Friday, May 16, 2008

car stuff

I have diligently not posted about cars so far. And no, it is not because I am the secret owner of a great honking 4WD. It is because they are not of much interest to me as I don't drive. Don't see the need to, never have, probably never will.

The Object of My Affections and I do have a car (well, I suppose he has it, but I do get to ride in it sometimes!) It is a Ford Focus - a fairly small car that is suitable for two people. We are now looking (alright, he is) at getting a new car - a small station wagon affair. Diesel.

I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. And I confess, it has been triggered by having a couple of large dogs to drag about. Makes me realise what a very first world life we lead.

On the upside I am a diligent train user, that has to count for something. And I walk a lot to get from A to B. On my way to the train station each morning as I wait to cross the road, I am always amazed at the fact that 95% of the cars that go past only have one person in them. There is something deeply, deeply wrong about that.

Friday, April 4, 2008

dog poo bags again

After getting all excited at the prospect of biodegradable plastic-ish bags for picking up the dog poo, I realised all I was going to be doing was consuming more stuff. And doing my best to not use plastic bags (although I admit the odd few do get into the house).

The solution - ask the family. Now when the Object of My Affections' ma and pa come over they bring us their excess plastic bags. Problem solved - I am not consuming something I would not otherwise need, we don't increase our plastic bag usage and we use up some that would otherwise go to rubbish.

Good solution - am vaguely surprised that it was not immediately obvious (well, to me, anyway)...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

look back in horror

I had an image pop into my head the other day about the volume of stuff that I have discarded during my life - and it was a vision of a large and very unattractive pile of wasted food; general household waste; packaging; old shoes and clothes; toys and the general detritus that you shed in a life. And it was not attractive.

And multiply that by a few billion and it is even less so. It did however encourage me to commit to grow my notional rubbish heap as little as possible.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

the drycleaning dilemma

I took some clothes for drycleaning yesterday. I don't do this often (maybe a couple of items a month), but the convenience factor is high - which is to say I don't want to be washing/ironing silk shirts or trying to clean work suits etc. Partly because I am a crap ironer in the first instance (with absolutely no interest in getting better) and I don't know what else to do in the second instance.

I had a bit of an epiphany in the shop to do with really 'seeing' the kilometres of plastic that encased every single item of clothing and the huge number of wire coathangers for which there seems to be no provision for recycling. And then there is the cleaning fluids. A quick google revealed that Perchloroethylene (known as perc) is the most commonly used solvent in dry cleaning. It is hazardous to both health and to the environment. So, obviously the answer is not to do it.

So now I want to know is there an alternative?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

death to the plastic bag

Ok, be warned, this is a bit of a spleen vent.

Plastic bags are everywhere. I try very hard not to end up with them - I use carry bags or stuff things into whatever bag I am carrying at the time. And gee, sometimes I even use my hands and just carry things home in them. But they are still in my life
(plastic bags that is). Even bread comes in plastic bags - it seems like everything comes in bloody plastic.

I don't get it - given the damn stuff doesn't break down for a very long time - and when it does it isn't exactly benign - why is it allowed? Why are approximately six billion plastic bags churned out and used every year in Australia alone?

I heard an interview with Ian Kiernan (Mr Clean Up Australia) on the ABC the other day that made me quite sick - and this is why: "In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, lies a floating garbage patch twice the size of Britain. It is a place where the water is filled with six times as much plastic as plankton. This plastic-plankton soup is entering the food chain and heading for our dinner plates. Plastic bags are mistaken as food and consumed by a wide range of marine species, especially those that consume jellyfish or squid, which resemble plastic bags when floating in the water column."

So these crappy plastic bags are not only choking marine life, they are breaking down at sea and entering the food chain - with unknown (but gee, let me guess, toxic) results. After all the damned things are a petroleum by-product. And those of us who eat sea food will sooner or later end up with some of those broken down molecules in our food. At the risk of sounding bitter and twisted, it seems no more than we deserve. A not very nice example of what goes round comes round.

Let's say no to plastic and other crappy packaging. We don't need it, it is energy intensive to make and it doesn't go away once we're finished with it. And it does not add to our quality of life. Just say no.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

how time flies

I have just rather belatedly realised I have been at this gig for over 12 months now. And although I ain't perfect, I'm pretty pleased with the progress that's been made. Have bought some stuff, but only a fraction of what I would have normally. Have also got rid of a lot of stuff that is now being used by other people, rather than stagnating at my house. Have used up a lot of stuff that was hanging about in the bathroom and laundry cupboards. I now buy virtually all of my books and CDs second hand - and am even managing to give some books away (believe me, this is a seriously significant step from the last of the great book hoarders). I shop at second hand clothes shops. And perhaps most importantly of all I am actively thinking of what I buy - transport miles, packaging, do I really need it, all that sort of thing.

