DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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9 December 2014

Global warming and what we can do

Still having computer problems so no photos today.  Sorry.  :- )

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I know you probably don't want to read about this now, or ever, but global warming is a fact of life for us and it should be uppermost in your mind, particularly at this time of year when credit cards are running hot. There is no better time than now to make a stand and to stop buying into the mindless consumerism that many politician tell us is good for the country but we know is killing the planet.

I'm a proud Australian, I love my country and the people who live here dearly. But I am ashamed of our environmental policies that promote coal for the sake of the dollar when we all know it is fossil fuels that are doing the most damage.  Read this recent article for more info, and this.

This is today's Guardian headline: Australia has been named the worst-performing industrial country in the world on climate change in a report released at international negotiations in Peru.

It's a crying shame we have no political leadership on this. Those forward-thinking leaders and the new ways of industrial thinking have emerged in other countries - Denmark, Sweden and Britain. But not here. Here we choose the dollar over the environment. We're being lead down a pathway we should have left behind years ago.

I'm worried that we're not heeding the warnings from scientists all around the world that we have to change how we live. It seems to me that many people believe they can't make any changes that will matter. This crisis was created by all of us just doing what we're doing now - buying what we want with no thought of how or where it's manufactured or at what environmental cost. We don't think about how we'll dispose of all the rubbish we buy. We seem to think it will just take care of itself. And that's what we've been lead to believe all these years - that it's fine, don't worry your pretty little head over it, science/the government/new technology will save us from ourselves. Let's do it tomorrow, or next year, or ten years from now. Well, I think it's time to bite the bullet, let's do something about it ourselves - now.

It's wonderful if you've set your home up to be as environmentally friendly as possible but what will also make a real difference is if you start cooking from scratch, recycling, stop eating so much meat, grow some of your own foods, make your own cleaners, mend your own clothes, save water, cut down on electricity usage, use public transport. Be a good steward in your own home. Take back the ability to look after your own needs. Just live a simple life. If we all do it, it will make a difference.

Now is the best time of the year to stop spending. When all those Christmas specials are there luring you in, turn your back. I'm not saying you should not give any gifts, but only give half what you used to give.  Everyone will survive. Small steps. Don't do it all at once, choose your steps wisely and follow through. Once you decided to live a more simple life, don't be tempted to return to your old ways. If we can do this now we can all start 2015 with a focus on what we can reduce next year. I hope you'll join me because we're already waited too long.

What are you doing now and this Christmas to reduce your own environmental footprint?


33 comments:

  1. Please watch and listen to 'our' astronaut Wubbo Ockels who past away from kidneycancer May 2014. It is his last cry of distress. Please take a few minutes to watch his last interview.

    Love from Holland

    x

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  2. Sorry.. forgot the link..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWVwsH_4Z04

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  3. Well-articulated, Rhonda! Reuse, reduce & recycle; and generally being conservative and frugal is a must in these earth-challenging times(humans are so stupid and irresponsible).

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  4. Rhonda when I read your opening sentence on not wanting to read about climate change I had to smile because I posted about climate change and the insurance industry last week. How can climate change not be on peoples’ minds when we see the terrible damage inflicted by a changing climate and the costs associated with disaster clean-ups? Don’t many of us look around at young children today and wonder what their future will be like? I read the article you linked to and was not surprised to see the “coal is good” stance our government is taking. I would think that the coal industry has a lot of influence with our government. Also in my opinion the government would be desperate to keep all forms of current revenue rolling in and to use coal exports to continue to grow the economy. Now especially when there is talk of recession. On the other hand we live in a democracy, so if enough people took a real stand on this issue then the government would have to change their policies. I loved your point about being a good steward in our own homes, and taking back the ability to look after our own needs. I think many of us are trying to improve our stewardship. Your blog is such a help and encouragement to me in this. In addition to working to build up one’s home I believe building community is so important in living the simple life. When we have people with similar aspirations living close by it allows us to share skills, knowledge and our surplus.

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  5. Don't be too quick to praise Britain as an environmentally forward thinking nation...as far as our politicians go, anyway...here, they choose the pound over the environment. They are desperate to allow fracking on a large scale, despite public opposition, and are giving less incentives for renewables like solar power. Individuals are becoming more aware. We do all the things on your list and have reduced our Christmas spending, too...so are many others.

