It has always been an economic foundation of every society in history, it’s just that in the super-charged affluence of the past couple of decades we’ve managed to suck it dry and shift everything up, into the monetary economy. And when you get economic contraction it’s just natural that people start doing things again at home and on an exchange basis. We call this the re-localisation process. This re-localisation movement will shift power and respect to older and rural people with self-reliance skills. People who can work physically. People who are applying permaculture principles. Whether they are doing that consciously or unconsciously.
– David Holmgren
This economic contraction that David Holmgren has been talking and writing about for some time now is kick-starting the household and local community economies. That is, it’s operating outside the monetary, formal economy. Folks are working their jobs and also doing a bit on the side as a means to both get by financially, diversify their income streams, support larger families (kids, elders . . .) and do something that they enjoy.
“… we have found that basic personal habits and behaviours are some of the most difficult and sensitive to deal with, and yet they are at the heart of the ecologically dysfunctional nature of modern society.” David Holmgren
This post will probably be more of a dynamic post in that I will change it and add to it as time goes on and we introduce changes into our lives. For the time being I will start with a couple of basic ones that have been relatively easy. I know there are lots of lists of things to do around the home, I’m just putting down the ones that we have incorporated into our own lives for the present moment.
Change our toilet paper : we used to buy various brands through the supermarket. We now purchase a bulk box of toilet paper which has all recyclable materials and we use the wrappers, rolls and cardboard box in our composting – once they’ve been used for craft projects or make-shift toys. We also purchase these from local businesses, so that in itself supports local business endeavours.
Make our own yoghurt : we don’t regularly eat yoghurt but when we do we generally make our own extra yoghurt. This cuts down on packaging and purchasing costs and is inevitably much healthier – depending on what we eat with it.
Re-use our egg cartons : this involves taking them to the local Farmers’ Market and having our supplementary weekly eggs transferred into our own cartons. This is done for health reasons (instead of a straight exchange) and means that it reduces the need for our egg suppliers to constantly be purchasing new cartons. This may not seem like a big deal but there is a lot of energy and resources that goes into the manufacture of egg cartons. When they are worn or get spoiled by broken eggs they are then put into our compost system.
Turning lights off when not required : I remember this from my youth and I shudder at the concept of Earth Hour and turning off electrical power for an hour a year – I do it every moment I can throughout the whole year! Coal, solar, water, wind or some variation on 35 guinea pigs in an exercise wheel – I don’t believe the source of energy should be any excuse for wasting the stuff. No matter how cheap it is.
Retain Food Scraps for Composting : we save any biological waste through our kitchen except for the occasional animal fat. We reserve clean animal fat for cooking and freeze it – mainly as a by-product from our bone broths. Everything goes in – even orange peel, onion skins, bones from our broths and such things. This is then added to our compost. When they are ready, the worms will get into the lot at their leisure and won’t be troubled by it. This one actually covers a couple of habits such as reserving some food scraps for rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens. I’ll flesh it out over time…
Egg Shells : we place our eggshells onto a baking tray and once full bake it in the oven when we have the oven on, either heating it up for cooking or just after we’ve cooked a meal. This dries out the eggshells and makes them a little more brittle. These are then crushed up and used as grit for the chickens and quail and more recently for scattering over the garden beds as a soil amendment.
Rainwater : we get our drinking water from a 1500 litre rainwater tank under our house. We fill buckets and bring them up to the house to put through our water filter jug. We filter our water as the tank is about ten years old now, or more and we are in town. This process will be simplified a little when we move into the new house.
Recycle Paper : in whatever form we can. Envelopes, local newspapers, lists, paper wrappers. If it’s not waxy, coloured or glossy its in the box. Boxes of paper have made their way over to our new garden to form the base of our vegetable garden beds. Over the 8 years we have been in our house we would have put TONNES of paper into our backyard and compost bins. What happens to it is another story.
Shorter, colder showers : I’m a fan of short showers. Get in. Get clean. Game over. I’m also a Wim Hof follower. It’s good for the mind, the body and it’s good for the environment. Less hot water means less energy used. Like standing under a Highland waterfall in Scotland. Reading the comments at Earth Clinic a few years ago raised my curiosity.
Wooden Pegs : we’ve had a mix of pegs in our peg basket for years. Plastic pegs, wooden pegs and other odd ones. The wooden pegs have actually outlasted the plastic pegs because of their ability to withstand degradation from UV light. The other benefit is that when they fall apart, as they eventually do, they just get put in the compost or buried into the garden soil. Easy. There are some fancy set-ups in the marketplace for hanging clothes up to dry, but wooden pegs do the job.
Clothes Horse : Following on from wooden pegs, we also use a clothes horse to simply hang washing on under our deck. It doesn’t require pegs and is handy to place indoors or out.
Laundry Balls : also in the laundry – we use good quality Laundry Balls containing small ceramic balls that soften the water in the washing machine to allow the clothes fibres to open and release dirt. Does many hundreds of washes and reduces the need for laundry powders or liquids. Caution: there are some inferior quality Laundry Balls on the market which have created some unsatisfied customers. It is probably best to find some reviews on specific brands and make a decision from there.
Please feel free to comment with those behaviours you have found helpful or useful yourself. Actions speak louder than words…