is the answer to this feeling of helplessness, this feeling of emptiness, this lack of hope? Maybe I can get a garden project going that benefits others and results in produce that can be shared locally. I am not the first person to try to do this. However, it’s not so much the food I am interested in. It’s what we can do in the garden, what we can bring to the garden, who we can bring to the garden! I know who I would like to work with. There is a brilliant organisation locally called MOO Food and I love what they are doing. I would love to work with them. Check them out https://moofood.org/

My mind is clear about wanting to create an event where people can resell, recycle and buy what they need but not necessarily buying new. How to make some money from doing something like is a whole other matter to address! Oh the ideas are endless and some times overwhelming. I know I can’t do it alone but I WILL do it!

I am feeling low and have a distinct lack of energy. My attitude isn’t great and I feel I need to do something more. Something more significant than sit up my hill in isolation. A brilliant TED Talk I need to watch again by a lovely lady called Barbara Sher is – “Isolation is the Dream Killer, not a bad attitude. It is definitely worth a watch!

 

 

 

 

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Pinch Punch, First of the Month! Day One of the Challenge!

Happy New Year!

So 2019 has arrived and the Zero Hero Challenge starts today. I have truly managed to achieve stillness (not entirely my own doing as I have been absolutely floored for the past two days thanks to a horrible stomach bug).

Feeling rather empty and a little delirious so not quite what was planned for the New Year. I deleted my personal Facebook account last night as planned and then felt real fear abut what I might miss out on. I like seeing positive things on social media, I like seeing the latest TED talks and the mantras, affirmations that always seem to appear on a timely basis. What will I do without all of that connection as I sit tucked away in the hills? Hopefully not feel isolated! I realise when I lived further North and had nothing in common with those around me (or at least I had the feeling that I didn’t fit in) social media became a safe haven for reminding myself that they were plenty of people who were on my wavelength. For that I am really grateful but the truth is that as soon as we moved to where I see as being a much happier place it no longer served me well. In fact it did the opposite, it made me feel anxious and inferior. It made me question my choice to bring me children up in the countryside and in a simple, less cultured way. The truth is the kids are fine, they are wild and free and we can get some culture any time we like – we just need to make more of an effort to do so and that in itself creates more of an adventure and a break from day to day life. It’s all good.

After the initial panic of cutting the cord connecting me to the wider world through social media subsides I realise I just need to go back to old ways – I have signed up to TED Talks on email, I have a pile of books to read with plenty of inspiration, I have some great and good people in my life and I still have a phone and email so not totally unobtainable. It’s really not so bad, it will just take some getting used to.

The time that I will take back from not browsing social media will be put to good use. The plan is to focus on being here now, staying away from screens as much as possible, focusing on the kids and focusing on the things I can contribute to making their future great. I am not sure just how much time I was spending on Facebook. After deleting Instagram I spent more time on FB but it didn’t seem to make me feel as rubbish as Instagram. I don’t miss it a bit and I am sure deleting FB will be the same.

Now as for the Zero Hero challenge, day one will be easy as even getting out of bed is going to be a challenge. I have through the deletion of my FB account given up SOMETHING and reduced some of the time I waste. The way I see it is that I haven’t given something up but instead I have created more time to focus on the good things in life so even before I shakily crawl out of bed 2019 is off to a positive start. So this zero-waster is looking forward to the year ahead and wishing everyone an amazing 2019. Peace & Love xxxx

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Filling the Void

The day after I wrote my last blog I woke up feeling pleased that I had posted my piece on my ‘buy nothing new’ challenge. However, the way I communicated it feels ALL wrong and in contradiction of where I would like to be in the New Year. 

Fashion may be one of the biggest pollutants but did you know that social media is possibly worse. The energy used to power the hard drives and tech to keep the social media wheel revolving has a massive carbon footprint.

That aside I don’t want to communicate through social media. A brilliant woman said to me the other day – it is better to have an audience of 10 real contacts than a thousand empty ones.

So step two is to ditch the social media that we have become so reliant on. I realised that all my creative and business ideas have an element that depends on social media and that way of thinking must change and will change. Yes, my audience will become smaller, yet the feeling of being spread over different audiences is not one I am comfortable with any longer. 

I have deleted Instagram, ditched the i-phone and next stop is to delete Facebook. Yup, it’s going to have to go. I don’t mind if anyone else wants to communicate my work through social media but personally I won’t be doing it. I want to BE HERE NOW not spread over the pixels.

I have known what changes I needed to make about social media for a while but the other wake up call I have had over the past week..

