Oh dear, would you look at the state of this place? I don’t know how it gets away from me so.
*brushes dust off the table*
Ah well, never mind, sit down and have a cuppa with me any way, and tell me what you’ve been up to.
How did 2012 come out in the wash? Was the old year good to you? It certainly brought me a great range of adventures and achievements, as well as a few frustrations.
*pours you a cup of tea*
How is 2013 treating you? What great plans do you have in store this year? What’s got you inspired or all down in a slump?
That garden of yours, how is it growing? My tomatoes are a bit sluggish this year, but oh my, the beans! I do wish it would rain though…
*passes over some biscuits*
How’s the weather been out your way? Floods again? We keep catching fire here. No, it’s not the best, but at least it clears up that persistent little rumour about it always being cold and wet out this way. The chilli plants are liking it too, mind you I’m not happy about having to water the garden.
Yes, I have ideas for a simple grey-water system. I’m sure I’ll get around to it one day, just as soon as I’ve got on top of things around here. I’d better get the garden prepped for autumn planting first though, and the hot water pipes insulated, and my finances sorted and I really want to get out walking a bit more before the summer’s over, then there are friends to see, trip planning and Spanish study to do and taiko drumming, plus that whole full-time work malarkey… Still, it all gets done somehow.
*re-fills your cup*
Have you noticed what a beautiful day it is out there? Gorgeous, isn’t it. You know, I’m sure straightening this place out can wait a little longer: grab your cup and we’ll go sit outside in the sunshine, watching the bumble bees seduce the borage.
And look, my eggplants are flowering! I’m hopeful I’ll actually get fruit if this weather keeps up. Oh it is warm, isn’t it? On days like this you can pretty much see the beans growing…
Somehow January is almost over already, so I guess it’s high time I welcomed in the new year and thought about what 2013 will bring.
2012 was a big year for me. I moved house, I went travelling and I really started to think about how I wanted to live my life and what sustainability meant to me. I made a lot of changes for the better: I moved closer to town and started walking to work, I turned a wild backyard into a productive veggie patch, I changed my shopping habits and became a buyer of local, seasonal produce, supporting local, sustainable farmers and I really started to understand the difference between wants and needs. I ended the year happier in myself and the path I’ve been choosing to walk.
I wasn’t an angel though. For all my car-avoiding, energy-saving, re-using and non-buying I still had a large environmental impact last year because I went travelling. Between work and pleasure I had 6 domestic trips (14 flights) plus the big trip to Chile and Peru, which clocked up around 2.5 tonnes of CO2. Given my annual non-travel CO2 output is around 5 tonnes, that’s adding another half-me’s worth of greenhouse gas! I’d say I’ll do better this year, but truth is I won’t because I’m headed back to Peru again in a couple of months to do Spanish school and spend a bit more time getting to know a country I seem to have fallen in love with. That means another 2.5 tonnes of emissions, though this time I’m going to be doing some voluntary work helping maintain an educational organic garden of native Andean crops, so at least I’m doing something to offset my impacts a little. It’s not really enough though and I have no excuse: I don’t need to go back to Peru, I just really, really want to.
Yes, sometimes I’m a hypocrite. When we really do want something we find a way to justify it.
So, in an effort to counter my air miles I’m going to make a serious effort to further reduce my other environmental impacts. This year plastics are in the firing line: made from oil, not particularly recyclable, designed to be thrown away and with growing concerns about impacts on the environment and human health, plastics are not sustainable materials. I’m figuring out how to de-plastic my existence: from the kitchen[1,2,3] to my wardrobe[4,5], it’s time to figure out how to live with less of these ubiquitous materials.
Of course I’ll continue growing what food I can in my little garden, and I’ll keep supporting my local producers. I’ll keep up all the small changes of buying less and thinking about where what I’m purchasing came from, keeping track of what my purchases are supporting. I’ll keep reading and learning about sustainability and putting that knowledge to work in practical ways. Something else I’d like to do though, is learn how to better share that knowledge and spread the changes. Like a benevolent virus I want to infect others with the drive to live more sustainably, to motivate and empower people to make changes and help to build a better future.
Living “green” is seen as something of an upper / middle-class privilege, and while it’s true that many people can’t afford to shop at the Farmer’s Market or buy quality stuff that’s going to last longer, there are things that everyone can do to lighten their impacts on the planet a little at the same time as lessening the impacts on their bank balance. Sustainability is about making choices that are good for us all, including socially and financially. It doesn’t cost anything to get to know your neighbours, and it saves you money to share tools and car pool with them, and nobody is going to complain about lowering their power bills! I want to figure out how best to demonstrate that to the kinds of people who won’t ever read a blog about sustainability…
So that’s my focus for a sustainable 2013:
- Remove as much plastic as possible from my life
- Keep learning about sustainability and sharing what I do
- Figure out how to make change contagious
As a very simple start I’ve created a facebook community for sharing articles and inspiring stories: please come along and add your voice to the conversation. I’m always interested in collaborators too, so if you’d like to write something for the blog or share an idea, please get in touch!
What lies ahead in 2013 for you?
