March Winds Do Blow

March Winds Do Blow

Article by Stella Hall

Since my teens, each year on International Women’s Day I’ve tried to take a moment and pause to think about women across the world, and the concerns we share.

When I was seventeen, when the UN first marked it on March 8th, I was full of hormones and energy, intensely aware (and maybe a bit intense!)  – we needed to do so much: campaign about equal pay for equal work, women’s right to choose,  and in Manchester, as Peter Sutcliffe roamed, we marched to Reclaim the Night.

I wore second hand clothes, even unravelling old jumpers to reknit into shapeless new ones, marching along in my trusty doc martens and dungarees. The clothes were more out of necessity rather than any thought of saving the planet. Born first in a family of nine (think Caitlin Moran only more so!) there wasn’t a lot of cash to go round.

Before a march we got in touch with each other with a “telephone tree”; each woman phoned another to connect us all together. Imagine! Now, at the touch of a button, we can facebook, tweet  and insta to instantly reach thousands. But are we marching together?

We can feel we are doing our bit with our recycling bins, our ethically sourced face cream and our fairtrade coffee. And we are! We really are. I often wonder though if those daily small steps are adding up to enough to make a difference. Those tweets and insta posts encourage us to develop our personal style, to march to the beat of our own drum, but heading in what direction?

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The world we now live in is fragmented; countless priorities jostle for our attention, and after a hard day’s work in or out of the home it is so easy to switch off, zone out, disconnect and retreat into our comfort zone. So much is happening, how do we focus?

We know our oceans are rising, our seasons are going haywire and the effect on marine life of the surplus we are dumping is catastrophic. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/how-is-global-warming-affecting-the-uk

Then there are the women working in sweatshops in China and elsewhere https://waronwant.org/sweatshops-china they are making our clothes, and we can’t ignore it. They are connected to us and once we know about the chain of production, we can’t un-know.

Together, women and men, we’ve all got a responsibility to protect our resources and be mindful of how we use them. Today’s teenagers are shouting loud.  We only have one planet and it is crystal clear how important it is that we all make changes for their future. There are certainly changes we can all make in our own lives, like the Single Use Plastic Challenge http://www.plasticfreechallenge.org/what-is-single-use-plastic.

But I think it’s all of us working together, sharing information, lobbying government and corporations, making connections, that will make the biggest difference.

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We started Festival of Thrift www.festivalofthrift.co.uk in 2013 with a dozen or so enthusiasts in the Tees Valley to share ideas about how to build a future sustainable community together. Now, visitors come from all over the UK and increasingly internationally and we are reaching one million people online annually. We want to use our voice to share thoughts and get actively involved on the international stage.

So, not much more from me – We want to hear from you where we should put our energies. Send us your hints, tip, ideas and campaigns and we will share them. We will be establishing a new site, Thrift 365, to keep us moving on …  and we will be inviting guest bloggers to share their thoughts too.

Of course I will also keep recycling my coffee grounds into compost instead of landfill, and I will get out and join a litterpick on the beach with surfers against sewage.  I will still be wearing Doc Martens too, all these years later, (No, not the same pair, I’m not that thrifty!) I’ve checked their ethical statement. They’re doing OK.  Now, who’s marching with me?