Of course, there have been loads of other things happening (Christmas, lovely times hanging out with the kids and playing, eating too much cheese and drinking too much wine!) This holiday season has been truly lovely so far but buzzing away in my brain has been the following –

Since I made the decision to start my Zero Hero ‘Buy Nothing New’ challenge combined with the enforced stillness of the holiday season I have gone through an interesting process. Firstly, I started thinking about whether there was anything I might need to buy for the year ahead. Whether I needed to stock up on anything before my challenge begun. Somehow I decided the most important thing was having enough jeans. That in itself is just ridiculous. However, interestingly, what it has done is made me actually start thinking about my wardrobe. Thinking about just how much I have and realising just how long many items of clothes last. 

Some of my pairs of jeans have lasted twenty years. My favourite, favourite pair of jeans I bought for £3 in River Island just after I moved to London 23 YEARS AGO! That is just nuts but also brilliant.

So why do I feel I need to start panic shopping for jeans just because I am not going to not buy anything for a year? The shopping and the need for clothing is not the real issue.

What shopping has become, for me, is a way to fill a void. From looking for an item, to browsing and pondering, to obsessing about the item, outfit planning in my head (even though I work from home most of the time and live in wellies). Then there is the guilt I feel when I order something, the thought that the money could have been spent on the children, the feeling that I can’t really afford it nor do I really need it. It doesn’t stop there, once the order is in I wait for the post or the courier to arrive, I feel disappointed that it doesn’t show up quickly, more outfit planning then thinking about whether it will fit.

What is significant in this process is the feeling that if I am having a bad day, the item arriving will make it all ok. It will brighten up my day and make me feel better.

But, and the big but, is this relief doesn’t last. It temporarily fills the void, gives me something to look forward to. So does that mean that there is something wrong with me? Is there something missing in my life or is there something I am not dealing with, not processing and getting to the bottom of.

This thought process is a good thing. This is bringing freedom and this is also making me realise how fricking hard it is going to be to keep this challenge going and to not buy any thing new in the new year.

This drives me to go a step further with this challenge. I need to try to not buy anything other than food and things for the kids because this is deeper than reducing waste and not fuelling the fast fashion industry. This is addressing unknown baggage and facing up to the fact I need to live differently.

We seem to ignore what is really going on in our minds and find little pleasures to fill voids, to brighten up our days. If I could stop this cycle what will it reveal about me as a person? Am I the only person that does this or are we all caught up in a revolving cycle of filling our voids in whatever way we choose to do so?

For me personally, social media makes the void much bigger. Being outdoors makes me forget about the void and riding my horse enforces my brain to be blank - aside from being on pheasant and hare watch (that’s basic survival when up on top of a rather acrobatic and lively horse).

 

Christmas day was very revealing and made my mum-guilt go through the roof. What made me stop in my stride was the joy that beamed from my five year old when I stopped and lay on the floor next to him to play with the Bruder toys he got for Christmas. Yes, I work from home and I am always there for my kids but how present am I really. There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. There is always a void to fill. But what if I can find the core of what that void really is. Deal with it and find peace and stillness. Maybe just being still will stop the void from opening again and again? Can I keep it simple? Can I go back to source? 

THIS is the real challenge for 2019. This is it!

PS. I did buy two pairs of jeans on ebay but it is still 2018 and they were pre-owned so that is ok. 

 

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A RESOLUTION FOR 2019

 

CAN I BE A ZERO HERO IN 2019?

The state of our planet and the lack of apparent action to stop the damage we are doing is becoming a daily concern. Such guilt, a weight and a worry for the kind of world we will be leaving our children. Pretty heavy stuff isn’t it. So what can I do? What can we all do? Reduce our waste, stop using single use if not all plastic. To be honest, bar banning LEGO in our house, which would cause a massive meltdown of our own I feel I have to do something! Anything! 

I have made tiny steps in the right direction when gradually throughout 2018 I have been buying less and less clothes from high street stores (being tucked away in the Scottish Highlands I mainly shop online). With programmes like Stacey Dooley’s Fashion Dirty Secrets, revealing the enormity of the pollution caused by the fashion industry, the increase across social media of stories about workers conditions, combined with the desire to buy pieces that will last, having a wardrobe full of clothes I am unlikely to wear living in the countryside and the realisation that styles and trends are cyclical has resulted in me building myself up slowly to the challenge of buying NOTHING new in 2019.

 

And then there is a personal morale dilemma I need to resolve -

My business for the past two years has been selling clothing, good quality clothing made from recycled consumer cotton and made in a sustainable way by workers who are paid a living wage, But NONE of this compensates for the fact that I am still selling clothes that use materials, dyes and have a carbon footprint. This no longer feels right to me. Our remaining stock will go on sale on Boxing Day and the website will become a platform for my writing and art, charting my personal challenge to reduce our waste and consumption in 2019. It will also feature the people and inspiration I find along the way. As my friends and I wade our way through the process of trying new more environmentally products there might even be a review or two. I am not denying I am going to find this hard, especially as there are always times when I see something in a magazine that I obsess about and before I know it I have hopped onto the computer and hit ‘buy now’ (The two Morris & Co /HM Collab dresses I bought this Autumn spring to mind). There is always an excuse as to why I HAVE to have it but I am just going to have to deal with it and use a little willpower. Face it, this is definitely a first world problem.