However, perfection eludes me. I still have a few things to work on. The move to organics has not worked as I would have liked - due mainly to convenience and the obstruction of the object of my affections (he's pretty good, but gets obstinate on some things. Most irritating). I still have too much stuff in my life, and every now and again I do buy something new. But hardly ever. Like most things, a work in progress ...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

face stuff

For a while now I have been using skin products from the Natural Source - they do an organic line and the Daintree line which is based on naturopathic principles. The products are great and reasonably priced, they come in reasonably sized containers and are not overpackaged. What more could you want? There are a few stores in Melbourne (including a new one in Bourke Street) and I guess they are around the country. They also do cosmetics - including mineral based makeup. Good stuff.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

this temperance business

When I read Daharja's post I was interested in her reference to the Seven Heavenly Virtues. I was particularly taken by the idea of temperance - of self control, abstention and moderation. Kind of an old fashioned idea, temperance, but one in which I am becoming increasing interested. Temperance is what this whole reduced consuming business is about really.

It has also come home to me on another level - after an indulgent Christmas, I took a look at what I was eating (and drinking). A food diary was a very revealing tool - I wrote down what I ate and drank every day for three weeks without making any effort to modify my consumption. And then I had a good look at it. All I can say is no wonder I can do with losing a few pounds! I truly thought I was eating and drinking fairly moderately - however the evidence was definitely to the contrary. So I am now making an effort to consume less on the bodily front - and consuming more appropriate to my physical needs. Am also participating (albeit passively) in Feb Fast - no alcohol for February. Has been a bit of a challenge on occasion, but so far so good.

Monday, February 4, 2008

more dog business

Have solved the issue of dog food being left over and stinking out the rubbish - got another dog. No issues re leftovers when there is a bit of competition ...

Here is the beautiful Maggie - another ex racing greyhound.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

gaining momentum?

I read this article about buying less in The Age this morning - it gave me hope. We are not alone!

I have found that putting off buying things is a pretty good tactic - rather than purchasing something when I see it - I wait. And usually find that I forget about it or that it doesn't seem that important after a few days. I find it interesting that I still have to think about this so much - it is taking a long time for changed behaviour to become ingrained. It's beginning to look like a life's work...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

another small triumph

I have just cracked something I have never managed before - not buying anything in a Duty Free shop! Well, to be more correct, I did buy a couple of bottles of alcohol for the people we were staying with on the way in to NZ, but on the way back - nada.

No alcohol, no perfume, no lipstick, no nothing. I had an epiphany that went 'I don't need to buy this now because this stuff will always be here.' (And I did have a bit of a flashback to the five or so full bottles of perfume I gave away a couple of months ago because I didn't wear it ...)

If I decide I really want something I can get it. But I don't need it now. And odds are I may never need or want it ...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Enough already!

I have enough!

I have enough in my life.

I have enough consumer goods: clothes, shoes, cosmetics, handbags, furniture, kitchen items, household linens, books, DVDs, CDs, toys, electronic and electrical goods.

My family has a car, a house, many other so-called 'necessities' besides.

I am a product of my generation, and was taught by my schooling, my peers, my parents and my mass media that to consume is good. That to have is to be. That the more I can have, buy, purchase, use, throw away, and own, the more worthy a person I will be.

I have been taught from even before I could speak that although our society pays lip-service to the idea that human value is measured in such traits as honesty, integrity, fairness, faith, kindness and temperance, in reality people are valued not by these virtues but by how many dollars they earn and own, and how many resources they use and lay waste to.

I have been taught that in our society, a person's value is as a consumer first, then as a human being second. The Seven Heavenly Virtues fall way behind.

But I have had enough. I have enough.

For the last three years, I have been practicing frugality. I have been undertaking the No More Stuff challenge, I have read and am practicing the techniques I learned in the brilliant book Your Money Or Your Life, and I have made my decision.

I do not want to be a consumer. I want to be a human being, and my humanity includes the following roles: wife, mother, citizen, sister, lover, friend, environmentalist, caretaker of the world, volunteer, writer, thinker, gardener, homemaker, matriarch.

I looked up 'consume' in the dictionary. Its definitions included 'to do away with completely,' 'to squander' and 'to waste or burn away'.

It is time that we renounced our demotion to 'consumers' and reclaimed our status as individual human beings. I here and now reclaim mine.

I see the future offering distinct and different paths. One is the path of the consumer, where we will burn and waste away the entire earth for ephemeral fashions, cheap air flights, SUVs, and hamburgers.

The other is the path of the human being, placing community, friendship, diversity, honesty, temperance, and charity above chain-store cheapness, McMansions, and the latest iPod.

We have a choice. We always did. All we have to do is open our eyes to see it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

more dog stuff

Am happy to report that the new dog is going well - though I am mighty vexed that he is in love with the Object of My Affections and I have been relegated to the role of handmaiden, walker and feeder. Hmm - not quite what I had in mind.

Anyway, here he is.

And here is the link to the PetRescue site that we got him from. I really like this site because most of the animals are in foster care so you actually find out quite a bit about them before you take them on - risk minimalisation.

However, the point of all this is that the beautiful Beau is what can only be described as a picky eater - which results in disagreeable dog leftovers. Meat, dried food (which he will only eat after it has been soaked!) - it is all very nasty. The worms can't/won't eat it. Our very small garden is not large enough to bury it in and it stinks in the rubbish. What you might call an unanticipated outcome.

My only hope is that as we will be getting another greyhound (he doesn't like to be left alone and needs a friend!) maybe that will result in less leftover food. The things you don't expect ...