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    1. Charlotte, I had no idea Britain wants to allow fracking. Here in the US that is the "new thing" and everyone touts how it creates job, but no one likes to talk about the damage it causes. Oklahoma has gotten hit by a high amount of tremors since fracking started there and it is scary because not enough studies have really been done about the side effects of such a thing. Now we are waiting to see if the Keystone Pipeline gets approval which has also raised some serious ire in our Midwestern states. Seems something must always suffer and lose for a so-called short term win. In our case the short term win are jobs.

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    2. Britain is still more forward thinking than say, America or apparently Australia; which surprised me. I thought that Australia was more foward than America and it really was a stunner to learn that they were voted worst in the world. I honestly thought that would be America: because it uses 3/4 of the world's resources and has for a long time now.

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  6. We can all change the way we consider gift giving.
    Christmas gifts are supposed to be a token representation of the gifts from the 3 wise men,to the new baby, not a shopping spree to get you into a lot of debt and cause pollution from manufacture and eventual disposal.
    Christmas is a wonderful, happy time for kids and family get togethers so a few thoughtful gifts that will be truly appreciated are better than a whole bunch of "Stuff".
    Christmas is the same every year, it doesn't suddenly pop up unexpectedly, so we have a whole year to make or buy something that is special and well considered for each person, I am sure there are many ideas we can share for this, an outing (happy memories) IOU for babysitting, a meal cooked when needed most, craft supplies, homemade library bags, socks, soap, shopping bags etc.
    Maybe Rhonda could start a reminder post every season to keep us all on track to make gifts for All occasions throughout the year there must be hundreds of great ideas to share.

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  7. Here's one useful idea. I don't use wrapping paper any more and haven't for some time. I use fabric table napkins to wrap presents (or larger cloths where necessary - head scarves, tablecloths, tea towels or just plain fabric with pinked edges). Then the recipient can either keep and use the 'paper' or return it for reuse. Some of my pieces have been used for many years.

    I think it was the sight of all that destroyed paper that led me to this but there is a precedent in Japanese culture and you can find some beautiful wrapping methods using fabric if you look :)

    viv in nz

    ps I already do most of the rest :)

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  8. Thank you for the reminder Rhonda, I know I've been slipping back into bad habits :) I have told all my loved ones coming for Christmas lunch that is my present to them this year and they have all thought that was enough. Usually I provide the lunch and add presents also, but it really is all about being together. I've crocheted the new Christmas decoration that I like to usually buy each year and my husband has been busy making a chook house out of my daughters old swing set (will be photos and a story on my blog soon!!) I'm so excited to finally be getting our own little ladies and needed even less from the supermarket.
    Warm regards,
    Jan x

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  9. I read your post and do agree that we all need to be on that same wagon of selfsufficiency, do what we can around and in our own communities to encourage other folk to be more careful with their food waste, to recycle as much as possible and to reduce the consumerism that seems to be in charge of most of our lives.
    This Christmas I have not bought one single item to be given as presents. I`ve made gifts for all the family members and shall also re-cycle gift wrappings from last year. I`m also encouraging everyone to save their gift wrappings and give them back to me once presents have been unwrapped. I shall then re-use them or recycle them in some way for the following Christmas. Food that we share over the festivities will be kept to a manageable amount, and what`s left over will be re-used and frozen for more meals after Christmas. I`m trying to eliminate food waste as much as possible.
    We can all do something to reduce our carbon footprints, no matter how little we think we are contributing to this world, there is always room for more improvement. But, the main thing is to educate and share our vision with others, spreading the word and encouraging family members to follow suit is the best way to make a difference, I think. Every little helps!

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  10. Here here!! I'm so disappointed by how people seem to have let the environment fall off the agenda without a care. Why don't people care anymore?

    But to you Rhonda - I make a commitment - I've just lost my job as an environmental scientist and rather than running around to find a new one I am going to look to running my home which has come a very poorly second of late. I am planning on making washing powder again and baking our own bread again and setting a good example for my beautiful almost 2 year old daughter. And I will love her and I will love my environment and I will love our little baby that grows inside me and will arrive in June. Maybe I will even get a chance to finish some of the crochet projects I started! Joy!

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  11. I won't be sending my usual number of cards this year, making use of email instead. Those few that I do send will be from Oxfam or Red Cross, so benefiting charities.
    I also have declined taking part in a kris kringle where the gift is not tailored to the individual- everyone buys a gift and places it in a pool, resulting in some pretty useless things being received- this idea could work if people thought along the lines of useful, thoughtful gifts, but they seem to be lollies, chocolate or plastic rubbish. I feel a bit mean for declining though. I tend to regift things too, like bath products and chocolates.

