Something's been niggling at me for quite some time and has recently been brought to the fore.
I spend A LOT of time (most of my waking hours) thinking about sustainability and how we can lessen the impact of our lives on the world in general. Therefore I can get quite narky when I see people taking advantage of what I am trying to achieve.
Greed and indulgence are what brought us to this point. We now realise we have caused damage to the planet and just about made it impossible to find good healthy food due to our lifestyle choices over the last half century or so. In wanting life to be easier, we have demanded quick, easy food and lots of material goods to make us more comfortable without needing to be physically involved in the production.
Ok. So all that's changing right? We're realising our mistakes and are setting about rectifying the problem by growing veggies, buying thoughtfully and sustainably and trying to use less electricity. Heck, we might have even changed to a 'green' washing powder! Well all in all, yes thank goodness!
There are amazing numbers of individuals shopping ethically, growing veggies, making do with what they have and really making change in their communities. There are also some great businesses springing up. Many are certified organic and others spend a lot of time sourcing ethical goods. Organic farmers are working hard to improve the land they are farming. Many business have chosen not to become certified due to the paperwork and cost but run very ethical businesses all the same. I support these businesses as much as I can.
However I believe greed and indulgence are beginning to rear their ugly heads in the world of sustainability. There seem to be more and more businesses 'cashing in' on the fact that people are prepared to pay more because of their ethics. These businesses use the label of sustainability as a marketing tool, charge a fortune and really only have the dollar as their main interest. They don't use sustainable practices and don't really have the environment in mind. They're just savvy enough to realise they can make a buck out of this new market. It makes me angry because while I'm happy to pay extra to ensure I'm covering costs for businesses that are caring about the environment, I don't want to pay top dollar to someone who is taking advantage of me for their own gain! Nor do I want to do all the extra things I do in a day (because I'm hoping to fix the mess we're in) only to find someone else sitting around in the lap of luxury ensuring my goal can't be reached!!!
One of the three ethics of permaculture is Fair Share. If these businesses were fair dinkum about their sustainability they would only be aiming to make enough to be comfortable and ensure their business works. More than that and we enter back into the area of greed which brought us to this point where products are made shoddily, sent overseas for cost advantage and workers are taken advantage of...........
And while I'm at it, there's another area that drives me mad. This one is to do with individuals, not business. There seem to be a whole group of people who feel they are addressing climate change and our impact by simply buying more. You know. All the sustainable gadgets! How have they missed the point so completely?!! Guilt free consumerism in their minds but they are still consuming the planet's resources like they're going out of fashion!
Is it really so bad to look at the situation we're in and make life changes accordingly?! We have over-consumed. Pure and simple. We need to use less. I'm not talking about living dreary and miserable lives. Just a shift in attitude. Stop seeing comfort in giant screen plasma TVs, the most expensive skiing jacket you can find, or in solar heated spas and the latest gadget to turn off all your switches.
There is comfort in an op-shopped jacket that will keep you warm. There is comfort in reading a book or knitting or cooking. There is true comfort in coming into a warm home to the smell of freshly baking bread and soup cooking from locally sourced or home grown ingredients. There is even comfort in getting off your butt and switching off the power at the wall. I remember watching my frugal grandparents washing out plastic bags, switching off the power switches and mending things around their homes. It was a lovely scene of comfort, care and domesticity!
I don't think our problem is so much about a pressing need to find renewable energy alternatives (though that would be great) or finding some scientific answer to climate change (though that would also be great). I think the biggest problem is some people's attitudes. If we could do away with greed and selfishness the world would be a better place. If we weren't so self-centred we wouldn't feel we needed only the best. Not only would we accept second rate sometimes, we would be happy with it! We would work with each other to find a way to live happily, comfortably but with respect for the resources we are consuming.
I'm very aware that when I write a post like this I might sound a little holier than thou. Let me assure you............. far from it! As I've written this post I've walked into the hall and found three lights on in empty rooms. I turned them off. Neither am I saying we don't have gadgets. We bought PV solar panels and are grid connected. We have, however, also reduced our electricity usage by two thirds. While writing this I have stopped and walked to the garden to pick the kale we will eat with the lamb that's roasting in the oven. We bought the lamb at our farmer's market on the weekend.
But hey Joe Blow (average citizen), we weren't born as extreme hippies so don't comfort yourself that it's a hippy thing and that you couldn't possibly do it! In fact, if you'd have seen the hairspray I consumed in the nineties, you'd have a thing or two to say to me about my contribution to climate change!
So I'm no ecological saint and I'm not getting it all right but I AM getting lots of it right and I'm passionate! I'm a mum who loves her family and life in general and I sooo wish I could make people see sense. We need to change the way we are doing things and we need to do it now!
*Steps off soap box*