Another month gone of trying to live Lagom- I know without looking that I have used less gas as we turned the heating off earlier this month. April has been a great month for Lagom living as we have been able to get out in the garden and plant some seeds, we have taken down the winter curtains (possibly  bit early) inside the house and inside has become brighter and sunnier. Much of this month has been taken up with Easter holidays so things are a but messier than usual.

However, 2 thirds of the way through the project seems like a good time to think about what changes we have really made, and what we have really been doing to live Lagom.

The first conscious change we have made (or I have made) is to start using up all the toiletries we have accumulated over the years- for a month we used only small bottles of toiletries acquired from hotels- I am not sure it did my hair much good but it was nice to smell of different shower gels everyday. I have not bought any shower gels since Christmas- being a TA I got several for Christmas and we still have several left. When these are used up I am only buying bars of soap as that will be one less plastic bottle in the house.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic we need I have stopped buying meat from the supermarket (too much excess packaging) and have also drastically reduced the amount of single use bottles we need (by taking a water-bottle with us and by simply not buying bottles of drinks when we are out (this also helps my teeth, and has reduced my diet coke dependency)). I try where possible to buy refill packs of liquid soap for kitchen and bathroom and laundry liquid. I am also trying to not buy too many plastic packaged things- but sometimes I just simply forget or the cost difference between prepackaged and loose veg can’t be ignored. Is it better to buy the slightly misshaped veg in the plastic packaging stamped with ‘basics’ range’ or to buy the loose veg that are classed as top quality. Will the wonky veg be wasted if I don’t buy them??? I have also avoided all single use coffee cups (except once) by taking my Starbucks refill cup with me everywhere- it also saves me 25p everytime I use it in Costa or Starbucks. We have stopped using tinfoil to line the grill pan- instead we just wash it!

Reducing water was never part of my lagom goals as it was not measurable- however we had a letter from Thames Water offering some lovely freebiesand got sent all these.

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The shower timer was rushed upstairs by my daughter and stuck on the shower wall. I tried to put the toilet flushing thing in the toilet but it appears to just make the cistern take ages to fill (maybe it is meant to). The other two are to reduce water usage in the shower and hopefully will be fitted this weekend. My husband has fitted new taps in the downstairs bathroom so that the hot now works and the cold doesn’t constantly leak. I have got into the habit of filling an old squash bottle with water as I wait for it to heat up when I am washing sishes. This can then be used for watering plants. I also had abrief flurry of internet searching to see if we could somehow reuse the grey water from our soon to be new shower to flush the toilet but with no luck. It is possible but very expensive and slightly complicated- maybe something I can retro fit in a few years…

Our energy usage in the first quarter of this year is down from 5585units to 4283 units for gas (23%) and from 903kwh to 706kwh for electric(24%). I don’t think we have made many big  energy changes at home- we changed to LED lightbulbs, I use the smaller of our two ovens when possible and I have finally remembered to wash clothes at 30 degrees. As for the gas I don’t think I made any changes in how we use it- possibly it was just a warmer winter.

What else? The decluttering is happening slowly, as things need to be packed into boxes at the same time. The dining room is empty of stuff except for things in boxes and items used frequently like this laptop. We are planning on carbooting again in a weeks time.

On that note I will stop typing and go and sort through a box I hurriedly packed the other day- writing this has inspired me to be a bit more ruthless…

I think the question now is what to do next? The house is in limbo at the moment, most things downstairs are packed into boxes but we still have another couple of months until the building starts, so the organisation of the whole house is on hold. I have planted several vegetables in various pots and places so hopefully they will grow. The live Lagom facebook page is doing a  food waste challenge with ideas of how to reduce the amount of food we throw away. One thing I would like to improve is the amount of non-recyclables we have- I think it would be interesting (to me, even it to noone else) to see what we regularly throw away and if we can do anything with it ( I am thinking about upcycling crisp packets- next stop pinterest). I would also like to try and further reduce the amount of plastic bottles we buy- I might need to start investigating different types of squash and its packaging, as well as laundry detergents (I think this might end up being a trade off between cost and sustainability).

