Experiments with Aquafaba

A while ago, a friend of mine told me that you could make Scotch pancakes/Bannocks/Drop Scones with aquafaba instead of all the other wet ingredients.

 

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So I thought I would try it. It didn’t go perfectly, but did go better than it might have done.

Ingredients;
225g self raising flour
2 cans worth of aquafaba – in this case, half from kidney beans and half from chickpeas.
Optional – rose water and poppy seeds.

Method:
Mix everything together. Fry in a pan on a low heat.

It’s the cooking where this method begins to fall apart – in short, the outside cooks far quicker than the inside, even with the pan on the lowest possible temperature. What I think I need to do is use less liquid and whip it into fluffy peaks.

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This is the point at which you would flip ‘normal’ pancakes, however with these, the underside wasn’t even solid.

I waited until it was, but even then, the centre was doughy and moist. In the end I baked them in the oven for a time. They were edible, but still not the fluffy pancake that I was hoping for.

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As I say, next time, I’m going to try a few things differently. What I am absolutely going keep about this recipe, however, is the floral flavour combination.

Oh my goodness, the rose water and the poppy seeds are absolutely glorious together – sweet and aromatic, perfumed and light. These pancakes taste like the height of summer, and when eaten with sticky bramble jam, they’re so evocative of balmy days foraging in the hedgerows Down South.

So, watch this space – I am definitely going to experiment some more with this!

Do you have any other use for Aquafaba? I’ve already used it in chocolate mousse and meringues  but I’m keen to find other ways to make use of it! As ever, contact me here or on Twitter. 🙂

Home, and a few words about what I’m doing here.

The schools are off now.

We’re staying at home.

There will be A LOT of gardening going on, a lot of reading, and using online resources. I posted on my other blog (The Inquisitive Newt), a long list of activities we plan to do over the coming weeks. I hope it might be of use to some of you.

With the exception of this post, I don’t actually blog in ‘real time’. I queue things up as they become relevant, or as I finish writing them – some posts are more in depth than others and/or may require a before/after picture, for example.

I’ve got posts lined up and ready to go until April 6th.

I’ll endeavour to continue after this point, of course, but I wanted to let you know that if any of the next handful of posts reference us going out/meeting people, that all of this occurred in the past. In particular, the post about our local market and seed library springs to mind. The market I’m referencing happened on March 7th, though the post isn’t scheduled until April 2nd. 

I ask that you keep this in mind. 

Really, being at home isn’t anything of a hardship – there is so much to do here, and so much richness in our lives. We have aeons worth of things we could be doing – boredom will not be an issue – and while we’re here, perhaps I’ll finally lower my transport emissions! 

In regards to the kids, I’d originally wanted to home-school my children though my eldest had other ideas on the matter. I’m glad things turned out this way – our school community is vibrant, supportive, and nurturing. Our staff – teachers, secretary, cook, cleaner, visiting specialists, and so many more – are all like an extended family. Whilst I might be keen to work with my babies more, I think they’ll miss the wonderful community they’re leaving behind (for the time being). I’m especially sad for my youngest – the transition from nursery to school will be interrupted, sudden, jarring.

For a much better post about staying at home, why not take a look at ‘En Casa’ on This Simple Life.

And whatever else you do, please, please, please – do stay at home. Unless you’re a key worker, the best way that you can help fight this virus is by giving those working in the hospitals time to treat patients. A close second is to stop panic buying. If you’re out of bog-roll because other people have hogged it all, consider the innocuously named ‘family cloth’. It is absolutely my plan B!

So if you’re not working from home, sewing your own loo roll (don’t flush it!!!!) or gardening, what other free things can you get up to?

Why not check out Project Gutenberg, for free reading material? Or your local library’s online catalogue?

There’s also a whole pile of free video-games on Abandonware.

I made mention earlier to child-friendly activities that I listed on my other blog, but it’s worth linking to again here. Especially worth noting are the links to classical music.

