Thursday, 24 September 2015

Water and packaging

In my simplicity adventures, at the moment I am focusing on water and packaging.

It is my dearest hope and desire that our present UK government administration will be ousted before they manage to fulfill their ambitions to abandon clean green energy plans, frack through our countryside and drinking aquifers, and build a massive new nuclear power station. May their plans come to nothing.

Government plans are entirely driven by demand, of course, so it seems to me that my responsibilities as a citizen include moving purposefully towards a life as much off-grid and as little damaging to the Earth as I can manage.

We have a lot of rain in England. But because our islands are so densely populated, in the towns our watertable is polluted, and people are advised against drinking from springs. And since the pigeons sitting on our roofs carry exciting diseases like meningitis, one cannot simple drink harvested roofwater.


There’s no reason at all why the harvested roofwater cannot fulfill all our other water requirements – washing ourselves and our utensils. We have about 600 litres worth of rain storage in our water butts, which should see us through all the stretches of time when rain falls. And in dry times, well we still do have mains supply.

Earth-closeting also reduces water use, not only saving gallons and gallons at home, but also saving the big nightmare of sewage treatment. Plus you get first-class free compost for the flowers and fruit trees. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

For drinking, we have several springs of lovely water in the woods near us. It tastes beautiful, but as we’re advised against drinking it, I’ve got one of these to run the water through first.

Until I got the Berkey filter, we were buying spring water to drink, and I feel bad about that – plastic bottles do not bless the Earth. And how can I ask God to bless the Earth if my own choices consistently undermine my prayers?

So that’s one regular packaging habit crossed off the list.

Our mail order packaging we either re-use for our own parcels (I never buy packaging for parcels I send out) or – in the case of cardboard and paper – use for kindling in the woodstove.
Food packaging is our worst thing. At present, we shop mostly in stores, but I’m planning to work on that. The wholefood co-op. The street market. The farmers’ market. They have paper bags.

I find the changing of habits – especially when not all of us in the household are following the same system – is the challenging part of all this. The strategies and solutions are easy-peasy, it’s the breaking old habits that’s hard.


Amy said...

Pen-we homestead here....with our Berky:-)...woodstove...gardens and farm animals. I grew up this way with the exception of the water filter. We had a cistern. Here we have an underground spring and cistern. I love the way I live but do not always like it as it is a hard way to go sometimes. We do without tv...dishwashers...microwaves...etc. Our food...all of cooked from scratch. It is time consuming...but I love my family and mother earth..and understand everything is a choice that big and small ways...this planet on which we ALL live. I so wish everyone would/could live a less impacting lifestyle....sigh... Somebody is going to suffer the consequences of our choices/actions. Selfishly I hope it isn't in my "children's" time...xo

Pen Wilcock said...


You have been pleased with your Berkey? We have only just got ours. Seems great so far.


Kathryn said...

Pen--I thought this would be of interest if you have not already read it. It looks like the mighty monsanto is throwing eggs at its own face. I'm glad to help with that process. It is just what we have suspected all along.....

Also, for numerous reasons--computer failures, depression, yardwork, auto work....--I have been gone from this site. Reading it this morning, I realize how much I have missed your activism, your thoughtfulness as you work on problems, and your openness to change. I will be coming around lots more often now! I am grateful for all you write. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I've just finished reading your book 'In Celebration of simplicity' and have loved every minute of it, God's peace fills the pages, and my heart too, as I read. I am way off living as simply as you, but you have inspired me to think what changes I can make, and what God may call me to do. Thank you so much. Linda J.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hello friends


Yes - what an interesting development that is, Kathryn! Thanks for the link. I hope you're feeling better and life is a little more peaceful. x

Linda, I'm so glad you found the simplicity book helpful. x

Suze said...

Amy, I am in awe. Pen, I am in awe of you too. My shamefful confession is that I never ever want to have an old fashioned drop faciltiy again. We had them in my home until iwas 12. How I loved having a real toilet like others. I am trying to reduce our waste and it is difficult. I have heard of people making their own produce bags to carry their fruit and vegetables. Some also carry containers for buying meat etc too.

We have a 3000 litre tank that holds our extra water. There is no filter and since the tank is plastic I think it would be a dire situation before I used the water for personal use. So I am stuck with the bottle problem too. I mainly drink water and our water has gone from a great tasting to an awful metallic product. I know from our bills we do use less water and electricity than others in our area.

Best wishes and here is to a shrinking of waste, world wide.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah, yes - how hard it is to return to old ways from more convenient amenities! I well remember with what joy and delight I embraced the new, non-leak version of disposable nappies (diapers) when my youngest baby was born, after four babies wearing bulky terry nappies an scratchy plastic pants that made their legs sore! But of course the new generation of disposable nappies and sanitary towels are not like the old ones - much niftier creations.

I wouldn't like an old-fashioned drop facility either (shudder) - in fact I wouldn't be allowed do do it here. We have a small yard in the middle of a town. Even if it were permitted it would be a shocking health hazard. Just one passing fly and the whole neighbourhood could share the joy of e-coli. My system is not like that. It is discreet, air-tight, entirely odour-free and germ free. In fact it is a lot less dirty than a water closet with its complicated ledges and pipes and tubes harbouring germs and debris.

3000 litres is one fab tank! That's a giant stride in the direction of conservation - well done you!! We are looking at what we can put in place of our somewhat inefficient system - but it takes careful thought as it means serious money. We want something simple and mechanical - no electric pumps or complex technology.

:0) xx

Amy said...

Pen~we love our Berkey. We have had it 3 years this month. I use it for all our cooking and drinking needs. I have replaced the fluoride filter every year...but this is the first year I've replaced the big black filters. It is interesting to watch guest's reactions to the taste of the water from it.... They usually are quite amazed at the purity even the die hard bottled water consumers:-) We have helped passively to sell more than one Berkey that way:-) xo

Pen Wilcock said...


Yes, I love that the water has a taste, where distilled water tastes of nothing. xx