One thing the lagom project is teaching me is that you can’t do everything (or can’t do it all well)- it has helped me focus on how we can improve our little corner of Reading and  not to get overwhelmed with saving the whole world.

 

 

 

 

The Ninja, Hedgehog and Caterpillar, shame we didn’t plant something edible.

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Today was the next Live lagom workshop, entitled growing in small spaces. Started off with a presentation from one of the co-workers (that’s staff to you and me)  about how best to grow in small spaces with some helpful tips. We then painted some lovely terracotta plant-pots and made some grass-heads out of old tights- I am looking forward to these growing as we have a ninja, a caterpillar and a hedgehog. We filled the pots with IKEA soil and used some VAKER seed plugs to plant some seeds on. I also scattered some of the soil as an experiment to see if there is a difference in germination times.

I have put pictures of the pots as they are this morning and (if I remember) will update you next week with the growth. At the moment they are sitting on the cooker and the kitchen table waiting for me to find them somewhere to live.

Spring is here, the bulbs we planted back in October are turning into beautiful spring flowers, the primroses I transplanted from around the garden are bursting forth in a lovely yellow butteryness of colour. All the plants I over-pruned in the winter are coming back with tiny little buds of green leaves or frothy whiteness of, soon to be fruit, blossoms. I walked to IKEA today to meet a friend for coffee and infront of me on the lane were two robins, a blackbird, a pigeon and a grey squirrel, whilst the hedges overflowed with blossoms and daisies. I love this time of year.

It is also the time of year when I feel most optimistic. I visit garden centres gazing longingly at packets of seeds and pots of plants, usually leaving empty handed to go home and sift through last year’s half used packets. I love planning what is going to go where, hopefully starting seeds in old plastic tubs, covering with plastic bags to help germination. It just never seems to turn into anything worth eating at the end of it.

Because of the lagom project I have been inspired to think about things slightly differently this year. I have been to a garden centre, but only to spend my loyalty voucher. I bought some herb seeds, all for herbs that are pick and come again, or self seeding and can be used in herbal teas- my new faddy thing.  As for the growing veg this year I am going to use up the seeds I already have- and plant lots of them, in the hope that they will produce enough at the same time for at least one meal. A lowly ambition but at least it is achievable.

On Thursday we have another Live Lagom workshop, which is about growing in small spaces. By the looks of the facebook page we are decorating suitable growing containers and planting seeds/ plants. I am already looking at my overcrowded windowsills wondering where they will go.

I have a very lagommy collection of plants on my windowsills- they include:

5 orange (or lemon I can’t remember) plants grown from seeds.

4 spider plants from a cutting from my mum

4 money plants from a plant from my mum- these things do not seem to die

1 gingko tree (I think) a present from mum

1 small plant, a present from a pupil’s mum

1 small collection of succulents – should be in daughter’s bedroom but she forgot to water them

And on the kitchen windowsills I have

5  pepper plants in the SOCKER greenhouse, grown from the seeds of a pepper we ate.

1 VAXER nursery with 3 plugs of kiwi fruit seeds (taken from a kiwi) just starting to sprout, 6 plugs of herb seeds,  2 pots of oregano plants waiting for warmer weather to plant out and the root end of little gem lettuce that I stuck in water and it has begun to sprout.

This weekend I also potted up some sage, some spring onions I grew from ends of spring onions and some lettuces for salad.  That’s it for the windowsills

Also in my house is a swiss cheese plant, the 3rd generation of a cheese plant mum gave to me when I went to university. It is not the happiest of plants, its leaves are never swiss cheesy- always solid- I am hoping one day I can find it a happier place in my house.

So my plans for the next few months in the garden are to try and plant as many seeds as possible and use as much of the produce as possible. Lets see how that goes…

 

 

 

 

*I am not sure if Living Lagom is grammatically correct, but it sounds good.

