14 July 2012

The "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without" Challenge.

I have just read this amazing quote ..... “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, which apparently was a New England proverb and the mantra of the women of The Great Depression in 1930's America. Although I am familiar with the saying "Make Do and Mend", I am totally unfamiliar with this quote, however, in my defence, I'm British, not American and I gather this is primarily an American quote. I am, however, going to make this my mantra. I'm always very careful about what I buy and use, lack of money being a primary reason for my frugal ways but also, as an environmental science graduate it is important to me on an ecological level as well. I always thought I had been born in the wrong time. When I was a child I read the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I loved the pioneer spirit of adventure and resourcefulness. I also loved  Enid Blyton, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven which made me long for the rip-roaring adventure of crumbling castles, bleak moorland and secluded beach coves with smugglers loot hidden in caves ..... but that's another story :-) 
So, when I first began thinking about this I was going to try and be a frugal femme fatale for a month, however, on reflection, a month seems a very short amount of time for such a potentially life changing experiment so, for the next six months, starting today, I will refrain from buying anything that is not essential, I will make what I need if I possibly can and I will try to find cheaper, more environmentally sound alternatives to things I can't avoid buying. As I said before, the current state of my finances (basically, totally broke lol) is a very strong driving force behind this challenge and with this in mind, I will be having a go at making my own bread and using the veg I have grown in my garden, although due to the weather, the veg in my garden is neither brilliant nor abundant, I will be planting various winter crops in my soon-to-be-erected polytunnel, which is still in the original box and has been taking up much needed space in my hallway since February and I will be adapting and decorating all the old furniture I have stored in my spare room for months in order for me to sell it on and raise some badly needed cash. I might even ditch the car and walk to my local shop, although as its about 3 miles round trip up and down some quite big(ish) hills and more importantly, it costs double to shop there, this might be a sacrifice too far. 
So for the near future, along with all the other garden, craft and environmental bloggery, I will also be writing my on the successes ..... and almost certainly, the failures, of this experiment. Watch this space ....... (I think I need to come up with a better finishing line for my blogs)

Picture: http://pinterest.com/pin/255579347573911716

9 July 2012

Summer Washout

After a blissful two weeks of tennis and a nail-biting Wimbledon final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer my thoughts have now, once again, turned to my garden. I have been trying to put the state of my garden to the back of my mind because, to be brutally honest, it's a disaster. The weather down here in Cornwall has been awful. It has rained virtually non-stop for weeks and weeks now and since my lovely petrol mower broke a couple of years ago and I couldn't afford to replace it I'm using a very small, rickety electric lawn mower which I purchased from Argos for about £40. Although my teeny tiny lawnmower does a perfectly adequate job, it does rather make tackling the jungle that was once my front lawn not only a very soggy mornings work but, due to all the rain, a potentially very dangerous one! My grass is knee high, the raised beds are full of weeds and my veg are going wild and all I can do is look on in frustration as, each time I make a dash for the shed to grab the lawnmower, the heavens open and I'm forced back indoors to make a cup of tea. Add to this the fact that my heating is broken, as is my tumble dryer so the house looks like a Chinese laundry with damp clothes hanging all over the place in an attempt to get them dry before they start to smell musty and you have the makings of one very damp, depressed woman. 

Right ....... Now for the science bit. 

I have been told, in the past, that I am a bit of a nerd. I recently spent four years at university from 2006-2010 getting a Foundation Degree in Marine Science, a BSc in Environmental Science and a Masters in Sustainable Environmental Management so yep ...... you could say I'm a bit of a geek. I have been following story of the awful weather responsible for the state of my garden with great interest and according to the Met Office, the cause of all this awful weather is a disruption in the path of the jet stream.

The jet stream is a fast-flowing ribbon of air, high in the atmosphere at around 30,000 feet, that pushes weather systems from west to east, across the Atlantic towards Europe. Typically, the northern hemisphere jet stream lies to the north of Britain, meaning the areas of low pressure that bring increased amounts of rainfall are usually over Scandinavia instead of the UK. Disruption of the jet stream has meant that these areas of low pressure are now sitting firmly over the UK causing all this miserable weather. One possible cause of this jet stream shift could be temperature changes in the Pacific, but meteorologists are also studying how shifts in the Earth's temperature, caused by global warming, affect weather conditions. Research is also being carried out into the effects that a decrease in Arctic sea ice may have on, the path of the jet stream because, essentially, if you warm up a sea, you change the temperature differential between the poles and the tropics and that in turn can influence the path of jet stream. Research has already shown the influence on north-west Europe winters, making them drier and colder, but what happens in the summer is still relatively unknown. 
Melting polar ice caps and it's effect on Arctic ecosystems was the subject of one of the three dissertations I produced during my degrees and is something I am particularly interested in so, as of now, I am re-instating the Environmental Science Blog I started during the first year of my foundation degree at Falmouth Marine School. Although there haven't been any posts made for a few years, I will now be posting regularly on a whole host of current environmental, coastal and marine issues. I guess, with regard to the weather it's just a case of wait and see but colder, drier winters and wetter, cooler summers may well become our normal weather pattern in the not too distant future. 
See ......... BIG GEEK :-)

Picture: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2170809/UK-weather-Get-ready-10-days-rain-forecasters-blame-shift-jet-stream.html