Or watch our veg being grown at the local Community Supported Agriculture initiative – I can’t wait for our first veg boxes, and the children really love watching the videos!

If that’s not enough, I totally recommend having a peruse this list of activities from Chatterpack.

Stay safe out there, friends. Be excellent to each other.

Every tree is a forest

Recently, I posted about replacing my evergreen hedge with native trees. 

I had been planning to purchase some saplings from The Woodland Trust,* but something last week stopped me, and I decided to put a post out on Freecycle instead. What I discovered was something inspiring.

My notice read something to the effect of;
WANTED: Tree weeds. Do you have saplings growing where there should be no saplings? I would be very happy to come and remove them, and give them a good home.

An amazing couple responded to my ad, and so I set off – armed with my shovel and some empty dog-food sacks in which to transport the roots.

As my sat nav brought me towards the house, I passed a plantation of young trees and wondered if this was where my saplings would be coming from – the response had said, ‘We have some trees to spare’ so I thought that perhaps the couple had bought a large quantity to fill the field and hadn’t been able to fit them all in.

When I arrived, however, the lovely people donating the plants took me round to the back of their house where they presented the biggest monkey puzzle tree I have ever seen. It looked to be around six storeys high and was apparently planted when the house was built. As the cottage looked to be around 200 years old, I could well believe it. It was absolutely magical – an enormous ladder of spiney branches, reaching into the sky.

And all around it, at waist height, were bare saplings. The homeowners explained that birds came to sit on the tree, pooped as they set off again, and spread a variety of mystery seeds all around the monkey puzzle tree. Most were obviously raspberry canes, but others looked more robust and it was these we settled on.

I mentioned the plantation as I began to dig, saying that I’d thought the saplings might be coming from there, and they explained that the entire thing had been filled with self-seeded examples from beneath the monkey puzzle tree.

I was absolutely taken aback. Here was the making of a forest, stemming from the planting of one single tree. The huge field full of saplings had been laid in the last ten years – how many generations had been in that house before this point and had pulled up all those potential trees? How many trees had been lost through being in the ‘wrong place’?

As humans, we have both the power to destroy and to protect, and never have I seen it as starkly as I did here. The residents of this cottage had the option to do as all their predecessors did – to rip out the self-seeded trees which threatened to take over their garden. But they didn’t. They chose to save literally hundreds of saplings and create native woodland instead. And now that they’ve filled their own land, they’ve chosen to help others plant trees too.

And each tree – as evidenced by that incredible, giant beanstalk-esque monkey puzzle tree – has the potential to create not just one, but a multitude of forests over the course of its life. And all those forests need in order to become are humans willing to work with the natural world, and not against it.

I took home and planted a beech, a holly bush, an-almost-certain-rowan, and three mystery trees. Whilst our slip of garden won’t ever be big enough to plant a forest in, I am now determined that I will pass on whatever saplings come form these plants. I might not be able to plant a forest here, but I can make sure that while I am custodian of these trees, that I give their forest every chance I possibly can – even if that’s dispersed throughout the region.

Have you planted any trees this year? Do you think it’s something you have space for in your garden? What would you plant if you did? As ever, I would love to hear your thoughts – here, or on Twitter.

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*I just wanted to touch on why I did things this way. Firstly – fewer transport miles. There were a total of six miles between where I am and where the trees were. This means that – secondly – I know that whatever I plant can survive here and will be hardy enough to tolerate the weather. Third, there’s no packaging – I reused the sacks my dog’s food came in, and now that my saplings are in the ground, I’ll be able to use them again. Fourth – and it’s a big one – time. According to everything I’ve read, it’s actually pretty late in the season for me to be planting trees. Apparently, they need to be moved during their winter dormant phase so as we move into spring, the window for getting them in the ground grows ever shorter. I didn’t know how long postal delivery would be, so this seemed like an instantaneous alternative.

