Friday, 11 August 2017

For the Earth our home.

Oh dear.

Apparently, by the beginning of August, we had already used up the resources the Earth is capable of renewing in a year – the trees we cut down, the water we consumed, the fish we took out of the sea; all that sort of thing.

Time to redouble our efforts, dears, as we don’t have the extra planet Earth we’ll need if we go on at this rate.

What to do?

As usual I feel semi-powerless, but recognise I do have options, and an obligation to take what action I can.

So these are the steps I thought I’d take (I do these things already but I could do them more often or more consistently) ~

1) Buy second-hand – furniture, china, clothes, shoes, jewellery, books, kitchen equipment, bags and baskets, cars, hats – pretty much any manufactured thing I can think of is available on eBay or in charity shops or on Freegle for significantly less than the same version of it new. I recognise this will damage retail sales – and as someone who writes books I understand the implications of that well! Book 2 never gets published if Book 1 doesn’t sell. Happily e-books are a possibility in the particular case of publishing.

2) Electronic gadgets have enabled us to share living space more efficiently, cut down car use significantly and reduce the amount of paper needed radically – and paper is heavy to transport and store. Thoughtful use of electronics can reduce the amount of resources we take up. However the gadgets themselves use resources (and often slave labour), so those we choose to have we should treat as precious and handle responsibly so that they last and remain undamaged as long as possible.

3) Cut down packaging. Buy unwrapped bread from the baker, veggies straight into the bag from the greengrocer, dried legumes in simple cellophane wrap with no dyed labels from the wholefood co-op. And where possible gather direct – from the garden, the fields and woods, with no resource-hungry manufacturing or transport at all. Store rainwater for the garden and for any not-potable use. Cook at home with basic ingredients using minimal packaging rather than ready-meals and ready-make cakes. Eating out, choose restaurants that serve food on china they wash up, not in disposable trays and beakers. No lids, no straws.

4) Share as much as possible – houses, cars, machines. So each phone, TV, furnace/boiler, freezer etc is for a group not an individual.

5) Go for renewables. We were so, so blessed that my father died the year he did, and left us some money – we used it to put solar panels and solar tubes on the roof, which heat our water and generate our electricity. The particular year we inherited that money was the year of the highest government tariff for selling electricity back to the National Grid – so it augments our income too.

6) Do things without machines where possible. Have hard floors not carpets and sweep with a broom rather than use a vacuum cleaner. Never, ever use a tumble drier – line dry clothes and fix an airer over the stairwell. Fix hooks in the bedrooms to string up camping clothes lines. Walk to the grocery store.

7) Live small and simple. Enjoy holiday time at home, walking and chilling out together, instead of air flights or cruises or boat holidays. Go camping.

8) Compost leftovers and veggie scraps. Use fresh urine and wormery juice to feed plants, not store-bought fertilizer. Bokashi bran neutralizes excrement (zaps the pathogens) for composting.

9) Take steps to disconnect from money. The whole money world is strongly linked to the activities of Mammon and the destruction of creation. The amount of money I need for my lifestyle is connected to my level of consumption. Cultivate the grace (gift) economy. Give things away. Do things for free. Share, refrain, forage and scavenge.

10) Aim to own less.


Anonymous said...

A website to consider from a fellow traveller.


Pen Wilcock said...

Dear Anonymous,

I don't normally accept spam (which is what your comment is) on these pages, but as you seem to be good at heart and following a way of simplicity I've let it in.

Other readers, please investigate with caution. Publishing the comment to their website is not an endorsement from me. In these days, and the white evangelical church in America has become increasingly racist and bigoted, I am correspondingly more wary. I took a look at the website and it seemed okay to me, but I didn't investigate very deeply because it's Sunday morning and I need to get ready for church.

rebecca said...