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  12. Rhonda I think you hit the nail on the head by asking what we are doing to help combat climate change, it is all our actions -- domestic, industrial and commercial -- that can make a difference. The Europeans and, increasingly, the Chinese and Indians are leading the way and our Australian global position is nothing short of a disgrace. We must all do what we can -- live fully with less.

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  13. Thanks for the great post Rhonda, you are so right about the enviroment & it really frustrates me that the majority of the population couldn't care less & Xmas time is the worst. I have been guilty of the same in the past, overspending etc. The last few years since reading your blog I have gradually cut back at Xmas & this year will be an appropriate gift for the younger grandchildren & getting together with good friends & some family members for good food (most of it cooked from scratch) & nice champagne etc. I have to say that I feel so much more relaxed & happy in myself than ever before thanks to DTE. Thanks Rhonda

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  14. As individuals everything you can do to help the environment will also help you personally e.g. financially, your health, enjoyment etc. If only our politicians could look at the long term, the big picture, because the benefits are there on a large scale too. Imagine the job creation if we invested in renewables! Ultimately even if global warming and climate change are a complete farce, which they're not, we would still benefit from making positive changes. The reverse isn't true. We will suffer if we fail to take steps.

    I'm enjoying planning and preparing for a quieter Christmas. There's only presents for the kids which I've been purchasing and hiding whenever I saw something great on sale. We've also been putting a very small amount of money aside each pay and boy does it accumulate quickly! No credit card hangover in the new year for us! This allows us to buy less, and buy better quality. I'm so looking forward to just hanging out with my family, reading books, swimming, playing games, it's going to be great!

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  15. I live in area here in the United States, North Idaho. I would guess majority here laugh about global warming. And consider anyone who cares about our world environment. "Wacky"
    Slowly I been going though my items and down sizing. But I'm amaze the size we need to live and keep our belonging. Strange Rhonda and I are sort of on same page. Today blog post is to do with consumption...I never go into debt for Christmas or spend money to impress people.

    http://www.peppylady.blogspot.com/2014/12/not-to-over-whelm-with-consumption.html

    Coffee is on

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  16. One thing I do is save any bags or boxes I get that are sturdy and reuse them for any gifts. Plain brown bags can be gussied up with lace or fabric or glitter and it can be personalized for the recipient.
    Like another reader I will also use fabric I have to wrap gifts instead of wrapping paper.

    Climate change is a contentious topic here in the States and is used in way to say that people who care about the environment don't care about jobs. It is really pathetic.

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  17. Hi Rhonda,
    If you go to the Greening of Gavin blog and listen to the podcast he did with his son, it covers sustainability in several countries that Adam stayed in on a semi-permanent basis, not as a tourist. Illuminating to say the least!

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  18. Right on! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I totally and completely agree.

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  19. Hi Rhonda what a great and timely post. We are travelling far from home this Christmas which is a great luxury but it has a huge footprint. So I've been thinking of new things I can commit to next year that will reduce our footprint further, to make up for this trip. I will make soap, render my beeswax for candles and other lovely things and make do and mend a lot more instead of planning to do it ;-)
    We already live a fairly simple and frugal life but there are always more adventures on this journey.
    The one I am doing now is meal planning with only what we have in the cupboards, freezer and the garden. This way we save a little extra money and avoid food perishing whilst we are away.
    kxx

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  20. Such wise, passionate, and motivational words!! And even a preferable way of living/being (dare I say) whether or not one is worried about global warming. When I first started down a more simple-living path, I'll be honest and admit it was more for my own reasons (and by necessity in some ways) than for any concern I had about the environment. Now that I have kids, the reasons for continuing are "heavier" - I don't want them inheriting a destroyed world or a destructive mentality. I do believe, though, that things reach a certain low point and then they start righting again...similar to the recent post you wrote about young people and simple living.
    -jaime

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  21. Rhonda, this post really hits home for me. I try very hard to be environmentally aware and the holiday season is one place I've focused hard on reducing my environmental footprint. We are giving homemade gifts again this year but we're doing something else too - we always bought a small toy for our grandbabies but this year we're giving them experience gifts. We want to take them to the Ft. Worth Stockyard & Rodeo, petting zoo, exhibits, etc. This gift will last much longer than any toy we could buy them. I'm pretty excited about adding this one extra change to our gift giving!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Texas

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  22. I'm always wary of 'independent' reports and their criteria for best and worst. There is always a political orientation or agenda in the conclusions. I'm certainly not saying that Australia is any pollyanna by any means but the last report (different one) I read based the evaluation on now much petrol Australians use and compared us to European countries with incredibly dense populations where walking and public transport are easy options. Comparing apples with oranges for the sake of having a sensational result.