And finally, even though I didn’t get the trees from the Woodland Trust, I put in a donation to the same value as I would have spent. The charity does absolutely amazing work, and I want to support them – it’s why I chose them to buy trees from rather than my local garden centre. I feel like this way, everybody wins.

 

Slivers of soap

Bar soap is often one of the first things people do when transitioning to a lower-waste lifestyle. Swapping out plastic hand-pumps can save you money – a bar of soap generally lasting longer than a bottle – and as many are available in paper, this simple action can save space in the recycling bin too.

That said, there is a significant downside…

You end up with loads of little slivers of soap that are too slippery and small to properly handle. These often end up as a source of frustration and – in our house, certainly – are prone to ending up in the bin, even though they’re still technically capable of doing thier job.

The other night, though, @TinyAcorns posted a photo of a clever little cloth bag which holds all your scraps of soap together and makes then usable again.

As I already had my knitting stuff out from making the dish cloths, I thought I would have a go at replicating this.

Again, as with the dish cloths, I used a vintage cotton from my late mother-in-law’s stash, but if I were to be purchasing something specifically for this project, I might choose something a little… rougher? I feel like there is great potential for the cotton to get slimy over time, whereas something like linen, or even the rougher, heavier jute might just soften. I may experiment in future to see, but for now… cotton it is. Any natural fibre will do, though wool might shrink. synthetics will last longer, but they also shed micro-plastics so that’s a drawback.

Anyway, this is what I came up with. You might want to adjust this pattern to make it wider (add more stitches, in multiples of 3), or longer (do more rows). I think, though, that for cotton, 15cm is definitely long enough – the cloth seems to stretch quite a bit in the water.

Cast on 30 st with 4mm needles.
Rows 1 & 2 – knit.
Row 3 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Row 4 – (k1, yo, k2tog) all the way along
Repeat these four rows until your fabric measures around 15cm. End on row 2 and cast off.

Sew up the bottom and the side to make a little bag, then either pass some string or a long crocheted chain through a row of holey bits to make a draw string

And that’s it, really.

Pros: This is a super quick, easy project that you can finish in an hour or so. It uses scrap quantities of yarn, so you don’t need to buy anything specific for it. It definitely keeps all the little slithery bits of soap together.

Cons: This particular yarn bleeds colour… which is less good if you’re washing hands. It stretches quite a bit when wet. I’m not sure how cleaning it is going to work, and what it’s going to look like over time.

You can’t really see it in the picture above, but when you squeeze the bag as if to let some of the water out, you get more bubbles. Which isn’t bad, exactly, it just means that you need to scrub, then squeeze, then rinse in that exact order, or get more blue on you than is strictly necessary.

So, would I make this again? Absolutely – like I said, it’s quick and fun and does what I want it to. Have I worked out all the potential faults yet ? Nope. Not by a long way. And that’s ok. We’re all learning what works and what doesn’t. If this doesn’t pan out in the long term, I can always have another go at making a Frankenstein’s Monster soap from the grated remains of all the other soaps. It didn’t end well last time, but that’s not to say it won’t on another occassion…

I’ve posted this project on Ravelry, in case anyone is interested. It’s just a project page with the pattern in my comments. I would love to see yours if you have a go, though. As ever, you can get in touch here, or on Twitter.

Peter Piper plants a pot of peas in paper…

Work on the garden continues, and this week I dug out one of the gifts we’d been given for Christmas so I could set to work making some biodegradable plant pots.

This little gizmo is great for so many resons.

a. It doesn’t come in plastic.
b. It isn’t made of plastic.
c. It prevents the use of plastic pots.
d. It offers a use for scrap paper (rather than it being resigned to recycling).
e. The pots it makes are biodegradable so when you’re ready to plant out, you don’t disturb the roots of what you’re planting – just pop the whole lot in the ground.