1. Maffini MV, Rubin BS, Sonnenschein C & Soto AM (2006); Endocrine disruptors and reproductive health: The case of bisphenol-A; Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, Vol 254–255, Pp 179–186.
2. Wikipedia entry on Bisphenol-A
3. Wagner M & Oehlmann J (2009): Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles; Environmental Science & Pollution Research, Vol 16(3), Pp 278-86.
4. Browne MA, Crump P, Niven SJ, Teuten E, Tonkin A, Galloway T & Thompson R (2011); Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks; Environmental Science & Technology, Vol 45(21), Pp 9175–9179.
5. ABC Australia (2012) “The World Today” story “Plastic pollution from a laundry near you“
January 29, 2013 | Categories: Lifestyle, Meta | Tags: 2013, carbon emissions, creating change, de-plasticing, environment, goals, greenhouse gas, peru, plastic, plastic pollution, sustainable living, travel, veggie patch, volunteering | 5 Comments »
Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing my little internet soap box. I hope I’m doing something to make the world just a tiny bit better, and I can’t do it without you.
Take care of yourselves, your loved ones, your community and your planet. I’ll see you again in 2013.
December 24, 2012 | Categories: Meta, nature photography | Tags: 2012, an attitude of gratitude, blogging, building a community, Christmas, meta, my internet soapbox, my readers rock, thank you | Leave A Comment »
One of the things about trying to live a more sustainable life is that is slows you down a little. You take time to shop locally and source small-footprint produce. You stop driving everywhere and start walking instead. Weekends are spent in the garden as often as possible, growing food and nourishing the soil. Real food, real chores, real life. And I love it, I really do. I wouldn’t go back to the life I had before. I was hardly a rampant consumer – I composted, I recycled, I was mindful in my actions – but I wasn’t as happy as I am now. I feel more connected: to the seasons, to the soils and to the community. I’m better at distinguishing between needs and wants, and I find myself wanting a whole lot less. I’m learning new, useful skills and becoming more confident and connected. I have less, I work harder for what I have, I am healthier and I am happier.
The one thing, though, that I never get enough of is time. Always in short supply, I try to squeeze the most out of the time I have, frequently pushing too far and crossing the line into exhaustion and illness. I burn out. It’s not a new state of affairs – I’ve always been this way – but it’s really not sustainable. Time is another resource, just like money, oil, water, nutrients and all the other resources I’m working to conserve. I need to treat it the same way: slow down, take stock, think about what I really need to be spending it on then prioritise my wants. There are so many things I enjoy doing and am passionate about; my curiosity is limitless but my time and energy are not.
I’m slowing down. I’m deciding what I really want (and I’m grateful that my travels have helped me start to work out exactly what that is).
This blog, this lovely little community I’m trying to nurture? Don’t worry, I’m keeping it, but instead of a well-tended neat little plot I’m going to let it ramble a little. The veg will get mixed in with the flowers and sometimes I’ll let the grass grow long. I can’t keep up with twice-weekly writings to the level of content I want to create, so instead I’ll write when I can: when I find myself with both the time and the inspiration. I’m doing the same in real life too, learning to live with the chaos that is the garden I’ve inherited, working with it as best as possible instead of struggling to enforce a sense of order. It’s ok if lettuces sprout in the pavers and kale self-sows in the lawn, if the grass grows in the beds and parsnips appear midst the potatoes. I don’t have to have this patch in perfect order for it to be productive, and nor do I need to blog on a timetable for this project to have value.
This weekend though, I’m having someone come around to give me hand to get a spot ready to plant my summer veg, because I really want tomatoes and zucchini this year, and likewise I’m still looking for guest bloggers to share content here. I love finding new ideas take root and spread.
So please forgive me when my virtual garden gets a little over-grown and help me celebrate the unexpected discoveries of richness in the chaos (like the kale seedlings I’ve been feasting on). Slow down a moment and breathe it all in.
September 13, 2012 | Categories: Balance, Gardening, Lifestyle, Meta | Tags: bad metaphores, balance, beauty, blogging, community, growing a community, joy, life, priorities, sustainability, time management | Leave A Comment »
Forgive me for the short entry today. I’ve spent most of the day proof-reading and correcting a 60-odd page document and my brain is now quite fried.
My fractious state has, however, motivated me to write this entry, which I’ve been thinking about for quite some time: I want to grow the shape of things to come.
It has always been my intention to connect with like-minded people through this blog: to share knowledge and enthusiasm, inspire each other and build something bigger than ourselves. Through multiple voices we can learn and accomplish more than with just me on my virtual soap-box. I want to build an online community, a place to make sustainability a shared conversation, grounded in respect, understanding and factual information, and I’d like your help to make that possible.
I’m pestering other people into writing pieces to share here: guest posts to share specific skills, passions and outlooks and regular contributors to share their own personal journeys.
Together I believe we can grow this place into something quite special: a shared resource to help build the kind of future we’d like to see.
Come and join the conversation!
If you’d like to write a guest post, collaborate, suggest future topics or provide constructive feedback on the blog in general, please leave a comment below or send an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I’d love to hear from you.