Tag Archive | environment

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!)

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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?

Got your bag?

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Just some of my many lovely home-made bags

‘Have you got a bag mum?’

The inevitable question as the girls and I go on a charity shop treasure hunt. I delve into my shoulder bag and produce one. Chelsea’s made me many a gorgeous bag over the years, with trimmings and adornments. The latest has velvet handles!

I don’t always remember and sometimes succumb to a plastic one. I console myself that from a charity shop it is at least one that’s being reused and not one that’s ending up in a hedgerow, a river, or the mouth of a whale.

The fence alongside the local landfill sight is trashed with them, limp litter – and the adjoining land. They’re splattered there by the wind and the bushes hang with plastic shreds – not pleasant. If you’ve never seen a landfill site you should go find one – it’ll hopefully make you think about your plastic consumption.

It’s taken all these years and imposing a silly charge, to get people people’s attention about this plastic bag waste. To bring our attention to the bad habit of expecting that every time we shop someone will put it in a bag for us. And that’s all it is; a mindless, lazy, indulgent habit. My mother and all our mothers before her would have been in the habit of never going shopping without a bag.

Now, these habits we have, that we’ve rarely considered before someone shoved a charge in our faces, is costing the planet and its other inhabitants far, far more than five pence. As many of our habits do, like shopping for things we don’t really need, never mind taking a bag to put it in.

I want to break that habit. Not because I mind paying for a bag. But because when I walk the tideline, or admire the land, I don’t want the plastic I see there to be my fault.

And we are all at fault over this!

When I’m in the city shopping centre, and nearly everyone I see is carrying a plastic bag, I cringe at the thought of where it’s all going to end up.

Probably in landfill.

Whilst we shop, mostly for things we don’t really need, great tracts of the lovely countryside and seas we so like to visit and enjoy are polluted as a result.

We have so many habits we need to change. This is just one small start of the over-shopping, over polluting problem.

So yes; I have got a bag.

Have you?

How wild are you?

Nothing like taking some time over the weekend to sit among the rose petals and read. Although I don’t think that’s quite what Simon Barnes meant in the book of his I was reading; ‘How To Be Wild’! wild book 002

This is a trip through various wild places with him, mostly on his doorstep in Suffolk, but also in Zambia, as he talks about our connection with the natural world and why we need it. How we need to preserve it. I was drawn to it through that mutual interest and the fact the marshes he walks through are so like the ones I also frequent when I’m getting my regular dose of the wild.

I couldn’t thrive without this connection. I think many people can’t, but maybe they haven’t recognised that fact. We need to keep in touch with wildness to understand that it runs through our own genes however sophisticated and concreted we try and make our lives.

Our health needs it, our psyche needs it. But most don’t get enough of it – some don’t get any contact with wild places and the natural world. Sadly, many kids don’t – some are almost afraid of it.

If our children have no contact then they’ll have little regard, because contact breeds knowledge and understanding. We are spawned from the wild and basically need to preserve it in order to preserve ourselves. Experience is the starting point for understanding.

Simon lists a number of ways to reconnect with the wild. All of which are doable with family. Here are some of them:

  • Walk. Get out from under rooves and walk under the sky. Even in a city this has benefits as there is always something natural to observe.
  • Sit. Anywhere you can breathe in air and even better if it’s a natural open space. Observe.
  • Drink; although I interpret this as picnic with family and kids. Do it outside.
  • Learn. Name what you see, Keep adding to the list of things you can name. With technology you can identify something in an instant, flower, bird, tree, insect, whatever…
  • Read. And research. Especially about the environment, the planet, the species. Explore nature websites and charities.
  • Visit. Find wild places to visit. These don’t always have to be organised nature reserves. A river walk, wood or wasteland that’s less well known may be nearby without you ever having realised.
  • Join. Volunteer. Get involved. There may be branches of wildlife groups near you to be involved with and check out the less well known ones like Buglife or Plantlife as well as the larger ones like The National Trust or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Now the summer’s here see how wild you can be. There’s nothing quite like gathering a clan together and getting out there. You’ll make a difference to your life and you’ll make a difference to the environment by extending your contact and thus your understanding, and that of the next generation who’ll one day be it’s guardians.