I wonder about the things that make it so easy for me to throw something away, even though it is still functional or close to being functional.
One reason I come up with is that I am so disconnected from the source of the things I buy. I have no comprehension of how many millions of years it took to form the materials that make up that thing I now have. I have no appreciation for the amount of somebody’s life that went into designing and creating the thing I now wear.
Another reason is that I haven’t developed the skills or mindset to prolong the life of the things I purchase. In regard to clothing, I can barely sew a button on. And when it comes to anything that plugs into the electricity network I am useless. It would be easy to blame my culture for this, whatever that would actually mean. I am constantly marketed to, encouraged to purchase the newest thing, making the old thing I own redundant and inferior. I earn so that I don’t have to repair – I can just buy a new one.
Both of these reasons feel lazy and extravagant. They don’t feel justified.
Karen Ellis is living proof that we can change our mindset, buck our culture, learn the skills of reuse, repair and upcycling, and save a hell of a lot of money in the process. She and her husband Danny live a frugal life, sourcing most of their material needs from the kinds of places where the things I throw out end up. Karen documents the way she lives on her Rude Record blog and Facebook page, helping others to learn the skills and develop the mindset she has honed over a number of years.
I hope you are also inspired by Karen to move a small way towards living a life of consciousness in the use and reuse of the material things we bring into our lives.
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It was inspiring to read your preamble to the podcast. And, it was really nice to revisit our interview this afternoon. Danny and I have not been well [the dreaded lurgy that Danny bought home from work] Therefore, feeling a bit out of sorts, it was really relaxing for us, to sit down together and listen to the podcast. Danny commented that you have a voice that is easy to listen to, and that your microphone set up produced an easy to listen to recording.
Danny really thought you captured the essence of me and of RUDE. He liked the bit about going back to childhood to find what one’s passion in adulthood is. He related to this, with jumping the back fence and making play with his brothers, as resilience to improvise in life.
He also related to our conversation about not being perfect. He agrees it frees a person who is willing to not overthink things, and to just create. Maybe mistakes will be made but valuable lessons will be learned from simply trying. In other words it’s okay to be good enough.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share with you and your listeners. Our interview was good enough and touched my heart and soul.
Karen Ellis aka RUDE Girl
That is so great to hear Karen! I’m wrapped you enjoyed listening to it again, as did I, and to hear your’s and Danny’s thoughts. Your feedback is appreciated ?
Hi Adam I find the principles and philosophy behind your podcasts very interesting. I would like to commend you on the podcast with Karen Ellis.
This touches on something that I’ve been discovering over a very long time now. We can live on very little. That by following this lifestyle we can reduce our damaging footprint on our warming planet. That we can live comfortably on so much less than is the usual habit of Australians in the 21C.
I became aware of RUDE Record and their frugal lifestyle about a year ago. I have been trying to emulate their lifestyle in my own way. It was very interesting to hear Karen discuss in more detail their means of reducing, recycling and repairing.
I think I would like to hear more from those people who don’t just talk the talk, but walk the talk.
Thank you for an entertaining hour of down to earth conversation about frugal living. I’m ready to up my efforts to live my life that I like to describe as being a Eco warrior.
Thanks for the feedback Jacqui! Its great to hear you enjoyed listening.
Listen to Karen again, it inspired me to reduce and repair. Somehow it feels better when I do this as well. Less frantic somehow.
I’m interested to hear: in what ways are you an Eco warrior?
Hi Adam, thank you for your response to my comment.
My story is a long one so I’ll have to keep it short here. I will attach the words to a post that I contributed to Rude Record here after I’ve answered your question.
Because we are now retired and slowing down our highly active Eco Warrior life has slowed to a more Eco Artisan lifestyle. We left our sieve like cedar cottage in Red Hill several months ago and we are now renting a couple of hunter metres from our new townhouse. This was an economic move!!! We sold the place lock stock and barrel because we could. The new pace is where our attention is now.
