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If you want to know what I'm on about in the shortest time then please read the introductory first post and my current action plan. Comments are very welcome. And if you like this blog, please tell a friend. Thanks!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Yes Dad

If I were to embellish this blog's tale a little, it would be the story of a sudden and dramatic change of heart and mind: chapter one would end with me leaving my old life behind and setting out on a new adventure to save the world.

The truth is somewhat less exciting. No, don't stop reading! It's still a bit exciting, I promise! It's just... there really wasn't any obvious pivotal point where suddenly I decided things had to be different. Rather there's been a gradual increase over time in the sense of how important this all might be and therefore how much time, money and effort it might be worth commiting to the cause.

But in some really fundamental ways the essence of what I'm advocating goes way back to my childhood, to values my father tried to instill in my brother and I. That's not to say Mum didn't share those values or the experiences I'm about to describe - it's just that for some reason I have more vivid memories of what Dad said and did in relation to this. In particular, he was (and is) very conscious of avoiding needless waste.

I don't know enough to say whether his family was poor by the standards of the day, but Dad grew up with much less wealth than my friends and I did a quarter century later. Clothes were made rather than bought. You really were expected to eat what was put in front of you, including lambs brains or tripe, because there really wasn't anything else. In these and many other ways Dad learned to make do and be satisfied with what he had and to be as conservative as possible in the way things were used and consumed.

Whether it was switching off lights when we left the room or eating up the last few slices of bread which had started to go a bit dry or washing the car on a regular basis or (and especially) considering what kinds of things were actually worth spending money on, I was always encouraged to make the most of what I had and to waste as little as possible.

To some degree I think I learned the lesson. But almost certainly not as much as I suspect he was hoping.

Well today, at 30 years old, it's time for me to say, "Yes Dad." We all need to learn how to be more conservative in the original sense of the word. We need to choose what we consume with a view to what will be available tomorrow. We need to waste as little as possible so as to get the most value out of what we already have.

Imagine how much of a dent we could make in our greenhouse gas emissions and our consumption of oil, water and other natural resources if we all started taking Dad's lessons to heart.

I think that'd be a fitting next post: switching off the lights when I leave the room.


Arienal said...

I think that our society has gone way off the deep end in its consumption of pretty much everything it has gotten its hands on. We are completely wasteful. Whether this is due to the fact that we are a rich society, or a technologically advanced one, a fast paced stressed out one or even just a complacient one I really am not sure. I do however believe that the lessons of yesteryear need to be relearned.

Today we "need" far too much. And I'm not really talking about the luxuries in life that we enjoy. I am about to do a major cull of my clothes because I don't need that many. Now my wardrobe isn't that huge and most of my clothes are years old but I'm thinking of cutting it back to a week worth of clothes and some nice ones to go out in. I don't need more than that. I only really wear the same ones anyhow so the others are just a waste.

And you are right. There are lots of little things that we all can do to cut back and make a difference. I personally would love to have a house with a decent sized back yard so I can grow some fruit and vegies, have a few chooks for eggs. If we all took a few steps back we would probably also find that our lives were less stressful. We could enjoy the days more, feeling good about what we have done and not worried over what we still had to do.

I'm sure none of that really made sense but hey :)

TB said...

Made perfect sense to me. :-)

I'm hoping my economist-in-training buddy is going to pipe up around here at some stage and talk about consumerism and the free market economy etc and how we're all pushed to purchase far more than we need. But I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Re the clothes: I'm not sure that reducing your existing wardrobe is really what I'm getting at. It's more about not buying new stuff when there's nothing actually wrong with the old stuff. But if you do have old stuff you don't want any more... find a way to preserve the intrinsic value that those clothes still have. Giving them to charity is probably ideal.

Kudos too to my brother who has made some fabulous fashion "discoveries" by purchasing from opp shops.

And I'm so glad you mentioned back yards and veges and chooks... I'm not going to introduce those kinds of topics for a little while yet but am so looking forward to it.