Mr Green gets out his sewing kit

Filed in Blog by on December 1, 2011 19 Comments
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hollowfibre-duvetAs you will be aware from reading my zero waste, I’m no seamstress.

I deeply admire people who can sew clothes, knit, crotchet and seem to have a host of on-going projects making beautiful items.

Sadly I was way at the back of the queue when the crafty genes were being dished out.

The only yarn I can spin is one told around the fire to friends…

Mr. Green, however, is a different story altogether.

He learned to sew a pincushion in pre school. Later on in life he joined the scouts. As well as learning his knots he also perfected the art of repairing such as sewing on buttons thanks to his erm ‘housewife’ kit; which he tells me was the name for his scout’s sewing kit. Can you imagine them being allowed to call that NOW!?

Anything that ripped or tore – from his pants to his tent, he was taught how to repair thanks to the life skills his pack leader passed down to him.

“Be prepared” eh readers?

This week I’ve been decluttering again and I found an embarrassing amount of bedding and towels. I know I’m among friends, so I’ll tell you on the quiet that I found NINE duvets hiding in baskets, boxes and shelves here at zero waste towers. I know, for a family of three – quelle horreur! Such is the fate of two people with fully kitted houses moving in together.

Did I tell you the story of us having four pianos between us when we got hitched? Hmmmm. I’ll save that for another day perhaps.

Well I’m pleased to announce that with each passing year I’m becoming more of a minimalist. Trouble is, Mr. Green is staying firmly entrenched in his ‘be prepared’ motto, which basically means hanging onto anything and everything ‘just in case’.

Back to the duvets, I went through them and decided on a summer and winter for myself and Mr. G, one for LMG as she also has a sleeping bag, a spare single for girly sleepovers and a double for visiting friends.

That was probably still more than we needed but at least it meant I could set four into the wild, along with a whole host of bedding.

Mr. Green went foraging through the pile of rejects to check what I was getting rid of. He started sorting things into piles <sigh>, muttering to himself and avoiding eye contact. The ‘toss’ pile seemed to decrease dramatically, while the ‘keep as spare dust sheets and for other useful things’ pile grew by the second.

He asked me why I was getting rid of one particular duvet:


1- We have two identical ones (13.5 tog winter weight goose down) so we really don’t need two.
2- We both get very hot at night and last year, even when temperatures plummeted to -15 we never put a winter weight duvet on the bed.
3- It had holes in it where sparks had jumped out of the fire (occasionally I like to camp out in the lounge in front of the open fire).
4- It was one of those annoying noisy ones (people who use feather filled duvets will know what I mean), which, for a light sleeper like me, is a no-no.

I felt I stated my case well and was sure to win the vote, so I went downstairs to find a couple of black bags.

Trouble is, when I came back upstairs I was confronted with this:

"be prepared!" says Mr Green

"be prepared!" says Mr Green

Yes, Mr. Green had found his trusty sewing kit and was busy repairing holes in the aforementioned duvet.

I know I should be delighted that my man is not scared to wield a needle and thread and I KNOW that repairing is a wonderful skill, but honestly…

Did I tell you we still have two identical matching feather mattresses to decide on??!!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (19)

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  1. Stephanie says:

    We too are downsizing or decluttering as we are about to move from Australia to France. My husband is over in France so I was left with the job of getting the house ready for market which meant “stuff” had to go. what I found (we had already moved from a large house to a small house) was that once I organised the contents of the house into like piles, I was appalled at the amount of stuff we had. I must have been hoarding towels and bedding for years. There are only 2 in our household so why 20 towels? because I got fed up of the old but perfectly OK ones and just bought others and didn’t give the older ones away. And the 6 duvet covers??I also found that one of our greatest storage units has been… the floor. So with some things at the charity shop, others organised, we are about to have the huge garage sale and get rid of more. The house in France is much smaller. but you know what.. I have had to have the house very tidy and minimalist for the house inspections ( and yes we sold the other day) and I like it. I love just having 2 plates and though I must admit I did buy some new cups. I could get used to having not very much. in fact all that I need (not want) ..which isnt very much. I watch myself start to get suckered int the advertising. So the motto for moving to France ? Nothing to be bought that is non essential for 12 months. I am keen to see how long that lasts and what happens because a lot of this hoarding /buying is emotional. Do i really need to keep my art school sketch pad from 38 years ago? but somehow I just cant let it go.

  2. Karin says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Mrs Green — I love both the picture and your write-up! 🙂

  3. Sooz says:

    We have a similar duvet problem in our house…we’re moving house next week and in the clear out we discovered we had about 10 duvets and 3 sleeping bags between two of us…we’re down to a more respectable 3 duvets each now (a thin one, medium and a really big one each!) and one sleeping bag…much better!

  4. ha ha ha. My hubby is a be prepared boy scout himself…..back in the day in South Africa, he was a “Springbok Scout”, so he likes to be prepared too…love a picture of a man with a needle and thread-you’ve got yourself a diamond geezer there!


  5. Julie Day says:

    Well done, Mr Green. You don’t find many men who can sew like he can. But still, I agree with you. Too much bedlinen. Can you take some to a charity shop or to a shelter?

