Tag Archive | environment

My pre-Christmas plea

Is it not all too over-the-top?

I love Christmas.

It means the family are together again.

There’ll be love, warmth, cameraderie, jokes, fun, probably a few irritations and a little bit of power struggling in the kitchen no doubt! Soon resolved as the tensions of being together again after living independent lives slip away and bonds refresh and regroup.

But I also can’t help cringing every year at the prospect of the burden the earth has to bear as a consequence of our festivities.

When I start a bit of shopping – and compared to most it is only a bit, I get immensely anxious at the quantities of packaging, plastic, lights and useless tat I see in vulgar quantities for people to buy, and the equally vulgar attitudes with which people disregard the consequence of doing so.

I don’t want to be a humbug here. I also like to wrap, decorate and buy. But each year the consumerism seems more over-the-top than the year before and I have a very real sense of the earth groaning under the strain of it.

So this is a plea. Can you think about that and practise moderation as you buy trimmings and wrappings and disposables?

Please, please, please create Christmas traditions in your family that incorporate habits which consider the earth as much as the people on it.

Make love of the earth an important part of your Christmas preperations!

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An imperative lesson

Some are starting work out there, even before it’s light

It is beautifully quiet where we live now. So quiet you notice the slightest noise; a fox’s bark, an alarmed pheasant, or the tiny scamperings of the mouse who has found its way into the roof space above the ceiling.

So we’re really sensitive to the rumblings of heavy machinery past the cottage at 5am.

The vegetable cutters start early. Some work through the night. I’m woken by the clanking of the rigs and trailers. I also have a sudden sense of gratitude that it’s not me turning out in the freezing cold and rain that I hear hammering down.

The gangs of workers are dropped off for their working day in dark, cold, muddy conditions, no shelter, no heat, cutting the cauliflower and broccoli that’ll be ready for you in the supermarket later today.

Surrounded by growing food, it was easy for our home educating children to learn where food comes from and what’s required for it to grow, that this doesn’t happen in super markets, but out on the earth.

And that it needs certain conditions; dependent on the elements of the earth. And it’s important that we all know how those elements are sustainable – if we want food to be sustained that is!

Stuck in a city centre, as far removed from the earth as I am from the Houses of Parliament, I worry that this essential part of education will be neglected. And families these days might not want contact with the earth and the elements, cosied as city dwellers are by the convenience of pavements, transport, concrete, shopping under cover and easily accessible eats!

So how to get across the importance of understanding the precious resource that the planet is – the only resource actually, for everything comes back to what it gives us – and how not to pollute it so much?

We need to learn to exist without creating the waste our lifestyles produce; by not subscribing to the hypocritical politics that ignores the real issue of consumerism, not be seduced by the commercial hype that continues to suggest that it’s okay to keep buying plastic bottles, disposables in any form, pollutive cleaners like wipes and chemicals. And remember that all our consumerism wounds the planet, contaminates the place we’re dependent on for our food.

Part of any child’s education should be to understand this stuff. Part of our duties as educators is to prioritise this understanding – to get kids back to the earth and caring for it as part of their everyday existence. Along with the simple idea that everything manmade that we buy will eventually pollute in some way, or has already done so in the manufacturing of it and that might come back to haunt us through the food chain (one example here)

A sombre lesson – worth the learning.

What small change can you and the kids make to your family lifestyle to stop your contribution to it? (Here’s an inspiring contribution from one family)

Learn to love the earth, buy less plastic for a start!

Angry!

Warning: I’m about to be blunt.

It’s not often I get angry. In fact parents have often said to me how patient I am. Some told me they wouldn’t have enough patience to home educate.

But the children rarely made me angry. They’re children; they’re learning and they’re not finished yet. Why would I be angry with that?

What really makes me seethe with fury is the ignorance of those who are grown up, those who should know better, those who are supposed to be setting an example for these young people to learn by.

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A definitive example of ignorance!

Walking along the footpath that weaves it’s way through the trees and hedges in a delightful tunnel, which offers shelter from the open flat landscape here and the cut of the ever present wind, I come across two plastic bags hanging in the trees.

This is not that uncommon. We all see them blowing about the landscape and caught among the branches.

These weren’t like that though. These were two bags of dog poo that someone hung there.

Now it’s bad enough leaving dog poo for others to tread in, especially on pavements. But at least on the earth in wild places it decomposes. But poo that is bagged up in plastic and then chucked down, unable to decompose, demonstrates complete ignorance. Even worse, this act of ignorant desecration beats it all. As if the perpetrator thought it was someone else’s duty to clean up after them and collect the bags – even in remote places.