Plastic plant pots are a real bugbear of mine. Firstly, they’re prone to cracking. Secondly, they blow over in the wind or – as in the past few storms – blow away completely with your apple tree-babies in! Finally, unless you want an especially large pot which needs to be light, they’re not essential. You can plant seedlings in pretty much anything – I love a syrup can, personally, but toy stacking cups, mugs without handles, and plastic trays from supermarket meat are all completely servicable ‘pots’ too. In short, if it’ll hold water, you’re golden.

Anyway, I digress.

All you do to make the paper pots, is wrap a strip of your scrap around the thing that looks like a pestle. You then fold the overhang of paper over the bottom of the pestle and mash it into the ‘mortar’. Then you remove the resulting paper container and you’re done.

Of course, you don’t need to buy a fancy gadget to make free paper pots. If you want to use a similar method to the one detailed above, you can simply wrap your paper around a jam jar and push the base into the upturned jar’s lid (presuming the base of the jar is slightly smaller than the lid). Alternatively, you can snip at four points at the base of a toilet roll to around a third of the way up, then fold these ‘flaps’ in on themselves to create a pot base.

Whilst I do plan to plant carrots in paper pots, these particular ones are destined for peas. We have a tree-stump in our garden and I have ambitious plans for it involving peas… watch this space…

Gardens are a fantastic place to use up resources which we might not use inside. Whether that’s via compost, seeds from our food, or paper (as above), all of these actions help to minimise our impact directly and indirectly. Directly; as a way to dispose of our waste which isn’t landfill. Indirectly; by providing us with (potentially) plastic-free food with zero food miles, habitat for wildlife, habitat for pollinators, and as a way to process carbon in the atmosphere. What are your favourite things about gardening, and do you have any tips for things to reuse outside? As ever, I would love to hear them – here, or on Twitter.

How To Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum

How To Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum is another little environmental gem of a book.

Broken down into short, easily digestible sections of text, this book offers solid reasons on why we should give up plastic, followed by a comprehensive way to go about that.

Natalie Fee’s book, How to Save The World for Free, and Lucy Siegle’s Turning The Tide on Plastic both do similar things, but are somewhat… meatier. This isn’t a criticism of any of the books – McCallum’s, or the others – but it’s worth keeping in mind as some people have time constraints.

I think the main points of difference in this book are the calls to action, and the interviews – I found the one with Jamie Szymkowiak from One in Five regarding plastic straws particularly enlightening

Whilst I’m not likely to set up any protests, the practical help for setting up a beach clean is very much appreciated, as is the letter writing advice.

As pictured above, there are lts of easily quotable statistics, but a favourite bold printy bit is;

There isn’t a single path to giving up plastic and the routes will vary across countries and communities, but there is a single message: that we need to stop producing so much of it.

And honestly, that’s one of the truest things I’ve read that’s been written on the subject.

Have you read this book? If you have, did you fill in any of the plans? I didn’t, because I borrowed this copy from the library, but I would love to see what others out there have come up with! As ever, get in touch here, or on Twitter.

More low impact hobbies.

A while ago, I did a post about low-impact hobbies such as reading, playing games, and photography, but I keep thinking of more things so thought I would do another round up of eco-friendly ways to pass time.

Puzzles

A personal favourite at the moment is jigsaws – we buy them from the chairty shop, do them once and then return them. They generally cost between £1-3 for a 1000 piece puzzle which is a LOT of entertainment for the money. Combine this with an audio book from your library, or a free podcast, and you’ve got a recipe for a fun evening in. Or at least… I think so.

Musical instruments

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This is a bit of a tricky one in terms of cost so it really depends which instrument you want to play and whether or not you already have one. I’m – honestly, don’t judge me – a massive fan of the recorder. It’s cheap, compact, available in wood, and easy to pick up. I know it has a bad a reputation given the number of school children who seem to believe that the point is to blow it as hard as possible, but when played properly it’s every bit as beautiful as a flute. I mean, check out this concerto...

