|It's not easy being green, but it is beautiful.|
Dryad by Timothy Lantz
I've been doing a lot of deep and meaningful thinking during the last week. I know that this is slightly shocking, given my at times apparently frivolous nature, but I thought I'd share some thoughts with you all.
How green am I really? I like to think that I do my bit for the environment. I walk most places, or catch the bus, I take my own bags to do the shopping, I try to reduce the packaging I buy, and usually packets are recyclable, which makes my weekly garbage fairly small. I reuse jars and containers and turn my scrap paper into refills for my Filofax. I only do the laundry if I have enough for a full load using a biodegradable laundry liquid, and then let everything air dry. Same goes for the washing up, and most of the grey water goes to the plants afterwards. My power and gas are on a 'green plan' through my utilities company, lights go off if I'm not in the room, the heater only goes on if I'm reaching for a 3rd pair of socks and my jacket, and I don't have a cooling system for summer. Usually I try to only have one electrical item on at the one time, i.e. either the computer or the stereo or the TV, not all of them. Where possible I buy organic foods, or at least from local producers, and I usually try to avoid supermarkets as much as possible. Still I'm left thinking 'is it enough?'
Very little of my waste comes from food scraps, but most of that is vege peelings, egg shells and the like. I grew up with a big garden, and a compost heap that took care of all those things. I'd love to start a garden where I am, which I think would help me be more green, eat more vegetables, and reduce my food bill (even if only by a little bit), but I don't really have anywhere to put it. I can't really afford the outlay at the moment for pots, or the soil to start. I've been mulling over this a bit, and hopefully will come up with a solution soon. For now, the compostables will just have to go in the green-waste bin!
In the past, I also haven't been terribly mindful of where my stuff is coming from in the social justice sense. I've always tried to buy Australian made and/or owned, because I feel it is important to support the local economy in that way. I feel like a hypocrite saying this, but I also try to avoid buying cosmetics or personal products that have been tested on animals. Until recently though, I didn't really think about the conditions things from overseas were produced under. The FairTrade movement has begun to open the eyes of people such as myself with relation to the conditions of workers, and sustainability in general when it comes to where our products are coming from. However, after reading some varied literature, I'm not 100% convinced that FairTrade itself is the answer. Like every system, it has its flaws, but only time will tell if it is really going to work. On the other hand, a lot of it is about getting the message to the people, and in that regard, I think it has already been hugely successful. I've started making a conscious effort to consider the social ethics at play when making purchases of things produced in less fortunate areas than our own, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
The final bit of deep thought is related to food. We were always raised to be very mindful of what we put in our mouths, one of the many great things about Mumma Dryad having been a chef. I know what course food *should* take during its production and its course my stomach, and the fact that it often deviates so much worries me. This is one of the key reasons I try to avoid supermarkets. I like to know that my vegetables are fresh, and haven't been artificially ripened, or sprayed with who knows what. I like my bread to be preservative and fungicide free (one of the perks of The Muso working for an amazing boutique bakery!). I like knowing exactly what is in my pasta sauce or curry. These things are all solved by buying from local green grocer, markets and wholefood stores. Of course, some things are going to have to come from the super, but then I can buy organic, unbleached flour, or raw sugar rather than a highly refined white sugar. The real thing that has me thinking this week is meat. While growing up, we lived near dairy farms, and sheep farms. When we moved to the NT, we lived on a cattle station. I am no stranger to our animal-sourced food production. I strongly disagree with battery farming, so will only buy free-range eggs. I don't buy meat from the supermarket because I don't agree with the amount of waste that their large-scale operations encourage, which in turn encourages wasteful slaughter. I do, however, support small scale, sustainable, local production through buying meat at my local butcher. However, in light of the global food crisis, is eating meat really ethical? The amount resources it takes to raise and feed one steer is phenomenal. Grain, water, land, not to mention the environmental concerns that go with stock production, such as overgrazing and pollution. Consider the amount of crops that could be produced with those same resources. Consider if the grain used to feed stock was available for human consumption.
I say consider, because there should be balance to every argument. Not all areas where meat animals are grazed are appropriate for production of plant foods for human consumption. Not all crops are appropriate for human consumption either. Kilo-for-kilo, nutrient value of meat vs. crops is not the same, and therefore should not be used for direct comparison of efficiency of the production of each. Many of the arguments I have seen across the internet have been just that, arguments. People that are angry, passionate, writing content that is perhaps not particularly well thought out. The academic in me cringes when reading some of the online debate surrounding meat production and consumption, in particular a lot of the 'evidence'. The list of articles I want to write is growing every time I log onto the internet recently, and an in-depth look into the facts and figures in this area is one of them! I strongly support people's right to choose, and then live by that choice, but I also believe that there should be some form of unbiased, unskewed literature out there to aide that decision, and if it's there, I have yet to find it.
Sorry about how long this was today, here's a few things to help pass some time and bring some joy to your Monday.
- Loving Bonzai Aphrodite at the moment, Sayward is of the reasons I've been thinking so much about all of the above. Really grounded, family orientated, and thought provoking.
- Not great for my 'no shopping 'til Midsummer' vow, but I'm madly in love with almost everything on Tragic Beautiful at the moment. I've owned a pair of their fluffies for years now, and they are awesome.
- Good news for coffee drinkers – Coffee may protect against DNA damage! If you want to know more (and you have access to online journals through your university/institution), read the original article here. Then, use this website to figure out how many of those protective coffees you could have before the caffeine killed you. "This is supposed to be Happy Monday!" I hear you say. The 'happy' comes when you realise you couldn't physically consume that much coffee anyway!