What I can’t understand is why someone, who I assume wouldn’t leave bags of shit in their own environment, i.e. their home, feels it’s okay to do so in the wider one. And in a place I assume they walk because they value it; I’ve also seen dog poo bags hung on fences and stiles – is this how we treat places we value? How irresponsible is that?

For whether it’s our home, our garden, our city pavements, our countryside, or the wider world, desecrating it like this is NOT OKAY! We’re responsible for ALL of it.

That’s what folks seem so ignorant about; the fact that’s it’s ALL our world, from our personal spaces to our planet.

And this is why we need to teach our kids to LOOK AFTER their world. Their bedroom world, their home, their town, their park, their planet.

Surely this is a fundamental of any education. A habit of care and an understanding of how this serves us. And of the fact that NO ONE should be cleaning up after us – we are ALL responsible for our own shit.

We can care all we want about learning facts for exams. But how important is that in the wider perspective of not giving a turd about the places we live in which support our learning lives, about environmental issues? This is a responsibility as much as learning anything is.

Teaching our kids about the little things personal to them, teaches them also a habit of taking care that will ripple out into the wider sphere.

And it’s OUR OWN ACTS WHICH EDUCATE. It’s a responsibility every grown up has.

So hopefully the next generation will grow up with the intelligence to understand why care of our environment, personal and planetary, is important, why it impacts on us all, and why it’s not okay to hang plastic bags of dog shit in trees.

(Sorry if the language offends – it gets like that when I’m angry!)

Short days and earth songs

The coming of today's dawn

The coming of today’s dawn

When it got to June I panicked. It’s because I then know it’s less than a month till the longest day when the daily dose of light begins to dwindle again. And light is important to me. It’s important to everyone in fact, but most don’t seem to feel it, or recognise it, as I do. Most manage city lives without this awareness of the earth’s natural rhythms.

I don’t reckon this is healthy. If we’re not aware of the earth we’re not sensitive to its needs as well as ours. When we’re not sensitive we can pollute and desecrate as if it didn’t matter.

What will we leave our kids then? The scenario from the Michael Jackson Earth Song video.

Understanding the earth is one of the most important parts of education surely. Far more important than Grammar or spelling, how many wives King Henry the Eighth had and in what order. We can live without knowing those things – we can look them up. We can’t live without awareness of the planet or there will be no food, no resources, no light, no kings and queens to learn about.

It’s essential our children respect the earth and to do that they need to be connected to it.

Connecting with it at this time of the year is not without its challenges.

But worth it, so get the gloves, hats and thermals out and get the kids out there. There is always something to be fascinated by, discover, experience. And you’ll enjoy being back inside all the more afterwards. (Here’s a site to explore) (And another)

And now it’s December we can take comfort from the fact that it will soon be the shortest day of the year. And a few days after that we’ll be blessed with more light hours each day – well – minutes to start with, but it will inevitably happen.

And it will continue to happen for as long as we are sensitive to the earth’s needs as well as our own – something to remember over Christmas.

For the most meaningful present we could ever give is remembering to be sensitive and respectful through all the present giving, dustbin-filling, wasteful practices and over eating! Help your children understand that our love for the earth is as important as our love for one another; that without it we would not be here.

Ask them how can they help it this Christmas?

Christmasses will come and go – only as long as the earth goes on forever. That’s down to us and our children and our children’s children and so on…and only if we’ve educated them to understand that the earth needs love and has its own song to sing.

Acting wild!

20151231_105913Heck it was wild out there at times this weekend. I keep up my daily walk in the wilds even when it’s blowing fit to knock me over.

Yesterday I got a ducking. And the day before I got my cheeks bitten with the stinging cold.

There will be a time I go out there and it’s all soft and gentle and hanging sweet with birdsong.

Doesn’t matter what the weather I always go. Because with all these years of going I’ve learnt the importance; it changes my mood, it gives me inspiration, it keeps my mind and my muscles fit – the heart being the most important one. And besides, despite my complaining and not always wanting to go when it’s a real challenge out there, I know it’s the answer to a sense of holistic wellbeing. You see articles like this about it all the time.

Even though we’ve tried to tidy it all away and ignore it, being out in the natural world is something we naturally need.

We all need it. Me, you, families, kids especially, young, old. Everyone does. We need it to be regular and ongoing. Only then will we reap the benefits. Being shut away from it is affecting our overall and longer term health dramatically.

