Year of Zero – third quarter review

Well accountability partners, it’s the end of September already and time for my 3rd quarter review of the Year of Zero. This year is simultaneously dragging on at a snail’s pace and flashing before our eyes like a racing car. COVID19 remains in the headlines and continues to cause massive disruption. 

It’s hard not to become complacent about hygiene and social distancing restrictions. However, it is obvious the impact will be long-lived and wide-ranging. 

My Year of Zero and the resultant frugality has given me some stability and a focus for my energies which have (as I have reported) been waning. I am on track to achieve my savings goal. 

3 old fridges being used as mailboxes!
Repurposing fridges as letter boxes

My self-report in the declared categories follows:

  1. No overseas travel

Once again nope! None! I couldn’t if I had wanted to! An easy win!

Score: 10/10

  1. No extended travel within Australia

I have had some short intrastate trips this quarter. 

  • Twice to visit family on the mid-North Coast,
  • An overnight stay on Cockatoo Island 
  • A weekend jaunt to Armidale with family 
  • When this post is published I will be in Broken Hill with a friend. 

These trips fit in with my allowed short adventures category and have been within the budget set. Plus I can add that I have been helping the economies of our struggling tourist sector.

The Old Leyland  P76!
The Old Leyland p76 in a scrap metal pile!

Score: 10/10

  1. No new stuff

My goal is to buy no new items and only replace things that have broken or worn out. I have done better this quarter than at the half-year review.

Allowed items: 

  • I did some more wardrobe decluttering and bought a couple of new-to-me items from the op shop.
  • I had to buy another new car seat for my Grandson because the other new one I got was not suitable and a bit uncomfortable.

Items not on the list:

  • I bought three new books. I did originally borrow them from the library but ended up deciding to buy them as reference books. 
  • Some silicone muffin cases to cut down on using single-use patty cases. 
  • A replacement for the travel cup I made before and then smashed 🙁

Score: 8/10

  1. Reduction in expenditure on groceries

After a big hit last quarter, I made some really good savings this time around. I was able to live from my pantry and freezer for another  6 weeks. I managed to use up everything this time and I did very little cooking. I bought some fruit and fresh green veggies and that was it. It wasn’t the most interesting menu BUT I feel good that I wasn’t wasting stuff. 

Score: 10/10

  1. Side Hustle Happenings

I may as well just copy what I wrote last time. Except for one course at the community college, all my earnings came from the day job.

Score: 2/10

  1. Only sign up for free courses

I only did one course this quarter. A Mindfulness in Schools course. It wasn’t free, but my school paid for it so, theoretically it was free for me. I didn’t sign up for any other courses, not even free online ones. I am not sure whether that means I should give myself 10/10 or 0/10 for not doing anything new?

On reflection one of the books I borrowed was about how to meditate so this was almost like a course….

As I wrote in some earlier posts, my motivation has been running pretty low. I watched a lot of Netflix this quarter.

Score: 6/10 (as a compromise)

  1. Sell some of my stuff

Once again not really possible. 

Score: 1/10

  1. Concentrate on free activities

If you count Netflix as a free activity I aced this one! I’ve watched SO much telly this quarter. Some new (to me) series like Schitt’s Creek, Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid Heat. (Amazing!!), Line of Duty Season 5. Crappy movies, re-watching some old favourites like Offspring and so much more I can’t remember.  I didn’t even have the energy to be inventive in the vein of my Hugh Grant Film Festival. I just vegged! 

Score: 10/10

  1. Rewrite/revisit my 60 for 60 goals

I can cross off Broken Hill road trip and astrophotography this quarter. Not free but it’s two more items off the list. 

Score: 6/10

  1. Zero-waste-eco-warrior

I am maintaining a steady course with this goal. My zero-waste kit has come in handy several times now. I have stopped using tea bags, and single-serve coffee mixes replacing them with loose leaf tea and ground coffee. A double win here as it tastes better as well as saving on waste. My goal is to continue to find more ways to reduce plastic packaging. I have found a way to recycle the plastic blister packs from my contact lenses locally.  

Score: 7/10

  1. Year of Zero Booze

Winner winner chicken dinner! Still going strong with no booze and on 30th September it will be 276 days. Kombucha, the occasional zero alcohol beer and herbal tea are still doing the trick. 

Score 10/10

This quarter my score on the frugal-o-meter is once again 67%! It certainly seems like I’m a glass three quarters full person!

Corona Zeitgeist?

Does the Age of Corona signal a time for the zeitgeist to shift? Zeitgeist, there’s a word I don’t think I have used in a real sentence before. It is defined by the interwebs as:

the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
“the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s”

If you have been trawling the “socials” more closely than usual you will have seen things shift over the last month. There has been a real change in tone.

At first, it was “What’s the fuss?”

Followed quickly by “Hang-on perhaps this is more than the flu.”

Followed by there being no toilet paper in the shops. Or rice or pasta or dried milk powder. All the things you need to hunker down and isolate. My post in January about Disaster Prepping now seems apocryphal.

Once everyone was in lock down the funny new lyrics to classic songs started. Some good, some bad and some very professional. Plans for the “recovery” are starting to emerge now that China and Italy are beginning to lift their restrictions.  The memes changed to “what will be the first thing you’ll do when we get back to normal?”

