Musings on a sustainable life

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

4. Engage in global conversation and harness collective creativity with social networks such as our Collective Creativity group at LinkedIn.

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…


2 thoughts on “Musings on a sustainable life

  1. well, food for thought here, literally………. yes the image of growing stuff in your own backyard was the idyllic future for some, what was the programme, oh yes, The Good Life, my daughter was a toddler then, I had a go at growing beans, baking bread, by the ton in my new batch baking fan assisted oven and wrapping and storing in my new huge freezer the size of a garage !!……… I bought cakes and jam from WI, thought I was doing my bit……… but unlike you I did not grow up with recycling and veg ethos, I grew up with a mother whose head was in Filmgoer magazine, dressed like a film star and was very glamorous and oh so popular with everyone, albeit fairly practical, a recycler and vegie she was not!!! Now my Grandmother, although not veggie, was practical and nothing went to waste, everything was stitched and sewn into some new creation, sheets were dyed and made into my dresses, food, every last scrap was made into something, nothing was ever wasted, she was glamourous but the old school type and even won a UK wide glam grandmother competition. Anyway back to self sufficiency now, 2010, thirty five years on form the good life.

    Like I said previously food had become almost like another status symbol, see them queueing at Flour Power for their top of the range large sourdough. Something not quite right here. On the other hand, the bakers skill is of great value, the mills who grind the wonderful wheat, rye, spelt grains into flour have great value, but this all comes at a price…… I believe we should be paying a fair price for our food, and emphasis should be put on this when budgeting. I would prefer to go without some luxury than skimp on my food…………. But why is their BASIC FOOD in the supermarket, its an insult…….. ” taste the difference” makes my blood boil, Food should all taste good, not one line of food for people on a budget and tastier food for people with more money.

    Or Is it education, I see people in the supermarket buying wholesale packets of ready prepared food, soups, pasta sauces,packets of choc cakes, frozen chips and the like, that you pay through the nose for, would community growing and cooking workshops help us to reconnect and see the value? That food is not cheap as chips !! I think so……….. There seems to be some expectation that food should be cheap? should it? Perhaps cheap is not the right way to think about it, it should be a fair price so that the grower and the purchaser benefit, perfect Ayni I guess.

    Or should bread be subsidised in some way, in Malta they do just that I am told. The bread is delicious sourdough, and costs cents, about 50p a loaf, which is really cheap, because food there costs more there than here.

    going now to give all this some more thought !!

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