For the last three months my family and I have been trying hard to live in a Lagom way.

We have changed to LED bulbs, tried hard to recycle as much waste as possible, begun the never ending reducing of the amount of stuff we own and have started planning, and planting, to grow our own vegetables. I thought that maybe we would recycle a bit more than we used to and remember to turn off a few more lights- which we have done- but all these other things have happened as well.

  1. We have saved money.chart (1)
  2. Energy usage Gas 2015/16 in grey, 2016/17 in green
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    Energy usage electric 2015/16 grey, 2016/17 in blue

    Compared to the same time last year our energy usage for Jan and Feb is down 1082 kwh for gas and 84kwh for electricity.

    On my current tariff this works out at a saving of £46 for 2 months- possibly £276 a year! All through changing to LEDs, making my home cosier and reducing the heating by 1 degree.

  3. I have less housework to do.The children have embraced the Lagom ideal, they put their shoes  in the shoe-rack that is made out of SPONTAN magazine racks, they sort their rubbish into recyclables and non-recyclables using their FNISS bins and (when they remember) put their clothes in the correct BLASKA laundry basket above the washing machine. These baskets are great, I can store up the washing until I have a full load- thus making even less work for me!

3.       The rooms of our home (and I ) feel more organised

The SORTERA boxes have really helped me to keep on top of the recycling- when they are full I take the things to be recycled. Easy!  We are in the process of decluttering every room in the house, making it easier to find the things we really need.From our decluttering we have donated over 100 items to charity and giving away other items to friends with younger children.

 

4.  We are creating less waste.

We now throw away less than a black bag full of non recyclables every two weeks. Our food waste has also reduced, I have become more resistant to the special offers at the supermarket (also helps save money), I think I have also reduced the volume of food I cook (or else my children have got bigger appetites).

5. My son is becoming an entrepreneur

He has sorted out some of his old toys and begun selling them at car boot sales- at the last one he sold £12 worth of things, to a 9 year old boy this is a fortune. (Unfortunately his expenses were £11).

6.I have discovered my children love sewing

Result of February’s Cosy Home Workshop- need I say more…

 

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Sausage the Shark draught excluder, sewn by my son.

 

7. I am running out of windowsills to grow things.

 

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Just a few of the seedlings waiting for more space.

 

Those VAXER seed starter plugs are amazing, every single one that I used produced a viable plant-  I am impatiently waiting for warmer weather to get out in the garden.

So there we are; 7 unexpected things that have happened, so far, because of the live Lagom project.

There are still a couple of areas to work on

my seedlings need to go out into the garden- fingers crossed they still do well.

as a family we could be more active- the cycle helmets hanging by the back door are begging to be used.

But so far, all is going well as these results show.

Stay happy and keep living lagom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi,

So a month into the project and I am already noticing changes in our lifestyle and home life.

The big change is everywhere is tidier! All the recycling is in one place, and I have begun to create a routine of recycling- when I have lots of plastic bags to recycle these go straight into the car and I post them into the correct bin when I am next at the supermarket. This is a definite improvement as I have been known to drive around for months with 3 bags of old plastic bags in my car and more spilling out of their hiding place at home. Recycling the plastic things that the council don’t take has also become easier- I used to put them in a bag outside the door and then empty all the rain and slugs and gunk out before taking them in car to be recycled- now they are living inside our house until the box is full and then recycled when I do my weekly shop. Ideal.

The whole area by the back door is much tidier- something has happened to my children, instead of leaving their shoes under cupboards and behind chairs in the kitchen they automatically put their shoes away in the shoe rack! It is amazing.

Something else has happened to my daughter (and for those of you that know her this is a pretty big step) she has voluntarily removed some books from her room !! She has even said that she no longer wants some of her books and they can go. (We have put some in the loft so she can keep them for her children, she laughed at this idea until I pointed out the bookshelf at the top of the stairs full of my old books.) We have recycled several old colouring books- in total she has given up over 30 things! Her bookshelf now has space  for her new favourite books. My son has helped me sort out the summerhouse and has collected his unwanted things together to sell at a table top sale, next job for him is to sort out the things in his room.