What’s the rush to get back to normal? Normal was killing our planet. It was killing us.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 12.26.52
From Facebook: March Australia

Opportunity for Change

The latest trend has been memes of the earth sighing and enjoying a break. This is the shift in zeitgeist I am talking about. Just as I was formulating in my own mind a desire to not return to “normal” but a “better new normal”, I have been seeing more and more posts calling for the same shift. I don’t think Facebook has developed mind-reading yet, it would seem I was very much not alone in my thought patterns.

This article is an example. It outlines how we should be prepared to be gaslighted by corporations as they try to catch up on all the missed revenue. To return to our old habits of spending money on things we don’t need.  While you have been in isolation, you have probably been busy Kondo-ing your physical possessions, consider Kondo-ing your whole life. Be deliberate and thoughtful about the things you bring back. Take this chance to recreate your life.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 09.17.17
Facebook post from Dana Dimi

I think we can use this Corona-induced “Big Pause” as a time to reorder our personal economic circumstances and have an impact on the world’s economy. Yes, it will be painful. Yes, people will lose their jobs, some businesses will go bust. Others will rise in their place.  We probably won’t ever get an opportunity to hit the reset button again.

Those of us who are privileged enough to make the choice to consume or not consume can have the most impact. Do you need 50 white t-shirts? Does your phone really need upgrading? Should we pay scientists more and celebrities less?

Make some choices!

Become hyper-local when you consume. Rather than returning to the large multinational corporation for your quick meal, support a local take away shop or small restaurant. Pay a bit more for locally sourced milk. Buy from the source. I’ve discovered a beekeeper who lives (literally) around the corner.  It makes me smile to think the honey on my toast may have come from my own flowers.

Travel locally, keep the sky blue! Have you noticed how blue the sky is? No planes, less traffic, less photo-chemical smog.

Think about a barter economy. What can you do that you can swap with others? Time? Unwanted goods? Services? Mow someone’s lawn in exchange for a home-cooked meal?

Grow some of your own food. Keep making bread from scratch. Share it.

Continue to work from home. (The kids will eventually go back to school.) Convince your boss that you don’t need to be in the office every day. It will save them money too.

Let’s use this devastating global event as a catalyst for positive change. Let’s not waste the chance.

EDITED TO ADD
Another one from today:

https://www.facebook.com/yongootieno.wycliffe/posts/2587443628133872


STAY CALM, STAY AT HOME AND WASH YOUR HANDS!

On the Konmari band wagon

Throwback Thursday – My take on minimalism.

There has been lots and lots (and lots and lots) of talk about the Konmari method of tidying. The Netflix series has  nearly broken the internet! Marie Knodo’s website IS an elegant, simple and beautiful place. She IS elegant and beautiful. In preparing for this post I got lost looking at her clips for folding socks and underwear. It’s very alluring!

I was out with friends recently who were talking about how its really helping them get tidy. I can see it’s appeal and how it’s a good starting point to get things organised in your home. Not everyone agrees that it’s simply a quest to be tidy and see a more disturbing side. This article in by Erin Stewart in Overland challenges the ideals offered by the konmari approach. Erin confronts the idea that the people who may have “messy” spaces as being lazy.

Rampant consumerism isn’t revolutionary, but nor is discarding things. What would be revolutionary is an aesthetic – and a society – where those who aren’t streamlined are kept; where we aren’t judged for how well we keep spaces, but spaces are judged for how well they cater for us.

Another view is that as non-Japanese people; white, western culture cannot really understand some of basic philosophy behind her finding of “joy” in objects because we don’t share the same spiritual beliefs. This lack of empathy or understanding have led to people being critical of Marie Kondo’s success through cruel memes and comments that ridicule her Shinto background.

Even though Kondo delivers her dictates in the gentlest ways possible (I watched her show with the subtitles on; they kept saying she cooed), the message was clear to me: White people are comfortable when a woman of color takes on a stereotypical service role, but they are uncomfortable when a woman of color deigns to upend our unspoken societal rules. Even if she gets a bunch of men, who’ve left all the emotional labor of managing the daily stuff of living to their wives, to actually pitch in — even if people have padded too much into their lives and she helps them enjoy what they have again — it’s not enough. Unconsciously or consciously, Kondo had struck a nerve.

It’s worth having a look both sides of the argument.

I’ve written about minimalism and my quest to live a more simple life previously but I must admit my skin still prickles a bit about this subject. I still think it’s something that only the more privileged in society can embrace. Being tidy is an option for everyone but getting rid of perfectly good things because they don’t bring you “joy” is a different matter. I haven’t read the book and only glanced at the website but I understand the basic idea is that you only keep items which bring you joy and discard, donate or sell any other items. In my mind minimalism and tidiness are two separate issues, although to be tidy you need less stuff than you have storage spaces.

I think it’s better to start off with the philosophy of not bringing things into your home in the first place and only replacing it when warranted. Rich people sitting on the floor because they have given away their furniture is just plain silly! Getting rid of the thirteen of the fourteen handbags you never use is a different story.  Not buying new towels (or whatever) every season is sensible.

two old cooking trays
They might be ugly but they still work!

The links below will take you to my previous posts.

Digital Ephemera and the cloud keepers: A fictional look at the future post-minimalism

Feeling sentimental: Dealing with sentimental items

Consuming interest: A report on my challenge to not buy anything new for a year.

Now… right now… I am going to go and make my t-shirts stand up!


This post is another occasional series I am starting. Throwback Thursday where I will link to my previous posts to current issues/ideas.