Thursday, 7 January 2010
The organic Seville oranges have arrived at Bills and I’m making marmalade. For the past decade I’ve made a batch that lasts at least until July’s pick-your-own blackcurrants get turned into summer jam. My kitchen store cupboards are stacked with honey and pickles, my basement cold-store shelves still house home-grown pumpkins and Jerusalem artichokes, supplemented with bags of onions, potatoes and carrots from local farms. Plus the sacks of rice, lentils, oats and olive oil delivered by Infinity Foods. Yesterday, before the snow came, I picked kale, rocket and leeks from the allotment. Next week the veg box resumes. I have a good log store in my basement, from wood from our woodland, and my curtains are now interlined. I’ve been doing all this because it makes me feel more happy and more resilient, more interdependent, and because I want to help others be resilient.
As we enter a new decade, many commentators are predicting great change, uncertainties around money, livelihoods, food crops, energy, water, fish, weather (!), and other climate- and energy-related issues. Snugly snowed in with not much to do, it’s is a good time to review our resilience, our flexibility to change. Right now I’m looking into much-needed draughtproofing.
For me, there’s another imperative, and that’s one of justice. If we, the 20% of the world’s population who consume 80% of its resources, are living on 3-8 planets - or more if we fly - that means that on our one planet, other people’s lives are at stake as a result of our overconsumption. As the activist Joanna Macy, writes, it’s quite appropriate to feel the deep emotions that arise when I consider the effect of my life on other beings such as the tiger, the Maasai people and the butterflies in my wood. It’s from that raw emotion that I can then take action and not remain numb and paralysed.
In the absence of other solutions, the most obvious way about this is, I believe, is to gradually, over the next decade, reduce our living costs to one planet: to a third to an eighth of current levels, depending on the size of our current carbon footprint. That’s doable, without any loss of real needs. Yet, despite it being accepted in green circles, who embrace the idea as being something we’d want to do anyway for a wide range of reasons, the idea of consuming less and rethinking our economic growth paradigm, is still hugely unpopular, as reflected by our world leaders’ inability to reach consensus in Copenhagen. It seems that this fear of having to live with less accounts for a large part of the denial, excuses and obfuscation going on.
But I know plenty of people aiming to live locally and simply in Lewes; that inspires me. As does this short video by Eckhart Tolle.