I grew in the hilly, leafy suburbs of South East London where trees scattered through the high rises and Victorian homes. Up high the London skyline lingered with St Paul’s and the Post Office Tower dominating the horizon. It was a time when petrol was leaded and rosewood and mahogany furniture filled my parents home. The world was small, London was less developed and I didn’t think about my future, let alone the children I would one day give birth to.
That was in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. My home now is very different to my parents and most likely very different to most of the middle classes, especially those who drive their Discovery Land Rovers. I am conscientious of my material, land, carbon and water footprint, unlike my parents but probably like my grandparents.
As a consumer my greatest dilemma in the philosophy of sustainable consumption is that it feels unclear whose role it is to ensure that the limited resources on our planet are used with the care and understanding that the air we breath, the water we drink and materials we extract from the earth are finite.
Capturing carbon is virtually non-existent in the square mile of the City, with a few trees fighting for survival between the concrete and paving slabs. The main roundabout at Elephant and Castle in South East London has a brick wall dedicated to carbon capture but it is the only wall I’ve noticed. London’s ability to clean the air we breath is stuck in the Victorian era where horse drawn carriages once transported people.
There are few water fountains too, my thirsty self always ends up with a new plastic bottle of water to quench my thirst, part of our throw-away culture where it will end up in a land fill or depending on the London borough your in, will be recycled. I’m always mindful of the fact that the bottle has been created from the resources of Earth. I struggle with buying a bottle of water.
This blog is a record of my life, living in a culture that struggles to live sustainably. It’s a micro analysis of how I try my hardest to preserve the limited resources of planet Earth. I have rejected greed and made lots of sacrifices in my life to be a responsible consumer in the hope that corporate greed will one day realise that although humanity is, at the moment infinite, the resources of this planet are not. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
In May 2014 The Independent newspaper were the first to report on the micro-bead ban. In November 2014 I took to the shops to find out which facial products contained the little blighters using the Beat the Micro-bead App. The products to my left are a breath of fresh air to the sustainable consumption movement as in 2014 they contained micro-beads. Today, I’m happy to announce they don’t. For a more comprehensive list of products containing micro-beads, you can either download the Beat the Micro-bead App or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an advocate for everything natural I think it’s important to recognise that I don’t use exfoliating products. Superdrug sell facial sponges that will remove any excess skin from your face, you just need to use it with a facial soap. If you wanted to really think about your material footprint, you could always use the skin buffer with organic, unrefined coconut oil which I also use as a cleanser. And for convenience you can purchase this in your local supermarket. It can be found with all the other cooking oils rather than in the beauty section. Supermarkets haven’t cottoned on yet to the fact that it’s also a beauty product.
This film is my attempt at mitigating climate change. On my six mile hike across the North Downs I came across this forest and I filmed my journey through it. I began thinking how the trees capture the carbon from earth’s atmosphere, with the M25 in the not far off distance. My life is busy and I dashed through this wooded area. Next time I will move slowly. This was the first time I’ve filmed in a wood and it won’t be the last.
Trees are the greatest technological resolution to reducing carbon emissons. I’d like to say, surround your home with them, so they may cleanse the air that you breathe. Don’t leave it up to someone else to rescue you from Earth’s changing climate, be proactive and lets keep the fate of humanity moving.
This was one of those hair raising moments that could quite easily replace retail therapy. I could have quite happily followed that bumble bee all day, all week even. It was a moment where nothing else mattered, the world was at peace with itself and bees will live forever.
As it flew away I felt abandoned, I wanted to scream “come back here”. But I didn’t for fear of looking crazed. It had gone, forever and I was left with a nice piece of cinematography that I will cherish forever and ever.
