A little imagination goes a long way when you are concentrating on #ThriftyLiving

Do you have time to make your own ketchup for your chips?

Do you have time to make your own ketchup for your chips? - Credit: Getty Images

Perhaps predictably I didn’t get round to making the tomato ketchup and peanut butter as planned last week in a rash of can-do enthusiasm inspired by Precycle book author and thrifty woman’s guru, Paul Peacock.

Instead, I discovered a fundamental problem that all too often intrudes on any form of idealism: reality. As the hours ticked by and I still hadn’t found time to cook up my batch of homemade sauce, I realised that it’s just not possible to shun shop-bought everything while you still have to earn enough money to pay the bills.

I could try telling my energy provider to think of wealth as quality of life and not just bank balance size when the next electricity demand lands on the doormat but somehow I don’t think they would even understand what that means, let alone waive their charges. So the tomato ketchup will have to wait.

Paul’s words of wisdom have also led me to another truth about my quest to take a step back from the must-have madness of consumer culture: living more thriftily isn’t as easy as always going for the cheapest option. Everything has a cost, even if it doesn’t come directly from your own pocket. For instance, I could buy from stores that sell clothes so cheaply you have to wonder how they even meet the cost of the material ? until you realise the garments are often made in south Asian factories where labour is cheap and safety standards poor. More than 1,130 such factory workers died when a building collapsed in Bangladesh last year.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet the cost to animal welfare and the environment of producing cheap food through intensive farming. For those with a conscience who still have to work for a living, the only answer is to consume a bit less so we can, dare I say, perhaps afford to pay a bit more for an ethical choice. And make your own, where possible. Which brings me to my big success this week: a Timmy the dog costume made in minutes for a Famous Five day at my son’s school. It’s amazing what you can do with a £1 charity shop fleece, a few bits of scrap felt and a little imagination.

Share your tips on twitter, using #ThriftyLiving, email sheena.grant@eadt.co.uk