Since the post solstice vision, I’ve been thinking a lot about what does a sustainable life look like? It’s not a new question for me, one I have been asking for at least 30 years, since reading John Seymour’s Self Sufficiency. The gulf oil spill has been a wake up call for some people to focus minds on how we have created lifestyles which depend on more and more oil for our food, clothing, heating, consumer goods.
Deepak Chopra has proposed 8 actions for increased sustainability in the wake of the gulf spill:
1. Give direct financial aid through reliable agencies such as the United Way.
2. Support organizations such as Ocean Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and others that are engaged in healing our ecosystem. Follow their recommendations for ways to help.
3. Volunteer and help organisations to recruit others for habitat restoration activities and more. For example, gather hair from salons, groomers, llamas, sheep fleece farmers, feather donors, and others, for making oil-soaking boom via mattersoftrust.org.
5. Make conscious choices that are “green.” For example, go through your cleaning supplies and stop using anything that has a Signal Word label with anything stronger than “Caution.”
6. Support investments in technologies that are looking at sustainably and reversal of global warming such as Fuelcor Global
7. Educate yourself on very successful approaches to restoring the ecosystem such as of Allan Savory, who is the winner of 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge
8. Support spiritual education that teaches people, especially the youth, the relationship between all life. Much of all that has happened to damage the world is a result of a dualistic approach in science where we created a distinction between biological organisms and the environment.
Making Conscious Choices
For myself action 5 has been the one I could grapple with most easily. I have always been interested in the small regular actions and choices which add up over a lifetime, in relationship to consumption. Making conscious choices that are ‘green’ seems like a small thing to do and yet I’m always surprised by how few people do. I’m curious as to why that is. Is it because people don’t know? Because they don’t care? Because it’s inconvenient? Because it might cost more money? Because it’s ‘not in my back yard’?
I guess I am fortunate that I was brought up in a household where we never stopped eating ‘organic’, never stopped recycling, never stopped thinking about where our ‘stuff’ came from or how it came to us. My mother joined the Vegetarian Society in 1962 after uncovering some veal covered by maggots. Here’s Health magazine was typical reading in our household. So my childhood was peppered with an awareness that we somehow had a different attitude, which went way beyond eating or not eating meat. School dinners inevitably meant ‘meat and two veg’ minus the meat. When we grew mustard and cress seeds in infant school we had to take in 2 slices of bread and butter to make our cress sandwiches. I was the only child who showed up with Allinson’s wholemeal bread. Every other child was eating Mothers Pride industrial sliced white and I was extremely envious and hoping my mother would catch up with other mothers. Now I am extremely grateful and hoping other mothers will catch up with mine.
Bread is a prime example of what has happened in the industrialisation of our food supply over the last 150 years or so. An interesting article on the rise of cheap white bread here:
If we are serious about food security and sustainability for all then I can’t see how removing the nutrition from our cheap staple easily grown foods can be the answer. It’s quite heartening to find that real whole bread is finding a way back on to the high street recently. I got some lovely bread in Saker organic bakery in Hebden Bridge the other day and other organic bakers are springing up, tho of course these are currently dependent on premium pricing. Is there a demand for real bread out there on a bigger scale? How do we reconnect with our food sources beyond the plastic wrapper? How do we make it easier for people to make sustainable choices? We can’t go back to some utopian vision of self-sufficiency now that we recognise our interdependence. What will the new vision look like? Answers on a recycled postcard please…