I have begun to get rid of things as well. The children’s toys in the loft have been sorted and several toddler toys have been donated to http://roaf.org/, a charity that my husband’s parents are involved with. We have also given them a bag of old children’s shoes, school uniform and coats. Why, oh why I kept every pair of my children’s grown out of shoes is beyond me- but what else can you do with them?

Since beginning of January we have removed from our house 35 books to the charity shop, 72 items to Roaf and 11 items to friends with young children. Over 100 things that we just didn’t need anymore, most of it came out of the loft, put away when the children were smaller. It was difficult back then to part with it but it becomes easier when the times they played with it are more distant.

My son’s cub pack are doing an environmental awareness activity badge. He has to keep a 4 week diary of the ways he has saved energy at home. As he was already in charge of after school curtain closing he has quite an easy task- he did decide to remind me to have a shorter shower this morning.

Getting organised is a good feeling, it is nice to know that at the end of this everything left in our house will have been chosen to be there.

Is there a difference between getting organised and decluttering? I do not feel I have really reduced clutter, I think I have just started putting things away more.  Hmm maybe that does reduce  clutter.

So that is a brief look at how it’s all going, the small changes that are happening in our life.

 

 

 

 

 

So officially 17 days into the start of the New Year and I have yet to blog about my Lagom NYR. In all the excitement of getting new stuff for free I overlooked the fact that I need to work out how to achieve my NYR- which incase you haven’t seen it in the several previous posts was to ‘Get organised so the whole family can live a more sustainable life.’ In Live Lagom terms being more sustainable seems to mean using less energy, minimising general wastage (both energy and food), sending as little as possible to general landfill and can also include cycling more and being more active.

I have picked out of this the bits that apply best to me, areas  I know I can improve upon. I am not going to give a list of the things that we were already doing right- because quite frankly it would bore me… (and probably you) and probably come across as a big, smug list of self congratulation. I am however, going to list what we are actively focussing on to achieve the NYR.

 

1.Recycle more– this is an easy one, the lovely SORTERA bins are in place and labelled, and when they get fill up things are taken to be recycled. Makes me feel good and keeps the house (and garden) tidy.

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2. Use less energy -one way we are using less energy is by using LED lightbulbs.October to December usage for 2015 was 881 kwh, October to December usage for 2016 was 735 kwh. There are far too many variables to draw valid conclusions from this, but you have to admit this looks good (especially considering the amount of TV and xbox time the children sneaked in over Christmas…).

The children have been helping the Lagom life by remembering to close curtains when they get back from school and turning off lights they are not using. The GLASNAVA curtain at our back door is helping stop some heat loss, I am planning on hemming the other one we got and putting it by the door to the porch. Oh, and I have turned down the heating thermostat by one degree.

3.       No more half loads in the washing machine– with the aid of BLASKA washing baskets I now have space to store dirty clothes until there is enough for a full load- and the MULIG clothes airer means I can hang it all up to dry even on the wettest days outside.

4. More sustainable shopping– this one is tricky, and is where Lagom principles of finding the right balance for my family really get tested. If  I was just shopping for sustainability I would buy organic fruit and veg, visit farmers markets and farm shops and would never set foot in a supermarket again. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to live like that. So I do go to supermarket, the aim is just to go once a week; I plan meals in advance and  I try and consider the packaging that the products are in. I am not actively considering food miles and how things are grown when I shop.

A big change has been avoiding the special offers and sales, usually by now I would  have bought at least a  dozen items of bargain,reduced price stationery to go in the children’s stockings (pillowcases) at Christmas. These are normally opened, looked at, pens used once, books scribbled in once (just enough so you couldn’t ever give it away) and then put away (lost) in their bedrooms. This year I have resisted;  I will probably regret this nearer to Christmas but right now I feel good about not having bought unnecessary things.