 

I WILL continue to write and publish my books as I would rather children pick up a book and read it rather than look at a tablet or screen but the clothing has to go. As for the books, I am on the hunt for a local printer who will produce small batches of books as and when I need them instead of the cheaper overseas printer I used previously. Now is the time to make small, achievable moves in the right direction. Kick-starting the change I want to make in my life and my family’s life.

 

But back to the little things that make me feel better – 

I love clothes and thinking about outfits. I see clothing as an expression of my inner self. Sometimes as a protective shield to hide how crap I feel, sometimes as a way of making myself feel brighter and lighter than I actually do. Some times I use clothes in defiance of the people who choose to judge me and make assumptions about me. Here is a little secret - the brighter and crazier outfit days are usually to disguise the lowest feelings, the days full of fear, the days when it all just feels too much. But all in all clothes make me feel good and I don’t want to lose that feeling. Nor do I have to – I can have fun with clothes, I can find pieces of clothing that make me gasp with excitement but these days this happens more often than not when I find something in a charity shop. Like the French wool dress featured in the image below! The silver boots too!  

 

Pottering around Charity Shops – 

The perception of charity shops in my mind are rails of clothes that belonged to people who died, clothes that smell of fabric softener. I don’t need charity, I don’t need to buy second-hand. However, I am definitely not rich. My point is that I want to find great quality clothes that when I purchase them I am doing something good. I am making charitable donations to brilliant causes and I am getting my clothing fix. I am not fuelling the fast fashion industry, I am not buying clothes that I will wear once and throw away. To be fair my charity shop shopping has got a little out of control. There is a small obsession with Ralph Lauren after finding a haul of the label in a little charity shop. All brand new, Fair Isle, cashmere and lambs wool jumpers. I have never owned so much cashmere in my life and I love it. I obviously need to rein this in a little!

 

But charity shops aren’t just all about the clothes –

When we moved into an old Victorian house last year I knew new furniture just wouldn’t work. We have quirky rooms full of furniture from the charity warehouse nearby. There’s the retro room ‘the fox café’ Our living room is full of great furniture, a beautiful leather sofa I picked up from a neighbour for £100 and nothing in our house is new. Maybe it’s just my opinion but I love the way our house looks and it feels even better that I sourced everything while donating to charities.

 

Dream Labels and Expensive clothes -

So back to dreamy clothes - When I was young (don’t really consider myself exactly old now but there you go) I thought a time would come when I had enough money to wear Ralph Lauren and Max Mara EVERY DAY! I thought “one day I’ll be rich” but here I am in my forties and I guess I can’t complain that I do have some beautiful Ralph Lauren pieces, there isn’t any Max Mara (sold it all when I was broke) but the great clothes I do own either belonged to my GRANDMA or they were bought in charity shops. But you know what, I am happy with that. It all has meaning.

I get my fashion fixes from magazines and when I like a look I can build something better (in my mind) by going through my wardrobe and pottering around the charity shops.

 

So can I really be a Zero Hero? If I can do it, we all can!

I can do this. Buy Nothing New starts 1st January and I am going to try to do it for a year. It’s not cheating if I pick something up in a charity shop but the H&M random online shops have to stop. Trawling through the sales rail in the local New Look and picking up bits in Tesco (something I ALWAYS regret as it really isn’t good quality even if this year they had some nice things) Buying new is so 2018.

 

Does this mean I need to panic shop before 2019 is out? 

First thing my husband said when I told him my plan was ‘you better stock up on pants’ Then I thought I really need a new pair of wellies (bearing in mind I wear wellies every day these are a sound investment). Well I guess he knows what to get me for Christmas now! What about the kids? We get brilliant kids clothes from friends but my kids seem totally adverse to wearing other peoples things. That said my youngest has two outfits that he wears all the time so his needs are few and he is already, unknowingly doing his bit.

 

So raise your glasses to being a Zero Hero in 2019

Stopping buying new clothes isn’t exactly going to save the planet but I guess if I can inspire just one other person to do the same then I will feel good. I will save money, I will feel good about it and maybe I will start a flea market or some kind of event to encourage others to recycle, to shop local and to see things in a new way. It is my belief that to do a little is way better than doing nothing and we all need to do something right now as our world is in trouble and that makes me feel incredibly sad. Cue bright, crazy outfit day…..

 

 

 

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