Monday, February 15, 2010

Waste and Green Living and the Web of Life

Want to do your part to change the world for the better?
Take a look at Raj Patel's Blog. It is mind fodder for finding how you can influence change, in your life and in your world.

Think change will take HUGE alterations in how we live, think we need whole sale Revolution? I'd like to suggest that you should think again. I think that the only way we can change is in an evolutionary fashion. Granted some times external events cause the "punctuated equilibrium" type of evolutionary change to appear more obvious. Cataclysmic changes (Flood, Nuclear War, The Plague, Meteor, Ice Ages, Climate Change) result in only those with the "winning genes/skill sets", or luck to be in the right location, to survive. But all change is gradual, even the change that happens in the larger global community.

These days much of what "happens to us" as a global community (part of the web of life) is done to us and for us by "Market Forces". These market forces are like a large, fast flowing river, seemingly hard or impossible to fight against. But there are back eddies were interesting things are happening. Nature teaches that even large fast flowing rivers change their flow, in features like oxbow lakes, or deltas. It's our challenge to find how to work with the large, fast flowing river of Market Forces until we figure out how to influence them so that they serve the web of life as well as they have served corporations.

So far I've figured out a few ways to waste less.

I have learned how to eliminate plastic bags and replace them with cloth.

I learned the joy of shopping at the Salvation Army or Thrift City or Goodwill. And of returning "gently used" items from our home to those same places.

I recycle, even though I have to pay $140.00 a year for it which some people consider ridiculous. But the thought of usable stuff ending up buried in a Landfill just seems stupid.

Another is to shop locally as much as possible. I shop in the following order:
Every Saturday I get produce via a Farmers Market so that my eating and actions more directly support the people who are growing the food.
I then infill with goods from Local grocers, and as much as possible local producers milk, butter, yogurt, local seafood,
I admit that sometimes economics still forces me to buy somewhere big boxish. But when I do this I buy in bulk just like our ancestors did. Think Buckboard into town type shopping trips. If I go more than quarterly I'm doing it wrong.
and only the things I need that I'm not really buying locally even when I shop at a local store. These shopping trips take no less than 4 hours. These 4 hours include the list making, it's important to know exactly what you are going for and to stay on task, travel time of course, the actual shopping, the loading and unloading of the buckboard and then storage. Storage includes lugging the stuff into place of course but it also includes separation into the smaller packets of mostly meat that we freeze for later use, just like our ancient ige age ancestors.

Raj's says that research indicates that "US per capita food waste has progressively increased by about 50% since 1974 reaching more than 1400 Calories per person per day".

Not quite 3 years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Some times change feels Cataclysmic. Even though, as it turns out its been in my genes all along, but my dad died from cancer before he had a chance to be affected by diabetes. I only discovered that his brother, my uncle, had diabetes after my brother and I were diagnosed. But I digress.

Last February, after 2 years of figuring out how to eat as a diabetic, I cleaned out our pantry, condiment cupboard and refrigerator. I did this because the pantry & fridge just didn't look the way they used to. The condiment cupboard is essentially my husband's domain but since I was working on the pantry & fridge it got tackled too.

As I stood back and looked at the pantry it was quite amazing at how much space I have now that I (and we as a family) don't eat as much carbohydrates. Today there is much less pasta and rice on the shelves, but more variety (especially in the local rice types available in our area) in both. There are fewer dry cereals and even less flour and sugar for baking. Now don't get me wrong... we still have sweets. There are the boxes of brownie mix for school bake sales and a brown sugar for my husband's grandmother's famous Pillsbury Prize winning "Chewy Cake". I still bake bread. There are nuts for adding to sugar free yogurt and the perennial tomato paste and diced tomatoes. There are some canned soups, grapefruit and tomato juice leftover from hurricane season, along with some canned meats. There are lots of various condiments. My cooking husband LOVES his condiments. But all in all there is less food.

The refrigerator/freezer has slowly transformed as well. I still buy in meat in bulk and mostly from big boxes because it is cost effective. But now we separate the bulk packages into almost twice the number of portions before we freeze it. This way defrosting a package of flank steak or pork tenderloin ends up being an easy way to exercise portion control. Cook less, eat less, store less leftovers. These days we are able to look at the leftovers at the end of the week and toss any leftovers we haven't and therefore aren't going to eat (or feed to the pups) and because the portions are so small feel a bit less guilty about doing it. At the end of the week there is less food in the fridge as well.

We're trying to do what we can to change our lives and in the process changing the world by gradually changing our little corner of it. But it seems that we still have a long way to go. I think if we each do what we can in our own eddies of the global river of existence we can gradually change via market forces how we evolve.

Sometimes its hard for folks to express their spiritual teachings or personal values in their everyday world. But I to think that I'm learning to do what I can to follow Aradia's Words on Nature:

Respect Nature in all ways. Take only that which you must from Her, and remember nothing can be taken except that something be given.

Nature teaches all living things all that must be known. She teaches birds to make their nests, animals to hunt and survive, children to crawl and walk. She teaches life. Once She taught all people of Her ways, but they chose to go their own way. They chose to oppose and to control Her. But for Strega there can be no other way than Nature. A Strega must live in harmony with the Forces of Nature.

It seems that Raj wants the rest of the world to figure this out as well.

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