If recorder really isn’t your thing, the ukulele is a great option. You can pick up a good one relatively cheaply – even new – and there are countless YouTube tutorials out there, as well as free tab music online. The size makes them easy for children to play and as all four strings are tuned to a chord, they sound fine even when strummed by small, enthusiastic hands.

Personally – because I’m a sucker for punishment – I’m learning violin. This isn’t a cheap option, but I was lucky enough to inherit one that isn’t dreadful so I thought I should probably learn to play it. So far, I still sound like I’m scratching nails down a chalkboard but I’m not getting worse so I’ll take that as a win. It’s good fun, regardless.

Most libraries have a good supply of music tutorial books and ours has a 3 month borrower limit (or rather, you get 1 month with each book and can renew 3 times) which is ample opportunity to practise the music.

After the purchase of the instrument, playing it can be incredibly cheap. Whilst I’m going to need more violin lessons – because they are such an… analogue instrument, and it’s tricky to get the right note – it’s perfectly possible to teach yourself the recorder. You either play the right note, or you don’t – get the fingering or you, or you don’t. If you have a tuner/tuning app on your phone, the same applies to the ukulele. Using library books and online tutorials makes it completely free to play, and none of the above  require any power.

A great way to resource share, or to try your hand if you don’t want to make a big financial commitment, is to rent an instrument. Some councils do this for school children, whilst some brass bands will offer the loan of something to play, sometimes in addition to lessons. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people, pick up a new skill and connect with your local community. And practising will take up time at home. If brass music isn’t your thing, then it might be an idea to try local folk groups and see if they have a similar scheme.

With instruments, it really is a case of, ‘you get what you give’. If you devote an a small amount of time to practise every day, you’ll get good quickly. Better to do ten minutes daily than an hour every fortnight, so making it part of your routine really helps. 

Volunteering

If your schedule allows, volunteering can be a really fun thing to do. Whether that’s in a charity shop, with your local library, at your kids’ school, on a village hall comittee, at your local hospital, or just taking part in a #2minbeachclean next time you walk your dog, there are literally thousands of organisations looking for people to help. It’s generally free (a lot of places pay travel expenses), it’s a great way to meet people, an excellent boost to a CV, and you’re helping to build the sort of world you want to live in.

I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years – as an NHS breastfeeding supporter, a library lackey, at school clubs, and in a charity shop. When we first moved to our current area, it was volunteering which helped me find new friends and I’m so glad I did it.

Writing

I’ve reviewed a lot of books about the environment in the last year – and am probably due another round up of them soon! – and common to nearly all is the need to talk about why we’re taking steps to reduce our impact on the planet.

Even if you’re not ‘a writer’, you helping every time you you chronicle your experience in a blog, or Twitter feed, YouTube chanel, or local newsletter article. Figure out a way you feel comfortable communicating and then do it! Whilst you might need the use of electricity to do this, it can make an enormous difference. If yours is the post which pursuades someone to start carrying a water bottle, then you’ve just increased the impact you have on water-bottle consumption by 100%. And that’s pretty magical.

Of course, you can write other things too, just using a pen and paper. Snail Mail is one of my absolute favourite things to do in an evening – it’s slow, deliberate, and an incredibly intimate way of keeping in touch with friends. And nothing cheers the recipient up like a hand-written letter in the post box. Makes a change from bills, right?

I would absolutely love to hear any other suggestions you might have for ways to pass the time. The further down this route I go, the more willing I am to give just about anything a try, so challenge me! I’d love to hear your ideas here, or on Twitter.

 

 

 

Knitted dish cloths

I’ve spoken before about the knitted dish cloths I use. As I’m making some for a friend, I thought I would take the time to record the process.

There are many advantages to a knitted dish cloth – if you choose your fibre carefully then they don’t shed any plastic into the water system, they can be washed until they disintegrate (so do away with disposable alternatives), and they’re actually really good at removing stuck-on food. If you have a home compost heap, they can even end their life in there.

