Wednesday, 26 January 2011

We're S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G. We're Shopping.

Friends! Next time you come… bring your own sugar.

Never mind the sugar, how about a pair of marigolds and an offer to do the washing up?

The sugar slogan is an old wartime advert, encouraging everyone to do their bit to conserve resources. I’m intrigued by the Green MP Caroline Lucas getting involved in an effort to find out if the way we lived during the wars can teach us how to live today.

I sort of understand her point when she says: “
It would be wrong to glamorise (glamourise, perhaps?) the second world war. But it would also be wrong to ignore the experiences and wisdom of those who lived through it.”
But it’s this sort of thing that makes it easy for other politicians and the press to portray the Greens as extremist dreamers. It’s a difficult message to get across to the public - war time living had benefits we should apply today. What’s that about conserving? You can’t hear what I’m saying over the noise of your X Box and the fact you’re on your second sack of Monster Munch?

One of the best ways we can help the environment and support our local economies is to shop local. Sadly, we’re human and love convenience. A brave soul recently had a letter published in the Nairnshire Telegraph (a black and white legend on a par with a Buster Keaton movie - and containing just as many thrills and laughs) expressing her appreciation of small independent shops and pointing out she wouldn’t care if the out of town Sainsbury’s didn’t come about.

Meantime it seems the ‘Tesco Tax’ proposed by John Swinney has been squashed by the childish opposition MSPs who failed to offer an alternative way of raising funds. It would only have affected a tiny number of big stores, increasing their rates in Scotland to what they already pay in England. In some cases they would have been asked to contribute over the course of a year what they make in profit in a single day. Surely not much to ask?

Inverness already enjoys doughnut status (a sweet ring of supermarket shopping and a hole in the middle where there used to be a tasty town centre) - Nairn High Street will soon feel the squeeze and I’m struggling to understand why Forres needs another major retail development.

Let’s hope Forres folk appreciate the vibrancy of their town centre, the benefits local businesses bring and continue to encourage excellent initiatives such as the monthly market - the next one’s on 12 February.

Supermarkets not only provide low skills and uncertain employment but they encourage car journeys and the money they take in doesn’t circulate locally whereas cash spent in independent local shops does benefit the community. Supermarkets are also one of the worst offenders when it comes to packaging. I actually burst out laughing one time in Morrisons when I encountered an individually plastic-wrapped red pepper with a barcode.

The council are gearing up to provide us with one bin for all recyclables, which in many ways is great, but it doesn’t help reduce the amount of packing in the first place. Remember: the three Rs include Reduce.

Meantime it’s interesting to see Highland Council’s suggestion for encouraging recycling. Fines. (Thanks to the Gurn for pointing this out.)

Back to the call to arms to bring your own sugar, go to work on an egg and make do and mend…

When TWMBO was teeny we had plenty of visitors. They always brought cake. Don’t get me wrong - I like a bit of confection. But I’m serious when I say an offer to do chores was what I secretly hoped for. That’s my top tip to anyone visiting a zonked new dad or mum. Never mind the sugar - bring a damp cloth.

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