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Yes! We CAN live lightly on the Earth!

We can no longer deny that Global Warming is happening. Most of us accept that it is due to human activity, especially the acceleration of Western consumerism since the Second World War. We all want to do something. But it's hard!
(Feeling really miserable? Sound on?click here! - and save the file! mp3 file - 461kb.)

Calculate your own ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT.

The very culture which has created the problem has also created mindsets and worldviews which actively discourage us as individuals from taking positive action, and label those who overcome these barriers as extremists and radicals.
There's a lot on the Re-earthing the Cities website which could give you some ideas and positive support.
For instance, you may find my article Not Mere Survival, but Another Way of Living, which examines some of the reasons for our emotional resistance to lifestyle change, both sympathetic and useful.
But before we get into philosophy, you probably want to know what you can do straight away.

Well, the simplest answer is : "Just use a little less - of everything "
Most of us already feel guilty about the time we spend in the shower, but shorter showers really will help. You probably need only about one third of the toilet paper, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo & conditioner, laundry detergent etc. you currently use. Do you need a daily paper - how about twice a week - and all those magazines? Most of us really need to eat a little less, & have one less coffee, beer, or glass of wine each day. Try watching a little less TV, and turning off the sound during the ads.
Water saving tips

The next step, not quite so simple is: "Slow down"
You will be less irritated by the small inconveniences which inevitably result from a more Earth-friendly lifestyle. You will also have time to think things through before you act, and thus make more ecologically focussed decisions. For instance, buying fresh fruit instead of a processed and packaged treat such as ice-cream, or sometimes making hamburgers and pizzas at home rather than having a take-away.

Third: "Increase the amount of physical effort you put into everyday life"
Walk to the Deli. and the mailbox, hang out your laundry instead of using the dryer - you can dry it even on a balcony. Mend clothing rather than throwing it out. When you are tired of something, take it to a charity shop instead of stuffing it in the bin. Use a manual lawn-mower rather than a motor mower, or a motor-mower rather than the ride-on! Walk to school with the children, walk, ride a bike, or take public transport to work. Take the children to the park occasionally, and have fun! instead of them constantly watching TV or playing video-games. Find real ants to watch instead of virtual ones!

Making these three principles a habit really covers all you need to do. You will gradually, and fairly painlessly, develop a more positive outlook. Your personal energy will no longer be sapped by feelings of guilt and resentment. You health will improve. Just try it and see!

Quick tips on saving water
starWash instead of showering - see how little water you need!
Most people can easily get by with one or two showers per week. And you really appreciate them!
Don't believe me?
Check out Katherine Ashenburg's book "Clean. An unsanitised history of washing"
Hear her talking to Philip Adams on LATE NIGHT LIVE
"From soaking in Roman baths to centuries of filth, the reasons why we clean ourselves, or don't,
have been influenced by the prevailing thoughts of the day, be that religious, medical, or commercial.
Today, in the western world, we live in a state we believe is sanitised, but is it good for us?
"
starUse grey water to flush the loo.
To flush successfully using a bucket,
pour the water in a steady stream onto the side of the pan,
taking advantage of the added energy given by the contouring of the toilet bowl.
Scientists have put a lot of thought & modelling into this.
Pouring the water straight onto the contents seldom works, especially with small quantities of water.
Putting grey water into the cistern carries the risk of contaminating the mains supply
from backflow, and is therefore illegal.

If you have one of the latest low-water use systems,
be frugal in your use of toilet paper, especially if you don't flush often,
or you may block the system.
See Really Radical Recycling for more information on this important topic.

starWash Up by hand.
Keep dishes to a minimum and improve your health:-
Stir-fry your meals - woks should never need washing.
Clean your plate thoroughly, using bread or licking it clean, before washing it.
Have uncooked desserts of fresh or dried fruit, and nuts.

See Laundry leaflet 3 Washing Up, Hair Care and more.
starReduce your laundry using the tips in laundry leaflet 1
starAnd for the truly dedicated/radical:
Pee on the garden
If this isn't possible, collect urine in a bucket, covering it with a small towel to prevent odours,
then add to the grey water you use to flush the loo when it really needs it.
And, males please note - keep the lid of the loo, not just the seat, down at all times!

See Really radical recycling for more about this, & other "unmentionables"
Back

Many parents will say that these suggestions are impossible to carry out,
because the children, or a spouse, won't like it.
Well, take charge!
Where the kids are concerned, you're the boss - and eventually they will respect you for making these changes,
and as you involve them, their own self-respect will improve. Hang in there!
As for the spouse - are you sure you're not just making them an excuse for not taking action?
As long as you don't take the high moral ground, or abuse them for not joining in the challenge,
they can't really stop you.
It's
your behaviour you're changing. Their behaviour is their responsibility..

This How-to Site Map
gives direct links to various practical suggestions, and further relevant links:

And here is a hyperlinked text indexof most of the articles, leaflets, and other material I have written and collected on this and allied subjects over the years.

Of course, this information has been around for quite a while - this leaflet on Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle was written back in 1989, by my friend Jo Hill and myself, for a series of workshops called "How To Save the World", at the Campbelltown Community Health Centre



Want to go further?
Then think about the things you buy in terms of:

This is called energy accounting.Take a look at this section of the website:
Energy Accounting
then follow the links in lower case - they lead to other parts of the section.
(Links in UPPER CASE lead to external websites.)

The definitive hard copy booklet
HOW TO HAVE AN AMAZINGLY ADVENTUROUS LIFE FOR ZERO DOLLARS A DAY
by Adelaide's own Kim Hill costs only $3.
BUY COPIES ONLINE, or look out for it at Permaculture & similar events.

Emotional and spiritual help, to deal with despair and maintain committment
The text of the wonderful Deep Ecology collection "Thinking Like a Mountain" is now online -
go to: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/welcome.htm and follow the link.
(This thought-provoking and uplifting book, with it's delightful illustrations, has recently been re-published by:
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS, Philadelpia PA & Santa Cruz CA. 1988, 2009.)
See also the Rainforest Information Centre's PROCESSES page.
If you really can't find it, let me know and I'll try to help, but I can't email it to you, as I'm only on dial-up!

The text of Joanna Macey's original booklet "Despairwork" is available as an rtf file (60kb.) by clicking here
or as a doc. file (66 kb.) by clicking here

Home | Re-earth the Cities | The Permaculture Journey | The RainbowWeb Story | Sustainable Solutions | You Can Save the Earth!
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Margaret's Sustainability Articles

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