I applaud and practice many of the steps you outlined in your post.
On the other hand, I realize I must live under a rock! Your statement that the white evangelical church in America has become increasingly racist and bigoted just isn't consistent with my experience. Please do NOT equate the Nazi or white supremacist movement with the "white evangelical church in America" before checking us out a little further.

I have NO idea what I can personally do to dispel this notion/perception. I do not deny the presence of these two movement. I grieve that they exist and deplore their activity.

Call me naive or blind, but I who by accident of birth am white and still identify myself as an evangelical Christian (by my definition--not that of the hostile world) do not see this kind of hatred among the people I worship with weekly, our pastors, denomination, or other church communities I am familiar with.

You may think my "world" small, but I know NO ONE who approves of the activity or goals of these groups or any who identify with them any more than I approve of the in-your-face tactics of extremists on the OTHER side of the spectrum.

We are in a sad place in our nation AND world. I truly believe our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood but that we are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. (Ephesians 6:12 ff)

Frances said...

I think No 9 - disengaging from money - is worthy of a blog post by itself. I struggle with this one. I am not keen on buying second hand so try and cut down on consumption generally. However, there are bills to pay - income tax, council tax, electricity and service charges for the flats I live in. I think apartment living (which is what husband and I do) can be a sustainable way of living. We are a new build so insulation is good, it makes better use of the land, we have air source heating and we try to live economically. But we cannot have a compost heap! There are a whole heap of ways of living economically and not spending too much and although I am aware that we could do more (much more) we try out best. A difficult one this..... Thank you for your list, and for a thought provoking post.

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh - d'you know, I thought I'd written more about grace economy than I have. I dug about in the blog a bit, thinking to link you to a post, but I can't find one. Yes, I'll write something about it, because it's occupying my thoughts increasingly, especially as the inequality gap between rich and poor widens.

Suze said...

At present we are in a earthwise fail. For the second time our solar inverter has failed. So the panels are exposed to a huge amount of sun ( subtropical Queensland, winter, and 30+ Celsius today) and the electricity is useless. No insurance or warranty because of the replacement a few years ago. Urgh! Our solar hot water system has been replaced recently too. How much waste has been incurred by short term use of this technology.

Now on the funnier side. I will be a grandmother with a girl due at the end of September. Bethany gave Pip a wonderful baby shower on Saturday. There was a lot of teasing about the old and non baby gift bags This was always followed by the cry of we are reducing reusing to save the planet.

Pen Wilcock said...

How frustrating about the inverter! God bless the little Grandbaby's path into the world! x

Elin said...

There are many good points in there. I love giving people things that I don't need so I am a member of a facebook group for that but I also give some things to relatives or friends. I am a little interested in doing a clothes swap at work, that might help me find some clothes of my own for free too.

I think that with techology it might be an option to already when buying something look up if it is easily fixable or if it is possible to upgrade the device you buy rather than have to buy a whole new one. Many people just buy a new computer or phone the moment theirs get a bit slow and don't even look into this option. It has been good for us though because we have bought used computers and upgraded them. We also use Linux on several computers which can also make an older computer faster.

As to housing I admit I want to have more room. We are surely not at a crisis point when it comes to space as we are 4 people in a three bedroom apartment but I want to be able to have a extra room if it is possible. We will probably not move for several years as the type of apartment we would like in the location we would like is not that easy to find but it is something we do want to do. It is a luxury for sure but one of few we want to afford. I would love to own a house but in our town that is close to impossible due to prizes so the only ones we could possibly afford would mean a long commute and we frankly rather live in an apartment then. I like towns better than the country and I like that you are much less dependent on a car in a town that if you live outside of it. If it were up to me we would not own a car but my husband wants to own one and I have had to settle for owning one then.

Pen Wilcock said...

That's so interesting! I love hearing about other people's choices and priorities. Being in a town rather than the country is important for us too, because it means we can keep down to one car between us all. I think you make some really good points about computers - I think people don't really understand how they work, so swap them out for a new one too readily.

Lovely to hear from you, Elin! x