Sustainable Living. The Time for Transition is Now

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In this introduction to sustainable living, I would like to talk about consumerism. The bubble has burst and the time for transition is now. Our system is broken, with global warming and the climate crisis being an immediate emergency. Our planet is in crisis. We have been told by our governments that economic growth must happen in order to make progress, but I, along with many others, dispute this. Instead of buying and acquiring more, I strongly believe we have to consume less.

I would like to draw your attention to the anti-consumer manifesto of Sarah Lazarovic. She is an artist and illustrator from Toronto who wrote the book, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy. Sarah challenged herself to pause, and paint the things she yearned for, to see if that fulfilled her impulse buying needs. It gave her time to consider if she really wanted these things.

The Buyerachy of Needs by Sarah Lazarovic

The Buyerachy of Needs by Sarah Lazarovic

Combine harvesterBuying should only be considered when all other options have been considered. How many times, have you looked down the Google tube for something, only to have it pop up on a sponsored advertisement? It shouts at you, ‘come on, you really want to get that (insert item of your choice.’ Or worse still, you’ve had a conversation with someone about something and the very idea, a holiday in Tuscany, a new fan oven, pops up in your feed? Big Brother is indeed listening to us. Although my husband has a theory that they never show you combine harvesters, and so periodically shouts ‘combine harvester’ at his phone.





Berber women, Morocco

Berber women, Morocco

As I write this, my mind goes back to our honeymoon, when back in 1987 we travelled in Morocco. To cut a long story short (and I’ll write that story one day – see Sue Reed Writes) we ended up at a Berber wedding deep in the countryside. We stayed with the family, and on the day of the wedding, four of the women lined up in their best wedding outfits and I was asked to choose who had the best dress. A very hard call. I chose the girl in the yellow dress. No sooner had I pointed to her than she ducked inside and returned wearing her work clothes. I got to wear her dress for the wedding. That’s me, dancing at the wedding in the yellow dress and red Berber scarf. The women each owned two sets of clothes – one for work and one for best.

Dancing at a Berber wedding, Morocco 1987

Dancing at a Berber wedding, Morocco 1987

That’s me, dancing with the women, having spent several days sleeping and living with them. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Their kindness, hospitality and generosity was wonderful.

wardrobe of clothes

Whilst I’m not saying we should only own two sets of clothes, (heaven knows, I need several different sizes for weight fluctuation alone), but if I look at my wardrobe, I have enough clothes to last my lifetime, possibly two. Do I really need to buy anything new?






As lockdown restrictions lifted, I was so sad to see queues for Primark and IKEA snaking for miles. I totally get that people were fed up of being trapped at home, but did they really need to go shopping? Did they really need to buy new things for the home? Maybe some did, and maybe for some, cheap clothing is essential. I’m not judging people, but want to challenge when shopping has become an activity rather than a necessity. The planet has been able to breathe a little during lockdown. There have been dolphins in the Grand Canal in Venice, mountains seen because of the lack of air pollution. As we re-emerge from lockdown, I would like to throw down the gauntlet.

Buying should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted.  Let’s over the next months, look at ways we can, to refer back to Sarah Lazarovic’s model:

  • Use what we have
  • Borrow
  • Swap
  • Thrift (Buy second hand)
  • Make
  • Lastly, buy when all of the above options have been considered.

In this section of The Bridge Cottage Way, entitled, Sustainable Living, I would like to share some of the ways we have found to reduce our buying. If we all make small steps, we will collectively make a huge difference. Is there something you could do today?

As ever, we’d love you to share your thoughts, either by leaving a comment here or one our social media pages, where this article will be shared.

You can find the Bridge Cottage Way on Facebook and Instagram.

you might enjoy some of the writing and ideas in other section of this website, as we look towards leading more sustainable lives by growing our own food and creating dishes in line with seasonal eating, or head to our handy ‘Month by Month’ guides to find out what is seasonal and on topic:

Many thanks for reading.

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