Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Simple Life - The Greenest Life

'Instead of focusing on all the green products we can buy and consume - that new hybrid or a fancy water-filtration system - remember that living simply is usually the greenest choice of all.'
The Imperfect Environmentalist by Sara Gilbert

Of course, it is generally better to buy the green product (not always though - you need to do your own research). But are green products really making a difference?
After all, it is still a 'product' that required energy to be manufactured and transported, with some sort of packaging that will need to be disposed of, as well as the eventual disposal of the product. Recycling is better than not recycling, but it uses an exorbitant amount of energy and it is unclear as to whether this outweighs the benefits. 
Thus, not consuming at all, if possible, is preferable to choosing a green product. 

Sounds difficult?
It is, particularly as we are conditioned to feel that consumption is 'necessary' to keep our economy moving. But we are way beyond the 'green products will save our planet' stage. It is simply not enough. We must accept that substituting a green way of doing something is not going to be enough. We will not be able to convert all our oil/coal/gas energy consumption to a sustainable model. Instead we must accept that we must reduce our energy usage, and reduce it drastically. I would say, to 20% or less of our current usage levels. We must accept that we will need to return to the village model of living, where our needs are met locally, very locally. 

The actions that I feel are the most important/ useful would be:
  1. Grow your own food. Establish an orchard, learn how to save seeds, make compost and fertilizers, assume that you will not be able to buy any of the gardening products you purchase now.
  2. Establish an alternative fuel source. Plant a woodlot and install a wood stove for cooking, with a hot water heating capacity.
  3. Learn food preservation techniques, such as canning, fermenting, drying, etc.
  4. Establish a water collection and storage system. After all, it falls out of the sky all the time!
  5. Determine what livestock you are comfortable with and learn about their care, processing, etc.
  6. Stock up on items that may not be available in the future. This is really a short-term strategy; it is way more important to learn to do for ourselves.
Think of the necessities of life and work on them first - water, food, shelter, health.

Clothing is where my plans fall down at the moment. Wool, no problem - I have sheep and know how to process from fleece to yarn or fabric. However, cotton or something similar is more difficult. Has anyone had any successes with fabric for clothing?

I would love to hear your thoughts and what you are doing. Do you have support or does everyone you know think you are slightly crazy? 


  1. I agree with all of this 100%. Here's where we're at:
    1) We live in the city, but I have planted fruit trees, shrubs, and vines and have dug up as much of the yard as gets sun to plant veggies.
    2) We have recently purchased a woodlot, unfortunately it is in the area we are going to retire in, not the area we currently live in, and it is illegal to move firewood in and out of the county due to some of the prevalent tree diseases. Our retirement home, thoug, for sure will have a woodstove for cooking and heating.
    3) yep. As much as I am able...and get the kids involved. I may have the only preteens in the city who can make apple sauce and pickles. I add herbs to this list as well, for medicinal use throughout the winter.
    4) It's on the to-do list for this summer (it has been on the to-do list for the past 2 summers, though, so fingers crossed)
    5) Here's the bummer. We are not allowed livestock in the city. That's not actually technically true...we would be allowed certain specific breeds of chickens if they are kept in cages in a garage and never ever let outside. Kind of defeats the purpose. We would also be allowed homing pigeons, but I don't even know what to say about that!
    6) This is very difficult for us. The kids grow so very fast that I don't know what size they will be in the following season/year so it makes it very difficult to stock up on the next year's clothes. And SHOES!

    The problem, I think, with consumption in general, is that people rarely think of all the steps involved in making a particular item. They see the thing, want the thing, and then dispose of the thing when they are done without thinking of the multiple steps in the making/ shipping of materials, packaging, shipping of packaging to the product, shipping the product, disposing of the waste by-products, etc. I think if children and adults alike were more informed of the process itself, it might make people think twice. Or then again, it might not...
    Thanks for sharing this post.

    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing all that you do! I totally agree - a little bit of knowledge and thought about the manufacturing/consumption/waste cycle would go a long way to reducing excess waste.
      How exciting that you already have a retirement plan in place! Hubby doesn't really think any of this is a problem, so it is hard to make plans like this. Like, there is no way I could actually have a woodstove or solar power or rainwater tanks. I know and have planned all that I need to do, but unless I do it alone, it won't happen. Don't know what to do about that!