My garden is falling apart. The bike basket – the one with a broken attachment which I removed before planting flowering heather in it – is now more absence than wicker. There are old speakers, which a house move consigned to obsolescence so I spent a happy half an hour removing the electronics and planting the box with nasturtiums, and then with sprawling water hyssop. Well, the side has fallen off, now propped back up as a pretence to civilised living. This has been our garden for a few years, and time is taking its toll.
I look at these decaying objects. Ones that I was pleased to be giving a new lease of life in the garden. Beyond use for their original intent, so repurposed. But they were not built for the outdoors. They will not survive. And I find myself wondering about the waste that I have created. Passed onto another, would those speakers still sound? Would another home have found a place indoors for a basket that I had no appropriate use for? Would these items, the ones I made do and amended, be intact in someone else’s hands?
We try to reduce our waste. To cycle things from one room to the next. A worn out t-shirt becomes rags for cleaning. A biscuit tin houses candles and matches. Before something new enters our home, I try to consider where an alternative can be found within our walls. And before something leaves, I think how it could be bent to my purposes in another form.
But I have come to wonder this approach whether this attempt at circular living works best as a community affair. Make do and mend, but don’t do it alone. By extending the sphere to neighbours, friends perhaps things will last a little longer, find fresh creativity.
And this also means that I, an individual, do not need to pretend at skills and time I do not have – to upcycle an old office chair, to repair an old bike…The goal is not total self-sufficiency. It is shared sustainability. If circular living is part of the community, I don’t have to learn how to do it all (something which is still not manageable, even in lockdown days…). I just have to learn how to ask, to offer, to give.
In other words, we’re all in this together. That seems like the right place to be.
It feels inappropriate not to acknowledge the moment of writing:
Black Lives Matter. Some of the people I have been seeking to learn from:
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (‘The danger of a single story’)
- Nova Reid
- Catrice M Jackson (‘If you don’t have an anti-racism plan, you plan to be racist’)
- Ben Lindsay (‘We need to talk about race’)
- Rachel Elizabeth Cargle (‘Why You Need to Stop Saying “All Lives Matter'”)
- Clint Smith
- Kristie Anyabwile, editor of ‘His Testimonies, My Heritage’ and the many contributors to this book
If you want to share something (your story, a link, a question), I welcome it. And I commit to continue do the work, to listen and to learn.
Coronavirus pandemic: same disease but very different experiences, influenced by so many factors (race, geography, family, income….). I hope that you and yours have stayed well and known a measure of peace through it all.