This week is Waste Less, Live More week. So who better than to try it out than our very own resident frugalist, Hazel Burke?
You know when you do something that you think is really normal and then somebody points out that it’s not? I used to think that everybody who took a packed lunch to work brought home the banana peel and the apple core so they could compost them. It took one of my colleagues who spotted me carefully tucking in a used tea bag on top of a small Tupperware of fruit peelings to explain to me that this was Quite Weird.
This, for better or worse, is who I am. So I was unsurprisingly intrigued by Waste Less, Live More week, especially as it comes in the form of 101 challenges. I know taking your banana peel home is weird, but surely EVERYBODY loves a list of challenges, right?
Having signed up for the challenge, I realised that they wouldn’t all be possible in a week. There really is something for everybody: some of the challenges are big projects (such as ‘green your roof’ or ‘give a hen a home’) that I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in. But looking down the list there are plenty that are quick, free or cheap and a great way of trying something a bit new.
“Where other people see romance and cosiness in the candlelight, I see potential house fire, so this was a real opportunity to come to terms with my anxieties.”
I thought it might be cheating to pick ‘love your local park’ as one of my challenges as I already go to the park fairly often. But even long-term relationships benefit from a bit of extra attention and I thought that introducing a bit of variety might spice things up a bit and stop me and my parks getting into a rut.
Plus, I’d spotted a poster for a bat walk at one of my local parks. We started with a short talk from Simon from South Lancashire Bat Group. In 15 minutes I learned more about bats than I had in my whole life up to that point. (All bats in the UK are ‘micro bats’! A pipistrelle weighs about as much as a pound coin! Cats are the main predators of bats in the UK!)
Then we all got to have a good look at a tiny bat called Billy who had been attacked by a cat and couldn’t fly, so was lodging with Simon. By this time it was just getting dark, and we all set out into the park with bat detectors to see what we could find. The bat detector devices amplify the bats’ echolocation signals in a frequency that humans can hear. We detected, and saw, two kinds of bats: noctules and pipistrelles, and it was brilliant.
Buoyed by my success I decided to ‘take it outside’, so the next morning stopped in my other local park on the way to work for a breakfast picnic. Admittedly, I stole this idea from the chaps I often exchange a few words with on my way past who also breakfast in the park and seem to enjoy it. They tend to favour a can of beer, but I chose a more pedestrian flask of coffee and a butty. It was rather lovely, and I’m definitely going to do it again.
I also ticked off ‘rediscover the fun of the playground’ by having a proper go on some of the play equipment while there weren’t any children around. The giant human-sized hamster wheel thing was awful, but the zip-wire, big slide and big round swing thing were lovely. I got a few strange looks from dog-walkers and runners but on balance it was worth it.
In fact, I think I saved my least successful challenge until last. I planned to double up: turn off the TV and ‘spend an evening by candlelight’, in part because I’m a bit scared of candles. Where other people see romance and cosiness in the candlelight, I see potential house fire, so this was a real opportunity to come to terms with my anxieties.
“Even long-term relationships benefit from a bit of extra attention and I thought that introducing a bit of variety might spice things up a bit and stop me and my parks getting into a rut.”
Just as I got home we were hit by a biblical thunderstorm that made it go dark a clear two hours earlier than the day before. I watched out of the window for a bit, wondering if the houses opposite were going to flood and what I should be doing about it.
Then the rain eased off and the water level stopped rising and I had to faff around lighting candles to cook tea. Eating it by candlelight was fine, but it wasn’t exactly fun either. Washing up by candlelight is a pain. But I was looking forward to spending the rest of the evening reading in the cosy glow of safely positioned candles.
It might have been nice, but I didn’t find out, because as I walked back through the kitchen I noticed that it was considerably splashier than I usually have it. I investigated the small pond in the middle of the floor by candlelight for a full 10 seconds before deciding that, as I was doing a lighthearted hashtag-based challenge rather than an episode of Survivor, it was OK just to switch the sodding lights on and work out where the water was coming from.
When I’d mopped up, I decided that I’d prefer to go to bed early rather than stay awake with my candle. A truly crappy evening, but I can’t really hold the candlelight or the challenge responsible for this.
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Hazel likes seed catalogues, maps and toast. She lives in Manchester. @oxpecking