We never buy anything new unless is is just not available free or scavenged. Our food is either from out tiny herb garden here or Farmer’s Markets or fruit and vegetable shops. Supermarkets are used as a run in run out again place when needs absolutely must. We cook from scratch, avoid plastic or synthetic cooking tools. Our meals are delicious, cheap, and healthy.
Now, about that new place. We have determined that we will furnish it from top to bottom with nothing new. My partner of 50 years makes repairs and builds our “stuff”. I use textiles from the tip shop and charity shops and gifted stuff to make, reinvent or clean, to clothe us and make our bedding and furnishings.
One very small example: My parter just finished a large gate legged table from two identical small table. These were originally from IKEA. one bought on eBay for $2, the other given to us by a friend. The chairs are not available yet. They will come. We just don’t know from where yet.
Another example is the curtains. These will be a large collection of antique, hand embroidered, linen or fine cotton table cloths, runners and doilies. These have been collected of years for this purpose. I’m sewing them all together for very beautiful window privacy. No double block out blinds and sun filtering mesh for me. We avoid synthetics like the plague.
I have two plain white porcelain dinner services purchased fro a charity shop for $10. Our cutlery is a combination of cutlery inherited from my mother and matching charity shop finds. Glasses, pots and pans all come from the charity shop. Bedding is found, antique pure wool blankets, 100% cotton bedding is soaked and wash and used.
Our plans: we have started to grow our fruit trees in pots. These will be espalier around our tiny courtyard. I have many pots of plant maturing ready for transplanting. I will remove the baby gum tree from the nature strip and plant an almond tree in its place. Around the almond tree I will create a beautiful vegetable garden so pretty and neat that even the most fastidious neighbour can’t object. Our tiny court yard will be herbs, espaliered fruit trees and a beautiful place to sit. We will spend long summer days pottering, reading, repairing and sleeping in a little paradise in the concrete jungle. But we are five minuets walk to the beach.
If you doubt any of this read my visiter blog on Karen’s Rude Record. There is much more but I’ve tried to give you an idea of how to live a long, useful and happy life on next nothing. Surrounding yourself with the beauty and creative treasures of a scavenging artisan lifestyle.
BELOW IS A COPY OF MY RUDE RECORD BLOG SANS PICTURE.
Less than a year ago, shortly after finding my way onto Facebook, I discovered the Rude Record Blog. I had no idea that there were fellow T.I.P. Boutique (tip shop), and Roadside Scavengers out there.
I’d discovered two fellow travellers…..RUDE Girl and Boy. These two had a frugal philosophy which they described as Scavenger Style. A political statement against textile waste, a throw away society and planned obsolescence. These two radical Eco Warriors were passionate recyclers who maintained a very thrifty and modest lifestyle by making do, restoring, mending.
At the time I’d discovered RUDE Record, my partner and I had just finish a long journey. A journey out of the wilderness of serious illness and the resultant poverty. At the end of our journey we’d found a wealth of good health and self sufficiency.
I’d like to share part of our story because I have found RUDE Boy and Girl so inspirational in the light of our journey.
We needed a house. We had big dreams and a small budget. What we found was a dirty neglected slum with “good bones”. It nestled in a rainforest with the village atmosphere we were looking for. We rolled up our sleeves and set to work…
Because it was so very, very dirty and neglected we couldn’t move in at once. It was a solid cedar cottage with hardwood floors and concrete stumps. This is what I meant by “good bones”. I needed to use our small budget to pay tradesmen to sand and re-polish the filthy floors. I needed a painter to come in and spray paint the entire interior. My partner was still pretty frail and had very low immunity. He needed protecting with loving care.
Before the painters and sanders could set to, I had work to do.
I gutted the crumbling kitchen and threw it into a skip strategically placed below the crumbling front porch. I threw every bit of dextrose within the walls of that disgusting interior. I looked into the bathroom. Sadly l decided that we’d have to live with that until I could get to work and clean it.