The reality is, humanity is not at peace with itself and bees existence is very much in danger. For a moment in time the bee which I am forever grateful to, fed my inner world, my existence was meaningful with purpose. I didn’t need to suffice my inner desires with consumption, nature did it for me, the best therapeutic moment I’d had in ages and I didn’t need to spend a penny. Possessions please, the poppy was my possession, I’d grown it in my garden. I’d planted the seeds, watered them and watched them grow. I didn’t need retail therapy because I was feeding my soul with the buzz of a bumble bee.
When I joined the University of East Anglia, on a master of science in international development and water security, I had left behind me, three years of studying to become a psychotherapist. My psychological interest in the earth, led me there. I wanted to understand humans geopolitical and economic relationship with our planet. After a year of studying, my mind felt more confused and left university not really knowing how I could apply all the knowledge I had gained.
The one certainty I left with was the integral relationship between our psyche and capitalism and the environment and our economy. Ecotherapy is a tool that has the potential to develop a new relationship which can bring together our psyche and our environment and reject aspects of capitalism and the economy. I am not an anti-capitalist, I do however take a political ecology approach to the environment and believe there are many unnecessary inequalities that exist globally. These inequalities need to be acknowledged and understood if we are to resolve the issue of climate change. A political ecologist will question everything and believe nothing. For example, I recently highlighted on Twitter the relationship between the luxury leather business and deforestation in the Amazon. Greenpeace ensured me they were happy to speak about their climate and agriculture campaigns and confirmed they receive no corporate donations. Another contentious issue is the chocolate industry and the inequality between the amount of money made by the farmers and the amount made by those who import the chocolate into the West. I will explore this further in another post. I am sickened by the divide between the rich and the poor. I am neither rich nor poor, just a humble individual trying to preserve this planet for my grand-children and their children.
I graduated in 2013, since then I have been attempting to reconnect with my earth. I have been a conscientious consumer, purchasing second hand where I can. I’ve thought about the chemicals I use to clean with and I have attempted to not pollute my waste water. I have an allotment which is rich in alluvial soil, here I grow my own vegetables and fruit. I make my own aromatherapy products too which has given me a great sense of connection to my ancient past.
For me, ecotherapy is about discovering aspects of our self through our connection with our natural environment. Trees and their roots, fungi, grass, mountain ranges, plants, flowers, bees, they can all help us to find our self in a chaotic world that sometimes, we have no control over. Being in an ancient forest gives me a space to feel at home in when I am feeling unloved in the world. Stay with me on this journey. I’m not here to make money, just share my experiences of the natural world, my inner self and how I understand the chaotic world we live in.
This photograph was taken on the south side of the river Thames at Greenwich. When it rains, London’s Victorian sewage system floods into the river, sewage ‘n all. The rivers tide will take the raw sewage out to sea eventually, it usually takes around three weeks.
The changing climate means London has received it’s fair share of rain and the EU directive on cleaning our rivers has seen the building of a new mega-structure, deep below ground. The Thames Tunnel, built along side the river Thames will carry London’s overflow, not into the river, instead it will travel to a water treatment plant where the water will be cleaned. The sandy beaches of the river Thames will see people paddling in the water without the danger of disease. Thames water have already said there will be an increase in water bills to help pay for the tunnel. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, almost 20% of Thames Water is owned by foreign investment as well as an array of pension funds from across the globe, including British Telecom. Every time a Londoner now turns on the tap, those baby boomers who lunch will have another round of golf on a glass of water which is supposed to be a human right.
This picture was taken from under the river Thames. We stand in a Victorian tunnel that once transported people from Greenwich in south-east London to Millwall on the Isle of dogs (docklands), on the east side. My paternal great, great grand-father spent his working life in the docks as a tea blender while my maternal grand father spent his time there supporting Millwall football club. The shadow lurking behind is the shadow, according to Jung, that we all possess. The unacknowledged darkness will eventually project it’s way into our society, usually through violence and man’s inhumanity to man. London in 2015 is not the London I grew with as a child. Homelessness makes me feel powerless and I’ve noticed the rich, privileged and grammar school educated get the best jobs and the divide between the rich and the poor appears to be widening.