***WARNING! Miserable Blog Post Alert!***
Here in the UK, today has been Mothers' Day, a day to show appreciation for mums (and grandmothers, grannies and nanas) in all their various and wonderful guises!
I am lucky enough (yes, I AM lucky enough) to be a mother to five and daughter to one, but I'm also pretty glum when it comes to days like this. The reason behind this is that I struggle, I really struggle, to rationalise my environmental principles with the consumerist trap that Mothering Sunday can become.
I found myself in a very large supermarket last night, which even generally I find pretty uncomfortable, but I was genuinely quite horrified by the scale of the stuff, and the scale of the buying of the stuff. Rack upon rack of gaudy flowers from very far off lands, enormous glittery unrecyclable cards, petro-fabric PJs and fluffy slippers, and cheap chocolates, from a unsustainable cocoa plantations and onto a production line somewhere just outside London... And this was one supermarket on one evening in one town.
My own kids have now 'got' this; they asked what I wanted and have pretty much respected my reply of "nothing." But I'd like it if you tidied your bedrooms." I got a series of delightful hand made cards with lovely messages and they did the washing up. That'll do me.
I'm lucky in that my own mum feels the same. We've shared a meal, together with my sister, and we treated her to a book subscription from a lovely local independent bookshop. Not only will she get a gift through the post but we've been able to support a family in our neighbourhood with our spends. That feels good for us too.
My biggest bug bear though is flowers. I love flowers (oh my, I really love flowers!) and I love being able to give them to people, but they typically travel from so far away, often rely on exploited workers and are sprayed with noxious chemicals to within an inch of their lives. Then there's the plastic wrap and the refrigerated lorries and sometimes I've noticed they have little plastic adornments - fake flowers, teddy bears, hearts. Why? Are they not beautiful enough already?! We do have an outstanding cut flower business locally but if I can, I'd rather use what I have in the garden.
This time of year, it's obviously a little limited (we were under snow last week!) but even my own meagre space offered up a few treats for my mum and sister. The tiny daffodils are just starting to bloom adding a shock of yellow, and contrast beautifully with the hellebores, a deep purple red. I managed to find some leaves off a self seeded purple loosestrife and the first flowers of the pulmonaria, a plant I'd relocated from outside my office last year and which provides a valuable source of early nectar and pollen for bees as well as amazing blue and pink flowers in a bouquet. I actually quite like the challenge of putting flowers together. I have been known to include carrot tops and small tree branches before - sometimes the least expected things can look stunning mixed up!
And so the little posey above was created. It sits in an old jam jar (which housed my dad's home made jam so this is its third innings now) and I added a rafia bow, which had been wrapped around a recent parcel delivery. Nothing new, no carbon miles, everything recycled and repurposed, no plastic and the best bit? The whole bouquet can be composted cleanly after and provide nutrients for more flowers in the future.
Shouldn't this be the point? Cliched, but one mother giving to another, good old Mother Earth giving back to Mother Earth. I am blessed to have a mum and children who understand just how important this is to me xx
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.