Archives for the month of: May, 2017

By next week I will have written my third, and final ‘blog’ for the lagom project. In a maximum of 500 words I have to discuss how we are managing to live a more lagom lifestyle and how we are going to keep carrying on doing so- and mention a few IKEA products that have helped us along the way.

All fine, except I am not so sure I know what lagom is. I started out thinking it meant getting the balance of life correct, finding a common ground between living frugally and living well- the image we were shown was the 3 Bears’ porridge- Daddy Bear’s was too austere, Mummy Bear’s was too rich and wasteful, Baby Bear’s was in the middle, just right. Then the concepts of living a more sustainable lifestyle were introduced- finding the balance became using as little energy as possible and recycling as much as possible. This then became buying as little as possible- and if you did have to buy then make sure it was recyclable. There is a Live lagom facebook page- filled (as facebook pages always are) with pictures of peoples acheivements and links to stories about things other people have done that would be a very good idea to do and why didn’t we think of it first type stories. It has been interesting to see how the idea of lagom has evolved.

It does however, make it very difficult for me to decide how lagom we have been, I keep thinking of my NYR- to get organised so that the whole family can live more sustainably- I am not sure how close we have got to that. We have had several successes- reducing energy usage by over 20% year on year has been one- that was through some very small changes. Other successes have included keeping the laundry area tidy and not having piles of things waiting to be recycled, I think we also have less waste- I plan meals more rigorously and often use ingredients for more than one meal- we actually had a planned leftovers meal last week – just pie not all eaten earlier in the week, the children loved it. I have started washing clothes at 30 degrees, I have started saving the water when running the hot tap and using it to water plants, I have…. (notice a theme here).

I think when I started this I wanted all the quirky things we already did- the saving bottle tops, the never throwing things away, the reworking of all old clothes into the pants rug to become normal things that the children would do when they are older. I wanted sustainability to be part of their lives and the decisions that I naturally make would be decisions that they would also learn to make naturally when they grow up. I am not sure I have described it very well, maybe legacy is the word I am looking for, the lagom legacy. It is a tiny bit of a faff sorting out what can be recycled and what can’t but hopefully they never think there is any other way.

I have just noticed that even this tiny bit if deciding what lagom means has gone over 500 words.  Lets say then that it means living more sustainably.

Did I achieve that? Yes,  I think so for all the reasons I wrote above, but the house is still difficult to live in and we have boxes  of things everywhere waiting for the building work to start and finish. There is a lot more I would like to do to make life more Lagom, but right now I am happy to settle with tidier recycling and less waste.

 

 

 

 

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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.