Tag Archive | The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide

How do you appreciate your daily bread?

This isn’t a religious post. I’m in no way religious.

But the thought came to me as I did my daily walk how important is the consideration of it.

As I walk round the corn and vegetable fields, past cows and trees, plants and birds and the tiniest of living things I cannot even see, I ponder upon how essential to our daily bread it all is, especially the land beneath and how everything plays a part in providing the food we eat.

At the moment my daily exercise includes many of these rural elements described above, along with some rather battering weather at times. But I actually grew up in the city, have spent much time there and am likely to be moving less rurally sometime soon.

And it is when my feet are on those urban pavements, about as far removed from the earth as it’s possible to get, that reminds me how difficult it must be to educate children about the importance of the land that’s buried deep beneath, of species, of nature. For even though most children may not have it in their daily round as I do, they need to understand that it is as vital to their existence as the air they breathe.

It is, after all, what gives them their daily bread. It doesn’t just grow in Asda!

Last season’s harvest which made our daily bread

There’s been a major shift over my lifetime. When I was very young the largest part of the population lived and worked rurally, so more people had the land in their consciousness. Now that’s shifted to the largest proportion of people living in towns and cities.

Along with that shift there’s also been a shift in attitudes, in politics, in awareness. Most people are now just aware of the countryside as recreation, oblivious to its essentiality. Oblivious to the fact that the land and the species it supports, supports our life as well, gives us our daily bread and our daily breath too.

And somehow we have to get the seriousness of that concept into children’s education even when they are as far removed from it as many are.

So how do you educate about and look after the land from the city?

You do that through your lifestyle because even though you may be miles from it, your habits have an impact on the land.

There are regular reminders in the media and sites like ‘Sustainable-ish’ of things you can do – and not do – to look after the earth.

But essentially discuss with your children and focus on a lifestyle that prioritises:

  • Limiting your consumption of disposable stuff (consumerism creates landfill)
  • Shopping second hand
  • Travelling with conscience
  • Decreasing the chemicals used round the home (be aware of your cleaning products)
  • Being careful with what you put down the drains (odd I know but contaminates water and land)
  • Always minimising your waste (think before you buy)
  • Avoiding plastic as much as possible
  • Making changes however small
  • Making sure the kids get contact with the working land not just parks
  • Talking all the time about the reasons behind your lifestyle choices
  • Living the idea that more stuff doesn’t equal more happiness!

Never forget that the land, the countryside, the birds and the bees are not just for fun. They are for real, the reality of life and health and sustenance – yours and mine.

We depend on all of it for our daily bread.

I thought maybe it’s a good time of year to reflect on that!

Educating: for Halloween?

No part of education is more essential than learning how to live sustainably, surely?

I guess it’s not something we’ve prioritised in education up until this point, most folks still living with the antiquated idea that education should only be about academic learning.

It used to be – when academic learning could only be accessed and practised in academic premises such as schools, colleges, unis and the like, back in the day when there was a large percentage of the population who couldn’t read or write. And the powers that be decided it would be better for civilisation if they could.

Well time it changed; we need something even more important for civilisation now, we need to understand how to live sustainably on the planet. And practice it.

As Halloween approaches and I see the bin-bound crap that’s advertised as a necessary part of celebrations, I cannot help but cringe.

I’m also gobsmacked as to how on earth so called ‘educated’ people can buy it, succumb to the emotive blackmail that suggests we should!

It’s partly ignorance. But also partly a decision to be blind to the consequences of buying consumerist tat, blind to the climate crisis. It’s also partly our past demand that has created a situation that has educated people into habits of shopping as a recreational activity!

We need to re-educate ourselves to do it differently.

Because it boils down to a simple equation: if we’re shopping as a recreation we’re trashing the planet as a recreation.

Hardly acceptable, is it, when put like that? Or the behaviour you’d expect from the ‘educated’. Find something else to do!

How about instead we think creatively about how to re-habit our lives away from buying stuff for landfill, towards ingenious ways of making changes that reduce it.

That we re-educate ourselves, and build a new style education for the youngsters, that has love as a priority; love for the earth that is, rather than love for more stuff – and what actions could support a different way of being.

That any shopping we do, whether for Halloween, Christmas, or whatever celebration, is done through charity shops, car boots, Ebay or similar sites, and avoids as much stuff as we can that isn’t necessary, is single use, and destined for landfill!

That needs to be our educational priority as much as any other surely?

An education not just for Halloween!

(Have you discovered Jen Gale’s realistically doable approach in the Sustainable(ish) Living Guide? Great for ideas and support in making change)

How the education system is contributing to the climate crisis

I’m absorbed in a wonderful book. ‘The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide’ by Jen Gale. It’s a practical look at the things we can do to to help lessen our damage to the planet.

I know; you’re sick of hearing about the climate crisis!

But this is full of real doable things we can all do, we must do, in order to help make changes. That responsibility lies with us all. It is part of our own life learning, part of being an educated intelligent person. Got to be part of any child’s education.

We like to think that education is an answer to the climate crisis. And of course it is; people need to become informed about the earth, what impact we’re making and how to minimise the damage we make.

But education, and the education system, are different things. And it’s the education system that’s contributing to the problem. Because we have a system that is educating people to be consumers.

It does this by making education big business. By training learners and their parents to be consumers of it; passive recipients. And by making education all about an end product, i.e. results, grades and qualifications and more is better, rather than an enlightening process of learning that develops educated people who see themselves as part of something much bigger – the planet. And more is not always better.

The system leads people to believe that education is about what you can get in a narrow, consumerist, grade-grabbing way, rather than education as part of understanding a world upon which we all have impact, qualified or not.

Youngsters are trained to believe through this system that they’re only worthy if they get the most and highest grades possible. Because this, they are told, will lead to higher salaries – in other words, getting more.

Rarely are job satisfaction, humane qualities like kindness, well being – personal or planetary – mentioned.

Or the fact that the higher your salary, the more likely you are to be buying stuff and wasting stuff and jetting off in a blaze of pollution. Let’s face it – it’s not the poor or the homeless who are doing this; a fact that doesn’t get much coverage!

And seldom is it mentioned that consumerism, materialism which is a political issue, and bog standard buying endless stuff is the real cause of the problem. Or that the businesses thriving on conning us into having stuff we don’t really need, contributes to it. And I believe that the education system perpetuates this by its immoral and discriminative, high stakes obsession with testing, getting exams and qualifications and teaching people to be consumers. Which, after all, furthers its corporate and political cause.

If we want to save the planet we must stop incessant and unnecessary consuming. We must stop educating people to be consumers within a system that subversively suggests you’re a better person for doing so. For that’s what this corporate education system dictates, although few seem to spot it.

I’ve heard said that the education system is broken. The planet is certainly breaking. Perhaps the two could be mended hand in hand.

It’s no good blaming the politicians and doing nothing, neither with regard to the planet nor the education system which is contributing to ruining it. We must change our consumerist habits and change what we expect of education.

What we need is not a system or a political game plan that ensures the rich get richer and the poor to stay where they are. Not an education to make more money but to educate us to use the money we do make to live more wisely. What we need are learning experiences not based around winning or getting or high stakes, but based around learning to live with each other and the planet without detriment to either. Something I see home educators do all the time.

There is no higher stake than the health of the planet. Don’t need a qualification to tell us that.

Do make the book part of your family’s education!