I have to say, I don’t think this weeks Your Green Life needs much of an introduction. Following her family’s attempt to live one full year without buying anything new; Jen Gale has become a massive inspiration for thousands of people seeking to live more sustainably, or simply enjoy a frugal life by having fun with crafty upcycling.
Now, her blog My Make Do and Mend Year, boasts a large, committed following of makers and doers; in which Jen welcomes everyone to become part of a thriving community sharing successes and mishaps! It’s no surprise then, to find that Jen has become a bit of a make do and mend guru; with articles and ideas popping up across many platforms, including a fab series of “how to mend…” posts on the Guardians lifestyle pages.
But Jen’s success and all round awesomeness isn’t the only reason I wanted to pick her brains about green living. It just so happens that Jen is the reason I started a Lazy Girl Goes Green in the first place! Earlier this year I was introduced to her through Start UK, when I organised an event with them at Eden Project for The Big Lunch. The event was all about resourcefulness and Jen was highly recommended as one of the most resourceful people they knew!
Despite working in communications and marketing for years, I had never really had much to do with the blogging world. But after reading a few of Jens blogs I was hooked, and felt utterly inspired to start my own sustainable journey. She also introduced me to lots of other bloggers, organisations and charities I didn’t know existed, and she continue to inspire me to this day!
“I am Jen, I live in Wiltshire, in the South-West of England with my hubby, and our two awesome boys, who are 6and 3. In September 2012 we embarked upon a year of Buying Nothing New, and I started a daily blog called My Make Do and Mend Year, to chart our progress. We had a blast, and learned a lot, and although the year has officially ended, I am now on a mission to get the world Making, Making Do and Mending!”
What does green living mean to you, and how do you incorporate it into your life?
For me, it’s all about small changes that together can add up to make a big difference. It’s also about being more aware, and more conscious, about the decisions that we make everyday. I think so often, we are guilty of buying things without really thinking about it. We might think a bit about how much it costs, but give very little thought to who made it, what it is made of, what will happen to it when we’ve finished with it, whether we actually need it etc.
I try to stop and think about the things that I am buying, and to make the best choice I can at the time. That might be something with less packaging, less food miles, less pesticides; or something more energy efficient, or sometimes, not buying at all.
Why do you think it’s important to live a sustainable lifestyle?
We are running out of resources. It’s as simple as that. If we carry on consuming at the rate we are, our kids (and if not our kids, then certainly our grandkids) are going to end up on an uninhabitable planet.
I think Barack Obama recently said at the UN Climate Summit that “we are the 1st generation to be aware of our impact on the planet, and the last generation to be able to do anything about it”. Or something like that!
It scares me witless when I think about the planet my kids are going to be living on. I feel powerless sometimes to do anything about it, but I have come to accept that I can only do the things that I can do. But I do have to do them. Lots of little things add up, and can have an impact, if enough people do them. We have to do them.
What have you found the easiest thing to implement?
I found Buying Nothing New far easier than I ever imagined it would be. I think it’s something really achievable for everybody. There are so many alternative retail outlets-like charity shops, flea markets, vintage fairs, and even E-bay! Sometime it just needs a little more time and patience, but you can usually find pretty much anything you might need.
What habits have you found tricky to get started or maintain?
I really struggle with Zero Waste. Or getting any closer to Zero Waste. I keep meaning to try ‘naked shopping’ (shopping with no packaging), but have yet to summon up the courage to take my Tupperware to the supermarket with me!
What’s your favourite idea or tip for living green without costing too much time or money?
Cook from scratch. It’s cheaper, and there is sooo much less packaging and waste. It doesn’t have to be time consuming-I can whiz up a batch of biscuits quicker than I could get to the supermarket and back, and I am a big fan of batch cooking and freezing.
Who or what keeps you inspired?
I get so much inspiration from all the people who read the blog and leave fabulous comments. It makes me realise that I am not alone. That there are other people out there who care, and are doing their small things too.
I also love the Make Do and Mend community on social media. I run a twitter chat every Thursday called #makedoandmendhour, and I never fail to come away inspired and enthused by all the fabulous Making, Making Do and Mending that people are doing.
I wanted to find a way to extend that feeling through the rest of the week, so have started a Facebook group (Make Do and Mend-able) where people can join, and share their Making Do and Mending, ask for advice, or just have a bit of a chat about sustainable living! It’s fab 🙂