My first journey into secondhand and make do, was to find some big doors. A tiny window needed to be a big sliding door to give access to the back garden. I located a door through a builder for almost nothing. I thought people would want to grab something so cheap and available. But no, this sad reject became a big, light filled exit into our large, green, overgrown back garden.
I thought my frail, recovering partner could remove the window and cut the remaining wall down to the floor. He put in a frame to make a nice space for my big door. I hefted every bit of that wall and the crumbling window into the skip. We slid in the “new” sliding doors. How delighted my lovely man was to find himself back in the land of “Yes I can!”. He’d gotten used to being an invalid. We were healing a house, and ourselves.
Back to our rented house and in with the sanders, polishers, and painters.
The floors, walls, and ceilings gleaming clean, finally we were able to move in. We “camped” in our new home. We proceeded to rebuilt our home around us. Cooking with a microwave and camp stove we built the kitchen and I scrubbed that bathroom. Yuk!
We found an auction house which sold everything from floor coverings to electrical appliances. We went, we raised our hands to bid, we discover gold. Stuff at knock down prices. An oven, cooktop, range hood, even a toilet and a kitchen sink. We decided IKEA could provide new kitchen cupboards
We’d get up each morning and set to work. I’d haggle and negotiated with plumbers and electricians to do those things that my very talented man was not allowed to do.
We built. Hefted things into place. Painted. Pulled down small unnecessary walls. We put in new doorways. We closed off others. We made a doorway into the small extension. We closed off the original doorway into this same extension. We used the door from the old doorway and put it into the new doorway. We filled the old doorway with a cupboard. This cupboard then became the pantry in our new kitchen. Look at the photos. See if you can pick the new pantry and the new doorway. I did all the cleaning up, heavy lifting and painting. My recovering partner applied his expertise.
So, we continued along these lines. We moved on to the bathroom. We have very little money by now. But, I wanted a hygienic, light, bright bathroom….hmm. We pulled down the wall between the toilet and bathroom. Zero cost. We pulled up the dirty vinyl off the hardwood floor. My talented husband disconnected the toilet. I took it all and threw it into that skip. Zero cost. Remember that toilet from the auction rooms? My lovely, now best friend, plumber, he installed that.
Out with the dirty, rusty handbasin and into the skip. In with a gifted secondhand vanity unit I’d painted. Zero cost. I looked at the old stained bath. What to do? I got the professionals in to re-enamel it! I finished the whole lot off by painting the old wall tiles with a specially developed painting system designed for exactly this purpose. Cost around $50. That’s very expensive paint! Those tiles were still perfect 7 years later. My beautiful new bathroom gleaming, on a shoestring budget.
Finally, outside those sliding door in the kitchen. Remember those? I won’t give a blow by blow description of the delightful back porch my now fit and healthy man built. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Take a look at the walls. They are built from the decking off that crumbling front veranda. I de-nailed them. I scrubbed them. I painted them. The before and after pictures tell a tale of the lovely back porch that Gene built!
There was a lot more that went into the rebuilding of this delightful home of ours. This is just an outline sketch of two years work. Remaking, reclaiming, roadside scavenging and visits to tip shops. Gifted stuff that other people rejected and buying secondhand. A story of a journey where we found a wealth of good health and self sufficiency
Sorry Adam, a couple of typos is paragraph two ………..hundred NOT hunted
……place….. NOT pace
Jacqui, you and Gene are an inspiration. It’s great to share our fugal, make do and mend lifestyle, with like minded souls.
Adam, here is Jacqui’s article that she wrote for Rude Record on WordPress.
Hi Adam, glad you are back podcasting Subtle Disruptors in 2018.
Since my podcast with you in mid 2016, Danny and I have been sharing the joy of repair, mending, fixing and reuse in regional communities, at their repair cafe events [refer link below].
When Danny retires later this year we are planning to tinker travel more widely.