Mary Beth Writes

Last week I posted an essay railing against our North American/western maniacal consumerism. We are so deep into climate crisis and into destabilizing world poverty caused by the oligarchy of the few.  Something has to give. Plus this: If we are living on $50,000 a year or more, we are already earth’s top 1%. Isn’t this nuts? It really is up to us to turn back this crazy lemmings’ march to the sea.

Several days last week I worked in my tiny urban yard.  I had not gardened much last year; the painter was here, and it was easier to let him have the outside to do his thing. The year before we had just moved and were still working on the innards of the house.

So, working outside again was great! I got so dirty that I could have planted seeds inside my elbows. I sat on the ground, dug up scruffy patches of weeds and grass, and planted new stuff. It was so much work and so much fun.

While sitting in the dirt and sunshine I had time to think.  

We beat ourselves up with guilt. We tell ourselves and others that we can’t drink water from plastic straws or plastic bottles. We shouldn’t use the furnace or air-conditioning until the temperature is some predetermined degree. We must buy energy efficient this and solar that.  We should dry all our laundry on clotheslines and never waste food and all the other rules we have in our heads.

All of these guidelines are good ones. 

But before we berate ourselves into do’s and rules, let me make a strong case that a sustainable life is about being aware, being creative, being imaginative, about having humor and courage. I don’t think living more lightly and frugally on the planet starts in grim determination. I think it starts with small choices that intrigue us and that we can fit into our life.  We begin to think of ourselves as people who care about the earth. We rethink what we think. We re-imagine what we imagine. We find the nerve and courage it takes to live as though our grandchildren’s world matters to us.

This is a good quote from Anna Lappe’. “Every time you spend money you are casting your vote for the kind of world you want to live in”.

 

A few interesting ways we can all change a little!

Meatless Mondays.   “You may think you live on a planet, but really you live on a gigantic farm, one occasionally broken up by cities, forests and the oceans. Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for the purposes of keeping all 7 billion of us fed … And the vast majority of that land — about 30% of the word’s total ice-free surface — is used not to raise food directly to human beings, but to support the chickens, pigs and cattle that we eventually eat.” http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

Frequently eating beef is probably the most environmentally damaging habit most of us we have. Just because we can “afford” a burger doesn’t mean the earth can.  Unless you have a good reason to eat beef, try to choose a different entrée. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars

Reduce the size of your lawn

Buy plastic wrapped products in the biggest sizes you can afford so that you throw away less plastic packaging. Buying in bulk containers is often cheaper, too.

Look at what you bring home from the store. Is there a product you regularly buy that you could obtain without plastic wrapping?

Shop your Farmer’s Market or other local places to buy local foods.

If your clothes are made with polyester they will never decompose; they will eventually end up eternal rags in a landfill. Cotton, linen, and wool decompose. When you shop for new clothes – if you are buying items totally or partially fabricated with polyester, consider whether you are going to wear that item for years, or if it’s beautiful or helpful enough that it will be valuable to someone else in a thrift store someday. Don’t buy “disposable” polyester clothing. Today I am wearing a 100% rayon top – I was going to “donate it away” because I hadn’t worn it in a year until it occurred to me I ought to just wear it!  I look swankier than usual. Maybe I will make this my Wednesday Shirt.  

Is your house really too small? Or do you just need less stuff? https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/square-footage.php

Be brave enough to be unperfect. Our homes and kids, careers and cars, gardens and holidays, gifts and vacations … don’t need to impress anyone.  If we give up how things LOOK, we can concentrate on what it feels like to do our work and share our lives with the people we like and love.

Keep your Hopes and Goals at the top of your list.  Twenty minutes a day doing what we love might slow down our crazy consuming lemming dash through our lives.

Comments

Leonard's picture

I loved that you said we should start with the things that catch our fancy. Heritage tomatoes from the Farmers Market, corn-on-the-cob and native groundcover. In Social Media, the biggest asset we have is our attention, and we need to be more discriminating on who gets to use it: is it something we want to give away to big corporations (think fast food, processed snacks and anything that's advertised on TV) or do we want to keep it for things that really interest us?

It is always so good to find a kindred spirit. Gives me hope. Patricia/FL

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Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 

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The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Holy Mackerel! Mindful Chickens 12/12/2020

Yamiche and Weijia licking out the mackerel bowl this morning.

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I said I would write “mindful things” we did this week. The agenda of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money plus be mindful of the environment and our other values at the same time. Sometimes, one of those purposes wins over the other, but we can think before we spend, right?

1. I cut my hair. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can do it well enough to not look like the Pittsburgh Paint Dutch boy.

Who Let the Chickens Out?

Mindful Chickens i.e., being frugal and living by our values instead of by blithering consumerism is how this blog started. Yet I seldom post lists anymore about choices Len and I make that hit that marker because I can tell from who follows me that this is not why most of you are here.

But today I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Preparing the Light Posts takes me a long time so I am not going to do one – I do plan to be back at it Monday.

7-6-2020 Mindful QUARANTINED Chickens

(Thanks, KJR, for the funny fluffy chicken photo!) 

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

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