I want to start this post by saying that this post is only my personal opinion. Some of you will agree with me, some won’t. Some will think that this woman has totally lost it and others will never read my blog again. Whatever your thoughts on this post are – that’s fine. We all have our opinions and we are all entitled to them just as we are entitled to not listen to others opinions.
James made a comment at the breakfast table at the time the New Zealand Earthquakes were being broadcast via the media that perhaps God was mad at us. I asked why. James replied that why else would all these horrible things be happening – earthquakes, floods and fires. I explained it isn’t God that is angry at us – that He loves us and forgives us so long as we truly ask for forgiveness. James mulled that over for a bit then replied “Well Mother Nature must be truly pissed off at us for her to do these things to us”. Again I explained that Mother Nature wasn’t “pissed off”, as he so eloquently put it, but she was concerned at what we were doing to our planet. James was satisfied with the answer but I continued to think about what he had said.
To an eleven year old seeing all the news reports of drought, fires, floods in Queensland then Victoria, earthquakes in remote parts of the world then nearer to home in New Zealand then the Tsunami that has hit Japan it must seem that we have done something very wrong to deserve all this. Hey this 43 year old woman is wondering just what is happening. One catastrophe after another seems to be hitting our world and I suspect, just as I am wondering why, so are many others.
Do I think the world is coming to an end????
Do I think that the Earth is starting to fight back against all the abuse we have dished out over the centuries?
I honestly believe that you can only take something from someone for so long before they say “Stop” and in some cases fight back.
I think the earth is doing just that. We have stripped Earth of her resources. Mined her depths, polluted her oceans and atmosphere, lived the high life with no thought to the consequences our actions and now when tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, droughts, fires and anything else related to nature happen to us – we wonder why.
Can we change it? – yes I believe we can. I believe that while it is impossible to turn Earth back to the pristine planet she once was – lets face it time ravages all of us – it is possible to reduce the impact we have on Her and to create a better future for those coming after us.
Does this mean changes in how we do things? Yes it does. It means that each and everyone of us has to stop and think about our actions. We need to be responsible for ourselves, our families and our communities. We need to go back to basics – family, home, friends, community. We need to relearn skills that have become lost over the years or thought of as ‘outdated”. Growing our own vegies, simple safe cleaning products such as Bicarb soda and vinegar instead of those loaded with chemicals, learning to cook or cooking meals from scratch. Simple things that humans have done for generations but that seem to be in decline. Does this mean jobs will be lost – honestly I don’t know and I’m not about to predict the future. Certainly we need to look and look hard at how items are manufactured and the effects they have on our world. Regardless of whether you are a single or dual income family, high or low earners, educated to the max or just scraped through secondary school you live on this planet and your children, grand children, great grand children and countless other generations after you have to live here too. We don’t have another world to move to. A family discussion one night reflected this thought. What if Earth is completely ruined – can we move to Mars? Possibly but why should we? We destroyed Earth – what gives us the right the make the same mistakes and destroy another planet just because we stuffed up this one?
Am I perfect?? Not a chance. In hindsight Ashley and I would have loved to have built a home using ecofriendly materials with all the design elements of a sustainable home. We would have loved to put in composting toilets, grey water systems and plenty of rainwater tanks. Unfortunately the money wasn’t there. The skills (ours) weren’t there and to be honest we hadn’t (at that time) started on the path to creating a better home for ourselves and our children, we were at a crossroads trying to decide the best option. We did think ahead in that we bought 2 acres so we could be more self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables and while that seems to be taking a long time to achieve slowly and surely we are getting there. We are changing our home as much as we can to be more energy efficient. We are looking into ways of reducing our dependence on power from the electricity companies and using free energy – wind and solar. The vegie garden is growing slowly and I have bottled more fruit than I have in years. I make soap and laundry detergent. I use the dryer as little as possible preferring to hang my clothes on the clothes line. We are reducing our spending and working towards being debt free. Meals are home cooked and take away is very, very rare.
Are we going to bulldoze our house and rebuild or sell up and build somewhere else in order to have all the things we wish we had put in this house? NO. I think that would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Despite the things we may have done wrong with this house (and the land) – we have also done lots of things right. The house suits us. The location suits us. It gives us the room to move, to experiment with growing different crops to become more self-sufficient as time goes on. It’s handy to town in that car travel is only a few minutes and close to schools and it’s an easy spot for clients to see us when they need to see Ashley for work. We chose to live here and it’s up to us to improve where we live to the best of our ability.