Another big shopping change is that I have re-started ordering meat in bulk from the butchers. It means I do not have lots of silly plastic trays that you get from supermarkets. I  now always have meat in the freezer and only have the plastic bags it is packed in to dispose of. It does mean being a bit more organised as I have to order a day in advance, plan when I can pick it up and be aware of how much freezer space I really have.

5. Grow more vegetables– this is another easy one, last year I grew two pods of peas, and three radishes. I think I can do better this year. I have bought a VAXER nursery and have started some lettuce and herb seeds growing. I have moved the compost bin from the concrete onto the corner of my veg patch. It needs a bit of clearing up from last years half hearted attempt.

 

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After people sharing their growing on the facebook page I have only started a few seeds, as I do not have much growing on space.

6. Get rid of some stuff– I suppose declutter is the correct term. We have lots of stuff, we keep getting new stuff. We need to have less stuff. This one is going to be hard- but very necessary. I am hoping that sorting everything out will help us to use what we already  have (like pens and notebooks used only once) and help the house work better. I am planning on a fairly gentle declutter  as I will keep things because ‘they might be useful one day’ – they often are. However, I am pretty sure we will be able to live quite happily without a good proportion of the things just lying around in our house.

So a very longwinded account of how I plan to achieve my NYR. Some changes are already taking place. My daughter had a science lesson on reducing heat loss from a home yesterday, she came home and told me about the  poster she had done: ‘I wrote Live Lagom on it, because it was all the stuff we do anyway.’  (She is looking forward to the cosy homes workshop.)

Looks like I might actually have sent myself a NYR that I can achieve.

Keep living Lagom !

 

This is how it all looks now, with coat hooks up for cycle helmets and a shelf to store all those things I don’t use all that often- in my case the box on the shelf contains flower vases, no one ever buys me flowers anymore… (I suppose that cut flowers aren’t very Lagom anyway…)

I think the space needs a bit of explaining, behind the curtain in the middle picture is the back door to my house, this area is a small corridor that leads straight into the kitchen. There is a sliding glass panelled door between the kitchen and this corridor but we never slide it all the way across as it often gets stuck. The back door is a bit draughty and the kitchen always feels cold in the winter- it has a very low insulated flat roof- the addition of the curtain should make the kitchen bit warmer.

I am really pleased with how the small changes have made this space go from this mess:

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to this:

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The addition of the curtain means we will keep the space cosier.

The baskets for clothes mean I can wait for a full load before I use the washing machine- so uses less energy.

The recycle bins mean I can recycle more things as they are all organised together- it also forces me to actually recycle stuff when they get filled up.

The cycle helmet hooks are a constant reminder to us that we have bikes, and really, really should use them more often…

So I am all prepared now to start my lagom journey, to get more organised so my family and I can live more sustainably.

 

I thought I would share with you the next steps in  our Lagom journey. My main focus is to get my house organised so that it is easy for everyone to recycle things and live in a healthier way; the main thing stopping us was the crazy piles of stuff everywhere waiting to be recycled.

In my head I do recycle, in actual life I just don’t throw anything away. There is a ‘bit’ of a problem between intention and action in my recycling habits.

I do regularly recycle paper, glass, tins, plastic bottles, green waste and food waste as they are collected fortnightly by the council.

I do sporadically recycle other plastics and plastic bags- when I remember to take them to the supermarket and put them in the bins there.

I do hardly ever recycle tetrapaks and tinfoil as I always forget to take them  when dropping daughter at Guides, the carpark there is the only place I have found that has recycling bins for them.

I do next to never (or never) recycle batteries, other WEEE items and scrap bits of metal  and yet I keep them all in my house in a separate box next to the general bin- and they keep getting in the way.

I also keep bottle tops and yogurt pots because I might have a great idea about what to do with them (see the rubbish crafts in the early blog posts for examples).