    We've reduced our footprint pretty much as far as it can go unless someone wants me to shoot the cows (and I'm sure someone does - quick before one burps) or wants me to stop commuting to a city for cancer treatment (I'm sure someone in a built up area next door to a hospital thinks that's a profligate use of fossil fuels too). I rarely see the criticism of China in these reports to the degree that I'd expect from what I read elsewhere. Just be careful of uncritical acceptance of some of these 'reports'

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  23. I am so glad you are bringing this up, particularly at Christmas. It needs to be said, again and again and again! We desperately need to get a grip of consumerism on this planet. There is a lot of talk about environment here in Norway (although the present government has proved a disappoinment) with the sale of electric cars skyrocketing, recycling, upcycling etc. But being a very rich country has made us big spenders. We all need to take a look at our spending. I make very accurate lists, beginning in October. The idea is to get things people need and put a lot of thought into presents - not buy on impulse. Also, we only give to close family, the rest get a handmade card. Food is also planned carefully to make sure there is very little waste. The sales in January is the time of year when l go through my childrens (and our own clothes) and work out what we need to get us through another winter. No more than that. It is a challenge bringing up children with so much wealth and waste going on wherever one looks, however, l do believe if one explains things to them (why one doesn't need a new mobile or six hoodies) they understand more than we think. There is a lot of talk about taking care of our planet so that our children can inherit it....but we also need to educate our children so that they will be willing to take care of it when they do. Pam

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  24. Hi Rhonda, Sadly Britain is not an environmentally forward thinking nation; at present our government is trying to press forward with fracking for shale oil gas whilst at the same time reining back on investment into renewable energies in an appallingly short sighted attempt to boost the economy. There are strong rumours of ministers with long line investment in the fracking companies. This in the midst of the largest downsizing of the public sector services to a level not seen since the1930's; a massive rise in the use of foodbanks; cuts to and more stringent welfare measures a cross party report on hunger in Britain today. All in the name of austerity to continue to pull the economy out of the mess that unsustainable, balloon growth has caused. In the mean time the banks have still not paid back what was given to bail them out; ministers debate their own wage increase and execs are paid ludicrous bonuses. We are a broken country pursuing economic growth through housebuilding rather than trying to stabilise our economy at a lower level with a fairer spread of 'wealth'.
    On the positive side this year my husband and I are having some rooms pointed as our present to each other and my sister and i are knitting/ crocheting each other garment. Our turkey is a local free range one from a man in the village who has bred them for over 50 years and our decorations are mainly home made. Christmas for us will be relaxing, resting and not spending money.

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  25. Rhonda, you're an absolute gem :)

    One thing I'm doing to lessen my footprint is to simply slow down. When I slow down I have time to think 'do i really need this? What will happen to this item when we no longer have a use for it? Do I really need to hurry cooking dinner or could I take a bit longer and use up every odd and end in the fridge? Do I really have to take the car I could I slow down and walk? Could I find a space to plant more seeds so that less of our food has to travel to reach us?'

    Gifts will be minimal this year, even for the kids, and some are 'pre-loved'. All the wrapping will be fabric or paper that previously had another use.

    Madeleine.x

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  26. This is a very timely post. It makes me angry to hear politicians urging people to spend spend spend when so many people have so little at this time of the year. I have handmade many gifts this year and have bought gifts for family members that i know will be used and loved. For years now I have started planning my gift giving early so i have time to put a lot of thought into each one. Plus i absolutely hate the shops at this time of the year - people are so pushy! We do not have a lot of money at the moment so my husband and I will exchange needed clothes and a book. I do love wrapping my presents nicely but use good paper and encourage it to be folded and reused on the day.
    Blessings.
    Chris

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  27. Thank you for this timely reminder, Rhonda. In our home we have done everything we can to reduce CO2 emissions and targeting general consumption has ben a big part of it. We shop for second hand whenever we can, hand make and repair. Engaging with like-minded people in our community has been a very important part of this process. all the best for Christmas and 2015. Veronique

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  28. Our gifts have become mostly useful items such as tools and kitchen gear. We also have a lot of requests for books on cooking and sewing or crafting. We strive to not mindlessly throw things away. We donate to thrift stores or pass things along to others. Sometimes we put large items out at the edge of our yard with a 'FREE' sign on them and they are gone by the end of the day. We have a huge dump in our county and it is an eyesore and it stinks so we are constantly reminded when we have to travel that way.

