Friday, February 22, 2008

Drivers in the passenger seat

Buddy the Little Taxi
Buddy the Little Taxi

Life in the shop is getting busier and my DH is working 11 hours a day, 7 days per week which is a challenge to the conventional way we think about work. February is a good time to take stock of what is in the shop, on the shelves and in the stock room. The decluttering process that happens in a household is ongoing in a shop environment. There are however items with a short lifespan that need to be sold or wasted and there is paperwork that cannot be destroyed for a period of 7 years.

Saying that, the shelves are still groaning with stuff that either does not sell, or is not ours.

We now have an idea of the space the shop provides and the clients that frequent our business and thus trying to find variety to keep them interested is an additional task.

We have staggered delivery days . Most stock gets carried through to the stock room where it is unpacked, priced and stored away. The packaging also gets packed away : plastic in a bag to be sent away, cardboard boxes for local businesses or recycling. Wooden boxed get used in the garden or broken up for kindling. Our aim is still to have only 2 bags going to landfill each week. I am pleased with that bearing in mind that my shopping list each week is for about 800 people.....

We have not yet ventured into the stockroom behind the stockroom which is the equivalent in the shop to your garage or loft ; a dumping ground for anything else you can think of that you do not know how to dispose off or display units that are no longer contemporary. Its a dark room, a bit damp, so anything that stays there is not likely to be in good condition either.

We have plenty of space. Our next job is to clear the stockroom behind the stockroom to make it into a better stockroom; that will release some space in the shop to extend the products we carry.

Starting a business is a huge investment in time, energy and commitment as well as the occasional pep talk to keep going. At times it is a tough existence but the plus points are that you really are able to make your own decisions and no one tells you when you can have a tea break.

What is the impact with regards to downshifting and carbon lighter living?

  • no commuting
  • we are not supporting supermarkets as consumers; no 20 mile round trip and no plastic bags
  • encouraging people to shop locally and use their car less
  • Buying locally means people get to meet people and this may reduce loneliness.
  • supporting local food producers

After 3 months, we realise that 2 cars are no longer a necessity and we are finally committing to having just one car. Our mileage has reduced from 20,000 miles per year to 8000 . Having one car will cut the cost of repairs and maintenance, road tax and insurance. Selling a car may also release some capital invested in it to spend on the house.

I have to add that I am the one giving up my car : my DH is quite partial to keeping his. I have no longer a need to own a car; I am quite happy to share ownership and just top it up with fuel when I need to and be a passenger.

I am amazed at the change in my attitude : I loved my little car, polished it when I could and treasured the speed it could work up when required. I have debated about giving up the car before but it seemed just like depriving myself of local transport. When I started to live really locally, I realised that it is not a car I need to own but I need to look at my transport requirements and the way these can be fulfilled. I am happy to share and let someone else do all the polishing, car tax paying, road tax costs etc. I am going to become the driver in the passenger seat.

After all, would you spend £ 10,000 on transport over 3 years......

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