HAPPY 2019 to you all.

It is at this time of year that we look back on the past year and consider how we can improve on things for the next year.

We are constantly being exhorted to do better; e.g. eat more healthily; drive more carefully; live more sustainably etc. – but now is when one can take a few minutes to consider what is really important in our own lives and make the decisions that improve the quality of our lives.

Unfortunately, it is true that no man is an island and every action does indeed have an equal and opposite reaction.

Which takes me to unintended consequences.

Since the end of the Second World War, our standards of living have improved immensely, leading to where we are now i.e. in a land, seemingly, of plenty.

This makes us feel comfortable, secure and, dare I say it, a little complacent.

We have become used to buying what we want, regardless of whether we actually need it or not.

The unintended consequence of this is that there is an awful lot of ‘stuff’ that gets bought then thrown away.

Of course, as we all realise, there is no ‘away’.

Our district council is the body which sorts out our ‘away’.

Great, you think: someone deals with it – but it does not come without a cost.

There is firstly the considerable financial cost, which is shared equally among us through our council tax bills, regardless of whether you are the kind of person or family which creates and disposes of loads of rubbish (waste).

Then there is the other unintended consequence of what that waste does to our environment, an environment we all share, through clogging up the land and emissions polluting our air and water.

However, the solution is in our own hands to a degree.

When next you shop consider if you really need what you are about to buy, or when disposing of items, is there life left in it?

Could it be reused in a different way from its original purpose?

If yes, take it to the charity shop so they can raise revenue from it, or put on freecycle.

Throwing things away should always been the very last resort.

We used to repair items more often than we do now, so come along to a repair cafe and relearn how to.

Our next Repair Cafe will be at Centre 70, Wallingford, January 26, from 10am.