So my house has – or had- many special places to store, and ways of storing things to be recycled. Here is a picture of the corner of my kitchen taken just over a week ago.wp_20161216_16_40_29_pro

I also have this area by the washing machine for plastic bags, plastic and paper. This is how it looked just over a  week ago….

This is a very hard working area, it is the first thing you see when you come in the back door. It is a narrow corridor with coats on one side, washing machine, washing, recycling,shoes, tools and cycle helmets on the other.

 

And this is how it all looks now….

Almost all ready to start living Lagom. The shoe rack is made from the SPONTAN magazine racks and work really well. The boxes are SORTERA and seem to be a good size to fill up and then take to the right place to be emptied, I need to make labels for them. The baskets are the right size for a full load of washing and have already been brilliant for sorting out a big bag of holiday washing. We still need to add a shelf for ‘secondary storage’ (google it- its a real thing), hooks for cycle helmets and locks and the GLASNVA curtain to stop the drafts from the door.

I will post again when the work is finished and can give you more detail about the difference this small amount of organisation has made to our lives.

Until then Happy Christmas and don’t forget to #livelagom

 

So after the shopping list it seems sensible to tell you about my shopping trip to IKEA to purchase the things on the shopping list.

It went well, we got everything on the list – except the LED candles (which actually didn’t really fulfil out sustainable brief, they have been added to Father Christmas’ list and sent up the chimney to the North Pole)- and came in just under the £300 budget. It was lovely, walking around the show room with Chayten and Marta helped give us lots of ideas for when we have finished the extension (this is a long way off as we don’t even have a builder lined up yet). Some of the room sets and storage solutions that Marta showed us were amazing, I don’t think I ever appreciated quite how much thought goes into everything on display.

Here is the obligatory picture of our shopping haul.

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The first thing we did when we got home was look at the smart meter to see how much energy we were using at that moment, with no lights on. (100w)

Then we turned all the lights on and looked at the usage. (520w) 9and then turned the lights off.

Then we changed in the LED bulbs and the adapters. Most of our ceiling lights needed the KOPPLA adapators as they were bayonet type light fittings, and IKEA LED bulbs are screw in. Then we turned all the lights on again. The usage was now only 280w.

Quite frankly I was amazed, especially as we only changed some of our bulbs, we purposely didn’t change them in rooms we are losing or changing in the build. As you can see from the photo most of  the lights we changed out were the supposed energy saving ones that we were all putting in a few years ago. We replaced 8 bulbs in total (we bought more, but realised we already had LED lights in some places) and reduced our usage by 140w. If we were to keep the lights on for 6 hours a day this would be 0.84kwh a day saved- over a month this would be 25.2kwh, on my current tariff (10.76p per kwh) this should save about £2.70 a month. Whilst this might not sound much it is about 9% of my usual electricity cost – pretty good going for one small change.

We had to change several of the bulbs around after we put them in as they didn’t provide the correct type of light where we had put them. This was a really interesting thing to do, but I will save the details for another post.

The MULIG clothes airer is already up and in use- frankly I don’t know how I managed without it. I no longer have to hang clothes from the curtain rail. It is big enough to dry bedding inside the house, which with the weather we have been having is invaluable. The FNISS and FILUR bins have gone into the necessary rooms and the children are slowly beginning to put the recyclables in one bin and non-recyclables in the other (except for yesterday when T had them upside down in her room and was using them as dragon mountains).

It will take us longer to bring some of the other purchases into the house. I need to do some painting before we can use the SORTERA boxes or the BLASKA clothes baskets.

I will post before and after pictures when there is an after to show.

What is becoming painfully obvious is that this is actually only the beginning of a very long journey- I am half way to Lagom, I am trying to reduce my energy consumption (in what I spend and the day to day choices I make) but I also need to think about the environment I live in. Time to consider the clutter we have built up and to reduce it a bit, I think this is going to be the painful – or at least the  most difficult- part.