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  29. Not sure if my previous comment went through, so if it did, please do not post this one. Anyway..
    Many thanks for your post, Rhonda! I must admit, there is a deep-rooted problems related to all gift-giving occasions running in our family and circle of friends. There is an expectation, that gift must be of certain monetary value, an unwritten rule of 30$ for kids and 50$ for a pair of adults... A must. Full stop. I try to fight this as much as I can with a box of home-baked muffins, let's say, or a cake, or handmade card, which often gets "offset" by my dear husband with a gift voucher for a "more appropriate" gift. He hates this too, but it is so hard to run against it. He considers giving such "cheap" gifts not polite... And he thinks others would perceive it like he is acting like a scrooge... And some, certainly, will. "Hey, what is the cost of your muffins, 3$?, and no, your hour of work does not count!". We also hate receiving gift, because it almost always carries a pressure to present the giver the gift of a same monetary value for next occasion.
    Let me give you an example. My toddler girl turned one. Our friends gave us/her a gift voucher of 100$. Three weeks later their little one turned one. We exchanged that voucher for the different store and gave the same value back. Three years later that voucher is still not spent, I believe, still appearing on other kids/adults birthdays, ridiculous, hey?
    So, it is all in peoples' head. It is disgusting, that there is a unwritten definition of a gift, main attribute being of its REAL =$$$ value. So hard to fight it, especially now, during festive season. I would really appreciate any advise on this. How to cope with pressure and how to change peoples mindset. I, personally would love receiving a loaf of home baked bread, or knitted slippers or jar of sourdough starter, but we are all different, are not we? ... Thanks in advance! Ana
    My husband even suggested me - this year we are not socialising at all, decline all invitations so we do nit have to give anything to anyone. A bit extreme, but we are on one income now with two small kids.... We decided to go and do a bit of camping for a week or two, to hide in the bush so to speak ;)

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  30. This year, I have knitted dishcloths that I'm going to give with soaps. I have learnt how to make my own soap but I'm still getting there as to the quality of it so I have instead been stockpiling soap that has come up on special in my local organic store. Next year, I hope it will be my own soap that I give.

    For the smaller ones in our lives, we have gone for a gift that reduces plastic litter. We have purchased some reusable drinking straws (glass and metal) and are going to give these with some homemade syrup for milkshakes/smoothies and the like + a straw cleaning brush. This way, the children can use a straw whenever they like but they won't need to throw it away when finished!

    For gift tags, we've made our own. My little boy has used an old-fashioned spirograph to create beautiful, intricate spiral patterns on recycled paper. They look really beautiful:)

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  31. Hi Rhonda
    This year was a good achivement for me. Finally I bought next to nothing for people regifting,making and also cutting down the Christmas cards I send. I didnt even go to the sales to stock up on "bargain" cards. I will use and re use all I have.
    My fathers church once a month has a coffee morning and the ladies that donate bring some very beautiful things and I buy my gifts there, the proceeds go to a charity in the gambia they support.
    I ask people for there unwanted used cards and I make gift tags and decorations out of them. In terms of money spent this year far more was spent on food. To boost sales here thre were a lot of meat bargains and I purposfully stocked up on those and meat is a frightening price and i make sure that what comes my way is used to the enth degree. I rarly buy clothes that are new unless it is a pair of very good boots or a coat the rest is from charity shops and what I am able to make myself. This year will see me upping my skills I want to learn how to crochet cloves,socks and a basic jumper. I have gone from being a shop a holic to someone who simply just dosent want to any more. Paring down aplaiances and cleaning products how often I shower which is now every other day and a freshen up inbetween. Laundry because of my husbands condition is a constant. However, I deliberatly did not buy a tumble dryer as we live in a well insulated home and the occupants either side like to have their heating up high so we dont need to turn ours on very often if at all! I know this I wouldnt go back to my old habbits for the world I ahve less than some more than most. What else id there to need.
    Take care beautiful people xxx

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