Lent finishes today! Are you going local for life?

This is one from the old #local4lent blog – written April 2017.

We’ve had a great time doing the #local4lent challenge again this year! With many people from 2013 taking up the challenge again and lots of new faces too! There’s been a fab twitter community sharing ideas, helping each other out spreading the #local4lent message. We love finding out how you’ve got on with the challenge – the highs and the lows! So huge thanks to Westy who we’ve got to know on Twitter who’s written the guest post below.

Guest Post – Westy

Phew, Lent is almost over and I’ve not set foot in a supermarket for the entire time! How does it feel?  Honestly?It feels great!Was it easy?Well, let’s just say, it’s getting easier with practice.

Around this time last year, I gave up supermarkets for 28 days. My children were small – I was still at that difficult stage where life is lived in the gaps between nappy changes and afternoon naps and, when you do get out, it’s with a buggy, a huge changing bag and crossed fingers that you can get essential tasks done!  Giving up the supermarket at that time seemed like a huge challenge and I probably only thought it was a good idea because I was sleep-deprived and not thinking straight. I had a hazy idea that I wanted to support my local shops and I thought it might be interesting…Happily, it was indeed interesting and had the added bonus that I learned a lot. I discovered that I can get a number ofitems delivered directly to my door by local suppliers, plus I uncovered some negative things about the supermarket that I’d not given much thought to previously – such as their treatment of some suppliers, as well as a number of questionable marketing strategies. It seriously changed the way I thought about my consumption in general, and I began to think more about my community and the value of local businesses. I did, as was always the plan, go back to using the supermarket after last year’s challenge but I spent significantly less money there and I felt guilty. Really guilty!
Fast forward to this year and I’ll admit that I was excited about ditching the supermarket over Lent. I wanted to put a bit of effort into building on last year’s challenge, plus I really needed a break from that guilt…I knew that the challenge would be different this time round. As well as better local knowledge of where I might find my household essentials, I had orders for veg, fruit and eggs set up and I had found a dairy that would deliver milk.  Also, my children are at an easier stage – the buggy, nappies and naps are gone. As we are constantly out and about together during the day, I was hopeful that shopping locally could be incorporated into our normal lives without too much extra effort. For the gory details, you can read on my blogwestywrites.wordpress.com how I got on – go on, take a look!- but…*spoiler alert*…ultimately I have avoided supermarkets. As long as I get through the rest of the week without being forced against my will into a supermarket, I’ll have achieved my goal. Yay! But….(there’s always a but!) I didn’t find it as easy as I’d expected at the start of the challenge.  My two biggest negatives were finding affordable organic items and sourcing ingredients for my bread maker. Hmm, I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a precious princess… Making my own bread and buying organic where possible, have become important to me since I’ve had children and the supermarket has allowed me to do both – and to take them for granted! With a bit of effort though, I managed to source what I needed. I did have to use transport to find them (i.e. they weren’t in my immediate locality) and the prices weren’t as competitive as the supermarkets, but that was okay. I’m becoming only too aware that where the supermarkets may boast a low price, it is worth checking whether there has been a human cost somewhere within the supply process.  I am happy to pay a higher price for items that are important to me.
Giving up supermarkets for Lent has once again been a great learning experience. Here are some of my most important moments of the last six weeks: 

Discovering that I can buy fresh food from a local initiative that visits numerous places within the community – my GP surgery, the local primary school and even the sports centre.Realising that my children’s worlds have revolved far too much around the supermarket – my youngest didn’t know why there might be a cow on our block of cheese, and then when prompted to think about where milk comes from, proffered the answer…Tesco…Oh dear….Finding an amazing shop not too far away that sells a huge amount of food ‘packaging free’. This means I can purchase exactly what I need and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in my bin.Forcing myself to think about what items I can actually live without, that I’ve bought for years on autopilot from the supermarket (e.g. fabric softener, kitchen roll, wrapping paper). I’ve also dabbled in card making to ensure that I’ll never again buy a supermarket greetings card.Getting back onto my high street, talking to people that work in local business, and buying lots of new (and often better-quality) products compared to those I pick up without any thought in the supermarket.

I have emerged from Lent committed to the prospect of reducing my spending in supermarkets, and enthused aboutsupporting local businesses and my community.  Thank you to Local4Lent for inviting me to do this guest post and, most importantly, for providing a community where we can share our experiences and find support.  Hopefully next year there’ll be even more of us!