The choice of fibre is up to you, but I use a cotton yarn – usualy Rico Creative Cotton, but in this case, I’m employing a vintage offering that I found in my late mother-in-law’s stash.  Cotton is great because you can wash it at 90, iron it, and tumble dry it without many adverse effects. Obviously cotton is a water-heavy crop, though, so it’s definitely worth looking at what else is in your stash in terms of plant fibres. Acrylic yarn will shed micro plastics, wool will shrink in a hot wash and you can’t iron it to disinfect it, so something like hemp, linen or yarn made from old t-shirts might be a good idea.

Normally I would use 4mm needles, but as this yarn is finer, I used 3.25mm ones.

I started by casting on 40 stitches. You can cast on as many as you like, but 40 is quick, makes for easy counting, and is easy to ad-lib patterns with. In this case, I made a simple stocking-stitch square with a garter stitch border, but I often use dish cloths as a way to experiment with stitches I’m curious about (which I will try and post more on below).

In this case, after I’d cast on, I knit every row until row 10. Then I measured the width of the work – this lets me know how long to knit to make the square. I measure the length of the 10 rows, and subtract that from the width – for example, in this case, the work measure 20cm across, and 2cm long.

I subtracted 2cm for the bottom border, and 2cm for the top border from the 20cm I need to knit to make the length the same as the width,  which gives me 16cm. This lets me know how long to contine the following pattern for. That said, as it’s a dishcloth, the measurements aren’t really important – make it as big/small as you like or work until you’ve used up your scraps. Whatever you like, really.

After that, I began the pattern by knitting 5, purling 30, then knitting 5, and knitting the next row. Continuing this up the next 16cm, then returning to garter stitch is what makes the little frame.

In short hand –

CO 40 st.
Rows 1-10  – knit.
Row 11 – k5, p30, k5.
Row 12 – K to end.
Repeat rows 11 & 12 until work measures 18cm.
K last 10 rows.
Cast off.

Instead of cutting the yarn and passing it through the last stitch, I like to use a crochet hook to chain a small lenth of cable to create a hanger. I can then use this to hang the cloth on my tap. If you want to do the same, just chain 15-20 stitches, starting with the last one of your cast off and when your hook is long enough, cut your yarn and pass the tail through. Sew the end into the cloth…

And you’re done!

It’s a really simple, quick project, but as I said earlier, you can alter it in so many ways to make it more interesting.

The pattern for the above cloth, for example, is;

CO 40 st.
Row 1 & 2 – slip first stitch, knit to end.
Row 3 – slip first stitch, (knit 1, slip 1) repeat to end.
Row 4 – slip first stitch, (k, p) repeat to end.
Repeat rows 1-4 until the work measures the desired length (around 20cm), and ending in row 2.
Cast off.

Obviously, you don’t have to knit these squares – you could also crochet a granny square, but I find it eats a lot more yarn than the knitted equivalent and I’m stingy with my fibres.

I hope this has been useful. I would love to see anything you make from the above ramblings – feel free to reply here or on Twitter.

The Garden

I touched on our plans for the garden a long while back, whilst chatting about my kitchen. Since then, we’ve been busy scheming, and now that the new year is on us, it’s time to get to work.

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Using Allotment Month by Month, by Alan Buckingham as our main source of information, I sat down one night and tried to make a month by month plan of what we could realistically achieve within a year as total novices.

Hardback cover of Allotment Month by Month

Then yesterday, with help from our absolutely amazing neighbours at the farm, work began.

Firstly, the conifer hedge at the back of the property came out. I’m not normally one for removing trees, but I’m going to call this one a win – the maintainence of this border was getting increasingly difficult given the trees’ height, it was interfering with the farm’s electric fencing, and now it’s gone, I can plant a variety of native trees and bushes which will flower and provide food for us and various wildlife.

