Could Paul Peacock be the perfect man for #ThriftyLiving women?

Remember when milk bottles were sent back to be reused?

Remember when milk bottles were sent back to be reused? - Credit:

At last, I’ve found someone who thinks the same way as me.

Regular readers will know that last week I was ready to self-flagellate after indulging in a spot of retail therapy with an online seller whose tax-paying policies have prompted a boycott by Margaret Hodge no less, chair of Parliament’s public accounts committee. Oh, to have her determination.

But fear not. Salvation has arrived in the form of Paul Peacock and his book Precycle, given to me by my teabag-recycling colleague Steve, who sensed my lack of moral fibre.

Paul Peacock is, quite possibly, the aspiring thrifty woman’s ideal man. Reading his polemic against the throwaway society is like donning a suit of armour to deflect the sling-shots of consumer desire fired in all our directions every waking moment.

Paul encourages us to reject the allure of the perfectly-packaged and think about the value of things in more than merely monetary terms. Money, he argues, devalues the craft of our hands and minds. He recalls his boyhood, when food scraps went in the “swill bin”, to be collected by the pig man in return for a Christmas turkey, and the rubbish bin was never full ? beer and lemonade bottles went back to the shop for a few pennies, milk bottles were returned to the milkman and there was no such thing as plastic food packaging. He exhorts us to make our own of everything, from jam to washing powder, and argues there is a lie at the heart of how we live ? that, even with recyling, we cannot continue to consume ever more and at the same time make resources last forever. All that is really sustainable is a reduction in consumption. It’s not a message that sits easily in a capitalist society but it is one a few thoughtful minds are articulating.

Take naturalist Chris Packham, ensconced on the Suffolk coast at Minsmere for the last three weeks for the BBC’s Springwatch. Talking about the health of the planet, he has said: “If there’s one mantra we need to break in the next 10 years it’s that economic growth is a good thing. It isn’t. It’s a recipe for global disaster.” Such words, for many, will be uncomfortable to hear. We have come to expect a certain lifestyle and regard it as the gold standard, to coin a monetary term. But I cannot philosophise any further. I have more communing with Paul’s words of wisdom to do if I am to make my own tomato ketchup and peanut butter by sundown.

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