Friday, 28 September 2007

Saying it with flowers

There’s a bunch of flowers on my kitchen table that’s giving me great delight. The cosmos, rudbekia, dahlias and sweet-smelling sweet peas are the last of the summer beauties, soon to be obliterated by the first frosts. The flowers were sold at Laportes and grown by Jo Corcoran, in a field at Ashurst Organics, one of Lewes’s organic growers. Jo, who runs Floralworks, also supplies the Lewes Farmers’ Market during flower season. This information is important to me: I drew the line on imported flowers earlier this year. When I learned about the price being paid by Kenyan women and Kenyan soil and Kenyan water to bring me cheap beauty, I decided I couldn’t buy into that particular beast any longer. I want to fund Kenyan women to grow their own flowers, and chickens, millet and beans, for that matter.

For those who believe in fair trade to promote international equity, there’s another option though, now that Hilary Moore’s flower shop stocks a selection of plants and flowers with the ‘Fair Flowers Fair Plants’ label. They do what they say on the package and if you care about these things, it’s important we support our local shops who care on our behalf. Meanwhile, I believe the best things in life are free, and glean increasing satisfaction from the occasional whiff of jasmine and rose in my garden and now winter flowering viburnums and witch hazel starting to send out their improbably powerful scents out in to the cool air up on Castle Banks.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Living like there's no tomorrow

I’ve been living for so long in my perfect world that I get a shock when I step out, as I did this summer, into what could be called the ‘surreal world’. Out there, people are living like there’s no tomorrow. Getting in a car to drive half an hour to the nearest Waitrose while on holiday seemed perfectly normal to my dear sister, when the organic farm shop, a scenic walk up the road, stocked plenty of cheap staples for a fortnight’s holiday. Now even the broadsheets are telling us to ‘cut our carbon’ yet there is little appetite for what that means: to wean ourselves off fossil fuel and everything it’s in. It’s killing us (at least, poor people and nature) and it won’t last. But we are addicted to oil, and by not dealing with our addiction we bring on the oblivion of no tomorrow. Today I give up alcohol (again). Plus, I’m starting to enjoy being frugal. Here are ten steps for a starter:
1. Educate yourself. Read Energy Bulletin for global updates.
2. Just buy less. Join Freecycle.
3. Share things; develop community.
4. Start learning skills.
5. Join an organic box scheme. Get off supermarket addiction.
6. Buy bulk food with Just Trade.
7. Eat more simply and locally.
8. Get into hot water bottles and heat one room.
9. Get a grant from LDC for solar water heating. Bathe less.
10. Wake up from the dream. Find out what true pleasure means!