The plan so far is to purchase a ‘Scottish Mix’ of trees from the Woodland Trust.  This includes a holly, a rowan, a silver birch and a juniper. I had also hopes to plant a yew, however it’s potentially unsafe for grazing animals on account of the apparently toxic alkaloids in the foliage and seed-coats (if anyone knows more about this, I would love to hear from you – I’m just reading things online!) so for now, the yew will have to go on hold.

Without the constant maintainence of the hedge to worry about, we can devote our time outdoors to raised beds, which is precisely what we intend to do. Husband planned and built the containers from a mixture of scrap wood and new, treated timber, and we have – so far – filled them with a mixture of shredded branches and rotted manure from the farm up the track.

The next stage – roll on pay day! – will be buying some (peat free) compost as the top layer and planting all manner of exciting things. Because of the chippings and the manure, I shouldn’t need to bring in an awful lot of compost. Eventually, I hope we’ll be able to keep topping this up with our own from the compost bins we’ve managed to source but for now, I’ll be prioritising large sacks and recyclable plastic.

In addition to the compost bins, I hope to purchase a wormery so that the cooked food waste and dog poop can also be processed here – less to transport off site on bin-day. Obviously, you can’t use the resulting soil on food beds (because dog poop), but I’m sure this new earth would be welcome beneath the little bee-buffet I’m trying to cultivate around our deck.

At some point, we absolutely want to get a greenhouse, but as with so many other things, money is a (huge) factor. I think, to begin with, we’ll see how we go with the raised beds and assess the greenhouse situation after that, but given the climate in the north east of Scotland, in all liklihood, we’ll need glass to grow anything beyond potatoes…

I will keep you updated on our progress over the coming months. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that what I’m doing here is far from a tutorial – we have absolutely no idea what we are doing! – so please don’t copy me! In fact, feel free to comment with ways we can up our gardening game to avoid complete failure!

As ever, please feel free to get in touch below, or on Twitter, with ANY suggestions!

 

 

How to Break Up with Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo

Back in 2012, I read Lucy Seigle’s ‘To Die For; Is Fashion Wearing Out the World’ and swore off buying new clothes by the time I’d finished the first chapter.

And whilst I absolutely would recommend Seigle’s book – because it’s an excellent, well-written, wonderfully cited, non-fiction tome – I would probably be more likely to recommend Lauren Bravo’s work to people who genuinely love clothes.

The thing is, this book is half environmental activism and half love-letter to style (not fashion – important to note), and by the time I’d finished reading it, I cared about the way I looked in a way I haven’t done since I was at school. Which, I suppose, could be percieved as a negative statement but it really isn’t. I’d given up on having beautiful clothes some time between my first and third year of university – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to look nice… more like I wanted to eat fancy foods more*.

So far from making me feel like I was ‘breaking up’ with anything, reading this book was like being given permission to fall in love with clothes again – a narrative that I feel is often lacking from environmental literature. I found myself examining the garments in my care with a new, appreciative eye and things which I’d been self-consciously saving ‘for best’ have been been rediscovered with great gusto. The passion and enthusiasm for feeling good in what we’re wearing is so infectious, but by focussing on how we can do so without creating waste and misery, Bravo sheds new light on the subject.

For those more concerned with the ‘whys’ of ditching fast fashion, Seigle’s book is probably the one you want to reach for (first, in any case – reach for both eventually). Whilst Bravo does touch on the horrible cost to human life and damage to the environment, it isn’t done in nearly as much depth.

That’s not a bad thing, mind you. The ‘lightness’ and humour of this book is part of it’s charm. A favourite quote is;

An Outfit should at least have 20 percent space for pasta.

Why, yes! Yes it should.

Have you read Bravo’s book? Or Seigle’s? Which did you prefer?

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*To be absolutely crystal clear, when I say, ‘I wanted to eat food more than I wanted to look nice’, I am in no way referring to weight – it is absolutely possible to be heavy and look awesome.

Looking Nice ≠ Thin.

In this case, I am referring to the fact that I had to choose between buying fancy ingredients and maintaining the purchase of new clothes. Buying fancy food won. Because food. Nom.