Which is why the Wildlife Trusts have started a 30 days wild campaign. To get people, especially families, to reconnect with nature. Doesn’t matter where you live, there’s ways to do it even in urban areas.

Check out the link – and sign up for the inspirational pack. And go act a little wild for yourself, each day, and see if it puts you and the children in a healthier frame of mind. You might also find that, not only do you reconnect with nature, you reconnect with each other better too.

5 things I’d ask for Christmas

It’s too early for Christmas but my cactus doesn’t seem to think so.  cactus dawn 11.15 003

Nor do the shops. Nor the telly!

Far too early surely to have these endless tedious adverts as the supermarket giants try to outdo each other, or Radio Drivel blaring out of shops in town.

I don’t know how the staff stand it and it’s already been going on a while.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable about us being encouraged to climb onto this Christmas treadmill earlier and earlier, as if we have so much to buy we’ve no chance of fitting it into a week or two’s preps in December.

I have great difficulty marrying some of my values, those that uphold the value of the earth and our responsibility towards it, within a culture of Christmas that promotes nothing more than consumerist vandalism basically.

I know many families like us must be fairly easy to give presents to; we always have things we need not having the disposable income so many have. More difficult I find to give to those who have so much it’s generated a culture of satirical junk destined for the dump much of the time. Wish we could bypass this madness.

I love giving presents. But I’m not hoodwinked into believing that more is best or is a sign of more love. Something home made or carefully thoughtful fills me up, however little. Tasty treats we wouldn’t normally have are a delight.

But when I see stands and stands of pointless putrid rubbish, designed for the sake of buying for those who have so much it’s impossible to know what to give, it rather fills me with despair. Especially in the light of so many being in such desperate need, even for basics, even for a roof over their head. I know people who spend more on decorative trappings, to be binned after the season, than we’d probably spend on food in a week!

So I would ask as you do your Christmas preps to perhaps rethink this. To consider five things: –

  1. how much less you could buy this time,
  2. how much less waste you could create,
  3. how much less energy you could use,
  4. how you could make your Christmas more recyclable,
  5. and how you could give to those who have less than you do.

And I’ll do the same and see if we can come up with a Christmas that is less pollutive and truly based in giving more than having!

Do share your ideas in the comments – I always love to read them.

Talking rubbish again!

I’ve had to pop into town today. Errands to do, a bit of shopping to get, and a bag of clothes to drop off at the charity shop.

We donate stuff every time we have a clear out – I thought everyone did. Apparently not.

In fact I was totally shocked to find out how much people don’t do it on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme ‘War On Waste‘ which I watched on Monday night. That people put good clothes that could still be worn into their dustbins. And even more shocking, supermarkets, who profess not to, put good food in theirs.

I know we care for clothes. I know we are a consumer society. But I’m still shocked to discover just how little we care for the planet. How little responsibility some show towards the way they waste the planet’s resources. And how little care some show in passing that onto our children.

Environmental issues are part of any education wherever that is happening. And education is surely a forum through which we can teach the following generations about the planet they’ll inherit. Yet there are still so few adults attuned to the idea that what each of us does matters. 

It matters enormously that we all take responsibility for the amount we buy and the amount we throw away and our clothes are part of that.

Hugh’s says that British people throw away ten thousand garments every ten minutes. Is that not a criminal statistic when there are an abundance of charity shops and even clothing banks in many supermarket car parks? Is it lack of care or snobbery that prevents people from using them?

With a little bit of care NO clothing need be thrown in a bin. I’m feeling that NO clothing should ever be thrown in a bin when there are so many who could make good use of it. NO clothing should ever be thrown in a bin out of respect for the many resources used in creating it.

Food waste is another shocking issue and supermarkets are much to blame. However, we all play a part in this too because supermarkets are answering the needs of over fussy consumers who won’t eat a parsnip or an apple with a blemish on. This pathetic cosmetic standard we’ve driven up is creating tons of waste and putting tons of farmers out of business. Whilst we’re being picky about food we’re destroying the income of those who grow it for us. And we’re wasting resources of the already over stretched earth. Did you see this news?

Are we really so uncaring?

Learning about our planet and its diversity is an essential subject to study. But we as parents must also put into practice our own war on waste in our own households, demonstrating to our children that is the responsibility of us all. For if we don’t, the future we’re educating our children for, may take the form of a dying planet.

What kind of future do you want to leave for yours?