The unfinished blanket

It’s a blanket that I began to crochet eight, maybe nine, years ago. Granny squares, in the type of autumny colour scheme that I love, from balls of wall I bought for 2 kina each at the town market where we were living in Papua New Guinea.  Almost finished: all the squares stitched together, and a border almost all the way around the edge. But my first baby was born and I never managed to pick it up to finish.

Shoved in a bag in the cupboard – someday I guess I’ll finish that – many days, years, of unfinished. Other unfinished projects have lingered also. Some I have had no desire to complete, and I have parted with those permanently. Some have been looked at and then put aside for another day.  Some have been finished or repurposed. 

This blanket has been put aside many times. I’m not even going to attempt that one now. I have finally brought it out again this week. I will complete this blanket. It’s not really big enough for a bed, just for putting over your legs on the couch, or maybe just for a child. But it is beautiful and I made it.

So many unfinished craft projects linger in my cupboard.  It is hard to part with many of them. They were an idea, an attempt to realise that idea, a desire to create and to express something of myself. They are mistakes, mis-measures, a demonstration of my limited abilities: proof that I can’t do everything. Sometimes humbling, sometimes heartbreaking. They have made me cry and have made me throw them across the room. Naughty children, out of sight until I’m ready to face them again. 

There are others for which the time just ran out. The ones that by the time I get around to completing them, after my time has been divided up between my husband, children, extended family, church, wasting time on the Internet, and finally I return to find the inspiration has gone, or I’ve forgotten what on earth I was even trying to do with this one. 

These all sit with the un-started.  The boxes of card, stickers, wool, paint, fabric, beads, dye, calligraphy pens, stamps and ink, patterns that all lie in wait of my beginning the task they were intended for. Some have been waiting a decade or more. 

I’ve learnt that I can’t make everything, nor do I even desire to beyond my imaginations. I have parted with most of my beads, and I’m waiting for opportunity to finish my scrapbooks so I can part with cutters and stickers and cardstock.  I’ve parted with a lot of fabric, patterns and wool.

Gradually, I’ve been accepting that I cannot realise all my grand ideas.  I must finish the last one first, or just write it down until such a time that I might be able to start and complete the task. I stopped buying fabric many years ago, with exception of needing it to finish a project. Once my stash has dwindled, then I can buy more, one piece at a time. 

But for now, the project is this blanket.  Discarding whatever the original intention had been, a border of single crochet just to complete it, that it may be admired and used, rather than languishing in a bloated collection of ideas and aspirations. 

The problem of packaging

How full is your bin each week?

I put mine out last night, almost one-third full of household rubbish. This is a 240L wheelie bin, so that’s about 0.8 cubic metres heading to landfill. We have about that much each week, which means we send 4 cubic metres every year to landfill, and this is not counting the garden waste that we top up the bin with each week.

But, given that technically my bin is full every single week because we fill it up with dead palm fronds, grass clippings, and other garden waste, I’m actually sending 12 cubic metres of waste to landfill each year. That’s my bathroom crammed full of rubbish and spilling out the door. 

And we are just one house.

All that rubbish has to go somewhere, and the more waste we create, the more rubbish we have to find space for out of town.  And, all of that rubbish has come from somewhere: natural resources have been employed in the production and transportation of the original products. 

I think I can do a lot better in reducing our household waste. Here’s some thoughts:

1. Less packaging. The problem of packaging is that it is paper and plastic used for no other purpose than to contain a product for sale. Sometimes this is great! I love buying my milk in a bottle! My eggs come home un-cracked much easier if they are in their cardboard crate than if I’d bought them loose. The plastic bag inside the carton keeps the Weet-bix fresher for longer. But, I need to be more conscious of not buying over-packaged goods. Individually wrapped biscuits, rather than a large packet that is then kept in an airtight container after it is opened, for example.  Loose apples instead of pre packed apples. The largest appropriate size packet. 

2. Less disposable items. I have one child still in nappies, ¾ of which are cloth, and one child who wears a disposable nappy-pant to bed each night. We could use non-disposable options here, but have chosen not to. I’ve given cloth menstrual pads a go, but have chosen not to continue those. We also use toilet paper.  All other disposable items we keep to a minimum: plates, cups, paper towel, serviettes, cleaning cloths, baking paper, plastic food wrap, alfoil.  If it is a disposable item, and I can possibly get a second use out of it then I will. (Obviously, not toilet paper.)

3. Less food waste. I remember reading somewhere that 20% of food gets thrown away. Seriously? I get annoyed if my kids only eat half their meal and I have to put the rest in the bin, let alone food that hasn’t even been used. I try to only give my kids as much food as I know they will eat, and I find ways to use up all the bits of leftover foods in my fridge before they go off: soups, stews, bizarre combos of bits and pieces for my lunch. I also try to only buy as much as will get used before it goes off. The one area I could really improve in here is composting my peelings etc. 

4. Less garden waste. We do have a bin that gets collected by a private firm and the contents recycled into new garden products. I’ve looked into ways of reusing garden waste as mulch, but haven’t found anything that will work yet. A compost bin would make a small difference.  We don’t have a lot of lawn, but we do have a lot of trees that drops things and plants that need pruning.

5. Buying household goods that will last a long time. Cheap and nasty things that break easily are not good economy, and not good for the environment. I do okay at this.

6. Recycling as much as your local council will let me. All of our milk bottles, cardboard boxes, soft drink cans, paper and glass jars go into the recycling bin. It gets collected every two weeks, and ours is usually ¾ full.  Again, this has a lot to do with too much packaging! The less that needs to be recycled in the first place, the better. 

Any other ideas on reducing household waste?