  6. ex girl scout prepared has been a lifelong motto, never far from consciousness–must admit it is a good thing that my husband is more of a strict minimalist …from personal observation i notice that most households have one of each..mostly with the female partner being the hoarder/saver…hopefully tidy one.

    duvets? must keep number one..towels? must stash number two..linens? you get it…so what if you need a winter weather guard, a summer tent, a catch all for the car, a spare picnic blanket, a heirloom for ms green, and yes rags for any emergency leak or car clean up…and a bath towel for bunny green..also great for packing/cushioning when moving or sending items..furoshiki anyone?

    as i own a comprehensive ‘housewife kit’ built over the years, i can make wash mittens and wash cloth by hemming squares of old towel cloth…make baby blankets from larger ones..make quilts, curtains, table cloths…oh, i feel tired writing about it all–my solution is clearly defined and ORGANIZED storage…

  7. Jane says:

    Great picture. Sewing a button on should be part of some essential being able to do list before leaving home, like being able to do some cooking, cleaning and fixing. Computer games proficiency won’t be a lot of practical help in the complete running of a home. SOME housework needs doing yet I’m finding young people don’t seem to do ANY – and I know I don’t like to do that much.

    There has been a trend towards just buying something new and not mending. Unfortunately this has meant that perfectly serviceable items have been thrown away when they could be reused or restyled. My mother used to turn sheets sides to middle and turn larger towels into smaller ones for the kitchen or wash hand basin. As Nadine has pointed out those wash mitts (which they all seem to use in France where we just have flannels) can also be made easily.

    Large sheets can be turned into cot sheets. Also with an invalid it is useful to have smaller sheets instead of folded over larger ones when you have to wash and dry them so often. Colour co-ordination and rigid planning for minimilsation at this point just goes out of the window! You need enough to reduce the stress.

    I did find that elderly relatives preferred to throw out duvets rather than take them to the laundrette or laundry. With no car this would have been diffficult for them and is something that younger people could offer to do for relations. Be prepared! A simple job for us.

    Shelters do want duvets but you usually need to search the shelters out and deal with therm personally. You can’t just put duvets and pillows in the textiles recycling. So look after them.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Stephanie: I think you have made some wonderful realisations on your journey of downshifting. It all sounds very exciting and liberating to me. There is no way Mr Green would settle for 3 of everything in the kitchen, but I’m gradually reducing things by perhaps not replacing things that get broken 😉 good luck with the move to France.

    @Sooz: sounds excellent and such a relief to get rid of ‘stuff’. Hope the move goes well

    @Julie Day: We have already taken some but alas lots of it is in the garage for ‘dust sheets’ as Mr G calls them 😉

    @nadine sellers: I admire your crafty ways with both mind and needle and thread. It is a fine balance between ‘just in case’ and throwing away something you need. Not an easy decision but it sounds like you have things sorted.

    @Jane: Love the computer games idea! It makes me laugh that LMG has an ipod on which she ‘cooks’ meals for me. I usually then drag her into the kitchen for some ‘real life’ playing! (and she has to vacuum the porch and hallway as part of the household chores 😉 )

  9. Tracey says:

    We’re hoping to have friends staying over at new year (aecom lot of friends), and I was trying to work out the sleeping arrangements, and to my shock, we have 5 double-duvets, 2 indoor sleeping bags (which can zip together, and possibly 5 outdoor sleeping bags, (though I can only find 3 and the covers for the other 2)!
    More than enough for new year! 😛

  10. Tracey says:

    As for linens/covers, I would only let them be kept as dust-sheets, if they are no longer suitable as a duet cover, otherwise it would be charity-shop/Freegle. I’d rather they were used for purpose by someone who needs it, than trashed before its time. Things become dust-sheets (or users) in their own time.

  11. Jane says:

    It occurred to me that a lot of cachet and attention is put on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the 6th form but little on the things that Scouts and Girl Guides used to learn. Too busy with with music and sport clubs after school to compensate for the lack inside school this seems to have fallen by the wayside. Also not helped I think by the lack of volunteers ….

  12. Jane says:

    Why do you have so many duvets?

    We often take our own with us when we stay at friends and have lent one or two in the past. It is wise to mark them though because when your uni student makes off with half of a velcro together one it makes it easier to identify and retrieve from whoever it was subsequently lent to!

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Tracey: It’s amazing how much stuff we hang onto isn’t it – anywyay, the upside is you can have plenty of friends to stay!

    @Jane: We have a lot because firstly we moved two houses into one when we met and secondly, Mr Green is a hoarder. I do didstinctly remember him saying about 8 years ago that one could never have too much bedding LOL!

  14. Jane says:

    Perhaps we could also start a vogue for mixed and multi-coloured bed linen!

  15. RubbishGeek says:

    Certainly seems that Mr Green is Doing His Best!

    As a scout leader, I’m pleased to see Mr G’s training has served him well.

    I do agree with some comments above that we’ve seemed to have lost our skills in mending, but maybe with the current finances it will become more popular.Certainly homemade presents, knitting and things are on the rise!
    I think one of the myths is the idea that if we pop our textiles in a recycling bank, that’s an ok way of getting off scot free! Actually recycling requires a lot of energy and water, and reuse is much more important.

    The real answer must be to show people the comparisons between ‘throwaway textiles’ – how short a lifetime they have (not to mention horrors of child labour etc.) , and will need replacing anyway, compared with durable (yet initially more expensive) materials which can last a lifetime!

    Ok, rant over….

  16. Jane says:

    Be inspired by the work of and check your local council’s website for places to donate clean bedding to. If you find they haven’t mentioned anywhere and you know of somewhere – get them to update their website. Reuse does come before recycling!

  17. Jane says:

    I love the way the lady from Transition Town Kingston came to start the Stitch in Time group – finding someone was throwing away shirts because the buttons had fallen off.

  18. Poppy says:

    I had a sort out recently and all the spare quilts, pillows, towels and the like, went to the local Animal Shelter. They put out a call every year and I like to think that some poor abandoned animal is snuggling down warm through the winter in our cast offs.

  19. Rachel says:

    If Mr G really can’t bear to get rid of duvets (and I sympathise – I’m just the same myself) you could at least store them in the loft where they’ll top up your insulation (though mice are the downside of this plan).

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