Am I going to give up technology and start cooking on a wood stove, use candles or lanterns for light, wash my clothes using a scrubbing board, go without mobile phones, television and the internet? NO. I am, however, going to pick and choose what technology comes into my life. I don’t need the latest and greatest mobile phone (I’ll admit mine is pretty fancy but I couldn’t see the buttons on other phones that were simpler), my car is fine and I don’t plan on changing it for a great many years. I have a dryer but it’s a last-ditch effort to get clothes dry. I love the internet and I use it not only for entertainment,all those blogs I read are better than reading the best book in the world, but I also use it for information. To find out the best sorts of apples trees to plant for our climate. How to make soap and deodorant. Why my seedlings aren’t growing the way they should. How do I knit socks. There is so much information out there but again it’s something to be used with discretion. I am a woman of this century but I also recognise that in some cases, not all, there are easier and better ways to do things than reach for the latest gadget or appliance that has hit the market. When my dishwasher dies – I won’t be getting a new one, just as I won’t be getting a new dryer. I will downsize my washing machine when the kids (if they ever) leave home.
Ashley too picks and chooses what technology he purchases. He has purchased a number of new tools for work of late. Tools that make his life easier and reduce the wear and tear on his body not tools that are just fancy looking and designed to impress. Like me, he does heaps of research before he purchases anything new for work (or leisure) as he wants it to do what he wants and be the best we can afford. Buying cheap items just isn’t the way to go – they often don’t stand up to the rigors of daily use and can need replacing more often than a more expensive item. Yes it takes longer to afford a more expensive item but in the long run it’s worth the wait.
I know a great many people are working just as hard as us to reduce, reuse and recycle and are as concerned about our lives and planet as I am. I also know there are a great many who simply don’t care. Who want the latest gadgets or home or car no matter the cost to their wallet or the planet. While I’m not advocating pounding on their doors and preaching to them ways to change I do think we should show the way by example. Ashley and I are very lucky in that we have good friends, who while not going down the same path as we are, are willing to listen to our ideas and discuss what we have been doing. They don’t condemn us for trying something new and while what we do may not fit in with their lifestyle they always ask and are interested in what the outcomes are of our experiments. These informal chats over a cuppa and cake have produced ideas and nutted out problems that we may not have thought of or solved on our own. I don’t want to convert these friends simply for convertings sake. I want them to want to change. We are friends with them because of who they are not the lifestyle they live. If they decide to try some of what we are doing we are more than happy to help out or offer advice if it’s asked for and most importantly to praise their efforts. If they choose not to – that’s fine but at least they have taken the time to stop and think about something that they may not have previously considered.
Is this a post to try and convert you the Reader to my point of view? NO!! Each person must make up their own mind on what suits them and their lifestyle. This is merely a post to affirm to myself that the road Ashley, the family and I are on is the right one. That we do many things differently to many others. That we care about our planet, our family and friends and that we get back far more than we put in gives us the bonus of satisfaction, enjoyment and family time. I want to look back on this post in 12 months time and realise that what I am doing, what we are doing as a family, is working even if there have been changes along the way.
Yes its work and it’s hard work but not one of us is afraid of working hard. The word “working” isn’t a dirty word – it just means getting on with the job and getting it done to the best of our abilities and being proud of what we have achieved.
Would I go back to how we lived before? The answer is a very resounding NO!!!! Apart from the fact that I believe that every small thing we do towards helping the planet is a good thing, I’m also having fun. I’m making things – socks and soap come to mind – that I have never tried before and am loving it. My gardening skills are improving. I’m more relaxed and enjoying the simple pleasures in life more. Home is my sanctuary and the desire to go down the street and “shop” is diminishing. Now I have very little trouble in deciding that I don’t need that “whatamacallit” that the shops offer in such glowing terms – in time I’m predicting the temptation to even look at the “whatamacallit” will go away completely. My grocery bill is reducing as I’m making more and more meals, snacks and preserving fruits. Even the children are seeing the results and are thinking themselves as to whether they need the latest item or if they can just use what they have. It’s the hardest job in the world teaching children and teaching children budgeting and mindful living habits is one of the most difficult parenting jobs of all. I’m proud to say I can see the benefits in all our hard work paying off when it comes to our children.
People think I’m strange. They see me knitting socks or crocheting or hear me talk about making soap and I get the “is this woman insane it’s cheaper to buy that stuff” look. That’s fine. I’m not worried what others think of me. I’m enjoying myself and the satisfaction I get from my endeavours far outweighs the “looks” I get. If knitting socks in the dentist surgery inspires a lady to ask “are they hard to knit cause they look like fun” (it happened a few months ago) then I am in seventh heaven. I still get asked why do you bother – and try as I might I can’t explain in words properly the satisfaction I get from my daily chores. I get the “aren’t you bored”, or “can’t you get a real job” comments. Hey I have a real job – it’s fun and fulfilling and means far more to me than the 9 to 5 job I had many years ago. Some people will never ever get why I do what I do and that’s fine. They simply don’t seem to understand that my life is FUN. Yes there are boring times and lets face it cleaning loos or bathrooms is never exciting but there are plenty of other jobs I do that more than make up for the unexciting ones. Others though, I hope will be inspired to go out and seek alternatives to the lifestyle they already have if only for curiosities sake. They may seek out blogs to read for inspiration or try growing lettuces for the first time. Whatever anyone does it’s a beginning.
Remember – the hardest step of all is the very first one.
Off my soapbox now – vegies to weed and washing to fold.