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

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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How Big IS Grandma? Do You Need More Space?

Our internet service had been goofy all that day; the house alarm system sent a random beep to my phone at 3AM. Waking from deep sleep to “Is there a bad guy coming up the steps right now?” turned into the kind of insomnia that requires … decluttering videos. My heart stopped racing as I watched a mild woman talk about the closet in her laundry room.

How I saved Tens of Thousands of Dollars Lately and also got a New Kazoo

Just in case you thought I stopped paying attention to how to live cheap and well. 

1. For several months we have composted veg and fruit scraps - our weekly garbage reduced by half! We collect detritus through the day in a bowl on the counter, carry it out to a steel garbage can we brought from our last house. I’ve dug some of this collapsed organic stuff into the garden.

Mindful Chickens/ The "Before its Too Late" Edition 5-14-2019

Mindful Chickens   5/14/2019

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

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

These are things we have thought, attempted, and done in the past month to live more lightly and frugally on our City Plot of Planet Earth.

We have to change how we live ...

We can’t go on like this.  Our everyday Western/American lifestyle -- is utterly unsustainable. 

Bread, Tortillas, and Chocolate

 As many of you know, I follow a website called The Non-Consumer Advocate, written by Katy Wolk-Stanley who defines herself as “… library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.” She has purchased very little newly-manufactured consumer goods since she joined The Compact; a movement of people who choose to rethink mindless consumption. http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/

The Money for Our Brother is Raised

We got the balls rolling!

Irony of the universe here.  I have written a lot this week but none of it turned into writing I wanted to post on this website.  Just awkward, mawkish, rambly writing.

I was hard-thinking why I do this and it wasn’t self-pitying thinking.  (I know how to do that, too, but this wasn’t that.) 

Then late yesterday afternoon Helle said Our Brother needs help and the total of what he needs is more than she could support him with. I said I would think about it.

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