Posts in green
Reduce, Reuse, and THEN Recycle
Here in the UK, next week is Recycling Week. I am always a bit iffy about the recycling agenda. As I read recently (I can not remember where), recycling is the LAST thing you should be doing out of "reducing, reusing and recycling" mantra. Yet so often it is the first thing that is discussed when looking at individual action on the environment.Around this house, reducing and reusing are in everyday operation.  Old things get a lick of paint (or wallpaper) and a revamp or made into something completely new.

A spare tie holder from ikea becomes a jewellry organiser and showpiece:

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The old bakers trolley, some old pans and bells becomes a sound wall for toddler banging.
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Fruit crates make great shelves. Pictures_1553

An old sink gets some radishes planted in it.
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A candle stick organises watches and bracelets. Pictures_1550

The list goes on. Of course, after all of this reusing, there is still stuff to recycle. My pledge for recycling week is to have a zero waste day or else I will have to give up my phone for a week.  What's your pledge?

For more info on repurposing and zero waste, check out:
- Repurposeful
- My Zero Waste

Inspired by Nature

I am a training skeptic.  Its rare that I attend a course and don'tsit at the back of the room lost in my own thoughts for the time someone talks at me.  In fact, I spent almost all years of my schooling doing just that.

Which is why I have been so thoroughly astounded by my course on Wednesday, "Inspired by Nature" lead by Gordon MacLellan of Creeping Toad.  It did what it said on the tin and I left the day inspired and invigorated both by nature and for the natural heritage.

Gordon describes himself as a "facilitator of celebrations", his work and his writings focus on how groups and communities can connect to the natural world and celebrate it. He had a wonderful way about him, leading the group with a gentle presence that really drew out what we wanted from the day, rather than following a set course plan. I have been on my share of courses that attempt to get you connected with the natural world, but being the cynic I am, have always left me feeling disconnected or at least forced.  Until this one.

Through a variety of artistic activities and discussions, Gordon allowed the group to explore the beautiful surroundings of SNH's Battleby office (invasive rhododendrons and all). The activities would be great for a group of adults or children, but I felt strongly throughout the day that each of them could be easily adapted for a home ed setting, if you so wished.

Needless to say, I couldn't really be lost in my own thought when we were:

Writing "kennings" (as in "ye ken?" or "you know").  They are pairs of words to describe something you see...a kind of poetic riddle, if you will

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Black Gold. Root Stretching. Worm Dwelling...Dirt

Drawing attention to something we saw and loved in the natural world using materials we could find on the forest floor:

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Collecting "Balls of Spring": a ball of clay with bits of what we want to capture about the season stuck into it.
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I came home with his book Celebrating Nature and I would argue its the best nature activity book I have seen (I also have read I love dirt, earthwise and celebrating the great mother in the genre).  There are a range of activities for all age levels and interests.

Most of all, I came home from my day's training feeling very inspired both by nature but also by the work that is going on to connect people to the natural world. As a parent, I find it immensely depressing to look out on a world that seems to be full of doom and gloom...or worse a world where we are ignoring the truth of the place we find ourselves.  I am also so easily sucked into that dark mentality, that its wonderful to find a light of inspiration amidst the blackness.

Notes:
- Photos were taken by another course participant.  Thanks, E!

- For more on the connection between children and the environment, see Alastair McIntosh's article about the stillbirth of his son, Ossian (that is if you can read it...I have only made it through once)

Produce, Reuse, Upcycle

Yesterday, I was given an amazing gift...time. A whole luxurious day to create. Kev and Ellis went to the Transport Museum (hopefully he'll post once E Man decides that napping is not a form of torture). So I had an entire day to myself!!!! And I used it for everything its worth.

I am very interested in making bags. I love bags. And I firmly believe that one can never have too many. Well, I want to create the perfect bag. Long straps that can go over my shoulder, secured to the bottom for strength, with a square, flat bottom. I have a long way to go before my skills meet my aspirations. So I had a play today at making some bags. They are not perfect, but pretty good considering I've never done anything like it before!

Being the skinflint I am, I just looked around at what I have to make some things. I used a variety of materials: old curtains, a pillow case, an old woollen sweater, some felt that I was given years ago. Oh and I finally finished my fingerless gloves that I have been working on for weeks. Well, I have to say that my day's efforts were well rewarded.
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the two upcycled sweater bags were the most fun to make. The felt doesn't need hemming and its such a forgiving material. I might just be addicted. I have already snaffled a partially felted sweater of Kevin's to make another bag out of. above and beyond anything I produced, I felt so energised! Like I did something, instead of repeating the endless cycle of cleaning and cooking.