Targets are in frustratingly short supply when most of the work you do is for yourself. But I like targets and so I set them for myself. I predict and record the amount of time I spend on different pieces of work; I set schedules and generally stick to them; I write lists with little checkboxes next to them, weekly ones and monthly ones. I may, in fact, like targets too much.
So it will come as no surprise that I like resolutions. A resolution is a just a target by another name: I will do this, I will not do this, I will achieve this quantity of something, I will reach this position.
I prefer resolutions that are measurable. In the past I have resolved to:
· write 500 words a day for a year (twice, achieved both times)
· run 1,000 km in a year (twice, but didn’t make it in 2023 because of hideous lurgy)
· make a new recipe once a week for a year (this was great, really turned me back onto cooking after too many years of cooking dull food that children would eat)
· not buy any books (interesting, lots of rereading and started using the library again – and allowed myself an exception for the books of friends)
This year’s resolution is less easy to measure. I am resolved to ‘tread more lightly’. I have probably put that in quotes because even to me it sounds a bit airy-fairy. What do I mean by it? I mean that I intend to think more carefully about everything I buy, use and consume in order that my presence here on the planet has a smaller impact than it did previously. This isn’t a new thing. We’ve been considering our diet for a long time, we have an electric car and a green energy supplier. Although I’ll be trying to consider every aspect of our lives, I’m going to focus on three areas where I know I’ll be tempted by lovely shiny new things.
Of course books. It is so easy to spend money on books. And it’s my job. I can always justify spending money on them. But. I can borrow, form other people and from libraries (though the libraries where I live are sorely under-resourced). I can buy second-hand (mostly from WOB who give authors a (very small) royalty on second-hand sales). If I buy new books I can consider audio or digital in order to save on paper, particularly if it’s something I’m never going to read again.
Last year’s spend on books (not including presents for other people): £391.76
Nothing like new clothes to make you feel good about yourself. I buy fewer clothes than I used to and I wash them less frequently and mend them more. But this year I will aim not to buy any new clothes unless I can’t see how to do without them or obtain them in any other way. I’ll look at buying second hand though I’m not sure about shoes. I probably don’t need any shoes anyway. I expect I’ll still be buying underwear and tights. I’ll finish the sewing project I have hardly started and I’ll alter the things I made recently that I haven’t been happy about. There’s no point in having clothes I don’t or can’t wear. To this end I’ll also look through and see if I have other things that could be altered. If I can master putting pockets in, that’ll bring several pocketless garments back into circulation. I will not buy any more patterns or fabric or wool until I’ve finished the things I’ve already got! Some mending is going to be difficult – my coat has frayed sleeves – but I’ll try with mending before I give up and get a new one.
Last year’s spend on clothes: £636.12
I could easily not buy more plants. I could grow most things from seed and work out how to propagate from what I have already. But you don’t just want to have the same things everywhere in the garden and the new pond area (when we get round to it) will need entirely different plants. So I should find an alternative source of plants grown locally and without peat, like church fetes. I don’t know what to do about compost though. I feel I need it to grow seeds. I can’t make enough of my own and it’s not fine enough for seeds. Is there another way to get it rather than in plastic bags from the garden centre?. I’ll stop getting Gardener’s World magazine too, because although it costs me nothing with Tesco clubcard points, I look at a couple of articles and the special offers, then take out the free seeds before I throw it away. Definitely a waste of paper.
Last year’s spend on garden: unknown because up to now I’ve lumped it in with the house spend.
The way to measure all this is probably to keep a note of what I consume in these areas and how I consume it – did it cost money, did I make it myself, did I borrow it, was it second hand? (Oh good! More spreadsheets…)