Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Using things up...


A reworking of a shot from Northern Ireland - 2016

I know it’s not just me who finds an odd satisfaction in using things up - in fact every time the subject comes up it inevitably gets greeted by lots of people saying “ooh yes - me too!” The feeling of squeezing the last little bit out of a tube, scraping the remnants from a jar, or adding slightly more peanut butter than normal to a slice of toast just so the jar can be washed and out for re-use or recycling...ahhh! 

I seem to be going through a bit of a run of using things up right now. In the bathroom I reached the end of a bottle of shampoo on Sunday, will finish my current tube of toothpaste tomorrow or possibly the next day, and my shower gel is sitting carefully propped upside down to extract every last dreg over the next few mornings. The shampoo thing is significant for me - I buy my shampoo, a fairly budget priced clarifying one, in a b-i-g bottle - I reckon the one I just finished lasted me around 2 years as I only use a tiny amount per shampoo (shampooing twice per wash). This creates an ethical question in these days of shampoo bars. Sure my bottle is plastic, but it can be recycled (the question of where it really goes when I pop it into my recycling bin is a murky one for another day, I suspect) and allowing that I use one up so rarely, is that environmentally better than the amount of bars I would likely go through in the same timescale, allowing that those would also have to be ordered, made and delivered to me. One to ponder, perhaps - no rush though as I’ve just started on the b-i-g bottle that I already had in my stash...

In the kitchen too - tonight MrEH had to raid the store cupboard for new packs of couscous, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. In topping off our couscous Buddha bowls we finished up a bottle of the (rather delicious, may I say) mint & yogurt sauce, and at lunchtime MrEH scraped the last bit out of a jar of horseradish sauce.

Those food items will all go back on the shopping list for restocking in the normal way, and the normal quantities, no stockpiling here. I’ve already got replacements for both the toothpaste and the shower gel in my stash, and it will be so long before I need more shampoo I won’t be buying that any time soon.  

On the subject of stockpiling or panic buying, I was disappointed although not surprised to spot today that one of our grottier UK tabloid newspapers is once again trying to promote a rhetoric of fear around food supplies - presumably to encourage the panic buying that created such powerful clickbait headlines back in March and April. The real disappointment here is that this is on the same day as the news breaking about the appalling food boxes being given to those who qualify for free school meals - the boxes are being given in place of the £30 vouchers that were given before, but several suppliers have clearly decided to cash-in - providing just over £5 worth of food and nothing that a decent meal could be made from. Panic buying causes tremendous difficulty to many on low incomes - as people stocking up in that way tend to do so on whatever they can grab for a low spend. When a product like pasta completely sells out, the shops know that if they re-stock the mid price brands first, those in desperate need will be forced to buy that - rather than the value or budget brand they usually default to. For many of us, spending 99p, rather than 50p on a packet of pasta provokes muttering, but nothing more - but for someone on a truly tight budget, this can cause real problems. No doubt tomorrow that same tabloid will be huffing in faux outrage about “the poor children” - it won’t cross their minds for a moment the part they play in making those children’s lives even harder, though. Sigh. 


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