07/01/2007

Women's Power - Challenge for 2007

These last few months of strange weather have really been making me think. I don't know anyone who enjoyed the extremely hot July and this mild Winter is most unsettling. Even I, with my head proverbially in the sand, can't help feeling that these are some of the effects of global warming and I don't like it at all. I was far too hot in July and I would love some crisp frosty wintry weather now with the plants and birds doing what they should do at the usual time. Look at my cerinthe - it should have seeded like this last June/July and then flowered all Summer.It doesn'tknow what to do.


So, what can I do? Not much on my own but I think collectively women can make a big difference. Governments seem only prepared to do too little too late and we're reminded often about the countries supplying us who won't modify their greenhouse emissions. So....are we going to drift slowly into an irreversible situation, or can we - women- make a difference?

What can we, as women, do? Can't we each in our own households start not consuming so much? Can't we go back to more of a make-do and mend attitude? And eat foods produced locally in season and not flown halfway round the world to give us strawberries at Christmas. If we didn't buy it the supermarkets wouldn't stock it.
I don't want to leave a burnt out earth for my grandchildren. We have such power - let's use it.

These are my intentions:

1. First I am going to as far as possible buy food from local sources and certainly not buy the fruit and vegetables that I'm used to buying completely out of season and flown here from the other side of the world.
If everyone did it then the supermarkets would stop stocking it and the fuel costs (and carbon emissions) of importing would be reduced.

2. I'm going to buy less of those high tech gadgets that are so popular right now. So I shall make do with our old tv and I don't need a new mobile phone or the latest mp3 player. And my 3 year old pc will do me nicely for quite a few more years. And the washing machine and vacuum cleaner and ..well you know.
If we all do it the countries manufacturing these things would slow down their production and slow down their carbon emissions too.

3. Try and be more economical with my personal travel. Difficult this one as I don't really go anywhere that at the moment I don't consider necessary. I'm working on this.

We can't rely on governments.

These are my ideas and they were reinforced when I read this article on Friday:

From Daily Telegraph 4thJanuary 2007

The year of living frugally: how 10 friends survived without shopping

By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 3:04am GMT 05/01/2007



It started as a pledge over dinner between friends worried about the impact of mass consumerism and today's disposable society.

"Let's see if we can give up shopping for a year," they said.

Now, at the close of the "12-month flight from the consumer grid" — in which the 10 friends were egged on by thousands of supporters inspired by their idea — some have declared the experiment so revelatory and life-changing that they plan to continue the boycott indefinitely.

The 10 middle-class professionals living in San Francisco dubbed themselves the "Compact" after the Mayflower Compact, drafted by Puritan pilgrims who reached the New World in 1620.

There would be no new clothes, gadgets, computers, car parts, mobile phones, books or music for them for a whole 12 months, they pledged. Only food and essentials such as toothpaste, soap, basic ("not sexy") underwear and medicine would be allowed. Everything else would be borrowed, traded, home made or bought second hand.

Thanks in part to an appearance on US television, their anti-consumer message soon attracted a global following with advocates from Britain to Brazil championing their message of frugality and thrift.

More than 4,000 people have joined an online discussion group, sfcompact.blogspot. com, where participants swap goods and tips and confess to the occasional slip-up.

"We have been staggered by the response," said John Perry, 42, a Compact co-founder and father of two who works for a Silicon Valley technology company.

Concerns about rampant consumerism, the pressure from retailers and advertisers, and messages such as the post-September 11 promotion of shopping as a patriotic duty were among the Compactors' main motivations.

"We're typical, environmentally conscious San Franciscans living in a city where everyone recycles like maniacs," said Mr Perry.

"We set out to do this as a challenge amongst ourselves. We never intended to start a movement or dictate what people should or shouldn't do, so we're pleased to have so many others talking about our consumerist culture."

In the past month, hundreds of new members have signed up, perhaps in response to the excesses of the festive period.

"Everyone is making New Year resolutions and they may be thinking, 'these crazy people did this so maybe we could try that too'," said Sarah Pelmas, a school administrator and Compact co-founder with her husband Matt Eddy.

Mr Perry said he loved the challenge of finding second-hand spare parts for a broken pushchair or paper shredder and sustainable alternatives to new shoe polish — a resourcefulness "completely purged from modern life".

He added: "The real revelation is that it isn't that hard. We all have so much stuff, we could probably live for years without replacing anything. It makes you change the way you look at and appreciate the things you have. We're definitely going to continue."

The group is now planning a "Jubilee Day" when they will be allowed a day off to shop. Ms Pelmas is excited at the prospect of buying new sunglasses and pillows but daunted at being able to spend unused gift certificates she and her husband received as wedding gifts.

"It's kind of weird as I don't want to shop now, but I'm going to see if there are things that don't seem too obnoxious," she said. After that, the couple plan to continue to be as mindful as they can of everything they buy.

Compact members found themselves attacked by conservatives as "un-American" and guilty of "economic terrorism". One San Francisco shop even offered "break the Compact" discounts.

But they were undeterred. Kate Boyd, a drama teacher and original member, said she was also surprised at how relatively easy the year was. "I'm not sure I'll carry on but I certainly won't shop in the same way as I did before."

Interesting isn't it?

I didn't link directly to the article because I think The DailyTelegraph only has one week's articles archived. At the moment this is the link.

2 comments:

Dipsy D. said...

I've read this article on BBC a couple of days ago and I was equally impressed - what an amazing thing to do, and what a real point these people made! Reading through your intentions was so inspiring too - it gave me a good thought about what I'm already doing and what more I could do. I think I'm personally doing quite well already in this case, I'm so not into all this fancy schmancy technical stuff - I'm not into buying anything actually, except for yarn maybe... My mobile phone is so old that it almost falls apart, our TV's the same - not because we couldn't afford it, but because we don't see the need of buying something new when the old one's still working fine. And, for heaven's sake, who needs all the newest and most expensive stuff all the time? Does it make us happier? No.
The only thing I'm not doing so well with is travelling - but well, that's my passion, and I think if I'm acting throughtful and aware in other fields - like buying seasonal and local groceries - then this travelling thing might be okay as a little "extra", what do you think?
Anyhow, to keep my rant here a bit shorter - it was highly inspiring reading through your thoughts, I even made some notes and mind you, I'm with you here! Let's go for making a difference that only *we* can make - governments certainly won't help us! ;(

Melissa said...

thanks for posting this link in my comments (sorry for taking awhile to comment back!) There are many things we can all do and I hope with all the articles about global warming and people bucking consumerism we just might be able to make a difference.